I think you are alluding to me. I know that I got dozens of telegrams from Ottawa, and I think I could name the parties who sent them, saying that the Minister of Justice was disposed to act, but would not act unless I signed the petition.
I knew the parties, and as they came to me and stated that as it depended upon me and not upon the Minister of Justice I signed it.
My hon. friend from Jacques Cartier (Mr. Monk) is well able to defend himself and I leave the case in his hands. I know I did not sign the petition, and I had to fight the people who asked me to sign, though to ask me to sign such a petition I thought was an insult to me. This man Brunet was sentenced to jail for four months, but he was set at liberty in two months. Yet a poor woman, who had personated a voter in a municipal election in St. Jean-Baptiste village, was sent to jail for four months, and though she was a widow and her children were on the street, she was not liberated until she had served the term of her sentence. And the deputy returning officer, Hetu, who had sworn to do his duty and who had manipulated the ballots as he himself declared, was found guilty and sentenced to jail for four months. But in two months he also was liberated by the Minister of Justice. I ask my hon. friend the Minister of the Interior (Mr. Oliver) if the Attorney General of Manitoba, knowing of such cases, would be likely to be anxious to put the whole legal machinery of the province of Manitoba in play to put a man in jail and then have the Minister of Justice of Canada use his authority to let him out?
I was saying that this government have tried many different means of keeping in power. The rules of debate do not allow me to go as far into that subject at this time as I -would like. The matter can be further discussed on another occasion. What does the government want now? They want to find new ways to keep in power. And hon. gentlemen opposite know very well what their record is. And they know very well what they can expect from the independent electors of this country when they appeal to those electors. They know what they can expect from the province of Ontario, and they are by no means in doubt as to what they may expect from New Brunswick. And they have a strong suspicion how Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island will treat them. And they will very soon know what to expect from the province of Quebec. So they look to these provinces in the west, believing that, if they can snatch a verdict there, it will be of assistance to them. And so they bring forward this Bill under which an officer is to be appointed for the preparation of the list. And he will not be a par-
tisan. Oil, no ! This officer will be appointed by the Dominion government. He will not be a judge. But he will be a good Grit, I will swear to that, a good strong partisan. And for the purpose of preparing the list of voters, the Governor in Council is to be authorized to appoint all the necessary officers and to confer on them all the necessary powers. These men are to be appointed by the Dominion government to make the lists in the province of Manitoba. In that province the lists are prepared with every possible care and are revised by the judges of the land. My right hon. friend the Prime Minister will appoint his man. And what will he do, this man appointed by the head of the government? He will strike off the lists those whom he wants to strike off and will put on those whom he wants to put on. The Bill provides that he is to add the names of persons who are qualified and to strike off the names of those who are not qualified. The man on the street will not believe that there is a man on this side who is worthy the name of a man who would allow such a Bill to become law. I do not wish to discuss the details of the case, for I stand on the principle that we have not the right to touch these lists. My hon. friend the Minister of the Interior (Mr. Oliver), when he was obliged to drop his manuscript, seemed to go astray when he dealt with the question of the time allowed for registration. How could he expect to make the people believe that it was better to allow, as under this Act, twenty three days when they have in Manitoba fifty-five days? And, if I understand this Bill, it is said that only when the time of election has arrived, when the writs are out, is the preparation of the list to be begun. How can you have time to prepare the lists and revise them after the issuing of the writs?
Might I suggest to my hon. friend that there would be just the same time for the compilation and revision of the lists after the issue of the writ for a Dominion election in the province of Manitoba, as now exists for the compilation and revision of the lists in the unorganized districts of the province of Ontario in respect of the provincial election now going on.
I am speaking on the authority of the member for Rainy River and Thunder Bay (Mr. Conmee). who represents one of those constituencies, and he informed the House that unless the date of the election was postponed a large num-Mr. BERGERON.
ber of electors in that district would be disfranchised under an application of the law regarding the revision of the lists as applied in the province of Ontario to-day.
Then my hon. friend switched off to the province of Ontario. I was talking about Manitoba, because it is Manitoba that the government wants to strike principally. Now this measure is very improperly put before the public. On Saturday last I was reading in one of the leading newspapers of Montreal an article speaking to this effect : Is it not extraordinary that the opposition in Ottawa are trying to prevent the government from giving to Manitoba voters' lists revised by the judges of the land ? How unjust ! The government at Ottawa wants every man to exercise the franchise who is qualified, and as the government do not make the lists in the west, they say they should be made and revised by the local judges. Of course, all that is a misstatement of the case, but that is the way the people are being misled.
Now I want to say a word more about section 17 where the government provide that even if a ballot is disfigured or mutilated, it shall remain good. I have heard my right hon. friend in years gone by speak about the sanctity of the ballot. Why, the Bill is not passed yet, and I do not think it ever will be passed, but I have heard some people in the provincial elections telling their friends that on the 8th of June they will be voting under this new law. The right lion, gentleman said the other day, why there are men who will lose their votes by a little spot on the ballot. Suppose a hundred or two hundred men lose their votes, it is very unfortunate, but if you pass this Bill with clause 17 in it, the result will be still more unfortunate. A man will say, how much will you give me for my vote ?-$5-How can I know that you voted for me ? I will make such and such a mark on the ballot. The deputy returning officer, who is a partisan, and the clerk of the poll, who is also a partisan, find this promised mark on the ballot, and the voter gets his $5. And my right hon. friend thinks we should allow a Bill of that kind to pass so that every voter and the deputy returning officer will know how such and such a man voted. Where is the secrecy of the ballot ? Where is that principle that it required so many years of eloquence and work to obtain ? And yet it is a so-called Liberal government that proposes a Bill which will abolish the secrecy of the ballot, a government who pretend that they follow the example of the Liberal party in England. They ask us to pass a Bill which will make of elections a farce, worse than that, criminal. My right hon. friend says -if not himself, some of his colleagues and
his press organs-why, we are threatened with a refusal of Supply. I am not going to make any such threat, but I am going to tell my right hon. friend that if everybody thought as I do, this Bill would never become law. I would revise the Bill and put in some clauses to insure honest elections, providing that if a deputy returning officer does not do his duty he shall go to jail, and the same with the clerk of the poll. There is nothing in the present law like that. When I wished to prosecute dishonest men in Montreal, I had to appeal to the Criminal Code, because there was nothing in the election law under which any of those men could be sent to jail. Why not put something like that in the law ? Why not have all the elections on the same day ? My right hon. friend knows that I am right, and that all the elections should be held on the same day. We know what it means to have by-elections after a party has got into power.
It is very easy, hold your nomination a week ahead of the other nominations. The right hon. gentleman need not laugh. That is done in the county of Gaspd ; the nomination is some two -weeks before the election, and the election takes place on the same day as in other constituencies.
Assuming that that could be done, after the issue of the proclamation dissolving the House and calling an election is issued, how could you arrange to have the nomination in the district of Yale-Cariboo within a week of the general nomination ?