privileges, and are enabled to exercise them to exert a control over the destinies of our defenders overseas.
Very briefly stated those are the main facts of the situation that confronts us, and they are sufficient, I think, to bring home to the mind of every member of this House the certain truth that on the franchise as it stands to-day, on what may be described as a peace franchise, a very grave and a very gross injustice will be done to those men. The injustice is done not only to them but it is brought home to Canada. The injustice really is done xo the Canadian nation, should an election take place on the franchise as it stands to-day, eliminating the influence of these men, eliminating entirely the voice of those who have fallen and are prisoners, eliminating entirely the voice of those who fight in the Allied forces but were formerly citizens of this country, stripping entirely thoseAnen of the personal force which they should of right exert.
It is mainly to meet those conditions that the Bill, which I now have the honour to move to introduce, is brought before this House. The measure constitutes an attempt to repair, so far as Parliament can repair, the injustice which I have described as falling under present legislation on our overseas forces, and ultimately on Canada herself. The only method of Teaching a result that may be said best to represent or to re-echo the voice of our soldiers abroad is to reach their representatives at home. If the direct vote cannot be obtained, if the direct influence cannot be obtained, then the best way to repair that injustice, at all events the only way that seems available, is to reach such of their kin at home who can best be said to be likely to vote in sucn a way and to influence the electors in such a way as they themselves would do were they upon our shores. Consequently, this Bill provides a measure of woman enfranchisement which endeavours to attain that end.
It will be remembered that earlier in this session the Prime Minister intimated to the House that there would be a measure of woman suffrage should an election appear in sight, a measure of woman suffrage granted under such conditions and limitations as Parliament might provide. Parliament is now facing the necessity of providing those limitations. In this connection hon. members should keep especially in mind the fact that a very substantial portion of the women of this country who are now British subjects, and who, under any general scheme of enfranchisement
would be entitled to vote, have become British subjects by a process of constructive naturalizaton, by the naturalization of a parent, or by marriage. Remembering this, it seems very plain, indeed, that it would be unfair and unreasonable at this time, and under the shadow of this war, that an unlimited woman suffrage should be granted. The necessity, then, of drawing a line is at once upon us, and it has been decided, and it is embodied in this Bill, that the line so to be drawn shall be the line of service. Not only do those who are nearest of Kin to the overseas forces more likely represent in sentiment and in purpose the voice and will of those who are fighting for us, out also those whose sons, whose brothers, and whose husbands have gone to the battlefield, have given a service and made a sacrifice in this war of a character higher and greater than that which any other person is -able to give or to make. Consequently, on the ground not only of their representative capacity, but of the service and sacrifice which they have rendered, it is not unjust or unfair that those nearest of kin to our soldiers overseas should be given special recognition at this time.
The Bill, therefore, provides that the wives, the widows, the mothers, the sisters, and the daughters of the members past or present of the actual overseas force shall have the right to vote -in the war-time election. This privilege does not extend to euch relatives of those of our expeditionary forces as have not gone overseas. They are still with us, and the same reasoning does not apply to them. They, of course, can vote, but their relatives are not enfranchised.
The Bill has another aspect which I shall now explain. In- this country we have a substantial portion of our population who are of alien enemy birth, or alien enemy blood, or near extraction. Many of these people have been citizens of Canada for a great number of years; many of them have become accustomed to our institutions, and as years have gone by they doubtless have been more arid more divorced in sympathy from the land of'-their nativity. But, on the other hand, there are a large number who are comparatively recent arrivals in this country, and who consequently have not the same sense of Canadian and-British nationality as have we, and who cannot be expected to have wholly separated themselves from the sympathies and predispositions which governed them in the land
whence they came. Furthermore, inasmuch as war service should be the basis of war franchise, -and inasmuch as from the commencement of this war, not only in Canada, but in Great Britain, it has been found undesirable and unwise to accept those of the citizens of the class I have described for the highest service of war, it does not seem unreasonable that they should not exercise, during the war, that control of our destinies which is vested in the franchise. It is in a sense unfair to those men themselves, many of whose sons and brothers are fighting in armies in Europe against us, that they should be asked to take up the real war burden and go to battle against their next of kin. It is also unfair to them that in the midst of such a war they should be called upon to determine by their vote the vigour, or the direction, which that war should take, while their next of kin and their brothers, or their sons, are fighting in the armies against us. That argument has been advanced to usbysome of this class themselves.
Not only is it unfair to them that they should be asked to decide the destiny and the vigour of a war against their brothers in Europe, but it is unfair to the rest of the population that they should have the right to so decide. I am quite free to admit, that, taken all in all, those who come from alien enemy countries have, in the main, during the progress of this war, conducted themselves satisfactorily within lines of obedience to the laws of Canada. It is not based on any complaint of that kind that the principle embodied in this Bill is adopted. It is because of the reasons I have mentioned, namely, that those who cannot in the nature of things be absolutely divorced in sympathy or sentiment from the peoples from whom they come should not be permitted, in justice to the rest of the population, to exercise a measure of control over the destinies of the war against those peoples, because it would be unfair to them to ask them to go to the polls and vote on an issue which decides to a degree the vigour, the purpose and the destiny of that war. It is also because war service should be the basis of war franchise. The two should go hand in hand- the obligation and the privilege. If, for reasons special to themselves, these people are not in a position to render war service of the highest kind they should not be entitled to the franchise while the war is on.
There has not occurred as yet in any great country engaged in this struggle of
unprecedented dimensions a general election. Where democracy governs nations in this war, it has not as yet left to individualism, by means of the ballot, the determination of the conduct of the war, save in one country alone. That country is Australia. When they were, in Australia, facing a situation such as we face to-day, but by no means as aggravated as ours, they prepared by legislation for the contest along lines similar to those of this Bill. They, however, disqualified for the war time election all of their citizens who were of alien enemy birth no matter how long they had been in Australia or how long they had been naturalized. This Bill does not go that far. This Bill disqualifies, for the war time election, those of alien enemy birth, or of other European birth and of alien enemy mother tongue or native language, who have been naturalized since the 31st March 1902. All who were naturalized prior to that date remain in the enjoyment of the exercise of the franchise. In Australia they made exceptions of any who had sons or brothers enlisted in the overseas forces engaged in the war. In Canada we allow the exception to go further and we admit to the franchise any whose sons or grandsons or brothers are enlisted in the overseas forces. There was an exception also in Australia of Armenians and Syrians known to be entirely out of sympathy with Turkey. We are making the same exception here. But, for the wider exceptions which I have named, our law in this regard follows the lines of the Australian law. Aa far as the franchise is concerned, these constitute the two fundamental changes brought about by this Bill.
It is further to be noted that -whosoever is disqualified from voting by this measure is at the same time exempted entirely from combatant service in the war.
Heretofore the Dominion franchise has been, in seven provinces of Canada, the provincial franchise. Whomsoever the provincial legislatures admitted to the franchise was admitted to the fran chise in a Dominion contest, save in Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Yukon. In those provinces and that territory, there has always been a Dominion franchise; that is a Dominion qualification for admission to the franchise at Dominion elections. By this Bill the provincial franchise is adopted in every province of Canada including Alberta and Saskatchewan. It cannot, of course, be adopted in the Yukon as there is no Yukon franchise.