The remedy is in the hands of the government because they can fix the elections on any day they like, and they can
give notice sufficiently far in advance to af-ord facilities for voters in these outlying districts. Give the notice a few days earlier, and all the elections can be held on the same day. So far as we on this side of the House are concerned, we are ready for the elections when they may come. But. in view of the failure of the hon. member (Mr. Galli-her) to make out a case for his own constituency. I think the government should drop this Bill, and stand on the principle of uniformity. North of Lake Superior and the Georgian bay at one time we had no post offices, telegraph offices or railroads. This is all changed. Y'ou would be surprised to know that the people up there now read the daily papers. I hope the people out in Cariboo are becoming educated enough to read a weekly paper, at any rate. The hon. gentleman should supply them, and let them know when an election is coming on. But apart from that, the great question in this country is, when we shall have the elections; and the Prime Minister should name the day far enough ahead so that we can have them in the whole country on the same day.
My hon. friend is evidently quite unaware of the difficulty which we have to deal with. My hon. friend must not imagine that by giving a yeat's notice of the elections we could help the difficulty we are now confronted with. The difficulty is this. There are certain things which have to he done after nomination day : the ballot boxes, the ballot papers, the electoral lists and the instructions have to be distributed. There are only eight days under the law between nomination day and polling day ; and the difficulty arises with respect to those electoral districts in which the physical conditions are such that it is impossible to make the distribution within that time. If my hon. friend's information with respect to Algoma is not more accurate than it is with respect to Gaspfi, then I would not place on his information in this respect that reliance which I generally place on what he says in this House. So far as Gaspe is concerned, suppose the nomination takes place at Perc6, at the ex treme eastern limit of the peninsula, and it is necessary to send the ballot boxes up to Ste. Anne des Monts or Cap Chatte, T. would like my hon. friend to tell me how, after the 1st of December, when navigation is closed, it will be possible to do it in eight days ?
If my hon. friend had them there, and provided them with relays of horses at every ten miles, they could not do it in eight days. That is a fact about which there is no doubt. In the
first place, along two-thirds of the coast there are no roads, and yon have to use dogs if you get along at all. On the north shore of the St. Lawrence, in Chicoutimi and Saguenay, you have to go from Tadousac, at the mouth of the Saguenay river, to Blanc Sablon, on the Labrador coast, and how are you going to do it in eight days ? it is a physical impossibility.
There is no reason why the nomination should be held at the extreme limit of the constituency. The iaw says it shall be held as near the centre as possible, and three poll clerks may be appointed as well as one to distribute the ballot boxes and the papers. As a matter of fact, in the province of Ontario, the ballot boxes are usually held by the various municipalities, and are not required to be taken from one centre to another. The provincial ballot boxes are used.
That has been the case for years. The ballot boxes in most cases are owned by the municipalities and are not in the possession of the returning officers. Where the municipality cannot furnish the ballot boxes, the returning officer is bound to furnish them. But the rule is that the same ballot boxes are used for provincial, Dominion and municipal elections.
I cannot say anything about what is done in Ontario, because I am not there ; but subsection d of section 41 of the Act requires that ' the returning officer shall deliver to each deputy returning officer, two days at least before the polling day, a blank poll book, forms of oaths to be administered to voters, envelopes, sealing wax and a ballot box.'
Is there anything laughable or absurd about it ? The only thing absurd is the ignorance of the laugh. The election clerk gets the ballot boxes from the clerk of the municipality, and after they are used he returns them to the municipality. They are gathered up and distributed by the election clerks.
There is another point that has been overlooked by our hon. friends opposite, that is, that the ballot papers are not printed until after the official nomination ; and, as a general rule, it takes two Mr. FITZPATRICK.
days to print the ballot papers before they can be given to the returning officer.
In the larger districts the returning officer never attempts to-distribute all the ballot boxes and papers himself. He delegates that power to others, which I think the law permits him to do. Either the election clerk or some other person is employed by the returning officer to make the distribution. In the outlying counties what is to hinder the returning officer employing half a dozen men, if necessary, to-cover the whole ground ? Where there is a will there is a way.
There is no difficulty about his employing others if he chooses. His obligation is to deliver to each returning officer the ballots, the lists and the ballot boxes. When the distances are so great that after the ballots are printed he cannot do that within the eight days, what is going to be the result ? If he cannot reach every polling division in the whole district within the eight days, is that not sufficient reason for postponing the election ?
Why should any group of men be deprived of their right to vote ? Is it not fair to say that if the conditions existing at the time the elections are held are such that any important group in the community may be deprived of the right to vote that the returning officer shall have power to postpone the election in order to give these men the right to vote, especially as this provision is restricted to two or three counties in the province ? So far as Ontario is concerned the only district added is East Algoma, and the contention of my hon. friends opposite is that this provision is not necessary for that constituency. I have heard nothing on this side in support of the contention ; nobody on this side seems to be interested in the question of whether the election be held on the same day or on a subsequent day. I shall take into consideration what my hon. friends opposite say, but I want to point out that it is not a case of whether all parts of one island are accessible, but whether all parts of the constituency are accessible. Suppose the elections are held in the autumn or spring there might be difficulty.
Manitoulin island is a very old settled district. Farmers have been living there for years and there is a splendid system of municipal organization. The island is almost connected with the main shore and there will be no difficulty in traversing it at any season of the year.
It there is no difficulty, if the thing can all be done within I the eight days, then I will have to consider the propriety of dropping the provision as
to East Algoma as I did that with regard to the west riding. So far as Quebec is concerned, I know what I am talking about because I have been about the country and know it. All that is necessary is to take a map for instance of the county of Chicoutimi and Saguenay and look at the distance from Tadousac to Blanc Sablon. It must be 150 miles and there is a dog trail for most of the road.