Robert BICKERDIKE

BICKERDIKE, Robert

Personal Data

Party
Liberal
Constituency
St. Lawrence (Quebec)
Birth Date
August 17, 1843
Deceased Date
December 28, 1928
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Bickerdike
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=aed4afa9-170f-440a-beaa-a13c1ef3b1b6&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
businessman

Parliamentary Career

November 7, 1900 - December 16, 1817
LIB
  St. Lawrence (Quebec)
November 3, 1904 - September 17, 1908
LIB
  St. Lawrence (Quebec)
October 26, 1908 - July 29, 1911
LIB
  St. Lawrence (Quebec)
September 21, 1911 - October 6, 1917
LIB
  St. Lawrence (Quebec)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 87)


September 10, 1917

Mr. BICKERDIKE:

I know a woman in Montreal with whom the Solicitor General also is very well acquainted. I have personal knowledge of the facts in this matter, because I have a son who is a major

in the 87th Grenadier Guards, a regiment which was raised by my hon. friend's cousin, General Meighen. The lady to whom I refer, who has no sons, gathered around her a number of workers in Montreal, and they sent 6,000 pairs of socks, all knitted by these loving hands, to that regiment. Is it fair to deny the vote to these women, who have been doing real service for the boys at the front, the sons of other mothers? I say that it is unjust, unreasonable, unpatriotic. In addition to the 6,000 pairs of socks, they sent over one hundred thousand soldiers' comforts of one kind or another. The Government did not pay for these; the ladies collected the money and sent the articles to the front. I submit that such women are entitled to the vote. Another woman had three daughters, and when the war broke out the very first thing ' she did was to say to them: come with me. Thereupon she and her daughters started working night and day collecting money for the Bed Cross and Patriotic Funds. Has that woman not a right to vote? I do hope that the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State will reconsider the drastic measure that they have submitted to the House, and will decide to treat all the loyal, earnest and patriotic women of Canada as they should be treated.

Topic:   '6578 COMMONS
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September 10, 1917

Mr. BICKEKDIKE (Montreal, St-Law-rence):

It is not my intention to deal with

the Bill generally. I wish to confine myself principally to the clause by which we disfranchise some half a million of the very best women in Canada. I would not ask that any one opposed to the Allies, such as Germans, Austrians or Bulgarians should have the right to vote in this country, but I claim that every honest, loyal citizen in Canada should have the right to vote. Why should we discriminate to that extent? I think it would be well to state to the House what the law of New Zealand is. The section reads:

Every adult person who has resided for one year in New Zealand and who has resided in the electoral district for which he claims to vote during- the three months immediately preceding his resignation on the roll of the district, and who is a British subject either by birth or naturalization, or a half-caste, is entitled (subject to the provisions of this Act) to be registered as an elector and to vote at the election of members of Parliament for that district.

Every man and woman in New Zealand 21 years of age, who is a loyal British subject, has the right to vote. In the small country of Finland there is only one Chamber consisting of 200 members. The system of voting is known as direct and proportional. The Finns have equal suffrage, and some 18 or 20 women are members of the House. I certainly welcome this Bill, in as far as it permits a large number of women to vote at the next general election, but it does not go far enough. It is narrow, it is drastic, and savours largely of kaiser-ism. I must take exception to the clause restricting and limiting the votes of women in Canada, and insist on that clause being amended, so as to give to all women who are truly loyal British subjects, if they choose, the right of voting. I say that a serious injustice will he perpetrated if the Bill becomes law as it stands. Why should there be any discrimination against one form of national service and other forms of service equally honourable, equally indis-pensible to the prosecution of the war? For the first time in this country, a Bill has been introduced which ignores workers for the Red Cross, and the win-the-war nurses, the different patriotic fund workers, Belgian relief workers, and tens of thousands of women engaged in the munition factories who will, under this measure be denied the right to vote. This Bill should be amended so as to confer equal political rights on women. We should give the loyal women of Canada the same political rights and privileges as are enjoyed by the men, with power to fill any office at the constitutional disposal of the Crown; and furthermore, to

Become candidates, and if elected to take their seats in this House of Commons. Then, and only then, -will the reforms so long advocated in this House by a numbef of the members become law. Penitenitary and prison reforms ably advocated by the hon. member for Frontenac (Mr. Edwards), reform in the liquor traffic by our good friend from Bonaventure (Mr. Marcil), and last, but not least, abolishing of the death penalty in Canada. You are depriving of the vote by this Bill five hundred thousand truly loyal Canadian women, who have been doing all this good work ever since the war commenced. It is, to say the least of it, an autocratic, undignified measure and unworthy of any government of this great Dominion. I cannot understand how any government resort to such a subterfuge under the guise of a war-time election Act, and I hope that the right hon. leader of the Government (Sir Robert Borden) will accept my suggestion, and amend this clause. If he does not do so, I am sure he will regret it for years to come; and on the other hand, if he accepts my suggestion he will be able to look back upon this measure with pride, pleasure and satisfaction.

I must quote what President Wilson has just said in a message to the people of the state of Maine. It is an evidence that all over the civilized world Women are going to get the vote, and get it soon. He said:

May I not express through you my very great interest in the equal suffrage campaign in Maine? The pledges of my party are very distinct in favour of granting the suffrage to women by state action, and I would like to have the privilege of urging all Democrats to support a cause in which we all believe.

We are going very far away in this Bill from our democratic principle. I remember, in my young days, we used to say we were democratic-yes, "democrats to the hilt"-but there is nothing of a democratic nature in this Bill. The opinion of the people of Vancouver on this feature of the Bill is indicated by the following newspaper despatch:

Vancouver, September 7.-The Vancouver Trades and Labour Council last evening passed a motion protesting against the manner in) which the Dominion Government intends to extend a part franchise to women, and calling upon Premier Borden to give all women of the Dominion full privileges at the polls with men.

We have the following communication from Winnipeg:

Winnipeg, September 8.-"I am absolutely opposed to it," declared R. A. Rigg, secretary of the Trades and Labour Council, in referring to the new franchise legislation. "The country is falling into the grip of autocratic rule. The last semblance of democracy is vanishing. If

they continue along the lines they are now following, autocracy will undoubtedly be firmly established in this country."

In Montreal several associations have had meetings, and resolved on sending petitions to the Government and have passed resolutions opposing the Bill as it stands to-day. I will refer to one case. The People's Power League and Equal Suffrage League met last Thursday night, and the following is a report of the proceedings:

The resolution submitted by the Equal Suffrage League deprecated the idea of differentiating between one form of national service and other forms of service equally honourable and equally indispensable to a successful prosecution of the war, and that for the first time in this country a Bill has been introduced which ignores workers for the Red Crqss, Red Cross Nurses, Patriotic Fund Committees, Belgian and similar relief funds, also the tens of thousands of women engaged in munition factories, etc., who are denied the vote. It was also pointed out that many undesirable analogies will develop, and that it does not take advantage of the present psychological moment to confer upon women equal political rights with men, and that the British House of Commons and the United States have made no such distinctions in their recent franchise legislation.

It was, therefore, resolved, "That this meeting implores the advisers of the Crown to withdraw their Franchise Bill and draft immediately a measure that will invest women with the same political rights and privileges as are shared by men, with power to fill any office at the constitutional disposal of the Crown."

Here is one of the statements made at that meeting:

As regards the votes given to all female relatives of soldiers, nobody would grumble with that if adult suffrage for all women were established. But a slur is cast on every woman [DOT] who may be without soldier relatives, and she is declared unfit to exercise' the franchise! Why? What is the spedial reason for singling out a special class of women voters? It is not any frank recognition of woman suffrage, but as Mr. Meighen says, "to give added strength to the vote of the soldiers of Canada." Thus to 400,000 soldier votes will be added from half a million to a million soldiers' relatives' votes -a special class that no doubt the Conservative Government feel can be specially appealed to by being told the ridiculous rubbish that the soldiers at the front will be deserted if they do not all vote Conservative.

I appeal to the Government on behalf of these women who are doing so much good work. I will cite two concrete cases with a view to touching the heart of the Secretary of State, if I can.

Topic:   '6578 COMMONS
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July 20, 1917

Mr. BICKERDIKE:

I would like to ask the minister in regard to the dismissal of a man named Dufbreuil. Perhaps this is not the time to bring the matter up, but I would like the information. I have written several letters about it, and I presume it has not been attended to because the Postmaster General has been away so much. Probably the Deputy Postmaster Gen-

eral will remember the case. Dubreuil claims he was dismissed without a hearing. I asked that the man should have a trial and that he should be present at the en-quete. I do not think it is British fair play to deal with charges against a man unless he has an opportunity of being present and hearing them.

I simply bring the matter to the minister's attention so that the deputy minister may know that we should like to have the matter inquired into, and have the man present.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
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May 2, 1917

Mr. BICKERDIKE:

Let me just say one word. I quite agree with you, Sir, but in my opinion the Minister of Justice should have raised his point of order at the beginning of the debate. I think, according to the rules of the House, he had no right to raise his point of order and call for a ruling in the middle of the debate. However, Sir, I always submit respectfully to your ruling!

Motion withdrawn.

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS.
Subtopic:   ABOLITION OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT -THE SPAIN CASE.
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May 2, 1917

Mr. ROBERT BICKERDIKE (Montreal, St. Lawrence) moved:

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That, in the opinion of this House, in consideration of the fact that the Russian Government has just recently abolished capital punishment, and that the population of this Dominion of Canada are at the present time much exercised as to the advisability of discontinuing the extreme penalty of death in Canada, at its next general election, the voters of Canada be afforded an opportunity by means of a plebiscite of declaring for or against such continuance of capital punishment in this Dominion.

He said: It is a well known fact that Russia has recently abolished capital punishment. I think this action was taken about the last week of February. Capital punishment has been abolished by many others of the Allies of Great Britain. I have no doubt-and possibly the Minister of Justice (Mr. Doherty) will agree with me this time-that there has been a considerable agitation, during the last three or four months at least, on the question whether the people of this country should have an opportunity to declare whether 5r not they are still in favour of capital punishment. I think that in every province except Ontario and Quebec the people have virtually come out in favour of abolishing the death penalty.

I would like to place on record for the benefit of the House of Commons and of the country in general the final disposition of the twenty murderers who were condemned to death in 1916. Let me take off my hat to New Brunswick as she was the only province that did not have a murder committed in the year 1916; I suppose, largely due to the close proximity of the State of Maine. My information is to the effect that a large majority of the inhabitants of that enlightened province are in favour of prison reform and opposed to capital punishment. Prince Edward Island had one murder committed, the criminal being sentenced to death but as the people of Prince Edward Island are in favour of prison reform and opposed to capital punishment strong recommendations were made in this case against the execution of the sentence and it was commuted to life imprisonment which my hon. friend the Minister of Justice will remember.

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS.
Subtopic:   CAPITAL PUNISHMENT-PROPOSED PLEBISCITE.
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