September 8, 1917

CON

Richard Bedford Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. B. BENNETT:

There are also

some from Bukowina.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

Yes, I know some come from Bukowina. I do not wish to go into all the details. The conditions are somewhat different, the people, however, are identical in race. From the Carpathian mountains eastward, and from the Black sea northward, lies the country of the Little Russian people.

In ancient days there was a kingdom in that country, the capital being the city of Kief, now in Russia. At a certain period in history that part of Little Russia which is now Galicia became part of Poland by conquest, and the native people were made subject to the dominance of Poland. Later on, when Poland was partitioned, this section of Poland became a part of the Empire of Austria. So that in nationality these people are Austrians, but in race they are Russians; and, so far as this war is concerned, their sympathy is not with Austria but with Russia.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. B. BENNETT:

Is it not the fact

that their sympathy is neither with Austria nor with Russia, but rather towards the establishment of another kingdom of the character of Little Russia, such as they had in days of yore?

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

It was very natural that, from time to time, these people should revert, in their minds, to the condition of their former greatness, and there is a proposition for the establishment of a Ukraine -that is, of a southern Russia kingdom independent of Russia at large. But that only establishes the point I make that their sympathies have not been with Austria or the Central Powers.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. B. BENNETT:

Is it not a fact that during the last six or eight months, a propaganda has been carried on by the Central Powers, on the promise given these people that they would establish them as an independent kingdom, and that their sympathies have found direct expression in favour of Austria and Germany, by reason of the propaganda carried on in Canada

directly from those countries and also from the United States.

Mr. OLIV.EE: I can quite appreciate

that these people would be very receptive to a propaganda that would look to the reestablishment of their rape and kingdom, but I have yet to learn that the propaganda has been carried on in the name of Germany or Austria. I .have no doubt it was financed by Germany and Austria, but never carried on in their name, so that the people have no reason to look with gratitude to Germany or Austria because of that propaganda- Those who are not entirely pro-Russian are looking to an independent state of Ukraine or Little Russia, and in no case is their sympathy in any degree with the Central Bowers, either Germany or Austria, although they were citizens of Austria.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. E. B. BENNETT:

Is it not the fact- and I know it from personal inquiry-that among the Galicians, who are of Austrian descent, settled in Alberta, there is a very considerable number who have relatives, some holding the rank of general, fighting in the Austrian army, and that the ties of blood -are very, very strong with them, and these ties are manifested very frequently?

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

I do not wish to argue the point, but if that is to be a reason for disfranchising these people in Canada, what is to be said of the royal family of England, many of whose close relatives are fighting with the Germans? As .a matter of fact, the people referred to are citizens of Austria, and being in Austria they are subject to the military rules of Austria and must fight, of course, with the Austrian army. But I am speaking of these people as a race, and particularly of those of that race who are in Canada. Their sympathies, beyond any question, are not with Austria; they are either with the prospective Little Russia, or with Russia as she stands today. The loyalty of these people to Canada has never been questioned, except by the Government in so far as it has refused to accept their offers of military service. I want to say -to this House that when the war broke out there were specific offers of military service made by people of the Russian race-Ruthenians, Galicians, or whatever you are pleased to call them, offers to raise military forces to join the Canadian Expeditionary Force. For good or bad reasons, these offers were refused. But I know that in many individual cases members of that race are to-day members of

the expeditionary force, and are serving overseas. I should think that fully half of the 218th Battalion, with Colonel Cornwall in command, is made up of men of this Little Russian race. I do not know how they got by the policy of the Government which prohibited their enlistment, but, at any rate, it is a fact that the 218th Battalion went away from Canada with fully half of their members of that particular race, and there never has been any reason to question the loyalty of those people to Canada.

There is another class of people mentioned here, people of German speech, who were residents of Russia before they came to Canada. These people were in much the same position as those I have spoken of, residents of Galicia. They were colonists from Germany over a hundred years ago. Many of them colonized under Catherine II. They have lived there for generations, and have maintained their German speech. They enjoy certain special privileges, but not knowing Germany, except as a matter of memory or tradition, and having no part in kaiserism or junkerdom. They came to Canada. They have been good citizens of Canada, and ready and willing to do their part in everything connected with the war, or with the maintenance of the rights of Canada or the citizenship of Canada. I am sorry my hon. friend from Victoria (Mr. White) is not present, but I heard him say that, in all his constituency a certain settlement of German Moravians from Russia-if I do not mix the conditions up too much-were the most liberal contributors to the Patriotic Fund in that district.

Under these circumstances, I consider this Bill is without excuse and without reason. If there were any suggestion of . bad citizenship, of disloyalty under conditions of war, if there were any circumstances that would make an excuse for this enactment, they should he known; but I say there are none, speaking of these people as a whole-and if there are any individual cases, then I say those individual cases are to be dealt with just as others would be. That is what a government is for. There has been a great deal of provocation given those people in the early stages of the war; I am not blaming anybody for it but I merely state the fact that, in- the early stages of the war, the Mounted Police were ordered to collect all firearms from these people.

Suppose a man has been a citizen of Canada for fifteen or twenty years and his stake in the country, as is the case with

some of these people, runs into tens of thousands of dollars. If a mounted policeman goes into his house and demands the shotgun that he uses for shooting Tabbits or partridges, he would not be very favourably impressed with the conditions of the country in which he lives. I have yet to hear of any disturbance or of any objection to this procedure; the people recognized that there was a war on; that difficulties had to be met. So far as I am aware, they submitted to that condition without a murmur, although they did consider that it was an unnecessary hardship-and I consider so, too. In the light of these facts, when the Government oL Canada comes forward with an Act like this-breaking the faith of the Dominion with these people; declaring that their citizenship is no good, telling them in effect that they are not wanted in this country on terms of equality with other citizens-a blow is being struck at the progress and unity of this country that, this Government will be answerable for and that will do this country more harm than the Government can ever do it good.

As I said in the beginning of my remarks: what is the offence of which these people are guilty, or of which they are expected to be guilty? There is- only one thing that they can do in the case of an election; they can vote; that is all. They must vote for the candidates represented at the polls; presumably they must vote either Conservative or Liberal. If they are 'being disfranchised, it must be because it is expected that they will vote Liberal. Because, therefore, a citizen of Canada is suspected of an intention to vote Liberal, he is to be disfranchised by the act of this Government, which holds authority not from the people of Canada, but by the vote of this Parliament. Is it the intention of this Government to attempt to make the world believe that the Liberals of Canada have less heart in the prosecution of this war than the Conservatives have? If that is the intention, it is an attempt to brand within a fraction of half the people of this country as being disloyal. Is that a good way to strengthen Canada as one of the forces of the Empire? Is it true, Mr. Speaker? The place to find out whether or not that is true is in the casualty lists, not in the numbers of the safety-first brigade. If the casualty lists from one end of this country to the other are examined it will be found, if loyalty is measured by service and sacrifice, that the Liberals of Canada have done as much as our friends on the other side. I will go further, and say that the time has gone by when the

putting on of a military uniform is an evidence of service. The men who are fit for service in this war and have not offered themselves for such service are subject to rebuke. But what is to be said of the men and the officers in thousands who are wearing the uniform and drawing the pay without rendering the service? These are. found in the ranks not of the Liberal party, but of the Conservative party.

I do not know upon what information the Government founded their idea that they were going to secure an advantage by passing this legislation. But I say to them that if I know the English-speaking people of the West-and I think I do-this legislation will not appeal to them. They are in that country to build it up, with the assistance of those who are established alongside of them, who have been given the same rights of citizenship; and they realize that the only way in which a united country can be built up is by giving equality of rights. They will realize, when this legislation is introduced, and the rights which they enjoy are withdrawn from their neighbours, that permanent injury is done to them in every capacity as settlers and builders of the country. No party bickering in the election that is to come would ever compensate for that unfortunate condition. While the Government may, as a result of this legislation, disfranchise thousands of the persons whom they are pleased to call enemy aliens, they will establish in the minds of the fair-minded and right-thinking Englishspeaking people of the West an absolute belief in their injustice,, their unfairness, and theiT unfitness to carry on the government of this country.

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LIB

Onésiphore Turgeon

Liberal

Mr. ONESIPHORE TURGEON (Gloucester) :

Mr. Speaker, in rising to make a few remarks on the Bill now before the House, I am not actuated by selfish motives. As far as I am concerned, the Bill in question will have no prejudicial effect in the county which I have the honour to represent. In New Brunswick, particularly in the county of Gloucester, the only change affected by this measure will be in respect of the female vote of relatives of soldiers who have gone to- the front. Of course, the greater the number of voters who go to the polls, the larger the majority will be.

I protest most earnestly against some of the principles involved in this Bill, particularly the disfranchisement of so-called alien enemies. We have boasted during the past twenty-five or thirty years of the immigration to Canada from the countries of central Europe. The people who have

come [from those countries have been among our best citizens-; they have shown loyalty and devotion to the institutions of Canada and of the British Empire. Most of them left their native land in order to free themselves from the yoke of European rulers and they admit to the world the advantages they enjoy in this new country. They are amongst our best citizens, in regard to not only loyalty, but work. They have rais-ed the greatest crops and have shown an example to the Canadian farmers who have settled around them. It has been my privilege to meet some of them on different occasions, and to travel amongst them for days and days at a time. I have met them as I have met other Canadians. When they mingled together with the English Canadians and French Canadians, you would not know, were it not for their pronunciation, that they were foreigners. From their views and aspirations, you would consider them, not as strangers, but as brothers living under ithe same flag and the same institutions. It has been my privilege, on a few occasions, to address meetings largely composed of Austrian and German settlers in Saskatchewan and Alberta. On one particular occasion I attended a large convention of farmers in the riding of Red Deer, Alberta. The convention was held in the town of Pr-evost, where farmers of Austrian, German and other European nationalities had gathered together. I was able to judge of their aspirations and of their love for the country in -which they were living, and I remember the hearty applause with which my words were received when I spoke of the liberties which, they, together with other Canadian citizens, were enjoying under the British flag on this side of the Atlantic. That was about eight or ten days before the declaration of war, and their conduct ever since has been worthy of true British citizens. We induced those people to come here under the promises we made to them. We promised them, that when they came to Canada, they would enjoy all he privileges given to British subjects on this side of the Atlantic, and they have come here under those promises. Those promises have been made to the world at large. We expect more immigrants to come to Canada after the war is over. They may not come from Germany or Austria-I presume we shall not receive them for a number of years

but they may come from Russia, France and Belgium. If the people of Canada do not remain faithful to the pledges 'and promises made to the immigrants who came to Canada before the war, how can the world

at large depend upon the promises of Canada in the future? We want immigrants to come to Canada; we shall need them by the thousands, and we must to-d'ay give the same guarantee to the world for the future as we -have given for the last thirty years. It is on account of those promises that those people have come to Canada. Pledges should be maintained, should be respected. We have given guarantees to certain classes of immigrants who have come to Canada. I refer to the Mennon-ites and Doukihobors, who have been guaranteed that they will not be called upon to perform military services, and this Bill respects those guarantees. Why then not respect the guarantee given to those othtr people who have come here and have enjoyed tihe privilege of citizenship and have shown themselves- worthy of it? The statement has been spread broadcast throughout Canada that those people in the western provinces have been most generous to the Patriotic Fund. It has also been stated that some of those men are in the field today risking their lives in defence of Canada. Yet by disfranchising men of German or Austrian birth in this country, we are putting into the minds of the younger men of those nationalities, who in a few years will be of age to exercice their franchise, resentment against Canada on account of the pledges made to them being broken. I trust the Solicitor General or Ministei of Mines-when I look at him I am more apt to call him the Solicitor General, because I believe the duties of that position are more in accord with his natural proclivities-will again consider the matter and exercise his legal acumen as well as his patriotic proclivities in the direction in wihich he should have exercised them when he framed this Bill. This is a question of principle; it is a question of pledges to the world, of pledges to those people who have come here and the prosperity that the West has enjoyed during the past number of years has been, to a certain extent due to the flow of immigration to Canada as a result of those pledges. After the war is over, we shall require perfect accord and harmony amongst all our population, and we shall not have immediate harmony in this country after the war is over if this Bill goes into effect and inspires distrust of the pledges of Canada.

I have always been in favour of giving the vote to our soldiers. It has been my privilege to say in this House before that I am willing to give the vote to soldiers of the age of eighteen years who have en-

listed voluntarily, because in that manner they have testified to the world, and more particularly to Canada that they have studied the questions of the day and have felt it to be their duty to fight in defence of the liberties they enjoy under our constitution. It should, therefore, be the privilege of Canada to endow those soldiers with the franchise. I have no objection to the relatives of soldiers being permitted to vote. But if the Government desire to^extend the franchise to the female relatives of the soldiers, why not extend it to the women of Canada at large? By this Bill, an injustice is done to the women of five provinces of Canada, namely, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia, who have the right to vote under the present law. Those women have acquired that right, and have shown themselves worthy of it, and this Bill limits the women suffrage to the female members of the families of our soldiers. While the wives and sisters of our soldiers deserve the vote, many of the women in those five provinces are just as worthy of having the franchise as members of the families of our soldiers.

How many young men have offered their services and been rejected by the medical officers, and have gone home with tears in their eyes? I have seen them myself in my home town of Bathurst, in (Gloucester county, where .about twenty-five per cent of the men who offered their services were rejected by the medical authorities. Is not the mother or sister of a rejected volunteer just as worthy of a vote as the mother or sister of the young man who has been accepted and gone to the front? There is no difference between the two families at all. Why not extend the vote to all the women of Canada? While the women of the eastern provinces have never agitated very much for the franchise, they are just as capable of exercising it with intelligence and loyalty as the women of the West. I admit that the women of the West, related to the young men who have gone out there, have made a special contribution to the development of the country by helping to colonize and build up new territory. At the same time the women of the East are just as well 'able to exercise the franchise as those of the West. Why should not the franchise be given to the women of all the provinces?

I rose merely for the purpose of offering these few remarks. I trust that the Government will still further cogitate over the

provisions of this Act. I trust that they will not take away the franchise from the people of the West, and that they will expend the franchise to the women of every province in this country.

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CON

Albert Sévigny (Minister of Inland Revenue)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. ALBERT SEVIGNY (Minister of Inland Revenue):

I should like to say just a few words on a point that was raised a few .minutes ago, when it was contended that the Bill now under discussion was not printed in English and French. As I said before, I made inquiry about twelve o'clock to-day at the distribution office to see if the Bill had been printed in French, and was assured that it had been printed in English and French and had been distributed. Let me read to the House a declaration by Mr. T. W. Alexander, assistant distributor:

Ottawa, September 8, 1917. Bill 133 was received at 12.15 and immediately distributed. Hon. Mr. Sevigny telephoned at 12.30 and 1 assured him that the Bill, French and English, was distributed to all the officials. X have personally investigated and have seen that the Bills were distributed in the boxes of tha French members.

(Sgd.) T. W. Alexander.

I have also the following declaration by Mr. Boulet, Chief of Pages:

Mr. Alexander of the Distribution Office notified me about twelve that the Bill was ready in French, and in accordance I notified the pages to file the same, and the Bill was filed as usual.

(Sgd.) E. Boulet.

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LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

I think the proper

time to discuss this would be before the Orders of the Day are called on Monday, when the hon. member for Shefford, who is now absent, would probably be present. My hon. friend must know that he is out of order. The question is on the second reading of the Bill.

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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

There is no doubt at all that the question before the Chair is the second reading of the Bill. Now that the hon. member for St. John has raised the point of order, I must rule that the hon. member cannot proceed. The reason I did not interpose before was that I thought that the House would like to be seized of the facts on this point.

Mr. GEORGE E. McCRANEY (Saskatoon) : This Bill, which is described as the War-Time Elections Act, has some features about it of special interest to the public. It enfranchises women, with certain restrictions, in the eastern provinces, and with certain exceptions it disfranchises the women of Ontario and the western provinces. We have been led to believe by

discussions in the public press that the Government was going to revert to the old plan of having a Dominion franchise, as apart from a provincial franchise. If that had been done the question would have come to us in this Parliament as a new one altogether, whether or not we should enfranchise women. It was, however, made very clear by the Solicitor General in introducing this Bill that the provincial franchise in the various provinces was to be adopted with certain exceptions. The Solicitor General said:

By this Bill the provincial franchise is adopted in every province of Canada, including Alberta and Saskatchewan. It cannot of course he adopted in the Yukon as there is no Yukon franchise. The provincial franchise, subject to the operation of the two principles I have described in the foregoing part of my address, is adopted in every province, including Alberta and Saskatchewan.

We are now considering whether we shall disfranchise a great many women and leave only a comparatively few with the vote in their possession. This

II p.m. Bill also disfranchises large classes of male electors especially in western Canada. Of the enfranchisement of women who are the next of kin of soldiers, I heartily approve. It is a measure of enfranchisement; it is class legislation; it is not based on any principle except relationship, although in introducing the Bill the Solicitor General did put forward the proposition that the franchise was being given in virtue of the services and sacrifices of the women on whom it is conferred. As a matter of fact, it falls very far short indeed of conferring upon all those women who have given services and made sacrifices the franchise to which they are entitled.

If we had never before had manhood suffrage and at this time we were considering the question anew, we might make alterations in the manhood suffrage law and might prescribe qualifications, general in their character, which we have not done. But in regard to manhood suffrage, we have laid down certain qualifications, and it becomes most difficult at this time in our political history to restrict those qualifications. In the eastern provinces the Government propose to enfranchise only women who are next of kin of soldiers, and they pass judgment upon the good works of that great body of British and Canadian-born women who have been spending their days, since the commencement

of this war, in patriotic service, in Red Cross work, and in all those activities

fMr. McCraney.l

in which women can take part and by which they can show their loyalty to the soldiers at the front and the Empire. In regard to the women of the western provinces and Ontario, the ease is stronger, because the franchise is general as to women. In Manitoba a registration has taken place. Women have already taken their share in the provincial elections in Saskatchewan and Alberta, and in British Columbia the vote has been given to them. With discrimination against British-horn and Canadian-born women, this Government declares that all the work they have done day after day is not sufficient to qualify them to vote for members of Parliament, that they shall stand aside from that class in which they have been placed under provincial statutes, and that only those shall vote who vote by virtue of their relationship.

It is said that women hesitate, that they do not register and vote readily. In the city of Saskatoon a year ,ago there was a registration of voters under our provincial Act. At that time we had a visit from the right hon. the Minister of Trade and Commerce, and he was a witness to the efforts we were making to secure a complete registration. He lent us the aid of his eloquence in pointing out the obligations of citizenship, and I am sure that his appeals both to men and women were successful in assisting us in getting the fullest possible registration. The result was that over 6,700 men and women in that one city were registered, and there were 50 more women than men. I understand that in the recent registration in Winnipeg there were more women than men registered. We have found throughout the cities of the West that the women are willing to take their part in public affairs; that they will not only register hut that they will vote as the occasion comes. It will surprise me very much if, in view of the declaration of the Government that this franchise which is now given is based on the provincial franchise, women will without protest be disfranchised and be put alongside of the foreigners of alien enemy birth in their disfranchisement.

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CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROTHERS:

My hon. friend speaks about the proposal of the Bill to disfranchise women in the five western provinces of Canada. Will he he kind enough to tell us when and where women in Canada have ever been entitled to vote for members of this House? I may he mistaken, but I have the idea that we are not disfranchising them. To disfranchise women is to take

something from them that they have already. We are not proposing to take anything from, them which they already have, because they have never been entitled to vote so far as I am aware. -

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LIB

George Ewan McCraney

Liberal

Mr. McCRANEY:

My hon. friend is telling me and telling the House something that is not new to us.

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CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROTHERS:

You speak of disfranchising them.

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LIB
CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROTHERS:

We are not doing that.

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LIB

George Ewan McCraney

Liberal

Mr. McCRANEY:

I am speaking of it in reference to the provincial franchise and in reference to the declaration of the Solicitor General that they were adopting the provincial franchise with the exceptions that he mentioned.

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CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROTHERS:

We cannot disfranchise them as far as the province is concerned, if we would.

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LIB
LIB

September 8, 1917