May 31, 1921 (13th Parliament, 5th Session)


Levi Thomson


Mr. THOMSON (Qu'Appelle) :

I do not wish to repeat the arguments that have been made in support of the amendment, with which I thoroughly agree, nor do I propose to argue the merits of an amendment which may come up later on, as there will be opportunity to discuss it when it comes up. I want to emphasize, however,

some of the things that have been said, and said very frequently, in the presence of the minister, and which have never yet been replied to by him so far as I have heard.
We have heard of the difficulties in the matter of interpretation. If this committee were strung out as a class, and certain questions were put to them as to the meaning of this subsection, I am afraid there would be a tremendous variation in the answers. I do not think one quarter of the members of this committee have any clear idea of the meaning of the subsection with which we are dealing, and that point has been brought to the attention of the minister frequently. I do not know whether the minister has any clear idea of it himself. I would like to know his opinion as to the real meaning of this subsection. My hon. friend from Saltcoats (Mr. Mac-Nutt) has mentioned the case of a judge who did not know just what information to ask for, and had no settled policy, and there is no doubt at all that different judges will follow different lines. It seems to me that we ought to have something definite in the Bill for the guidance of the judges in the first place, as to what questions they are to ask, and if that is necessary for the guidance of the judges, surely it is more necessary that we should let the people who are going to apply for the certificates know what information will be required of them.
I think if the members of this committee were asked just what information should be given under this section, most of them would not have a very clear idea, and we can therefore hardly expect the people who are applying for certificates to have a very clear understanding of what is required.
Is it necessary for a person who is to apply for a voting certificate to bring along a marriage certificate, naturalization certificate, and all these other papers? Is it necessary for them to prove that they have a knowledge of either English or French? Is it necessary for them to bring witnesses to testify to their good reputation? Just what is necessary? It would be a simple matter to have inserted in the Bill itself just what information is required, so that these people will know what is expected. As it is, they do not know what information they will be expected to produce before the judge.
I would also urge on the minister what has been so often urged before, that there should be some more convenient way provided for these people to get their certificates. Some members have spoken of their experience in the recent vote on prohibition. In my locality there are many women, and sons of naturalized British subjects under our present law, but I do not think a single one of them in my particular locality applied for a voting certificate. No matter how they felt on the question, the difficulties were so great that they did not trouble. In regard to this matter of making the machinery more convenient, the minister has "passed the buck" so to speak, to the Provincial Governments. He contends that they should make provision for sittings. No doubt they can make provision for sittings for hearing ordinary legal * cases, but I think some direction should be given to the judges from here as to whether or not they are to take cases of this kind, not only at the judicial centre, but at other places where they may hold court. I know that in the matter of naturalization some of the judges will not consider an application except at the judicial centre. I think it should be clearly understood whether or not the judges have the right to grant a certificate except at a judicial centre. Will it be necessary for a person who is applying for a voting certificate to go through all the forms and ceremonies that have to be gone through when applying for naturalization? Will it be necessary to have notice of the application posted up in the office of the clerk of the court for a certain length of time in advance? I think we oifght to get a little information from the minister along these lines.

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