February 19, 1923

IND

William Charles Good

Independent Progressive

Mr. GOOD:

Practically as many as at the present time. There would be very little difference in that respect. In fact there is not a great deal of difference, but the advantage is slightly in favour of proportional representation with respect to the number of the electors that have to be reached. I might state also that the labour of canvassing and of sending out circulars and so forth can be distributed amongst a number, can be undertaken by the party. I understand that in Ottawa, where two members were elected by the block vote, not by the single transferable vote, the literature in the last election was got out jointly and the expense shared in that way. The expense attaching to attending meetings and things like that could also be shared by a number of people interested in a particular party.

The point I was making was that we had to start somewhere some time, if we were going to make any progress, and I submit that the method which the resolution proposes is about as fair, reasonable and sensible as anything that could be suggested to get a start. Just in that connection, I should like

Proportional Representation

to point out that the recommendation of the Speaker's Conference in Great Britain was very similar to the recommendation which I have made in this resolution. It went, however, considerably further, and when the final arrangements were made, there were, I think, one hundred different constituencies in which it was proposed that this system should be carried out. But unfortunately, through some difficulty to which the Minister of Finance (Mr. Fielding) has referred, in the delimitation of the constituencies, this method did not operate in the last election in Great Britain.

Topic:   PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION IN MULTIMEMBER CONSTITUENCIES
Permalink
CON

Leon Johnson Ladner

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LADNER:

Does the hon. member

not consider it unfair that suburban members should force this device on city members, knowing that proportional representation can never be established in the country owing to its extensive districts and, that, therefore, it will be continued and applicable only in the cities? Is it not unfair to distribute an electoral process of that kind in that manner?

Topic:   PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION IN MULTIMEMBER CONSTITUENCIES
Permalink
IND

William Charles Good

Independent Progressive

Mr. GOOD:

I fancy that there are in

Toronto, for instance, many electors who consider the present situation decidedly unfair to them. We have to recognize that, and I do not think we ought to assume that a city or any other section is opposed to proportional representation. Possibly we have not had a referendum on this matter in any particular constituency or group of constituencies; but I know for a fact that there are many who are exceedingly discontented and restless under the present system, who are discouraged because they can get no representation, and who consider the case practically hopeless. We ought to consider them.

Topic:   PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION IN MULTIMEMBER CONSTITUENCIES
Permalink
CON

James Dew Chaplin

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHAPLIN:

Why not ask for a referendum first?

Topic:   PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION IN MULTIMEMBER CONSTITUENCIES
Permalink
IND

William Charles Good

Independent Progressive

Mr. GOOD:

I neglected to answer one

of the questions asked by the hon. member for Fort William and Rainy River (Mr. M anion) as to the difficulty of applying proportional representation in sparsely settled areas. I dealt with that pretty fully last year. It has not proven particularly difficult in South Africa or in some of the Australian countries; but I think we can cross that bridge when we come to it. I am not asking l'cr that now. The difficulty may not be so great as we imagine it to be. This at least can be said, that in western Canada there are for federal purposes a number of constituencies much larger than, perhaps, a dozen constituencies in rural western Ontario. I do not think it would be a very serious difficulty in the part of Ontario from which I come to group four or five of the present

constituencies and poll the votes throughout that whole territory.

Topic:   PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION IN MULTIMEMBER CONSTITUENCIES
Permalink
LIB

Alfred Edgar MacLean

Liberal

Mr. MACLEAN (Prince):

By what means can you get the different constituencies to agree to a candidate that would be elected? For instance, one constituency will choose a man; the neighbouring constituency might not tolerate that man at all, and still he might be forced upon it.

Topic:   PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION IN MULTIMEMBER CONSTITUENCIES
Permalink
IND

William Charles Good

Independent Progressive

Mr. GOOD:

As a matter of fact, I think that question is answered by the way in which it works out in such a case as the city of Winnipeg. As a rule, nominations are made by organisations, and I take it that the method would not be different under proportional representation. For example, the four parties, the Conservative party, the Liberal party, the Progressive party and the Labour party, would take the initiative in the nominating of candidates for that particular multi-member constituency. There may be some little difficulty in changing from one system to another; we always have some awkwardness in changing methods. But when a great good is to be gained, we should not be paralyzed by a little difficulty such as the hon. member for Prince (Mr. Maclean) mentions.

I desire to say a word or two with respect to the criticisms of the hon. member for Halton (Mr. Anderson). I have already replied to his comment on the Winnipeg elections of 1920. He states further that proportional representation means the breaking up of parties and the formation of groups. I challenge that statement directly and emphatically. We have our groups at the present time; our parties are breaking up, altogether apart from any method of election. The hon. member also confuses majority rule with majority representation. Moreover I would point out that we do not by any means always get majority rule under the old system. Let me give one example which I referred to last year and which comes to mind at the moment. In the state of Indiana a few years ago the Republican party was split up into the old guard and the Progressives, and that party secured absolutely no representation. They had a large majority of the total vote but they secured no representation at all. At the next election, when the two factions in the party had become reunited, the Republican party secured all the representation. That is the sort of thing that happens under the present system. There was minority rule with a vengeance.

Topic:   PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION IN MULTIMEMBER CONSTITUENCIES
Permalink
CON

Robert King Anderson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ANDERSON:

Is not the object of

proportional representation to give representation to the minority?

Proportional Representation

Topic:   PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION IN MULTIMEMBER CONSTITUENCIES
Permalink
IND

William Charles Good

Independent Progressive

Mr. GOOD:

Certainly, the object is to

give proper representation to minorities, but we give a sort of representation to minorities under the present system. When a minority becomes sufficiently influential it may get undue representation; that is the trouble. For instance, we have it in Ontario at the present time. I admit frankly that the Farmers are unduly represented in the provincial legislature at Toronto, and I do not think it is a wholesome thing. For a long time the farmers were not fairly represented and then suddenly they became unfairly represented. Under the old system the pendulum swings from one extreme to the other.

Topic:   PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION IN MULTIMEMBER CONSTITUENCIES
Permalink
CON

Robert King Anderson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ANDERSON:

Will not the new system lead to more groups?

Topic:   PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION IN MULTIMEMBER CONSTITUENCIES
Permalink
IND

William Charles Good

Independent Progressive

Mr. GOOD:

It has been alleged to-night by a number of hon. members that proportional representation will tend to multiply groups. I have considerable evidence to the contrary on that point. Here is a little item from the report of a royal commission appointed in 1910 by the British government to inquire into electoral systems. With regard to the Tasmanian elections the report states:

On that occasion, the general election of 1909, when the transferable vote was used for the first time to elect the whole of the lower house, the actual result was to evolve a two-party out of a former three-party system by the elimination of the third party and the coalescence of groups into one more or less solid party of opposition to the Labour party.

Here too is a little press despatch from Zurich, in Switzerland, published in the Quebec Chronicle of December 16 last.

It lies in the very nature of the system of proportional representation that once adopted it tends to stablize the party forces in Parliament and to prevent fundamental political changes as the consequence of parliamentary elections. In that regard it is significant that, in Switzerland the proportional system as a means of just representation of the minority parties took ground for the first time in the canton Ticino after the revolutionary events of 1890.

Experience has shown the stabilizing effect of this reform. I have other evidence to show that in the Australasian countries as well as in Europe there has been a tendency on the part of a number of groups to coalesce into larger parties. I submit that where you have five members to be elected in a multi-member constituency it is absurd for any party which represents, say, only one-twentieth of the voting strength of the constituency to nominate a slate. They cannot possibly expect any success, although they might nominate one with the hope that he would receive some transferred votes. But experience,

11 p.m. which is extensive to-day, shows that this fear of the splitting up

of parties into groups, and of groups into smaller groups is quite groundless. I do not wish to take up the time of the House going further into these matters, but there are one or two other remarks I would make before closing. The hon. member for North Winnipeg (Mr. McMurray) advanced the opinion that in an election under proportional representation the issues were forgotten and that personalities were unduly emphasized. I submit that in the case of the Winnipeg elections that statement cannot be substantiated at all. I have here the facts of the election of last summer. In that election there were five different groups represented, Labour, Libera!, Conservative, Independent and Progressive. Each party no doubt had a fairly definite platform; the issues were fairly well defined.

Topic:   PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION IN MULTIMEMBER CONSTITUENCIES
Permalink
LIB

Edward James McMurray

Liberal

Mr. McMURRAY:

Does the hon. membei find the name of one Downs in that list? Does he know what his platform was?

Topic:   PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION IN MULTIMEMBER CONSTITUENCIES
Permalink
IND

William Charles Good

Independent Progressive

Mr. GOOD:

The names are not on this page.

Topic:   PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION IN MULTIMEMBER CONSTITUENCIES
Permalink
LIB

Edward James McMurray

Liberal

Mr. McMURRAY:

Did Downs not run on a separate platform, a platform of his own?

Topic:   PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION IN MULTIMEMBER CONSTITUENCIES
Permalink
IND

William Charles Good

Independent Progressive

Mr. GOOD:

That may be so; I do not know the details of the Winnipeg election.

I know, however, that there are not very many in Winmpeg who are dissatisfied with the system as it has worked there. I have a number of quotations from influential men in public life in Manitoba commenting favourably on the election of 1920, and they have all, without a single exception, endorsed the system as it was tried there in the first election. As to the second election, although the hon. member for North Winnipeg (Mr. McMurray) might disapprove of certain can didates, I have no doubt at all that the wishes of the electors were very fully recognized.

The hon. member for Vancouver South (Mr. Ladner) asked me some questions during the afternoon which I would like to answer. 1 do not see any connection between the question of the unity and the joint responsibility of the Cabinet and the method of electing members to this House. The groups are here, and the problem arising therefrom must be, dealt with. But I see no connection between the advantage-or disadvantage, as you may look upon it-of cabinet unity and cabinet responsibility and a method of election.

There were some other points that I wished to deal with, but I think the House is getting tired and that I should forbear. I should like, however, without discussing it, to mention just one point in conclusion. No criticism was offered this afternoon respecting the difficulty of holding by-elections under propor-

Proportional Representation

tional representation. I dealt with the point last year, and since then another suggestion has been made of a sixth method of meeting the situation. Nobody need be afraid of adopting proportional representation on account of any apparent difficulty in carrying on a by-election.

I appreciate the point raised by the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister in regard to the alternative vote, but I did not know when this resolution was placed on the order paper that that point would be gained. I am thankful indeed that we have got so far, but I should like to see an expression of opinion on the part of the House with regard to this question of proportional representation also because if we are going to make any headway during the next few years, this is the time to start.

Topic:   PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION IN MULTIMEMBER CONSTITUENCIES
Permalink
LIB

Hewitt Bostock (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

Before we proceed to take the vote, might I be allowed to ask the hon. members to assist as much as possible the Clerk and the Assistant Clerk in their heavy task when the vote is being polled in the House. The first one to vote generally, according to the custom followed in this House and the British House of Commons, is the leader of a party or the leader of a group, then his followers on the first row rise, one by one, not all at one time. I would ask hon. members to assit the clerks by having the vote taken in as orderly a way as possible.

The House divided on the resolution of Mr. Good, which was negatived on the following division:

++YEAS

Messrs.

Bancroft, Hoey,

Beaubien, Hudson,

Bret hen, Humphrey,

Brown, Irvine,

Caldwell, Jelliff,

Carmichael, Johnston (Last Mountain)

Chevrier, Kellner,

Coote, Kennedy (Edmonton),

d'Anjou, Kennedy (Glengarry &

Davies, Stormont),

Drummond, Kennedy (Port Arthur &

Elliott (Dundas), Kenora),

Evans, King (Huron),

Fansher, King, Mackenzie (York),

Fielding, Knox,

Forke, Kyte,

Forrester, Lapointe,

Gardiner, Leader,

Garland (Bow River), Lovie,

Gauvreau, Lucas,

Gervais, Maclean (York),

Good, McGiverin,

Gordon, McMaster,

Gould, McTaggart,

Halbert, >

Milne,

Hammell, Morin,

Hatfield, Motherwell,

Murdock, Speakman,

Neill, Spencer,

Papineau, Steedsman,

Pritchard, Stewart (Argenteuil),

Reed, Stewart (Humboldt),

Robb, Thurston,

Ross (Simcoe), Wallace,

Sales, Warner,

Savard, Woods,

Shaw, Woodsworth-72.

NAYS Messrs.

Anderson, Maclean (Halifax),

Archambault, MacLean (Prince, P.E.I.),

Arthurs, McBride,

Baldwin, Mclsaac,

Benoit, McKenzie,

Binette, McMurray,

Black (Yukon), McQuarrie,

Bouchard, Malcolm,

Boucher, Manion,

Bowen, Marcil (Bonaventure),

Boys, Marler,

Cannon, Martell,

Carroll, Maybce,

Carruthers, Meighen,

Chaplin, Mewburn,

Charters, ' Michaud,

Church, Mitchell,

Clark, Munro,

Clifford, Ouimet,

Dech&ie, Pelletier,

Delisle, Porter,

Denis (St. Denis), Power,

Desaulniers, Preston,

Deslauriers, Raymond,

Desrochers, Rinfret,

Dickie, Roberge,

Duff, Robitaille,

Fafard, Ross (Kingston),

Finn, Ryckman,

Fontaine, St. P&re,

Fortier, Seguin,

Gendron, Senn,

Gouin (Sir Lomer), Sheard,

Grimmer, Simpson,

Harris, Sinclair (Oxford),

Hubbs, Spence,

Hughes, Stansell,

Hunt, Stevens,

Kay, Stewart (Leeds),

King (Kootenay), Sutherland,

Ladner, Thompson,

Lapierre, Tobin,

Macdonald (Pictou), Tolmie,

MacKelvie, Trahan,

MacLaren, White-90.

On motion of Mr. Mackenzie King the House adjourned at 11.30 p.m.

Tuesday, February 20, 1923

Topic:   PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION IN MULTIMEMBER CONSTITUENCIES
Permalink

February 19, 1923