I understood that the hon. member for Hamilton (Mr. Barker) moved that part of section 21 of clause 6 be struck out and in amendment to that I move that the whole section as amended be struck out. It is not the same motion as I made before, because the clause'has been amended.
Iu my opinion it is substantially the same thing. The committee have accepted these words proposed by Mr. Barker. They have rejected your amendment, you are asking that the committee shall reverse the decision they arrived at a few moments ago, which is contrary to the rules of order.
The effect of this amendment is to make a distinction between officials who commit offences and the ordinary voter. The penalty for officials is most severe. It is a very severe penalty and it may make it difficult to get men to accept the office, but if a man does accept, I suppose that no penalty is too severe which will keep him straight.
I have known men to have voted twice who had absolutely no idea they were committing an offence against the law. To disfranchise a person who commits an offence unwittingly might be too severe a penalty.
I agree very strongly with the Minister of Justice as to the disfranchisement penalty under this clause. We ought to be slow to impose the penalty of disfranchisement on an elector. In this section it would cover cases in which the offence would not be commensurate with the penalty. We ought not to disfranchise a citizen unless he commits an act which shows that he is absolutely unfit to exercise the franchise. Many of the offences under this Act are not of that gravity, and I would agree with the suggestion of the Minister of Justice to omit the part of the clause Which provides for disfranchisement.
If I read the marginal notes perhaps that would be sufficient to describe them. The first offence is interfering with the voter marking his ballot paper by the candidate, officer, clerk, agent or other person. The second provision is that the ballot paper when given to the voters is not to be shown to any one for the purpose of giving information as to the manner in which he has voted, nor is it to be shown by the deputy returning officer or any person, so that those present may know how the voter has voted.
We have had some considerable difficulty over this in my riding, and this is a good time to know what the law is. If I mark my ballot and show the returning officer the initials on the ballot paper, who has the right to deposit that ballot in the box; is it the voter or the deputy returning officer ?