July 5, 1919 (13th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Daniel Duncan McKenzie (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Laurier Liberal


I wish to impress upon the Prime Minister and the House the necessity of not giving the power of juggling with the sacred rights of the people of this country into the hands of any man who is so devoid, of principle and so lacking in that proper appreciation which belongs to a civilized country like Canada as to tamper with lists in that way. The Government and the House will understand that my objection to this Bill, to enumerators or to any person dealing with lists except the revisers, or men who are responsible to the people as they are in our province, is based upon the reasons I have given. The manner of appointing revisers in Nova Scotia is very simple. They aTe appointed by the municipal councils, which are responsible to the people and to which men of all shades and1 conditions of politics are appointed, so that men who are appointed revisers are not hard and fast partisans, and such a thing as dealing crookedly with the lists is not tolerated at all. I hope that this Bill will not go out of the hands of the House without its being so framed that conduct of this kind will be impossible.
By the names of women being put on the lists in Nova Scotia, the women of that province have votes. The lists have been prepared with the women's names on them and on the third day of April last there was a completed list in Nova Scotia, the name of every man or woman in the province who had a right to vote being on that list.
I cannot see why, if there happened to be a by-election in Nova Scotia between now and next April, the lists that are now completed would not be accepted, because everybody who has a right to vote has had
an opportunity of having his name put on the list.
This naturalization qualification for women voters is a new idea. It is a departure from the Franchise Act, chapter 20 of the statutes of 1918, which we passed last year. Section 1 of that Act provides:
(1) Every female person shall be entitled to vote at a Dominion Election who-
(a) is a British subject;
(b) is of the full age of twenty-one years and upwards;
(c) possesses the qualification which would entitle a male person to vote at a Dominion election in the province in which said female person seeks to vote : Provided that a married woman or unmarried daughter living with her father or mother shall be deemed to have any necessary qualification as to property or income if the husband or either of the parents is so qualified.
(2) For the purposes of this Act a female person shall be deemed to be a British subject,.-*
(a) if she was born a British subject and is unmarried' or is married1 to a British subject, and has not become a subject of any foreign power;
Last year, therefore, we made the wives of all British subjects eligible to vote, and until that Act is repealed every woman in this country who is married .to a British subject, British either by birth or naturalization, is qualified to vote. Why should we not leave it at that? Last year we defined who should vote; we said that the qualification of the husband as to naturalization was sufficient for the qualification of the wife. If that was good law when we passed it last year, I know of nothing that has happened in this country in the meantime which would justify us in changing it.
When the Naturalization Act was going through the House a few days ago, the Solicitor General was asked whether the wives of British subjects, either by birth or naturalization, would be qualified to vote, and Hansard will show that he answered yes.

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