May 5, 1908

LIB
CON

George Oscar Alcorn

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ALCORN.

He is stated to be a prominent British Columbian writing to the Winnipeg ' Telegram.'

I would be glad if, at some convenient time during the debate, the government would state whether it is their hope or intention that any provision of the first clause or any other portion of the Act shall authorize returning officers to cut and carve constituencies, or alter the boundary of particular polling divisions. If so that would introduce an excessively contentious principle into this debate. There are certain portions of clause 1 which would indicate that to a certain extent and if the government will during the debate announce their intention in that respect it will facilitate matters to some extent.

With regard to section 13 of the Bill which I referred to some time ago, on the splitting of polling divisions I would suggest that

each portion of a polling division which has been divided in that way should stand as a separate polling subdivision and should not be attached to any other polling division, the latter course would certainly lead to a good deal of trouble. The allotment of the names of the voters between the various portions of divisions so dealt with should be made by a judge as provided in the. section of the Manitoba Act which I pointed out. I would also suggest that notice should in such cases be given to every elector who will vote in any portion of that polling subdivision as subdivided. I propose to read extracts from a number of letters that have been received from different persons in those two provinces with regard to this Bill.

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Mr. J. D.@

Taylor of New Westminster, writes:

Apart from the political aspect of the matter with which it is not necessary for me to deal since you must fully appreciate the significance of this seizure of control of the lists, the objections most apparent are as follows:

Lines 12 and 13 provide for the making of the iists by Dominion authority immediately after the issue of the writs, but at last general election three contests in British Columbia were deferred because of the plea that there was not time to go through the necessary formalities on .account of the great size of the constituencies. How, then would 'it be possible to prepare lists as well as fulfil the other requirements of the Act? Is this a scheme to make it necessary to defer all the elections in British Columbia until Several weeks after the general elections. The saving clause, ' or at any time when the Governor in Council so directs/ would not be available in the case of the issue of writs immediately after the close of the present session.

Paragraph 2, read in this connection is senseless, in its first provision, because the law of British Columbia compels the provincial lists to be open for inspection for five weeks before confirmation by the court of revision, and this is not too long a time in order to permit any voter against whom an objection is recorded to be notified and make his reply, the mail service here being villainously slow. It would therefore be impossible to apply the laws of the province to any revision after the issue of the writs.

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Mr. W. A.@

McDonald, K.C., Nelson, writes:

, The more I think of this Act, the more it is quite apparent that it is nothing but an attempt to get control of the voters' lists so that some partisan officials may pad the lists to suit the Liberal party or out off names of those likely to vote against them. There is no necessity whatever for the list being amended or interfered with after it leaves the hands of the registration clerk in May, when it will be revised. Our lists are fairly made up and no complaints whatever have ever taken place as to any partiality. I was pleased this morning to see that the ' News ' which is our local Liberal newspaper was candid enough to admit that there was no necessity for any change. I do not see what members from British Columbia can suggest as a reason for the movement, and the copy

of the paper which I inclose will afford good support to my statement above.

Hon. Hugh John Macdonald:

If the government were allowed to prepare the lists we might as well throw up our hands. The Thin Bed Line at the last election was bad enough and shut us out of several seats which were fairlv ours, but what is no w proposed is ten times worse. One of the

strong planks in the Beform platform when they were in opposition was the doing away with Dominion voters' lists and leaving all matters of this sort to the provinces, and this plank was the only one that they really carried out of those that put them into power. Now it seems that even this is broken and thrown on the pile for waste lumber.

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Mr. G. H.@

Barnard, Victoria, B.C.:

With reference to the proposed changes in the Dominion Election Act as they affect this province. It would appear to us that this is a most unjustifiable proceeding on the part of the government and one that is calculated to place us at a great disadvantage during the election. We cannot see how there can possibly be any necessity for the proposed change so far as British Columbia is concerned. Under our Election Act any of the following officials are qualified to take applications from voters to have their names placed on the list : justice of the peace, mayor, reeve, alderman, councillor, commissioner for taking affidavits in the Supreme Court, registrar of titles, deputy registrar of titles, notary public, collector of votes, provincial constables, special provincial constables, government agent, government mining assessor, mining recorder, deputy mining recorder, judge of any court, stipendiary magistrate, municipal clerk, municipal assessor, postmaster, postmistress or Indian agent.

From this list you will see that there is no lack of opportunity offered to any person desiring to get on the list to have the necessary application sworn. Moreover the provincial government has been in the habit of accepting from the Liberal committee recommendations of persons they desire to have appointed as commissioners under the Election Act, and such appointments have always been made without any demur on the part of the government. The existing system has so far been found to work absolutely satisfactorily and without friction. We feel that if this Act is allowed to pass it is opening the door for corruption of the worst kind on the part of our opponents and that we look for a repetition of the ' Thin Bed Line' affair. The only grain of comfort in the situation is that the proposed action is such an iniquitous one that it may re-act strongly upon its perpetrators. It is difficult to see why different treatment should be meted out to British Columbia and Manitoba from the rest of the provinces, unless for the reason that they are strongly Conservative in feeling.

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Mr. W. J.@

Bowser, Attorney General of British Columbia:

There is absolutely no justification for the proposed amendment, as we have courts of revision here twice every year, viz., on the first Monday in May and the first Monday in November, and all persons wishing to get

placed thereon with as little trouble and expense as possible, and as little doubt and uncertainty as possible, as to who have the right to be placed on the lists and who have the right to vote.

Let me point out that even if this new Dominion list is made, the provincial lists will go on as usual, so that there will be the double expense and double trouble of making both lists at the same time

I say that is a practical question of the greatest consequence to those who really value representative government. I say our first care ought to be to place sis few obstacles and impediments as possible in the way of the honest man, who is entitled to the franchise, getting on the voters' list, and as few obstacles as possible in the way of his knowing what he is to do in order to get there; and I say that if you establish, as you inevitably will, by your law, one franchise for the local and another for the federal legislature-because you say you are going to establish one for all the provinces, and because we know that the conditions and the views in the provinces vary- you will then establish complications and trouble, a double trouble, a double registration, a double inquiry on the part of the voters and you will thus create, instead of removing, obstacles towards a full and fair representation of the people.

These observations apply with equal force to the present proposal of the government.

Great expense will be caused too. Why, I suppose everybody knows, who has directed any attention to this subject, that it is an expensive matter to keep the voters' list right, that it is an expensive matter to see that no improper votes are put on, on the one side, and that all proper votes are kept on, on the other side. It is often neglected now; it is often neglected by both parties, and, when an unexpected election takes place, you find sometimes that the real expression of the people's will is thwarted by the circumstance that the lists have not been revised and do not accurately represent their view.

In this way did the Hon. Mr. Blake speak of the municipal lists which this government says should be the foundation of all voters' lists. He said that they are extremely faulty and that no election could be run upon them without revision. He continued;

Are you going to double all that trouble? Are you going to have two sets of voters' lists to be looked after every year instead of one set? Do you think that is helping the elector on? Do you think that is making easy the path to a real and true representation of the people? It cannot be. It is impossible that those who argue for the Bill can contend for that result. Then there is the expense-the expense to the public in this double registration, the work that has to be done, the printing and revising of a separate set of lists. The local authority-in my province, at any rate; 1 know not whether in the others-provides you a list now: they provide you a printed list; they provide you a revision, a framing of it by the municipal officers elected by the Mr. ALCORN.

people, a revision by the judicial officers you appoint yourselves; the judicial officers that you appoint here, the county court judges. They give you your list, complete, framed and revised, revised finally by judicial officers appointed by the authority of this legislature. There is the system. And you are going to take upon yourselves the public expense of framing lists and printing them yourselves, and you are going to impose the private expense on individuals which is involved in the carrying out of this double franchise.

All this equally applies to the double list which the government is now proposing to make.

I ask this House not to make this franchise more difficult than it now is, and I say you are making it more difficult, perhaps more than if you raised it, by the practical obstructions you are placing in the way by a double franchise. Make it easier if you can, and the easiest thing you can do is just to leave it alone.

On page 1192, Mr. Blake made certain other observations which I think are material. Speaking with regard to the Right Hon. Sir John Macdonald, he said:

When he got back here in 1882, he took the electoral district and now he has taken the voters' lists. His efforts have been to secure and retain and increase a majority by the use of these powers, powers which ought not to be in the hands of government, in the great contest between the two political parties as to which has the majority of public opinion, powers which ought as far as possible, to be kept out of the hands of governments, which being human, 'are liable to misuse them. Well, the hon. gentleman may succeed in procuring the passage of this clause as to the appointment of revising officers, which he did not say anything about which he did not intimate might be considered an open question, so that any of his supporters he felt they could not conscientiously accept a revising officer of their own nomination might be free to vote against it. He did not make this an open question, and he has not defended it as yet. He may succeed in carrying it, but as he has from time to time found that many of his efforts to obtain control have failed, though many of them have succeeded, I hope and trust that this effort, even if successful here will be less successful elsewhere, that a spirit of fair play and justice will be dominant through the land, that the people at large will say that the hon. gentleman ought to deal as he would be dealt by, that they will say there ought to be a pure and equitable and honest system of making the lists, and that he will not derive, at any rate, all the advantage from this disposition which, in his secret heart, he hopes to obtain.

I might remark in this connection that at present throughout Manitoba indignation meetings are being held in which the action of the government is being denounced in no uncertain tone. I think the observations I have quoted are peculiarly applicable to this Bill, and the right hon. gentleman will find that this very high-handed proceeding will not redound to his credit even among his

own friends. In the third volume of ' Hansard ' of that year, I find further observations by Mr. Blake. Speaking on the Bill which had been introduced in 1870 by Sir John Thompson with regard to the making of lists, he said :

It contained the provision objectionable in the highest degree, that the Governor in Council should appoint the persons to make the lists. '

Here the government is appointing their officers who will deal with those lists at every stage. On page 2175, speaking of the different plans of making voters' lists, Mr. Blake observes:

The worst plan of all is that which puts the making of lists in the hands of the government of the day.

On page 2176 he continues:

I am not inclined, I hope, to place on too low a position the political morality of our country, the political morality of countries, the standing of those who at one time or another may have the majority in this country, but I say that you have got to remember, whatever elevated view you may take with reference to our status, however far you may be disposed to go in the assertion that Canada will not depart from those principles of justice and fair play which must underlie parliamentary government and all other-forms of government-and without it, your talk of self-government is a farce and your talk of parliamentary government is worse than a farce-however much you may be disposed to affirm that no party when in power will use its power to aggrandize itself to the prejudice of the minority, to perpetuate its own power by unfair means, we cannot contend that we are less liable to misuse our own strength, that we are less restrained by high considerations of the character to which I have referred, that we are less moved by those baser considerations to which I have referred than the English people, the English parties, the English government, and yet there no government was bold enough to propose to the free parliament that it should be entrusted with the nomination of the men to make or to revise the lists, no parliament has been base enough to surrender to the executive government, in which it confided, that power. They felt that it was a power which ought not to he asked, and they did not ask it. They proposed a different mode of appointment. Why ? Why is it that no English government propos-d to an English parliament, and an English parliament accepted and recorded upon the statute-book, Where it stands, amid all the vicissitudes of electoral laws, from that time to this, the proposition that the judges of the land should be the persons who should appoint the revising officers? It was because they felt that it was a power with which the government of the day ought not to ask that it should be entrusted. It was because they felt that the appointment coming from that source was coming from a suspected and tainted source in the eyes of the people, it was because they felt that those engaged in the discharge of this duty could not do it with a fair chance of being considered impartial between the two 251}

great parties, if they were the nominees of the government of the day, it was because they felt that the well working of the system depended upon the adoption of that special and peculiar provision which in this case, and for those purposes they used.

Yet in the face of that declaration of policy, the government is proposing to make new lists simply for the purpose of having them made by their own officials. He continues, at page 2177:

The evil is at the source, the taint is at the source, the difficulty is at the source. It is the suspected, and improper authority who is to appoint the officer that makes the difficulty. Why, sir, to say that our present system involves occasionally some injustice in the making of the lists to the one party or the other, that occasionally an over-zealous and improper Conservative assessor or functionary, makes the lists wrongly, and occasionally an improper and over-zealous Eeform assessor does the same thing and that that is a reason for'this change-I do not say for a change, but for this change-is absurd; because this change is one which puts the dead weight of a revising officer all the time on one side

And in this case the government is putting the dead weight of the revising officer always on their own side.

which says it shall be tbe nominee of the government in all cases who shall make the list, and the other party, the party of the minority, shall have the function of appeal.

And at page 2346, Mr. Blake says:

I think, it is highly important that there should be as few elections brought on, while yet it is uncertain what the voters' list is, as, possible. I think we ought to do everything that we can in the way of legislation to minimize the temptation on the part of the party in power to bring on an election at that inconvenient season. ... I hope that we are dealing with an entirely exceptional class of cases; I hope, for instance, that such a thing would not he thought of as, in a general election, the government which had control of the issue of the writs not having regard to the general condition of appeals from the voters lists. I think it would be a very great abuse of power to cause a general election to be had when there was a very considerable number of the voters' lists under appeal pending before the judge, when consequently, in a considerable number of constituencies, it was uncertain who would have the right to vote.

It would be uncertain who would have the right to vote under this Bill, because the list will not be brought into existence until after the writ for the election is issued.

A debate took place in this House in 1898, and which has been referred to here to-day. I think some parts of that debate should be placed before the House. At page 308, the Solicitor General of that time, Mr. Fitzpatrick, in speaking of the Bill said:

The object of this Bill is to repeal the existing Franchise Act and to substitute there-

for the laws of the different provinces as to the qualification of voters, polling divisions and preparation of lists.

Then, at page 2270, he further says:

The object of this Bill is to repeal the Franchise Act of 1885 and to revert for the franchise, for the' polling divisions and also for the voters' lists to the condition of things existing previous to that time. The Bill is not a lengthy one. It provides, in the first instance, for the repeal of the Franchise Act; then it provides that the franchise shall be in each province the franchise existing under the provincial law for the purposes of the provincial election-the words ' provincial election ' being defined in the Bill-and then it provides that the list of voters shall be the same as that in existence in the province. We then go on to provide that the polling divisions or subdivisions are to be the same as those that exist in the province.

Then, at page 2288, the Prime Minister (Sir Wilfrid Laurier), speaking of an amendment which had been proposed to the Bill, said:

The blemish in the Act introduced by Sir John Thompson, and it is to me an absolute and irredeemable blemish, was that while he adopted the provincial franchise, yet he retained the revising officer and the preparation of the list by the revising officer. I say this is the blemish in the Act. Here is section 5;

The Governor in Council may from time to time appoint a proper person to be called the revising officer.

Let me call attention to section 10.

Then he reads section 10 which has already been read here, and goes on:

These are the objections which we had at the time to the Bill of Sir John Thompson. It was far more logical, according to our view, having adopted the principle of the provincial franchise to also accept the voters' lists so prepared under the authority of the provincial legislature. On this side of the House we have an absolute hostility to the revising officer and the lists prepared bv the revising officer.

And yet these hon. gentlemen to-day are appointing not merely a revising officer, but a full set of revising officers who shall make lists for two whole provinces. At page 2289, the right hon. gentleman says:

I propose that we shall revert to that system. If we apply the principle of the provincial franchise, why should we not take at the same time the means and methods by which the principle is applied?

Later in the same page, he says: .

This very Franchise Act was an abuse of power whereby the revision of the lists was placed in the hands of henchmen of the administration.

Then, at page 3983, we find the hon. gentleman speaking as follows:

Let me recall to the hon. gentleman's mind, because he seems to forget these matters very readily, that1 for the first nineteen years of Mr. ALCORN.

confederation, this parliament was elected on lists prepared by the local legislatures. Let me recall further that there were no complaints made at that time against that system. Let me recall again that under the system of the Dominion Franchise Act, passed in 1885, there was not a year but there were complaints, and grievous complaints, in regard to that matter. I ask my hon. friend this question; Is it not the fact that if this Franchise Act is not passed during this session we shall be obliged to have -a revision of the Dominion lists? There is not an hon. member who would not look with absolute terror on the prospect that in July he would have to meet the worry and expense of a revision of the list.

But what shall be said of the terror of those members of the House who represent constituencies in unorganized territory in Ontario or Quebec or in the other provinces affected, if they have to go to the country and face the expense of two complete lists?

If hon. gentlemen opposite have a better system to propose, let them offer it; but as between a Dominion and provincial franchise, as between a Dominion list and provincial lists, there can be no hesitation, because we have had for nineteen years a provincial list and provincial franchise.

Then, at page 4013, the Prime Minister says:

We propose a system which has been in operation for nineteen years here. We propose a system that has been in operation^ in the United States ever since the establishment of the constitution. If there is anything better to be offered, I should like it now to be offered; but if we are only asked to adopt a system of registration

And that is what the right hon. gentleman proposes to adopt now.

-it will not at all remedy the evil, it will not relieve the expenditure necessary to-day; but if the House -adopt the principle of the Bill we propose, we shall have a list pre* pared without any trouble, without any expenditure, and we will have, I believe, the best system of franchise and preparation of lists the country has had so far.

And the right hon. gentleman knows that these provinces have made their lists and they are satisfied. Why should they be changed? And then at page 4014, we find the Prime Minister speaking as follows:

It is easy for hon. gentlemen opposite to pick flaws and create difficulties, hut after all we must suppose there is some reason and. _ conscience in them. Local legislatures -are likely to represent the people of the province; they are elected to represent the same people we represent here, and no other people. It is supposed, and it is not a very violent supposition to make, they will exercise that power in the best interests of their constituents, according to their judgment and light. It is supposed they will adopt the best franchise to suit the province.

That is what has been done in these provinces, and the right hon. gentleman is not

content to leave it alone, but insists upon having separate lists. He goes on:

It is because we believe and suppose that the local legislatures will act as they have been acting, in the best interests of their own constituents, that we are acting in this way.

In 1885 the legislature of the Province of Quebec was in the hands of the Conservative party. It had been in the hands of the Conservative party ever since confederation, with the exception of two years. But I would not have hesitated to accept the franchise provided by a Conservative legislature in Quebec, because, though there were many things in that franchise, on the whole, to which I would have objected, still as it satisfied the province it would have satisfied me. It is in the same way as regards other provinces. It is possible that the control of the several provinces may pass into the bauds of the Conservative party

That is a catastrophe which has happened now.

-still on a question of this kind I am quite disposed for my part to accept the franchise prepared by the legislature, whether Liberal or Conservative.

On the next page he says :

Would it not be far better, as a matter simply of good government, if the elections for this House could be conducted on the local lists, and that the members of this parliament and the members of the legislature Who represent the same body of people, should be elected by the same electors?

Then on page 4127 I find the then Minister of the Interior, the present member for Brandon, (Mr. Sifton) saying this :

And I have this to say further, that the Act which came into force in 1891, under which revising officers are appointed, as they are appointed under the Dominion Franchise Act-and who are sometimes judges and sometimes not-has worked satisfactorily. There has not been to my knowledge, and there never was while I sat in the legislature, any complaint made against the conduct of these revising officers. Not a single complaint was made during the five years that I was a member of the government of Manitoba, during which that Act was in force, against the conduct of any revising officer. Not only was no complaint ever proven, but none was ever made. .

On page 4309 the right hon. gentleman said :

We are now upon subsection 'a' of section 5 of this Act, which reads as follows:-

The qualifications necessary to entitle any person to vote thereat shall be those established by the laws of that province as necessary to entitle such persons to vote in the same part of the province at a provincial election.

An amendment was moved to that, and to that amendment the right hon. gentleman addressed himself :

Now my right hon. friend wants me to supplement that language in the manner which I have already indicated. Well, it is a matter

of record that there are no two provinces in which the franchise are absolutely alike. They are alike in all provinces in principle, they are alike mostly in the nature of the qualification of the electors, but they are not absolutely identical in their respective provisions. What does this prove? It proves the principle which my hon. friend has refused to admit up to this moment, that the local franchise is necessarily, from its very nature, a local question to be determined by the local circumstances of the community in each province.

That remark is very applicable to both provinces in question in this Bill. The people of those provinces speaking through their representatives have passed certain Acts which have established the character of their franchise. Why snould this government now, for Dominion purposes, simply because those provinces have become Conservative, insist upon making separate lists by partisan officers of their own?

My hon. friend will at least have to recognize this. The amendment which we have now before us has been considerably changed from what it was the other day when it was first presented. When it was first presented it did not contain a provision that this should apply only to certain provinces; it was to apply to all the provinces in which there exists an appeal as well as to provinces in which an appeal does not exist. Since that time the amendment has been restricted only to apply to those provinces in which there is no judicial appeal. Take the case of each province. Take tlie case of the province of Ontario and the province of Quebec. They are provinces where an appeal lies to the judicial

authority. In those provinces the lists are prepared by the municipal authorities. In the province of Ontario the lists are prepared by the municipal bodies, and in the province of Quebec the lists are prepared by the municipal bodies. If any elector is not satisfied with the lists so prepared, if he feels aggrieved, he has an appeal to the judicial authority. In the province of New Brunswick there is nothing of the kind, there is no appeal to a judicial authority. In the province of Nova Scotia there is no appeal either to the judicial authority. My hon. friend says: Why should there not be an appeal to the judicial authority? The reason is very obvious, it is that in those provinces no want is felt for such an appeal.

On page 5672 the right hon. gentleman says, speaking to an amendment which had been proposed with regard to the revision of the lists :

We have certainly power to take the provincial lists as they are made, and to adopt them as our own; but I question very much whether we have power to interfere in the preparation of the local lists and to impose conditions which are not imposed by local legislation as to the manner in which they are to be made. This is a question which, in my judgment, is one of great moment and of some difficulty. I do not press it strongly, however, because I apprehend that there may he perhaps a difference of opinion in this regard. But there can be no difference of opin-

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ion, at all events upon tliis point, that even if we had power to pass such an amendment, its adoption would create great confusion, lou would have a set of lists prepared for local elections, and by this amendment you would introduce federal legislation to take effect at a certain time, which would take away the lists from the local jurisdiction and bring them under federal jurisdiction as to the method of their preparation. Here the right hon. gentleman is in set terms condemning the precise thing which he now proposes to do by this Bill : I submit to my hon. friend- that this consideration alone shows that the amendment would undoubtedly and inevitably lead to very great confusion. On the next page, 5673, he says : X have no doubt that if the people of Nova Scotia



All this is to show that the lists should be prepared by the people themselves, and that is what is being done in those two provinces.



And the present system not satisfactory -(the system which has given satisfaction hitherto-if they thought that the sheriff being appointed by the executive authority did not give them the same security as in former times when the sheriffs were appointed by the judicial authoriy, they will undoubtedly, in the exercise of their rights as citi-, zens of a free province introduce legislation in amendment to that legislation. But it may be said that their efforts would be unavailing because the party suffering would not control the legislature.' That may be so at the present time. But when any grievance exists in any legislature governed under British institutions, the minority is never slow to avail itself of any opportunity to offer amendments to remove it, although ths minority may be sure that its efforts will not succeed, but be rejected. That is what we are doing uow with regard to this Bill. A minority will never fail to bring grievances to the attention of a legislature, thouo-h they are satisfied their efforts will be prostrated, because the minority will do so simply for the purpose of affecting public opinion and affecting it m its own direction. I am therefore forced to the conclusion that as nc efforts have been made either in theMegis-latuies of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in the direction indicated by my hon. friend the law has been found satisfactoiy to the people of those provinces. On the same ground no change should be made in Manitoba or British Columbia. On the next page the right hon. gentleman continues : Be that as it may, we have come to the conclusion that the best method we can adopt as regards the preparation of voters' lists for the elections for this House is the adoption of the local lists. On page (467, the then Solicitor General, speaking of the amendments which were sent down by the Senate, said :


CON

George Oscar Alcorn

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ALCORN.

The second amendment provides that on page 2, line 5, paragraph 'c ' be left out and in lieu thereof the paragraph ' e ' framed by the Senate, be inserted. I would therefore beg to move:

That the amendments be disagreed to for the following reasons:-

Because the amendments made by the honourable the Senate to the Bill, excepting from its operation the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Manitoba, and providing for a special revision of the voters' lists in those provinces for elections to this House, is inconsistent with and subversive of the general principle of the Bill.

There the hon. Solicitor General (Sir Charles Fitzpatrick) hit the nail precisely on the head, that is precisely what this government is proposing to do with Manitoba and British Columbia.

That the procedure proposed by the hon. the Senate for -securing the revision of such lists, under the authority of this parliament,

wholly inadequate, and cannot be rendered effective without creating complicated and costly machinery incompatible with the object of the Bill.

At page 7543 the Solicitor General said:

The object of the amendment to which I will especially address myself is that which -practically provides in effect that in so far as three of the provinces are concerned, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, there shall be for these provinces Dominion list3 instead of provincial lists as exist elsewhere.

. . . We -are by this Bill adopting the principle that obtained in Canada from 1867 to 1885, during which period we had a provincial franchise and provincial lists for federal purposes.

On the next page he says:

Now not only had we those lists from 1867 to 1885 without a single word of protest from the Senate, and without a single word of protest from the Conservative party, but when, in 1885, the Dominion Franchise Act was introduced, a strong -protest was made by the Liberal party against the introduction of the principle of having the federal lists under the control of federal officers, -and, Sir, not only was there a protest made at that time by the Liberal party against the principle adopted, but in season and out of season since that time the voice of the Liberal party has been raised throughout the whole of the Dominion in protest against these federal franchise lists, and -in favour of -the principle we are now seeking to carry out by this Bill. Not only did we raise that protest in the course of the debate in 1885, but we protested in the election of 1887, the election of 1891,the election of 1896 and in those elections that was the chief plank in the Liberal platform, in addition to the platform laid down by the Liberal party at Ottawa in 1893.

Now we h-ave the fact that these conditions existed frorp 1867 to 1885, we have the fact that in 1885 the Liberal party protested against the change, we have in addition the fact that "in each recurring election the chief plank in -the Liberal platform was a reversion to the condition of things existing be-

fore 1885, and we have also the fact that this policy was inserted in the Liberal platform at the Ottawa convention. The Liberal party came into power, therefore, with an express mandate from the people to repeal the Dominion Franchise law of 1885, and to refer to the provincial lists, and we find. that at the very first working session after_ the change of government, the session of1897, a Franchise Bill was introduced by us. Not only do we find that, but we find also that because we wanted the Bill to be thoroughly understood and that the public might know what our intentions were, that hill was placed before the people for their consideration, and at this session, a Franchise Bill was the very first measure disposed ot. Under these circumstances, is it possible to conceive for a moment that there can be any doubt that we, the majority in the House ot Commons, as now constituted, the supporters of the present government came here with an imperative mandate from the people of ths Dominion to rid them of the useless and e -pensive system known as the Dominion I1 ran-chise Act and to substitute this proposed law. Not only did we receive that mandate from the people of the Dominion, but, s:r, when we introduced our legislation in _ this House, there was not a single voice within these walls raised in favour of the old Dominion Franchise Act, and it went down to its grave unwept, unhonouied and unsung. In view of the fact that our des're is to obey the imperative mandate of the people, in view of the fact that our desiie is to rid the people of this country of this incubus in the form of the Dominion Franchise Act, an Act which has cost us in the years it was in operation over $2,000,000, an Act which has not been revised for the last four years and that hon. gentlemen opposite dare not revise, because of the expense incurred in that revision, in view of tlese facts, we are justified in carrying out our promise to the people and in endeavouring as far as possible to place the making of the lists under the control of the people themselves, thus proving' that the Liberal party have and always had confidence in the people, as distinguished from hon. gentlemen opposite, who, because they did not trust the people wanted to keep the control of the lists in the hands of officials appointed by themselves.

That is peculiarly applicable at present. Not only have this government no confidence in the Conservative governments of Manitoba and British Columbia, but they have no confidence in the officials whom these governments will appoint and no confidence in the people of those provinces who, they say, may be interfered with, and improperly interfered with, by these provincial officials.

I need not observe that this present Bill absolutely departs from the principle laid down in the extracts I have read and does so because Manitoba and British Columbia are now Conservative. This government insists on having lists made, in the words of the premier, by their own henchmen and parasites who feed on this government. We know what kind of lists we will get if this is done. Mr. Mills' words will be peculiarly applicable.

Section 13 then introduces the principle of a numbered ballot which is a vicious principle and wholly unnecessary. If the object were a legitimate object It would be served by requiring the voter to produce to the deputy returning officer a certificate from the returning officer that the voter's name is on the general list and by mistake was not transferred to the separate list. There should also he a clause inserted in the oath to the same effect. The voter himself should swear that he was on the general list. I invite hon. gentlemen opposite to imagine the operation of clauses 1 and 13 along the line of the National Transcontinental Railway. Here you will find a horde of thousands of foreigners and other workmen, birds of passage, and their contractor will consider it his duty to the Construction Commission and the government who employ and pay him to place all those men upon the lists and to vote them. Being foreigners in great part they will be indistinguishable and it will be impossible to trace them out afterwards; their names will be unintelligible and they will be un-tracealde. A petition against a government supporter elected by that vote in such a constituency as I have suggested would be without hope. The witnesses whom the petitioner might wish to subpoena, the foreigners and other workmen along the line would be scattered, no one could tell where, and the cost of endeavouring to procure evidence would be absolutely prohibitive. Therefore I ask if it would not be much better to take the provincial lists as the province provides them and not place upon the country the expense of separate lists and open the door, as clause 13 will, to a great deal of corruption in making the lists and recording the vote.

Section 17, as hon. gentlemen are aware, absolutely destroys the secrecy of the ballot. At this late hour I shall not make any extended observations upon that, but will merely say that the Bill which 1 had the honour to present to this House contained a clause embodying the same principle, hut in conversation with my colleagues in the House I find I have yet to meet a single gentleman who is in favour of that principle, and if my Bill was before the House I would drop that section.

I commend the language of section 28 to the consideration of the right hon. the Prime Minister (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) and other members. It appears to me that it directly authorizes and legalizes the commission by a corporation or association incorporated for political purposes alone, the doing of anything and everything that every person else is by the prohibition contained in the section forbidden to do, so that such corporation or association may collect and distribute in the most corrupt manner possible an election fund of any size.

Under these circumstances and subject to what the leader of the opposition (Mr. COMMON'S

R. L. Borden) may say, but voicing I be7 lieve the sentiment of every hon. gentleman on this side of the House, I -will observe that if these sections to which I have directed attention, sections 1, 13, 17 and 28, be maintained, the opposition will exhaust their constitutional rights in opposing this Bill before this House.

On motion of Mr. D. W. Bole, the debate was adjourned.

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ADJOURNMENT-THE QUEBEC BRIDGE.


Sir WILFRID LAURIER moved the adjournment of the House.


CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

Before the House adjourns, I direct the attention of the First Minister to the following statement of the Toronto ' Globe ' of to-day :-

It is said here that when the Quebec bridge eventually spans the St. Lawrence it will not be from the points on either shore whioh it was intended the bridge should link, but at a site farther up the river near Batisean, where it will not be necessary to erect an arch of such gigantic proportions' as was proposed for the first structure. This change of site will necessitate a change in the surveyed route of the Grand Trunk Pacific between St. Maurice river and Quebec.

I would ask the Prime Minister if there is any foundation for this report.

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

There is not the faintest foundation for it. So far as I know the width of the river at Batisean must be twice the width of the river Cap Rouge.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

I regret that I should have been so much misled by a leading Liberal organ.

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

The best men will fall sometimes.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

What business tomorrow?

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

I suppose we will take up the same thing. .

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Motion agreed to, and House adjourned at 11.40 p.m.


May 5, 1908