October 20, 1903

CON

George William Fowler

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOWLER.

If Mr. Woolsey or any other man says that it does not comport with

a duty to enforce it by a penalty, be is talking utter rot and utter nonsense.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT.
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS

Oh.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT.
Permalink
CON

George William Fowler

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOWLER.

He is talking something that is against the views accepted by the whole world.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT.
Permalink
?

The MINISTER OF JUSTICE.

My hon. friend (Mr. Fowler) ought not to make rash statements of that sort. Woolsey did not say it was a duty; he said it was a privilege.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT.
Permalink
CON

George William Fowler

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOWLER.

If the minister will read the quotation again, he will find that Woolsey says : It is a privilege which carries with it a duty. These are the words of Dr. Woolsey, as the minister read them, and Woolsey goes further, according to the quotation read and says: that to enforce a duty

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT.
Permalink
?

The MINISTER OF JUSTICE.

He does not say anything of the sort; he says : to enforce a privilege.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT.
Permalink
CON
?

The MINISTER OF JUSTICE.

My lion., friend (Mr. Fowler) ought not to be too severe on Mr. Woolsey. This is what he says :

To enforce it by penalty would not comport with the nature of a privilege.

And he says :

That voting is a privilege which involves for the most part a duty.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT.
Permalink
CON
?

Some hon. MEMBERS

Oh. [DOT]

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT.
Permalink
CON

George William Fowler

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOWLER.

Yes, I said that it wits a privilege which involved a duty, and the absurdity of Woolsey's contention is that it was wrong to enforce a duty because a privilege was involved in it. The very foundation of a franchise is that it is a duty as well as a privilege. All cannot exercise the franchise, but some must, and therefore it. is the privilege of those who are selected to exercise it. Therefore, some enjoy the privilege of the franchise, but coupled with that privilege is the highest duty of citizenship, which is to exercise that privilege, and to exercise it properly and conscientiously. Therefore, a man has not the natural right to the franchise, but enjoying that privilege, being selected to exercise the franchise, not only for himself but for all others in the community who have not the right of the franchise, it carries with it the highest duty to the state, viz.; that he shall actually exercise it, not abstain from exercising it according to bis own will, but that he shall be absolutely compelled to exercise it. No matter what party he votes for, he is fully and completely bound to discharge that duty which he owes to the state. As the Minister of Justice has said :

this is not a party question. Members on both sides of the House are divided In opinion as to the wisdom of the amendment. The special committee was divided on this particular question; some of us felt that while this proposal did not perhaps fully answer the purpose we were striving for, yet it would go some way in that direction, and others of the committee thought that it would be found unworkable. That seems to be the idea, which prevails in this Committee of the Whole-the difference being that the majority here are apparently opposed to it, while the majority in the special committee were in favour of it.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT.
Permalink
?

The MINISTER OF JUSTICE.

How did you divide?

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT.
Permalink
CON

George William Fowler

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOWLER.

I think there was a majority of one ; we didn't have any very serious dispute over it. At the same time, while I am of opinion that this will be beneficial in its working, yet I am not so anxious about it that I would detain the House at this very late stage of the session in advocating at length this principle..

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT.
Permalink
LIB

William Alfred Galliher

Liberal

Mr. GALLIHER.

I would like to point out to my bon. friend that whatever duty may be involved in this privilege is a moral duty and that it is repugnant to all principles of law to enforce by a penalty a moral obligation.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT.
Permalink
?

Robert Lorne Richardson

Mr. RICHARDSON.

The Minister of Justice has just stated that it appertains to the functions of government to educate the public mind to the value of their privileges in this connection. I cannot conceive of any better or more forcible method of educating the public mind to their great privilege in the use of the franchise than the legislation embodied in this Bill. It cannot be a penalty to deprive any man of a right which he possesses, simply because he refuses to exercise that right. The man who refuses to exercise the right to vote, practically disfranchises himself by his own free act. It has been argued that neither Great Britain nor the United States have adopted legislation of this kind. Are we always, as a young, virile nation, to go in leading strings ? Are we never to make a beginning, to lead the world in anything ? I look forward to the time when Canada will be one of the leading nations of the world, when it will he leading the thought of the world, in the direction of the greater progress and higher civilization than has ever before beeu realized ; and I look upon this measure as a step in the right direction.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT.
Permalink
IND

Jabel Robinson

Independent

Mr. ROBINSON (Elgin).

In order to avoid corrupt practices at an election, all we have to do is to pass a law making it a criminal offence to contribute one cent towards an election fund. If there were no money there would be no bribery. Consequently all you have to do is to make it so that no man shall have a fund to purchase votes or to keep men from voting.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT.
Permalink
CON

George William Fowler

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOWLER.

Then every man will go and vote as he pleases. We find that governments are under the control of large corporations. These corporations supply a large amount of funds -what for ? For the purpose of bribing the electors, so that they may cai'ry their point; and the government acquiesce in this, I tell you, and I tell you emphatically, It is time we put this thing down ; and the only way it can be done is by making it a criminal offence to contribute towards an election fund. There would be no difficulty about compulsory voting if men did not get money to go and vote. But while we have only two parties in the state, and men have to vote for one or the other, they hesitate about voting at all, it some times happens that both parties stink in their nostrils, and they are disgusted to have to vote for them. If they had an opportunity to vote for some independent man of their own feelings and sympathies, they would not need to be urged to vote. We had better start right now. Let the Minister of Justice insert a clause in this Bill that any man who contributes a dollar to an election fund shall get six months in jail and a fine of $1,000. With regard to what my hon. friend from South Lanark (Hon. Mr. Haggart) says about going back to the old system of open voting I think that is played out. It would not do at all iu this country. We must have a ballot, not to protect me or the hon. member for South Lanark, because we do not care who knows how we vote. But there are thousands of men in this country whose bread and butler depend on their employer not knowing how they vote, and we must protect these men. With regard to registration, if you make it compulsory on every man to go to a notary public or a registrar and register his name, his age and his place of residence, just as you compel him to register the birth of his child, the death of his father or a marriage ceremony, there will be nothing arbitrary about it. Then make it penal if he does not vote; at least disfranchise him for the next election which is penalty enough. Then, make it a penal offence for any man to contribute money to an election fund. I could give you some of my experience.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT.
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS

Give it.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT.
Permalink
IND

Jabel Robinson

Independent

Mr. ROBINSON (Elgin).

It is not necessary. I tell you it is sadder than anything you can think of at the time of an election to see thousands of dollars brought into a constituency to bribe the electors. Everybody knows it is done, and why don't you try to stop it ? You can do it by preventing the fund being created.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT.
Permalink
CON

Samuel Barker

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BARKER.

As a member of the committee to which this Bill was referred, I have been very much struck by the somewhat remarkable change in the temper with which the measure was received when first introduced by the hon. member for North Nor-

folk (Mr. Charlton) and that with which it is received to-day. At that time a good deal was made by the hon. member for North Norfolk of the evil, of which we all hear so much during election times, of men holding back their votes until the last minute, in the desire to sell them to the highest bidder. I do not recollect that any hou. gentleman on either side of the House at that time disputed the existence of that evil. It seemed to be generally assented to that such an evil existed, that it was a serious one, and that if possible some remedy should be found for it. To-day we find quite a different attitude taken towards it especially by hon. gentlemen opposite. We have one gentleman who feels that this clause of the Bill would do a great injustice, because it happened in one province of this Dominion that an election was held upon a Saturday, and the. Adventists refused to vote on that day. Well, the hon. gentleman supports that by saying that it may be convenient in that province to hold elections upon a Saturday. I am under the impression that the elections are held throughout the Dominion on the same day, and I think it would not be convenient for all the rest of the Dominion to hold the election upon a Saturday, and therefore it is a very remote possibility indeed that we shall ever have one election for the Dominion held upon a Saturday, or that the Adventists will suffer on that account. Another hon. gentleman minimizes the number of people who hold back for the purpose of selling their votes. He thinks there are very few, and points out that the great mass of the people are honest and give their votes honestly. I do not dispute that ; but I think every gentleman in this House will admit that there are quite sufficient of those who hold back their votes to overbalance the majority in almost every constituency of the Dominion. I do not refer to the cases where very large majorities are obtained. But in the large mass of cases there is a comparatively small majority, and I think it is the general experience that a sufficient number of people hold back until nearly five o'clock to turn that majority in the one direction or the other. Then another great objection which is urged to the clause is that it is an outrage to compel a man to vote against his convictions. For instance, a man might be opposed to both candidates, and it would be wrong to punish him because he did not vote for either. But there is nothing to prevent such a man from depositing a blank ballot. The hon. the Minister of Justice tells us that this is an infringement upon civil liberty. But where is the harm of saying to a man who refuses to turn out and vote or even deposit a blank ballot, that if he does not perform that duty which he owes to the public he shall be left off the list for a certain number of years ? Then we had a learned discussion as to whether the right to vote was a mere privilege or a trust or a duty. I

doubt whether any one will dispute that it is a duty incumbent on every man, who is protected in his civil rights by society and the laws of the land, to vote for the proper men to represent the people in parliament ; and I say if he will not perform that obligation, which he owes to society, the right should be taken from him unless he has some reasonable excuse for not exercising it. While I do not believe it possible to provide a complete remedy, this will provide a remedy to some extent and ought to be given at least a trial.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT.
Permalink

October 20, 1903