The PRIME MINISTER (Rt. Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier) moved for leave to introduce Bill (No. 66) to readjust the representation in the House of Commons. He said : I rise, Mr. Speaker, for the purpose of presenting to the House a measure for the redistribution of the representation in the House of Commons, rendered necessary by the last census. Perhaps before proceeding any further it might not be amiss if I would remind the House that in introducing this Bill, the government is not acting in any discretionary sense, hut is performing an imperative constitutional duty, the constitution having provided that after each decennial census there should take place a redistribution of the representation of the different provinces in this House. Three years ago I introduced a redistribution measure, but that was very different from the one I am now submitting. That was simply a partial measure of redistribution, a discretionary measure, one which we had the option of presenting or not, and our object then was not to frame a general scheme of redistribution, but simply to correct certain errors-or to use perhaps a more severe but more appropriate term-certain injustices which had been perpetrated on the province of Ontario by the Redistribution Act of 1882, and on the province of Quebec, by the Redistribution Act of 1892. The motive therefore and the provisions of that measure were very different from those of the present one. Perhaps also it would not be amiss for me to inform the House that the distribution of population, as revealed by the census of 1901, will cause some disturbance in the proportion of the representation now held by the different provinces of the Dominion on the floor of this House.
Let me read a statement showing the increase in population in the Dominion as a whole, and in the various provinces, comparing 1891 with 1901, when the last census was taken.
Dominion of Canada.... 4,833,239 5,371,31 ="Prince Edward Island .. 109,078 103 289Nova Scotia
450,396 459 574New Brunswick
321,263 331'doProvince of Ontario
152,206 255,211British Columbia
98,173 178,657North-west Territories., 66,799 158,940Province of Quebec ______ 1,488,535 1,648,898
The province of Quebec, I need hardly remind the House, is the pivot of representation, on which depends the proportion of the representation to be allowed each province. The population of the province of Quebec being 1,488,535, and its representation being limited, under all circumstances to 65 members, it follows that the representation of the province of Quebec in this House is in the proportion of 25,367 for one member. This number therefore, 25,367, being the unit of representation of the province of Quebec, becomes the unit of representation for the rest of the Dominion, and according to this unit the province of Prince Edward Island will only be entitled to four members in this House, and thus lose one. The population of Nova Scotia being 459,574, the unit of representation would give it a total representation in this House of 18 instead of the 20 members it now has. New Brunswick, having a population of 321,220, the unit of representation would give it 13 instead of 14 members as at present. And the province of Ontario having a population of 2,182,947, would have a total representation of 86 instead of 92 members. All these provinces east of Lake Superior, therefore, except the province of Quebec, whose representation must remain stationary, will lose a part of their representation.
On the other hand, the population of British Columbia, which at present has six members, will be represented by an additional one, and have seven instead of six. The province of Manitoba will have its representation increased by three, and have ten instead of seven. In the case of the North-west Territories, we have made special provisions, the territories not being bound by the letter of the constitutional law, to which I will allude later on.
Upon the exact proportion of the representation allotted to the several provinces there can be no possible controversy. Everybody is aware that in those provinces which, according to the new redistribution must lose part of their representation, there has been some flurry of excitement, and well inten-tioned and well disposed persons have been making endeavours to convince themselves that by torturing the letter of the law, the law itself might be made to express the reverse of what it actually expresses. Unfortunately, the letter of the law is such as not to allow of any doubt. Three redistributions have already taken place in this Dominion- in 1872, 1882 and 1892. In almost every one of these redistributions, the same thing has occurred. Certain provinces have been forced to lose some part of their representation, and naturally protests were made, but the matter has been debated and discussed 23*
and determined by such able jurists and eminent men as Sir John Macdonald, the Hon. Edward Blake and Sir John Thompson, and it is not possible-for my part I am indeed sorry, and I express my sorrow very sincerely that certain provinces will have to lose part of their representation in this House-but it is not possible to avoid this. We have to abide by the law and to apply the law, and in applying the law the question is more of mathematics than of anything else. We have only to take the provisions of the constitution, section 51, and the figures of the census, and find the result. In this matter parliament is not a free agent. It has no discretion to exercise, but is simply the instrument and creature of the law, and in this particular Bill we have only to take the result of the census and make the redistribution accordingly, giving to each province the number of members to which it is entitled, some having less, others having more, but all being bound by the same rule. So far, as I say, the powers of parliament are limited; but in the creation of the constituencies which are to elect members to this House, the powers of parliament are unlimited; and those powers can be used either for good or for evil, either for very much good or for very much evil. We, on this side of the House, have always complained, that, in previous redistributions which have taken place-and which have taken place always under the same party, the Conservative party, now in opposition-the opposition of the day were unfairly treated. I grant that this is a matter in which the temptation is great to the party in office to abuse its power, to take an unfair advantage of its opponents, and to so arrange the constituencies as to secure the return to parliament of more members of its own political faith than the actual political opinion of the country at large would warrant. I would avoid, if possible, upon this occasion, which, in some respects, is a solemn one-I would avoid, as fai| as I can, any recrimination concerning the past. But, without any recrimination, and referring to the past only for illustration, let me call attention to a list of forty-two constituencies in Ontario created by the redistributions of 1882 and 1892, in which the total of the popular vote recorded gave a clear Liberal majority, but in which, notwithstanding, there was a clear Conservative majority of members elected. The names of these constituencies are as follows :
Brant South, Bruce West, Bruce South, Durham East, Durham West, Elgin East, Elgin West, Essex North, Essex South, Hastings North, Hastings East, Hastings West, Kent, Lamhton East, Lambton West, Leeds and Grenville, Leeds South, Grenville South, Lanark North, Lanark South, Northumberland East, Northumberland West, Oxford South, Oxford North, Ontario North, Ontario South, Ontario West, Perth North, Perth South, Peterborough East, Peterborough West, Renfrew North, Renfrew South, Victoria North, Victoria South, Waterloo North, Waterloo South, Wellington