March 29, 1909

DAYLIGHT SAVING BILL.

CON

Edward Norman Lewis

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LEWIS.

With the permission of the House and the consent of the government I move that Bill (No. 108) of the Public Bills and Orders be now called.

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Motion agreed to. Mr. LEWIS moved the second reading of Bill (No. 108) respecting the Saving of Daylight. Motion agreed to. Mr. LEWIS moved that Bill (No. 108) be referred to a select committee of three members to consider and report upon the same, the said committee to consist of Mr. McLean (Sunbury and Queens), Mr. Monk (Jacques Cartier), and Mr. McLean (South Huron), with power to send for persons, papers and records, and report from time to time.


LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

I am happy to agree with the motion, but I would amend it by adding the names of Mr. Lewis and Mr. Talbot to the committee.

Motion as amended agreed to.

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ELECTION ACT AMENDMENT-RAILWAY EMPLOYEES.

?

Mr. J.@

CONMEE (Thunder Bay) moved for leave to introduce Bill (No. 112) to amend the Election Act. He said: I may say in respect to this Bill that it is not my intention to press it with a view of its becoming law during the present session. The object of the Bill is to afford an opportunity to a class of citizens to exercise their franchise who could not otherwise exercise it because of the nature of their employment; I refer to railway employees. I am told that there are about 15,000 disfranchised because the duties of their service require them to be absent from the riding in which they reside, and in which they are on the list and entitled to vote;

the object of the Bill is to provide machinery by which this class of men can poll their votes. I am aware that it may be said this opens a wide door, that if this privilege be extended to this particular class of citizens it should be extended to others. I do not hold that view; I do not know of any other class of citizens in a similar position, at least if there are any their number is very small. These gentlemen are fulfilling what is really a public service. The mails must be carried, passenger traffic must be conducted, the train service on the great railways must go on, notwithstanding that it is election day, and these gentlemen are called upon m the performance of their duties to be absent from the riding in which they are entitled to vote, and in which they are on the list. The object of the Bill therefore is to provide machinery to give them the right to vote wherever they may be on election day. These gentlemen are entitled to vote, they have all the qualifications of voters, they are residents of the country, they have homes and interests in this country as well as any other class of citizens, and I think that parliament should provide the machinery by which they may cast their vote, notwithstanding that their calling requires them to be absent from the riding in which they could cast their votes under the Election Act as it stands.

The Bill provides that, at the request of any candidate, elector or electors, the returning officer shall provide such number of polls as are necessary to poll the vote of that class of electors in any riding in which they may be during election day, either in the province in which they are resident or in an adjoining province. It provides that such deputy returning officers shall be appointed by the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery, as may be necessary, and as polls will be held throughout the country on that day. There will be in the majority of cases polls held in sufficient proximity to railway points to enable the train service men to cast their vote in the ordinary polling booths which the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery may select for that particular day, but the deputy returning officer would require additional authority to that which he now possesses, namely, the authority to receive the votes of this class of electors and deposit them in a separate ballot box. It will be an easy matter for the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery to keep in touch with the election in such a way as to be able to nominate a very large number of deputy returning officers without incurring any additional cost, or at all events, very trifling additional cost. It may be that at some divisional points in some of the ridings a special officer would have to be appointed, but even so, the expense would not be very great.

The Bill provides that the Governor in Council shall fix the polling places at divisional or other suitable points along the line of any railway; it provides that the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery shall instruct the returning officer for the particular riding in respect of which a request is made for the holding of such poll, to forward to the deputy returning officers appointed for the purpose, all the necessary ballots, papers, stamps and forms to enable him to hold the poll, and to forward to him a ballot box which shall be labelled in these words: 'Ballot box in which the ballots of voters being railway employees for the riding of shall be deposited.'

Provision is also made as to the procedure under which the elector is to be entitled to vote. He may obtain a certificate from the returning officer which will entitle him to vote at the polling booth named in the certificate. Upon presenting that certificate he may be required by the deputy returning officer holding the poll to sign a declaration to the effect that he is the person named in the certificate. The object of these provisions is to prevent manipulation and fraud at elections. The Act provides for the counting of the votes by the deputy returning officer, and the sending of the ballot box, locked and sealed, the same as in all other cases>

to the'returning officer of the riding affected, who is, under the machinery of this Bill, required to include the votes cast in the respective polling divisions in which the electors are resident and entitled to vote. The effect of this would be that the vote would be counted just in the same manner as if the elector were able to cast his vote in his own riding upon the day of the election. I noticed that when I mentioned that some of the provisions of this Bill were intended to prevent fraud at elections it caused a smile to appear upon the countenances of some of my hon. friends opposite.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS

Hear, hear.

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LIB

James Conmee

Liberal

Mr. CONMEE.

I am rather inclined to think that, notwithstanding that, they do understand' what the word means. There is, I believe, in every election, and hon. gentlemen, I am quite sure, are aware of it, a considerable amount of manipulation. You can call it intimidation, you can call it fraud, or you can call it what you please, it is manipulation by which the voter is either compelled to lose his franchise or to vote perhaps in a different manner from that in which he would desire to vote. It is within the power of a railway company. I do not wish to convey the idea that any railway company in this country would so manipulate those in its service as to deprive them of their franchise, but I do wish to say that officials and subordinates of

these companies do act in that manner, and that men are sent out who, they know, will vote for a certain candidate or a certain party purposely to deprive them of the opportunity, while others are brought to the polling booth where it is possible for them to vote simply because there is a knowledge of their political leanings or of the candidate for which they may vote. This, I think, will do away with that class of manipulation. I do not believe there will be very much room for that if this Bill is worked out properly. I do not say it is a perfect measure. It is a tentative measure, and I propose to ask the House to refer it to the privileges and elections committee. I do not think that committee is very much overworked. I think it might very well take up this subject and that after the Bill has been dealt with a certain number of copies of it might be printed and distributed so that at the next session of parliament we would have a better idea than we have now as to the wisdom of passing such a law. They have adopted a similar law in some other countries. In western Australia they have a law which goes a little farther than this one. It gives to all absentee voters the right to vote by mail. The machinery provides for the voter obtaining a certificate, according to the form laid down in the Elections Act, and presenting that to an officer or magistrate during the seven days preceding the day of polling. He is allowed to vote according to the regulations laid down in the Act, have his vote mailed to the returning officer of the riding to which he belongs and have it counted in the same manner as other votes. The returning officer, under a clause of the law, opens these envelopes and counts the votes in the same manner as the ordinary votes placed in the ballot boxes are counted. I am not able to speak with any degree of knowledge or from experience as to the working of the law but it seems to me that it opens a very wide door for manipulation. It- seems to me that the plan proposed by the Bill which I have introduced would be a safer measure and would leave less room for manipulation in the casting of the vote. Then, as to extending the vote to other classes of absentee voters; I know of no other class in the same position unless it be the mail clerks. There is quite a number of them. Their duties and service require them, in many instances, to be absent from the polling booth at which they are entitled to vote. If it is thought well to include that class of voters I see no objection. So far I have confined the Bill merely to railway employees. The absentee voter, if the measure were wider, would have less incentive to exercise his franchise in accordance with the interest of the country, or in accordance with the interest of the riding in which he might cast that vote. In this case the voter is a resident of the riding to which his vote is to apply, his Mr. CONMEE.

family lives there, he has all the interest that any other voter would have in the election, and it seems to me that under these circumstances there is not much room for doubt that this class of voters, who are a very intelligent class of our citizens, would cast their votes with due regard to the best interests of the country. I would ask that the Bill be referred to the committee on privileges and elections.

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CON

William D. Staples

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STAPLES.

I followed the hon. gentleman (Mr. Conmee) very closely all through his remarks. He covered all the ground as far as I can see with the exception of one point and that is that I do not think he made any provision for special trains.

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Motion agreed to, and Bill read the first time.


CEDARS RAPIDS MANUFACTURING COMPANY.


House again in committee on Bill (No. 94) respecting the Cedars Rapids Manufacturing Company.-Mr. Boyer.


LIB

William Pugsley (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY.

When this Bill was last before the committee I suggested that the extension of time should be reduced from 1914 to 1912. That seemed to meet the views of the committee. A short time ago, however, my hon. friend the Minister of Marine and Fisheries spoke to me, and he would like the Bill to stand over for a short time, if the promoter of it is willing, as he wishes to make some inquiry with regard to it.

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CON

George Halsey Perley

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PERLEY.

I wish to call the minister's attention to the fact that on Friday evening it was suggested that the date be changed from 1914 to 1911, and thereupon the minister gave notice that he would move that amendment to-day.

Progress reported.

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KOOTENAY AND ARROWHEAD RAILWAY COMPANY.


House in committee on Bill (No. 80), respecting the Kootenay and Arrowhead Railway Company.-Mr. Geo. Taylor (Leeds).


CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

I desire to say something in reference to this Bill, but as the promoter is absent, I move that we report progress on the Bill.

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Motion agreed to, and progress reported. QUESTIONS.


MARINE AND FISHERIES DEPARTMENT.

CON

Mr. SAM. SHARPE asked:

Conservative (1867-1942)

1. Have the following persons had contracts for supplies, Ac., with the Department of Marine and Fisheries since the date

of Hon. Judge Cassels' report, viz.: James Murphy, W. It. Blakiston, James Holliday, Allison Davie, J. B. Cote, Jos. Samson, Ter-reau & Racine, Jean Drolet, E. Amyot, Charles A. Parent, A. N. Melvin, Howell & Co.?

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March 29, 1909