March 17, 1922 (14th Parliament, 1st Session)


Alan Webster Neill



I think they are so subjecl on the Great Lakes, but not in British Co lumbia, where they run a coastal service; I am sure as to British Columbia, where we have this coastal service.
I now come to the question of immigration. I must confess at once I am not much in favor of increased immigration at this time. It seems to me it is a good deal like the man who thought he 4 p.m. would benefit by following the advice that is given by some newspapers as to what shares to buy-there are people like that. He was advised to buy a thousand shares of a certain oil company at one dollar per share. He bought in the expectation of a rise, but in a few weeks he wrote to the editor that the shares had gone down until they were worth only a cent apiece and he wanted advice. The editor wrote back and said, "Buy one hundred thousand shares at a cent, and then the average price of your shares will be reduced accordingly." The case is somewhat the same with immigration. We have two hundred thousand men idle in Canada now, and are seeking to relieve the situation by bringing in a whole lot mote. There is one thing I would ask the Government to do, and that is to keep away from the idea of having settlers from different countries establish a colony by themselves in Canada. That has always proved a mistake in the past. If you bring in a body of men from England1 or Scotland1 or elsewhere in Europe, and dump them on the prairies by themselves, they will become not a piece of Canada, but a piece of England or Bohemia or Austria. That is not a desirable way to build up Canada. Mix them up amongst our own people, and then they will become assimilated. I take this position : that the Government will spend a lot of money in bring-

The Address
ing these men out, possibly money will be paid by the Old Country, and another large sum, no doubt, for putting these settlers on the land'; a further sum will have to be forthcoming to provide them with implements and stock until they are on their feet. All I ask is that the Government take this land scheme and offer it to our unemployed. I am sure they would be surprised to find how many would take advantage of it. I know it is popular to say that the unemployed are all idle bums, and so on. I know that a great many of them would not care to go on the land, but a great many people in work to-day would' be glad to go on the land, and if they had the opportunity, they would make way for some of the unemployed to take their positions in the city. Times are changing, and have changed, in that regard. I know the case of a man who has been on the land for three years. He was a carpenter working at $7 a day, but he foresaw the depression that was coming, and that he would be out of work, so he took up a piece of land, and to-day he is doing well; he is not making a fortune, but he is keeping his family and himself, and he makes one less in the ranks of the unemployed. If the Government will not postpone their immigration policy for a year, at least let them make the same offer of assistance to our own unemployed. Surely the men who have come here at their own expense are entitled to the same advantages as the men living in Galicia or somewhere in that neighbourhood. Let me remind the Government that a contented settler is the finest advertising agency you can have. Though his contentment may only be expressed in a badly written letter with a dirty thumb mark, it will have more drawing power in his little home village than all the flamboyant advertisements got up by the agents of the Government. That has proved to be true time and again. By the way, if any of them are coming to British Columbia, I hope that they at least will be told the truth. Tell them that they will have to compete with Asiatics; that if they are going in for fruit farming, Asiatics have a hold on that; if they are going in for strawberries, whole sections are absolutely in the hands of the Japs, who will take steps to see that no White Man intrudes upon them; if they are going in for small fruits, they will find the same situation there; if they go in for market gardening around any of our big cities, they will find the same situation there. There is what is known as a ring in connection with market gardening, at least around the city of Vancouver. A friend of Aline was out at a farm and admired the potatoes on the table, and his farmer friend gave him a few pounds to take home with him. As you know, the great majority of domestic servants in Vancouver are Asiatics, and next day when this gentleman tried these potatoes his Chinese servant had cooked, he found them very poor, wet, watery, very unsatisfactory things. He thought there had been some accident with them until the same thing happened again the next day, so he asked his Chinese servant about it, and the Chinaman said, "Those potatoes are bad; they are no good. Let me get you potatoes that will be all right." There is a ring among these Chinese servants, and they will never buy produce from white market gardens. If their employer insists upon it, they will find the stuff unsuitable or it will be made to appear so, and eventually he will have to buy from the Chinese. That is an absolute fact that anybody in Vancouver can verify for himself. Let these people who are to come in be told that this is the competition they will be up against in British Columbia. Tell them also-and I wonder what British people will think of this-that their children will have to go to the same school as Asiatics. One of these the other day lost his temper at school, and instead of hitting his playmate on the nose he drew a knife and stabbed him in the back. Tell them that if conditions get had their daughters will have to work in Chinese restaurants under conditions which I will leave to your imagination rather than describe. Tell them these things, and say that they must live according to the same standard as the others, which means that everyone down to a six-year-old child must be ready in fruit picking time to work sixteen hours a day. That is the only way to compete successfully with the Chinese and Japanese in British Columbia. But I hope we see the dawn of better days with this Government, and that we will be able to tell these people that the Government have taken steps to permit the white people to grow up under a white standard.
With regard to the provision as to the soldiers' stock and land, I will only endorse the way it was put by one of the members who spoke the other day. He advocated the revaluing of the land and stock and an extension of time to pay for it. I am heartily in sympathy with that idea, because it is good business. We
The Address

are going to lose the money and the settlers as well if we do not do that. Better keep the soldier settlers, and give them an extension. It is coming to them, and it is not their fault that they have not succeeded. We induced them to go on the land under big prices created by the war. They did enough for us during the war and let us shoulder the responsibility. I read an item in my platform last night asking for more considered treatment for the wounded soldier. That question crops up in the West. There are a lot of wounded men in the West, and we think they were not well treated. Their pensions were cut down to a minimum, and they have been at considerable expense. It has been suggested that these men are malingerers. These men who have served at the front and been wounded cannot be accused of malingering, and they ought to receive consideration.
The answer of the Government is that it means increased expenditure. Well there are ways of effecting economy without making the destitute soldiers suffer. I suggest that we cut off some of the ceremonial connected with this House. This is a democratic nation, and we might well forego, for a time at least, all these ceremonies. We have a beautiful restaurant upstairs, and it is a pleasure to take our friends up there, but it is run at a tremendous loss.
I am willing, and I think other members are, to pay for our meals in future and save that expense. There are many ways in which economy could be effected without loss of efficiency.
Referring to the inheritance tax. Is the hon. Minister of Finance (Mr. Fielding) aware that in New Zealand and in Great Britain they have an inheritance tax, or death duties which we do not have in Canada at all? We have a provincial inheritance tax, but no Dominion tax, and if we had such a duty in Canada as they have in New Zealand and Britain, the revenue would receive something like $30,000,000 a year, and it would come out of the pockets of the people best able to afford it, people who have built up large fortunes during the war and could well afford to contribute to the state after they have gone;-it might be better for them in the place where they have gone if they gave the country back some of their wealth.
I would also suggest that they might remove the Northwest Mounted Police from British Columbia. They were put there in a crisis in special emergency. They are no longer needed. We have an efficient

provincial police force, and by removing this force we would save expense.
I mentioned last night that the eight-hour law was a part of the platform on which I was elected. I see no mention of it in the Speech from the Throne. The Trades and Labour council took it up with the Government, and I hope to see the Government, in the course of the session at least, make some pronouncement as to their attitude in the matter. If they are not prepared to assume the responsibility for enacting it, then they ought to call the provinces together, if it is decided that it is a provincial matter. It is a duty we owe, under the Treaty of Versailles, to carry this out as speedily as we can, in accordance with our pledges in that treaty. The same might be said of the old-age pension. In November, 1921, the British Columbia House passed a resolution unanimously calling attention to the fact that this government had assumed responsibility for the old-age pension and suggesting that it was time for them to take action. I do not expect the Government to take action on that matter this session, but I commend it for their consideration in a future session.
I wish to call attention to a further point and I am surprised that no other hon. member has taken it up. I am heartily in accord with the member for North Winnipeg (Mr. McMurray) when he expressed the opinion that the Dominion Elections' Act should be removed from the statutes. I go further and state it should be removed as speedily as possible, that we may remove the stigma from our public life, that we have had an act on the statute which lends itself to almost every form of corruption. If we must retain the act let us change the name of it. It is now known as the Dominion Elections' Act, let it be known as the Dominion Elections' Corruption Possibilities Act. It may be said that I am using too strong words when I say that it encourages every form of political corruption. I think the statement is well-advised, because those of us who are lawyers know that if a man carelessly leaves his money lying around his premises he is as much to blame as the poor boy or girl who picks it up. You have often heard the judge in court say " You are encouraging theft by leaving your money around," and an act which is passed for the avowed purpose of preserving purity of elections should not permit or allow the gross abuses which are possible under that act. I speak from somewhat bitter experience in my own case. I have the data all here, but

The Address
have not time to go into it. I will only mention a few of the instances where this act, to put it mildly, lends itself to abuses. I am talking about the rural ridings where, I believe, a different system prevails from that in the cities. It lends itself to a great deal of illegal voting on election day. A man who is bad enough to vote illegally is not going to worry about signing his name to an oath, and he will come to the poll on election day from nowhere, take the oath and vote illegally. Further than that the act allows if it does not encourage, the disfranchisement of large numbers of people. I do not refer to two or three votes in some remote place, but I am talking about absolutely blotting out the votes of fifty or sixty electors. And why? Because it was known they were going to vote what is known as " wrong." I could point to half a dozen instances in the riding I represent where that was deliberately arranged, places that had voting booths for years and years, with perhaps a hundred votes. They voted " wrong " last time, and this year were not allowed a polling place. In other cases, they had to undergo considerable hardship to get to the booth, by travelling in an open boat. Do hon. members expect that women are going to do that for the sake of a vote? One old lady told me frankly that she would have to travel in an open boat, exposed to the weather for ten miles, and she did not think any one of the three candidates was worth the trouble, and I agreed with her. However she said her prayers were with us, and I think that helped. I was speaking to a man at eleven o'clock at night a few days before polling, and he told me, " You need not worry about the election, you are going to be elected." I said, " I am glad to hear that, now how do you know?" He replied, " I got it on the ouija board." There is another feature which perhaps is one of the worst features, and that is the fact that the legally nominated candidate cannot find out within four or five days of the election where the polls are to be. The thing was deliberately suppressed. I did not know, until five days before the election, where the various polls in the vast, scattered region up in the north end of my riding were to be. How could I, with the means of travel that prevailed there secure scrutineers for those various polling stations unless I employed an aeroplane? I wonder what the people of Ottawa would think if, four days before an election, they did not know where the polling
booths were to be, and if they then found they would have to vote in a hamlet ten miles away. Yet that is what happened in Comox-Alberni, where we cannot get around easily to secure scrutineers. Perhaps the Government candidate's vote would not have been as large as it was had I been able to get scrutineers at those polling stations.
Another feature of that beautiful act was that it lent itself to registrars, some of whom were not too scrupulous, padding the lists. I know of one case where one of these gentlemen put 215 names on the list, almost the entire number of whom did not live in the riding at all, and some of whom had been dead for at least three years. Something should be done about that. I think three years is too long; when a man has been dead for two years, I think he should not be compelled to come back to this wretched sphere to vote. I firmly believe, if a man has been dead for two years, he would have too much sense to come back and vote Conservative, anyway. In that particular instance where 215 names were put on the list,-after the registrar had been arrested,-out of those 215 names, only 8 voted. This is an indication of what was going on. Another feature of the act allows the Government, on the advice of the candidate, to appoint his-the candidate's-own business partner as returning officer. Moreover, this returning officer did not have the decency to go out and take up an office elsewhere. This allowed the election to be held, to all intents and purposes, in the private office of the Government candidate, because the returning officer was not even a resident of the riding, he lived a hundred miles away practically, and he paid only one brief visit to the riding and that on nomination day. The rest of the election was conducted in the private inside office of the Government candidate. Do you wonder, Sir, when I say that 1,300 ballots were either taken out or given out of the returning officer's office illegally? These are some only of the practices which this act allows, if it does not encourage them. But like most of these things, it will come back like a boomerang upon itself. Some of these things I found out too late, only after the election; others I was aware of beforehand. I told the electors that we had got beyond any personal ambition of mine; that the world would still turn around; that Canada would still be in the North American continent, if I were defeated at
186 COMMONS j[]
The Address
the polls; that it was a question of their rights and priviliges, more important far than my personal election or non-election. You remember the Apostle Paul, when he was brought before the Jewish Judge and he claimed that he was a Roman citizen and demanded to be taken to Rome. The Jewish Judge said "With a great sum obtained I this freedom." But Paul answered, "But I was free born." We were free born; but our forebears were not, and many of them for generations fought and struggled and shed their blood, and died, to get this simple common everyday right of the ballot. I told the people that in the election, and I think they appreciated the situation and responded on election day.
I surely can be absolved of any charge of endeavouring to make a stump speech or of theatrical action when I state, simply and quietly, that surely, if it is not the fundamental right, it is a fundamental right of the Constitution under which we live to-day that a qualified voter shall have a free and untrammelled opportunity to exercise his franchise on election day, without such an unreasonable objection as having to lose his job or to lose the day's work being involved, and that the election should be held in such a way that every body of men, no matter whom they intended to vote for, should be allowed fully and freely to exercise that right. I do not think I am going beyond reason and-modesty, I was going to say-when I say that is a fundamental right. If that fact is conceded, then the Liberal party who are in power here, if they are conscious or even pretend to be conscious of their responsibility to maintain those rights for us, must surely realize that it is their bounden duty to strike this act off the statute books as soon as possible.

Full View