Hon. DAVID TISDALE (South Norfolk).
I consider it my unpleasant duty to offer some criticism on this Bill before it passes its third reading. To lead up to the main proposition, it may be proper to ask what is a redistribution ? Let me answer that question by a quotation from the British North America Act:
On the completion of the census in the year 1871, and of each subsequent decennial census, the representation of the four provinces shall be readjusted by such authority, in such a manner, and from such time as the parliament of Canada from time to time provides.
Following that quotation, it may be interesting to point out the three things that are involved in a redistribution. One is the principle on which it should be based. The second is the tribunal by which the lines and divisions of the constituencies should be drawn. The third is the rules and regulations, if any, which are to be applied. Since confederation there have been three redistributions and two attempts at redistribution . The three -that took place were made by the Conservative party and the two attempts were made by the Reform party, since the right hon. gentleman and his colleagues have come into power. It will be interesting, I think, to very briefly review the attitude of both parties on this question, and I shall do so as briefly as possible. In 1872 we had the first redistribution. and the late Sir John Macdonald, then premier, laid it down as a principle that the retention of county boundaries should be the first object and the equalization of population the second. The attitude of the Reform party at that time I may illustrate by reading the motion of the late Hon. Mr. Mackenzie, who afterwards became First Minister :
There was no reason whatever why the principle of representation by population should have been abandoned within the provinces ; when we had to consider it beween the provinces. That principle was just in itself, but the Bill ignored that principle in the portions of the country where additional population had been established. That the six additional members to be allowed to Ontario are due to increased population of that province and should be allowed with reasonable regard to that population.
In 1882 Sir John Macdonald changed his base and laid down the principle that population should 'be the first oonisidteratiou, with the least disturbance possible of county boundaries. The Reform party at that time took no defined attitude. They were in favour of county boundaries and also in favour, to a certain extent, of representation by population. In other words, they did not go back on the principles laid down by Alexander Mackenzie in the previous redistribution. Both parties were somewhat confused in regard to the relative weight to be attached to the principle of representation by population and the observing of county boundaries. Sir John Macdonald laid down, ais the first principle, representation by population. In the third redistribution, in 1892, the Conservative party adopted the same attitude as they had done in 1882, and while no resolution was on this point formally moved on behalf of the Reform party, still the right hon. gentleman who now leads the House (Rt. Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier) said :
If there is a principle which ought to be recognized in a measure of this kind, as far as possible, it is the principle of representation by population.
Although this was not put in the form of a motion the right hon. gentleman did make a motion, the only motion defining the policy of the Reform party at that time. It was as follows :
That Bill No. 76, an Act to readjust the representation in the House of Commons, be referred to a conference or committee to be composed of both political parties to agree upon the lines or principles upon which the Redistribution Bill should he drawn.
I do not propose to argue the question of who was right and who was wrong in this matter. I simply wish to state, as briefly as I can, the position taken by the two political parties on the occasion of these three redistributions and to place on ' Hansard ' the position which 1 myself took in 1892, which was the first time that I, as a representative of the people, took part in a measure of this kind. Of course in this I am simply expressing my own views. 1 said at that time.
I would much prefer that the change did not take place in my constituency, but the government has made the fairest division and with the least disturbance that can be made in the province of Ontario. Two seats have been taken from the western part of the province
to supply the two seats which, I believe, it is conceded ought to be given to Toronto and the large northern part of the country. The proposition with regard to the Niagara Peninsu'a should he taken as a whole and it is not fair to take it piecemeal. I do not agree with the proposition of some of the hon. gentlemen of taking the two new members from the easte?H half of the province, because it would he taking from one half the province and giving to the other half instead of equalizing. The proposition as a whole, politically, is extremely fair. It equalizes population in every one of those ridings, and that is one of the things that should always be borne in mind ; if anything, well give our political opponents a political advantage. So far as I am concerned in South Norfolk, I want to say that taking in the 5,000 of Walpole, if I had my choice, as far as any political advantage is concerned I would leave the riding as it is. But if the government carry this whole proposition tut that would be extremely unfair, because by adding that 5,000 to South Norfolk they equalize the population fairly and improve it in the whole of those ridings.
1 come now to the action of the Reform party in 1899 and 1900. In 1898 they gave us for the first time manhood suffrage for Dominion purposes by adapting the provincial qualification, and although there had been no census these gentlemen brought down a Bill enunciating their principles and that measure was passed through the House of Commons. That Bill was important because it indicated a new departure. In previous redistributions parliament had done everything ; it was the tribunal which laid down the rules to be observed in the redistribution*; the leader of the government brought down a completed Bill setting forth the whole thing. But my right hon. friend, in the Bill of 1899, proposed a change. While he enunciated verbally the principle of county boundaries he proposed by the provision of the Bill to refer all divisions of counties to a judicial tribunal with rules and regulations for their guidance Jaid down in the Bill. Let me read the part of the Bill relating to this question :
Where, under the foregoing provisions, any county or city, is to be divided into more than one electoral district, such division shall be made by a board of commissioners, consisting of at least three persons, being judges of the Supreme Court of Judicature for Ontario, who, for that purpose shall be appointed by letters patent under the Great Seal, and who shall divide the city of Toronto and each such county into the number of electoral districts by this Act assigned to them respectively.
The letters patent appointing the commissioners, shall request the commissioners, in making the divisions, to consider the distribution of population according to the last Dominion census the public convenience, and such divisions as appear to them best calculated to do substantial justice.
Now, in regard to the action of the Conservative party at that time, it must he noted that they did not object to the reference to a judicial tribunal. They approved of rules being prescribed in the Act for the
guidance of that tribunal, but they objected to the principle of county boundaries as that pi-inciple was stated on the other side, and they also claimed that the measure was unfair because certain counties only had been selected and the result of any fair division of those counties it is claimed, would work in favour of the government. But the Conservative party objected to the introduction of the Bill at that time, on the constitutional grounds that the British North America Act contemplated no redistribution except after a census. My right hon. friend and his colleagues pushed the Bill through the House of Commons, but the Senate rejected it, as is well known, on the constitutional ground. Again I would put myself on record as to my attitude on that question :
As I understand it, parliament lays out the field and says whether a country shall have one member, two members or three members, and then to make it look fair the governement asks the judges to come in and divide what cannot be divided in any other way, than to give the government a political advantage. That is a farce, and nothing else but a farce. After the government decides upon the counties politically, and which counties shall have two members and which counties three members, it will be found on investigation, I venture to say, that the judges cannot divide the counties left to their decision in any other way than to give the government a political advantage, consequently, the judges are added to give it a respectable appearance ; whereas they have practically nothing to do with it. As I understand the constitution, it places population as a basis of representation beyond county boundaries. I am not discussing now the question of who is right or who is wrong in regard to attempts to obtain party advantage, but I am speaking of the highest principles that shall guide men in a thing like this. I hold that under our constitution county boundaries as a basis of representation should not override the question of representation by population, and I defy the right hon. gentleman to produce any authority to the contrary.
It is monstrously unfair, that you should give large bodies of people only one member, and give small bodies of people two members under the cry that you are respecting county boundaries. If you are to bring in the judges at all, lay down some principle upon which they can act in a judicial manner, and I am disappointed and surprised the government have not done that.
When I heard mention of judges in connection with this matter, I had hoped that we have a system followed which might be taken as a precedent. I am a believer in seeing such things being relegated to the judges, but do not give us the pretense of following the English system while you are departing from it entirely.
We are somewhat wedded to our municipal institutions, and why not submit this measure to the judges so as to give us a fair representation, while at the same- time disturbing these municipal institutions as little as possible. Who dare stand up at this period, in any free country, and say, that population shall not form the basis of representation ?