April 30, 1917

LIB

George Perry Graham

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

Those would be all the candidates you would need.

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LIB

John Gillanders Turriff

Liberal

Mr. TURRIFF:

I am sure my hon.

friends on the other side would have four candidates (also, including doubtless Sir Robert Borden; and Sir Wilfrid Laurier and Sir Robert Borden being the leaders of their respective parties, there is no doubt that both of them would poll many more first-choice votes than the necessary quota. Out of 20,000, they would require only 4,001. Sir Wilfrid Laurier might easily poll 6,000 votes, or 2,000 more than he required. My hon. friend Mr. Graham-

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LIB

George Perry Graham

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

I would need votes in Carleton.

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LIB

John Gillanders Turriff

Liberal

Mr. TURRIFF:

-might not get very many votes in Carleton, and he would require a few extra votes. This is the way in which that would be remedied. Each man has four choices. He marks on the ballot the figure one after his first choice, the figure two after his second choice, the figure three after his third choice, and the figure four after his fourth choice. Sir Wilfrid Laurier, we will say, gets 6,000 votes, or two thousand more than he requires. After Sir Wilfrid Laurier was declared elected, the balance of the votes over 6,000 would be divided amongst the other candidates. One-third of the ballots on which Mr. Graham was marked second choice.

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S04 COMMONS


would go to him. For instance, if there were 1,000 ballots marked Mr. Graham for second choice, 333 votes would be credited to him, and if that was sufficient to elect him, well and good. But if Mr. Graham' had received 4 001 ballots on which he was marked first choice, he would be declared elected, and the balance over and above the number of votes necessary to elect Sir Wilfrid Laurier would go to the next choice, Mr. Lemieux or Mr. Murphy, and so on down through the whole list, the over-plus, after one man was elected, being transferred to the next man; and similarly with the Conservative candidates. In a constituency such as I have described, the labour men would be able to elect at least one man if 4,000 voters or anything like that number, marked the labour man as their first choice. If the labour candidate -was short a few hundred votes, he might still be elected by the ballots on - which he was marked as second or third or even fourth choice. In discussing this question, people have occasionally asked me, what better off should we be if we had in the House more labour men, or Socialists or Independents, instead of representatives of the two big parties that have always ruled in this country, Liberals and Conservatives? Well, my idea is this, and I think my right hon. leader would -agree with me if he were here, and the Prime Minister also-, or any other man who has had experience in governing in Canada. I think it would be better for the people of Canada, and immeasurably better for the Government, whichever party happened to be in power, if instead of having a certain amount of dissatisfied public opinion throughout * the Dominion, which never in the ,past has found itself properly represented in proportion to ite strength in our legislatures or on the floor of this House-in my opinion it would be better to have that body of opinion represented in the House, rather than remain unrepresented and dissatisfied outside, because all who have been any time in the House know there is no place like the House of Commons to rub the corners off a man, and where a man of extreme views so quickly finds hie level; it does not take them very long to find out what can and what cannot be done by Parliament. If the labour party were represented -in this House according to its strength in the country, if instead of having one labour man in this House, we had ten., I am quite satisfied that it would, be of advantage to the House and of advantage to the labour party, because they would soon find out that it was not the easiest thing in the world with the legislative machinery we have at present to put their theories all into practice. There are other advantages in this system, and one of the main ones is this: proportional representation in my judgment would strike a heavy blow, a body blow, to bribery and corruption in elections, and for this reason. We all know that in singlemember constituencies where the vote is close and the majority around one or two hundred, particularly in the older-settled parts of the .country, the politics of the voters is pretty well fixed; yon can generally tell about how many Liberal and how many Conservative votes there will be at any election. In a constituency like that it is possible for some interests, or a combination of interests., who were able to swing say one hundred or two hundred votes, probably one hundred votes would be sufficient, to go to a candidate and say: "You only have a narrow margin, but if you will vote in our interests on certain lines, or vote against certain other interests, we will swing our full support in your favour. If not, we will vote against you." Under proportional representation that kind, of thing could not be done to anything like the same extent, and the candidate would be freed from that sort of pressure. That, to my mind, would be one very, very great advantage. Under proportional representation, if I have sized it up correctly, you would get a better class of candidates. Lots of good men have been kept out of politics for the simple reason that they did not want the strenuous work of fighting a close election, with all the unpleasantness that it involves. But in a five or seven-member constituency a big man who was well known in the district might put up as a candidate, because if five members were to. be elected he would only require one-sixth of the. vote, plus one, or if seven were to be elected one-eighth of the vote plus one, and that would do away with the necessity of making a close personal canvass like many of us have to make at the present time, because every one of us has to get one more than half the total number of votes .polled to be elected. But under proportional representation, where only a percentage of the vote is required to elect a man, yon would get a better class of candidates, and that would be to the advantage of the electors, and of advantage to the country as a whole. Proportional representation would also do away with certain anomalies that exist at the present time, but before dealing with that I will take up one or two other objections that are sometimes made. One objection is that under proportional representation the parties in Parliament would be very evenly divided. That is true, you would have it more evenly divided than at the present time. But in every case you would have the majority ruling. We are not exempt from the possibility of a very even division of the House under the present system. In the province of Ontario a comparatively few years ago, the Hardy Government was returned by a very small majority. When the late Sir George Ross became Prime Minister and went to the country, he had a majority of only three, as I recollect it, and yet he held office for several years. And we see the same thing to-day. In the province of New Brunswick there is a very small majority-


LIB

Frank Broadstreet Carvell

Liberal

Mr. CARVELL:

It is big enough.

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LIB

John Gillanders Turriff

Liberal

Mr. TURRIFF:

My own opinion is that we have better government when the majority is not too large, whatever party may be in power.

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LIB

George Perry Graham

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

The majority in New Brunswick is bigger than that in Prince Edward Island.

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LIB

John Gillanders Turriff

Liberal

Mr. TURRIFF:

But under the present system we face the possibility of a still worse evil, for you may have a majority in the House when that majority is representative of an actual minority of the popular vote. This could not happen under proportional representation; it is one of the anomalies that this reform would do away with.

This is not a new proposal. It was brought up in this House by the late Mr. Monk, who was a very ardent supporter of proportional representation. The late Sir Richard Cartwright was also strongly in favour of this reform, and made a speech on the subject in the Senate, of which he was then a member. Sir Richard Cartwright gave some very striking instances of small majorities in the country being represented by large majorities in the House. He said:

Let me suppose that one side controls 100,000 voters, and the other side controls 90,000, and that there are 190 representatives to be elected. It is perfectly just and right, it. appears to me, that 100,000 voters should return 100 representatives, and that those who control 90,000 should return 90 representatives; but it is not fair that those who control 100,000 voters should return 150 representatives, and that those who control 90,000 should return but 40. Yet that is what I have seen.

He then gives the following table:

Statement showing the total Liberal and total Conservative vote in the Province of Ontario in the Commons general elections for the years 1882, 1887, 1891, 1896 and 1900 :

Total Vote. Majority Members Elected. Year. Lib. Con. Per Cent. Lib. Con.1882 131,618 132,615 1 of 1 37 551887 170,371 174,080 1 40 52>1891 179,451 175,639 1 44 481896 185,415 179,181 Nearly 2 48 441900 193,417 199,138 U 37 55

So it will be seen that our present system, while it has worked fairly well in a general way, may result in very great anomalies. This misrepresentation in .the House of the votes cast in the country has not been onesided by any means, for in many cases the Liberals have had the advantage. The year I entered this House, 1904, our friends came up from Nova Scotia with eighteen members, -and not a single Conservative, .though the Conservatives had polled one-third of the votes. Had we had proportional representation the members from Nova Scotia would have been twelve Liberals and six Conservatives, and I am sure that everybody will agree, whether on .this side of the House or on the other, that it would have been much better to have had the parties in Nova Scotia represented in proportion to their voting strength. Look at the present representation of the province from Which I come. Saskatchewan. We on this side have nine out of ten of the members elected from that province. Nobody will say that on the basis of the votes cast we are entitled to nine members and the Conservatives to only one. Had we voted under the proportional representation system the returns would have 'been about three Conservatives to seven Liberals. And the same is practically true of Alberta. But when we come to British Columbia we find that in this same election of 1911 our friends on the other side of the House elected seven members, and we did not elect one. Were the Liberals of that province fairly represented we should have on this side of the House at least two or three members from that province. It would be much better if there were two or three Liberals from British Columbia and three or four Conservatives from Alberta and Saskatchewan. There would be a better representation all around.

I could read many more figures on this phase of the question, but I think I have read enough to make the point clear that under our present system parties are not represented in accordance with the popular vote. Now, I may he asked where propor-

tional representation is in operation. Let me read one paragraph from a little journal called Representation, one of the issues of the year 1908:-

It cannot be too often impressed upon politicians at home that, in one form or another, proportional representation is in force in Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Wurtemiberg, Japan, Cuba, and Tasmania.

I may say that in Finland, while they have constituencies electing as few as three members, there is one constituency that elects twenty-three members. And, of course, the larger the constituency the more exact the representation, for there is less waste, in the division of the vote. Then, in addition, when the Government in Great Britain, a few years ago, was struggling with the Bill to give Home Rule to Ireland, it was found that there would be difficulty because in the southern part of Ireland, where the Nationalists are in force, in a single member constituency, thp Unionists would not get in at all. They would not have a single member from the southern portion of Ireland. Practically the same thing would occur in some of the northern portions of Ireland; the Unionists would have absolute control where they were in the majority and the Nationalist would not have a looK-in. Therefore, you would have Ireland divided north and south. The British Government, seeing the difficulty there, adopted the principle of proportional representation for the election of senators in Ireland. I am speaking now subject to correction because I have not followed this very closely, but I have been told that later on, when it was expected that the Bill was going to be put in force, it was amended so that the principle of proportional representation should be applied to the election of members of the Legislature as well as to the election of senators. ' [DOT]

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An hon. MEMBER:

What Bill is that?

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LIB

John Gillanders Turriff

Liberal

Mr. TURRIFF:

The Home Rule Bill that has not yet been put into force. But what is far more important, to my mind, as showing the trend of public opinion in Great Britain even at the present time with all the troubles of the great war on their hands, is that the whole subject of elections has been dealt with and dealt with very vigorously by a committee known -as the Speaker's -Committee and this committee has been selected to represent the Liberals, the Unionists, the Nationalists

and the Laborites-the two -main parties and the two main groups. They have brought in a report. I have a copy of that report under my hand. This was a conference on electoral reform and I have here the findings of that committee. I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, that outside of the question of proportional representation, they have brought in a very drastic report, a report that is of a very radical character when you consider the present existing conditions in Great Britain. This committee represented all the parties in the House of Commons. It is expected that the report will be adopted by Parliament and that in the next election in Great Britain the principle of proportional representation will be applied to a considerable extent. They deal with the metropolitan district excluding the city of London. Well, the city of London proper is only a email constituency a mile square which elects two members. They say:

For the purpose of this rule the Metropolis, (excluding the city of London,) shall be treated as a single area and divided into constituencies returning not less than three nor more than five members.

The Metropolis, as I understand, returns some fifty odd members and now they will all, with the exception of the city proper, which returns two members, be elected under the proportional representation system. They further say:

Provided that constituency entitled to return more than five members shall be divided into two or more constituencies each returning not less than three nor more than five members.

That is in the largo counties that return a number of members and in which the population is somewhat dense. I am perfectly well aware that it has been argued, and argued with -some force, that England is a small country geographically as compared with ou-rs and is densely populated and that what might work very satisfactorily in Great Britain -might not wprk -satisfactorily here. Personally, I would not like to see proportional representation put suddenly into force all over Canada. I think that would -be going -too fast. I would like to see it tried in a district represented by a number of members; try it, for instance, in the city of Ottawa.

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LIB
LIB

John Gillanders Turriff

Liberal

Mr. TURRIFF:

In Toronto, Montreal,

Winnipeg, Vancouver, 'St. John or any ,of the large cities. It could be tried out there and if it is found to -work well then it might be adapted to other constituencies.

Another objection lias been raised that it would be expensive for the candidate. I do not believe that. I represent a considerable area. Personally I would like to see Saskatchewan divided into three constituencies, a southern with five -seats, a central with six seats and a northern with five seats. I would much rather campaign the whole of the -southern portion of Saskatchewan -containing five constituencies, s.ome of them very large, and I could do it on a good deal less money than it costs me to canvass one local constituency as closely as you have to canvass it if you want to he sure pi election.

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CON

Oliver James Wilcox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WILOOX:

How much does it cost

you now? .

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LIB

John Gillanders Turriff

Liberal

Mr. TURRIFF:

Seventy-eight dollars.

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LIB
LIB

John Gillanders Turriff

Liberal

Mr. TURRIFF:

Leave it at that. As to the matter of cost, I feel sure that the objection is not a good one. We do know *that where there is a big constituency we have to spend months in driving around either in livery rigs or in automobiles. I do not know whether my Ron. friends on this and the other side of the House have had the same experience with liveries as I have had but they are very expensive in election times when you are driving around and going to meetings. I am satisfied that in a large constituency, composed of three or five of the present constituencies, any candidate could canvass it fully as cheaply, and in my judgment, more cheaply than the present single member constituency. I do not think that the objection is a very valid one. Another objection, and I think possibly it has more to it than the one I have ju-s-t dealt with, is that the candidate could not become so well -acquainted with the electors in a three or four constituency seat. That is an objection but I think that most men representing a large constituency geographically do not know anything like all the electors as it is. Then, instead of having .one man around a constituency, you would have three or five candidates on each side and others besides. So that the electors would become more conversant with the questions of the day in constituencies where there were half a dozen or a dozen candidates canvassing than where there were only two. Another thing that has been urged against the system is that it would affect party Government. Well, I have read everything I can get my hands on in this connection, and to my mind the great bulk of the argument is

exactly the other way. It would not affect party Government at all; the parties would remain just the same, except that I think the two main parties would be somewhat less numerous in the House, and there would be groups that might affiliate with one or the other, and that in my judgment would not be a bad thing for the country. It is absolutely non-political in that respect.

The objection that I think would appeal more than anything else to the general public is that you could not get the returns of the elections on the night of the election as quickly as we get them at the present time. If you had large constituencies electing five members, in all probability it would be the next day before you would have the final returns. I have here an account of a test election taken in Great Britain, in which something over 21,000 votes were east, and in six hours they had the returns completed absolutely. In very large constituencies like Manchester, where there would be 70,000 votes cast, it was suggested that they would have all the returns completed within twenty-four hours. Thus the delay in getting the final returns would probably be one day. I think that is not a very serious matter, and that it would be better to wait for one day for final returns if, by waiting for that day, you had a better election and a better representation. So that that objection, to my mind, although it is the most serious that has been raised, is not by any means a grave objection. I have a number of leaflets illustrating how a test election is held, and shall be glad to give one to any member who wishes to examine further into the subject. There is no doubt that when you first look at the system it appears very complicated. But if you handed the rules of the game of baseball to a man unacquainted with that game, they would look very complicated to him. I admit that it looked very complicated to me when I first looked into it two or three months ago; but- the more I have examined it and the more familiar I have become with the working out of the scheme, the more simple I have found it. In Tasmania they have a local Legislature of thirty members, and since 1896 those members have all been elected under the proportional system of representation I am here advocating, one man oue vote, a transferable vote. They have tested this scheme and have found it to work very well. They have there three different systems of electing members. They elect their members to the Federal House by the or-

dinary system of the single constituency, such as we have here. It has been found that there are fewer spoiled ballots with proportional representation than with single constituencies, so that the objection that the system is too complicated does not hold at all. In Belgium they have found that this system works extremely well, and they would not think of going back to the old system.

I would suggest to my hofi. friend who is leading the House (Sir Thomas White) that if he thinks the subject is worthy of any further consideration it might be advisable to appoint a committee and gather information on it. There is a proportional representation association in the city of Ottawa that is capable of supplying a great deal of information, and any committee of this House that might be appointed would be able to get all the information necessary. I know that if we had a committee the association in the Old Country would probably be willing to send a man over to explain the system; but that would not be necessary as I think there are men here who have for years been working in connection with this matter of proportional representation and who could give all the information that could be desired, and all that would be necessary to enable us to come to- a conclusion whether or not it would be a good thing for Canada to try to bring about a change. It might be that after looking into this question a committee might decide that it would be better not to adopt the new scheme, that there would not be sufficient virtue in it to make it worth while changing the system. There is no doubt that it is quite a serious matter to change the whole method of electing members of Parliament. I leave the matter with the House, and my hon. friend who leads the House (Sir Thomas White) will decide whether or not it is desirable to go further with the matter.

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Hon. S@

general way; we do not get down to details. There is a rough judgment of the electorate upon the Government of the day and upon the Opposition as they are viewed by the electorate, and the result is that the Government is sustained or the Government is defeated. One naturally inquires, in connection with the subject, what would be the advantage of departing from the present system and adopting the system of proportional representation. By our present system, under the British North America Act, there is a fixed number of representatives returned from each province, the basis being the population as determined by the decennial census and having relation to the fixed numbeT of 65 provided by the constitution for the province of Quebec. The anomalies of our system are many; the defects are many. In a city such as Toronto or Montreal you may have a representative with a constituency of 100,000 or 150,000 people; on the other hand, you may have a constituency of only a few thousand in population returning its member to the House of Commons. The result is an inequality of representation, although I believe there is a great deal to be said for the rural part of the community having a greater representation, in proportion to population, than the cities, and that principle, I think, has been generally recognized in connection with the question of representation in the House of Commons. Undet our system, as I have pointed out, the public affairs of the country and of every department thereof are pretty thoroughly discussed in Parliament. Every section is represented. One would naturally like to see a more equal representation, but that is not something to be accomplished at an early date, because changes of this nature, very far reaching in their character, are not likely to be brought about suddenly. Any change involving disturbance in .the limits of constituencies and the representation of those constituencies must, like an organic change, come very slowly, that is, having regard to practical considerations of which we must never lose sight. The public, after all, are not governed very much by academic arguments; it is practical considerations that appeal to them. They seldom take or support a step until the wisdom of it is clearly seen and appreciated.

My hon. friend (Mr. Turriff) has mentioned that he thinks it is an advantage for a Government to have a small majority. I do not agree, and I doubt if many men in this House agree with him in that. On the one hand, I think it would be a great mis-

fortune if an opposition should be unduly weak; on the other, I think it would be a misfortune that a Government should have an overwhelming majority. But that a Government should have a substantial working majority is essential to government in a country such as ours. A Government that is dependent upon merely two or three votes for a majority is at the mercy of conditions that do not make for good government. The two extremes are objectionable; the medium, a good substantial working majority, is the thing to be desired.

This question was brought up in the House, I understand, in the session of 1909 at the instance of the late Hon. Mr. Monk. It was debated at some length, and finally referred to a select committee of the House. I have made inquiry, but I have not been able to ascertain that the committee held any meetings, much less made any study or investigation into the subject. That showed that there was not a very great deal of interest in the subject at that time, and I think there must necessarily be still less interest in it at this time when we are engaged in a war that is engrossing our attention and absorbing our energies from day to day. As the matter, however, is one that is attracting a great deal of attention and has many strong advocates, I see no objection to the appointment of a select committee, provided that my hon. friend thinks that course is advisable. For myself, if I were bringing the matter to the attention of the House, I should be content at this time, with a war on, and with the House engaged as it is, with bringing the subject to the attention of the House and having it discussed. If my hon. friend desires that a select committee should be appointed, the Government is entirely agreeable to that course. I leave that to my hon. friend to consider. If he desires to have a select committee appointed, then I would suggest that he alter his motion to this effect:

That a select committee of five members of this House be appointed to consider and report on the advisability of enacting legislation to provide for the election of members of the House of Commons by a system of proportional representation, and that such committee have power to send for persons, papers and documents.

My hon. friend must have observed that it is not necessary to call experts and political thinkers who have had this question under consideration in Great Britain, to aid the committee in its study and investigation of this subject. There are many in

this country who have made this question a special subject of study, and who, without doubt, could give the committee useful information; but I would submit to my hon. friend that unless he is reasonably certain that if a committee be appointed, it will take up this subject, will study it, will investigate it, will call before it those men who may be able to give it advice and assistance, he might better just content himself with bringing the matter to the attention of the House. I do not think there is anything further I can usefully add. We have all listened with much interest to my hon. friend and are indebted to him for the very fair manner in which he has expounded this subject for our consideration.

Hon. GEORGE P. GRAHAM (South Renfrew) : Mr. Speaker, it is possible for a

Government and even for a Parliament to get into such a frame of mind that it is afraid of everything new. We have not to go so far as Russia to find out that the world is moving along very distinct democratic lines, and unless the Government or Parliament keeps slightly ahead of the movement, it will get pushed off the national map as a party. We have come to the point in Canada when we have to be more radical in all our legislation than we have been in the past. The war has taught us and is teaching us certain lessons; but above all things it is teaching us that our ideas on any subject are not as immovable as they were a few months ago. We are looking at things from a new view point, and he, whether he be in a high position or in a low one, who refuses to yield to this pressure, will, I think, find himself away behind in the advancement of everything that is for the national good and for the personal good as well. We have had our fixed theories on tariff; we have had our fixed theories on forms of government, and we have had our fixed theories on taxation. But, Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that the mind of the public, yes, the mind of the entire world, is in a state of evolution, and before very long we shall find ourselves considering things from altogether different viewpoints than ever before. If the war do not bring about that result, then one of the results which I look for will not have been attained. In western Canada, for instance, from which nay hon, friend conaes, we have people from the various countries of the Old World. They are not slow people; they have come to our new country looking for

better things than they found at home; they are in this country looking not only for better opportunities for making a living, but looking also to Parliament for more advanced ideas, and we will have to meet these views, not only by tariffs, by special taxation, but with just such measures as my hon. friend has brought before the House to-day. That we have succeeded under our present form of government, which is based on what we have always thought the best form of government in the world, is not a sufficient guarantee that the same form of government is the best for the future. Our basic principle has always been representation by population. Now, under our present method, as it works out under the Redistribution arrangement, this Parliament is not based on representation by population. I will give the Minister of Finance a concrete case. Take the constituency which he or some one else will represent after the next general election, the riding of Leeds and Brockville. The adjoining riding is represented by the Minister of Customs. Now, the riding represented 'by the Minister of Customs has about 17,000 people, whereas the riding represented, or to be represented, perhaps, by the Minister of Finance, has over 35,000 people. Now, that is not representation by population, but in this House, and in the Government -no, I would not like to say in the Government-but in the House at all events the Minister of Customs has as much te say as the Minister of Finance; that is to say, he is an entity in the House. Now, that is not representation by population. Either the constituency of Grenville will be overrepresented, or Leeds and Brockville is going to be under-represented. When we make our redistribution after the decennial census, as my hon. friend says, we should keep as close as possible, and that is largely done now, to a certain unit representation. but there are cases such as I have pointed out where one member represents twice as many people as the member in tlhe adjoining constituency. Under proportional representation that condition would not exist; not only a part of the population, but all the population would ibe represented. The two ridings I have mentioned, and I only cite them because I know the conditions, are not represented at all from the viewpoint of Liberalism, to put it mildly. But there are a large number of people in those ridings who entertain those views, and their representative in this House does not repre-

sent those views. I would not for a moment suggest that representatives in the House here do not look after the interests of their constituents, whether Liberal or Conservative; I do not mean that at all, but I say that the principles which they hold 'have no mouth-piece in this House.

Take the city of Toronto as another example. Now, it will be admitted that there are in that city many thousands of men who are opposed to the general policy of this Government, and who have no mouth-piece in this House. There are also in that city thousands of men who 'believe in the principles of the labour movement more thoroughly than in the principles of the two great parties, and under the present system these men have not a direct voice in the legislation of this country. Again, the province of Ontario, for instance, has only fourteen Liberal members in this House, but no one will say for a moment that that represents the Liberal view of the province of Ontario from the number of votes cast, and the same applies to the other side of the House in other places.

What I want to point out is this: The conditions that will arise in this country in the near future, and which may be present with us even now, are such that we must not hang our hats on what has been in existence heretofore. Canada is a new country full of democratic thought, and into this country are coming men of democratic and advanced views. It is because of those views that they have left their own countries and come to us, and we will have to enact legislation that will in a measure meet those views, and I am inclined to think that the legislation in this particular instance is of the proper-character. Something along that line ought to be done. My hon. friend says that municipalities have not the cabinet form of government. Some place have, in a measure. In Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa, for instance, they have what is called a Board of Control, which although elected at large, is really the executive of the municipal body; they prepare and bring before that body matters for legislation, matters of policy, and matters of practice for the carrying out of what is best for the municipality. In a minor degree the board of control is a cabinet, and the principle of cabinet government seems to be evolving more and more. So the objection raised by the Minister of Finance does not apply,

because the larger cities already have a form of cabinet government.

On the question raised by the Minister of Finance as to the connection between the people and the Executive, I am not going to say much. In discussing these matters we must not forget that we are in an altogether different position from our friends across the line. Their Cabinet has rio seat at all in Congress or in the House of Representatives. In this country the members of the Cabinet are not only directly responsible to Parliament, but to a group of electors as well. They have a seat in our legislative body, where they answer directly to the representatives of the people. The Cabinet of the United States has no seat at all, either in the Upper or Lower House, and does not have to meet the representatives of the people face to face to discuss public matters, except that the President occasionally goes on the floor of the House and makes a statement.

Proportional representation, in any opinion, would do two things: First, it would give to minorities an opportunity to be represented according to the democratic age in which we live, an opportunity which they do not now possess. I might say in passing that the different viewpoints represented in this House-I am not speaking of men who are merely in sympathy with certain views, but of men who are actually the advocates of principles-these principles are our chief concern, and the views of these men expressed on the floor of Parliament would have a two-fold effect. They would have an effect on the men who heard them and on the country generally, and the arguments that would be advanced and the discussion that would take place, and in which these men would have a prominent part, would have a direct influence on their own minds, and by co-ordination we would get the best from these different viewpoints thus brought together.

And men with extreme views might vsee that there are other angles from which these questions might be discussed. This would lead to better legislation on the whole than we have at the present time. Another great advantage is that it would do away with the grievances that certain classes have because they are not represented on the floor of this House. You may ask: why do they not get representation? It is easier to ask the question than for these parties to elect representatives. In many cities labour organizations run candidates. But even though these candidates have the unanim-

ous support of the labour organizations, they find themselves opposed 'by the candidates of the two strong parties, one of whom is pretty sure to win. Such minorities are apt to think that there is something unfair in our election methods, and I think there is some justification for that complaint. Propomtiiioinial l-epresemitaibion, ie pipacitiiee, I believe, would go far to justify itself by bringing into this House men voicing different views, which would result in better legislation. The Minister of Finance touches a very vital point when he speaks of the question of majorities in the House. Conditions might arise when the best interests of the country might not be advanced by men who had not the interests of the country supreme in their minds taking advantage of the fact that the majority in the House was very small. Suppose that through some peculiar forgetfulness on the part of the electorate three or four men got into the House who were not strong in their views as to what was best for the country. Even in a House with 250 members these three or four might decide the fate of a government. I .think it would not be well for the people to have .a system that would bring about that result. On the other hand, we know that a government with a small majority behaves itself 'better than one with a large majority. Besides, I do not believe that the difficulty indicated by the Finance Minister would arise in practice. I do not think the majority could be, in practice, so reduced as to make this a real difficulty. We have a country of such vast extent, and the membership of the House after next election will be so large that there is no practical danger that the majority of one party or the other would be so small as to be influenced in that way.

Proportional representation, I believe, would make for cleaner elections. There would be many candidates in a constituency, and so the clash between two men only, which is now the rule would be avoided. Ih some cases, when this clash is on, money is expended-so I have heard. But I am of opinion that when the number of ciaindidialtee. iiis large, ais would be the case under proportional representation, there would not be the opportunity for illegal expenditure that there is now. Further than that, the territory covered would be so vast that there would be less concentration of effort along the lines I have indicated.

The one objection that I see to proportional representation is that pointed out by the Minister of Finance (Sir Thomas White). That objection is that our terri-58

tory is so large and our population so sparse that, with larger constituencies, great labour would be entailed upon the candidates. Certainly, it would make it impossible for the candidate to canvass every man in his ridding lae to isomeitiknieis ithiinkts to hag. to do now. But would that be an unmixed evil? I believe that the system that we have fallen into in this country under which the candidate feels it necessary to meet'every man personally and say, "How do you do," without reference to the great principles which divides the parties, does not uplift public life. Many men are elected because they are good fellows. I am not taking objection to that, for that is one qualification of a public man that he can get along with quite well. But I fear that we have to a certain extent failed to grow, on lines of public sentiment, public principles, public opportunities, and public policy. We get down too often to the question of which candidate is the better chap, which will [DOT] shake hands with the larger number of people, who will attend the more quilting-bees and give more to this or that object. With proportional representation, I believe, we should rise above that, and candidates would not be judged by these smaller things, but first by the policies they advocate, and secondly by their character and ability to carry those policies into effeot.

I believe this matter should be further investigated and. more widely discussed. This is a splendid subject for discussion before our Canadian clubs and by public men everywhere. I would suggest that the hon. member for Assiniboia (Mr. Turriff) allow his motion to stand for a day or two, that he may decide what course it is best to pursue.

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LIB

William Ashbury Buchanan

Liberal

Mr. W. A. BUCHANAN (Medicine Hat):

I cannot say absolutely, from the study I have given proportional representation, that it would wipe out all the evils existing under our present system of representation, but I think it certainly would aid in that direction.

Within my own recollection political [DOT]parties have not been represented in the legislatures of the provinces and in this House in proportion to the votes recorded in the elections. I have found our friends across this floor complaining in years gone by that they did not have the representation in this House which the popular vote entitled them to, and as to the election of 1911, we on this side have the right to make the same complaint. This evil would be

largely removed under a system of proportional representation. That system would not wipe out the rule of the majority, but at least it aims in the direction of securing proper representation for minorities. In nearly every country cases also have arisen where minorities in the popular vote actually returned majorities to the representative body. That should not be. To remove the possibility of these evils and bring about more representative government, and what we are aiming at is to have as perfect a system of representative government as possible, proportional representation provides a solution. We recollect the recent election in the United States. While the system there is entirely different from that existing in this country, still I might mention that for a few days it was possible that a president would be elected who did not represent the majority pf the voters. The electoral vote in two states practically returned the popular candidate. If the electoral vote in these two states had gone Republican, the minority candidate would have been elected President of the United States. A system of that kind should not exist and we should try to avoid it. I want also to mention the city of Toronto, not because it sends ait the present time all representatives of the ComsieirviaJtdrve. .party, but foir the purpose of pointing out that by this system it would be possible for the minority in that city to elect at least one representative. There are also cases where our Conservative friends 'are in the minority, where they do not secure any representation, and where, under this system, it would be possible for them to do so.

I believe that by the adoption of the principle of propoirtdonial srepraseinitaitiion we would secure a better class of representatives because under the existing system, as my hon. friend from South Renfrew (Mr. Graham) has said, public life does not appeal to many men to whom it should appeal and whom it would be to the greatest advantage of this country to have in the House. There is the question of the personal canvass. That is largely due to our small constituencies. We are forced into it largely but under the larger constituency plan that practice would be more or less put out of business. In that way we would remove one o.f the weaknesses of our ipres-ent system and there would be an appeal to better and bigger men to come into public life and serve their country.

The hon. Finance Minister (Sir Thomas Whitel has entered into a defence of the

party system. I believe in the party system. I do not know of any better system, but if we could introduce some system that would give independence a greater pppor-tunity for expression of opinion in this House it would >be better for Canada. While we have the party system, we have far too much partisanship. If we could get rid of some of our partisanship by giving an opportunity to independent men. to come into tbits Pjanli'aimemit, amid into the leigiislaitiures of the provinces, it would be better for Canada and for the provinces. I presume I can call myself a partisan. At the same time I sometimes agree with my opponents and I believe there are hon. members on the other side of the House who sometimes agree with expressions of opinion from this side of the House. But under our party systems we dp not always express ourselves as we think. Under this new system, we would have men in this House who would express themselves as they think and who would be more or less independent. It may be possible even for strong advocates of the party .system to see evils in it but if under some other system of electing representatives, we could do something to remove these evils, to improve public life and to bring into public affairs a higher type of men, we would be doing something for the advantage pf our country.

I have not made a very close study of proportional representation, but, as I said at the beginning, the very little information I have about it, appeals to me as something tbait would 'baling, lafoouit an. .ianpirowemieint in the character of our representation in this House laud iki the provincial iLegiislaltuire. In my own city we have what we call a commission form of government. We have no city council. We have three paid commissioners who control the affairs of the city. I think it is the only government of its kind in Canada. There are other forms of commission government in Canada but of this particular type the city of Lethbridge has the only one. Each year one of these commissioners retires and we have a preferential ballot for use in these elections. In the municipal election two years ago, on the first ballot, the retiring commissioner would have been elected by a majority of vote but by counting the preference ballots he was defeated. He would have been elected over the second candidate but he would have been the minority representative, talcing into consideration the total vote. By this system under which there are first, second and third choices

another candidate was returned who was the majority representative of the people voting. Our people are satisfied with the system. It is somewhat the same as proportional representation. The man who has a majority on the first ballot but who.is in the minority as compared with the popular vote does not like the system. This system, in my judgment, is the best means of getting the opinion of the electors as to the most *suitable man for the office. That is our system of electing this commission government and it works out well. I believe we will find it worth while to take up the proportional representation system in Canada in order to bring about a proper representation of the opinion of the people of Canada in our Parliaments.

Mr. G. W. K.YTE (Richmond): Mr. Speaker, the subject of proportional representation received its first impetus in Canada through the interest and activity of Earl Grey, one of our distinguished Governors General. It is well known that for many years he had manifested a very lively enthusiasm on this question and to him is due credit for the interest in the subject that was manifested at that time throughout this country. I was a member ofthe committee that was appointedby Parliament in the session of

1910 for the purpose of inquiring into this question with a view of ascertaining if it might be made applicable to our conditions in Canada. The late Hon. Mr. Monk, who was a strong advocate of the principle, was elected chairman of the committee. After the committee was appointed, we organized and held our first meeting, but unfortunately before a second meeting of the committee could be convened Mr. Monk became ill. He was obliged to go south for his health, and he did not ag in appear in the House during that session. Next session another question arose which for the moment transcended all other questions that engaged the attention of this country, and the consequence was that for the time being the subject of proportional representation was set aside. I am glad my hon. friend from Assiniiboia (Mr. Turriff) has taken this opportunity of bringing it .to the attention of the House. I listened very, attentively to the speech of the Minister of Finance in which he expressed the belief that proportional representation, while it might be suited to the forms of government in force in European countries, was not of a nature to fit in very well with the oonsti-581

tution of Great Britain and her dependencies.

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS.
Subtopic:   S04 COMMONS
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April 30, 1917