July 5, 1919

L LIB
L LIB

William Henry White

Laurier Liberal

Mr. W. H. WHITE:

And Icelanders the same. All others except those in the foreign district 'are to have a privilege that other good citizens, their neighbours, are not conceded. Without offering any more evidence-and1 I have affidavits to further support my statement-I would like to make an appeal to the Prime Minister, without saying anything about the WarTime Elections Act and its unfairness, that we should go back to the condition we had even in 1916-to the same free Canada that we had in 1911. We want to be Canadians, we want to be one people, without any division or discrimination-we want this to be a democratic country with all people treated as equals politically. If there are any persons of alien birth in our section of the country who are not worthy of citizenship, deport them. No one has a right to ask us to live among them. But give us one franchise law. In the older provinces, for political and other reasons perhaps,

there have been divisions. There have been divisions in one section of the country, where it is said it is necessary to belong to a certain society in order to get any political support. Other people claim that down in the province of Quebec-but I know this is not true-that you have to speak a certain language to achieve politioal success. But in the Western country up to 1917 there was no such condition of affairs -race, creed or anything else cut no figure politically; we were all pioneers, all animated by one common interest, and we were a happy and contented people. There was none of this revolutionary talk that we have to-day, there was no unrest. I would ask that whatever this Franchise Bill is to be, that it will be of such a nature as to put us in the same condition that we were in in 1911. I might call the attention of the Prime Minister to the fact that when he went to the country in that year he must know, as everybody knows, that the franchise was fair and open enough, as the people were able to turn one party out of power and bring into office his own party with a large majority. We are not. asking for any better franchise than we had at that time, and I would appeal to the Prime Minister to give us as good a franchise condition as he found when he took office.

Mr. J. H. SINCLAIB (Antigonish and Guysiboroughl [DOT] 1 am opposed to the principle of this Bill as I stated at the outset, and Ihis is the time for me to register my objections. The Government is open to censure on account of having brought this Bill before the House at such a late hour in the session. This is one of the pieces of legislation promised to us in the speech from the Throne. In a few days it will be five months since the House was convened, and on the last day of the dying hours of the session we have brought before us an important piece of legislation that affects the people of the whole Dominion, without any proper time to give it consideration or put forth our Views. I say that that is a reprehensible proceeding on the part of the Government. The same tactics were resorted to in 1917. Hon. gentlemen will remember that under the very same circumstances in 1917, when everybody was tired, when we were, rushing through to close up the session, the War-Time Elections Act was placed before the House, and Black Kod was knocking at the door of this Chamber at the time the last clause of that Bill was being considered. Those were the circumstances undeT which the disgraceful

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War-Time Elections Act was passed, and now we have a repetition of the same tactics.

We are assured, if I remember rightly, when this War-Time Elections Act was being passed that it was only a temporary measure, and that it- would be dispensed with as soon as the war was over. The Government, for some reason that I do not understand, has made no provision in this Bill for the repeal of the War-Time Elections Act. Why they are still keeping it on the statute book is a puzzle to me and is not understood, I think, by any of my colleagues. Should there not be a clause in this Bill repealing the War-Time Elections Act? We have the Dominion Elections Act, we have the War-Time Elections Act, and we have this. By-Elections Act, all on the statute book at the same time to create confusion in the minds of the people. We should have a definite statement from the Prime Minister that the War-Time Elections Act will not be resorted to in- any further elections.

One of my main objections to this Bill is that it repeals a large part of the Dominion Elections Act. The Dominion Elections Act is the Act under which candidates were elected to Parliament for almost a quarter of a century, and it has worked well. There is nothing unfair in the terms of that Act. Provision is made for cases where there are no regular lists, there being provinces where some such method is necessary. But the Dominion Elections Act is being repealed by this Fill and a new system is being introduced which I regard as a retrograde step. We are now-eoming back to full control by the party in power of the appointment of the revisers arid enumerators. I submit that feature is objectionable, and I am sure every fair-minded man will share my view. The system that has been in force in the different provinces whereby revisers were appointed by the muncipal councils has been a fair system. No single political party can control the municipal councils of this country. There is a municipal council in every county, and that council is composed of a number of the leading men in the constituency. In the province from which I come'the reviser for the district is nominated by the councillor for that district in an open meeting of the council. There is no back-door business about it. He stands up in the open council and names his man. If he names a crook that is very soon discovered by the other members of the council. He must name a decent fair man, and he does. The council may be of

one political complexion or another; there may be more 'Conservatives than Liberals, or there may be more Liberals than Conservatives. But that is bound to be the case, and that is one reason why it is so fair, that both parties are well represented, in the municipal councils. Those revisers make out the lists, which are printed, and they are then the official lists for the provinces for the municipal elections, with some slight changes for the provincial elections, and also for the Dominion elections up until 1917.

What could be fairer than that? In Nova Scotia, electoral lists are prepared by the municipalities every year. Their preparation is not optional; it is a law of the province. The work is Ibegun in January of each year; ample opportunity is given to every man and to every woman to get on the list, and the revision is completed yearly on the fifth of April. It is foolishness, therefore, to spend money in revising the lists for Nova Scotia undter a system of enumerators unless the idea is to get some party advantage. That can be the only idea of refusing to accept the properly revised lists which are now in existence in Nova Scotia. But this proposal provides that the old lists may be chapped up, added to, subtracted from, and practically made entirely new lists, for if is in tihe discretion of the enumerator to strike names off or to put them on. I quite admit that there is a saving clause in the provision under which a man who is struck off can go to the poll, be sworn before the returning officer, and register his vote. That provision will help in certain cases, but a great many .people have serious objections to going to the poll and making an affidavit on election day. The ordinary man will say: If you do not put me on the list I am not going to bother about it at all; I am not going to be the subject of a row between the two parties in the polling booth. Especially so far as the women are concerned, there will be a decided objection to making the list in the polling booth, with one side objecting to what the other is doing. It is a miserable system, a system which will create disturbance, which will bring about quarrels, which will make it necessary to have oaths taken on election day to greater extent than is the case at the present time. In our country it is a rare thing to put an oath to an elector in the polling booth; the people are well known to one another and it is not necessary to do so. There are very serious objections, therefore, against making the list in the polling booth as is proposed by this Act. -

The great objection to this Act is that it puts 'the control of the lists altogether in the hands of the party in power. The *party in power names the returning officer. It is not provided that the sheriff or any officer of the county shall be the returning officer. The returning officer is simply a partisan nominated by the party in power and that partisan will select forty or fifty other persons who will do the work of the party as has 'been described by my hon. friend (Mr. W. H. White). These men become canvassing agents for the party in power; there is nothing fair about the system. The fair thing is to use the provincial lists whenever they can be used.

This Aot is bad, but it is not as bad as the War-time Elections Act was. The Wartime Elections Act was a disgraceful piece of legislation; that is admitted by everybody who has studied it. But the Act itself was not as bad as the instructions which were given by the Department of Justice. I want to read one paragraph from the "In. structions for the Guidance of Returning Officers, their Deputies and Enumerators, approved by His Excellency the Governor General in Council," dated 1917 and issued by James B. Foley, Clerk of the Crown in Chancery for Canada. On page 15 of this book I find the following:

'Section &5A, 5 (4), iprovidies that the enumerator is authorized to accept as prima tacie evidence of the right of a person to he put on the list a statutory declaration of qualification. Note that such declaration is not necessary, although authorized, the only requirement being that the enumerator should he satisfied as to the qualification. Being satisfied he may put a name on the list without any statutory declaration. Not being satisfied he may refuse to accept even a statutory declaration if he deems it not credible or is in, doubt.

These are the instructions that were issued by the Minister of Justice at the time of the election of 1917, and put into the whole hands of partisan enumerators giving them the power to strike a name off the list in their own discretion; giving them the power to throw into the waste basket the solemn affidavit of a citizen stating his right to vote, and to refuse to put his name on the list. Surely the partisan enumerators should at least be left alone to administer the law. Is it necessary that the Minister of Justice should give hints to them as to what can be done to prevent an honest man from voting, and as to rejecting the affidavits of citizens who come forward to prove their right to vote at an election? But here it is; the Department of Justice tells the partisan enumerator what he is to do, authorizes him

without a hearing to strike names off the list, to reject affidavits, and to refuse to allow a decent citizen to exercise his franchise.

Several attempts have been made in this country to gain party advantage by legislation in respect to the franchise. The first was the Gerrymander Act of 1882, which was one of the most "disgraceful pieces of legislation that was ever introduced in a free parliament. The second was the Franchise Act of 1885, under which the Government of that day took the right to appoint partisan revising barristers in every county in Canada to make the lists and to take out of the hands of the people the whole procedure connected with the making of those lists. The Liberal party objected to that. At the convention of 1893 it was one of the planks of the platform of the Liberal party that the Franchise Act should be repealed and that we should restore the provincial franchise. The Liberal party redeemed that pledge in 1897, and from that day up until 1917 we had a decent franchise which was satisfactory to every honest man in this country. The third attempt to gain party advantage out of the franchise was made in 1917 in 'the case of the War-Time Elections Act. Everybody knows that these three attempts to gain party advantage by legislation were all -made by the same political party.

Topic:   A.D., 1919.
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L LIB

Andrew Ross McMaster

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McMASTER:

Under different names.

Mr. J H. 'SINCLAIR: Yes, under different names, but the leopard's spots were unchanged. I have directed attention to the case of Nova Scotia. I object to this Act, in the first place, because of the unfairness of handing over the making of the lists to partizan enumerators. I object to it also on account of the expense; there is no need of it in Nova Scotia. I believe that other provinces are in the same position as Nova Scotia, although I am not so familiar with the conditions in other provinces as I am with those in the province from which I come. There should be a clause in this Bill to provide that in any province such as Nova Scotia, where a regular list is made by municipal authorities and is ready for an election, this Act shall not apply. When we come to the appropriate clause of the Bill in committee I shall ask the Prime Minister to consider a proposal of that kind.

Hon. gentlemen opposite have been claiming that they are not partisans; they have been putting forward in this country the claim that this Union Government is not a partisan administration; that it is above

party politics. If that was the case, why did they not leave the old Dominion Elections Act alone? This is certainly a party advantage that is sought to be gained, and, I presume, when they put forward a Bill* like this, even for by-elections, that they intend, when they come on with the regular election measure at the next session, to model it after the same system as they have put on the table to-day. That is one reason why I want to register "my protest against the provisions of this Bill. I have said that my hon. friends opposite have endeavoured to convince the country that they are above partisanship; but when it goes out to the country that they have introduced a measure regarding the franchise that cancels the ordinary election law of this country and that throws the revision altogether into the hands of partisans, it will be difficult for them any longer to maintain that position. I am distinctly opposed to the principle of this Bill, and I want to endeavour to impress upon the House for a moment the importance of the matter referred to by the hon. member for Victoria (Mr. W. H. White). It is a sad thing if we are to create unnecessary divisions in this country. This disqualifies all married women born in European countries. What is the matter with our Scandinavian fellow citizens in the West? Are they not good citizens? I have always heard that especially the Icelanders in Manitoba have been among the best citizens we have in that province. I know it to be a fact that there are good schools in that province amongst the Icelanders; that they prize education; that some of their scholars have won the Rhodes'' scholarship; that they have taken a fine position in that regard in Manitoba. Some of them have gained high places in the Government of that province, and that being the case, why should we put on the statute-book anything that would put these people in a different position from other citizens of this Dominion? Surely, it is far enough to go to say that alien enemies should be dealt with in this way; but when we include all aliens, alien friends as well as alien enemies, we are working up for ourselves trouble that will tend to create race feeling, and that should not be tolerated. This is vicious legislation and I wish to be permitted to register my protest against it.

Topic:   A.D., 1919.
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UNI L

Michael Clark

Unionist (Liberal)

Mr. MICHAEL CLARK (Red Deer):

Mr. Speaker, as I shall not be here on the committee stage of this Bill, I should like to say one or two words. I scarcely think the Government are deserving of the censure

that the hon. member for Guysborough (Mr. J. H. Sinclair) bestowed upon them in regard to the time at which this Bill was brought in. It is for a very limited purpose, and something must be done in the last days of the session, and the reason, I presume, why this is taken up now is that the Government can see now for the fi#st time when demobilization will be practically complete. I think that is a sufficient answer to my hon. friend as regards the censure which he saw fit to make in his opening remarks, regarding the Government.

I do not share the fear of the enumeration system that exists in the mind of the leader of the Opposition (Mr. McKenzie), although I was very much impressed by some things that fell from the lips of the hon. member for Victoria (Mr. W. H. White). My experience in the West is that enumerators have, under both political parties, done their work with fairness, and that if a man had a policy big enough to recommend itself to the people, he got a majority and got a fair electorate to appeal to.

I do share absolutely the views of my two hon. friends to whom I have just referred, as regards the disfranchisement of certain women. I honestly think the Government are making a mistake, and I should like to say quite frankly that this is a blunder from every point of view. We have been engaged with the rest of our allies, for nearly five years, in work of destruction in this world, and amongst other things that have been brought very near to destruction have been the nerve fibres of our people, and the greatest thought that can occupy the minds of any one of us, from the humblest ranks of our citizens to the highest ranks of our statesmanship is-how shall we turn the thoughts and minds of our people from processes of destruction to those of construction ? I want to put that point very strongly to the Prime Minister, because I have the greatest confidence in the breadth of his mind along many lines. If we honestly try to answer that question, we shall, I think, be compelled to conclude that by this unfair, unjust and unnecessary discrimination, we are continuing the work of destruction, at least to the extent of keeping up unnecessary irritation and jealousy and dispute amongst our people.

I put that as the first broad ground upon which I am opposed to this Act of further disfranchisement. I think the thing is paltry too, when we have regard to the fact that it is undertaken for the

very small purpose of a few by-elections. Nothing much is going to happen to either political party Or to the nation at large as a result of those by-elections. The Government have done big things in the war, and they, I think, will concede to me that I have given them full credit and support for the big things they have done in the war. I have done that to the point of political misunderstanding on the part of thousands of people of this country with whom in former years I was accustomed to co-operate. I do not regret having done that; far from it, I am proud of having done it. It was my duty to do it, hut while I do not regret it, I do not take any credit for it. But I repeat I have given them credit for those big things, and I want to base an appeal to them on this consideration-why not continue doing big things and not paltry things at the beginning of the period of reconstruction? I have said that this is unjust. It is unjust on the face of it. As the hon. member for Kamouraska (Mr. E. Lapointe) has pointed out, it is only pos' sible, if I understood him aright, by what amounts to an act of denaturalization. These women are naturalized now according to our law and their being put off the lists of voters is only possible by a process of denaturalization. Surely, that is a thing we do not want to be done. It is unnecessary, so far as these women are concerned, from the point of view of having only people vote who are able to bestow at least some intelligence upon the questions upon which they vote. I have in my immediate neighbourhood and my constituency some Norwegians, who were mostly former friends of mine, almost to the point of an equal division; some of them supported me very strongly in the 1917 election, and the others most mistakenly-at least I think so-opposed me. But my point is that, whatever they did, I know those people personally, and they did it intelligently. I live near them, and I have in memory at the moment two brothers-, both very good men, one of whom voted against me and the other for me, but both of whom told myself personally and in an intelligent way the grounds upon which they based their action. I did not interview their wives; I did not know that their wives had votes. I am no-t so well acquainted with their wives, but whether 'they could have defended themselves or not I have a shrewd suspicion that if they had had the vote the wife in each case would have voted with the husband, and I would have come out even on the deal. So I say it is unnecessary from the point of view of wise policy.

Then I want to appeal to my right hon. friend along this line. He has stood for what is solid in the conservative thought of this country, and I think that in the progress of human affairs it is probably necessary to have the two sides of what is essential in human character represented in the politics of the country. Now is it wise to link up either party in this country with this unpalatable and unnecessary discrimination? I do not think it is. It is courageous enough, because the time will come when these people will have the vote and it may be that these things will rankle for a generation hence and put a black mark on a -party which will be operating in- the affairs of this country after most of us have gone hence. It is an unwise thing even from the party point of view. Indeed, I can see nothing to. defend it.

I repeat the heads of what I have said: It is non-constructive work; it is paltry; it is unjust; it is unnecessary; it is unwise even- from the party point of view, and looking forward as my hon. friend from Guysborough (Mr. J. H. Sinclair) did to the time when the larger Act comes in, I would say to the Government: You have plenty of ability. I am not even- sure that the personnel, of the -Cabinet needs much reconstruction, except that I would cut it down, take two out and put one in-however, I am not Cabinet-making this morning. You have plenty of ability, and reorganization of the Government is not so much necessary as a thorough reorganization of policy, and I could give no word which, from my point of view, would be better worth the consideration of the Government and more useful in their guidance than to say: For Heaven's sake, in these very early stages of the process of reconstruction help all you can, as Mr. Asquith -put it the other day, to close the wounds of war. He said, "It is the business of wise statesmanship to close the wounds of war and not to leave them open."1 We shall close the wounds of war the more we trust our people.

I thoroughly endorse what my hon. friend from Victoria (Mr. 'White) said, that if we have seditious people, if they are bad citizens, march them out. There is no picture that I have looked on with greater pleasure than those on the back of the Sketch of London showing the Huns who had actly badly in- England during the war being marched in groups to the seashore and being put out of the-country. If

our people' in the West, and it is equally true of the women as well as the men, are making part of the wealth of the country and paying a fair share of the taxes of the country, trust them, make them citizens, treat them all alike, and I am sure that if we act along these lines we shall have a better and a bigger and a happier and a more prosperous people.

At one o'clock the House took recess.

The House resumed at three o'clock.

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Hon. ARTHUR MEIGHEN (Acting Minister of Justice):

Mr. Speaker, I beg to move that the debate be adjourned, to be resumed this day. I make this motion for the purpose of dealing with Senate amendments to Bill No. 78 to Amend the Criminal Code (Sexual Offences). _

Motion agreed to and debate adjourned.

Topic:   A.D., 1919.
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CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT.


(SEXUAL OFFENCES.)


CONSIDERATION OP SENATE AMENDMENTS.

UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. METGHEN:

The Senate has amended Bill 78 in several particulars. The first two sections they passed without amendment. Section 3, they amend by inserting after the word "girl" in the fifth line the words "of previously chaste character," and by inserting a proviso at the end of the section as follows:

iNo person accused of any offence under this subsection shall be convicted upon the evidence of one witness unless such witness is corroborated in some material particular by evidence implicating the accused.

They have struck out clause 4 entirely and added) three other clauses. In order that the House may understand what the effect of the Senate amendments is, it is necessary for me to revert to the first clause of the Bill, which has the effect of providing against seduction or illicit intercourse with girls between the ages of sixteen and eighteen of previously chaste character. Previous to the passing of that legislation, or indeed up till now, that protection was granted only up to the age of sixteen. This legislation extends it to the age of eighteen, and the House will mark that a condition of the offence must be proof that the girl is of previously chaste character. The previous section 211, repealed by our first clause and the clause I have just referred to, provided that there should be two years' imprisonment' as a maximum punishment for any one violat-

ing a girl below the age of sixteen years. That is repealed and1 the age is raised to eighteen years. The very fact of that change substituting the ages of sixteen to eighteen for those of fourteen to sixteen, requires legislation to take care of the cases that fall between the ages of fourteen and sixteen. Consequently our Bill by section 3, provides punishment for offences committed against girls between the ages of fourteen and sixteen and does not provide that they must be of previously chaste character. The Senate amendment insists that they shall be of previously chaste character, thus putting them in the very same category as girls between the ages of sixteen and eighteen. The effect of the Senate amendments is, therefore, to make the same law as regards protection from sexual offences applicable to all girls between the ages of fourteen and eighteen, with this difference only, that the punishment has a maximum of five years for the first two ages, and in the case of the second two, two years. While I do not personally agree with the soundness of the amendments, under the circumstances I shall move concurrence, because I think it is better that we should concur than that we should lose wholly the effect of this legislation. The other amendment to clause 3 provides that there shall be corroborative evidence. That, I think, is a sound principle in this case. The 'Code provides it in similar cases, and I have no hesitation in moving concurrence so far as that amendment is concerned Clause 4 is struck out. That is the clause which has reference to the offence of signing in a register or putting up ut a hotel under the pretence of being man and wife when such is not the case. The Senate struck that clause out. entirely. I think the Bill would be much better with the clause in it, but I shall move a concurrence in that amendment as well, rather than lose the benefit of the legislation. The next amendment adds to the Bill certain clauses as four, five and six. The first clause is to change the word " five " to the word " ten " in section 216, as re-enacted in 1913. That is known as the White Slave Law, and the maximum penalty is changed by the Senate from five to ten years. I shall move concurrence in that amendment. Clause 6-I shall deal with clause 5 in a moment-simply brings the Act into operation on the first day of October, 1919. That is wise, because it enables the law to get into the hands of all magistrates concerned, and consequently I shall move concurrence in that also. Now I

come to clause 5, which the Senate proposes to add. It is as follows:

On the trial of any offence against sections 1, 2 or 3 of this Act, the trial Judge shall instruct the jury that, if in their view, the evidence does not show that the accused is wholly or chiefly to blame for the commission of the said offence they may And a verdict of acquittal.

That is to say, the Senate proposes that in so far as the offence by employers against girls between the ages of fourteen and eighteen is concerned the judge shall in every case instruct the jury that unless they are convinced that the accused was wholly or chiefly to blame, they are free to bring in a verdict of acquittal. In my judgment, the insertion of that legislation would have the practical effect of repealing the entire Bill as regards any results that are to be expected. I think that the foundation principle of criminal legislation for the protection of young girls against crimes of this nature rests upon the presumption that they have not reached that stage of mentality and maturity of character that enables them to come to resolution for their own protection, and to resist importunity not physically but mentally. If we are now to commence to measure degrees of culpability among joint offenders, it occurs to me that such action is subversive of the fundamental principle of our common law. Even in the civil law there is no contribution among tort-feasors. But if we are to cany the criminal law to the point of weighing the apportionment of guilt and compel the judge to instruct the jury that it is their duty so to do, it seems to me there is very little use in attempting by criminal legislation to protect young girls in this country. Consequently, I beg to move:

That this House do concur in amendments 1, 2 and 3 made by the Senate to Bill 78, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (Sexual Offences), and to the 4th amendment in so far as concerns clauses four and' six thereby proposed to be added to the said Bill, but does not concur in clause 5 thereby proposed to be added. The reason for such non-coneurrence is that if clauses 1, 2 and 3 of the said Bill are to effectively deter ,persons from committing the offences against girls therein defined the comparative culpability of the parties concerned cannot be considered.

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Motion agreed to.


FURTHER SUPPLEMENTARY ESTIMATES, 1919-20


A message from His Excellency the Governor General transmitting further .Supplementary Estimates for the year ending March 31, 1920, was presented by Sir Thomas White (Minister of Finance), read by Mr. Speaker to the House, and referred to the Committee of Supply.


DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT.


The House resumed the consideration of the motion of the right hon. Sir Robert Borden (Prime Minister) for the second reading of Bill No. 178, to amend the Dominion Elections Act.


L LIB

Arthur Bliss Copp

Laurier Liberal

Mr. A. B. COPP (Westmorland):

Mr. Speaker, finding myself so clearly opposed as I am to the principle of the Bill that is now before the House, I feel I would not be doing justice to myself if I did not associate myself as strongly as possible with the views expressed by hon. gentlemen who have already spoken in this debate. I feel, Sir, that I would offer a very much stronger opposition to the measure if it were not for two reasons. The first is, that I am glad to know that this is only a special Act being put through the House for the purpose of conducting any by-election which may he held in the near future. The second reason is because it in effect repeals the War-time Elections Act, as the assurance has been given by the Prime Minister that no elections will be held under that Act. That assurance cannot be embodied in the Bill, as I understand, and possibly for very good reasons, but we have that assurance from the Prime Minister and we are prepared to accept it. I do not intend to take up any of the time of the House discussing the features of the Wartime Elections Act, because the time has arrived, or very nearly arrived, for it to die a natural death. I am sure that every member of this House, and particularly every person in the country will be very glad indeed to have that assurance. In preparing a Franchise Act it should be the desire of every member of this House to get as fair and equitable a measure as possible. The objection I have to this Bill, Sir, is that it contains a proviso which, to my mind, gives the political party which happens to he in power a very great advantage in the conduct of elections which may be held under it. That has been proven without doubt by hon. gentlemen who have already discussed this matter, particularly my hon. friend from Victoria, Alberta (Mr. W. H. White) who placed on Hansard to-day an affidavit showing how unfairly an Act of this kind may be administered, as the War-time Elections Act. It has been, and I presume always will be, the prerogative of the Government in power to appoint their returning

4G36

officers in the different constituencies throughout this Dominion. As in the past, no doubt partisan officials will be appointed, but I have no fault to find with that because I think it has been the practice, and I have every reason to believe it will be the practice in the future, to select good men in the different constituencies to be the returning officers. But the unfortunate part is that when we clothe these deputy returning officers with authority to appoint enumerators we are drifting into the stream where irregularities, unfairness and dishonesty may occur.

The main objection I have, Sir, to this Bill is schedule B, which provides for the preparation of the lists in the different constituencies. It may be that I am somewhat prejudiced, because I think that in our province we have the very best system that can be devised for a fair, proper and honest revision of the voters' lists. The law regarding the matter in the province of New Brunswick provides for three revisers in each parish; two of these revisers are the county councillors of the parish, the third is appointed by the local Government of the province. In that case, Sir, we have almost without exception, if not entirely without exception, both political parties represented on the revising board. More than that, we have two county councillors who have to appeal to their respective parishes for re-election every year or every two years as the case may be-the term of office varying in some of the constituencies-and they are interested in having all the names put upon the list, because their election or defeat depends upon the proper revision of that list; consequently, the work is well done. I find it hard to bring myself to agree that we should depart from that system even for this special Bill now before the House, and I agree to the departure with this distinct reservation-that if I have the honour to sit in this House when any Franchise Bill comes before it, I shall insist as strongly as possible that we adopt the system of making up and revising the voters' lists that obtains in the province of New Brunswick.

We want no better proof of how that system works out than the election of 1917. The lists were prepared under the Wartime Elections Act in the province of New Brunswick, but the enumerators were selected from the revisers throughout the province. The sheriffs, who are officials of high standing, were the returning officers in each constituency, and the returning officers appointed the revisers as enumerators, and so far as I know, barring possibly some

trifling irregularity that will always creep in during an election campaign, there was not one single word of dissatisfaction or complaint throughout the province. Both parties got a square deal, the lists were properly revised in the different polling subdivisions, the revisers worked together harmoniously, and we got a splendid, and an almost perfect, list in every constituency. Under the other system, Mr. Speaker, we have evidence to-day from hon. gentlemen, the enumerator system was put into effect, as it is now being put into effect throughout the Dominion, we found unfortunately very many irregularities. This goes to prove beyond peradventure, I think, that the system followed in the province of New Brunswick is very much superior to the system followed in the other portions of the Dominion, and which is proposed to be followed under this Bill.

Much has been said in regard to the disfranchisement of certain portions of the population in the western part of the Dominion. I have never had the privilege of being in that part of our country for a sufficient length of time to meet those people, but I have a very strong personal feeling in regard to their disfranchisement. I do believe that every naturalized citizen is entitled to the franchise. If he is not sufficiently loyal in the opinion of our officials who have charge of such matters then it is the duty of the Government to see that that citizen is deported. Unless the citizens who came into this country some years ago under the implied contract in regard to this matter are fit and proper persons to exercise the franchise, then they should not longer remain citizens but should be deported.

That, Mr. Speaker, is all I have to say. Realizing that everybody is anxious to get away, I have taken these few moments to put myself on record in regard to this matter, accepting the Bill that is being introduced by the Government with the distinct reservation that it is only to apply for a special purpose, and that when a regular Franchise Act comes before this House, I shall, as I said before, if I have the honour of being a member, exercise my full privilege of protesting in the strongest manner possible against deviating from the system we have in our own province for making up the voter's lists.

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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

Mr. Speaker, I think I voice the feelings of gentlemen elected from the province of Quebec when I state that this Bill is highly objectionable. This morning I registered a formal protest against the naming of enumerators and returning to the system of revising officers.

I wish to renew that protest. In fact, Mr. Speaker, I am opposed to any federal franchise I believe the provincial franchise should guide us as regards representation in this House. The principle of provincial franchise was accepted, I think, definitely in 1897, when the Minister of Justice of the day introduced the great reform which had been promised by the Liberal party as soon as they should assume office. You will remember, Mr. Speaker, that for twenty or twenty-five years, and especially since 1882, the year of the Gerrymander Act, the bone of centention between the two great parties had been this question of electoral reform.

After many combats the Liberal party pledged itself in 1893 that if returned to office it would do away with the franchise that had been adopted by the majority of the House of Commons in 1885. In 1897, a year after the Liberal, government took office, this iniquitous franchise Aot, which had created a large number of partisan revising officers and had been the cause of many electoral frauds, was practically unanimously voted down by the House of Commons, and the old system of the provincial franchise, which had been in operation from Confederation until 1882, was reverted to. I thought at that time that no party would again venture to tamper with the franchise. In view of the fact that the policy adopted in 1897 with regard to the franchise received long ago the eloquent and weighty support of men like Edward Blake, David Mills, Alexander Mackenzie and Richard Cartwright, and in view of the fact that that reform has worked out successfully with both parties -because both parties were returned to office on that franchise-it seems to me that we should hesitate before discarding it. I am in favour of a provincial franchise because, to use the language of Mr. Blake, the House of Commons of Canada is the mirror of the people, and if the franchise which elects members of the House of Commons is artificially arranged, you deface thereby the fair form of representation; you destroy its substance, and you may as well discard the theory. The provincial franchise, therefore, is, in my humble judgment, the proper franchise for this country.

By the British North America Aet, the measure which was the basis of Confederation in 1867, the principle is established of representation by population. Who are the people best able to say on what basis representation of the people in Parliament should

be determined? Are they not the people of the various provinces? The people of the provinces are the people who should guide us as to the method of electing parliamentary representatives. In United States, as in Canada the federal principle prevails, but in .the United States they have no federal franchise; they have a State 'franchise whidh is accepted for federal purposes. In the neighbouring republic there are more States than there are provinces in Canada, but our circumstances are the same as theirs so far as regards variety of races and creeds and extent of territory and thousands of miles separate the various provinces of the Dominion. It is natural that what is in the best interests of these various races, creeds and peoples throughout the length and breadth of Canada should be best known by the people themselves in these various centres of activity. It is not possible that there should be uniformity of procedure in all the provinces of Canada or in all the States of the American Union; we must be content with the principle of diversity.

The machinery created by the Federal Government for the preparation of the lists in the cities by certain officers, and in the rural districts by certain other officers, will entail a great deal of labour, expense and difficulty. As little labour, as little expense, and as little difficulty as possible should be involved in the granting of a popular franchise. If the intention of the Prime Minister is carried out, with the Franchise Bill that will be introduced next session or the session after, we shall have both a federal franchise and a provincial franchise-a double franchise, which will mean double lists, double machinery, and double expenditure. Mr. Speaker, I do not think it is well for the nation that we should double the lists, double the expenditure and double the difficulties; the franchise should be made accessible to all citizens of a free country. What will be the result if we double the cost of the franchise; if we surround the granting of that privilege of every free citizen, with too many difficulties? You will favour the few who are able to bear that expenditure and to shoulder the burden of these difficulties, but you will prevent the great labouring masses and the poorer people from having access to the legislative halls of this country. Therefore, I protest against doubling the lists and against doubling the 'expenditures. Why should we not trust the municipal councils? In England, the country from which we draw our traditions, politically speaking,

the making of the lists, and therefore the creation of the franchise, is the privilege of the minor local hoards, and has been from time immemorial. In Canada we have our municipal councils, where the free people conduct their own municipal affairs, and where, so to speak, they are being trained into the discussion of public affairs. In these municipal councils all parties are represented, and I have yet to learn that as a result of action taken by any of our municipal councils, whose members are, so to speak, face to face every day with those who elected them, or voted against them, any substantial injustice has ever been done. Therefore, we should trust our municipal councils and not suspect their political animus in the making of the lists.

I see that the right hon. gentleman (Sir Robert Borden)-I should say the gallant gentleman-has declared this morning, and it is in the Bill, that we shall have in all .provinces woman suffrage. When this question of woman suffrage came up last year, I opposed the Bill which was introduced, together with my friends from the province of Quebec.

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L LIB
L LIB
UNION

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

No one voted against it.

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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

I am still opposed to woman suffrage, tout as Sir Richard Cartwright said once in this House, "An accomplished fact is an accomplished fact." I know that the women of my province will exercise their franchise in an honourable and creditable manner.

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July 5, 1919