I stated yesterday that I would give the House some idea of the measures which the government propose to introduce during the present session. These measures are not new; they have been more or less discussed already and the House is somewhat familiar with them. In the first place, there is the Civil Service Bill, which, I think, will be introduced early next week. There are also the Bill to provide for the extension of the boundaries of Manitoba, the amendment to the Manitoba Grain Inspection Act-to be intro luced within a day or two-and the amendment to the Lands Bill These are the principal measures. But I must say that another important measure to be introduced is that respecting aid to railway construction, including the Hudson Bay Railway. There are some minor Bills of some importance, but, I think, not contentious. One relates to judicature, and another to Chinese immigration, and another is to mile the Yukon Council absolutely elective, instead of partly elective and partly nominative as at present. There is also an amendment to the Customs Act. This is a fair list of the measures that we propose to introduce.
Before the orders of the day are called, I would ask the Prime Minister whether he has any news of the treaty, which, I observe, has been ratified by the Senate of the United States. It seems a little curious that we cannot get it here until it has been considered and ratified there.
Topic: CANADIAN AND UNITED STATES BOUNDARIES TREATIES.
There are two reasons for that. According to the constitution of the United States, as my hon. friend knows, treaties must be ratified by the Senate in executive session. They are not passed unless they have received the approval of the president and the sanction of the Senate. The second is that we could not have the correspondence and treaty laid before this house until we had the authority of the British Colonial Office. We have asked for that authority, and, no doubt, it will be given. I have the correspondence prepared, and, as soon as we have received the sanction of the Colonial Office, we, will lay the two treaties-for there are two- before the House.
Topic: CANADIAN AND UNITED STATES BOUNDARIES TREATIES.
AYLESWORTH (Minister of Justice) moved the second reading of Bill (No. 115) to amend the Dominion Elections Act. He said : When this Bill was introduced some two_ months ago, I gave an explanation, with considerable fulness of detail, of the various provisions therein proposed and the reasons which had led to these provisions being recommended for adoption by the House. In the two month which have passed since that time there has been, in the newspapers and otherwise in the country, considerable discussion with reference to the provisions of this measure. But that discussion seems, so far as I have seen it, to have limited itself very largely, if not practically altogether, to the first clause of the Bill. Perhans in these circumstances, and subject to what hon. members wish to say with reference to other paragraphs of the Bill, I may, at this stage of its progress, limit myself to a discussion of the provisions of that section, leaving other clauses of the Bill to be discussed either upon this occasion or in Committee of the Whole. The first clause of this Bill deals with the question of voters' lists and the franchise in a very considerable portion of the Dominion. For the purpose of classifying the method of preparation of the voters' lists, one might divide the Dominion, with not unfair accuracy, by the boundary line between the provinces of Ontario and Manitoba. Speaking in the rough, the whole of Canada east of that line prepares its voters' lists with the assessment roll, or valuation roll, of the municipal locality as the basis of the list, while all of the Dominion to the west of that line pursues the opposite system and prepares its lists upon the system of registration and without reference to the assessment roll.
Now it will be no doubt in the memory of many hon. gentlemen, it is upon the pages of the ' Hansard ' of ten years ago when our present Franchise Act was under discussion in this House, that that principle was laid down as being the rule in a gen-Mr. R. L. BORDEN.
eral way, of application upon which die present Dominion system of voters' lists was based. Prior to that time, for thirteen years the Dominion, under the Franchise Act of 1885, had been controlling the preparation of its own voters' lists. In 1898 the present law was passed, the old Franchise Act of 1885 was repealed, and a system of adopting the voters' lists as prepared by the various provinces, substituted in its stead. Upon that occasion the opposition of that day put itself upon record in the form of a substantive motion against the second reading of the Bill, and In favour of the principle that the Dominion should absolutely control its own franchise, that this House should not under any circumstances part with the preparation of its own voters' lists, or hand that work over to the provincial legislatures in any case. But upon this side of the House, and in support of the proposition, it ivas contended by different hon. gentlemen that wherever you have voters' lists prepared by the municipalities upon the basis of the assessment roll you have in that circumstance a guaranty of substantiality and a guaranty of fairness. You have the various municipal councils consisting of four or five, or at most six or seven, members who are necesarily acquainted, possibly personally acquainted, with practically all the families in their district. You had the assessor, with certainly no inducement to omit from his roll which was to be tlia basis of taxation in the community, any landowner or any individual liable to tax, you had that guaranty that every man who ought to pay taxes would find his name placed upon the assessment roll in order that a levy might be made upon him, and you had a local body consisting, possibly and very probably, of men of opposite political feelings engaged in the work of revising that assessment roll, with naturally a personal acquaintance, probably, with the majority of the men whose names they were dealing with, and that roll as so settled by the municipal council to be the subsequent basis of the voters' lists for municipal, provincial and Dominion purposes. It was pointed out at that time, in nnswer to an observation by the present hon. leader of the opposition, that if, notwithstanding the fears which he then expressed, the time should come when any provincial government or provincial legislature should by its legislation, or by its administration of that levis'aM'in. so interfere with the course of the preparation of the voters' lists in that province, or if there was not an acceptable list, or there was ground for belief that the list so prepared was not of a fair and satisfactory nature, then this House always had it in its power, this parliament at any time could resume control over its own lists and over its own franchise, and prevent the apprehended evil from taking place.
Now that being an outline of the considerations which were urged on either side in
1898 as reasons for and against the adoption of the system which was then inaugurated in the Dominion, and which has since obtained, the situation which we have now reached necessarily comes to be considered. At the last general elections in 1904 there was a difficulty, to use a mild word, with reference to the voters' lists in the province of Manitoba, particularly in that province, more esnecially there, perhaps elsewhere as well, but a difficulty which had its origin out of the system of preparing lists which, under the Manitoba statute, and under the method in which that statute was administered, had necessarily arisen. Their lists were not based upon the assessment rolls, their lists were prepared upon a system of registration, personal registration on the part of the voter possibly, but not necessarily personal registration, provision being contained in the statute law for the registration of the voter without personal application in the circumstances that the statute describes. The general outline of their system of preparing the voters' lists was that registration clerks were appointed for the various constituencies of the province, and the work of the registration clerks in forming the basis of the voters' lists was afterwards revised by some member of a registration board, which consisted I think in practice of the county judges of the province, which upon the face of the statute might consist either of the county judges or of barristers of three years standing. Those lists were necessarily prepared under the system obtaining in Manitoba with reference to the various electoral districts as laid down for provincial purposes. Now what is the consequence ? For the purpose of representation in this House the whole province of Manitoba is divided into ten constituencies, while for the purpose of representation in the provincial legislature of the same province, we have the same territory divided into forty constituencies. For every Dominion constituency there are four provincial constituencies, and the boundaries are not coterminous. I do not know whether in any single instance any Dominion constituency is composed of just four, or just three, or just five, or exactly any other number of provincial constituencies ; but I imagine that in no single case is any constituency as defined for Dominion purposes composed of exactly a certain number of provincial constituencies. The result is that throughout the whole province there is an overlapping. A Dominion constituency will have all round its borders an outstanding fringe consisting of portions of various surrounding provincial constituencies, and in many instances the boundaries of the individual polling subdivisions in the provincial constituencies will not be coterminous with the boundaries of the Dominion constituency either. So you have as a consequence men who would be grouped together for provincial purposes
upon the voters' lists for either a particular polling subdivision, or taking it in the Large, for a provincial legislative constituency, who would not be grouped together for the purpose of a Dominion election.
Now under the system of registration as distinct from the system of preparing voters' lists with the assessment roll as a basis, you have the voters' lists prepared for the various provincial constituencies divided, not into polling subdivisions, but into registration districts, and the registration districts do not necessarily correspond with the polling subdivisions. They may do so or they may not do so, but the group of voters brought together by the registration clerk upon the one sheet of paper and certified to be the list of qualified voters for a particular registration district consists, it may be, of men who vote in more than one polling subdivision. But more than that and worse than that for the difficulty I am about to present, these voters are not, in I think I may safely say, the majority of instances, designated by the ownership of a particular piece of property. In some cases, possibly in the greater number of cases, the voter's post office addres is given, but in a great many instances, in a very large percentage of the voters' lists throughout the province, not even a post office is given, but simply the name of the man entitled to vote. I have before me ordinary sample sheets of the lists which I shall be happy to lay upon the table and hon. gentlemen may see them for themselves. The lists that I have are taken entirely at random. These were, I may say, presented before the committee of this House which made some inquiry into this matter two years ago, and in that way came before my notice and have been in my possession since. The first of these two that are before me is, the list of voters of 1903, and I shall read the caption in order that you. Sir, may see exactly what the list as certified by the provincial authorities to the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery contains, and what exactly is the information and the whole of the information which any one having such a document before him would possess in regard to the voters whose names appear on it. It is headed :
List of voters, 1903, provincial electoral district of St. Boniface, registration district No. 1.
There is no reference to any poll, but simply registration district No. 1 and that is in the provincial electoral district of St. Boniface. This list contains 226 names. To show how these names are in most instances entered I shall read the first one :
Anderson, Eric, Louise Bridge, Mason.
That is the identification of the voter and that is the case in respect of most of the names throughout the list, the voters' name,
his post office, and his occupation are given with no reference whatever to the property in respect of which he votes or to the exact place where he may live. On this list, as a matter of fact, all the names enumerated of the men entitled to vote in the electoral district of Selkirk, are now marked with a check. Those who are entitled to vote in the adjoining constituency of Provencher, as delimited for purposes of Dominion representation, are left without a mark. These 226 names are divided between the two constituencies of Selkirk and Provencher in the numbers of 140 in Selkirk and 86 in Provencher. Of course it will be seen at once that the post office address of the individual without knowledge of who the man himself is and where he lives is no guide. The post office might be upon the boundary line, and a man who voted in the constituency of Provencher might have his post office in Selkirk or vice versa. His post office he selects according to his own convenience, and the post office itself while, if it were far distant from the boundary, would be some guide, in a case where the boundary bisects the registration district, as in this case, affords little or no light.
The other list I have is similar.
List of voters, 1903, provincial electoral district of Morris, registration district No. 5.
There are 120 names on the list and of those 120 names 77 are in Provencher and 43 in Macdonald, as divided for Dominion purposes. If any one taking up this paper without local knowledge entered upon the effort to discriminate between the voters who were entitled to vote in Macdonald and those who were entitled to vote in Proven-cher, he would simply have to abandon the effort as absolutely impracticable, because in this case we have no post office whatever, we have in some instances, in most instances, a reference to the section upon which the voter, presumably, is to be found or which, at any rate, he may be supposed to own. But we have no other information given than that. These gentlemen whose names are here recorded are voters some of them as farmers' sons, others as farmers, others as blacksmiths ; their occupations are given throughout with simply a reference to some particular lot and nothing else.
Those are ordinary samples. In some instances the lot is given, in other instances no lot will appear from one end to the other of the list. It depended, I presume, on what was the habit of the registration clerk in taking the necessary information and recording the names in the first instance.
In that position of matters, I ask hon. gentlemen to reflect what was to be done by the men who received His Majesty's writs in the fall of 1004, requiring them to hold the ten elections in Manitoba for the purpose of representation in this House. Un-Mr. AYLESWOBTH.
' der the statute, they received from the proper officials at Ottawa printed copies of just such lists as I have been adverting to, which gave them the names by registration districts of hundreds upon hundreds of voters, thousands necessarily, in each constituency. If you take the case of a registration district as defined by the provincial law, which the returning officer, possessing local knowledge, may, of his own knowledge, be aware is in the centre of a Dominion constituency, is wholly within some particular Dominion constituency, the returning officer will certainly be aware that every man on the list for that particular registration district will be within his bailiwick. But in the cases in which there was not a coincidence in all the borders around the four sides of any constituency in Manitoba between the limits of tire registration district and of the provincial constituency and the limits of the Dominion constituency, there was, of necessity there had to be, some division of the voters in order that those who voted under any particular returning officer should be known. Now that was a case absolutely unprovided for in our legislation. I suppose it had not been thought of in 1898 or at any subsequent session of parliament. Possibly it was thought of in 1898 but considered not of practical importance for this reason : In 1898 the voters' lists in the province of Manitoba were not revised annually or at fixed times, they were revised whenever the lieutenant Governor in council so directed.
Accordingly the legislation of this parliament as passed in 1898 provided that whenever that was the case with the voters lists of any particular province these voters lists should not necessarily be accepted for the purpose of elections to this House. Our statute at the present time continues to provide that where under the laws of any province the voters' lists for any particular electoral district or division are prepared not at regular intervals but at such times as are fixed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council or by some other provincial or local authority or only from time to time for the purpose of a general or other election in immediate contemplation, then the last preceding list shall be used if it is less than a year old, but only in that event. If it is more than a year old the Dominion prepares its own voters' lists in the manner at present prescribed by the Dominion Elections Act and which has been on the statute-book since 1898. So that in 1898 when this legislation was passed repealing the old Franchise Act of 1885, Manitoba was not having annual revision of its lists, and was not in that sense affected by the Dominion legislation. But the provision of 1898, in the condition of things which then existed in Manitoba, was that the provincial lists of that province should
be used for Dominion purposes only if there came a Dominion election when such lists were less than twelve months old, and that If such lists were at that time over twelve months old then the Dominion would prepare its own lists. That possibly is the explanation of the circumstance that no special provision was made in 1898 for the case of such overlapping as I have been describing. Whatever explanation of it may be, the fact is as I have stated. Now, in the spring of 1904 the Manitoba legislature made a change in its law. The Manitoba legislature provided by the statute of 1904, (repealing the provisions as to voters' lists which had theretofore existed in that province) that their revision should take place annually. It is true it was a sort of peculiar revision, but it was what they called revision at all events. It was not registration preparing lists de novo by requiring each man who claimed the right to vote to appear before the official appointed for the purpose and state his claim, but it was the taking of the existing lists by the registration clerk and the adding to such lists or the revision of them on his part by making the changes which might appear to be necessary. Accordingly we have the legislature of Manitoba in the spring of 1904, by the enactment I have referred to, making their provincial voters' lists revis-able at regular annual intervals and no longer at only such times as should be fixed by the government of the province. The effect was at once to make this provision of our Elections Act which authorized the Dominion authorities to prepare lists for a province no longer applicable to Manitoba, and to require the Dominion elections of 1904 which were then approaching to be carried on upon these Manitoba lists, samples of which I have placed before you a few minutes ago. These Manitoba lists of 1903 had been prepared for another purpose altogether ; they had been prepared at a time when under the then existing Dominion legislation there was every prospect that they never would be needed for Dominion purposes ; they had been prepared with a view solely and entirely to the provincial elections. At the time these lists were prepared in 1903 the Dominion legislation was of such a character that there could have been no expectation on the part of the officials who prepared these lists that they would ever be required for Dominion purposes unless the Dominion elections should follow within twelve months of their completion. Under these circumstances they were not prepared by the officials who were engaged in the work with any idea of their being used in Dominion elections ; they were not prepared in any way with reference to Dominion constituencies or Dominion polling sub-divisions but with no other thought than the provincial limits I have mentioned. The
consequence was the absolute inapplicability for the practical purpose of conducting an election of those lists which by the change of the provincial law in the spring of 1904 became under the terms of our legislation of 1898 the lists upon which the Dominion elections had to be carried on. Every returning officer in the ten constituencies of Manitoba found himself consequently face to face with the question of what he was to do about it. His duty was to send to his various deputy returning officers for use at the various polling places in his constituency, lists which should show just the names and only the names of the men entitled to vote at that poll.
Now, we who are better acquainted with the older settled portions of this country possibly do not always appreciate conditions as they exist in the larger west. I myself must frankly concede that it was with some astonishment I heard the testimony given before the committee I alluded to a little ago, with regard to the size of the constituencies in Manitoba. We were investigating specially at that time the conditions with regard to the three constituencies of Selkirk, Provencher, and Macdonald and the size of these constituencies was stated to be in round figures : Selkirk 100 miles wide by 210 miles in length, Provencher 50 miles by 115 miles and Macdonald 80 miles by 86. Now, I ask hon. gentlemen who like myself are more famili-liar with the geography of the province of Ontario : Suppose you had a constituency extending with regard to its width as far as from Toronto to Trenton, and so far as its length as far as from Toronto to Brock-ville, and you had a returning officer appointed for that whole territory 100 miles one way and 210 miles the other, and you placed in his hands a series of voters' lists amounting to perhaps 4,000 or 5,000 voters in all, scattered over that territory, and with no other guide than at most the number of the lot and very probably with no other guide than the post office or possibly not even a post office, to enable him to say whether or not a particuliar voter is within these boundaries; is it not manifestly impossible that any man, unless he has travelled from end to end of the province and from end to end of the constituency and unless he has a local knowledge greater far than the average citizen possesses, is it not manifestly impossible that he would be able to do anything more than make one may say a guess, or secure such information as he could with reference to an individual and endeavour to make in that way lists which should be appropriate and legal for the purposes required? The returning officer has no guide in the statute ; he is not told what he is to do. He is under obligation to send to his deputies a proper list, and is given no kind of direction or information as to how he can
prepare that list. If a returning officer, face to face with such a difficulty, had in the few weeks which remained before the polling day, set himself to obtain all the information he was able, and having so obtained it, had written down name after name upon sheets of foolscap, extracting them from the printed lists that had come to him from Ottawa, and had sent such certified lists of copied names to his different polling sub-divisions, I venture to say that no man could by any perversion or distortion of the statute assail that returning officer as having transgressed his statutory duty or as having committed any offence against the laws of the land. In this case the returning officers probably never thought of writing out the lists, possibly wished to avoid the manual labour that would involve, and instead of writing out the list for each separate poll, they went through those lists and endeavoured to mark those voters who did not belong to their respective constituencies by striking out the names. They used red ink for the purpose.
And we have had from that day to this the changes rung upon every platform and in every newspaper in the country upon the convenient catch-phrase that somebody coined of the thin red line. The government of the province of Manitoba had had to do, in the rearrangement of its lists for the purpose of its elections, precisely the same kind of work. Their officials did it with black ink, and that is the only difference.
Will the Minister of Justice say who did it with black ink ? What class of officials did this kind of work ? Was it the Conservative organizer, like the Liberal organizer in the other case? As a matter of fact, it was done by the judges of the province.
I must ask my hon. friend from Marquette to acquit me of any intention of discourtesy if I do not answer or if I do not notice what he has said, because it is my misfortune to be quite unable to hear him.
I am not making the least attack, political or other, upon the officials of the legislature or government of Manitoba in what I have adverted to. I am saying that it was necessary; it was a thing which could not possibly be avoided. I certainly make no point on the colour of the ink. I should have been equally well pleased if instead of being black it had Mr. AYLESWORTH.
been in accordance with the political sympathies of the gentlemen and been intensest blue. My hon. friend who sits next to me calls my attention in this connection to a circumstance which I might with nro-priety have adverted to, but which escaped my memory at the moment, that the direction of the Manitoba Elections Act on the subject is the use of a black line or a red line for this very purpose. In section 5, subsection 6, of the Elections Act of Manitoba provision is made for the drawing of a line with black or red ink through the name of any person to be removed from the list of electors or from the list appearing in the register, but in such a manner that the name can be readily read and distinguished, and. of course, it is an important provision, that the name should not be erased so that it could not be distinguished, but that it remain legible, although indicated in some manner as not belonging to that particular voting place or that particular constituency. Now, the doing of this work of rearranging the names by some person was a necessity, as I think any fair consideration of the condition which the law was. in at the time will at once demonstrate. There was no statutory authority for it in the Dominion Elections Act. No one, I think, pretends that the Dominion Elections Act ever contemplated the necessity for any such thing, or had provided authority for anv official, judge or other, to take that course. But the necessity for it, the reasonableness of it, would, I think, apart from the heat of party conflict in this country, not be questioned by anybody. And let me say here-what will be I have no doubt in the memory of my hon. friend from East Hamilton (Mr. Barker), as a member of the committee to which I have already referred-that in the inquiry into this matter which was made during several weeks of the spring of 1906, we had before us as witnesses two gentlemen from the city of Winnipeg, who were legal men, and who had been by their experience in the courts familiar with this whole business, one on either side. Mr. Knott, who had been the solicitor for the prosecutions which were launched against the returning officers in connection with what I have described. and Mr. Howell, who had been counsel for the defendants in these proceedings. Each was examined, and Mr. Knott, after referring to the statute and detailing in the quiet of an examination before a small committee of this House exactly what had been complained of and pointing out, what was undoubtedly the fact, that there was no statutory authority on the face of the Dominion legislation authorizing this thing to be done, was asked by one of the members of the committee whether he could suggest anything unreasonable about it, or whether it was not the most reasonable thing in the world for these returning officers to have done.
And Mr. Knott, with all candour, said he considered It was perfectly reasonable, but the question was whether or no it was legal. The question was the legality of what was done, and the only thing in that connection I should have to complain of would be that there had been discussion in connection with this matter and an effort to make political capital out of it. There was necessity to do it, it was done, and the question now is whether or no this parliament, with the necessity for doing exactly the same tiling, will or will not authorize its officers to do that which is necessary unless we are to throw overboard altogether the provincial lists and prepare our own lists, as we did under the Franchise Act of 18S5. In the heated discussion on the conduct of the Manitoba officials, which I have mentioned, there was at all events a very great difference of views as to the number of men whose names were struck off and were not placed upon the lists in their own particular ridings, and in that way prevented from voting. In one sense, for my purpose here in advocating the passing of legislation to remedy the existing conditions, it is not very material how many or whether there were any voters who, as a consequence, lost their votes upon that occasion; but I wish to say a word or two upon that head, because it was a subject of long investigation and consideration before the committee two years ago of which I had the honour to be chairman. The whole matter was debated at very considerable length in this House in the session of 1905, and I have but to refer hon. gentlemen who may be interested to the ' Hansard ' of May 30, 1905, when, upon motion to go into supply, the question was taken up and debated. Of the ten constituencies in Manitoba as represented in this House, we had on that occasion, I think, all their representatives taking part in that debate. We had the hon. member for Lisgar saying that in his constituency he had personally examined the lists and had found only nine errors-six names left off and three put on in the wrong polling division, and that of these nine, six were his own supporters. The hon. member for Souris addressed the House on that occasion but made no complaint about the lists in his constituency. The hon. member for Portage la Prairie said that, so far as he could ascertain, there had been but one left off the lists In his riding. The hon. member for Marquette (Mr. Roche) though he spoke in general terms, made the charge, so far as anything specific was concerned, simply that ten names in one polling division had been put in the wrong township. The hon. members for Brandon, Winnipeg and Dauphin made no complaints whatever; and there could be no complaint in Winnipeg or Dauphin, because in Dauphin the election took place by acclamation and in Winnipeg there was no readjustment because the bounds were coterminous between the one constituency and the other. So*that we have seven of the ten Manitoba constituencies accounted for at all events by their representatives in this House on the occasion to which I have referred. And the aggregate of the complaints from those seven constituencies was twenty votes
twenty men misplaced, not twenty disfranchised, but twenty put upon the lists in a wrong polling subdivision or a wrong township.
May I ask a question? The hon. Minister of Justice has been kind enough to mention all the members who spoke on that occasion with the exception of myself. If he will kindly refer to what I said as to the number who were struck off in Macdonald, that might interest the House.
1 am not going to omit my hon. friend's constituency by any means. I say that of the ten Manitoba constituencies, the seven I have spoken of were discussed in the debate by the representatives here. The remaining three, Macdonald, Provencher and Selkirk, were also discussed, and they are the three in respect of whose returning officers there were prosecutions in Manitoba. And those three constituencies were the only ones with regard to which witnesses were called before the committee of two years ago, to which I have referred. In these circumstances, I am not without justification if I come to the conclusion that it is in those three the pi'incipal grounds for complaint by our friends opposite exist, and that, to say the least, there is not the same reason for complaint in the other seven, in respect of which their representatives three years ago said that at the most twenty names had been misplaced. My hon. friend from Macdonald (Mr. Staples) did not limit himself in his general observations, which were strong enough, to the specific statements to which I am about to refer; but so far as he specified any grounds of complaint, there wei'e three polling places or registration districts-I do not know which they are- in his constituency in which he considered there was reason for complaint. These
places were Miami, Treherne and Poplar Point. At Poplar Point he said there were fifteen, at Treherne two, and at Miami eleven names misplaced, so that there were twenty-eight voters in the whole constituency who had been disfranchised in this way. There was nothing, so far as I can recall, contradicting that statement in the testimony before the committee. There seemed to be a consensus of opinion that that was about the number of voters in the constituency of Macdonald concerning whom there was ground for complaint. The great complaint was with regard to Selkirk and Provencher, and especially the poll at Beau-sejour where. It was said, forty-two names had been struck out. We had before us a
witness from that poll, the postmaster, I think, one of the men whose names had b'een struck off, and who was brought all the way from Manitoba to testify to his undoubted right to vote and to his having) been deprived of his vote because his name was struck through by the red line at his own poll.
He was an ardent politician, as he candidly stated. He attended at the poll upon the occasion as the agent at the poll-the scrutineer-of the candidate of his choice. * When he found that his name was not upon the list, or had been struck off the list, he protested. He claimed from the deputy returning officer, with whom he was perfectly acquainted, the right to vote. ' The deputy returning officer fully conceded it; he was given his ballot; he marked his ballot; he cast it and in fact, as he testified before the committee it was counted. He claimed that he had the legal right to vote, independent altogether of the certified list, in the circumstance that he was at the polling place as the accredited agent of one of the candidates. No one felt then disposed, and I have no doubt no one feels now disposed, to question for a moment the course which he took in insisting on casting his vote or the course which the deputy took in receiving that vote, even though the voter's name was not on the list certified to him as authentic. That man's right to a ballot was acknowledged just as effectively as though the ' thin red line ' had not been drawn through his name. He travelled all the way from Winnipeg to Ottawa to testify as to these circumstances; and, if he can be taken as a sample of the 42 struck off at the Beausejour poll, one would say, certainly, there was no great grievance in It. But, of course, I do not pretend that the other 41, or, perhaps, any of the other 41, succeeded in voting in the Beausejour poll. None were called before us, and we were not in a position to come to a conclusion as to how that might be. But there is no kind of question that these men, or a majority of them, had voted-or had the right to vote- at the adjoining poll of Cromwell. I do not remember whether this was in the same constituency or not. But that was their proper poll, and the striking off was because the boundary line running through the polling subdivision found on either side of it a portion of the names recorded in the registration list as proper to a certain registration district. It appeared to be the fact that, either by design or inadvertence-which you will, according to your political sympathies-the name of a legal voter at Beausejour. the witness who was before us, had been struck off and that it ought not to have been struck off; but hoc the slightest evidence was given even hinting at it having been done by intent or otherwise than by inadvertence. Now, 1 do not make any kind of doubt-I am not pretending to argue otherwise before this Mr. AYIESWORTH.
House-that, throughout the whole province of Manitoba, there may have been many more names of honest voters who had the right to vote whose names were struck off in this necessary readjusting or redistributing of the voters' names that I have described. And I am not wishing for a moment to pretend that this readjusting or redividing and redistributing was limited to cases in which the boundary line between two constituencies ran through a registration district as it existed for provincial purposes. I do not wish In the least to be misunderstood, and I assure you I am not in any degree blinking the situation, nor am I unwilling to take the fullest responsibility for the measure of redress as I believe this to be, which I am presenting to the House in the Bill now under consideration. Not only were there, in many instances throughout Manitoba the redistribution of names I have pointed out as absolutely requisite under this system of registration by registration districts, of these districts not corresponding to the boundaries of any Dominion constituency. but there was also a similar redistributing of names in cases where that was made requisite because of the Dominion returning officers subdividing polling divisions as they had existed for provincial purposes. The statute under which the registration of voters took place in Manitoba provides for the delimitation throughout the province of registration districts or of polling subdivisions. That statute had been repealed, or these provisions of that statute had been repealed, by the legislative Act which I have already mentioned and which was passed by the Manitoba legislature in the spring of 1904. The authority for the existence of provincial polling subdivisions had been, by that repeal, swept away, and nothing substituted for it; and the result was, when you came to October and November, 1904, and the writs were issued for a Dominion election, there was impossibility on the part of the returning officers to comply with the provision of our Dominion statute which requires the adoption of provincial subdivisions for the purpose of Dominion elections. In many cases, the registration districts of the province, which were supposed to correspond with the polling divisions, and which, I presume, in the main did so correspond, and according to which the voters were grouped, consisted of territories so large as to be altogether unwieldy and in which it was impracticable, it was physically impossible, to poll the vote at one polling booth within the hours assigned for the voters. A case has been mentioned to me by one hon. gentleman from Manitoba as coming within his personal cognizance, where the registration district was over fifteen miles from end to end and where there were two settlements in the same registration district divided by an impassable swamp, a swamp that you had to go round, and which made the colony at one
end, distant, for all practical purposes, from tlie poll, if it was at the other end, so many miles that it was a physical impossibility for the people there to record their votes. Now, this is not a matter of political difference ; it is a matter of men entitled to vote being physically unable to record their votes between 9 and 5 o'clock on polling day, simply because they were too far distant from the poll to make the journey. In these circumstances, which existed, or with regard to which something similar existed, in many eases, wholly within some Dominion electoral constituency, the returning officers appointed two polls, giving one at each side of the swamp-to use the illustration to which I have adverted. Then it became necessary to divide, to distribute the names of the voters upon the voters' list in the registration district in precisely the same way. So, this redistribution of names, while it did not take place in every school section or in every community in the province, was scattered, and necessarily scattered. over the whole area of the province of Manitoba, and I am not pretending to the House that this redistribution was limited to cases where polling registration districts were subdivided by county or electoral dig trict boundary lines. In the whole province, I suppose, there is a matter of 50,000 names to be handled upon the voters' list. I tlgnk if you have ten returning officers set down with 50,000 names, 5,000 on the average for each one to distribute according to their proper polling subdivisions, to do [DOT] that work in the four weeks that pass between the receipt of the writ and of these lists, and the polling day, to get together the necessary information and do the best they can, no matter how honestly they may try, you will find a percentage of inadvertences or honest mistakes, and you will find some men who will be disfranchised. The great bulk of the men whose names were struck off the roll in the voting place to which they did not belong, were left on in the voting place where they did belong; and the great bulk of those who were so struck off, 1 will venture to say, voted at the electiou in 1904; they had an opportunity of doing so, at any rate. But if you find any voter whose name was struck off by design and if you find the statute law in such a condition that it is possible, either by inadvertence or by design, that that should take place, you have a condition of things which calls for a change, and calls for legislation in this parliament which would make it impossible, so far as human foresight can do so, that the same state of things should occur again; and that is the whole purpose of the legislation in question so far as this provision of it is concerned. Now I have tried to point out, having reference to the debate in this House, and having reference to the evidence that was given two years ago before the Elections Committee, some indication of how much at
any rate was testified to, of how much was asserted by hon. members of this House in regard to the instances in which members' names were struck off and their votes thereby lost, I say as the result of the evidence which we listened to two years ago. equally as the result of the statements made in this House by the ten members from Manitoba in the debate to which I have referred, and especially upon the statements made by the three hon. members from Macdonald, Selkirk and Provencher, that the aggregate number throughout the whole province of Manitoba, of that whole 50,000 voters whose names had to be handled by the deputy returning officers, would not exceed 100; and if you have in 50,000 voters at the most 100 men whose names have been either by design or inadvertence struck off, it is a percentage, not of one in 100, but at most of one in 500 votes; it is a pretty small percentage. If the number had been even ten times as great, if it had been 1,000 and far more, if it had been 2,000 or 3,000, according to some wild flights of imagination I have seen, we might then find some evidence that there must have been intention, that it could not have been by accident, that there must have been design. But it is manifest that the whole contention that there was in what then took place an intention to do wrong, an intention to disfranchise qualified voters, rests absolutely upon the question of the number of men'in regard to whom that thing was done. In that respect no evidence certainly was offered before the committee of two years ago; I have never heard any evidence offered other than the statements I have referred to; and I suppose that question of numbers is one which never can be decided. I make no point of it here, I say at once with all frankness that if there were even 100 in the province of Manitoba, it is ample to justify some measure of legislative change in that regard which will secure this necessary work to be done in such a manner that it will not, in human probability, go wrong.
Well, Sir, I need not detail what followed. I am only referring- to it in order that I may answer a statement with regard to myself which I have seen rather freely made in the newspapers. The elections of 1904 having taken place in November, and the condition of things I have described as to the rearrangement of names having taken place, prosecutions were promptly instituted under the direction of the Attorney General for the province against the returning officers for, among other constituencies, the three especially I have referred to, Pro-veneher, Selkirk and Macdonald. Originally some sixteen men, deputies and others, were attacked for participation in what was claimed to have been an indictable wrong ; but in the result true bills were found against only one of the officials, the returning officer for Selkirk. That true bill or indictment coming up for consideration in
It is printed Alberta, but that is a manifest misprint, because we had nothing to do with Alberta; it should be :
-in connection with elections held in Manitoba and under the order of that committee all documents in connection with these indictments, exhibits and papers in connection with the election, were transmitted to Ottawa for the purpose of examination by com-Mr. AYLESWOETH.
mittee. The committee has not reported and parliament will not sit until the 28th.
He was speaking on the 17th of November.
These documents are in the possession of the committee, and we shall have great difficulty in getting them unless the committee report to the House this session, which I understand they are going to do.
Accordingly, the absence of these precious documents was made the excuse to tlie judge, in November last, for the unwillingness of Mr. Knott, the representative of the Manitoba Attorney General, appearing for that government, to go on with those prosecutions. I read that statement in the Montreal ' Gazette ' last November with some astonishment. I thought I had a reasonably accurate memory of what had taken place in connection with these documents before the committee In question. I was not then in this country, but on returning I looked among my papers and found my recollection entirely supported by some correspondence which passed between members of that committee in April and May of 1906. It was upon the request of the bon. member for Bast Hamilton (Mr. Barker), as a member of that committee, that the papers in question were called for. Those papers were the papers connected with those elections which were properly in the custody of the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery flei'e. That gentleman bad attended with them under subpoena on two different occasions at Winnipeg, travelling there first upon the occasion of the preliminary investigation and secondly when the case was before the Grand Jury or the Petit Jury. They were left in the custody of the court in Winnipeg. In the spring of 1906 it was thought that they might be needed for purposes of reference before the committee in question, and the hon. member for East Hamilton (Mr. Barker) asked that they should be sent for. They were sent for, they came here, they were delivered to the clerk of the committee, and for anything that I know, the clerk of the committee has the original package to this day unopened. I do not remember that the package was ever opened before the committee, perhaps it was; my point is simply that this gentleman, Mr. Knott, himself a witness before the committee, himself counsel for the prosecution and having personal knowledge of exactly the situation In regard to the papers in question, in open court, according to this report in the Conservative newspaper of Montreal, alleged as his reason for not going on with this prosecution in November last, that the committee of which Mr. Aylesworth was chairman held these papers and that he could not get ou without them. Not only that, hut since then, on more than one Manitoba platform, more than one member of the provincial government has charged that I, personally, as Minister of Justice, have had these papers
in my custody, have prevented their presentation to court, and that in the absence of these papers they were precluded by the conduct of the Minister of Justice from probing to its foundation this alleged scandal of which otherwise they were going to make such a manifest exhibition before the courts and before the people of this country. This prosecution, upon the excuse which I have stated, was directed by the presiding judge to stand over until the March assizes this year. On the 3rd day of March, last, these prosecutions were called in the city of Winnipeg and the Attorney General of the province of Manitoba voluntarily entered upon that occasion what lawyers call a nolle prosequi, a formal statement to the officer of the court that he was unwilling to proceed further with these prosecutions which he had launched more than three years before. In the meantime those charges had been canvassed broadcast through this country. I suppose that for the next three years, and possibly for three years beyond that, the same thing will continue, but I point you, Sir, to the circumstance that after three years of consideration and of preparation, if there had been any the least evidence upon which charges such as were so freely made of wrongdoing in connection with the voters' lists upon the occasion in question could have been substantiated by that prosecution, there was the fullest means to their hands to do it, and there was ample opportunity to have justified if they could, by evidence and by the result of that trial, whether or not those men had done anything for which they ought to be condemned. With these prosecutions against men to whom His Majesty's writs for the purposes of a Dominion election had been sent, so instituted by the constituted Crown authorities of the province in which those elections took place, I think, Sir, we should have had difficulty in finding any men willing, in case another election came to be necessary, to execute such writs of election if they were without statutory protection and statutory authority for doing things which are essential to be done if elections are to be carried on at all in the province of Manitoba. We find ourselves accordingly face to face with this situation, that if Dominion elections are to be held in Manitoba, if you are to have men with any stake in the country, men who are not willing to be subjected to legal prosecutions, acting as returning officers, you must point out to them by statute law what course they are to take in regard to distributing the names which they find on the provincial lists to the appropriate polling subdivisions at which these men are entitled to vote.
This Bill accordingly proposes that immediately upon the issue of a writ or, if circumstances render it proper, before a writ issues; men shall be appointed who will act, subject to the revision of the county judges, as a registration board, men who will be act-249
ing upon their responsibility as officers of the law and subject to an appeal to the county judges of the province, whose duty it will be to take the lists of voters and to distribute those voters according to the Dominion polls at which they are entitled to vote, and who, if they do that work conscientiously and honestly, will not be subject to subsequent attack in the courts, by reason of the fact that there has been legislative authority for the work they have been called upon to do. Such legislation is, under the circumstances I have tried to detail, in my submission a manifest necessity, and without such legislation it would be impossible that elections for Dominion purposes could hereafter be carried out in Manitoba.
There are other provisions in this Bill in regard to which I have a few words to say. Not only does clause 1-because I am limiting myself to that clause-deal with the necessity for the distribution of names to their appropriate polling subdivision, but it also provides for a measure of revision of the lists, and this feature of it seems particularly to have excited the indignation and the ire of many representatives of the opposite political party in the Manitoba legislature and the Manitoba government. In noticing the newspaper warfare in Winnipeg and elsewhere that has gone on in the last two months in respect to this provision of the Bill, I could not help being reminded of that to which I alluded briefly at the opening of my observations this afternoon. It was the settled policy of the Conservative party in this country when it was in power from 1885 to 1896, that the Dominion parliament should control its own franchise, that the voters' lists for Dominion purposes should be prepared by officials named by the government of the day, that the provincial lists should be altogether discarded; that no reference to them whatever should obtain in the preparation of the lists for Dominion purposes. Not only was that settled policy introduced and placed on the statute-book by the Franchise Act of 1885 which remained until it was repealed in 1898, but when its repeal was under consideration in 1898 a motion was made by the then member for Westmoreland:
That no system of franchise would be satisfactory which did not preserve federal control over the voters' lists.
That resolution was pressed to vote by way of amendment to the second reading of our present Election Act and the division upon that resolution was an absolute party one. In these circumstances it does seem to me that the Conservative party in this country is certainly-unless it has abandoned the faith of its predecessors-is certainly wedded and wedded indissolubly to the principle of discarding the provincial lists. Speech after speech was made in the debate of 1898 by the leaders and by the prom-
inent members of the Conservative party in this House advocating the retention by the Dominion authorities of absolute control over the preparation of voters' lists for Dominion purposes and arguing strenuously that it was utterly improper for this parliament to abdicate its functions or to entrust the preparation of these voters' lists to any provincial body. Nay more, when the House was in committee on that Bill in 1898, on the 1st of April of that year, (page 2991 ' Hansard '), I find the present hon. leader of the opposition placing himself upon record and insisting that it was unwise on tire part of this House to denude itself of control over its own electoral machinery ; that it was one of the privileges most ancient and most important of this House that it should control its own elections and the preparation of its own voters' lists, and that it was a very unwise thing on the part of parliament to delegate that power to any provincial legislature or to any provincial authority. The opposite view was maintained by the Prime Minister and by the Solicitor General of that day, (Mr. Fitzpatrick), who contended that the proper authority for the preparation of the voters' lists was in origin the municipal authority, and that the proper basis was the assessment roil which contained that element of substantiality to which I have already referred.
In the province of Manitoba and equally in the province of British Columbia and in the unorganized portions of Ontario and Quebec we have under our present law a different system of the preparation of the voters' lists. We have also a totally different system in the new provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta and in the Yukon territory, but legislation on our part is not requisite with regard to these new provinces or to the Yukon territory as such legislation already exists. Under our Election Act a special provision is made for ' Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Yukon, but the provinces of Manitoba and British Columbia, with the unorganized portions of Ontario and Quebec remain the only portions of the Dominion in which the voters' lists are not in their origin and initiation prepared upon the footing of the assessment rolls and by the municipal authorities. Now, what has been the result ? The system in the province of Manitoba-and the system is not different in principle in British Columbia-is registration before an official of the provincial government coupled with revision before some officer, either judge or barrister appointed for that purpose. In the province of British Columbia there seems to have been what I will call a less unsatisfactory administration of the law than has taken place in other parts of the Dominion. There is less complaint in regard to British Columbia but complaint is not absent there, and complaint is. I venture to say, inevitable as long as you have an effort to sand-Mr. AYLESWORTH.
wich together the two systems each of different character, and unless they are to be worked by the same officials. In the province of Manitoba the registration on which the list as it now exists was made, took place at least as long ago as 1903. The lists used in November 1904 were those established in the year 1903, but those lists had been so prepared under the law of Manitoba as it stood in 1903. The legislature by its statute of 1904 provided there should be annually what they call a revision of these lists; not the preparation of new lists but the taking of the lists as they then stood and striking off the names of any persons disqualified or adding the names of any new persons who had become qualified. Since 1904 there has been in Manitoba an annual acting under his provision of the provincial law. I do not think I am doing any injustice to the proceeding which has been taken annually in that province under this provision of their law, if I speak of it as never having been of a very satisfactory character. I think I use a mild word when I say that, and I will explain exactly why. The times at which and within which the revising of the list, such as it is, shall take place are by tlie provincial statute to be fixed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. Formerly the dates and places were fixed by the registration board consisting of the county judges but now they are fixed toy the Lieutenant Governor in Council. Whatever the reason, the result has been that the time allowed for the revision in each year since then has been, according to the view at any rate of the one political party, entirely inadequate for the purpose. The statute requires notices of appeal from the registration clerk to be given within a certain number of days from the closing of the work of the registration clerk. The statute empowers the Lieutenant Governor in Council to fix the number of days upon which the revising officer, judge or barrister shall sit in his work, and when the day fixed by the proclamation for the concluding of that hearing of appeals or revising work is passed there is no power on the part of the officer to continue his work no matter how much may remain to be done and no matter how many appeals may remain unheard. When the hour comes which has been fixed beforehand as that at which his jurisdiction ceases there is an end of his right to continue further in his work, and his work, of necessity, comes to an end. Now, to say nothing more, that feature of the system has been highly unsatisfactory. It has been alleged, I do not know with what truth, that in some instances there have remained hundreds of men entitled to vote, or at all events, claiming the right to vote, with their appeals to get on the list standing regularly for hearing by the revising officer, and with the revising officer, judge or barrister, unable to hear those appeals or to
dispose of them, simply because his time has expired. It is alleged that such men are of one political party, that their names are left off right and left by the registration clerks, that their only means of getting on the list and obtaining the right to exercise their franchise is by an appeal to the judge, and that the judge is given, it may be for a whole constituency, but one day between the hours of ten and five within which to do the work of days or weeks. As a necessary and inevitable consequence, if that state of things exists, there must be throughout the province men by the hundred who claim the right to vote, and whose claim it is impossible for them, in the system as it is administered, to get any adjudication of by the constituted authorities for that purpose.
Well, I do not know-I do not suppose anybody can know, without the taking of evidence-whether or not that state of things as so described does exist. I say simply that -men assert that it exists, and I call attention in that connection to a contemporaneous article on the subject which appeared in the Manitoba ' Free Press ' on the 26th of May, 1906. I refer to it for the reason that it is contemporaneous with the happening of the events which the writer is depicting. He says that in the constituencies of Kildonan and St. Andrews registration takes place on the same day as elsewhere, May 29 and 30, while revision takes place at Selkirk on June 6, exactly one week later than the last day of registration. Now, under the Manitoba statute, all protests must be in the hands of the revising officer five days before the sittings of his court of revision, and accordingly it follows, if the statement in that newspaper is correct as to the dates, that there was given only one week within which to revise after the close of the work of the registration clerk, and five days out of the seven in that week would have to run for the purposes of an appeal. In other words, the revising barrister or judge would have to be in possession of all appeals for those constituencies within one day after the close of the work of the registration clerk. When you remember that the registration clerk is appointed for a whole constituency, and that the constituency may be and frequently is 100 miles from side to side, you have some idea of the physical impossibility of conducting an appeal under a system administered as this provincial system is said to have been administered in Manitoba. I am not complaining of the system. The system is spread upon the statute-book. I think it might be improved. I think the system in Ontario to-day is much better. That is a matter of judgment; that is a matter in respect of which the views of the Manitoba legislature are no doubt different from the views I am expressing. They think, I presume, that their system is better than the system in the sister province of Ontario, as 249*
administered by the government of Ontario to-day. But without questioning what the merits or demerits of the provincial system may be, I say that it is manifest that any system, no matter how good, may be so administered that it will be oppressive and unjust, and that there is at any rate ground for complaint that the present system in Manitoba, as at present administered in the preparation of the voters' lists, is an engine of tyranny and oppression as against the party that is opposed to the provincial government.
We have, ever since 1898, retained in the hands of this parliament a power which was deliberately retained at that time, the retention of which was then urged by the present hon. leader of the opposition-the power to prepare our own lists in circumstances such as are described in the statute, circumstances which existed at that time in Manitoba, which continued to exist in that province for six years afterwards, but which were changed a few months before the elections of 1904. In the condition which now exists in Manitoba, with voters' lists which were prepared more than five years ago, with voters' lists that have never been since that time effectively revised, with voters' lists therefore that contain the names of hundreds of men who are either dead or departed from the province, we have lists that need revision. We have lists that ought to be submitted to the work of a revising officer, a county judge or a barrister according to the Manitoba system, with time given him within which he can effectively do that work of revision, within which he can effectively purge the lists of dead men and of absentees, the presence of whose names upon those lists is but an invitation and a temptation to personation. We have lists from which the names of hundreds of men in Manitoba are absent-hundreds of men who, whether rightly or wrongly, claim the right to be upon those lists, and the right to exercise their franchise; men who claim at any rate that they have been prevented from having their claims adjudicated by the insufficiency of the time allowed under the statute for the purposes of revision. When we have lists presenting features of that description, the question is simply what ought to be done in regard to them ? Ought we to adopt the policy which for so many years was that upon which our opponents acted, when, carrying out their views, they had upon the statute-book the ' Domiuion Franchise Act, and when voters' lists for Dominion purposes were prepared throughout the whole Dominion by officials appointed by the government of the day, and the work of the provincial authorities was altogether disregarded.
Or should we, on the other hand, adhere to the policy laid down by this government in 1898 and adopt the provincial system, no matter how ineffective, no matter in how
many features it might be improved, and apply it to the preparation of the Dominion lists ? We have preferred to adhere to the policy of retaining the provincial lists, and not to go to the length, to which the Conservative party went before 1898, of adopting in whole the principle of preparing our own lists altogether from the foundation. We prefer to adhere to the provincial lists, and accordingly, in the Bill I am submitting, the lists as established in the provinces, shall be taken in the preparation of the lists for Dominion purposes, and to them shall be added the names of any persons qualified to vote which are not on them and from them shall be struck the names of all those who are not qualified. The lists so prepared, subject to the revision of a county court judge, shall be allotted and distributed to the polling divisions to be used in the Dominion elections. That is in brief the outline of this clause. We propose to apply it to those parts of the Dominion not already provided for by our own legislation, in which municipal organization and assessment rolls as the basis for the voters' lists, are not to be found ; and with that provision we make the Dominion system consistent with the intention of this parliament, as expressed in 1898. We not only adopt the provincial lists in their entirety as the basis upon which revision and appeal takes place, but in addition we follow completely the provincial method of preparing and revising the- lists, and the lists are made in accordance with whatever laws the provinces choose to enact for their own purposes, as was the intention when the statute of 1898 was passed. That is the outline of this first clause of the Bill. The other provisions of the Bill can be discussed in committee or at a later stage of this debate, more especially as I have already, in introducing this measure, explained their general outline with fullness of detail. I beg to move, therefore, the second reading of this Bill.