August 13, 1917 (12th Parliament, 7th Session)


Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)


I might say, however, just at this stage, seeing that this suggestion has been made, that while I am putting this measure before the House, and while it has had very considerable thought and a very earnest endeavour has been made to provide a law that would afford opportunity for every Canadian who is serving in this war to record his vote, we -and I am speaking certainly for the Government-are quite open for any suggestion looking for the more perfect attainment of that end. If a method can be produced to work out that result, I think I can say even now that we would certainly be prepared to give every consideration to a suggested method of doing it. It is not lack of disposition to extend the vote to every Canadian who is serving, that stands in the way of every Canadian getting the vote. If there be any with regard to whom it may not be possible that they should exorcise the franchise, it will be only by reason of that impossibility that they will fail to do so.
It is proposed to do away with any distinction between the soldier who is of age and the soldier who may be under 21. It is furthermore proposed to do away with . any distinction of sex as regards persons engaged in the service of Canada. Nurses, for instance, will be included, even though they

be, as they are in most cases, women. We have sought to make the measure applicable to everybody who is doing service for Canada and for the cause for which Canada is fighting in this war. By way of removing all doubts which seem to exist, we have specifically mentioned the fact that a person's being an Indian, if he be a soldier, will not exclude him from the vote. My own belief was that even under the statute as it stood, an Indian who was a soldier could vote, but there seems to have been some doubt on the subject, and that doubt is removed.

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