May 14, 1908

CON
CON

Joseph Gédéon Horace Bergeron

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BERGERON.

Would you do that in Nova Scotia ?

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LIB

Frank Oliver (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

My hon. friend (Mr. Henderson) said that would be very unfair.

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CON
LIB

Frank Oliver (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

The whole burden of the interruptions which have been directed to me to-night have been on that line, that it is not fair that the provisions of the Bill should be adopted. It is not fair that the provisions of the Bill should be adopted it surely is just as unfair that the Manitoba election law should remain as it is, because all that the Bill says is that the law as it stands shall be applied to a revision of the lists for federal purposes, and all the criticism and all the objections that my hon. friends have made have been with respect to their own law. They have accused us of all sorts of constitutional and political crimes because we have, in the innocence of our hearts, supposed that they would accept the application of their own law in this case. But, when we undertook to apply to them their own law administered by us, their shrieks of agony rent the heavens. They threatened a dissolution.

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Some hon. MEMBERS

Hear, hear, no, no.

ilr. OLIVER. Yes, and they threaten an obstruction of Supplies.

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Some hon. MEMBERS

Oh, no.

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LIB

Frank Oliver (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

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LIB

Frank Oliver (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

Their newspapers do. I understood my hon. friend (Mr. Armstrong) to make that threat on behalf of his colleagues.

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Mr. ARMSTRONG .@

1 do not think the hon. gentleman wishes to misquote me. My statement was that my personal feeling and 1 know the general feeling of the country is that the sooner a dissolution comes the better for the people of the whole country-

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LIB

Frank Oliver (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

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Mr. J G. H. BERGERON@Beauharnois

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry, Sir, that the rules of the House did not permit my hon. friend to continue the reading of his speech ; it would have been a great deal shorter and it would have been more to the point. My hon. friend is not quite posted upon the laws of Manitoba and while he displayed great cleverness, he had to work very hard to answer the criticisms and interruptions from this side of the House. I have listened to many of the speeches delivered during this discussion and I have to say to you, Sir. that I had no idea that the lists in Manitoba were made as well as they are.

X do not believe that there is another province in Canada where the lists are as well made as in Manitoba. Of course I understand why the government want to make the lists in Manitoba, but the more I have listened to gentlemen on both sides of the House the more I have been convinced that everything that can be done to give the vote to a man who has a right to vote, is done in Manitoba. As far as British Columbia is concerned, we had this afternoon, from the lips of the hon. member for Kootenay (Mr. Galliher) a representative of that province, the statement that they are perfectly well satisfied with their election law. Why he says there are excellent things in that law. There are weak points. What are they? That registration does not have to be made in person, and for this he gave the reason that miners cannot come to central points to register, a perfectly good reason. Otherwise they are entirely satisfied with their lists. I asked him whether any objections had been made in the IXouse at Victoria last session on account of the lists? He said : No, not a word. Did you ever

hear of any complaint ? No, on the contrary I have letters from Conservative clubs and even from Liberal clubs saying they are perfectly satisfied with the present lists in British Columbia.

The Minister of the Interior has been working very hard to defend this measure. I do not think that any one of us in the House will convince others on the opposite side. Mv intention, in the few remarks I have to make, is to talk to the man on the street. It seems to me that this measure is not well understood outside the House. Look at the great title of this Bill :

An Act to amend the Dominion Elections Act.

That is a fine title. Is there any thing there to say that elections will be carried on in an honest and clean manner, and that the will of the people will be allowed to

assert itself at the polls ? Not a word. Is there any thing in this Bill to say that the election shall take place all on the same day ? That was one of the old and sacred principles of the Liberal party, but there is not a word about it in this Bill. This Bill is an attempt to manufacture Liberal votes in some provinces in this Dominion. Quebec is introduced simply as a pretense. My right hon. friend admits what was said by my hon. friend from Jacques Cartier (Mr. Monk), that there is no necessity for this measure in the province of Quebec. The franchise there is under the control of the local government and every thing is done there, as far as it can be, in a proper way, though the election law in Quebec is far from being as good as is the election law of Manitoba. And in Ontario, they are carrying on elections to-day for the local legislature. Why not carry them on for this House just as they are carried on for the local House ? This Bill is simply an attempt by this government to elect their friends in Manitoba and British Columbia if possible.

We can discuss this Bill very briefly and very plainly. We can discuss it so that the man on the street will understand it thoroughly. We are discussing a principle. When I hear my hon. friend the Minister of the Interior (Mr. Oliver) arguing for all he is worth on a little technicality, such as whether the delay between the closing of the registration and the opening of the court of revision shall be thirty days or twenty days or fourteen days or whether a man shall have to travel ten miles or fifteen miles to register his vote, I need only reply that is not the question before the country. The question is shall we have a franchise made by the Dominion parliament or shall we accept those made by the local legislatures ? That is the sole question. In 1885 we had a Dominion Franchise law passed by this parliament in spite of all the efforts of hon. gentlemen opposite who were then on the opposition benches, and that law provided that the Dominion franchise would be the same all over Canada. It provided that every man elected to this House would be elected on the same franchise, whether he came from British Columbia or Prince Edward Island. Hon. gentlemen opposite fought that law as much as they could. They were afraid that partisan enumerators might not do them justice. and there might have been something in that contention, although subsequent events proved that their fears were unfounded and that no injustice was done then. It was under that system that my right hon. friend was returned in 1896 by an overwhelming majority, thus showing that no injustice was done him and his party by means of that Franchise Act. But of ail the pledges made by the Liberal party when in opposition, every one has been

discarded except that to abolish the Dominion Franchise Act. They did abolish it in 1898, and in its stead they accepted the local franchise Acts, and the members of this parliament were to be elected upon franchises made by the local legislatures. That was the principle adopted by this government and that is the principle on which elections have since been held. Why are they not now willing to stand by that principle which they themselves established? When Manitoba had a Liberal majority in its provincial legislature, no man said a word about its franchise law. When British Columbia was Liberal, its franchise law was all right. When Ontario was Liberal, there was not a word against its franchise. But just as soon as a province becomes Conservative again, this Dominion government steps in and says : We shall not trust you to make the franchise ; we are afraid you will not do it in the proper way. Surely no sensible man will take that as an argument. I say that this Bill is unconstitutional. This parliament has not the right to discriminate against any one or more provinces. It has not the right to legislate for one province against another. It has not the right to say that in one, two or three provinces, the local authorities shall make the election lists but that in the other provinces they shall be made by the Dominion officials. What have we had said by hon. gentlemen opposite as a reason for our passing this Bill ? They say that things are not carried on exactly right in Manitoba.

ell, Mr. Speaker, there is nothing perfect in this world. Although the Manitoba Election Act is the best in the whole Dominion it is not absolutely proof against defects or against illegal practices. You may find the same in the province of Quebec, where we have a good franchise law and also in Ontario, whose law is on the whole a model one. But as my hon. friend the leader of the opposition (Mr. R. L. Borden) has pointed out, is there any partisan list made in any province in the Dominion as partisan as that made in Nova Scotia, where the local officer may put on the list the names he wants and strike off those he wishes, and there is no appeal. My hon. friend said there were old men in Halifax who had been on the list twenty-five or forty years, whose names were struck off at the last election. I may be told that that was an error. Still there is nothing in this providing that the revision of the list in Nova Scotia shall be taken out of the hands of the local authorities in that province Why that. omission ? Simply because the IS ova Scotia government is a Liberal government. In the province of Quebec there are thousands of men who are disfranchised and will not be able to vote at the next election. There are men who lived in mv county in the month of September last and have since gone to Montreal. They are not Mr. BERGERON.

on the list of my county nor in that of Montreal, because the lists in Montreal were made the year before, and are only made every two years. Those men therefore will not vote in either place. And there are thousands of voters who travel around from one district to another, who are in the same position. How are you going to remedy that ? Are you going to say that the lists shall be made here ? If the right hon. the First Minister should come down with a law providing that the Dominion shall control the making of the lists, if he should come down with a Dominion Election Act, I will stand by him. But if he says he is in favour of the provincial legislatures controlling the franchise, let him stand by that. The present government obtained office by promising every thing they could imagine to the electorate, but not one of those promises has been carried out except their promise to adopt the local franchises, and now they are trying to get rid of a part of that. They have taken every possible means, both in and out of parliament, to secure power and retain it. They have carried on the elections in every possible way in their disposal or at the disposal of their friends. They have done every thing possible to prevent the election of Conservatives. We know the history of the West Huron election, where it was proven under oath that the votes of the electors were stolen by men who were sworn to do their duty-what has happened to them ? The Minister of the Interior says that there was nobody sued for perjury in the province of Manitoba. He besmirched that government because of their failure to do so. Well, what is the matter with this government or with our Minister of Justice or our Department of Justice in not suing for perjury the men who swore they had stolen the votes of the electors in West Huron. We do not hear a word about that. When that matter was brought before parliament a second time for investigation, what were we promised by the right hon. the First Minister ? He promised to give us a royal commission to investigate the West Huron and the other elections in which frauds were committed. But we have not heard a word about that royal commission since. Not a single appointment has been made to it. And the consequence has been that election crooks were given a free hand throughout the Dominion. They knew that they were protected by the Dominion government, and they did every thing they could to carry the elections for their party. They did it in West Elgin, in Brockville and in Belleville. They W'ent down to St. James division, Montreal. Is there anything in this Bill to prevent such frauds as were committed in the St. James division, where it was proved that fifteen ballot boxes were opened by the deputy returning officers and the poll clerks, the Conservative ballots stolen out of them,

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and replaced by ballots for the Liberal candidate. And there is nothing at all in this Act to prevent that kind of thing from oc-curing again. And when I

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LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux (Minister of Labour; Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX.

Will my hon. friend (Mr. Bergeron) allow me? He refers to his own election in St. James division and the case of Brunet. The parties who were accused with tampering with the ballot boxes, were they not arrested? Were they not prosecuted ?-

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CON

Joseph Gédéon Horace Bergeron

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BERGERON.

X was coming to that if my hon. friend (Mr. Lemieux) had given me another minute.

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LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux (Minister of Labour; Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX.

I was the prosecutor in that case, and I think that my hon. friend wil] agree with me in saying that the offenders were sentenced and sent to the common jail. I think that, in that case at least, justice was done.

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CON

Joseph Gédéon Horace Bergeron

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BERGERON.

If my hon. friend had waited a moment I think he would have had an answer to all that. I know the case very well, for I was the candidate;

I was the man who was robbed. I got these men arrested. The one who had been the manipulator of the whole thing was sent to jail for four months, but the jail door was opened by the Minister of Justice of Canada and this man came out after he had served barely two months.

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LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux (Minister of Labour; Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX.

At the request of whom?

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CON

Joseph Gédéon Horace Bergeron

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BERGERON.

I do not know. Does the hon. gentleman say that I asked-

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LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux (Minister of Labour; Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX.

Who signed the petition for their release? I could tell the hon. gentleman.

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CON

Joseph Gédéon Horace Bergeron

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BERGERON.

I do not know. I did not. But even if a thousand people had asked to get this man out of jail I would not say that the Minister of Justice should have freed these men. Why they are the greatest criminals. The hon. minister (Mr. Lemieux) will not insinuate that I signed that petition or that any one that I know signed it.

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May 14, 1908