But this is not so of thirty-three per cent. of Canada’s immigrants who do not speak English, much less understand the institutions of freedom to which they have come. If they had been worthy of freedom, or capable of making right use of it, they would have fought for it in the land from which they came, or died fighting for it—as Scotchmen and Irishmen and Englishmen and Americans have fought and bled for freedom wherever they have lived. A people unused to freedom suddenly plunged in freedom need not surprise us if they run amuck.
“This is mos’ won’erful country,” writes Tony to his brother in Italy. “They let us vote and they pay us two dollars to do it.”
“Yah, yah,” answered a foreign mother in North Winnipeg to a school-teacher, trying to recall why her young hopeful had played truant. “Dat vas eelection—my boy, he not go—because Jacob—my man—he vote seven time and make seven dollar.” (The whole family had been on a glorious seven-dollar drunk.)
“Does this man understand for what he is voting?” demanded the election clerk of a Galician interpreter who had brought in a naturalized foreigner to vote.
“Oh, yaas; I eexplain heem.”
“Can he write?”
An indeterminate nod of the head; so the voter marks his ballot, and his vote counts for as much as that of the premier or president of a railroad.
For years Canadians have pointed the finger of scorn at the notorious misgovernment of American cities, at the manner in which foreigners were herded to the polls by party bosses to vote as they were paid. The cases of a Louisiana judge impeached for issuing bogus certificates of citizenship to four hundred aliens and of New York courts that have naturalized ignorant foreigners in batches of twenty-five thousand in a few months have all pointed a moral or adorned a tale in Canada.
Yet what is happening in Canada since the coming of hordes of ignorant immigrants? I quote what I have stated elsewhere, an episode typical of similar episodes, wherever the foreign vote herds in colonies. An election was coming on in one of the western provinces, where reside twenty thousand foreigners almost en bloc. The contest was going to be very close. Offices were opened in a certain block. Legally it requires three years to transform a foreigner into a voting Canadian subject. He must have resided in Canada three years before he can take out his papers. The process is simple to a fault. The newcomer goes before a county judge with proof of residence and two Canadian witnesses. He must not be a criminal, and he must be of age. That is all that is required to change a Pole or a Sicilian or a Slav into a free and independent Canadian fully competent to apprehend that voting implies duties and fitness as well as rights. The contest was going to be very close. A few of the party leaders