June 12, 1922

LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Militia and Defence; Minister of the Naval Service)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

You need legislation

to do that.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CONCURRENCE IN AMENDMENTS MADE BY THE SENATE
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Section agreed to. On Section 9-act to come into force on proclamation by the Governor-in-Council:


LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Militia and Defence; Minister of the Naval Service)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

Owing to the amendments it appears necessary that this clause be inserted to enable the act to come into force, not when signed, but by proclamation after reclassification of the department is completed.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CONCURRENCE IN AMENDMENTS MADE BY THE SENATE
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Section agreed to. Senate Amendments reported, read the second time, and concurred in.


DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT


On motion of Hon. D. D. McKenzie (Solicitor General) Bill No. 92 to amend the Dominion Elections Act was read the second time, land the House went into committee thereon, Mr. Gordon in the Chair. On Suib-section 2 of Section 1-Change of elector's residence, etc. Dominion Elections Act


PRO

Robert Milton Johnson

Progressive

Mr. JOHNSON (Moosejaw):

I have no fault to find with this subsection, but I do not think it makes clear whether the elector so referred to shall vote in the constituency which he has left or in that to which he has gone. It merely says that he may vote.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT
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LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie (Solicitor General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. McKENZIE:

It is clearly the intention that the elector shall vote in the district in which he resided immediately before the election.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT
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CON

Richard Burpee Hanson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HANSON:

I agree with the intention, but it does strike me that the hon. member for Moosejaw has clearly stated wherein the subsection is insufficient. There should be some words of limitation. I am afraid that as the subsection now stands many a man might think he was qualified to vote in two places.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT
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CON

Hugh Guthrie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

Suppose you insert

after the word "qualified" in the tenth line, the words "to vote in such electoral district"? Then the subsection would read:

At a general election, any person who would have heen qualified to vote in an electoral district it he had continued to reside therein, shall remain so qualified to vote in such electoral district, notwithstanding that he has, within two months-

And so on.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT
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LIB

Jacques Bureau (Minister of Customs and Excise)

Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

That is, he would have to go back to his former place of residence. That is hardly right.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT
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CON

John Babington Macaulay Baxter

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BAXTER:

I think the sub-section as drafted is perfectly clear, but I see some difficulty as to its utility. If a man has simply moved, we will say, from one district in the city of Montreal to another, the amendment will be practically helpful to him; but suppose a man moves from Vancouver to Winnipeg, you are giving him no vote at all by this legislation because the cost of travelling back to Vancouver is prohibitive to him. Would it not be possible to devise ample yet well-guarded means by which a man's vote will really be transferred? I know we spend a great deal of time trying to get votes for people who do not bother to go to the poll. The usual experience is that you have to chase your man and find out where he came from and that he is entitled to vote, and then get him on the list. But that does not end your troubles. After having taken those steps you very often have to see that he goes to the poll, and to do this without violating the law is not at all an easy matter. Unfortunately, some electors will not take the

trouble to look after themselves. But if we are going to try to make this legislation absolutely perfect so that no one will be without opportunity to cast his vote, why not have a system) that will meet all cases, instead of a system that will meet only a very small percentage of cases?

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT
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LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie (Solicitor General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. McKENZIE:

As far as I am concerned, I am merely implementing the will of the House which passed the two resolutions asking that an amendment along this line be made. This amendment is recommended by the officers whose business it is to see to the proper drafting of legislation of this kind. Under the present law a man ^can vote only in the district in which he resided at the time the writs were issued; if he moves one hundred yards away to another street in the same city- even if he moves across the street-he is deprived of his vote. The amendment is to provide that if he wishes to get back to the place where he lived when the writs were issued, he shall have the right to vote. My own view was that a man who moved away should have the right to vote where he went, but after a good deal of consideration we have reached the conclusion that it is better perhaps to leave the law as it is in that respect. The hon. member for St. John (Mr. Baxter) says that there is a great deal of difficulty in getting people to vote. There is no doubt about that. Sometimes, coming pretty close to the borders of the law, we have to go to some expense in getting people to the polls, and I do not want to put any further temptation in the way of my hon. friend by making it possible for him to bring a man back from Vancouver to vote in St. John. Of course, if any further words are necessary to make the law clear, I shall not object to adding them.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT
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CON

Hugh Guthrie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE :

Without doubt the proposed amendment will cure by far the greatest number of difficulties which arises in regard to the votes of people who have changed their residences immediately prior to an election. There will be odd cases where men will go long distances and it will be impossible to give them votes. In going those great distances they must forfeit something, and for the time being they will forfeit their votes. But in seventy-five per cent of the cases the changes take place either in the large cities, through the voter moving from one riding to another, or on account of his moving from one part of the province to another, from one constituency to another-very often adjoining

Dominion Elections Act

constituencies. All such persons will be relieved from disqualification by this amendment. I do not think we should go further. If you attempt to frame legislation to give the elector the right to vote in the constituency to which he goes, you will make it possible to colonize votes, should any one be inclined to go to that extent. I am satisfied that the section as now drafted carries out the will of Parliament as expressed in the resolutions. On reading it over I think the clause was well enough drafted in the first instance, but the addition of a few words would no doubt make it clearer. I therefore move that after the word "qualified" in the tenth line, the following words be added:

To vote in such electoral district.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT
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PRO

Alan Webster Neill

Progressive

Mr. NEILL:

I think this amendment is worse than the evil which it seeks to remedy. The result will be that these men who are entitled to vote in another district may be paid to come back and vote in the original district. They will have lost all interest in the place which they left, and it will be in the interests of those who have ample campaign funds at their disposal to bring them back. That is not desirable. Moreover, it will lead to the possibility of personation, because when there are on the roll, especially in a rural district, a number of names of persons who are not in that district, there will be greater temptation to others to vote under their names, and greater possibility of their doing so. In British Columbia provincial elections we have a very excellent regulation which almost entirely prevents personation. Every man, when he goes to vote, has to sign his name, and that is compared with his original registration. Apart from that, men who are away are dealt with in this manner. By what is called the absentee vote, a man who is entitled to vote in Vancouver may vote in any district in British Columbia by signing a certain form; the vote is then put into an envelope, marked with the name of his riding, and is in due course forwarded to the returning officer of that riding. This enables any man in British Columbia to vote in any riding in which he is entitled to vote, and it also entirely prevents personation. The only objection to it is that it delays a little the final returns, because you have to wait until letters can reach the returning officer of the riding in question from some other portion of British Columbia. If the system followed in British Columbia cannot be adopted here, I suggest that instead of putting a man back to where he was originally,

his vote be taken in the district to which he has moved. An hon. member has suggested that that might lead to colonization of votes, but that might easily be prevented. Under the present arrangement, a man has to be two months in the riding prior to the date of the issuing of the writ. In the case of the last elction, which was held on the 6th of December, the writ was issued, I believe, about the 13th of October. That means that a man must be in the district about four months before the election in order to be entitled to vote, and hardship results in the case of people who have been less than four months in the district. It is the object of the present amendment to remedy that. I submit that the difficulty would be just as easily remedied by reducing that period of two months to one month prior to the date of the issuing of the writ. That would still provide for three months' residence before election day in the district in which the elector would be entitled to vote. It would be a preventive of colonization, a preventive of personation, and enable a man to vote where his interests are more likely to lie than in a district with which he has, perhaps, entirely severed his connection.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT
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CON

Horatio Clarence Hocken

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HOCKEN:

When the hon. member (Mr. Guthrie) says that it would facilitate colonization of votes to allow a man to vote in the constituency that he has left, I do not agree with him. I am satisfied that to allow the man to vote in the constituency that he left within the two months is more likely to result in an honest vote

4 p.m. than to allow him to vote In the constituency to which he has gone. As I have stated before in the House, it was discovered that almost twenty per cent of the voters in about half of my constituency had during the two months left that riding-at least, they were not to be found in it-and gone to another riding. Now their names are on the voters' lists, you cannot get lists prepared on which such names will not appear. If any person felt disposed to canvass the district and find out how many persons were away at election time those voters could be personated; it would be almost impossible, at any rate it would require a tremendous organization, to prevent very wide personation. I have said I believe this difficulty exists almost entirely in the cities, and it certainly prevails there to a very great extent. In saying that I know I can speak for the city of Toronto; but I believe it will be found that in Montreal the removals

Dominion Elections Act

are quite as numerous especially at certain times of the year. Then the removals would be greater, perhaps, than in any other city in the Dominion. I think the way in which the minister has framed the bill makes the very best provision for overcoming the difficulty.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT
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PRO

Edward James Sexsmith

Progressive

Mr. SEXSMITH:

I think the addition of the words suggested by the hon. member for South Wellington (Mr. Guthrie) should probably cover the point. A new contention seems to have arisen but this matter is not entirely confined to the cities -in fact that is not the case to nearly as large an extent as members from the cities may think. I would be quite prepared, if time permitted, to show that this condition has existed in rural constituencies. However, there are two classes of voters dealt with here. Take a Canadian citizen who has resided in, let us say if you like, a Toronto riding. He has moved some distance away but he has still the right to vote although not in the constituency to which he has gone because he is a Canadian citizen; he could go back to the constituency in which he formerly resided. The other case is where the voter has been three months in a constituency, and might not have been entitled to vote at all but nevertheless did vote.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT
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PRO

Alan Webster Neill

Progressive

Mr. NEILL:

I could point out one large class of people that were disfranchised last year by this practice, and that is the school teachers of British Columbia. School begins about the first of September and practically ninety-five per cent of them were unable to vote at the last election because they had not qualified; they had been away for their holidays, or had gone to their homes, and they were not back before August 13, and consequently were all disfranchised. One hon. member said it is easy for them to go back. I would like to ask, how many school teachers in country districts have facilities for going back to the districts from which they came? The same can be said of other people who in many cases are not able to go back either on account of business conditions, or because they feel they cannot afford the expense.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT
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LIB

William F. Carroll

Liberal

Mr. CARROLL:

I fail to see the necessity of discussing the merits of this amendment to the Dominion Elections Act. It was debated at very considerable length some weeks ago, and the unanimous opinion of the House at that time was that such an amendment should be made

to the law. There can be no doubt as to the meaning of the amendment in view of the words placed in sub-section 2 of the act on the motion of the hon. member for South Wellington. No doubt there are difficulties in connection with the working of the act, and difficulties will arise so long as elections are run, but the Solicitor General, or the Justice Department, is doing no more or less than to put into effect the unanimous recommendation of this House as passed some weeks ago, and I fail to see why, at this particular juncture, the merits of the bill should be discussed.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT
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Amendment agreed to.


June 12, 1922