December 9, 1909

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Some hon. MEMBERS

Oh, oh.

Topic:   HOURS OF LAROUR ON PUBLIC WORKS.
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. KING.

I did not hear the question.

Topic:   HOURS OF LAROUR ON PUBLIC WORKS.
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CON

Arthur Meighen

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN.

Will the hon. minister state that he and his government are in favour of the absolute, unequivocal adoption of the eight hour day throughout the country?

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. KING.

If any member of this House will introduce a measure which will make possible the eight hour day to the advantage of the working people of this country, a Bill which it will be within the jurisdiction of this House to pass

Topic:   HOURS OF LAROUR ON PUBLIC WORKS.
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS

Oh, oh.

Mr. KING

he will find this government ready to support any measure of that

kind. The hon. gentleman knows very well that the provincial legislatures have the power to enact laws in regard to the hours of labour generally.

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CON

Arthur Meighen

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN.

The minister, I can see, was even less successful than he was before. The House will understand one thing, and that is the extreme capaciousness of his ifs in the answer he gave me. Now on various other grounds the Minister of Labour objected to this Bill. He objected to it because it would extend the principle of the doctrine of an eight hour day into fields into which it was never intended to move at all, it would extend the principle of an eight hour day into factories where it could not be universally adopted. The ingenuity of the minister was taxed to the extreme to find objections to this Bill, but all the while he was engaged in pious affirmations of what is known vaguely as the principle of the Bill. While the Minister of Labour succeeded, with the support of his followers behind him, in talking this Bill to that bourne, to that graveyard, from which few if any travellers return, he certainly succeeded in talking the principle of .the Bill into a black and hopeless eternity. Now, Mr. Speaker, I must say that I agree with my hon. friend from Grenville (Mr. Eeid) as opposed to the statement of the hon. member for Vancouver (Mr. Cowan), that I am not impressed very much with the sincerity exhibited so far in this House by the Minister of Labour. It seems to me that, instead of living up to the expectations of this country in regard to sincerity, he has rather invaded the field of the Minister of Public Works, and will soon share with him the unenviable reputation of being the arch jollier of this generation. So far as I am concerned, and I think those on this side of the House will coincide with me, I would like another speech from the Minister of Labour, and I would like him definitely to answer the question put to him by the member for New Westminster (Mr. J. D. Taylor), and let us know once and for all where the government stand on the question of whether they are prepared to adopt an eight hour day for labour on government works.

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LIB

James Kirkpatrick Kerr (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER.

Is the House ready for the question? I do not think this amended motion is drawn in the way it should be.

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LAB

Alphonse Verville

Labour

Mr. VERVILLE.

I wish it to read as follows:

That Bill (No. 21) he referred to a special committee consisting of Messrs. Mackenzie King, Smith (Nanaimo), Macdonell, Prouse, Staples, Marshall and Miller, said committee to have power to send for persons, papers and records, to swear witnesses, to examine them under oath, and to report from time to time.

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Amendment agreed to.


LIB

ELECTIONS ACT-AMENDMENT.


Mr. MACDONELL moved the second reading of Bill (No. 22) to amend the Dominion Elections Act.


LIB

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

Liberal

Hon. A. B. AYLESWORTH (Minister of Justice).

Before the second reading of the Bill is carried, I would like to point out exactly what it proposes to do It is in two respects an entire reversal of what has been the practice under our Dominion Elections Act for several years. The first proposition of the Bill is to repeal three sections of the present law, which require the making of a deposit of $200 by every candidate. That, of course, is simply a question of policy, of expediency. For myself, I think the present law has worked well, and that it would be a great pity to change it. The requirement of a deposit of $200 was introduced into our Election Act some years ago to meet a difficulty which I am sure every one who has followed the history of elections m this country must have seen, either in his own constituency, or in other well known instances in different parts of the country. Continually men were being nominated who had no sort of chance of being elected, who frequently had some ulterior motive rather than any real intention of going to the noils, or any hope of being elected. Perhaps it was to prevent an election by acclamation; perhaps it was to embarrass, to keep at home, the candidate who was undoubtedly likely to be returned, but who, for some reason, it was thought had better not be free to go anywhere outside his own constituency. Now, I do not mean to say for a moment that the requirement of making a deposit of $200 will prevent that sort of thing, or put an end to it; but I do think it exercises a useful check, and that it would be a decidedly retrograde step to return to the old order of things, when any one who could get the necessary signatures to his nomination paper, could put the country to the expense of an election. Ah election is an expensive thing, not only to the candidate, as I fancy every one of us knows to his *cost, but it is an expensive thing to the country; and in many cases, I think, if we had more elections by acclamation the parliament of Canada and the Dominion of Canada would be none the worse off. As I have said, men were, under the old condition of things, frequently nominated for some purpose of embarrassing the opposite candidate, or preventing an election by acclamation. All sorts of reasons for it existed. I am old enough to remember, what I have no doubt my hon. friend who introduced this Bill cannot remember, but I remember very well a distinguished gentleman in the city of Toronto, some 30 odd years ago, who, whenever there was

an election, a general election or a byelection anywhere in that section, managed to obtain a nomination for himself. He did not generally receive more than a dozen or 20 votes in the whole constituency, and it was a standing joke which nobody could understand. But I have heard that this gentleman had the fortune to have some wealthy relatives in the old country, and the nomination regularly at each election was an admirable excuse to elicit their sympathies and their financial aid. Now, while the necessity for a deposit of $200 may not prevent that sort of thing altogether, it certainly acts as a wholesome check, and I should be for my part entirely opposed to returning to the old order of things when there was no check.

Now the other proposition in this Bill '-there are just the two-is again to reverse our present law absolutely and go the full length in the other direction. Under our present law, when the seventh day after nomination day would fall on a statutory holiday, the voting is to take place, not on that holiday, but on the following day. The present law negatively declares that the voting is not to take place on the holiday. This Bill proposes to repeal this provision of the present law and declare affirmatively that the day on which the poll is taken shall be a public holiday throughout Canada. My hon. friend does not explain on the face of this Bill what he would do in the case of a by-election. I do not know if he has thought of that. He does not say whether he would have the voting day a public holiday anywhere else than in the riding or not. But, upon principle, my idea is that the present condition of things is much better than the new condition which my hon. friend would bring about by this Bill. The reason for the present law, postponing the voting day until the day following if the seventh day would fall upon a general holiday, is, I think, very plain. It is in the interest of the preservation of peace and good order at an election. Every one knows that a holiday is very likely to lend itself to other purposes than those of peace and good order, and what necessity there is for the change, I cannot understand. It is an ancient principle, crystallized in the shape of a hymn that I used to be familiar with, that Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do, and I am well satisfied that if we had the voting day throughout the country a general holiday we should only have dozens and dozens of people upon the streets who otherwise would be at their work, and go a long way toward getting back to the old order of things when election day would be a day of riot, mischief making, noise and disturbance in every direction instead of an election being the peaceful, orderly business-like proceeding that it has come to be in Canada. With all respect I would

say to my hon. friend that I think that both of these propositions would be mistakes and that this House ought not to give the Bill its second reading.

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CON

Angus Claude Macdonell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MACDONELL.

Mr. Speaker, perhaps I had better have spoken before the hon. Minister of Justice (Mr. Aylesworth) so as to explain my reasons for introducing this Bill. If I had done so I might possibly have made it unnecessary to go into the matter even at the comparatively short length that he did go into it. My idea in introducing this Bill is to keep in touch with what I believe to be the democratic spirit of the day. I will deal with the two amendments as they appear in the Bill and, firstly, with the question of the deposit, because the Minister of Jusctice has not quite correctly interpreted the effect of the Bill as I had intended it. In regard to the deposit, dealing with the matter historically, I find that the first consolidation and revision of the Election Act after confederation, as far as I have been able to ascertain, took place in the year 1874. On that occasion the question of the deposit by candidates was considered and the law then was that the candidates should deposit $50. The statute of 1874, chap. 7, sec. 19, provides that:

A sum of fifty dollars to be paid to the returning officer at the time the nomination paper shall be filed with him.

That continued to be the law until the next revision and consolidation of the Election Act which took place in 1882. On that occasion the matter was very much debated in the House of Commons and there were several propositions before the House. One was to keep the deposit at $50, another was to eliminate the deposit entirely, and a third was to raise the deposit to $200. On that occasion I find that the Hon. Edward Blake, whose opinion I quote for the benefit of hon. gentlemen opposite, spoke as follows, as will be found at page 264 of the debates of the House of Commons, 1882:

But much may, on the other hand, be said against the proposition to increase that deposit to $200. I have never favoured, much, any deposit at all. I have always thought that we were trenching upon very dangerous ground when we proposed to create impediments in the way of a fair expression of opinion by the people at the polls by bringing forward candidates. ... But, I must say that I feel personally hostile to the increase of the deposit. I think that we ought not to increase the difficulties in the way of a presentation of as many candidates as five and twenty electors choose to nominate for the consideration of the people at any election.

That was then the number required to sign the nomination paper.

The hon. gentleman (Mr. Ives) says that this measure is, in the whole, a measure in case of intending candidates. I do not think

so. I think that the provision of so substantial a deposit as $200 is a provision which will very often prevent contests when it would be hardly desirable that there should be contests.' ... I hope that if the Bill passes this House, the amount of the deposit will be reduced to the old figure.

Topic:   ELECTIONS ACT-AMENDMENT.
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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM.

What was the amount of the deposit?

Topic:   ELECTIONS ACT-AMENDMENT.
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CON

Angus Claude Macdonell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MACDONELL.

It was $50 from 1874 to 1882. In 1882 it was raised by the Bill then presented to $200, and it has stood at that figure ever since. My desire is to make it unnecessary to have any deposit. Long since' the property qualification has been removed. No progressive nation requires any "property qualification and very few require a deposit at election time. The idea seems to be to remove all barriers as far as possible to entry to the House of Commons of whomsoever the people shall select irrespective of any money consideration. I think that is a fair deduction to take from the words of the Hon. Mr. Blake which I have just read. It seems to me that there should be no impediment placed across the floor of the House of Commons of a financial nature against any person whose nomination paper is signed by the required number of duly qualified electors. The deposit is not a very large matter, it is true, but it is the sum of $200. The Minister of Justice has referred to the danger of a multiplicity of candidates by making it easy for persons to run who are not seriously candidates, but who interject themselves into the campaign without any hope of success. Long since the province of Ontario has abolished any deposit in regard to provincial elections. There is no deposit necessary to be made in Ontario, and yet it has not been found that it has the tendency of increasing the number of candidates who present themselves at the polls. I think there is no greater number presenting themselves at the provincial elections than there is at Dominion elections. There is no occasion for such a thing, it is simply an ancient impediment to entry into parliament. The minister and I apparently cannot agree on the principle of the thing, but I do think I will have his concurrence in the statement that elections fairly won have been upset by some neglect of the mere technicalities surrounding the making of this deposit. I think that the hon. member for Durham (Mr. Thornton) after being duly elected to the House on one occasion would not be allowed to take his seat because the deposit was put up in the shape of a marked cheque instead of legal tender. So far as I have been able to find, I do not think any: such financial restriction exists in any other country. A candidate in England is not required to put up a deposit.

Topic:   ELECTIONS ACT-AMENDMENT.
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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. AYLESWORTH.

Would the hon. gentleman give me any instance in which Mr. MACDONELL.

elections have been set aside in this country for irregularities in connection with the making of the deposit; I do not remember any.

Topic:   ELECTIONS ACT-AMENDMENT.
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CON
LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. AYLESWORTH.

I beg to say that that election was set aside for corrupt practices.

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CON

Angus Claude Macdonell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MACDONELL.

No; the Minister of Justice must be referring, to an election prior to that.

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December 9, 1909