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


Michael Luchkovich

United Farmers of Alberta


In any case it was spread all over Canada that there was a scheme emanating from a draft bill of the government whereby certain citizens of this country were to be disfranchised at the next election. Personally I do not think that a language qualification is a real criterion by which to measure the intelligence of a voter for I know a great many citizens of
Canada who are not able themselves to speak either English or French but who, nevertheless have children in the universities of this country. I know of oases where men who cannot speak adequately either English or French have given to this country at least four or five children who have developed into the finest type of citizen that this country could ask for. I have in mind one of them, a young lady who graduated from Manitoba university a couple of years ago with the highest possible standing that could be given to any student. I know many similar young men and women throughout the whole country. It is not so much on behalf of the old people who cannot speak English or French, although I strenuously object to their proposed disfranchisement, that I am speaking at the present time, but on behalf of t'heir children because if their parents are disfranchised it certainly casts some reflection on these very able young people.
Even if such a language qualification were imposed by the law who would be able to judge whether a man could speak English or French? I can vizualize the hon. member for New Westminster being disfranchised by the man who had the final say in the matter because the latter might claim he could not speak English and who might say to the hon. member: You have not an adequate knowledge of English. You speak with a distinct Scotch burr. A lot of these people who cannot speak English or French are splendid citizens, highly industrious, honest, law-abiding and very intelligent. I know that in 1930 they went to the polls in droves and voted for the present government. I leave it to the present government to say whether or not that was a criterion of their intelligence.
That is all I have to say in regard to this bill. I am very glad to hear from the lips of the Minister of Justice that no such thing is contemplated as a language qualification for voting.

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