May 5, 1908

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Some hon. MEMBERS

Oh.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT.
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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

Did not that paper attack the Roblin government very severely at the last election ?

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT.
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LIB
CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

And did it not take a stand against-

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT.
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LIB
CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

Well, I am mistaken.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT.
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LIB
LIB

Frederick William Borden (Minister of Militia and Defence)

Liberal

Mr. R. R. BORDEN.

1 thought the editor of that paper was a candidate in the Liberal interest in that provincial election. That paper made very strong attacks. However, 1 bow to the hon. gentleman's superior knowledge. He tells me I am mistaken. At all events that journal said this :

To be quite frank, it is our judgment that one of the bright spots in the administration of the Roblin government has been its preparation of the voters' lists. Under the system of registration followed by that government, all parties receive a square deal, and we do not think it has ever been successfully charged against the Roblin government that an injustice in this regard lias been perpetrated. Indeed, the conduct of the Roblin government in the matter of the preparation of the voters' lists has been so much better than one might expect from a party government in these degenerate days, that it has always been a pleasure to the ' Tribune ' to comment on the action of the government. The fact that an attempt is now being made bv the Dominion government to single out this province and have lists of its own prepared, seems to us a sinister proceeding. It is difficult to understand what arguments have been produced to influence the government to depart from the general principle adopted after elections. One would think that the Dominion government had abandoned a sufficient number of its pledges and principles to influence it to at least stand by some one or two in order to save its face.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT.
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LIB
CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

The Winnipeg ' Tribune ' of March 27, last.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT.
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LIB
CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

The Minister of Justice made two rather remarkable statements in dealing with his proposal as contrasted with the operation of this Act in

Manitoba. He said that the time allowed by the officials of the Manitoba government is altogether too short. He spoke of a period of two months in some connection and he tells us that although the provisions of the Manitoba Act are absolutely insufficient, although it is so worked out that men are left off those lists, yet in the preparation of the new lists by officials of this government, they are going to observe, absolutely and thoroughly, the provisions of that law which is so unfair. That is to say, in a period of about 30 days between the issue of the proclamation dissolving parliament and the time of the general election yon are to appoint your officers, you are to give weeks during which the voters may register, and you are apparently according to his view-although X do not find it in his Bill-to have a revision by county court judges in the province of Manitoba, and then you are to print those lists and place them in the hands of the returning officers in time to be distributed to the deputy returning officers all over that province in order that they may perform their duty at the then ensuing election. Did any one ever listen to an absurdity more apparent? Why, the mere statement of it by the Minister of Justice is sufficient to indicate to the House and to the country the true nature of this Bill.

The Minister of Justice told us there have been hundreds of men disfranchised in the province of Manitoba. Has he with him to-day a declaration from a single one of these men to that effect ? Has he the record of any public meeting, has he petitions from any of these hundreds of men declaring that they have been unable to get their names upon the lists in the province of Manitoba under the operation of the present law. The Minister of Justice has not pointed to the name of a single man who so complains. I venture to say that for every man in the province of Manitoba whom he can show to have been wronged in that regard I will bring two from the province of Nova Scotia which is not to be interfered with by this Bill. The Conservatives of the province of Nova Scotia would rejoice if they had the same opportunity for fair lists as that afforded by the Manitoba law. The Conservatives of Nova Scotia have been asking the Liberal government of that province for the last 15 years to permit them to appeal to die county court judges in respect to the revision of the lists and up to the present time that has not been allowed. The only appeal allowed in the province of Nova Scotia is an appeal from the revising board to the sheriff who is appointed by the provincial government and absolutely under their control. The appointment of these sheriffs has been placed absolutely in the hands of the provincial executive by a statute passed some years ago, although in the good old days the appointment of sheriffs was made by the judges in consultation with a representative of the executive government.

The Minister of Justice tells us in the first place that some provision must be made for allocating the voters in cases where the boundary betv,een two federal electoral divisions cuts in two a local subdivision. I have pointed out there is already provision in section 25 of the statute for that purpose, _ and that such provision would be presumably sufficient if there were honest returning officers desiring to perform their duty according to the law. In case there might be any suspicion of wrong-doing, it would probably be a prudent course to provide that such revision should not be made by the returning officer himself but should be made by an independent authority-the county court judge-and I do not think any one in this country would object to a proposal of that kind.

The other part of the proposal of the Minister of Justice is that the provincial lists in Manitoba and British Columbia shall be disregarded although the provincial lists are observed and acted upon everywhere else in Canada. I use the word disregarded advisedly because although the Minister of Justice has some very plausible -words in his Bill, nevertheless section 1 gives it absolutely into the power of this government to make new lists both in Manitoba and British Columbia. In order that there may be no doubt about it let me read the section:

Notwithstanding anything to the contrary herein contained, voters' lists for the portions of the provinces of Ontario and Quebec which consist of territory not municipally organized and where there is no regular assessment or valuation roll upon which voters' lists are based and for the several electoral districts in the provinces of Manitoba and British Columbia shall be prepared immediately after the issue of any writ for an election in any such electoral district or in any electoral district composed or partly composed of such territory, or at any time when the Governor in Council so directs; and for the purpose of preparing and giving effect to such voters' lists the Governor in Council may appoint all necessary officers and confer upon them all necessary powers.

2. In the preparation of such lists the provisions of the laws of the province regulating the preparation and manner of revising and bringing into force the provincial voters' list in the like cases shall as far as possible be observed and followed and no person whose name is not included in the voters' lists as prepared and revised shall be entitled to vote.

3. In the preparation of such lists ithe voters' lists which were prepared for the several polling divisions situate wholly or in part within the electoral district or wholly or in part within such unorganized territory as such polling divisions were established at the last preceding provincial election, and which under the laws of the province, are then or -were last in force, for the purposes of provincial elections, shall be taken, and the

7871

names of voters on such lists shall be distributed anions the different polling divisions established for such Dominion election, so that each voter shall be assigned to his proper poll, and the names of all persons who are not qualified to vote in the said electoral district shall be struck off the said lists, and the names of all persons qualified to vote in the said electoral district and not already on the said lists shall be added to the said lists.

X need not read subsection 4 at present. Now there is nothing ambiguous about that. The provincial lists ' shall be taken ' whatever that means and whatever legal significance can be given to that, but you are to add thereto, and strike therefrom, names as may be necessary, and that is neither more or less than the making of an absolutely new list in the case of these provinces and of the unorganized territories. For what reason is the government of Canada to adopt provincial lists in the five provinces of Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, and to declare that the provincial lists which have been established, with an appeal to the judiciary, with proper provision for the preservation of the rights of voters, are to be discarded in these two provinces of Canada which happen at this moment to be under the control of Conservative administrations? Why is it that in these two provinces you are to pass by the provincial lists and to have lists made up by officers of the Dominion government? It has been argued in favour of the proposal, that in Manitoba and British Columbia these lists are made up by men appointed by the provincial administration, and that in the sense that the registration clerks who make them up are appointed by the provincial executive, they are partisan lists. As I understand the laws of Ontario the same thing is true with respect to the registration system there.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT.
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Edward Frederick Clarke

Mr. CLARKE.

Not for Dominion elections.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT.
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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

Am I wrong in my statement?

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT.
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Edward Frederick Clarke

Mr. CLARKE.

The registrars are appointed by the Dominion for Dominion elections.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT.
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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

I am speaking of the provincial registration which goes on in Toronto, Hamilton, London and other Ontario cities. The registration, I understand, stands good for a Dominion election if held within a certain period afterwards.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT.
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Edward Frederick Clarke

Mr. CLARKE.

The Dominion has its own registration.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT.
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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

Then the hon. gentleman disagrees with me in that?

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT.
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Edward Frederick Clarke

Mr. CLARKE.

Yes.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT.
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CON

Edmund James Bristol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BRISTOL.

I would be glad if the hon. gentleman (Mr. Clarke) would in the Mr. R L. BORDEN.

course of the debate refer to the section of the Act where he finds that.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT.
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May 5, 1908