February 25, 1921

UNION

Hugh Guthrie (Solicitor General of Canada; Minister of Militia and Defence)

Unionist

Mr. GUTHRIE:

The Order in Council

does not fix the date. The date is fixed by the proclamation.

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L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

Does not the Order in Council decide that a plebiscite shall be held? Certainly, it is their duty to determine the date. The Secretary of State could not decide that without the knowledge and approval of the Governor in Council.

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UNION

Hugh Guthrie (Solicitor General of Canada; Minister of Militia and Defence)

Unionist

Mr. GUTHRIE:

I am informed by the Chief Electoral Officer that the Order in Council merely states that the request of the province of Ontario shall be granted, and the questions submitted to the electors at a date to he fixed by proclamation. When the proclamation was subsequently issued it was thought by the then Secretary of State that it should bear the same date as the Order in council, and that was the reason why, although subsequently issued, it bears on its face the same date as the Order in Council.

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L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

That is rather a lame explanation. Here is an Order in Council passed by the Government to authorize a certain thing. The Government by this Order in Council does not delegate its power to any man or minister to fill in what he thinks necesary, and then antedate it, for some reason or other which I cannot understand. When we say that a law shall take effect upon proclamation, surely my hon. friend does not pretend that he can antedate the proclamation. The proclamation is evidence of the date at which the law is to take effect. Now, either the Government knew or did not know on the 4th of June, when they issued the Order in Council and decided on the 21st of April, or whatever is the date, that a number of people had been disfranchised in the lists of 1919. If they knew, then I think they were derelict in their duty at the time we passed the law in not putting into the statute in the first instance what ought to have been embodied in it, that the latest lists, or whatever else they thought fit, should be used. I do not object to any of the provisions of the bill, because I am not particularly interested except in the amendment. I do not see why we should leave to posterity the name of Mr. Spence or anybody else, officials of these organizations, who seek to legislate us into becoming good people in spite of our-

selves. I would therefore suggest that this amendment be amended by striking out, as it appears in Hansard-I have not a copy of the bill before me-the following words in lines nine and ten of sub-section 2: "Ben H. Spence and Andrew S. Grant." I think the statute will be fully effective and operative without the insertion of those two names. The clause would then read this way:

(ii) On behalf of the persons interested in promoting' an affirmative answer to the question submitted the Dominion Alliance (Ontario Branch) and the Ontario Referendum Committee jointly shall be entitled to appoint the agents aforesaid, and every such appointment shall be made in writing by such person in each electoral district as may be notified to the Returning Officer jointly by the secretaries-

And so on. Then in the second part of the clause I would similarly deal with the gentlemen who bears the name of Boyce. The words "Secretary of the Citizens' Liberty League" are, I think, amplp. Further on in the third paragraph I would say that the Chief Electoral Officer shall be notified of the names of the secretaries of these organizations, and then the people who are appointed by the secretaries shall have the right to appoint the agents.

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UNION

Hugh Guthrie (Solicitor General of Canada; Minister of Militia and Defence)

Unionist

Mr. GUTHRIE:

I think the committee will agree with the suggestion of the hon. gentleman. I may say that I did not draft the clause. The Chief Electoral Officer who drafted it quite concurs in the opinion that names are unnecessary, and if the committee agrees I have no objection to the suggestion to strike them out in both cases.

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L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

My motion, then, is to strike out in the second paragraph, in the ninth and tenth lines, as the amendment appears in Hansard at page 277, the words "Ben H. Spence and Andrew S. Grant," and to strike out in the last but one line of the same clause the name "C. D. Boyce."

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Amendment agreed to.


LIB

Lawrence Geoffrey Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

Will the effect of this clause be to exclude any other organizations from having representatives at the polls? Suppose the Women's Christian Temperance Union wished to have a representative at the poll, would they be excluded by reason of the fact that the Referendum League and the Dominion Alliance were already represented, or would it be only a question of precedence?

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UNION

Hugh Guthrie (Solicitor General of Canada; Minister of Militia and Defence)

Unionist

Mr. GUTHRIE:

They would have no

right to be represented at the poll.

Mr. JACOBS. Shame.

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UNION

Hugh Guthrie (Solicitor General of Canada; Minister of Militia and Defence)

Unionist

Mr. GUTHRIE:

If we do not pass this legislation I doubt whether any one would have the right to be represented at the poll. The Franchise Act, upon which this legislation is based, provides of course for the presence at the poll of candidates or their agnets. There will be no candidates in this vote, and unless we specially appoint some one to attend in the interests of those who affirm and those who oppose the legislation, I doubt whether any one would have the right to be present at the polls. Those persons in Ontario who feel directly interested in the matter have met and have among themselves agreed as to what would be the best scrutiny to have at the polls, and they brought their joint suggestion, which is set out in the paragraph I have submitted as an amendment. For my part, I think it offers a fairly reasonable solution of the difficulty.

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LIB

Lawrence Geoffrey Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

I do not wish to criticize the views of these organizations in Ontario, but under the Scott Act, if I remember rightly, when elections were held any elector was entitled to appear at the poll and, on being sworn, to act as representative for one side or the other. My point is that I do not think it is fair to deprive any elector of that privilege and to allow only certain organizations to appear in the poll. It might very well happen that in certain constituencies, or in certain localities, the representative either of the Alliance or of the Referendum League might not be competent, or might not be thought to be competent by those most interested.

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L LIB
LIB

Lawrence Geoffrey Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

I would not like to go

so far as to say that; but it might be better for the conduct of the polling if some other party were represented in the poll, and I do not think we should deprive any citizen of the right to appear in a poll even in the province of Ontario.

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L LIB
L LIB

Lucien Cannon

Laurier Liberal

Mr. CANNON:

In the event of the

Dominion Alliance, or whatever it is called, appointing representatives in every polling division in Ontario how will they be paid for their services?

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UNION

Hugh Guthrie (Solicitor General of Canada; Minister of Militia and Defence)

Unionist

Mr. GUTHRIE:

I have no knowledge on that question, I assume their services will be given free.

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L LIB

Lucien Cannon

Laurier Liberal

Mr. CANNON:

As I understand, referenda were held in other provinces and after the vote had been taken the accounts were sent in to the Ottawa Government I would ask were these accounts settled by the respective associations or by the country?

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UNION

Hugh Guthrie (Solicitor General of Canada; Minister of Militia and Defence)

Unionist

Mr. GUTHRIE:

I am not aware that

the Government has received any accounts for services of that kind. The Chief Electoral Officer informs me that he is not aware of any either.

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L LIB

Georges Henri Boivin (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Laurier Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

Shall the amendment carry?

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LIB

Lawrence Geoffrey Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

Before the amendment

carries I wonder whether the minister would guarantee to the committee that, once Ontario goes dry-and we all piously hope it will-it will remain in that happy and satisfactory state for some time, and that the country will not be called upon to pay for any more plebiscites. I would like to know from the Government how many referanda can be taken under this legislation.

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February 25, 1921