AYLESWORTH (Minister of Justice) moved for leave to introduce Bill (No. 212) to amend the Criminal Code, and to repeal section 415 of the Railway Act.
What is this Bill ?
The object of this Bill is to make some clerical amendments in the Criminal Code in a number of instances in which mistakes, either of printing or of manuscript, have been discovered in the revision of the statutes. In addition, there are two new provisions, and the repeal of a section which has become effete. The new provisions will make slight changes in one of the clauses as it now stands relating to the use of trading stamps ; the other is making it an offence to obtain credit by false pretenses or by fraud. There is also a clause, as the title of the Bill indicates, repealing the section of the Railway Act which imposes what has been spoken of as the double liability upon railway men, the liability to prosecution other than under the provisions of the Criminal Code itself.
Motion agreed to, and Bill read the first time.
THE PARDONING POWER.
Before the orders of the day are called, I would like to ask whether we are to receive the return ordered by the House early in the session with reference to acts of clemency and pardon exercised by the Justice Department or by the Governor General ?
Sir WILFRID LAURIER.
I will take a note of it.
DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT-AMENDMENT.
House in committee on Bill (No. 115) to amend the Dominion Elections Act.-Mr. Aylesworth. On section 1-voters' lists in unorganized territory, Manitoba polling divisions, &c.
There are three variations which I would like to move in Mr. FIELDING
the wording of the clauses as printed. In the first subsection, line D, I would move to substitute for the words :
During the months of August, September and October,
The following :
Between the first day of August and the fifteenth day of October.
In subsection 9 at line 27, I would move to strike out the words ' of such judges ' and substitute the words * county court judge resident in Winnipeg. I understand there are two county court judges of equal Seniority, who were appointed on the same day, and to make it clear I' propose this amendment:
At the end of subsection 9, I move to add the following words :
And such distribution shaill be completed before the (first day of October in each year.
I wish to enter my protest against sections 1 to 8 inclusive of the proposed subsection 9a. These sections relate to the establishment under certain circumstances in unorganized territory in the province of Ontario and the province of Ontario alone, of voters' lists framed under the Act of the Dominion parliament. I think that such legislation is unwise, impolitic and unnecessary and is apt to cause friction and bad feeling between the great province of Ontario and the government of the Dominion of Canada. The present Dominion Elections Act, sections 1 to 9, deals with voters' lists for Dominion elections and by it, without any exception, the voters' lists for Dominion elections are framed by the various provinces concerned. But this legislation, so far as these sections are concerned, for the first time takes it out of the hands of the province of Ontario to frame voters' lists for unorganized territory in Ontario and under all circumstances and for all time that power is placed in the hands of the Dominion government.
The reasons advanced for this discrimination against Ontario, this slander on the administration and legislation of that province, are astonishing. The Minister of Justice (Mr. Aylesworth) at great length set out that there had been great irregularities in the making of the iast voters' lists which would be effective at the present election and said there had been dissatisfaction, but he failed to bring before the House, and up to the present there has not been brought before the House, one tittle of evidence by any man that he was in any way disfranchised. The Prime Minister was not content to stand on that ground, and I think wisely, for the obvious reason that all the complaints advanced by the Minister of Justice occurred after this legislation had been introduced. What is the obvious Inference from that ? Unquestionably every thinking man must feel that there was an inten-
tion, long before there were any facts to justify it, to discriminate against Ontario by unfair and unjust legislation in this respect. The Prime Minister has not sought to justify it on that ground but intimates that he wanted to help the hon. member for West Algoma (Mr. Boyce) who had some complaint in reference to the last election ; but if you examine that position you find that what the hon. member for West Algoma complained of was first, partisan enumerators, and, secondly, that only six days were given for appeal and no time for enumeration. Under the present legislation as brought in, there is practically the same power to give just as short a time, or less than was given four years ago, because in both cases the Act reads that the laws of the province are to be followed as far as possible. We heard the hon. member for Rainy River (Mr. Conmee) dilating at great length on the injustice of the Ontario government's present law and he said there should be at least sixty days for appeal. This Act does not provide anything of the kind ; it says the laws of the province are to be followed as far as possible, and so the same position is retained in this Act as existed four years ago. Thus if it was intended to give any fairer treatment to the candidates in these constituencies, the Act as proposed does not carry out that intention.
Let us examine the existing Act for a moment to see the present scheme. Clause 0 provides that the voters' lists generally in the organized territory must be sixty days old. That governs the whole of Canada. Then to govern the case of unorganized territory, wherever it may exist, section 7, which was acted on at the last election, provides :
Where, under the laws of a province, the voters' lists for any provincial electoral district or division or any of them are prepared not at regular intervals, but at such times as are fixed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council or some other provincial or local iautho-rity, or only from time to time for the purpose of a general or other election in immediate contemplation, the last preceding voters' lists so prepared shall be used for the purpose of any Dominion election in the territory comprised in such provincial electoral district or division, or the parts thereof for use in which they were prepared, if such lists have been prepared not more than one year before the date of the writ for such Dominion election.
So that up to the present time if the law were unchanged, in every province where there is unorganized territory, where the lists are not prepared at regular intervals, the list remains in force one year, and without this present legislation the lists used at the last provincial election in Ontario as well as in Quebec would be the Dominion voters' lists under this statute. Quebec is permitted to retain those voters' lists, the voters there are not put to the trouble of
getting on another voters' list as they are in the unorganized territory in Ontario, which is a discrimination against Ontario. There are to-day new lists in Ontario, only two months old. Every other province, and particularly Quebec, which has had elections, can go on its way rejoicing ; the lists are satisfactory because they are prepared by Liberal governments, but we will not have the same lists in Ontario for no reason that has been disclosed unless it be that they are prepared by a Conservative administration. There is no escape from that position.
Section 8 of the existing Act goes on to say :
In case the lists mentioned in the last preceding section have been prepared for more than one year, new voters' lists shall be prepared, and the Governor in Council may, for the purpose of preparing and giving effect to-such new voters' lists, appoint all necessary officers and confer upon them all necessary powers.
2. In the preparation of such lists, the provisions of -the laws of the province regulating the preparation and revision and bringing into force of the provincial voters' lists in such cases shall, as far as possible, be observed and followed.
Section 9, which 9a now proposed will follow, reads :
If any voters' lists have been prepared under the section last preceding not more than one year before the date of the writ for election, such lists shall be used, unless there are lists of a later date prepared under the provincial law, and new lists shall not be prepared.
So that under the existing law, unless the lists are more than a year old, they can and must and should be used.
The reasons for such legislation are obvious. How ridiculous it would be, suppose there happens to be a Dominion election this year, that Ontario alone in its unorganized territory, should be put to the expense and the electors in those northern districts be given the trouble of the preparation of another list this year. Unless there is some overpowering necessity, I am unable to see any ground upon which it can be supported. I have read the statement of the Prime Minister that section 9a, in his opinion, repeals section 7. It does as far as Ontario is concerned, in this respect, that it makes it necessary to prepare a list In Ontario where the list Is one, two or three months old, but not in Quebec, although the list there is three months old.
Sir WILFRID LAURIER.
Are there any lists pepared in the unorganized districts in Quebec ?
Sir WILFRID LAURIER.
No. There is provision in the municipal code for the pieparation of lists in the organized districts, but so far as my information goes
there are none for the unorganized territory.
They do not vote at all.
Sir WILFRID LAURIER.
They do not vote.
Mr. W. J. ROCHE.
Those people will be disfranchised.
Sir WILFRID LAURIER.
It has not been worth while having lists prepared. The hon. member for Jacques Cartier (Mr. Monk) in his speech on this question
Does not the Grand Trunk Pacific pass through there?