April 5, 1946

LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Secretary of State of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

May I say-

Topic:   CANADIAN CITIZENSHIP
Subtopic:   NATIONALITY, NATURALIZATION AND STATUS OF ALIENS
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LIB

William Henry Golding

Liberal

The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr. Golding):

Order.

Topic:   CANADIAN CITIZENSHIP
Subtopic:   NATIONALITY, NATURALIZATION AND STATUS OF ALIENS
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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Secretary of State of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

The hon. member has

given me permission to say this, Mr. Speaker. Under the present law the non-Canadian British subject must reside in Canada for five years before becoming a citizen under the immigration Act. That has been the law of the land for over twenty-five years, in this and practically every dominion of t'he commonwealth-before he can acquire domicile under the Canadian Immigration Act, which is the only existing definition of citizenship in this country.

Topic:   CANADIAN CITIZENSHIP
Subtopic:   NATIONALITY, NATURALIZATION AND STATUS OF ALIENS
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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. FULTON:

I do not mind allowing the minister to ask a question, but when he proceeds to make a speech and to quote the Immigration Act when I am referring to the electoral act and the right to vote and the right to be a citizen, then I must say I cannot allow the minister to go on ahy longer. I am talking about the essence of citizenship; I cannot be any clearer than that, and I submit that it will be denied to a British subject when this bill becomes law. At one stroke, by one arrant gesture of isolationism, Canada is throwing aside and cutting dowm the one approach that has yet been made to a world citizenship.

Topic:   CANADIAN CITIZENSHIP
Subtopic:   NATIONALITY, NATURALIZATION AND STATUS OF ALIENS
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?

An hon. MEMBER:

Beating a dead horse!

Topic:   CANADIAN CITIZENSHIP
Subtopic:   NATIONALITY, NATURALIZATION AND STATUS OF ALIENS
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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. FULTON:

I am not beating the C.C.F. yet; then I would be beating a dead horse.

The third subject to which I wish to address myself briefly to-night is the question of the enlargement or expansion of Canadian citizenship. Here I should like to pay tribute to the hon. member for Lake Centre (Mr. Diefenbaker), who first brought this subject to my attention at least and who, I think, has taken the lead in bringing it to the attention of this house and of the country generally. He has brought to the attention of the house in a most forceful manner all through the years he has been here the dangerous threats to our citizenship and to our liberty which are inherent in the present trend of government. Speaking in this house on this bill a day or two ago he said he felt that the minister should proceed further. He has now introduced a bill which seeks to clarify the status of Canadian citizenship, and the hon. member felt the minister should go further and that he or some member of the government should introduce a bill of rights which would safeguard forever the privileges which are ours when we acquire Canadian citizenship.

I submit that the time has come when this country does need a bill of rights. I do not want to labour the point, but we have heard a great deal about a forgotten order in council. The Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice (Mr. St. Laurent) rose in their places and told us that an order in council had been passed. We heard them describe their reluctance to accept that order in council, which infringed upon the rights of Canadians, and we heard them say that after it had been passed they forgot it. Some journalist-this is not an original expression with me-permitted himself to wonder-and I just say I share his amazement, since these two powerful individuals were so opposed to the passage of that order in council-just who it was got around them and persuaded them to pass it. Perhaps, this journalist said, it was the office boy. Well, Mr. Speaker, I submit that it is time we had a bill of rights which would safeguard us against the malevolent influences of office boys, if that is the way this country is run.

On the general subject, we have heard a great deal about citizenship. It is a magnificent concept and one which I submit is worth safeguarding. Human experience shows that we are apt to forget the lessons of the struggle for liberty; that liberty rests so easily on the shoulders of the people, is so welcome, so acceptable, that the necessity for constant watchfulness to preserve it is easily forgotten. Therefore it seems that we should take every

Canadian Citizenship

precaution to make sure that we can wear safely and lightly that mantle of liberty, that cloak which is ours -by virtue of our citizenship. We should safeguard it by introducing a bill of rights.

Finally, I wish to leave this thought with the house. I should have liked to conclude my remarks with a few words in French, 'but I did not actually expect to speak this evening, and I do not yet trust myself to speak in French to this distinguished chamber without first preparing my remarks. But I should like in closing to leave this thought with the house, that the first and perhaps still the greatest Canadian was the man who united Canada in confederation, 1867. The next great Canadian will be the man who truly reunites Canada at any time in the future.

Topic:   CANADIAN CITIZENSHIP
Subtopic:   NATIONALITY, NATURALIZATION AND STATUS OF ALIENS
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CCF

Frederick Samuel Zaplitny

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. F. S. ZAPLITNY (Dauphin):

Much that has been said on this subject has been very interesting to me, and some of it practically fascinating, but it is perhaps unfortunate that whenever an important measure of this kind comes before this house the discussion seems to overflow into all sorts of by-paths and side-lines which really have nothing to do 'with the measure. I would not want to interfere with anyone's right to express an opinion, nor would I take any exception to opinions expressed, but I respectfully submit that much of the discussion we heiTrd to-night was not on the bill; it was not even on the beam.

I do not believe there is anything sinister or omnious about this bill. It has not been sprung upon us suddenly, as last night some hon. gentleman said another measure was sprung on us. This bill was introduced in very much the same form last year, and hon. members have had an opportunity of studying it and carefully considering its implications ever since last fall. I do not always agree with the government; more often than not I disagree. This time I think the minister is to be complimented on the work he has done. I believe this bill is something the people of this country have wanted. I have no hesitation in expressing my approval of it, and I think the same can be said of all hon. members of our group, because it happens that a Canadian citizenship was one of the things we included in our party platform. Therefore we feel that we have a mandate from the people who sent us here, to support such a measure. But even if there were not I would still feel it is the general opinion of the people of Canada that there is no harm at the present time-and certainly there are great possibilities of good-in having

on the statute books something which will give us officially an opportunity to call ourselves Canadians in every respect. I do not see anything there to quarrel about.

There may be details that will have to be changed. I believe that the hon. member who sits in front of me has some amendments which he will propose when we get into com mittee. But we are now speaking to the principle of the bill, and I believe that principle is one which is acceptable to all sides of the house.

I do mot think we should engage in histrionics or emotional outbursts in respect of measures which require as much cooperation and unity as we say this one does. I want particularly to compliment the officials who drew up the bill, and also the minister, upon having included in it a provision for instruction and education- in citizenship. I believe that if these provisions are carried out properly and if sufficient money is appropriated to make it possible to do this work, with a view to impressing upon those who are becoming naturalized just what privileges and rights are involved and, what is more important, the responsibilities which go with citizenship, that will be money and time well spent.

This is something which has been needed for a long time. I also suggest to the minister and the house that in future it might be wise to provide all immigrants with a pamphlet setting out in an understandable form the status of aliens. They must understand their position, and a pamphlet of that kind would help keep them out of trouble, and help them to appreciate the advantages, responsibilities and privileges of citizenship. It would help them along that road from the status of alien to that of citizen, step by step. The immigrant would be able to compare his position upon entry into the country with that far more advantageous position he can ocupy if he makes an effort toward improving his position.

I would also suggest that in future we make greater use of our facilities for adult education. I am referring particularly to rural and semirural areas, where most of the immigration finds its way. I can say from experience that in those areas there are many schoolteachers who would be only too happy to provide evening classes for immigrant children and adults so that they might have the first elements and rudiments of democracy, citizenship, and the Canadian way of life.

I have had some practical experience in that respect. I taught in a district where there was a group of immigrants, and during a couple

Canadian Citizenship

of winters I conducted classes in which adult education was taught. I can assure the house that not only was it advantageous to them, but it was a great education to me to have an opportunity to interpret to them the Canadian way of life. In>

that way I got a better appreciation of it myself.

In concluding, let me say that if we are to reach that stage of unity which all seem so anxious to attain, I believe we shall do it best and most effectively by emphasizing in the house those things we have in common, rather than those which seem to divide us. It is for that reason that I was not very happy while the hon. member for Vancouver South (Mr. Green) was speaking this evening. I should not like to say anything that would offend him, because I have great admiration for his ability. I felt, however, that during part of his speech he was getting into territory that did not bring any advantage to this discussion or to the political group with which he is affiliated.

In particular, he attempted to make a case against people who have resided in this country for twenty years or more, who have been granted citizenship or naturalization without having to have a knowledge of English or French. I would be the last to suggest that they should not be motivated toward learning either of the two official languages; or, still better, both of them. But with respect, may I submit to him, that there are people in Canada, some of whom I know personally, who have contributed a great deal to the development of this country, but who have had no opportunity to learn either of the official languages.

For instance, I know a lady-and now she is fairly old-who sent six of her sons to the last war. Most of them did not come back. She does not know how to speak either English or French. Would the hon. member for Vancouver South say that she is not entitled to vote, after that sacrifice and that contribution to Canada? Her case could be multiplied by the hundreds, probably by the thousands, and I suggest that before we take a narrow' or intolerant view, we should take careful thought, lest we offend far more people than we have dreamed of.

I am not accusing the hon. member; I am simply pointing out that if we want unity and cooperation we must be prepared to go at least half way.

On motion of Mr.- Fleming the debate was adjourned.

On motion of Mr. Mackenzie the house adjourned at 10.40 p.m.

Monday, April 8, 1946.

Topic:   CANADIAN CITIZENSHIP
Subtopic:   NATIONALITY, NATURALIZATION AND STATUS OF ALIENS
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April 5, 1946