April 13, 1915

LIB

John Gillanders Turriff

Liberal

Mr. TURRIFF:

That is exactly what my hon. friend will be asking under this Bill, that is, lor authority to take a vote at the front when he does not know at what moment after that authority is given orders may come for a general advance, with the result that the vote may be taken at one part of the front and not at another part. It is quite likely, as some hon. gentlemen have pointed out, that the officers commanding in certain cases will say: I am not here to make politics; I am not here to peddle around begging votes from this man or from that man; I am here to fight the battles of the Empire, and I will take no part in this whatever, therefore you will have some sections of the army voting and other sections not voting. Although I have been in this House for a good many years, I have never before seen such a crude piece of legislation introduced.

I would sincerely ask the Minister of Justice to withdraw this Bill. It is an impracticable proposition. If he wants to get the votes of the soldiers let him put off the elections until the war is over. If the war is not over next year we can easily get authority from the Imperial Parliament to extend this Parliament until the war is over.

Then, when the soldiers come back, every one who is entitled to vote will be able to cast that vote and cast it in the proper manner.

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LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

I desire to say just one word in answer to the Minister of Justice. Impressed as he must necessarily be by the force of the argument that this Parliament has no -right to impose a duty on the officers of the Imperial army, he said that this measure imposed no duty, that it is merely an enabling law. Let us see the evidence. Subsection 3 of section 2 provides that the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery shall notify the secretary of the High Commissioner by cable of a general election, -and the secretary shall thereupon send a sufficient number of ballot papers and envelopes to the chief paymaster of the Canadian expeditionary force, who shall forward the same to the several regimental paymasters who shall deliver the same to the officers commanding squadrons, companies and batteries. Now, let us -see the "enabling" part of it; "and such officers shall give each volunteer under their respective command making the affidavit in form (b) before such officer a ballot paper, and shall fold it in a certain manner and place it in the envelope. It is then provided (that the certificate in form (c) shall be signed by the officer who shall also securely close the envelope containing the ballot paper which shall then be sent by such officer by post to the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery. ,

If that is not imperative language, I fail to know how imperative language can be framed. That is not permissive; it is not an enabling clause but declaring what their duty shall be in connection with the taking of these votes. The Minister of Justice says that this has not the effect of imposing on these officers any duty which would interfere with their military duty. Who is to be the judge of that? This Parliament has said that these Canadian soldiers are to have a vote and that these Imperial officers shall give the opportunity to vote to every man who makes the affidavit before them. Does not that impose duties upon the officers that might interfere with the discharge of their military duties? If not, I fail to know how language could be employed to do so. We heard the suggestion that was made yesterday by the Minister of Justice (Mr. Doherty), the Solicitor General (Mr. Meighen) or some other hon. gentleman on that side. From this side it was suggested that the Secretary for War might not permit

this. The hon. gentleman whom I am quoting said he could not imagine the Secretary of State for War taking such a stand, because it would create a deplorable and unfortunate situation. What did that mean? It meant that, this Parliament having declared that it should be the duty of these Imperial officers to allow a vote to be taken and make an affidavit and distribute the ballots, if Lord Kitchener should say that this should not be done it would create an unfortunate situation-that is it would create a conflict between the Secretary of State for War and this Parliament. That would indeed be unfortunate. But all that could be avoided if it were provided that these sections shall not be acted upon until submitted to the Secretary for War and approved by him. If the Secretary for War were consulted and thought that the voting could be carried out, it would create harmony, whereas in the present form it is likely to create friction and entire want of harmony. It seems to me that in taking the stand he has taken in regard to this amendment, the Minister of Justice is taking a position which cannot be justified and is likely to create friction and lead to great dissatisfaction.

Amendment (Mr. Pugsley) negatived.

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LIB
LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

Where mention is made of the envelope, is it provided that the electoral district in which the voter is entitled to vote shall be marked on the envelope? That does not seem to be provided, but I think it should be

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CON

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DOHERTY:

Provision is made that upon the affidavit endorsed on the back of the envelope, the elector, if he is qualified as having been a resident for thirty days shall set forth his place of residence in a certain precise manner. The first suggestion was that he -should state the name of the electoral district. But it was pointed out that many of these men, while knowing where they live, might not, especially in view of the comparatively new redistribution, know the correct designation of their electoral districts. The Clerk of ithe Crown in Chancery will be able to determine in which electoral district the soldier would vote, and he will forward the envelopes to the several districts. Those who are qualified as electors in a particular electoral district will set that forth, each that he was qualified to vote at a certain place in a cerzozu

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UUIYLIVLUJNH


tain province. In that, event, the Clerk' of the Crown in Chancery will determine what the electoral district is and forward the ballot accordingly. The hon. member will notice that there are two alternate " Para? graphs 1 " of the affidavit B provided to be made for these alternative methods of voting.


LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

The first alternative makes the voter swear:

I am not qualified to vote in any other electoral district.

That would indicate that he swears that he was a voter in a certain electoral district.

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CON

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DOHERTY:

He swears to a certain fact-that he resided for thirty days at a certain place. Under this law, that ballot would be sent to the electoral district in which that place is situated, unless the voter was at the time of his enlistment a qualified voter in some other district, and so he is asked to negative that statement.

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LIB
CON

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DOHERTY:

It says: .

I v as qualified to be a voter at in

Ihe province of .

It does not say that he shall mention the name of the electoral district, but shall give the place where he was entitled to vote, which .will convey to the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery information as to the electoral district.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

I think where a man is entitled to claim that he is a voter, it would be only right that he should ndme the electoral district as well as the place of residence. I can see the possibility of difficulty under the section. If a man is a voter, he ought to know in what district he is a voter.

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CON

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DOHERTY:

That generally is true. This subject is one that was a good deal discussed in the committee-this form of affidavit. The first instance given was with regard to the city of Montreal. It was stated that both as regards the men who reside for thirty days, and as regards men who have been voters perhaps for years, in view of our redistribution there would be great danger of men misapprehending the electoral district in which their places, of residence had been situated, thoughquite aware that by virtue of

their residence they are qualified voters. My own constituency is now very largely made up of people who heretofore never

were in the electoral division of St. Anne; people whose, knowledge on the subject, derived, perhaps, from years of being settled there, would be that they "were in the county of Jacques Cartier. I have reference at the moment to the city of Ver dun. A man in that situation might be expected to fall into error, but if the soldier swears that he was entitled to vote in the city of Verdun at the time he was enlisted, the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery will have no difficulty, with the Redistribution Act in front of him, in determining where the vote belongs. What applies to my own constituency applies, I think, to all constituencies as at present constituted in the city of Montreal. The same thing would be true of the city of Toronto and the city of Edmonton, which, 1 understand, has been divided into two electoral districts. Persons who are not informed as to where the line runs between East Edmonton and West Edmonton, might be very much puzzled to know in which electoral district they were when they enlisted, but they would know that they had qualifications in the city of Edmonton and that they resided at some particular place in the city of Edmonton. In view of that situation, instead of requiring the de signation of the electoral district, we pro vided for a designation of the place at which the man had been accustomed to vote, from which the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery will have no difficulty in settling the question of the electoral district.

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Section agreed to. On section 3-officers who are candidates not to act:


CON

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DOHERTY:

Carrying out a promise I made to the hon. member for Sudbury and Queens this afternoon, I beg to move that this section be amended by adding to it the words "and failing him for any of the causes aforesaid, the next below him in rank, and so on." Further, in view of some suggestions that were made as to the possibility of the commanding officer declining to perform the duties prescribed under the Act, I think we should make section 3 apply in the case of the officer designated ot next in rank declining to perform the duty as well as in the case of the officer who is prevented from acting. To produce that result, I beg to move that the section be further amended by inserting in line 18, after the word "it" and before the-words "the duty," the words "or declines to perform it."

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CON

William John Macdonald

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MACDONALD:

The first amendment proposed might produce a condition where the sergeant would be the responsible officer.

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CON

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DOHERTY:

The question is whether it is better t-o leave it possible that the sergeant may sometimes perform this duty than to leave it possible that it shall not be performed :at all. If the Act operates as I hope it will operate, I do not think that a case of this kind will happen very often. If there should be ground for anticipating that the officers generally would refuse to do the duty assigned to them, then, of course, this position would come into general operation. If it is thought preferable, I would limit the operation of the section as amended so that the duty should not be performed by 'an officer who is subordinate to a commissioned officer. If we do that, however, we may create a condition where, merely for want of an officer, the mem may lose their votes. It seemed to me that we might with perfect safety, in the few cases where this would arise, allow the non-commissioned officer to do the work rather than cause the soldiers to lose their votes because of there being no officer to perform this duty.

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CON

William John Macdonald

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MACDONALD:

One of the results of the provision might be that the officers would turn their work over to the sergeants.

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CON

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DOHERTY:

Even if it be a violation of obligation on the part of the officers not to fulfil this duty, we cannot make them do a thing if they do not want to do it. The case which I had in anticipation was that of an officer who might happen to be a candidate in an election or who might be prevented from acting. The latter case, I think, will be more frequent than the case where he may decline to act. If he declines to perform the duty, we leave it to the next officer in rank. We start with the company officer, who has under him, before you get to the non-commissioned officer, five officers. I think we may fairly assume that some one of these six officers will be able and willing to perform the duty.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

As a civilian, speaking

from what I have read, I suggest that the sergeants do all the work 'any way.

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April 13, 1915