May 6, 1908

LIB
CON

Arthur Cyril Boyce

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BOYCE.

I had no Intention of doing so. I meant his own riding. I beg his pardon if I conveyed the other impression to him.

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LIB

James Conmee

Liberal

Mr. CONMEE.

I accept the explanation. I presumed at the time he did not mean

*vvhat he said, but he gets a little excited once in a while and fins is one of the occasions. The argument of my hon. friend, in my opinion, has justified the passage of the Bill. What are the conditions ? He has pointed out that a condition of law exists which is very bad according to his story. I expect that this measure will remedy that condition. What occasioned the interference with the provincial law of which the hon. gentleman has made such strong complaint ? I apprehend that it was the fact that the provincial .lists were more than a year old in his riding. I represent a riding in northern Ontario. I think the hon. member gave the House to understand that the same condition that existed in Algoma existed elsewhere. That is not entirely correct, we did not have any revision of the lists in Rainy River district for the reason I have just stated, that'the lists were not over a year old and therefore the provincial lists prevailed. If that is an evil, then it is an evil with which this parliament should deal.

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CON

Arthur Cyril Boyce

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BOYCE.

Does the hon. member say that the lists were not made up in his riding under the law at the last election ?

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LIB

James Conmee

Liberal

Mr. CONMEE.

Yes, I have made the statement that there were no appeals.

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CON

Arthur Cyril Boyce

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BOYCE.

I am very much surprised to hear it.

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LIB

James Conmee

Liberal

Mr. CONMEE.

I was the candidate and I have no knowledge of any lists being made under Dominion officials, that is appeals taken.

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CON

Arthur Cyril Boyce

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BOYCE.

I think the hon. gentleman is mistaken.

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LIB

James Conmee

Liberal

Mr. CONMEE.

That is a matter of evidence. All I can say to my honoured friend is that there was no complaint about the lists and I am quite positive that lam right. I do not think the lists could be made up in that way without my having some knowledge of it. I refer to revisions. The evil the member complains of, if it is not remedied, will be repeated. It will altogether depend on when the provincial government makes its list or when this government may appeal to the country. It may be that in a great many constituencies we will have the application of the Act of which the hon. member has so strongly complained. Which position does he choose to take? Does he want a repetition of what happened in Algoma, or does he prefer that we should have a law, fairly well worked out, under which there will be proper machinery for the preparation of such lists. On his own argument he has made out a strong case in favour of the Bill. But that is not the only point on which the hon. member has rather assisted the argument of this side of the House. He criticised the hon. member for Winnipeg (Mr. Bole) for having made reference to conditions that existed in the province of Mani-Mr. CONMEE.

toba some four years ago, and the hon. member himself took up more than two hours of this House in telling us about his election that took place four years ago.

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CON

Arthur Cyril Boyce

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BOYCE.

If my. hon. friend will read ' Hansard,' he will see that several pages of the records of this House were devoted to this very matter three years ago.

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LIB

James Conmee

Liberal

Mr. CONMEE.

That makes it all the worse. My hon. friend to-day went over what happened four years ago, doing what he found fault with another hon. member for doing in a less degree, and he has repeated what he said previously in this House. If he thinks that good judgment or an argument in favour of the defeat of this Bill, I shall have to leave him to his own opinion. All I can say is that it does not look very reasonable to me.

Now, I do not intend to discuss the Bill at any great length. I did not rise for that purpose. I merely rose to give reasons why I am prepared to support it. I am not going to say that the Bill is perfect as introduced. There may be improvements made. I have no doubt but that the hou. member who has introduced the Bill is quite willing to accept any fair suggestion that will improve the Bill. His closing words were these-that they wanted a square deal and an honest election. My hon. friend rather sneers at that. Let me tell my hon. friend and other hon. gentlemen opposite that if I chose to take up the' time of this House in detailing the iniquities of the Conservative party with which I have had to deal in elections in my riding, I think I could make every honest man on that side of the House hang his head in shame. But I am not going to do that, because I do not think any good purpose could be served by so doing. As I understand the situation, the Liberal party is not committed entirely, without consideration of conditions, to the provincial lists. I quite agree with the previous history of the Liberal party in that respect. I quite agree with the statements made by my leader, not only in this House but throughout the country on that great question. But, Sir, this Bill does not propose to break the record ; it does not propose to withdraw from the provincial lists. In the great majority of cases they are not interfered with ; they are accepted. What are the cases in which they are not accepted ? In the case to which this Bill applies, I think there is a justification for the course which has been adopted, and it is quite time that this parliament should deal with the question. At the time of the repeal of the Dominion Franchise Act, under which revising barristers appointed by the government in power made up the lists, not only in certain sections of the country where 'there were no municipal organizations or in provinces where the provincial lists were

not considered to be fair and just, the position that was taken was well stated by the Minister of Justice yesterday, and I may be pardoned for referring to his words :

It was pointed out at that time, in answer 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 legislation, 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 rescue control over its own lists and over its own franchise, and prevent the apprehended evil from taking place.

That was the position of the two parties at the time of the Dominion Franchise Act, or the Revising Barristers' Act, as it was generally called, was wiped off the statute-book ; and I submit that the time has now come and the conditions have now arisen, not only in Manitoba, but in other provinces, including the province of Ontario, when it Is right and proper that this parliament should Intervene in order that there should be a fair list that would be satisfactory, not only to one party, but to both political parties in this country. My hon. friend has made reference to the Ontario law. He has pointed out the machinery of that law, as applied to the unorganized territory, by which the enumerator posts up his list, and has to give a certain length of time for hearing the cases of any who have been wrongfully left off or wrongfully put on, as the case may be. When lie prepares the list, he sends it to the clerk of the peace. It is then open to an appeal by any who may not be satisfied. After it is' printed, it is posted for thirty days in order to give an opportunity to those who have been improperly left off to be put on and those who have been improperly put on to be struck off. The hon. gentleman said that thirty days was not too much. That law provides that the judge, after the list goes to him, shall give thirty days in which parties can appeal ; then he shall hold his court, and give notice of the time and place of holding it, in order that appeals may be heard. The hon. member protested strongly that thirty days was not too much and said he knew it very well from the experience he had had in the new section. If his argument be good-and I submit it is on that point-then I ask him to direct it against the provincial government of Ontario because they have violated every principle, they have set aside every protection that Act gives the people in those new districts, and they have brought in a measure, which is now in force, that robs the people of the -253}

rights they formerly possessed with regard to the preparation of the lists. To illustrate what I say, let me read an article from the Port Arthur ' Chronicle ' of May 2 :

The conditions surrounding the preparation of the voters' lists in the unorganized districts are even worse than we stated yesterday.

The editor was there referring to a previous issue of his paper, in which he had pointed out that having regard to the time limit between the posting of the printed lists, the return of the lists to the clerk, and the posting of the notice previous to appeal, It would be physically impossible to hold the elections at any time in June, [DOT]and that if the provincial government persisted in holding them at the date announced. those constituencies would be disfranchised.

It has been thought that fifteen days was allowed after lists had been prepared in which to make appeals, but this is not so.

I may say, with regard to the fifteen days, the statute provides for thirty days, but in its last few days of sittings, the Ontario legislature passed a new Act revising the law, by which they gave power to the Lieutenant Governor in Council to issue a proclamation reducing the time, and I believe it was reduced to fifteen days. Of that, however, I am not certain, but that is the statement made here.

According to the Act passed in the last hours of the legislature, it is provided that no appeals can be made after the 15th May. According to this paper, as the enumerator will not have his preliminary lists prepared in several cases, possibly a majority of oases, it will be seen that there is practically no appeal possible from the lists as prepared by the enumerator.

According to the new Election Act, certified copies of the voters' lists must be in the hands of the clerk of the peace before the date of the writ calling an election and there must be an interval of at least sixteen days, after the date of the writ, before nomination day. It is a physical impossibility that the law can be complied with in either this riding or the riding of Fort William, so that if the government persists in holding the elections on the 8th of June as announced, it must smash its own laws to smithereens and disfranchise practically the whole country.

I believe, from what little knowledge I have of the operation of the present preparation of the list in these ridings, that that statement is substantially correct, but I give it just as it appears here, and there may possibly be some difference. But even if the statement be not correct, even if a shorter time, even if ten days, nay if one day were given for the appeal, it would be physically impossible to have a properly prepared list by the 8th June. It would be impossible because the enumerators have not yet completed their lists. Here is a letter from a gentleman giving me the

dates of the sittings of the enumerator for : holding of their courts for the preparation of the lists. He gives a number of places, and I notice one sitting is at North Lake on the 29th May. It will be clearly understood that if the hearing is on the 29th May and the list is to be print- . ed and has to go to the clerk of the peace and from him to the judge and the judge gives any appeal at all, that cannot be done before the 8th June, and the list cannot be in the hands of the returning officer before the day of nomination if the case is as stated. There can be no doubt about that. Some time ago I gave my opinion to certain members of the provincial legislature that there was no intention on the part of the Ontario government to hold the elections in the new ridings on the same date as they would be held throughout the province. Mr. Whitney was cornered by the leader of the opposition and he made the statement that the elections would be held on the same day. I ask hon. gentlemen to take note-I give my opinion for what it is worth-that the elections will not be held in the new ridings on that date, Mr. Whitney to the contrary notwithstanding that is upon a fair list. They will discover that irregularities exist, and that the lists are not prepared, and will And ways and means of holding these elections after the date fixed for the general elections. I have it from very good authority, from a gentleman I believe to be in the confidence of the Conservative party, that such was the intention, and I leave hon. gentlemen opposite to deal with their own friends in regard to that matter.

If that condition of things exists in all sections of New Ontario, involving seven or eight constituencies represented in this House, I want to ask fair-minded men if it is not a reasonable proposition which is contained in this Bill. Not that new lists be prepared, because that is not the purport of the Bill, when the election comes on if there is a reason for making an order for a revision, the provincial lists are taken as the basis for the Dominion list. The names on that list are still entitled to vote until it can be shown before a court of competent jurisdiction that they are not, and any names omitted on that list of men entitled to exercise the franchise can be put on. Why should they not? Will any hon. member opposite tell us that men who are entitled to the franchise should be disfranchised because there is not machinery provided by either provincial or Dominion parliament to prepare a proper list? The voter is not to blame for that. His inalienable right is to exercise the franchise, and it is the duty of parliament, whether Dominion or provincial, to see that every man has a fair opportunity to exercise that right.

My hon. friend laboured considerably to Mr C.ONMEE.

show that in this hurried way the list was prepared in his riding last time. Well, that was a peculiar circumstance which never occurred before in the history of this country and I do not think it ever will again. If I am not mistaken, the officers_ of this government learned only at a late date that the lists were beyond the date. There could be no legal election held upon these lists. If the elections in these ridings were to be held upon the same day, then the lists had to be prepared hurriedly, and it appears that the officers did their best. Now, I think that my hon. friend (Mr. Boyce) did not do himself credit, I do not think he advanced his standing in this House or in the country, by the course which he pursued this afternoon in one particular. He repeatedly stated that the revising officer was a servant of the Ross government, an appointee of the Ross government. That is not correct. The revising officer was Judge O'Connor. Associated with him was Mr. Quibell, who was police magistrate at that time, if I am not mistaken. Why should that not be the case ? It is the case Iji the revision of every list under the provincial law in the province. The judge is appointed, and side by side with him sits some other gentleman who may be named. I have been in Judge Johnston's court when he was conducting these hearings, and with him sat Mr. W. H. Hamilton, barrister, of the Sault. That is the position Mr. Quibell occupied, practically it may have been a silent pne, speaking generally; the judge was the man who conducted the revision. And yet the hon. member misled this House in statement after statement that this revision was carried on by an official of the Ross government. I do not think that was fair criticism. My hon. friend spoke strongly ; I have no doubt he felt moved. He thought that some injustice had been done him, perhaps, and on that score he may be excusable for remarks he made on this point.

Mr. Speaker I move the adjournment of the debate.

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Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned.


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.

Same thing.

At six o'clock the House adjourned.

Thursday, May 7, 1908.

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May 6, 1908