September 8, 1917

LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

I think it is only fair to the French members of the House that they should be given, (time in which to read the Bill at least, which is a very bulky one. If I can. appeal to the chivalry of my hon. friend to yield to my request, I will not make the motion which I am allowed to make under the rules. Otherwise, I shall move that we proceed1 to another order, under rule 36.

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CON

Albert Sévigny (Minister of Inland Revenue)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SEVIGNY:

It is likely enough that some people would try to make a race question out of the alleged fact of this Bill not being printed in French. At twelve o'clock to-day I telephoned to the distribution office myself to inquire >about this Bill, and was told that ithe French version had been distributed before twelve o'clock to-day.

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LIB

Charles Arthur Gauvreau

Liberal

Air. GAUVREAU:

Better bring your man and we will tell him that is a lie.

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CON
LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

I have a file of all the Bills printed in both English and French, and I can assure my hon. friend that this copy of the Bill which I have received from Air. Speaker is the first one I have seen printed in French.

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CON
LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

I thank my hon. friend for it. Will not my hon, friend accept the word of the hon, member for Shefford (Air. Boivin), of the hon. member for Gloucester (Air. Turgeon), of the hon. member for

Drummond and Arthabaska (Mr. Brouil-lard), .and of the hon. member for Lotbin-iere (Mr. Fortier), all of whom' say that this is the first time they have seen the Bill printed in French? It seems to me only fair that no surprise should be sprung on the members of the minority, and I would appeal to my hon. friend the Minister of Inland. Revenue (Mr. Sevigny) to yield with good grace to my request. Besides, we are close to Sunday, and surely this is not a time to quarrel. May I expect a favourable answer from the Government?

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CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

I think my hon. friend may proceed with his motion.

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LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

I beg to move that the House do proceed to another Order, under Rule 36.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada; Minister of Mines; Secretary of State of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Mr. Speaker, I submit that this motion is not in order, li is the opposite to the motion which has passed the House, which was that we should proceed to the Orders of the Day. This gives the Government the right to name the orders to which we shall proceed.

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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

I do not think the hon. member for Rouville is in order in making his motion. Under rule 35 a motion for reading the Orders of the Day shall have preference to any motion before the House. We are now in the Orders of the Day and are considering a subsidiary order.

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LIB
CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

Rule 36 has to be read in conjunction with'rule 35. I still adhere to my decision, that the hon. member's motion is not in order, because we are now considering the Orders of the Day. The motion now before the House is for the second reading of Bill No. 133.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Hon. FRANK OLIVER:

If the Bill is not worthy of any further explanation to the House on its second reading, it will be incumbent upon me to give my views in regard to it. I notice that the title of the Bill is the "War Time Election Act." We are reminded of the fact that this country is at war, and it may be >as well at this particular juncture to consider for a moment why this country is at war. If I understand the issues correctly, we are fighting for the maintenance of free institutions and of human liberty, in Europe and throughout the world. It is generally recognized that at the head and in the forefront of that influence, of that power, of that principle against which we are fighting, stands Prussia and the principle of Prussianism. At the head of Prussia, as at the head of Germany, as the head of the Central Powers, as at the head of this world-war, stands the Kaiser, the representative on earth to-day of autocratic authority. But the Kaiser is only a part of the institution of autocracy which we speak of as Prussianism. Behind the Kaiser, supporting the Kaiser, forcing the Kaiser, if you like, is the junker aristocracy of Prussia supported by a military caste which is given an undue proportion of influence by a peculiar franchise Act. It is a notable fact that we who are fighting and giving of our resources to the limit, whose sons are dying to break down that condition as it prevails in Europe and which proposes to dominate the world, are to-day facing the introduction of an identically similar condition in this our own country, the introduction taking place under the name of patriotism, loyalty, and the maintenance of the principles for which we are fighting. The kaiser in our country is our Government, an oligarchy self-elected. It is supported, as it was created, by an aristocracy of wealth, an aristocracy which includes the munitions profiteers, the men who corner the food of the people, the manufacturing monopolists, the railroad exploiters, and the boa-constrictors of high finance. This is the junker aristocracy in our country. This is the organization that our kaisers across the floor represent, and this Bill, as its predecessor, the Military Voters Act, is for the purpose of establishing in this country af military caste with special voting powers and authority, to be depended upon by this junker .aristocracy and this oligarchic kaiserism, who are proposing to give special voting privileges to special classes of people. It has usually been supposed that the institutions of government were for the benefit of the citizens, and that the climax of free government was control by the citizens. But we have it provided in the Military Voters Act, and in the WarTime Elections Act, that citizenship shall not constitute the right to vote, that there shall be a division between ' the right of military service and the right'of citizenship. It is established that because a man is a soldier, though he never was a citizen of Canada, though he never intends to be a citizen of Canada, he still shall be a voter of Canada, and his vote shall be cast wherever it pleases himself, or those from whom he takes his direction, to cast that vcte. In the War-Time Elections Act it is provided that our soldiers shall vote, that

their wives and their relatives shall vote, but that other women of the community shall not be entitled to vote. In order to create that special military class in this country we are to disfranchise the women of five of the great provinces of Canada just as, in order to establish a military class, we give the franchise to men who never saw Canada and probably never will see it. There is no argument, then, as to what the purpose, the intent and the necessary effect, of the legislation of these two Bills is and is to be. Frankly, the Government has proclaimed its policy in other matters along these same lines. We all recall that when the Prime Minister made his announcement of the introduction of the principle of conscription for military service into this country from his place in the House, he threatened with violence at the hands of the soldiery .any man who, in this free Parliament and in this free country, dared to express his opinion against that measure.

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CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

Will my hon. friend say that that is a literal translation of the statement made by the Prime Minister?

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

No, I do not say it is a literal translation, but 1 say it is certainly a correct translation beyond any argument. Further, I will say that the word of the Prime Minister has been taken up, and the right hon. gentleman can read it any day m the columns of the special newspaper organs of the Prime Minister throughout this country-this hitherto free Country of Canada. I do not know how far the Prime Minister and the oligarchy that sits with him are under the impression that they can terrorize the people of Canada. I do not know how many they can terrorize, but there are some whom they cannot terrorize. We still believe in right and liberty, we still believe in a free country. We who have sent our sons to fight for liberty in Europe intend to stand for liberty in Canada.

One of the great features of this Bill is ite measure of disfranchisement of citizens of Canada. Although men shall have been entitled by the law of Canada, and under the authority of Britain, to the rights, privileges, immunities and liabilities of citizenship for a period of fifteen years, it pleases the kaiser, his oligarchy and his junker support, because he hopes thereby to secure the militarist support, to break faith-to break the faith of Canada-with these people and to deprive them of their rights as citizens. What are these men guiltjr of that

they should be deprived of their citizenship? What have they done or what have they left undone that they should be singled out to be deprived of that right of which they became possessed in due and legal form and to which the faith of Canada and of the Empire was pledged at the time that right was granted them? What have they done? Have they committed a breach of the law? Have they in any degree acted against the best interests of this country? Have they refused to take part in this war with Canada on behalf of Britain ana her Allies? Not so Mr. Speaker. We had it on the authority of the Prime Minister that the services of these men had not been accepted as a matter of Government policy since this war began. I ask you, Sir, on what ground have these men been disfranchised, except the ground that they stand accused, in the minds of our Government and its supporters, of the high crime and misdemeanor of being liable to vote Liberal at tlie next election.

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LIB
LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

That, and only that. Who are those people who are to be disfranchised? To be as brief as possible, and to avoid going into too many details, I would say they belong chiefly to two classes, men of German descent, and men of Russian descent.

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

Austrian.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

If these people of German descent had come from Germany imbued with the ideas that are part of the education of every man in Germany, I could understand that there might be some aues-tion as to their attitude towards this country and our cause in this war. So far as my knowledge goes, and I have considerable knowledge on the subject, the great majority of the people who are spoken of as Germans in the Prairie Provinces, never saw Germany, -their fathers never saw Germany, and their grandfathers never saw Germany, except it might have been in passing through Germany to come to Canada. Speaking of the large majority of those with whom I am familiar, their ancestors were Germans, but more than one hundred years ago they left Germany as colonists under the auspices of the empire of Austria, to occupy lands allotted to them in the Austrian province of Galicia, where they were given. certain privileges and certain opportunities. It seemed good to them to go there, and one of the reasons they went was because they wished to escape from, or because they objected to, the es-

tablishment of German militarism which was then being established in their home country. They removed to Galicia and established themselves there. They grew, and prospered in a moderate degree, from generation to generation. When militarism became established thoroughly in Austria, those people found military service irksome, they found the economic conditions undesirable, and they emigrated to Canada. They came here on the promise by the Canadian Government, held out to every man who came, that if they came with good intent and with honest purpose to help build up our Canadian country, they would be entitled to and would receive all the rights of Canadian citizenship. They have done their part towards building up the country. They have fulfilled in letter and in spirit their part of the bargain; and because, for some reason unknown to me this Government believes that at the coming election they are likely to vote Liberal, these people are disfranchised. I care not on their account that they are disfranchised; it makes little difference to them, or, I may say to the Liberal party of Canada, or the prairie West. But it makes a stupendous difference to Canada that we shall have within our borders men of good faith, who have come in good faith, who have fulfilled every obligation laid upon them by the state in good faith, and with whom we break faith without cause or provocation. How can we expect to build up a sound and solid citizenship in this country under such circumstances? I consider that this so-called War-Time Elections Act will set this country back an untold number of years in the process of building up a united and progressive Canada. It is in the same class as the campaign which has been carried on persistently by those same gentlemen against the French-speaking population of the province of Quebec, a campaign intended to establish, and unfortunately only too successful in establishing, a division between the two great races in this country, a division that tends to weakness, because it tends to disunion at the very time when above everything else we need unity in order that we may have strength. What this Government has done persistently, has done through its organizations, through its orators and through its newspapers for the last eight or ten years, it is proposing to repeat now in the prairie West; attacking a different class of people, but attacking them with as little provocation and as little reason, and I am afraid with as deplorable results.

There is another class of people in the prairie West who will be subject to this disfranchisement. I speak of those who are generally known as Galicians. They, also come in large measure from the province of Galicia, a province which is now Austrian, but which at one time was a province of Poland, and before that was a part of the country which was known as Little Russia.

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September 8, 1917