July 19, 1917 (12th Parliament, 7th Session)

CON

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

My right hon. friend has commended the British example, which he regards as the highest expression of the freedom of the individual in such matters. I would point out that in Great Britain the exception reads as follows:
Men in holy orders or regular ministers of any religious denomination.
We have gone further than that. If, as has been suggested by hon. gentlemen on the other side, we had proceeded under the Militia Act instead of bringing in this Bill, what would have been the result? That Militia Act tvas passed under the Administration of my right hon. friend. He says

that a clause exempting divinity students should be included. He did not include it in 1904. His exception then was: " clergy and ministers of all denominations," which is not as wide a clause as that which we have introduced. If, then, the view that he entertains is a wise one, it is astonishing that it did not occur to him in 1904. If we had proceeded under the Militia Act to . select men by ballot and that selection had included divinity students, what would their position be as compared with their position under this legislation as I propose to leave it? Under the Militia Act there would be no possible exemption for any such person. He would not be within the exception, and there was no provision for exemption in the Militia Act. Under this legislation such divinity students as are not included in the minor orders of the clergy might be called out, but. they would still have the right to go before a tribunal and claim exemption under one of the appropriate clauses. In doing that they would have a privilege which they could not have exercised under the legislation which my right hon. friend passed in 1904.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
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