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Memo to Attorney-General Concerning School Arson

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Mar. 11th


My dear Colleague:

Re Doukhobors and Burning of School House

This, I believe, is a criminal offense and has to be dealt with under the criminal law of Canada. It is an offense committed by either an individual or a number of individuals and convictions under the criminal law must be obtained against the guilty parties before punishment can follow.

Have we upon our statue book any legislation which would permit us to assume that the Doukhobors as a community were responsible to such an extent as would justify us levying exclusively on Doukhobor community property for the erection of school buildings to replace those destroyed?

Another question – where Doukhobors are prosecuted for failure to send their children to school or for any other breach of our statues, and the magistrates inflict a fine, and in default of payment, commit these people to jail, have we any legislation which would permit of a levy on community property for individual offenses? If we have no such legislation which I assume to be the case, would it be constitutional for the Province to enact same?

I feel that this situation has to be dealt with very carefully, but nonetheless firmly, and we must, if possible, devise some methods by which these people can be made to conform to our laws.

Yours truly,
[signed] John Oliver

Source: BC Archives, Premier — 1925 — Doukhobor, GR 441 Vol. 246 File 7, Premier John Oliver, Memo to Attorney-General Concering School Arson, March 11, 1925.

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