February 25, 1921

UNION

Michael Steele

Unionist

Mr. STEELE:

Might I point out that about eight months ago this House adopted the Franchise Act in which appeared section 101, and I make this argument just to show that ,1 am not guilty of any inconsistency or departure from principle; I am endeavouring to be consistent with what the House did eight months ago. That section as adopted provided for the use, in the vote to be taken under the Canada Temperance Act in 1920, of the lists as prepared for the provincial elections in 1919. That vote was not taken in 1920. Had it been taken, this very restriction which I propose now, requiring two months residence in electoral districts, would be in the Act. I did not hear any objection to that then, and I do not think any could have been made. Why the objection should be made now, I do not understand. I am sure the amendment which I have moved is not going to assist the temperance cause in any way, because the great majority of the voters in the rural districts are, I believe, in favour of prohibition and have always so voted, and if electors in the rural districts are disfranchised, the tendency will be to reduce the vote for prohibition. That is not the point I have in mind in moving this amendment. The provision requiring local residence is a good one in any election Act, and for that reason we should preserve it for this vote which it is proposed to take.

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L LIB

William Daum Euler

Laurier Liberal

Mr. EULER:

As regards the referendum, the main object is to ascertain the

wish of the people as a whole, not with any special reference to any particular locality as is the case in the

4 p.m. election of members of Parliament. That being so, the law should provide for as complete an expression of opinion as is possible, and for minimizing as much as possible the disfranchisement of any of the citizens. For that reason alone, I am going to vote against the amendment.

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L LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McKENZIE:

I think the vote should be taken under the Franchise Act itself. I think the idea was, when the Government proposed that the different provinces should take a plebiscite, that the vote should be ' taken under the Elections Act as it existed at that time. If that is so, I think we should stand by that idea and whatever the Franchise Act of the Dominion was at the time, it should be used in connection with the taking of this vote. If the amendment of the Minister is carried, the vote will not be taken under the original Franchise Act, but under a special Act, with special provisions in it, and that was not the idea. I venture to say that the Minister of Justice had in mind at the time that the vote would be taken in the different provinces under the Dominion Franchise Act without any amendment whatever. I understand that the effect of the amendment of the hon. member for South Perth (Mr. Steele), is to bring us back to the original Franchise Act, and I think that is the proper thing to do. The machinery there provided should be sufficiently broad to enable everybody to vote who has the right to vote. A great deal has been said in favour of that Act as giving everybody who is qualified the right to exercise the franchise. If that be the case, I think it should be good enough to enable the people of Ontario to express their views in a plebiscite without any amendment whatever. If the amendment of my hon. friend from South Perth brings us back to the Franchise Act which we passed only last year-it is not an old Act-I will support it.

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?

Mr. MO WAT@

The reason given for

making a change from the original Act is the lack of experience, and if it is a fact that in Alberta and Saskatchewan the requirement as to residence in the locality has had a restrictive effect, I think, in view of their experience, it would be a pity for us to stick to what we originally enacted. We must remember that this is the Scott Act (which used to apply only to a county) now being made to apply to the province as a whole. I am also much moved by the

fact that the Minister's amendment has been discussed by the different representatives who came here, and if they are satisfied with the amendment proposed by the Government I think we would be making a mistake to change it, because they have the idea that what they approved is going to be adopted by the Government. If it is a fact, as my hon. friend from South Perth says, that it may deprive people who are living in the country of their votes, because of their moving about, that is all the more reason why we should stick to the amendment proposed by the Government after conference with these people representing both sides of the question. For these reasons, I think the amendment of my hon. friend from South Perth should not prevail.

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UNI L

Thomas Alexander Crerar

Unionist (Liberal)

Mr. CRERAR:

I understand that the deputation which waited on the Government asked that this change be made, so the statement of my hon. friend from Parkdale (Mr. Mowat) is entirely beside the mark.

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UNION
UNION

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Unionist

Mr. NESBITT:

In the old Scott Act as applied to a county the residence qualification and reference, not to the whole county but to the electoral district or polling sub-division. In the future, as the minister pointed out, they will go on the Franchise Act.

Amendment (Mr. Steele) negatived.

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L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

Before the amendment of the minister carries I should like the point I raised at the outset to be settled, as to the proclamation being dated June 4. The minister stated that that was to coincide with the date of the Order in Council. Am I to understand that the date of the plebiscite was not fixed by the Order in Council? If it was not, what officer, or what minister, or what department, fixed the date for the holding of the plebiscite?

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. GUTHRIE:

I understand that the Order in Council declared that the question would be submitted. The date for taking the vote was subsequently fixed by the proclamation, which named October 25. The date of the proclamation was made to coincide with the date of the Order in Council. The Chief Electoral Officer has given me that information, which he obtained from the late Secretary of State.

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L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

Therefore, the Order in Council simply recognized the fact that an

application had been made by the province for a referendum. What was the necessity for an Order in Council to do that? We are left in the dark, and this whole legislation turns upon that point. I do not think it is satisfactory. I do not wish to come in conflict with my hon. friend, but I think the Order in Council was perfectly useless if it did not state that the referendum would be taken on the 18th of April, 1921. If the proclamation is based on an Order in Council that does not state the facts, it has no authority either by statute or otherwise. I think this proclamation is not worth anything, and I do not believe there is any authority in the Secretary of State to sign any such proclamation.

Mr. GUTHRIE; I am also informed that by the provisions of the Canada Temperance Act, it is enacted that the date shall be fixed by the proclamation.

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L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

May I ask, then, what the date of the proclamation is?

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. GUTHRIE:

June 4, to accord with the Order in Council. I do not know what turns upon this point, but those are the facts.

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L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

This is what turns upon it. The Government comes to the House with this legislation and says: We did not know at the time the Elections Act was before Parliament that it would be unfair to Ontario to have a referendum in 1920, as it would disfranchise a lot of people. The date of the referendum was postponed. I say that if the proclamation was issued on the day it is dated, all the facts contained in the proclamation must have been known on that date which is the 4th of June. Now the Elections Act was assented on the 18th of July. On the 4th of June we had not passed the clause which relates to the Temperance Act. That being the case, the statement that the Act was passed not well founded, and if there was anybody to blame it was the Government, who were derelict in their duty in not passing at that time the legislation that is before us now. But I will not censure them for they have been censured enough already.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

On what

authority does the Government give to a proclamation a date other than that of its actual proclamation? My hon. friend, I understand, says that the proclamation was issued some time in July, but that as a matter of fact it was given out to the public as though it had been issued on the

[Mr. Bureau.!

20th June. By what authority does the Government act in this manner? What right have they to alter the date of a proclamation and to antedate it?

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. GUTHRIE:

The Order in Council of the 4th June was not issued under the Franchise Act; it was issued under the Canada Temperance Amendment Act, under which it is provided that the date shall be fixed by proclamation. The Order in Council-this is my information, I have never seen it-merely provided that the question would be submitted in the province of Ontario and the western provinces according to the demand therefor. The proclamation subsequently fixed the date. I understand that the proclamation was actually issued in July, but in its date it related back to the Order in Council and bore the same date. That was the view of the late Hon. Mr. Sifton, as to the proper date which the proclamation should bear. I am stating the facts as they are related to me.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Will the Acting Solicitor General (Mr. Guthrie) contend that that is a proper procedure? What right has the Government to date back a proclamation to a time that suits its own convenience? Will the hon. gentleman seek to defend such a position?

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. GUTHRIE:

I think the proclamation was regularly issued.

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L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

According to the principle laid down by my hon. friend (Mr. Guthrie), a law becoming effective from the date of proclamation would be antedated a year before it was enacted at all.

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UNION

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

Unionist

Mr. GUTHRIE:

The date of the proclamation is the immaterial part in this case; the time for the taking of the vote is the material thing. That is what is proclaimed; it is what is vital, and I think the proclamation is regular in this instance.

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L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

My hon. friend is shifting his ground. The leader of the Opposi-(Mr. Mackenzie King) asks by what right the Government can antedate a proclamation as they please. I say it is immoral for them to do so.

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February 25, 1921