July 14, 1908

LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald

Liberal

Mr. E. M. MACDONALD.

I move that the clause be amended by providing in terms that service can be effected by leaving the paper at the residence named by the candidate with some adult person, or in the event of no adult person being there posting it to the door.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT.
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IND

Leighton Goldie McCarthy

Independent

Mr. L. G. MCCARTHY.

I am inclined to agree with the hon. member (Mr. Alcorn) that the amended section should be with-dawn.

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CON

Edward Arthur Lancaster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LANCASTER.

My objection applies whether the amendment of the Minister of Justice goes in or not, because he is only providing for service on the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery.

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IND

Leighton Goldie McCarthy

Independent

Mr. L. G. MCCARTHY.

I suggest that the amendment be accepted to the main clause, and that the amendment of the Minister of Justice be withdrawn. That will satisfy every one. .

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CON

Edmund James Bristol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BRISTOL.

To close the matter I move that after the words ' at such address,' you insert the following :

With some adult person at such address, or in case there he no adult person there, then by posting same up at such address.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT.
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Mr. L. G.@

McCarthy. It seems to me that if you are going to have all this complication you had better leave the law as it is.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT.
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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

I would think that the proposal of the Minister of Justice in the first instance was a good one because the difficulty of effecting service in election petitions has become a scandal throughout the country. We cannot spend too much time over it and unless we can settle on something very soon we had better leave it as it is.

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Some hon. MEMBERS

Dropped.

On section 8a,

Mr. AY'LESWORTH. When the Bill was before the committee previously the leader of the opposition called my attention to section 0 and section 8 asking me to make sure that there was no conflict as to the times for taking these various steps in the Yukon. I have made myself satisfied in that regard and I think there is no room for difficulty. But in the course of that examination I observed that sections 49, 50 and 51 in the original Act as they now stand apply to the Yukon as well as to Saskatchewan and Alberta. They ought to be all three limited to Saskatchewan and Alberta, because we are now making provision in this Bill by sections 6 and 8 for these steps in the Yukon. I have prepared an amendment which strikes out the Yukon from these three sections, because by this Bill we are otherwise providing for the correction of the lists in the Yukon.

On section 17-rejection of ballots.

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LIB

Allen Bristol Aylesworth (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. AYLESWORTH.

When the Bill was in committee before I stated that I would prepare an amendment which would make it an offence on the part of any deputy returning officer to attempt to mark a ballot so as to identify a voter. I propose to accomplish that purpose by inserting a provision in section 20 which amends section 255 of the principal Act, to make the deputy returning officer punishable, without the alternative of a fine, by an imprisonment 4134

of not less than one year and not more than five years, who places on any ballot paper except as authorized by this Act any writing, number or mark with the intent that the voter to whom such ballot paper is to be or has been given may be identified thereby. That will cover the case of marking the ballot paper either before it is handed to the voter or after the voter has voted and returned the ballot paper to the deputy for deposit in the box.

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CON

Edward Arthur Lancaster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LANCASTER.

When this matter was up before the hon. leader of the opposition suggested that the onus should be on the deputy returning officer who had the custody of the paper to show that he was guiltless. That is not usual, but in a case of this kind I think it is right. The deputy returning officer has the custody of these ballot papers and it ought not to be possible, if he has ordinary intelligence and is an honest man, that this thing could happen.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

It is possible unfortunately.

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CON
?

Mr. L. G.@

McCarthy. There is this difficulty. John Smith might have some vindictive feeling against the returning officer and might put a mark on the ballot himself in order that the deputy might be convicted of a criminal offence. The deputy cannot know that John Smith put a mark on the paper because he cannot unfold it, and it would be very unfair to put the onus of proof on him that he did not put the mark on the ballot, when be is the only one who could have marked it, if John Smith's denial be accepted.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

What I suggested has not very much to do with what has been just discussed. The discussion has related to the question of determining whether or not the deputy returning officer put the mark

on .the ballot. But that is entirely a question of evidence, and I do not propose to interfere with that in any way. In the absence of proof to the contrary, it should be presumed that the mark was put on the ballot for the purpose of identification by the deputy returning officer, and the amendment I suggest relates solely to the intent and not to the proof that the deputy actually made the mark. I propose that the amendment of the Minister of Justice should be altered so that if the deputy returning officer should place on the ballot paper, except as authorized by this Act, any writing, number or mark, the intent that the voter may be identified thereby, shall be presumed in the absence of proof to the contrary. This leaves it open to the deputy returning officer to prove that he had no such intent, but such intent would be presumed in the absence of proof to the contrary. The deputy returning officer should have sufficient intelligence to know that if he puts any mark on the ballot, the ballot may be identified thereby, but he would be given the opportunity to prove that he had no such intent in doing what he did.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

My hon. friend from Lincoln said a moment ago that any honest man with common intelligence could not make such a mistake as to put a mark on the ballot unless with the intention of finding out for whom the voter cast it. Our experience is to the contrary. Take the cases of St. Hyacinthe and Wentworth. In the latter the returning officer was a political friend of the Liberal candidate. At his particular poll he put his initials on every ballot, and at that poll there was a majority in favour of his political friend. He was an honest man, as far as I know, and an intelligent man also, but evidently had not given the close attention he should to his duties, and he has been lamenting ever since what he did.

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CON

Edward Arthur Lancaster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LANCASTER.

What he claimed was that he thought it was the right thing to do because it had been done under the provincial Act.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

He had probably beeif accustomed to act as deputy returning officer in the local elections in which the ballots were numbered, and he did the very same thing in the Dominion election. But .take the case of St. Hyacinthe. Our Quebec law is the same as the Dominion, yet the returning officer put his initials and numbers on all the ballots in his particular poll. He is an honest and an intelligent man, yet he made that mistake.

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CON
LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

I do not know that he gave any but he did it without malice. The only objection I have is that Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

to make a man liable to prosecution for having committed such an error, is a very serious punishment. Not only that but you put on him also the onus of proving his own innocence. I thought at one time that we might impose a slight penalty on the deputy returning officer in the ease of every ballot he thus marked so as to punish him for his negligence, if not for his malice, but on the whole I do not think we can do much better than accept the amendment proposed by my hon. colleague the Minister of Justice.

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CON

Joseph Gédéon Horace Bergeron

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BERGERON.

The great difficulty is the little care taken in the appointment of deputy returning officers. They are generally strong party men and very much occupied with the election. The night before polling, they are generally up late, and, instead of studying the law and preparing to do their duty, they are canvassing all day for the candidates of their choice. They go into the poll without knowing the law. And, in the St. Hyacinthe case, the man did not know what he was doing.

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July 14, 1908