William John MACDONALD

MACDONALD, The Hon. William John

Parliamentary Career

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 230)


April 14, 1915

Mr. MACDONALD:

With regard to the amendment proposed by the minister respecting the furnishing of facilities by the camp commandant to the returning officer of the poll, the minister will remember that last night I suggested that a provision should be inserted requiring the camp commandant to give all volunteers in camp an opportunity to poll their votes. I pointed out the difficulty that might arise if a man were employed at some work which might prevent him from voting. Perhaps the minister could add some apt words which would make provision for this.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   SOLDIERS' VOTING BILL.
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April 14, 1915

Mr. MACDONALD:

Why is it provided

that a volunteer, if within 25 miles of his polling place, shall not vote elsewhere than

at said polling place? I do not see why he should not vote in camp?

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   SOLDIERS' VOTING BILL.
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April 14, 1915

Mr. MACDONALD:

We are dealing only with Canadian camps in this case, and I see no reason, unless it be confinement for some offence, why every man in the camp should not be permitted to vote.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   SOLDIERS' VOTING BILL.
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April 13, 1915

Mr. MACDONALD:

My hon. friend the minister is making a general proposition, in regard to the voting which is to take place outside of Canada, which is not based on an accurate knowledge of conditions in the places in which the voting is to take place. There is no reason in the world why the men who vote in Bermuda should not vote on a certain stated day under regular conditions, with scrutineers and parties notified, because they are under peace conditions; they are not doing anything in Bermuda except mounting guard, and their votes could be taken without the slightest difficulty.

Topic:   COMMuNS
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April 13, 1915

Mr. MACDONALD:

The Minister of Justice will hardly claim that the situation just now with regard to military operations is such that any one on this side of the ocean is possessed of knowledge which would enable him to take any action interfering with the authority and direction of Lord Kitchener in the controlling of the movements of the men under his supervision. When in the committee I ventured to make a suggestion as to what should be done, my hon. friend took the ground at that time that you could not dictate to these men, that it was a matter entirely for the commanding officer to say whether he would do this or that. When some one suggested that the commanding officer should make out a list of the men who came before him to vote, my hon. friend took the ground that we ought not to impose on the officers in that way. All through the discussion my hon. friend recognized the fact that he had no control or authority over these men, and that he could not interfere with them. If that is so, who has the control of them? The Secretary of War, unquestionably. What is the use of us keeping this House sitting day after day in order to pass legation which will be inoperative, absolutely a dead letter, if Lord Kitchener, in view of the issues that are at stake, should take it into his head to say: I am not going to let my commanding officers waste a week or ten days running around picking up votes from the men who ought to be getting ready to fight the Germans. I think the suggestion of my hon. friend from St. John (Mr. Pugsley), that we should say that this legislation is subject to the approval of the man who has control of the commanding officers, is but due recognition by the Canadian Parliament of the fact that our soldiers are under the control of Great Britain. There is no divided authority in this matter. A lot of confusion seems to exist in the public mind; some people think that the Canadian Government have got some kind of a string on our soldiers who have gone to the front. Why, every man that signed the muster roll agreed to serve [Mr. Macdonald.J.

the Empire for three years, and to give his services not to the Canadian Government but to King George, and to obey the Imperial authorities. This legislation practically amounts to saying to our soldiers: You shall not go out and fight; you and your commanding officers must give up your training in England for this war, and turn out for a week or ten days to see whether you cannot get in some votes. I say that any measure of this kind which did not contain in it the stipulation that the consent of Lord Kitchener should be obtained before it became operative would be not merely cheek and impertinence, but an insult to Lord Kitchener as well. That is the situation; and to talk of autonomy under these circumstances only shows that hon. gentlemen on the other side of the House have forgotten that there is a war going on; otherwise, they would never have proposed this legislation.

Topic:   COMMuNS
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