June 25, 1943 (19th Parliament, 4th Session)


William Kemble Esling

National Government


Mr. Chairman, in the manpower discussions in this house nothing has been emphasized more than the need for farm labour. Perhaps there is not a district in this dominion in which there will be found a greater number of husky robust men, farmers too, of military age than in the district of West Kootenay. I refer to the Doulchobors. They were born and brought up on the land; they are natural farmers, but they are leaving the farm for the older members of the family to work while they drift into the community centres to exploit the labour market, to take advantage in every way of positions which have been vacated by men who have joined the armed services.
The hon. member for Yale (Mr. Stirling) yesterday repeated the story of the admission of the Doukhobors to Canada. They were admitted and given the fullest immunity from military service. But that order also provided that they must present a certificate from the authorities in their own community, that was forty-four years ago. I am going to ask, what happens when the Doukhobor community no longer exists and when there is no authority to grant the certificate? The question also arises, does that immunity from military service extend to the descendants of the original Doukhobors? The 'Minister of Justice has ruled that it does, and under the mobilization act the same ruling has been followed. The fact remains that the government-not this particular government but every government both federal and provincial -are afraid to enforce the law in connection with this religious sect.
War Appropriation-Labour

I have in my district some 3,500 Doukhobors. That is an approximate estimate. A national registration was taken about a year after the war was declared. The registrar sent capable and responsible men into that community to register the Doukhobors, and they did the best thej' could. But the one purpose of the Doukhobors was to evade registration. It will take a good strong armed force of ex-service men or mounted policemen to register these Doukhobors, and a half dozen of them should go into that community and register every one of them. More than that, they should see to it that these Doukhobors are not allowed to continue to drift into West Kootenay district from Saskatchewan for the purpose of hiding their identity. For many years I attempted to bring to the attention of the government the defiance of the law by this sect, and I have to say that about the only time one could secure the interest of hon. members was when they were visualizing a description of a nude parade. Then they all sat to attention. If some of them had to experience the continued bombing and firing of schools, of which there were twenty-two or twenty-three cases within a few years, while teachers were sleeping in the living apartments of the school and were able to escape only because those apartments were on the ground floor; and perhaps if hon. members had to suffer the humiliation of their wives and daughters who had to witness these nude parades, they would look at these things in a different manner. But you can never interest any government. Whether it be present or previous federal governments or provincial governments, all are afraid to enforce the law. It is a humiliation which this dominion must endure. A great nation which raises an army of 500,000 men, which looks after several thousands of prisoners of war, which can move 25,000 Japanese, has not the ability, has not the______

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