April 29, 1901

L-C

Edward Hackett

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. HACKETT.

There is no secrecy in the ballot in Prince Edward .Island. They objected to my own vote, thinking, perhaps,

I would vote for my opponent, and as my ballot was numbered there was no difficulty in telling how I voted on the recount. The returning officer, through design or otherwise, put a number on the back of the ballot corresponding with my name in the polling book. There is no secrecy in the ballot so far as Prince Edward Island is concerned. I trust that the government will see that the electors in Prince Edward Is-. land shall be placed on the same footing as electors in other parts of Canada in regard to the secrecy of the ballot.

On section 5,

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900, AMENDMENT.
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?

The SOLICITOR GENERAL.

There is a change here which I think is a necessary

one. The ballots go to the deputy returning officers in packets, and as the law reads now it provides that the packets shall be counted. That evidently is a mistake. The

intention is that the ballots themselves shall be counted.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900, AMENDMENT.
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L-C

Edward Hackett

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. HACKETT.

I have had quite an experience in recounts. I have had two or three of them, but the last, held on the 10th of November last, was the most serious I ever had. When the ballots were to be produced before the county court judge, it was found that one ballot box containing the ballots cast at a polling division where I had a majority of 33 votes, was missing. It was urged by the gentleman appearing for my opponent that owing to this packet being missing the ballots could not be counted, and in that case I would have been deprived of my seat. I felt it at the time a great evil that the returning officer, coming on the train that evening from Alberton to Summerside, and having in his possession the 27 ballot boxes with their contents, should ship those as freight and place them in the hands of the baggageman, while he and his friends went to the rear ear and took their seats and slept half the way down. When the ballot boxes reached Summerside, it was found that that particular ballot box was missing. The miscreant who took it expected no doubt to deprive me of my rights as the representative of the people of West Prince. He supposed that the judge, not having that box before him, would count the contents of the other 2G boxes, and upon them would declare my opponent elected. However, the judge taking a proper view of the matter, decided that, inasmuch as he had not the ballots before him to recount, he would take secondary evidence and obtain the statements given out by the deputy returning officers at the different polls, especially at this poll for which he had no ballots to count.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900, AMENDMENT.
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The SOLICITOR GENERAL.

He was a good and a just judge, because he simply applied the law.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900, AMENDMENT.
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L-C

Edward Hackett

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. HACKETT.

But I believe, if the case had gone before some other judges in Prince Edward Island, who have given decisions since then, I would not be here to-day as the member for West Prince. I have therefore an amendment to move, which I hope will be accepted by the hon. Solicitor General; that is, to add after the words 'separate packets,' the following :

And should any returning officer appointed under this Act fail to produce all the ballot papers cast in the riding or district for which he was appointed, before the judge at the time and place the same are demanded for a recount, the said returning officer shall be guilty of an indictable offence, and shall be liable to a fine of $1,000 or to imprisonment for not less than two years in default of the payment of such fine.

I trust that the Solicitor General will accept this amendment, as some safeguard should be thrown about the ballot boxes.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900, AMENDMENT.
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LIB

Byron Moffatt Britton

Liberal

Mr. BRITTON.

What the hon. gentleman proposes has nothing whatever to do with the section under consideration. This refers to the ballot papers being counted if any elector desires to have them counted before the opening of the polls. While I do not suggest at present any objection to the amendment in its proper place, it has nothing to do with this section. In reference to the section itself, I would say that the amendment now sought to be made is what some hon. members, I am among the number, thought the law was intended to be when it was passed in 1900. The plain meaning I took of the provision, and I think other members as well, was that it referred to the counting of the ballots in the packet.

Mr. CLANCY, If the hon. Solicitor General will turn to sections 112 and 118, he will see that what I propose is no more drastic than what we already have, though it refers, of course, to an entirely different matter.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900, AMENDMENT.
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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

I have a note of an amendment which has been suggested to me, and this is perhaps the best place to bring it to the notice of the committee. We have had many cases in our province of deputy returning officers who permit arguments in the polls, but who, when their attention is called to these arguments, refuse to admit the objections of scrutineers. I have known myself of deputy returning officers refusing to accept a written protest handed, in by a scrutineer. It seems to me that there ought to be a law which would make it the duty of a deputy returning, officer to accept any protest in writing, and keep it among the papers as a part of the record. I think this would have a good effect on any officers who are inclined to disregard the sections of the law. This is the subsection which I would propose to be added to section 59 :

It shall be the duty of the deputy returning officer, during polling hours, to accept and place among the records of his poll, any protest, notice or other document in writing, handed in to him from any person legally present in the polling booth, and in case such document be in duplicate, then the deputy returning officer shall endorse upon the duplicate and return the person tendering such document a receipt, mentioning the hour at which such document was filed, and place the other duplicate among the records of his poll.

I did not think there was any provision in the law which obliges a deputy returning officer, to whom a legitimate protest in writing is handed, to accept it and place it among the records of the poll, and I think there are some instances where that would be very useful for the protection of the rights of candidates or even voters.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900, AMENDMENT.
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LIB

Byron Moffatt Britton

Liberal

Mr. BRITTON.

I am afraid that the effect would he in some instances to block the polls. If there is no limit to the number of protests, an agent could keep writing protests all day and handing them in to the deputy returning officer and thus keep his time fully occupied writing his name on the back of them.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900, AMENDMENT.
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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

I do not think that is a serious objection. I cannot imagine the scrutineer doing his duty at the polls who would spend his whole time writing out protests. The returning officer would merely give a receipt, and in the case supposed by my hon. friend, he would be busy the whole day writing out the protests. Whereas there are returning officers who will commit mistakes, sometimes willingly and sometimes of malice prepense, and it is impossible to keep a record of them. It is important, therefore, that we should know exactly how and at what time, and in what manner a protest was made.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900, AMENDMENT.
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The PRIME MINISTER.

What would be the effect of such protest ?

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900, AMENDMENT.
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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

The returning officer is liable to a penalty, and if at an early hour his attention is ealled to an illegality, he will be often barred from proceeding in his course.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900, AMENDMENT.
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LIB

William Ross

Liberal

Hon. Mr. ROSS.

At present any objections may be recorded in the poll book. You ask the poll clerk to enter any objections you make to a certain proceeding, and it is part of his duty to make the record in the poll book. He cannot refuse.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900, AMENDMENT.
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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

There is no section in the federal law to that effect.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900, AMENDMENT.
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LIB

William Ross

Liberal

Hon. Mr. ROSS.

I know that with us we record the objections in the poll book.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900, AMENDMENT.
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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

It is not done with us, and there is nothing in the federal law which obliges the poll clerk to enter an objection in the poll book, and I have known of returning officers who refused to take a written protest.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900, AMENDMENT.
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The SOLICITOR GENERAL.

I will keep this over for the purpose of finding a better place for it if possible.

On section 8,

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900, AMENDMENT.
Permalink
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The SOLICITOR GENERAL.

That is to correct a clerical error. The section is referred to in the Bill as section 81 and it should be section 80.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900, AMENDMENT.
Permalink
L-C

Edward Hackett

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. HACKETT.

My amendment would come in here.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900, AMENDMENT.
Permalink
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The SOLICITOR GENERAL.

I am afraid that it is impossible to accept this amendment in the form in which it now is, at all events. It is suggested here that we should have the following :

After the words ' separate packets,' add the following : ' and should any returning officer ap-Mr. MONK.

pointed under this Act fail to produce all the ballot papers cast in the riding or district for which he was appointed, before the judge at the time and place, the same as demanded for recount, the said returning officer shall be guilty of an indictable offence, and shall be liable to a line of $1,000, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, with or without hard labour, in default of paying such fine.

This is somewhat drastic, and I think it would expose the returning officer to a penalty for not producing ballot boxes even though he were unable to produce them for good and sufficient cause. I thing if my hon. friend (Mr. Hackett) will look at sections 19 and 20 of the present law he will find that provision is already made for the punishment of any wilful misconduct. Section 19 provides :

Every officer and clerk who is guilty of any wilful misfeasance or any wilful act or omission in violaticn of this Act shall forfeit to any person aggrieved by such misfeasance, act or omission a sum not exceeding $500, in addition of the amount of all actual damage thereby occasioned to such person.

It seems to me that that goes as far as my hon. friend would wish to go. I would ask him to consider these sections and see whether they do not accomplish the object he has in view.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900, AMENDMENT.
Permalink
L-C

Edward Hackett

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. HACKETT.

The returning officer may not be guilty of wilful neglect, yet difficulties may arise through his fault, and it is found impossible to punish him. In the case to which I have referred, the judge said the conduct of the returning officer was inexcusable, but nothing could be done.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900, AMENDMENT.
Permalink

April 29, 1901