February 25, 1921

UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. GUTHRIE:

One might be held

under the present law each three years by any province that asks for it in the way prescribed by the Act.

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L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

It will be necessary to

make a change in sub-section 3. I move to strike out the words in the third and fourth lines "hereafter changes its Secretary, such changes" and the word "If" at the beginning of the paragraph, and insert in lieu of the word "If" the words "the names of the Secretaries of".

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. GUTHRIE:

Just before that motion is put let me say that another draft has been handed to me by Colonel Biggar, the Chief Electoral Officer. He proposes that sub-section 3 be made to read as follows:

The names of the Secretaries of the Dominion Alliance (Ontario Branch) the Ontario Referendum Committee, and The Citizens' Liberty League shall be notified to the Chief Electoral Officer who shall advise the Returning Officer thereof, and notification of the persons in each electoral district authorized to appoint agents may thereafter be given by such Secretaries.

The language sounds to me as if it covered the point.

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LIB

Lawrence Geoffrey Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

I want to ask one question which may or may not have a direct bearing upon the point. In elections held under the Canada Temperance Act how are the lists to be made? My reason for asking the question is, that in the city of Quebec there is a probability of our having an

election under the Canada Temperance Act within the next month or so. Will the minister therefore state how the lists are to be made up?

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. GUTHRIE:

In future', at all elections to be held under the Canada Temperance Act, the machinery provided under the Dominion Elections Act will have to be adopted.

Mr. POWrER: Even though it is the

cumbersome and expensive machinery provided under the Act of last session for this purpose?

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. GUTHRIE:

My hon. friend may

call the machinery cumbersome but the Toronto Globe paid it a high compliment.

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Amendment agreed to.


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 clause as amended carry?

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UNION

Michael Steele

Unionist

Mr. STEELE:

Before the clause is

carried I wish to propose another amendment. Under paragraph (c) of section 29 of the Elections Act a residence of two months in the electoral district is required of any voter. In paragraph (d) of section 1 of this Bill, instead of two months residence in the electoral district two months residence in the province of Ont-[DOT] ario is required. There may be legal

objections to doing so but I think it is very desirable that for the vote to be taken in April we should adhere to the residence in the electoral district for all voters. I would therefore move that:

Paragraph (d) of subsection 1, of section 29 be amended by striking out the words "Province of Ontario for" in line 24 thereof and substituting therefor the words "Electoral district wherever such person seeks to vote for at least"

Then the clause will read:

Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (c) of subsection 1 of section 29, every person otherwise qualified to vote and not disqualified from voting shall be entitled to vote if he has ordinarily resided in Canada for twelve months and in the electoral district where such voter seeks to vote for at least two months before the first day of February, 1921.

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. GUTHRIE:

This proposal raises

a question upon which the Government would be glad of the opinion of the committee; it opens a fair field for argument. The section as it appears in the Bill provides for a residence qualification of twelve months in Canada and two months in the province of Ontario. The amendment proposes two months residence in the particular electoral district striking out the words " Province of Ontario." It is argued, and has been argued before the Cabinet committee who heard a deputa-

tion, that under the Dominion Elections Act the residential qualification is two months in the electoral district, irrespective of residence in the province The change here is to two months' residence in the province. The distinction is broadly this: The constituency in a referendum of this kind is a provincial constituency; the constituency under the Dominion Elections Act is an electoral district for the purpose of returning a member to this House. In the one case residence within the electoral district is required where you are only voting for a member to represent that particular district. But this is a question which will involve the whole province of Ontario, the whole province is the constituency, and in the drafting of this proposal the Chief Electoral Officer adopted that plan and provided for two months' residence in Ontario, as well, of course, as twelve months' residence in the Dominion.

I am told by the Chief Electoral Officer that experience in the West, where a similar vote was taken last October, would justify retaining the clause as it is in the Bill now before this committee. It is said that in many cases people move from one district to another within a province, and that those people are deprived of their votes; and the argument is made, that so long as a man resides within the province itself he should be entitled to cast his vote. These are the two phases of the question. I do not know that the Government has any particular view either way, neither do I know just what view the committee will take of it. In the meantime it is open for discussion.

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UNION

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Unionist

Mr. NESBITT:

What strikes me is that if the residential qualification embraced the whole province the deputy returning officer might have no knowledge of the voters. In the rural districts they can be introduced by an elector, and he can state that they have a right to vote.

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. GUTHRIE:

He has to swear to it.

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UNION

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Unionist

Mr. NESBITT:

He can swear to it

probably. I do not care which way it is put, but during this discussion it struck me that the proposed change might open the door to fraud a great deal more if the residential qualification applied to the province of Ontario rather than to the electoral district, because in the latter ordinarily those who are going to vote are well known.

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UNI L

Thomas Alexander Crerar

Unionist (Liberal)

Mr. CRERAR:

I quite concur in the remarks made by my hon. friend (Mr. FEBRUARY 25, 1921

Nesbitt). I see no reason why the same provision should not he made to apply in this House as ordinarily applies in the election for the House of Commons. I can quite understand the possibility of a great deal of wrongful voting if the clause stands as presented in the amendment by my hon. friend who is handling it for the Government. We all know it is a regrettable thing, but nevertheless it is the fact that in cities particularly those can be found who will swear to anything if there is any financial gain to accrue to them. Fortunately they comprise a very small portion of our people. It would be quite a simple matter to get together a number of such unscrupulous persons and simply have them vote at every polling division they could visit in a day. On the other hand, as my hon. friend from North Oxford points out, if the residence qualification is confined to the electoral division, the people in that division are acquainted with those who are going to vote, and consequently there is not the possibility of fraud that exists in the amendment as introduced by the Government. I remember that a number of years ago a referendum similar to the one in contemplation was taken in the province of Manitoba. The way was open for fraud and impersonation, and in one polling division more people voted than there were men, women and children in it. It is better to avoid the possibility of such an undesirable condition of affairs, and I therefore very heartily support the proposal of my hon. friend from North Oxford.

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UNION

Francis Ramsey Lalor

Unionist

Mr. LALOR:

Mr. Chairman, I remember when the Ontario election law provided that the voter must be a resident of the municipality. I always thought that was a very unfair method. I have known many instances where farmers sold out and moved to the next district, thus losing their votes. I think very great objection will be raised by people in the rural districts when they find that because they have changed their residence they are not permitted to vote.

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UNI L

Thomas Alexander Crerar

Unionist (Liberal)

Mr. CRERAR:

They are in the same

position as if they were voting for the election of members of Parliament.

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UNION

Francis Ramsey Lalor

Unionist

Mr. LALOR:

I do not care. I believe

that any man who is a bona fide resident of the province of Ontario has a right to vote, even though he may move from one county or township to another. I think it is only just and fair to any citizen that he should not be deprived of his vote on account of change of residence.

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UNION

Alexander Kenneth Maclean

Unionist

Mr. MACLEAN (Halifax) :

Will the

regular voters' list be compiled for the purposes of the referendum under the provisions of the Dominion Elections Act, and will it be completed within a reasonable time before the actual voting?

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. GUTHRIE:

In urban municipalities, the list which will be complied and completed within twelve days before the election. But my hon. friend will recollect that a different rule applies in regard to rural municipalities. There, notwithstanding whether a man is off the list or on, he has the right on election day to go to the polls and demand a ballot, but he has to provide himself with somebody who will vouch for him, and the person so vouching must be a resident of the electoral district and on the voter's list. He takes an oath that the man applying for a ballot is a qualified elector. Then it is the duty of the returning officer to hand the applicant a ballot, even though his name is not on the list. It is not so in cities, towns and villages. I think that reasonably safeguards the rural vote. Of course, you might find some scalli-wags who would go from poll to poll and try to vote, but I think we have provided a sufficient safeguard, inasmuch as a resident who is on the voters' list for that particular division must take an oath in order to qualify an applicant for a ballot. In the Act as originally drawn we had a provision that two must vouch for an applicant, but at the instance of the committee who considered the clause we limited the requirement to one.

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CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

It seems to me that there is a difference between this vote and the vote for members of Parliament. You elect members of Parliament for one particular district; the man who is elected is supposed to be the choice of those who are electors resident in that district. In this case the whole of Ontario is one electoral district. It is not that prohibition shall or shall not prevail in an electoral district, it is as to whether it shall or shall not prevail in the whole province of Ontario. What is wanted is to get the vote of every qualified voter in the whole province in order to ascertain the opinion of the province, and I think you would cut off a great many people from voting if you made it obligatory that they should have resided in the electoral district itself for the time specified. The injustice which would be done in that case would be far greater than any that might arise through double voting or personation, pen-

alties for which are prescribed in the Act. Having regard to the fact that it is one constituency which is voting and in which every voter votes for the whole of the province, I should be in favour of leaving the clause as it is and not introducing the condition of residence in the locality itself.

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February 25, 1921