William Melville MARTIN

MARTIN, William Melville, Q.C., B.A.

Personal Data

Regina (Saskatchewan)
Birth Date
August 23, 1876
Deceased Date
June 22, 1970
lawyer, teacher

Parliamentary Career

October 26, 1908 - July 29, 1911
  Regina (Saskatchewan)
September 21, 1911 - October 6, 1917
  Regina (Saskatchewan)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 3 of 123)

September 14, 1917


, Not in my case. I will not ran any more.

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September 14, 1917


What the hon. member

says is. not true; he does not read the papers.

Some hon. A1EA1BERS: Order, order.

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September 14, 1917


I am trying to do everything possible

Some hon. A1EMBERS: Order, order.

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September 10, 1917

Mr. MARTIN (SainVMiary's, Montreal) (Translation):

British subjects by naturalization-yes, provided that that naturalization confers upon them the status of British subjects throughout the world. Our Naturalization Act and the very statutes read here this evening confer upon the Austrians and the Germans in Western Canada "the status of British subjects only within Canada. They were not British subjects throughout the world. They were not British subjects in the United States. They are only British subjects in so far as Canada is concerned. We have just passed and placed upon the statute books of this country a Military Service Act, by which we have provided that we will take men compulsorily for the service of the State, and in so taking them the statute means taking them for the first line of Canadian defence in the trenches'of France and Flanders. Across the Atlantic, out of Canada beyond the three-mile limit, these naturalized persons cease to be British subjects. They .are not British subjects on the shores of France and Flanders. Therefore, at that moment, when they pass beyond the three-mile limit, that dormant alien nationality will revive, and they will again become Germans and Austrians. They are no longer Britons. Ceasing to be Britons, if they were taken prisoners in the front-line trenches, they would be shot as traitors, because they owed military allegiance to Germany and Austria. These men are disfranchised, therefore, by the law of their own country with respect to tins great war. Our law has declared whom we will take compulsorily to fight our battles overseas. The only men who can be taken-and we provide that when taken they are for that very reason given the franchise are our nationals. The minute these men cl alien birth pass beyond the three-mile limit their nationality revives, and once more they are citizens of their own state. But my hon. friends ask why they are not drafted into the armies overseas. I will tell 'you why. Because, under international law, no alien can be made to fight for the state in which he lives. Under international law Britain cannot take an Austrian or a German out of Canada, land him in France, and compel him to fight her battles. These men are aliens when they have passed beyond the three-mile limit, they are no longer Canadians, no longer British citizens, and under the canons of international law we cannot take them to fight our battles there. That is the reason why, under the Army Act of 1881, aliens are not permitted to fight 4n the forces of England except, I think,

one in fifty. These men cannot fight, therefore, and so long as they remain in Canada they cannot be drafted by Germany or Austria; but onee they pass out of that limit, then, under the treaty powers, under our very Act of Naturalization, and under the Aot of the Imperial Parliament of 1870, which we copied, these men are no longer citizens of this State; they are Austrians and Germans; and as. such they cannot exercise their franchise in. this country. That is the story, and that is' the .reason why the great principle is being applied here that only nationals shall vote on national questions. And, nationals being only those men who are British by birth or naturalization-using the word "British" in the broad sense in which it is used in the new Naturalization Act which will be the enactment common to all the British Empire-these men. are not British subjects. As the great issue in this war is not only the life of this Dominion, but the life of the great Empire which we call the British Empire, and as nationals only must vote for the life or death of the Empire, it follows that these men, not being nationals, not being British subjects beyond the boundaries of Canada, may not, in Canada, exercise their franchise.

We have not rested at that, we have gone further. We have said that in this case where there is an obligation for military service, these men shall not be liable for that obligation unless they exercise the privilege of the franchise. ,On the one hand we deprive them of the franchise; on the other hand we release them from the obligation- the release from the obligation here, the deprivation of the franchise there; the release from obligation is part and parcel of international law. For this compulsory service they are required beyond the boundaries of Canada, and their latent nationality reviving they become aliens-Germans, Austrians-and as such they are deprived of the franchise because they cannot meet the obligation, not being British subjects in the broad and true sense in which that word is used. It is said that this is a political right and that under the certificate of naturalization they are entitled to all the political privileges that we are entitled to. That is true, and one of the political privileges that attaches to every man, if he be French Canadian, English, Irish or Scotch, it matters not, is that he may or may not have his name placed upon the register of voters. The same power in the legislature of Quebec


that deprived the officials of the federal Government of the vote in Quebec, that gave them a lesser status of citizenship, that deprived them in Nova Scotia of the vote under Mr. Fielding-that same power exercised in the federal domain is part and parcel of the political life of the country, and all that is meant, by the acceptance of political rights, privileges and powers under the Naturalization Act is that they accept what Parliament gives them in common with everyone else-nothing more or less. Any one who studies the statutes and studies history will find that that is the case. But there is another reason that it seems to me would be sufficient, if all other reasons failed, and that is that we in this country are at war and those who know, great historians and philosophers,'have told us that the tie of blood is the strongest of all. A great historian, some of whose writings I read the other day, said:

I put the motives of men thus, in order of their strength:

(1) Blood, that is race or nationality. (2) Patriotism or love of land and country. (3) Interest or the means by which man lives in trade and commerce. (4) Religion, which is the life and refectory of his soul but as a motive uncertain and incalculable in its influence, and (5) Politics, including all constitutional questions which are merely the means or instruments for attaining these ends.

So that blood ranks first in the motives influencing the minds of man. And I say to the hon. member for Strathcona (Mr. Douglas), notwithstanding what he has said, that there are hundreds of men who have left my province of Alberta, reservists for the Austrian and German armies, and hundreds remain there to-day who would go if they could-only the strong arm of the law prevents them from leaving for that purpose. To say that these men who would, if they could, use their rifles against our fellow Canadians shall have the right to vote against the man, one of the thirty thousand who died, is contrary to every principle of-

Topic:   '6578 COMMONS
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August 27, 1917

Mr. MARTIN (St. Mary's) (translation):

This ought to he debatable it seems to me.

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