May 12, 1908

L-C
LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

'The West.' Passing now to another aspect of the question, I have to observe that this, condition of things is a very serious one. .

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CON
LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

The condition which prevails in Manitoba with regard to the adjustment of the lists in the constituencies. We thought the work could be done by the returning officers but, as my hon. friend the Minister of Justice said the other day, no one will undertake to-day the duties of returning officer. The task is such that the returning officer would have to submit to the same risks which he took in 1904. Unless we have a change in the law, the returning officer will be in the same peril in which he was in 1904. Suppose we should have an election to-morrow, the lists go to the returning officers as they are, without having been adjusted to the federal constituencies, and the returning officer would have the work thrust upon him of doing this, and he would have the same peril.

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CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

Would my right hon. friend make it clear what his conception of the duties of a returning officer is ?

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LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

I shall try to make it clear to my hon. friend. The constituencies are forty-two in number and there are forty-two lists. When a returning officer receives the lists, say of Lisgar or Selkirk, he will receive the lists, not of the constituency of Lisgar or Selkirk, 'but of all the parts of the local constituencies which are included in Lisgar and Selkirk for the Dominion elections. The boundaries of these constituencies

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CON
LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

Tes, the boundaries of the Dominion constituencies

will Include part of local constituencies. One part of a local constituency will go into one Dominion constituency and another part into another. Therefore the lists must be adjusted. There must be a red or a black line passed through the names which are not in the constituency for Dominion purposes. Somebody must do that work of adjusting the local lists to the Dominion constituencies by erasing the names which are not in the Federal constituency and adding others which ought to be in the lists. This was the duty entrusted to the returning officers by the Act of 1991 and which they must perform again when we have another Dominion election.

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CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

That is, so far as I follow my right lion, friend, this rearrangement has to be done in the case of polling divisions which are divided by the boundaries of Dominion constituencies.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

Exactly. We are agreed upon that. Who then shall do this duty ? We did entrust it to the re-turing officer, but we would not do so now. On this point, for my part, after having conferred with my hon. friend the Minister of Justice and my colleagues, we are ready to accept the suggestion made by my hon. friend from Marquette (Mr. Roche) 'in his speech the other day. My hon. friend quoted the law passed by the legislature of Manitoba subsequently to the last election and then went on in this way :

I tell the Prime Minister that there would not .have been the slightest objection to the manner in which the last elections in Manitoba were conducted had the law been observed. I tell the Prime Minister candidly that if he wants to prevent a recurrence of the carelessness of transferring names, and if he wants to prevent the disfranchisement of electors by means of transferring where there is overlapping, the only thing he has to do is to adopt the provision of the provincial Act and employ a county court judge to do that dividing. That will get over every complaint that has been made and it wiil obviate the necessity of the thin red line. Let the county court judge do the transferring where there is overlapping, let him appoint each one of these separated places as a, separate polling division as the provincial Act enacts, let him do the dividing of the lists and there will not be a single complaint from Grit or Tory in the province of Manitoba.

The Act to which the bon. gentleman refers says :

In the event of territory comprised within or partly comprised within an electoral division being, changed and included in another electoral division, or other electoral divisions, whether newly created or not, a judge of one of the county courts divisions of the province to be nominated and appointed bv the Lieutenant Governor in Council, shall subdivide the names - appearing on- the list of electors, as so finally revised, according to the altered

boundaries or limits, and make a complete list of electors for the electoral divisions affected, as aforesaid, and appropriately divide the names of electors and allot the territory between suitable polling subdivisions as shall, in the opinion of such judge, be just and equitable.

I must say that the provision of this Act of the legislature of Manitoba seems to be fair. We are disposed to accept it. But we cannot do this except by legislation, and legislation of this parliament. And I say to my hon. friend (Mr. W. J. Roche) that, if this would be agreeable to Grit and Tory alike, for my part I am quite willing to take this means of giving satisfaction to Grit and Tory alike. But my bon. friend should have had some consistency in his speech. After making this offer, he has moved an amendment which practically defeats the object he has iu mind.

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CON
LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

Yes. Because if the amendment is carried, there can be no reference to judges to allocate the names.

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CON
LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

Because the Bill will be defeated.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

But, will the right bon. gentleman permit me a moment? I made the same suggestion iu the first speech that was made on this Bill on this side of the House. I pointed out that the difficulty is not confined to Manitoba, and stated that we were willing to accept the provisions of the Manitoba law as general legislation applicable to all Canada.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

But I have this to say to my hon. friend-that this difficulty arises in Manitoba, and elsewhere it does not arise.

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CON
LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

Because everywhere else the lists are prepared by the municipality.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

But that cannot make any difference in the division of the lists.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

Did the hon. gentleman ever hear of any difficulty elsewhere? For instance, there was at one time a case in Quebec-I think it has been rectified since. The parish of St. Guillaume, which was in Yamaska for the local, was in Drummond and Arthabaska in the federal, and yet there was no difficulty.

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May 12, 1908