August 2, 1904

CON

George Oscar Alcorn

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ALCORN.

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.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900- AMENDMENT.
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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

I did not gather exactly what the view of the government is with regard to these amendments. As X said before, they seem to be very moderate. For example, in the Northwest Territories this provision with regard to the enumerator names a time within which the electors may conveniently find him. He is to be

present at a certain place for two consecutive hours in every day of eight days preceding the election for the purpose of enabling them to apply for certificates. The certificates referred to are certificates of the authority referred to act as agent. The difficulty that has arisen is that these have been used, as I am informed, for the purpose of enabling personation to be carried on. It is merely desired that those safeguards that seem to me reasonable shall be adopted in order that personation shall not be carried on, and that the persons representing both candidates shall have an equal opportunity of applying for these certificates.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900- AMENDMENT.
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LIB

Charles Fitzpatrick (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. FITZPATRICK.

Perhaps if my hon. friend will renew his question to-morrow morning at eleven o'clock, in the interval I will endeavour to look over the Bill and see what can be done.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900- AMENDMENT.
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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

Perhaps in the meantime the hon. gentleman will look over both Bills, Nos. 117 and 118.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900- AMENDMENT.
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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

In regard to the province of Quebec, the Minister of Justice said there were four counties out of which he constitutes two counties for federal purposes. Is he quite sure of that ?

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900- AMENDMENT.
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LIB

Charles Fitzpatrick (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. FITZPATRICK.

Yes.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900- AMENDMENT.
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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

As I read the last election Jaw of Quebec, Gasp6 and the Magdalen Islands form two separate constituencies, but Chicoutimi and Saguenay are one constituency. It has been suggested to me from the district of Quebec, by people who are more competent than I am and perhaps as competent as my hon. friend and as conversant with the geography of that interesting district, that it is not at all impossible to have the elections at the same time in those two large constituencies if authority were given by statute to the returning officer to make his proclamation and to obtain the results of the election by telegraph.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900- AMENDMENT.
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LIB

Charles Fitzpatrick (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. FITZPATRICK.

How would he send his ballot boxes ?

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900- AMENDMENT.
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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

He can do that before. The objection pointed out to me was made on behalf of the Magdalen Islands, and my hon. friend will understand it. We have communication with the north shore of the St. Lawrence, and in the Magdalen Islands we have communication by telegraph. But the peculiarity of the Magdalen Islands is that it is impossible to cross over to them between the 15th of December and the 20th of May, and provision has to be made for such a contingency. The consequence is, for instance, that if we had an election this fall, as some people insinuate we may have, the Magdalen Islands in the county of Gaspe would not be represented in the next session of this parliament until after the 20th of May. "

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900- AMENDMENT.
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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900- AMENDMENT.
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LIB

Charles Fitzpatrick (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. FITZPATRICK.

It may not.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900- AMENDMENT.
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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

It might not be, as my hon. friend says, and possibly it might be. But what was represented to me by my friends in the district of Quebec was that such a regrettable want of representation might be obviated by giving the returning officer power in those districts to act by means of telegraphic communication.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900- AMENDMENT.
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LIB

Charles Fitzpatrick (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. FITZPATRICK.

That suggestion must have come from Quebec, and not elsewhere.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900- AMENDMENT.
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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

The representation I am making on behalf of these people is a serious one. There is no doubt that an amendment could easily be made giving him that power. There would be then no possible contingency in which the county of GaspS would not have its duly elected representative, even between the period from the loth of December and the 20th of May. I am not prepared with an amendment, but my hon. friend I think could easily prepare one which would enable .us to have the elections in the province of Quebec all over at the same time.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900- AMENDMENT.
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LIB

Charles Marcil

Liberal

Mr. CHARLES MARCIL.

I undertook a few moments ago to give some explanations in regard to the county of Gaspe, where I had the honour of being a candidate some eight years ago. The county of Gaspe in the summer time is much easier of access than it is in winter. In summer we have navigation on both shores, we have navigation also to the Magdalen Islands ; but in the winter time this disappears entirely ; and we have no railways. The first parish in the "county of Gaspe is forty miles from the nearest railroad station, and the mainland is 320 miles long. There used to be in the old Election Act a provision as regards the Magdalen Islands that if the election was held in the winter time the proclamation could be cabled over to the islands and the deputy returning officer on the island was authorized to prepare with a pen the proclamation necessary to bring on that election and the ballots as well. The first difficulty that would exist between the nomination and the voting would be this, 111 at as soon as the candidates are nominated the returning officer must go to Quebec or send to Quebec to have the ballots printed as there is no French printing office nearer than Quebec.

There may be a local printing office in Rimouski and perhaps another at' Rivi&re du Loup but generally the ballots are printed at Quebec. Before the ballots are returned to Perce there is generally a lapse of three or four days. Then the returning officer must cover the whole area -of 320 miles which lies between Cap Chat and Newport. I had the pleasure of covering that district on snowshoes or rowing in an open boat in March of 1897. It took me eight

*weeks day after day to cover the county of Gaspe from end to end, and then I had the satisfaction of being beaten by six votes. My opponent at the time was the Prime Minister of the province and he had fixed one clear month between nomination and voting. Voting used to come one or two weeks after the nomination but in that year there was apparently a premonition that something would happen to the party in power-as it did happen-and instead of putting the voting later than the general voting, the voting was placed on the same day but the nomination was fixed one month earlier. There is no human possibility of holding an election in Gaspe between November and May unless you give the returning officer at least two weeks in which to send to Quebec to have his ballots printed and to distribute the ballots, and I am sure if you refer the matter to the returning officer himself he will place one month between nomination and voting. As far as the islands are concerned, I believe the old provision exists that you can wire over the proclamation.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900- AMENDMENT.
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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

I find there is already a provision in the Elections Act of 1900 section 151, that information of the result of the voting may be made by telegraphic communication between Chicoutimi and Saguenay and Gaspe, and that after obtaining such information by telegraph the returning officer may make his proclamation. As he is allowed to make his proclamation' by telegraph I do not see that there is very much difficulty. Of course the hon. member for Bonaventure (Mr. Marcil) knows more about the district than I do, although I still maintain that I know as much as the Minister of Justice, but as regards the time that must elapse between nomination and voting my hon. friend from Bonaventure (Mr. Marcil) is mistaken, because according to the last Quebec electoral law, the law of 1903, as I read section 7, the voting must take place eight days after nomination. There remains the questions of printing of the ballots.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900- AMENDMENT.
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LIB

Charles Marcil

Liberal

Mr. C. MARCIL.

The whole year around or only in the summer time ?

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900- AMENDMENT.
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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

The whole year except in the Magdalen Islands. No election can take place in the Magdalen Islands between December 15 and May 20 but if telegraphic communication can be legalized by statute of course that can be obviated.

There remains the important questions of the printing of the ballots which of course can be easily overcome if there is a printing press in the Magdalen Islands. As that locality is progressive there may be one before long, and in the provincial statutes it is provided that the elections shall take place as indicated under section 97 if possible. Those two words could be introduced into the Federal Act with the amendment I have suggested, and as soon as the difficulty of printing the ballots could be obviated then the elections could be held all over at the same time.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900- AMENDMENT.
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LIB

Charles Marcil

Liberal

Mr. C. MARCIL.

The best way to deal with Gaspe is to leave the matter open and let the returning officer be the judge. Circumstances vary with the season. In the summer you can cover the whole district easily, but from November until May it is difficult. The maritime road on the south shore is sometimes closed in winter and it is impossible to cover the distance in four days from Cap Chat to Cap Gaspe ; you must send to Quebec to get the ballots printed. It is not the distribution of the boxes, as this might be done days before. You have to wire the names of the candidates to Quebec, and have the ballots printed, brought to Gaspe and then have them taken to the different subdivisions by horse or sled or dog train, on the south shore. It is impossible to cover that great area in eight days;

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900- AMENDMENT.
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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

The means of communication are increasing every day and with such a very able representative as my hon. friend the district should be able to secure good communication. I am afraid my hon. friend conceived a gloomy impression of the peninsula in 1897.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1900- AMENDMENT.
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August 2, 1904