The Chief Electojal Officer, or Parliamentary Counsel, has suggested an amendment there in reference to the franking privilege. It should be granted to the Chief Electoral Officer as he will have a good deal of matter to send out by mail just at the time of the election. I beg to move:
All letters or mailable matter addressed to the Chief Electoral Officer, at Ottawa, or sent by the said Chief Electoral Officer, from Ottawa, shall be free of Canadian postage under such regulations as the Postmaster General shall prescribe.
This amendment was prepared by the Post Office authorities.
Amendment agreed to and section as amended agreed to.
_ Oo section 37-proclamation by returning officer mailed to postmasters:
When this section was under consideration before, I asked that the proclamations be printed in both French and English not only in the province of Quebec and Manitoba, but in all the pro-
vinces. This is a bilingual country and we may as well recognize that fact at once. We should not allow the small additional expenditure that would be involved to stand in the way. In this year of billions we need not consider a few hundred dollars if the expenditure is to satisfy the whole people of Canada. It would not be necessary or advisable, I think, to have the proclamations in both languages in British Columbia at the present time, but I think it should be done in all the other provinces. Ontario has a French population of nearly 300,000, one-third of the population of New Brunswick is French, and in some districts of that province there are only one or two English families. In the whole Maritime Provinces there will be a population by the next census of 180,000 French-speaking people. I trust the minister will have the proclamations printed in both languages for all the provinces except British Columbia. I mentioned this when the clause was under consideration before, and I hope the minister is prepared to-night to accept my suggestion. The clause could be so worded as to leave it to the discretion of the returning officer in English-speaking centres where there were only a few French residents, to decide whether the proclamations were required in both languages.
suggestion of my hon. friend (Mr. Turgeon). During the last election I was approached by several of the officers in my constituency to help them translate their instructions from English into French, so that they could understand their duties on polling day. A few days before polling day I had to send certain parties from one poll to another in order to help the officers holding the polls to understand their instructions, which were printed in the English language. In my constituency there are several polls where you will find not more than one or two English families. Everything official is done more or less in the French language and has to be translated into English, and this it is very difficult for some of them to do. The returning officer appointed for my constituency at the last election could not read French, and consequently he had great difficulty in giving the proper instructions to the different officers at the polls throughout the constituency. I trust that the minister will accept the suggestion of my hon. friend to have the proclamations printed in both languages.
I have very much pleasure indeed in supporting the suggestion of my hon. friend (Mr. Turgeon). I spoke on this
question when the clause was under consideration a few nights ago. There are a great many districts in the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island where the population is mostly all French. In the county I have the honour to represent, three-quarters of the population are French-speaking, and in a great many parishes of the county there are no English-speaking people at all. I therefore think it only right that the proclamation should be printed in both languages so that the electors will know what they mean. Women now have the right to vote, and they should know what is going on. Not many of them in our part of the country can read English, but they can read French, and it would be very convenient to them and the public generally to have these proclamations printed in French as well as English. The expense would not be very great. We could leave it to the discretion of the returning officers to decide whether proclamations in both languages were required at certain polls.
I presume this clause applies to Quebec and Manitoba because the French language is by the constitution of the British North America Act and by the Manitoba Act official in the courts of these provinces. Since these Acts were passed there has been a large increase in the French population in other provinces, particularly in Ontario and some of the Maritime Provinces. In some constituencies of Ontario a large majority of the population is French-speaking, so I think tlm Bill should be amended to provide for the issue of the proclamation in both languages in constituencies where there is a considerable French-speaking population. Power could be given to the Chief Electoral Officer to instruct the returning officer to issue the proclamations in both languages.
clauses that have received very earnest consideration from the Government. Personally I sympathize very much with hon. members who have spoken of the difficulties which arise in various parts of the province of New Brunswick, and perhaps other parts of the Dominion, from the fact that our people are not so well educated as to be masters of both French and English. It would be far better for us all if we were; unfortunately we are not. I think we all realize that the language question has heretofore excited a marked difference of opinion, and undoubtedly the Government has acted wisely in deciding to abide by the established rule. The two provinces of
Quebec and Manitoba are specially mentioned in this section and in another section, but the reason is that there are constitutional questions in both these provinces in regard to the right to use the French language which do not exist in the other provinces. There may be some slight inconvenience in some parts of the country by reason of the fact that the clause is not more extensive in its operation, but I think there are rights on both sides in respect to this question, and it is far wiser and safer for the Government to follow well-known and approved paths than to enter upon any new ventures of a very controversial nature on the matter of convenience in elections.
have been in force for a long time, I think some changes are now due. Our population has increased considerably not only in New Brunswick but in several other of our provinces, and therefore I think we must change our law to accommodate our people.
I for one am sorry that all our people cannot read and speak the English language, and although no doubt with the spread of education our young people do not labour under that disadvantage, their parents have not had the same opportunities, and they should be considered in a matter of this kind. I appeal to the Government to make the change now; it would not hurt anybody, the expenditure would not amount to anything, and it would satisfy a great many people throughout the country.