December 9, 1909

LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

There may be some generous, large-hearted men who do it, but they are not bound to do it, and I do not think the average employer does it. So I think the result would be that die average workman would lose his day's pay and

would have no substantial advantage in return. The hon. member for South Toronto, in his argument, introduced a new feature and one that would commend itself,

I think, to members on both sides. He went beyond this Bill and said that the hours of voting were insufficient. If my hon. friend can show that the workingmen of the country are for that reason denied .the opportunity of vodng, let him introduce a Bill on that subject, and I hope it will find favour in the House.

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CON

Angus Claude Macdonell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MACDONELL.

Then, why not let this Bill go to the committee, and there introduce an amendment lengthening the hours of polling instead of making the day a holiday?

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

Because this Bill has no relation to the hours of polling. It deals with a holiday, but does not propose to change the hours of polling.

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CON

Angus Claude Macdonell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MACDONELL.

That portion of the Bill deals with the opportunity of voting. I ask that a day be set apart as a general holiday for that purpose. If that is not in accord with the views of the government, let the opportunity of voting be given by extending the hours of polling.

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

I do not quite see the connection between the two. The holiday is one question, the hours of voting another question, and the deposit another question. The Bill deals with the deposit and the holiday, but it does not touch the question of the hours of voting. I say that if it be found by experience, especially in our larger cities, that the present hours of voting are insufficient, and my hon. friend can show that there is need of some further extension of the time, I for one will be in hearty sympathy with that; and in opposing the Bill in its present form, I would not be understood as being opposed to that part of his speech.

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CON

Adam Brown Crosby

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROSBY.

This Bill is one in which I am interested, but it does not seem to be well understood. The Minister of Finance says we need not have very much sympathy for the man who loses his deposit. We had a case in the county of Cumberland only a few weeks ago, where the Liberals and Conservatives each nominated a candidate and the labour party nominated a candidate. This man polled 1,300 votes, a sufficient number to elect him in many constituencies, but he lost his deposit. Will the Finance Minister say that he should have lost his deposit, after having been solicited to run by a fair number of electors, and having contested a fair and honest election?

Again speaking of a holiday for the purpose of permitting workingmen to poll their votes, there are lots of men who have other

men in their employ, and who may be influenced by the political leanings to let a certain portion of them vote and hold others back. But if the election day were declared a public holiday-and as there is only a general election once in four years nobody could be hurt-every man would have an equal chance to poll his vote. All the workingmen are asking for this, and there is no need for our standing up to tell them they do not know what they want. They want to be in a position, when the day comes, to poll their votes independent of their employers. We know, as a general thing, that men who are employing labour to a large extent, will try and influence the votes of their employees; and if they cannot get them to vote as they please, they will keep them at work so as to prevent them from voting at all

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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Hon. G. P. GRAHAM (Minister of Railways).

I have a good deal of sympathy with my hon. friend from South Toronto (Mr. Macdonell) because I had something to do with getting a measure through in the Toronto legislature to give workingmen full opportunity to vote. I am free to admit that in my county I have never found the large employers of labour objecting in the slightest to a man going to cast his ballot. In the manufacturing establishments in the town of Brockville-and there are several large ones-not one man in the last twenty years was ever prevented from voting, no matter what his politics or the politics of his employers. The time has gone by when employers dare interfere in that way and they do not do it, so that I think we are raising a bugaboo when we speak of employers not giving their men time to vote. I have alwavs opposed the principle of a holiday on polling day. We know that in elections there are people who sometimes induce men to get away from a constituency; and if they have a holiday they will be the more easily induced to leave the night before and not return in time to vote. Whereas, if working for their employers, they will not want to lose any time and will hesitate before going away. There is another reason. We close the hotels on polling day for a very good reason, but is it fair to say to all men in business, no matter what kind of business, that they must close because there is an election on. Is it fair to say that on polling day all business must stop in the constituency? Is it fair to proclaim the election day a public holiday and enable the employees to go out and close up the business establishments, no matter what the rush mav be? What my hon. friend wants is that every man shall have time to poll his vote, and I think that can be got in a much less drastic way. Let me read the Ontario Act in that respect. I must admit that I am not sure to what

extent this House might have jurisdiction to say to an employer: You must let your employee off certain hours in the day. We could proclaim a general holiday perhaps, but I am not sure that we have jurisdiction to interfere in a contract between employers and employees, but the provincial government surely has. Let me Tead the Act now in force in the province of Ontario, which I submit works well and accomplishes all my hon. friend from South Toronto desires in the way of giving the men opportunity to vote:

On the day of the polling the voting shall commence at nine o'clock in the forenoon, and shall finish at five in the afternoon of the same day, and the votes shall be given by ballot.

A voter entitled to vote within a city or town shall, on the day of polling, for the purpose of voting, be entitled to absent himself from any service or employment in which he is then engaged or employed, from the hour of noon in the day time to the hour of two of the clock next thereafter, and a voter shall not, because of his so absenting himself, be liable to any penalty, or suffer or incur any reduction from the wages or compensation to which, but for his absence, he would have been entitled; provided that if so required by the person in whose service or employment the voter is so engaged or employed, the voter so absenting himself shall, at some other time during the same or the following week, employ himself in and about such service or employment for one hour or more than the hours of the usual and ordinary day's work or service otherwise required to be performed by him.

Tbjs protects the employer and the employee as well, and the workingmen of Ontario have accepted it as a fair arrangement. If my hon. friend will introduce a Bill along these lines, I would endeavour to assist him, so far as the principle is concerned, in putting the measure through the House.

As to the $200 deposit, I adhere to the older custom and law on the statute book, that there should be some substantial deposit before a man places himself in the hands of the public asking for their support. For example, take a seat that becomes vacant, perhaps in this House, through some extraordinary reason. Let me call your attention to one seat which was vacated a few years ago because the hon. gentleman, and he is a most lion, gentleman-I refer to the then member for Hastings (Mr. Corby)-because it was found in some committee that his firm had a contract with the government without his knowledge. On the fact -becoming known to him he immediately resigned his seat in a most honourable manner. It would be easy, in such a case, for some mischievous person to put that riding to the whole expense of an election if he were not called on to make a deposit. On the Mr. GRAHAM.

other hand, the deposit does not debar any responsible man from running. Let us take the other view. Hon. gentlemen who are in municipal politics, in which every one can run, will agree that they know of instances where men have been put up to run merely for fun. Men have signed petitions asking men to run who did not vote for them, but simply wanted them to run to annoy some one else. The hon. member for St. Anne thinks that a large number of signatures would meet the case, but can he not recall to mind instances where men have been asked by petition to run even for parliament, and the same men have signed both petitions merely as a friendly act?

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

There is no deposit in Ontario politics, were there are more candidates in the local elections in some constituencies than in the Dominion elections, where a deposit of $200 is required?

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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM.

I am not prepared to say that there are. Still that would be no reason why we should remove what we consider a safeguard for this House.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

But it would be an example showing that the hon. minister's argument does not hold good in practice.

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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM.

It might be to my hon. friend (Mr. Sproule) but it is not to me. I say again, the law has worked no hardship to any person. I do not believe there is any man in Canada who ought to run for parliament, whom the people of Canada wish to see run for parliament, who has been debarred from running on account of the deposit. I see many reasons why we should retain this provision of the law. [DOT]

Now, a word on another line. I do not think that hon. members ought to feel aggrieved because a portion of the House declares that it does not approve the Bill and cannot conscientiously vote for it. This is a world in which we have our differences. In my experience, before coming to this House, I have withdrawn a Bill time after time though I had my heart set on it, because the leader of the government said: You cannot put it through. And I have pressed other Bills and had them defeated. But I did not think 1 had any grievance merely because the majority did not agree with me on the measures I proposed. In conclusion, let me say that if my hon. friend will introduce a measure to give the workingmen a longer time at noon to vote, especially in the large centres, I shall be heartily in accord with it. But I cannot support this measure, for I have opposed the holiday suggestion in the Ontario legislature for reasons that seem to me good. And I think my reasons are good against doing away with the deposit.

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CON

George Gordon

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GEO. GORDON (Nipissing).

I am surprised at the attitude of the Minister of Justice (Mt. Aylesworth) on this Bill. For, though I was not here at the time, I understand that he fathered an Act which would lead to the conclusion that he was very much impressed with the requirements of Northern Ontario. The provisions of this Act are admirably adapted to the requirements of Northern Ontario, and I do not see why the hon. minister should not try to have it put through. In the district of Nipissing, as the hon. Minister of Justice well knows, there are a great many camps in which men are working miles away from a polling booth. And I am told that you would not have had the pleasure of listening to me here to-night had it not been that in the last election certain parties held back men from going to the polls to vote. I think the Minister of Justice should allow a chance to be given to New Ontario to send a supporter of his here after the next election.

I am not saying that that is the case, but I am told that it is so. If we give a holiday to the electors of Northern Ontario on election day, the vote will be increased by probably from 1,000 to 2,000 men being able to get out to the polls who are not able to get out under present circumstances. The Minister of Finance (Mr. Fielding) stated that if one or two hours longer were required for the purpose of enabling men to turn out and vote, he would be in favour of such a proposition. But I would point out that in the case I refer to, one or two hours would not be of much use; you would require to have the whole day. With regard to the abolition of the deposit, I may say that I am in favour of that also, because it would meet the requirements of New Ontario, as most of us up there find it difficult to get the $200 to put up. We have many intelligent workingmen who would likely enter into the race, and, as I always like to see a free-for-all race, I would like to see all given an opportunity to enter. And, if you will abolish the deposit next time, you will see a different kind of race from those we have ever had.

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CON

William Thoburn

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WM. THOBURN (North Lanark).

I have been wonderfully impressed by ^ the remarks of hon. members on both sides. But I have to acknowledge that I am not convinced by the arguments made by most of the hon. members on this side in reference to the Bill. The case was very clearly put by the Minister of Railways (Mr. Graham) in relation to municipal elections. I have had a good deal of experience in municipal elections, and I have no hesitation in saying that if the law were such that candidates in such elections had to put up a deposit, we should have better councils, not only in the province of Ontario but in the whole Dominion, than we have to-day. I

have known many cases of men being put up, as the Minister of Railways says, just for fun, and put up so often that the best men in the municipalities would not_ allow themselves to be offered in opposition to such men in the municipal elections. For that reason, I perfectly agree that the deposit should be put up by candidates in parliamentary elections. In fact, when the thing was mentioned here to-night, I said that instead of abolishing the deposit, I would be in favour of increasing it.

Now, as to the public holiday: it is just a question in my mind whether the great working classes of this country would be in favour of such a Bill, for it means that the working class must lose a day's wages. According to my experience, a great majority would be in favour of earning a day's wages rather than make it a public holiday.

I have heard it stated here tonight that the Trades and Labour Council demanded that election day should be made a holiday.

I am not aware of it. In the town in which I have the honour to live, I have never heard such a thing as the men wanting election day declared a public holiday.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

The hon. member (Mr. Thoburn) misunderstood me. I said that they passed resolutions in favour of doing away with the deposit of $200-both the labour unions and the patrons of industry.

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CON
CON

Angus Claude Macdonell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MACDONELL.

Let me point out to the hon. member that at an interview held with the government on the 12th day of January, 1909, at Ottawa, by the Trades and Labour Congress of Canada, represented by their duly accredited officers, this request was made by them.

Abolition of the $200 deposit in election contests, and proclamation of election day as a compulsory legal holiday.

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CON

William Thoburn

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. THOBURN.

Well, I do not know that this government has any right to pass a law making election day a public holiday until we have some greater demand for it by the great working classes of this country. It will entail not only a loss to the labouring classes, but a loss to the employers of labour in all large manufacturing industries. I am perfectly in accord with the idea of lengthening the time for polling; but from my standpoint I do not see the necessity of either the abolition of the deposit or the proclamation of a public holiday for election purposes.

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CON

Thomas Beattie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BEATTIE.

I am sorry to have to differ with some of my friends on this side of the House. But I have had some experience with these election deposits, and I would be sorry to see the present law wiped away. On two occasions candidates have been brought up against me. On the

first occasion a petition was hawked around, and a dollar collected here and a dollar there, to enable the candidate to make a deposit. The man just got enough to take the field, and I think he came within a very few votes of losing his deposit. At the last election the same thing happened again. A petition was hawked around the town, and a few dollars were subscribed here, and a few there, to enable the man to take the field against me. To-day 1 do not know where that man has gone to, I have not heard of him since. But he did save his deposit. As for the second proposition, I have seen a poll standing open for half an hour at a time and no voter cast registering. If the poll was kept open until two o'clock in the morning you would still find a few voters standing around waiting for some one to give them a dollar for their vote.

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CON

Angus Claude Macdonell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MACDONELL.

My hon. friend from London who has just addressed the House, according to his own statement, has no grievance against this Bill, because he admits that on each occasion he won the election. He complains that the deposit was raised by men going about the town and collecting a dollar here and a dollar there to enable his opponent to take the field, still my hon. friend admits that he was not hurt. My hon. friend from Lanark (Mr. Thoburn) agrees with the deposit, and would apply the principle to municipal elections. Now I had hoped to receive some encouragement from the Minister of Railways and Canals, knowing as I do the part he took in the Ontario legislature, and with his knowledge of the statutes of that province, both as regards the extension of hours for voting on election day, and the abolition of the deposit. I can only attribute his changed attitude to the position taken by the Minister of Justice. The government has not attempted to take the strong and drastic stand on this matter which has been suggested by the Minister of Justice. The Minister of Finance let the Minister of Justice down half way, and then the Minister of Railways let him down the whole way. The Minister of Finance referred to the excitement on election day. Now I would like to point out to the Minister of Justice, what he knows, that on election day all the hotels are closed by the law of the province of Ontario. His insinuation that the people would become riotous on that occasion is certainly a reflection on the character of the people of Ontario, and as a member from that province I strongly dissent from his statement that if they were allowed a public holiday they would abuse it. Now I may point out that this request has been made to the government by two strong and influential labour bodies in this country, men who are authorized to speak for the labouring classes. I Mr. BEATTIE.

had hoped that on this occasion the Minister of Labour would have contributed to this debate, and his failure to do so will surely be commented upon, both inside and outside this House. My sole object in bringing this matter to the attention erf the House was to improve the election law, to simplify it, to remove the obstacle of the deposit, which to my mind is the last relic of a financial qualification to parliament. I have endeavoured to do away with it, and the responsibility for its maintenance must rest upon the government and the Minister of Justice.

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LIB

December 9, 1909