September 12, 1917

CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada; Minister of Mines; Secretary of State of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I will deal with that in a minute. The hon. member for Saskatoon urged very strongly that we should extend the time backwards, that is, make the dates earlier upon which the voters' lists ishould be posted by the enumerators in the polling division, also the time within which the enumerator would add to or strike from the voters' list after that. Under the Bill a? introduced, the first time was ten days, and the last three days before the election. In the former Acts it was eight days and -'Two days. After a thorough review of the

IMr. Meig-hen.]

Act I prepared amendments which will have the effect of making the dates twelve and five, instead of ten and three. The enumerator will have to post his lists twelye days before the election, and the lists must be complete, so far as the enumerator makes them, five days before the election.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   THE HOUSE IN COMMITTEE ON THE WARTIME ELECTIONS ACT-RULE 17B APPLIED.
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LIB

Charles Avila Wilson

Liberal

Mr. C. A. WILSON:

'Why not make it fifteen?

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   THE HOUSE IN COMMITTEE ON THE WARTIME ELECTIONS ACT-RULE 17B APPLIED.
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada; Minister of Mines; Secretary of State of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

We cannot.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   THE HOUSE IN COMMITTEE ON THE WARTIME ELECTIONS ACT-RULE 17B APPLIED.
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LIB

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Liberal

Mr. NESBITT:

Does that refer to Ontario as well?

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   THE HOUSE IN COMMITTEE ON THE WARTIME ELECTIONS ACT-RULE 17B APPLIED.
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada; Minister of Mines; Secretary of State of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

It refers to Ontario as well, in so far as the enumerator makes the lists in Ontario.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   THE HOUSE IN COMMITTEE ON THE WARTIME ELECTIONS ACT-RULE 17B APPLIED.
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LIB

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Liberal

Mr. NESBITT:

Twelve days before the elections?

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   THE HOUSE IN COMMITTEE ON THE WARTIME ELECTIONS ACT-RULE 17B APPLIED.
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada; Minister of Mines; Secretary of State of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Yes.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   THE HOUSE IN COMMITTEE ON THE WARTIME ELECTIONS ACT-RULE 17B APPLIED.
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LIB

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Liberal

Mr. NESBITT:

And, five days to 'appeal?

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   THE HOUSE IN COMMITTEE ON THE WARTIME ELECTIONS ACT-RULE 17B APPLIED.
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada; Minister of Mines; Secretary of State of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

He posts the lists twelve days before the election. He is supposed to have ithem as complete as he can get them. Until five days before the election he sits for two hours each day, and he is obliged, if any one convinces him that the list so posted is wrong, to add, to it or to take off a name that he deems should be taken off, but after five days before the election he cannot do that. All he can do is to give a man a certificate on election day which enables him to cast his vote, or to give him a refusal which enables him to tender his vote, which vote is placed in an envelope and' deposited in the ballot box.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   THE HOUSE IN COMMITTEE ON THE WARTIME ELECTIONS ACT-RULE 17B APPLIED.
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LIB

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Liberal

Mr. NESBITT:

If the minister looks at paragraph 65 (a) of the Act, clause 3, line 34, ihe will see what I mean:

If the enumerator refuses or omits to enter upon the list the name of any person the applicant may, in person or in the case of a qualified person who may be absent from the polling division at the time of the enumeration, an elector in the polling division acting on such absent person's behalf, may within three days after the posting up by the enumerator of such list, appeal to such Board.

That is what I asked my hon. friend about last night. I want that extended to five days.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   THE HOUSE IN COMMITTEE ON THE WARTIME ELECTIONS ACT-RULE 17B APPLIED.
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada; Minister of Mines; Secretary of State of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I will try and look into that during the afternoon. That is in the province of Ontario?

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   THE HOUSE IN COMMITTEE ON THE WARTIME ELECTIONS ACT-RULE 17B APPLIED.
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LIB

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Liberal

Mr. NESBITT:

In the cities.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   THE HOUSE IN COMMITTEE ON THE WARTIME ELECTIONS ACT-RULE 17B APPLIED.
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada; Minister of Mines; Secretary of State of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

That applies to the cities only?

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   THE HOUSE IN COMMITTEE ON THE WARTIME ELECTIONS ACT-RULE 17B APPLIED.
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LIB

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Liberal

Mr. NESBITT:

Yes.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   THE HOUSE IN COMMITTEE ON THE WARTIME ELECTIONS ACT-RULE 17B APPLIED.
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada; Minister of Mines; Secretary of State of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Well that is another subject.'

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   THE HOUSE IN COMMITTEE ON THE WARTIME ELECTIONS ACT-RULE 17B APPLIED.
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LIB

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Liberal

Mr. NESBITT:

The Act just gives three days to correct the voters' lists, and I want my hon. friend to give us five days.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   THE HOUSE IN COMMITTEE ON THE WARTIME ELECTIONS ACT-RULE 17B APPLIED.
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada; Minister of Mines; Secretary of State of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I will try to see if it can be done. I find that since we met a calculation has been made, and I am informed that we can make the twelve days fifteen days. That meets the request which was made by the hon. member for South Renfrew (Mr. Graham). The dates will be twelve, fifteen and five, whereas previously they were eight and two.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   THE HOUSE IN COMMITTEE ON THE WARTIME ELECTIONS ACT-RULE 17B APPLIED.
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LIB

John Gillanders Turriff

Liberal

Mr. TURRIFF:

This, in so far as it applies to Saskatchewan, is practically the same law as we have been working under since 1896 in so far as Dominion elections are concerned. Instead of making the provisions that my hon. friend is making-and I realise that they are made for the protection of the Opposition-it would be better to make another change and follow the old system. My suggestion would be that in all cities of 5,000 and over in the West there should be a judicial revision of the lists during the fifteen days prior to the election. In so far as the rural polls are concerned, we would prefer that the law which we have had since 1896 should remain in force. There is practically no effort made in the rural districts to 'bring in doubtful voters who will take an oath and secure a ballot 'and vote when they are not entitled to. In the rural parts we never have had .any difficulty along those lines. But in the cities it is quite possible that there will be trouble. I would suggest that in cities the judicial revision be .made before the election instead of after and thus avoid the necessity of putting so many ballots in the envelope. We have never had that .system in Saskatchewan in connection with Dominion .elections. But I can see where an unscrupulous scrutineer or enumerator .might easily tie up such a large number of votes as to make it very difficult for the candidate to bring the men concerned forward .and have their ballots counted in .a recount. In rural districts I do not think any revision is necessary at all. The Act worked well in the past, and the fact that no man can be denied his right to vote has always been a safeguard. It is proposed in this Bill that a man whose name is not on the list can re up, take the oath, get his ballot and vote. I do not think any one need he .afraid that

in so far as the rural polls are concerned any wrong-doing will take .place under that system. If my hon. friend could see his way clear to making the change I suggest it will prevent a great deal of work .and bother after the election in the event of a recount, and it will certainly make it easier for the enumerators and the officials carrying out the election.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   THE HOUSE IN COMMITTEE ON THE WARTIME ELECTIONS ACT-RULE 17B APPLIED.
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada; Minister of Mines; Secretary of State of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I have finished the answers to the notes I made yesterday. Included in them was a reference to the subject introduced .again, by the hon. member for Assiniboia (Mr. Turriff). The principle of this distinction is quite .sound. There is / undoubtedly .more difficulty in cities than in the rural parts. There is no possibility of either plugging or disfranchisement in the rural parts of the country. In the cities it is different. But we were faced with this difficulty, that in the three western provinces there is no .machinery for this revision. In Ontario, where we adopt it, there is the .provincial machinery already established and in operation, .and it is a very complicated matter to establish new machinery .and to fit it to the needs of individual provinces. We set .about, then, to .avoid the necessity of doing that because we thought* it could be avoided without taking any very great risks. The posting up of the lists so long a time before election day .and the virtual .closing of the lists five days 'before election 'day will be a veTy great protection in itself. Secondly, the judicial revision afterwards is an enormous protection and the one that I chiefly rely on. In that connection, there is a great deal in what the hon. member says, namely, that an unscrupulous scrutineer acting for a candidate might make the opposing candidate's position difficult if he were ready to challenge a great number of voters who should not be challenged. But, we have put this cheek upon that: Hereafter voters

cannot be challenged in the ordinary way, as they are in the provincial elections in Alberta, merely .by a challenge. We do not allow that. The scrutineer must take his oath that he believes that a man has no right to vote, that he believes the cause and the cause must be sufficient to disfranchise. I think scrutineers will hesitate before they expose themselves to the risk of going before a judge under cross-examination with affidavits in their faces that were manifestly false. They will have to go and show that they have ground for the affidavit and I think that scrutineers will hesitate a long time, and will be advised to hesitate by

the candidate, before they take any step of that kind. In the first place, they must go to the extent of perjuring themselves, and in the next place they must perjure themselves with the certain knowledge that they will very shortly be brought before the judge to answer for their perjury. If we were to -apply the suggestion of the hon. gentleman to the cities of the West, it would delay the election campaign for a very considerable -timej AfteT ,a very thorough review of the circumstances, it was decided that we would adopt the safeguards that we have adopted -and put the whole of the West on the same footing.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   THE HOUSE IN COMMITTEE ON THE WARTIME ELECTIONS ACT-RULE 17B APPLIED.
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LIB

Charles Marcil

Liberal

Mr. MARQIL:

We are to have the enumerators in the rural parts of Quebec. Will the -minister kindly explain how the system will work out there in a rur-al constituency?

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   THE HOUSE IN COMMITTEE ON THE WARTIME ELECTIONS ACT-RULE 17B APPLIED.
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September 12, 1917