May 23, 1914

CON

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DOHERTY:

Under section 21 the applicant must adduce evidence that will satisfy the judge that he complies with the conditions. We all know how things can be proved and no necessity exists for making special provision here in regard to that. The judge knows the laws of evidence. One effective means of proof would be to call the man before him; or, if that were not possible, the man's knowledge of English or French could be established by the evidence of those who have talked with him in either English or French. The fact of his knowledge would be proven like any other fact.

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

To my mind the important provision of this section is the period of probation, which is changed from three years to five years. The only reason given is that this is the position taken in Great Britain.

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CON

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DOHERTY:

No; the other reason is that representations have come from different parts of the country, I think I may say more particularly from the West, that the time in which a man should have lived in this country or in some other country where the benefit of British institutions is enjoyed should be longer than is now provided. That is not an additional requirement with regard to residence in Canada; the residence in Canada might be even shorter than it is to-day. But the Bill does add to the period of time during which the man must have lived under the institutions that we live under.

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

The information is certainly new to me. So far as I can remember, and I think so far as the hon. gentleman himself can remember, the period of probation for naturalization in Canada has always been three years. The hon. gentleman says that representation is made from the West to the effect that this should be extended to five years. There are members from the West who can speak on that subject. For my part, I can only say that my information is to the contrary. For my part, I have not heard a single protest against the period of tTiree years, and I am surprised that any such information has come to my hon. friend. This feature of the case is not without importance. Thousands of people are induced to come here every year upon the strength of our law, which is always held before them, providing that after three years' residence they may obtain naturalization. It is true that we can change the period, but if we do so we must change also the land laws. In my judgment, the provision for three years' residence to obtain naturalization and, consequently, all the political and other rights which, as a matter of course, go with that neturalization, is an inducement to many persons to come here. Many persons who are waiting for expiration of the three-year period and looking forward to their obtaining the privileges of Canadian citizenship will have their hopes deferred for two years or more, as the case may be, if the change proposed by my hon. friend is effected. The privileges of naturalization and the rights of franchise were among the most important causes which led to the troubles

in South Africa. One of the grievances of the Uitlanders was that President Kruger, after inviting them to South Africa, changed the period of probation before they could obtain the rights of franchise. I would urge my hon. friend seriously to consider the matter 'before he makes this change. He told me that this change was not being made to conform with the British Act, but I do not think my hon. friend would have thought of changing this law if it were not for the British Act, which requires a residence period of five years. Why they require that period is a matter for them to determine, but it seems to me that there is no reason why we should follow them in that respect if the three-year period is more desirable for Canada.

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CON

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DOHERTY:

I did not say that the fact that that was the requirement of the authorities in the United Kingdom was not one of the reasons for the change, but when my right hon. friend said that that was the only reason, I pointed out that there was another. With regard to the information which I received, I may say that last fall when I had occasion to make a journey through the West, I was surprised to find how generally my attention was called to that and to find from how many sources- and I met people at large non-political gatherings-that representation came. I have had letters not only from the West, but also from one or two of the eastern provinces, pointing out the desirability of extending the period. With regard to the position of men who came here under a law that provided that in three years they might obtain naturalization, I may point out, in the first place, that while we aTe now extending the period, we are also going to give them a very much moTe valuable naturalization. In the second place, I hardly think that it can be taken that when a man comes into a country in which there exists a certain condition of law, there is any implied contract on the part of that country that it will not change its law. These people have come in, it being provided that after three years' residence in Canada they could get the very limited and restricted naturalization which is given under our present law. If in the judgment of Parliament it is better for this country that we should have a naturalization law requiring a longer period of residence within the British dominions and conferring the quality of a subject throughout the British dominions, I hardly think that the person who came in here when there was a law allowing a limited naturalization within three years

has any ground for complaint because of the enactment of the law that we are now proposing. As I said, 1 cannot recognize that there is any contract on our part that we will never change our law and the person who is affected by the change in the sense that he will have to wait a little longer, shares with everybody (who will obtain naturalization under this law the counterbalancing advantage of getting the wider naturalization. It does seem to me that under these circumstances there is no serious ground for complaint. If this law be considered desirable in the interests of this country; if we want to have a system of naturalization that will extend throughout the empire and if the passing of this law, in addition to whateveradvantage it may bring to us,

is furthermore the accomplishment of a condition necessary to our arriving at an empire-wide naturalization, we should not be asked to stop simply because there are some people in this country who, when they came in, thought that they would get this limited naturalization at the end of three years.

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LIB

David Bradley Neely

Liberal

Mr. NEELY:

I think that the attention of the Minister of Justice was called yesterday by the hon. member for Regina to the practical question that would arise under this extension of time in reference to the administration of the land laws and the granting of patents to homesteaders. I presume that the minister will have to find some way out of that difficulty, because the land laws permit the granting of a patent at the end of three years1' residence. I suppose that the Government will not pass a law or make regulations permitting the granting of a patent for homestead to one who is not a full-flediged Canadian citizen. 'During the discussion that took place upon a motion offered iby the hon. member for Pietou last session, the Minister of Justice, referring to the point as to whether or not we should have the two statutes of naturalization, admitted that it was quite possible. He said:

There is nothing to prevent us granting a man who has been three years resident in Canada all the rights that naturalization now gives him in Canada, even though we should not call it naturalization.

I do not know how the minister, in the course of his trip through the West, got the idea that a large number of people in the West were anxious that the time should be extended from three to five years. I know there are a few supercilious Canadians who always look with a sense of superiority on those of our citizens who were born on foreign soil, and say: Oh, we grant the rights and privileges of Canadian citizenship too easily, too readily, to these people, and the term should be five or seven years. In my judgment, this extension of time is absolutely unnecessary. The great mass of the people of the West, born on Canadian soil, born within the British Empire, are not anxious to have this time extended. A man coming to this country comes here solely for the purpose of bettering his condition, to spend his life here, to raise his family here; and he can have but one object in mind. He must become a permanent resident, and must adopt the flag and the ideals of citizenship of the country to which he comes. I think that the three years' probation is quite sufficient. To adopt the five years period to meet the requirements of the Imperial Act when you are granting Imperial naturalization is another proposition. Even if we do that, I think we should still retain the three year term for the purposes of local naturalization that will give all the rights and privileges that are enjoyed under our present naturalization laws.

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CON

Hugh Boulton Morphy

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MORPHY:

I have not had the pleasure of listening to the views propounded by the Minister of Justice, but I desire to fall in with the sentiments expressed by the hon. member for Humboldt (Mr. Neely). It has often appeared to me that the longer period of residence you require for the naturalization of aliens, especially those from southern Europe, the longer it will take them to recognize the responsibilities they owe to the country of their adoption. I believe if the period were shortened these men would more quickly realize not only the privileges they share in the new country to which they have come, but also the liabilities, the duties that they owe to the Government of that new country; in other words, the quicker they would appreciate in every way the new status that they had taken upon themselves. From a Canadian point of view, I have a very strong feeling that we have not been sufficiently aggressive about this matter. I have, and have had for many years, a strong feeling that the Imperial Parliament has not come as closely to us as it should have come. I do not see why, twenty years ago, the Imperial Parliament, having voiced the sentiment of British world power, even although they tend to look upon Canada as a colony, should not

have been so advanced in their legislation as to have put upon the statute book of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland an Act that would have made British subjects throughout the world recognize that they all had the same status as British subjects, whether they lived in the colonies or not. I feel that under these circumstances a strong protest should be made from Canadians that would reach the central authority in England and impress the Government there with the idea that there are hundreds of thousands of Canadians living in Canada, native-born British Canadians, who, feel that for lack of legislation of the proper kind they have not reached that status of world-wide British citizenship which they desire and deserve. I cannot conceive of a more (ridiculous position than the state of affairs that we have in this country. We, as an independent legislature, legislating so far as Canadian territory is concerned, have put upon on statute-book ami Act which says that we may naturalize an alien, but that our work is limited territorialy to the land under the jurisdiction of the Canadian Parliament. Surely the day has come when we ought to have, if we have not got it, some power-[DOT] and every British colony should have the same power-to declare that an alien, naturalized under the law of any colonial Parliament, is a British subject the world over. I understand that that is the intention, and I do not think that there should be any delay about it.

*Clause 2 of this Bill provides that the alien must be of good character and must have an adequate knowledge of eitheir the English or French language. Now, we have a very great German population in Canada, a population which is rapidly advancing in numbers, of the most estimable citizens that any state can have. I recognize that the language of the Bill is in keeping with our constitutional limits. Still that clause seems to me to be more or less offensive in specifying these two languages, English and French, and leaving out a language which is represented by people in every province of this Dominion, and in many places, in western Ontario, for' instance, in very large numbers. Take the whole Waterloo and Perth tract; any one living there would almost think that he was living in Europe so far as the nomenclature is concerned. You have your Berlin, your Hamburg, your StrasbuTg, your Mannheim, Your Nithburg,

Wartburg, Rostock, Neustadt, and so on. I merely wish to draw the minister's attention to the fact that in this country we have a splendid body of German citizens who deserve consideration in connection with this question. I am not prepared to offer a remedy myself, but I am drawing the minister's attention to this condition in the hope that the legislation may free up to some extent. A certain time must elapse before a language can ibe learned, but I agree to a very large extent with the hon. member for Humboldt (Mr Neely) that the sooner a man is naturalized, the sooner he will get into our way of living.

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LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

I agree entirely with

the remarks of the hon. member for North Perth (Mr. Morphy). This measure contains two contradictory principles; one is liberal, the other is reactionary. The measure is liberal in that it provides that a British subject shall be recognized as such in every part of the empire. That has been sought for a good many years without success, the question having been discussed on several occasions at the different Imperial Conferences. As the right hon. leader of the Opposition said yesterday, my hon. friend has at last found a convenient way of removing the obstacles in the way of empire-wide naturalization. We agree with that principle. A British citizen in Canada should be a British citizen in every part of the empire. The reactionary principle is in extending the period of residence in Canada from three to five years before one can be recognized as a British subject, and giving the Secretary of State very arbitrary powers. I do not see why the period has been extended. This country invites immigration; in fact, it advertises for immigrants of the agricultural and domestic classes, I can quite understand why the period of residence is longer in England. As was stated by several hon. gentlemen yesterday, England does not want immigrants, and it is obvious that the British Government is not going to invite aliens to share in the good things provided by recent social legislation in England. Why should England invite the aliens of central and southern Europe to participate in Mr. Floyd George's old age pensions and other similar laws? Another reason why England does not want immigrants is that the area of the British Isles is limited and cannot sustain the population that a large country like Canada can. But I see no reason why

in a country like ours, with 400,000 or perhaps 500,000 immigrants coming in every year, we should extend the period of residence. As the hon. member for .North Perth stated a moment ago, the sooner our immigrants realize the advantages of British citizenship, the better it will !be for them and the country.

This being a bilingual country my hon. friend has included in the Bill a clause by which the two official languages are to be the test for immigrants, and I am very glad to see that principle embodied in the Bill. But I am broad and generous enough to also consider the claims of other races. As has just been said by my hon. friend from North Perth, we have a large community of Germans in this country and I daresay there are no better immigrants. My friends from the West can testify to their worth not only as regards conforming with the laws and conditions of the country, but generally as being an exceedingly desirable class of immigrants. Not very long ago I had the pleasure of meeting here the Bishop of Regina, Mgr. Mathieu, and he told me how prosperous and progressive the German residents of his diocese were and how clean and healthy. If, therefore, we bar the naturalization of these immigrants 'by a stringent language test, we shall certainly be injuring the German immigration movement to this country. No section, I venture to say, is so interesting, so rich, and so far advanced as the German section of Ontario.

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LIB
LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

Yes, but the older immigrants do not. I daresay that in the two Waterloos-I am sorry the hon. member (Mr. Weichel) is not here-there are old Germans who do not speak a word of English, just as in Nova Scotia there are old Scotchmen who speak nothing but Gaelic. In the western provinces the Germans are far away from schools; they do not come into contact with the English and French-speaking people; they are almost segregated-for Germans mostly live in a community by themselves-it is therefore very' difficult for them, especially those of the older generation, to learn either of the official languages. I dare say that only a very small minority of the older generation can speak English. At all events, I think my bon. friend should certainly extend the courtesy of the test to the German language, for after all it is a sister language of Teutonic origin. It seems to me it would be in the

interests of Canada to extend that privilege to the Germans. The German and English languages are very similar, although, of course not so similar as the English and French languages, for in an ordinary page of English half of the words are French. In South Africa, any European language is the test.

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CON

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DOHERTY:

If this were a matter

of exercising courtesy to the different classes of immigrants, there is no doubt a great deal in what has been said by the hon. member for North Perth and the hon. member for Rouville in connection with the languages. But we have to remember one thing-and a very valuable thing which we are getting under this legislation. We are providing for naturalization that will extend throughout the empire, and we can only get that by co-operation between the home Parliament and the legislatures of the different dominions. Therefore, we alone cannot dictate the conditions.

In England there is only one language and the requirement is that there shall be an adequate knowledge of the English language, and as far as they were willing to go with regard to the outside possessions was that wherever in an outside possession there was a language that was also official, either the English language or that language would meet the requirement. We are passing legislation to make British subjects in England, and in England they take the view that as they are not willing to accept British subjects unless they have a knowledge of the English language they attach importance to the naturalized person knowing one of the languages that is official in the dominion that is doing the naturalizing. The purpose of all these requirements is to assure ourselves that people will understand the language in which the laws they have to obey are enacted, and in Canada the laws are enacted in English and in French. I quite share in the high appreciation of our German population, expressed by hon. gentlemen, and one of the things that goes to indicate what an intelligent people they are and how they realize the conditions under which they live, and how desirous they are to fit themselves in every way to be good British subjects, is that it will be very rare that one of that race who has lived five years in this country has not attained sufficient knowledge of the English language to understand it and make himself understood in it, and that is the extent of the requirement. There are numerous languages throughout our western provinces and the suggestion leads us

to the place where we will have to sit down and discriminate .between different languages and take them all in. We are safe in following the line adopted by the British legislation and assented to by all the other dominions and keeping to the two official languages.

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LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

Let it be well understood that as regards British citizenship in the empire I quite agree with this legislation. As regards Canada, we have had a local naturalization law which would admit worthy citizens like the Danes, the Norwegians, the Swedes, who are the best immigrants, hut under the test provided for in this Act they could not get naturalization.

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CON

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DOHERTY:

We could pass another Act for that purpose.

At one o'clock the Committee took recess.

The Committee resumed at three o'clock.

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LIB

David Bradley Neely

Liberal

Mr. NEELY:

Notwithstanding the explanation of the Minister of Justice with reference to subsection 3 of section 2, it seems to me that the minister is asking a great deal when he asks us to pass without protest the provision by which absolute discretion is given to the Secretary of State to decide whether or not he shall grant certificates of naturalization on application. After looking into the whole question, I think that this legislation is absolutely and totally uncalled for, so far as superseding the present Naturalization Act is concerned. The more I think of it the more I am confirmed in that view. I cannot see where any possible advantage is going to come to the Dominion by extending the term of probation from three years to five, and I do not see where any injury or harm has been done to our standards of citizenship by the three years' probationary period under the present law. If any naturalized citizen in Canada wants to have the status of a British subject in any part of His Majesty's Dominions, all that is necessary is that the minister bring in legislation providing the special procedure by which that may be done. The minister has gone beyond the necessities of the case altogether in raising the standard, as is done in this Bill, by extending the term of probation by two years. For my part, I think the minister would be well advised if he would leave the naturalization law as it now exists. I take the position taken by my hon. friend (Mr. Morphy) this morning, that the sooner we

put the responsibility upon the new citizen of Canada, the better for the citizen and the better for Canada; and three years, in my judgment, ought to be quite sufficient for a new-comer to this country to become fairly familiar with our laws so far as they concern and affect him as a citizen. In my own constituency, I have, a number of people who do not speak, read or write the English language, or the French language for that matter; but I have had occasion more than once to discuss with these people through interpreters public questions and the laws of this country as they affect the average citizen, and it has been a matter of great surprise to me-to see the breadth of knowledge and the grasp of the conditions and the laws of this country that these people possess. As a matter of fact, we are going to impose this onerous condition when all that a great majority of these people who come here from foreign countries need is the status of British subjects within the Dominion of Canada. If any of these naturalized citizens become sufficiently well off after a number of years in Canada and wish to travel in foreign lands, then they may desire to have the status of British subjects the world over. In such cases it ought to be possible for them to take the necessary steps under legislation of this Parliament in order to acquire that status. To say that no man shall enjoy the rights of Canadian citizenship without putting in this longer term of probation, is making the condition of citizenship in this country altogether too onerous.

I have not yet heard the Minister of the Interior explain how he is going to amend the land laws in order to meet this altered condition. Something will certainly have to be done, because at the present time the Department of the Interior, as we all know, require that the applicant for a homestead on our western prairies must take the oath of allegiance and become a naturalized British subject in Canada before he can obtain his patent. That matter has not been adjusted up to the present time, and I see nothing on the Order Paper to show that the Minister of the Interior is going to bring down legislation to amend the land laws during this session. It is proposed that this Bill shall become law on the first of January of next year. Before we get to the point next session when such legislation can be introduced, when an applicant applies for his patent after three years' residence on a homestead, the Department of the Interior will require that he furnish the oath of allegiance, which he will be unable to do.

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LIB

Michael Clark

Liberal

Mr. MICHAEL CLARK:

What is the

term of probation in the United States?

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CON

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DOHERTY:

Five years, the term that we are providing here.

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LIB

David Bradley Neely

Liberal

Mr. NEELY:

Does not the applicant in the United States enjoy many of the privileges of citizenship before the period of probation of five years is completed?

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CON

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DOHERTY:

That depends upon what you define as the privileges of a citizen. Anything a man enjoys before he becomes a citizen is necessarily not the privileges of a citizen. We may grant rights to people who are not citizens just as we provide with regard to the matter of the -land laws. This is entirely a question of when a man is to be recognized as a British subject, and it has nothing to do with other rights which may or may not be given.

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LIB

David Bradley Neely

Liberal

Mr. NEELY:

The minister will recognize that this affects other questions than that of a settler obtaining the patent for his land. It will affect a man's use of the franchise', making necessary still further revisions. That bears out my contention that if the present naturalization laws of Canada had been left unamended so far as Canada is concerned and special legislation brought in for the benefit of those who wish their Canadian citizenship advanced to imperial citizenship, all these difficulties would have been avoided.

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

This point, I suppose is settled, and we must take the decision of the minister that the period of probation must be five years. I have serious objection to subsections 3 and 5 granting new powers to the Secretary of State. Subsection 3 says:

The grant of a certificate of naturalization to any such alien shall be in the absolute discretion of the Secretary of State of Canada, and he may, with or without assigning any reason, give or withhold the certificate as he thinks most conducive to the public good, and no appeal shall He from his decision.

In other words, you provide machinery for aliens who desire to become citizens, but when the alien passes through that machinery, when he has gone before the judge and has the judge's decision that naturalization should be granted him, the Secretary of State may, without reason given and without possibility of appeal, deny him that privilege. The reasons given for this by the Minister of Justice yesterday do not seem to me to be adequate. I understand him to say that there may be cases in which for reasons which cannot 1 e

told, it may be conducive to the public welfare that a man should not be given aaturalization. In other words, you re-establish in the hands of the Secretary of State the power which at one time was he'd by the King of England but which no ionger exists. I do not know any justification fcr that. This section provides that a man must be of good character in order to be naturalized and when he establishes bis good character before the judge I do not see why he should not be naturalized.

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May 23, 1914