June 13, 1934 (17th Parliament, 5th Session)

CON

Hugh Guthrie (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

I am speaking only of what I know. We have at the present time between five and six hundred Doukhobors on Piers island in a penitentiary established for the purpose of imprisoning men and women who have openly defied the laws of this country. In addition to this we had a very unhappy experience with the same communities when we attempted to take the census in the year 1931. In British Columbia it was found impossible to take a census of the Doukhobor population. They openly defied the law. They refused to give names or to answer the questions, they refused to give any information, they threatened the census enumerators with violence. Finally, after very great and protracted efforts, it was decided that we would have to abandon the attempt, and the census of the Doukhobors in British Columbia was not taken. There was an estimate made I believe, but the statistical information furnished was nil. Under such circumstances a serious question arises as to whether or not the Doukhobors in the province of British Columbia should or should not be entitled to the franchise to enable them to vote for members of this house. We know that by the provincial act of British Columbia which we have recognized in our present Dominion election act, certain races are disfranchised. Japanese who live in that province and have received naturalization certificates in Canada are not permitted to vote under our present law. Neither are Chinese; neither are Hindus, who are British subjects by birth. The provincial law provides that these oriental races shall not vote, notwithstanding that they are British subjects, and this parliament for many years has adopted that principle in the Dominion Elections Act.

Topic:   DOMINION FRANCHISE ACT
Subtopic:   ELECTORAL FRANCHISE-APPOINTMENT OF FRANCHISE COMMISSIONER-PRINTING OF VOTERS' LISTS
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