With regard to section 29 and the amendments proposed by the Minister of Justice, it seems to me extremely desirable-and I believe that no one will gainsay the desirability-that elections throughout Canada should be held on the same day. And it appears to me that, under existing circumstances, there is no practical difficulty in the way of attaining that object. The work to be done by the returning officer we are more or less familiar with. His duties are set forth in the statute, the principal being the posting up of the proclamation before the nomination and posting up in the same places afterwards his notice of the holding of the poll. His other duties are clerical and occupy
practically no time. We are all aware that, although the statute speaks of a large number of particulars with which he has to acquaint himself for the purpose of issuing his proclamation, yet in practice, the returning officer merely obtains a copy of the last proclamation, provincial or Dominion, and from that he can in a short time possess himself of all the knowledge necessary to issue the proclamation. As I observed, if, instead of posting up these proclamations and notices himself, he will employ a sufficient number of men he can have the documents posted within the prescribed time. For the purpose of obviating any difficulty of that kind in the excepted ridings, I have drawn up an amendment to section 29 which I will take the liberty of moving. I think this amendment ought to commend itself to the Minister of Justice and to the House, for it seems to me it obviates any difficulty which can reasonably be assigned to holding the elections throughout Canada on the same day. The statute as it stands provides that the Governor in Council fixes the day of nomination in all the constituencies except those named in that section, and also the date of polling. By section 29, the returning officers fix the date of nomination and polling in the excepted ridings. I propose to do away with that by providing that both these dates shall be fixed by the Governor General, but that the time between the holding of the nomination and the polling shall be enlarged in the case of the excepted ridings. The usual practice, I understand, is to allow thirty days between the issuing of the writs of election and the polling day. I propose practically to cut that time in two and allow half of it before the nomination and the other half after it. Thus, instead of allowing seven or eight days-it is seven in reality-as now, for the returning officer to do his work after nomination, I would allow fourteen days on each side of that date. I move that clause 3 be struck out and the following substituted :
In the electoral districts of Gaspe, and Chicoutimi and Saguenay, in the province of Quebec ; and of COmox-Atlin, Kootenay and Yale-Cariboo, in the province of British Columbia ; the day for the nomination of candidates so to be fixed by the Governor General and named in the writ of election, shall not be less than fourteen clear days next before the day also so fixed and named for holding the polls, and the day for holding the polls shall be the same day throughout Canada.
Amendment (Mr. Alcorn) negatived.