February 24, 1943 (19th Parliament, 4th Session)


John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative


I am not dealing with this matter from the point of view of that constituency; I am trying to be entirely dispassionate. Strangely enough, after this house adjourned in 1940 and after the national resources mobilization regulations were passed, another order in council was issued which not only exempted Doukhobors who had entered Canada under the order in council of December 6, 1898, and the "descendants of such immigrants who have continued without interruption to be members of the aforesaid sect or denomination", but granted new rights to these people.
Surely citizenship in Canada means equality, and there can be no justification for extending the privilege granted to the original settlers who entered Canada under the order in council of 1898. Most of these people defied the government. They just said that they were not going to do anything, and they have pretty well carried out that threat. A few of them went up to parks for three or four months. I do not know what the total expenditures were, but a great deal of money was expended in the payment of wages to them during the time they were in the national parks.
During the calendar year expenditures at Prince Albert park amounted to $50,711; at Kootenay park, $17,000; at Riding Mountain park, $63,000; at Jasper park, $46,000, and so on. These men performed alternative service there for a short while. But the law says that they shall serve for the duration of the war. Mr. MacNamara, director of national selective service, sent out to the various service boards a letter, approved by the Minister of Labour, stating in effect that they were not to carry out the provisions of the regulations; that Doukhobors should not be directed to report for alternative service any more as long as they were employed in essential work in agriculture.
Just follow that through. It is a devious course but it explains why it is that the government refused to put these regulations into statute form. If such an amendment to the law had been brought before this parliament there is not a member of this house who will rise in his place and say that this house would

have voted to exclude these men from alterna tive service for the duration of the war. Why was it done? Agriculture is asked to produce on an ever-expanding scale, and agriculture is willing to do that. There is no question that the farmers to-day are contributing a great deal. In Saskatchewan, in my constituency, there are few young men left to-day. I say to the government that it is building up the greatest resentment among the people of my province when it allows special rights to any group, and especially when those rights are extended contrary to the regulations which are supposed to be followed by the various boards throughout the dominion. I shall not deal further with that question, but I think I have covered it well enough to-

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