Service and Disservice is my e-book about the Canadian Suffragists and their involvement in the War Time Elections Act of 1917.
It's a work of fiction. I make up some things and, in places, I fill in the blanks. The book, however, is based on a great deal of research and contains many quotations - and it brings up many very relevant questions related to the past and present.
I notice that on Wikipedia, the War Time Elections Act is written Wartime Elections Act. I chose to write it as it was written back then.
Indeed, the Liberal Party of Canada pamphet, rebuking the Act, had it written in two ways, War Time Elections Act and War-Time Elections Act.
I know for a fact that compound words start out separate and then they are hyphenated and then made into one word: world wide, world-wide, worldwide.
Here's a bit from that document, available on Archive.org.
There's nothing new about election fixing. Bernie Sanders, just last week, said it happened in Ohio.
A Blot Upon History (If the War Time Elections Act was indeed a Blot Upon History, it is a blot that has been white-washed, or is it whitewashed.
"In view of events that happened subsequently it is instructive to read what
was said about the War-Time Elections Act by different members of Parliament during its passage through the House of Commons in 1917. Here are a
few extracts from the Hansard: —
F. B. Carvell : — Page 5699. — The Government are disfranchising Austrians,
Germans, British subjects; they are disfranchising women, in fact it seems to me
that they are disfranchising any one who they think will vote Liberal.
A. K. McLean: — Page 5596 — The Bill before the House proposes to dis-
franchise arbitrarily a portion of the people of this country. This legislation
is objectionable in principle, and I deny that there is anything in the world
to justify its introduction or its enactment. A proper regard for the future
of this country and for our good name among the nations and peoples of the
world compel one to oppose the measure. It is not founded upon any principle
of a substantial character. I maintain that history will adjudge the act con-
templated by this bill as a blot upon our national career. And unfortunately,
it comes at a time when we are writing glorious and imperishable pages of our
history, which will be the future epics of this young nation.
Geo. E. McCraney, M.P. — Page 5563 — I do feel, however, that in placing
this measure of disfranchisement before parliament — a measure against which
we protest; a measure in respect of which we must accuse the Government of
the most partisan conduct — the Government by their own Act are throwing
the gravest doubt upon the judgment that we have exercised in supporting their
measure of conscription. *
W. A. Buchanan, M.P. — Page 5581 — We left our party and took the
position we did for the national advantage, because we looked upon the measure
as a war measure. The Government is adopting the present measure, not as a
war measure and not for the National advantage, but for the advantage of the
party they represent. I would like to say that, if we are going to build up a
united Canada, if we are going to bring people into this country and promise
them the rights of citizenship, we must adhere to the pledged word we have
given them. We must let them know — that we as Canadians living under the
British flag, are going to adhere to our word.
W. E. Knowles, M.P. — Page 5812 — I look upon this Bill as a great peril.
If we are to lay down the principle that a Government that is in power can go
behind the Bill of Rights, and the principles of the Magna Charta, and can say
"We believe we must be perpetuated and continued in power, and we will
disfranchise people who would vote against us," then the democracy is destroy-
ed, and any tyrant who \vould assume power m this country could continue to
possess that power, if you are going to once allow the principle that he is to be
able to dictate as to who will vote.
Hon. Frank Oliver, M.P. — Page 5818 — I say that this Government is
committing a crime against Canada in the legislation now before the House, a
crime the effect of which may be more far-reaching than any man can now see.
D. D. McKenzie, M.P. — Page 5609 — Certain emissaries went froth from
this country to the West to ask certain gentlemen to cast their lot with this
Government and come under the Tory yoke. But, as they would not submit
to the Tory yoke, as they would not come within the thraldom of Toryism, the
next thing was to subject them to this law, to have them gagged, pilloried,
Hon. W, M. Martin, Premier of Saskatchewan, issued a statement from
Regina, Dece'mber 8th, 1917-'of which the following are extracts:
"In regard to the War-Time Elections Act, I have already expressed my
opinion with respect to the disfranchisement of certain classes of our people.
I regard this feature of the act as un-British and undemocratic, calculated. to
create distrust and suspicion and to delay the Canadianizing of many of these
people for a generation.
"Moreover, apart from the disfranchisement provisions of the Election
act, machinery is created which in the hands of unscrupulous men may
be used in such, a way as to win any constituency. This portion of the
act renders possible the disfranchisement of any citizen living in Western
The Right Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier in his election address issued on
November 5th, 1917, dealt with the War Time Elections Act as follows:"
"In order to be effective, to satisfy the public conscience and to secure
that acquiescence in a verdict which should be the last word on all questions
submitted to the people, a general election should be an appeal to the electorate
such as it exists under the law.
"The Government have discarded that fundamental principle of the
institutions of a free people. They have designedly altered the sanctity of the
franchise, by choking discussion, by ruthlessly using the closure, they have
deliberately manufactured a franchise with which they hope to win a victory
at the polls — a passing victory for themselves, a permanent injury to the coun-
"This act known as the War Time Elections Act, is a blot upon every
instinct of justice, honesty and fair play.
"It takes away the franchise from certain denominations whose members
from ancient times in English history have been exempt from military service,
and who in Great Britain never were, and are not now, denied their rights of
"It takes away the franchise from men whom we invited to this country,
to whom we promised all the rights and privileges of our citizenship, who
trusted in our promises and who became under our laws, British subjects and
Canadian Citizens. They are thus humiliated and treated with .contempt
under the pretence that being born in enemy countries, in Germany and
Austria, they might be biased in favour of their native country and against
their adopted country. The assumption is falted in theory ard might easily
be so demonstrated. It is sufficient to observe that it is also false in fact.
There has not been any current of emigration from Germany go Canada during
the last twenty years, and as to Austria, almost the total number, perhaps
nine-tenths of the emigrants from that country, were not from Austria proper,
but from those Slav- provinces held by force by Austria, and whose sympathies
are strong and deep against her, and for the Allies.
"It gives the franchise to some women and denies it to others. All those
whose privilege it is to have near relatives amongst the soldiers will be voters.
The right will be refused to all those not so privileged, though their hearts are
just as strong in the cause, and though they have worked incessantly for it.
Moreover, in five provinces of the Dominion, namely, Ontario, Manitoba,
Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia, women have been admitted to
the franchise. According to the terms of the Dominion law, which no sophistry
can blur, being electors in the province, women are electors in the Dominion.
The act of last session snatches away that right from them.
"The Act is vicious in principle, and is equally vicious in its enacting
dispositions. We have in most of the provinces of the Dominion, a regular
system of preparing the voters' lists and against that system no complaint has
been heard during the last twenty years. That system is also cast aside and
lists are to be prepared by an army of so-called enumerators, whose
work must be done in haste, whose powers are arbitrary, with no useful
checks to be exercised in due time, and with all doors wide open for
errors, confusion and frauds.
"Such legislation is repugnant to every sense of justice and right. It has
for its object and for its effect to discourage and to stifle the fiee expression of
the will of the people, and to make parliamentary government a mere name
without a reality."
On May 23rd, 191-8, in the House of Commons,. Sir Wilfrid Laurier moved
that the War Time Elections Act be repealed, but the Borden Government
voted this down and a new act or another enormity is from time to time men-
tioned in the press as likely to be proposed by the Government.
War-Time Elections Act, 1917.
The Iniquity of 1885 Repeated in 1917.
Thousands of English, Scotch, Irish, French and native born British
Subjects and also naturalized British Subjects of non-German
and non-Austrian blood were not allowed to vote.
A dark blot of shame was cast upon Canada by the Borden Government
passing the War-Time Elections Act, 1917, and newspapers supporting the
Borden Government gleefully approved of it. (See Toronto Daily News
Conservative, Saturday, March 23rd, 1918).
Violation of Rights.
From many quaiters, information has been obtained that the War Time
Elections Act was used as it was intended to be used and that gross irregularities,
many flagrant violations of the law, were systematically resorted to by returning
officers, deputy returning officers, enumerators, candidates and agents of the
Borden Government, amongst other violations of constitutional rights being
the following: —
1. That as a rule the enumerators kept no office, that it was difficult to
locate them, that they left off names of thousands of persons, English, French,
Irish, Scotch and native born British Subjects and also naturalized British
Subjects of non-German and non-Austrian blood and others qualified to vote,
and left them off even after their attention had been called to the fact that such
persons were entitled to vote, and that the names of persons actually on the
But as published weie subsequently removed by the enumerators.
2. That the Deputy Returning Officers refused to allow persons to vote
3. That the D.R.O's acted as if they were the election agents of the Borden
Government and challenged the right of persons to vote who were likely to vote
4. That without regard to nationality, language or place of birth,
persons, although naturalized, were not permitted to vote because of the fact
that they were born in Norway *or other European country of which Germany
or Austria had nothing to do.
5. That subject races of non-German or non- Austrian blood born in ter-
ritory taken by Germany or Austria but opposed to Prussianism both in Europe
and in Canada and naturalized previous to April 1st, 1902, were not permitted
to vote, although even the nol&rious Act did not disqualify them.
6. That persons of European blood, although born in Canada, were not
7. That Americans naturalized in Canada were not allowed to vote.
8. That persons were known to have voted more than once.
9. That the names? of women and other persons not entitled to vote were
placed upon the li.jt.
10. That the names of Indian women were impioperly placed on the fist
and these squaws, as- at Southampton, North Biuce, Ontario, voted for the
11. That the Returning Officer refused to supply the lists of enumerators
to the Liberal candidates, and even native born British subjects of British blood
were not allowed to vote.
12. That sufficient ballois were not supplied at the polls and polls were
placed in inconvenient localities.
Fooled The Soldiers.
13. That it was suggested to returned soldiers in hospitals or elsewhere
or soldiers in training that in regard to paragraphs 6, 7 and 8 in Form B of the
Military Voters Act regarding residence at the time they enlisted that they
answered by stating "I cannot say" and thus allow a further suggestion to be
made that they designate a riding in which the Government agents wished their
vote to be counted.
14. That discharged soldiers who under section 10 of the Military Voteis
Act were entitled to vote "as an elector of the polling district therein he is a
resident at the time of polling" were requested to move for the day of the
election to-a riding where their vote would be useful when such sojourn is not
residence within the meaning of the law.
15. That thousands of telegrams, letters, copies of papers, speeches, etc.,
were sent out by persons acting on behalf of the Government, and the Govern-
ment itself issued an official statement promising exemption from Military
service without regard to the procedure set forth in the Act. Thousands were
exempted for election purposes and four months after many of these exemp-
tions were cancelled.
16. That cables or telegrams were tampered with as for example a soldier
cabled "Home Christmas" and when the cable was delivered it read "Home
Christmas. Vote Union Government."
17. That the fathers, mothers and other relatives of soldiers overseas were
promised to have their boys home for New Year's Day 1918 or shortly after-
wards if these mothers, fathers and other relatives would vote for the Borden
18. That the Canadian soldiers in Great Britain and in the trenches voted
under the Military Voters' Act and in the hands of the officials it was more
deadly than the War Time Elections Act. (See debates in Parliament as
reported in Hansard, May 1918.)
19. That improper suggestions had been made regarding the disposal
of the patriotic fund and other war time efforts put forth by the people as a
whole without regard to political views.
PROVINCIAL PREMIERS, MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT, AND
The foregoing is issued on behalf of the National Liberal Convention
Committee. The Committee is composed of the following: —
D. D. McKenzie, M.P., North Sydney, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Chair-
man; Senator Hewitt Bostock, Ducks, B.C.; Senator W. C. Edwards, Ottawa;
Senator N. A. Belcourt, Ottawa; W. H. White, M.P., Alberta; Dr. J. P. Malloy,
M.P., Manitoba; Hon. Charles Murphy, M.P., Ottawa; D. C. Ross, M.P.,
Strathroy, Ont.; I. E. Pedlow, M.P., Renfrew, Ont.; Hon. R. Lemieux, M.P.,
Montreal, Que.; James A. Robb, M.P., Chateauguay-Huntington, Que.;
E. B. Devlin, M.P., Wright County, Que.; F. S. Cahill, M.P., Pontiac, Que.;
Dr. J. E. Fontaine, M.P., Hull, Que.; Ernest Lapointe, M.P., Kamouraska,
Que.; L. J. Papineau, M.P., Bauharnois, Que.; and Hon. John Oliver, Premier
of British Columbia,; Hon. Chas. Stewart, Premier of Alberta, Hon. W. M.
Martin, Premier of Saskatchewan, Hon. T. C. Norris, -Premier of Manitoba,
Hon. Sir Lomer Gouin, Premier of Quebec, Hon. W. E. Foster, Premier of
New Brunswick, Hon. Geo. H. Murray, Premier of Nova Scotia, Mr. J. H.
Bell, leader of the Liberal Opposition in Prince Edward Island, and William
Proudfoot, K.C., M.P.P., Toronto, Ont.