June 25, 1925 (14th Parliament, 4th Session)


Alan Webster Neill



What on earth has that to
do with this subject? The hon. member does not confine his questions to the subject under discussion any more than he confines his speech to it. He has given us his fine and well-known diatribe on the rights of certain peoples; but that has nothing whatever to do with the subject under discussion. He is entitled of course to hold the view which he puts forward, that every naturalized citizen should have the right to vote. But unfortunately when he takes this position he brings himself into disagreement with men like the Earl of Halsbury, the Privy Council of Great Britain, and the statesmen of Canada, whose opinions I quoted. The disagreement is unfortunate for him-or, it may be, unfortunate for them. The point however is not at issue at all, because it is admitted that \?e in British Columbia did and do possess the right to exclude orientals. And we did so. The real question is whether British Columbia's desires and wishes as expressed in the legislature of that province shall be taken into account in the Dominion franchise. That is the question which hon. members are asked to decide; it is not whether in their opinion the world-wide question of naturalization as regards the franchise should be considered at all in this legislation. That is not under discussion. The hon. member for Centre Winnipeg (Mr. Woodsworth) commented upon my use of the expression "neighbourly."
I stand by what I have said so far as that is concerned; and I say that it is the best spirit of neighbourliness to so act towards your neighbour that you will not have a row with him next week. If he has a flower garden, and you have hens, it is a neighbourly
act on your part to shut up your hens before they cause a row between you and him. And it is the best sort of neighbourliness with us in British Columbia to refrain from anything that will cause trouble with the Japanese. They are not asking for the vote; and in refusing to extend it to them we are only preventing no end of friction that would indubitably arise in the future if we gave some of them this privilege. Some hon. members may be influenced by the hon. member for Centre Winnipeg (Mr. Woodsworth) who has lived on the coast and who claims to be familiar with conditions there. But that hon. gentleman takes at all times a different view on the oriental question from the view held by members representing the province of British Columbia, including myself. I remember it was only last year the hon. member expressed the opinion that it was a disgrace that we did not allow oriental girls to train with ours in the hospital in Vancouver, a view which, if expressed in Vancouver, would have provoked a riot.

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