May 12, 1908

CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

There need be no difficulty where the law as it stands is honestly carried out.

Topic:   ATTRIER
Permalink
LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

Oh, that red line is too thin altogether. There was no difficulty in that case, because you have

only to take the list of the parish as it stands, and transfer it from one polling division to the other. But, in Manitoba, where the lists are not made by municipalities or by polling divisions, but for the whole constituency, it is absolutely indispensable that there should be somebody, in case of overlapping, to allocate the names according to the divisions. However, as the hon. member for North Toronto (Mr. Foster) said, to have that bisecting done, all you have to do is to have the names allocated to one division or the other. Now, we will not quarrel over that. I understand that the proposal is acceptable

Topic:   ATTRIER
Permalink
CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

Let us be perfectly clear. The right hon. gentleman has nothing further to say with reference to the polling divisions which are not divided by the boundaries of the constituencies?

Topic:   ATTRIER
Permalink
LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LATJRIER.

If the polling divisions are not divided by the boundaries of the Dominion constituencies, I do not see any necessity for intervention; it is only where they are divided, so far as I can see, that the necessity for intervention arises.

Topic:   ATTRIER
Permalink
CON

William James Roche

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. W. J. ROCHE.

Before the right hon. gentleman leaves that point, as he has admitted that he sees no reason for interference where the polling subdivisions are entirely within the Dominion constituency, what defence has he to offer for the interference in the last election?

Topic:   ATTRIER
Permalink
LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LATJRIER.

My answer is that I am not aware that anything of that kind took place.

Topic:   ATTRIER
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS

Oh, oh.

Topic:   ATTRIER
Permalink
LIB
LIB
LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LATJRIER.

Some exception is taken to my statement. I rather welcome this. Let us discuss the point. What I say is that, under the Act as it is at the present time, there is one thing that is permanent, settled for all time. The registration board, as constituted by the Act, is composed of the county judges of the province, which board appoints the revising officers. But who appoints the registration clerks ?

Mr. SCHAFFNER, Revision is whatyou were talking about, not registration.

Topic:   ATTRIER
Permalink
LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LATJRIER.

We are talking about both, because both go together. Who appoints the registration clerks? The government of the province of Manitoba. Who fixes the registration districts? The government of the province of Manitoba. Who fixes the revision districts? The government of the province of Manitoba. On this point, I have only to call attention to section 22 of the Act, which is as follows :

22. Annually, on or before the first day of May, the Lieutenant Governor in Council, shall, by order in council, authorize the issuing of a proclamation (form 1 in the schedule to this Act) setting forth:

(1) That it has been determined to add to, correct and revise the list of electors; -

(2) The names and post office addresses of the persons appointed by such order in council to act as registration clerks in the respective electoral divisions of the province, for such purposes;

(3) The date or dates on, the place or places at, and the hours between which applications for registration and the correction and striking off names of electors will be received and shall be concluded in each electoral division.

Topic:   ATTRIER
Permalink
CON

Frederick Laurence Schaffner

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SCHAFFNER.

Will the right hon. gentleman excuse me? Perhaps he will read section 61 also.

Topic:   ATTRIER
Permalink
LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LATJRIER.

I will go further than my hon. friend (Mr. Schaffner) asks. I will read not only section 61, but section 42 and section 65 also.

Mr. SCHAFFNER, Read the whole Act. We will stand by the whole Act.

Topic:   ATTRIER
Permalink
LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LATJRIER.

Very well. Here is section 61 :

In order to give full and due effect to the powers of the hoard, the said board may provide for any proceeding, matter or thing for which express provision has not been herein made, or for which only partial provision has been made; or, where it shall be found that the time allowed to do any act is insufficient and an alteration or extension of such time, and any alteration of dates consequent thereon, shall appear to be necessary, the board may declare that such alteration may be made, and thereupon the same shall be made and take effect accordingly.

This is the power of the board. As I understand it is to extend tbe time and to

do anything else they think proper to-carry on their work.

Section 42 contains this also t

In case, by reason of interruptions or other emergency a sitting of the registration clerk is not commenced on the proper day, or is interrupted after being commenced and before the closing thereof, the registration clerk shall resume the registration on the following day and so on from day to day within the hours hereinbefore limited, until the registration sittings have been opened and kept open without interruption, and with free access to persons desiring to be registered, for the full number of days provided in the proclamation to bo issued under the provisions of this Act. The times limited for the registration of electors shall be directory only, and any mistake o" miscarriage in respect thereto shall not invalidate the list of electors of any electoral division.

This seems to be perfectly fair. I have nothing to say against it. On the contrary I would altogether commend it. It provides that if the registration clerk, within the time allotted to him by the proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor, has not sufficient time to hear all the applications or to erase names or to do all the work he is commanded to do, he can extend the time.

I would call the attention of my hon. friend who has interrupted me to section 65, subsection 11 :

The revising officer shall also receive and deal with the applications of all persons to be registered as electors who shall be present at the time fixed for the closing of the court of revision, notwithstanding that the time so fixed shall have elapsed.

*Section 42 relates to the duties of the registration clerks ; section 65 relates to the duties of the revising officer. There is a marked difference between the two. I do not know whether it is intentional or accidental, I suppose perhaps it is only accidental, but if it is accidental it has worked serious mischief to some people. Whereas the registration clerk can according to section 42 extend the time not only to receive applications, but to erase names and correct the list in every particular, section 65, subsection 11, gives power to the revising officer to extend the time for receiving applications, but not for the erasing of names. I do not say that this is not accidental, 'but at all events I understand that whereas the registration clerk could and did on more than one occasion extend the time to receive applications and to erase nafcnes, the revising officer would, under certain circumstances on certain occasions, extend the time to receive names, but refused to extend the time for erasing names. Upon this we have the testimony of the hon. member for Portage la Prairie (Mr. Crawford) 'who stated that to his knowledge, in his personal case, in order to have certain names

erased which he could not get erased because the time had expired, he had to bargain with his opponents in order to get a certain number, although he could have doubled the number if the time had been given. But be this as it may, I point out to the hon. member for Souris (Mr. Schaff-ner) and the hon. member for Marquette (Mr. W. J. Roche), who are both conversant with this Act, that though I find in this Act power given to the revising officer, though I find power given to the registration clerk to extend the time, I see no power given in this Act to extend or change the locality where the registration is to take place. The Act, section 22, says distinctly, that:

The Governor in Council shall fix the date or dates on, the place or places at, and the hours between which, applications for registration and the correction and striking off names of electors will be received and shall be concluded in each electoral division.

I speak subject to correction, as I have not given to the study of this'Act all the time I would wish, but in my hasty perusal of it I did not find anywhere that the reg-< istration clerk or the revising officers have the power to extend the locality in which the registration is to take place. The order in council says that the registration shall take place at this locality, it shall take place at Beausejour, but you cannot extend it to Lac du Bonnet. It must take place there, and there alone. Is that fair, is that right, is that according to justice? The hon. member for Lisgar (Mr. Greenway) the other day gave an example of its unfairness. He stated to the House that in a certain place, which turned out to be Beausejour, the revising officer, finding that a certain number of men in another settlement in the same registration district, called Lac du Bonnet, could not come to register their names, took upon himself to go to Lac du Bonnet, to extend the place and there he registered the names of thirty qualified electors ; and he stated further that when this registration list was brought to the Attorney General's office the names were simply contemptuously torn from the list and these men were disfranchised. When the hon. member for Lisgar made that speech the other day the hon. member for Marquette (Mr. W. J. Roche) hastily rose to his feet with this interruption :

Would the hon. member for Lisgar be fair enough to state that Judge Walker, the chairman of the registration board, reported to the government that this officer had held a court of revision illegally, after his certificate had expired.

Yes, Judge Walker actually said that officer was acting illegally. It was contrary to the law of Manitoba-but it was in accordance with natural justice. It is unfortunate that the law of Manitoba and the law of natural justice are not on a par. It was against the law of Manitoba,

but I ask, in all fairness of my hon. friend from Marquette, should this be against the law of Manitoba? Will it be said that such a law should be maintained and are we in this House powerless to remedy such an outrage against duly qualified electors ? Shall it be said that although the law of Manitoba will not allow justice to be done under such circumstances we have to sit still and allow these men to be disfranchised? That is the position in which we are placed and that is one reason why we calne to the conclusion that we had to take some action this year.

The hon. member for Marquette (Mr. W. J. Roche) stated the other day, and his statement was repeated by the hon. member for Souris (Mr. Schaffner), that in 1904 an Act had been drafted to deal with the province of Manitoba, that the Act had been printed, not only drafted, but printed. I wondered at the time if my ears did not deceive me when such a statement was made. If such a Bill had been prepared I would have known something of it, and I have to say here that no Act was drafted in 1904 but the Act which was brought down by the Minister of Justice and which became law. No such Act as has been suggested by the hon. member for Souris and the hon. member for Marquette even was contemplated, although the suggestion may have been made.

Topic:   ATTRIER
Permalink
CON

William James Roche

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. W. J. ROCHE.

Does the Prime Minister say that no Act was contemplated, no Bill was drafted ?

Topic:   ATTRIER
Permalink
LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

No Act was contemplated by tbe government and no Bill was prepared, that I say most decisively.

Topic:   ATTRIER
Permalink
CON
LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

So far as mv memory goes, I say with all candour to my hon. friend that no Act was prepared in 1903 or 1904 except the Act which was brought down in 1904. I may say, and why should I not say, that my friends from Manitoba represented to me at that time, as they did since, that the Act of Manitoba was very unfair towards them, especially in the manner in which it was administered. This year we have thought, however, that we should listen to the representations (made to us upon this subject. I consulted the Minister of Justice, I consulted my colleagues, and we determined to bring down the Bill that we have to-day. not, Sir, that we are absolutely wedded to that Bill, not that we are not prepared to receive amendments from our friends, not that we are not ready to try to improve it and amend it so as to give satisfaction, in the very words of my hon. friend from Marquette (Mr. W.

J. Roche), to Grit and Tory alike. But, Sir,

I ask my hon. friends if they will not ad-

Topic:   ATTRIER
Permalink
LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

mit that although the legislation which today exists in Manitoba and the manner in which it is administered may be satisfactory to the Tories, it is not satisfactory to the Grits-and that is the reason we have introduced this legislation.

Now, Sir, my hon. friends will tell me that they do not want this legislation. They are absolutely opposed to it because the legislation which we bring forward would place the preparation of the lists, in so far as the province of Manitoba is concerned. in the hands of officers appointed by this government. That is their objection. Let us be frank with one another upon this question. Let us meet on principles which we can all appeal to and which we can all accept. My hon. friend from Marquette and other hon. members on the other side of the House do not want this law to be passed, because, if it were to be passed, it would give the preparation of the lists, not to their own friends, but to our own friends. Now, Sir, will it surprise them very much, if they have no confidence in us, that we should not be burdened by much confidence in them ? If they think it is unfair that the lists upon which they want to go to the election should be prepared by their opponents do they think it is fair that the lists upon which we would have to go to the election should be prepared by our opponents ? Can we not agree therefore to devise a law which will remove the control of the elections both from the Grits and the Tories so as to give satifac-tion to both Grits and Tories ? That is the proposition which I have to make to my hon. friend from Marquette and to all the other hon. gentlemen sitting on the other side of the House. The other day the hon. member for Marquette stated that the lists as prepared were perfectly honest and as evidence of his earnestness in the matter he quoted this article from the ' Telegram ' of Winnipeg in which $25 is offered to every man who presents proof that, being a qualified elector, his name has not been put upon the list:

The ' Telegram ' will pay the sum of $25 to any elector in the province of Manitoba who is not already on the voters' lists who is refused registration if he applies in the regular manner and is legally qualified to vote under our law. Should any claim or claims be made under this offer each case to be referred to Hon. C. J. Mickle, leader of His Majesty's loyal opposition in the Manitoba legislature, from whose decision there shall be no appeal. Should any award be made, one half the amount is to be paid to the elector who has been refused registration and the other half to the Winnipeg General Hospital.

If my hon. friend is so confident of the honesty and accuracy of the lists prepared by this revision perhaps he will agree with me that it would be more in accordance

with the fitness of things if the elector who has been deprived of his vote, whose name has not been plachd upon the list, instead of receiving $25, should have an opportunity of having his name placed upon the list. My hon. friend, 1 suppose, will agree to that ?

Topic:   ATTRIER
Permalink
CON

William James Roche

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. W. J. ROCHE.

The ' Telegram ' newspaper cannot very well place him upon the list.

Topic:   ATTRIER
Permalink

May 12, 1908