February 19, 1923

LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Hon. W. S. FIELDING (Minister of Finance) :

The motion having been brought forward by a private member and not by the ministry, any member of the government is free to vote as he pleases on the subject. For myself I intend to vote for the motion of the hon. gentleman (Mr. Good). I may say that when this matter was debated last session the Prime Minister expressed his views upon it, giving his assurance of support of the motion.

Topic:   PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION
Subtopic:   MOTION BY MR. GOOD FOR ALTERNATIVE VOTE IN SINGLE-MEMBER CONSTITUENCIES
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LIB

Hewitt Bostock (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

Shall the motion carry?

Topic:   PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION
Subtopic:   MOTION BY MR. GOOD FOR ALTERNATIVE VOTE IN SINGLE-MEMBER CONSTITUENCIES
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Carried.

Topic:   PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION
Subtopic:   MOTION BY MR. GOOD FOR ALTERNATIVE VOTE IN SINGLE-MEMBER CONSTITUENCIES
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Lost.

Topic:   PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION
Subtopic:   MOTION BY MR. GOOD FOR ALTERNATIVE VOTE IN SINGLE-MEMBER CONSTITUENCIES
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Motion agreed to.


PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION IN MULTIMEMBER CONSTITUENCIES


Mr. W. C. GOOD (Brant), moved: Whereas the special committee on proportional representation appointed at the last session of the last parliament reported in favour of the adoption of the alternative vote method of election in all single member constituencies when more than two candidates were running for election, and also found much merit in the system of true proportional representation And whereas the last general election has fully demonstrated the many serious anomalies of the existing electoral system; And whereas this matter was debated at the last session of the present parliament but did not reach a vote; And whereas the government has promised to submit a redistribution bill during the present session; And whereas it is important that any desirable electoral reforms be adopted in conjunction with redistribution; Therefore be it resolved,- That in the opinion of this House, for the purpose of demonstrating the working and effects of the system of true proportional representation, one or more multi-member constituencies should be constituted by the redistribution legislation in which that system should be applied at the next general election. He said: May I be permitted for a very few minutes to give a resume of the case I presented last year, in view of the fact that there may be some members present now who have not read the debates in Hansard and who were not here lhst year? I traced last year, first the history of the attention which had been given to this subject by this parliament from the time when the late Hon. Mr. Monk introduced it on the 15th March, 1909, up to the the time at which I spoke, covering a number of cases when this matter was submitted to and debated by this House and action taken thereon. Without mentioning all of the cases which I mentioned last year, I would like to draw attention to the fact that in 1921 a committee was appointed to consider this matter, which committee reported quite late in the session of 1921, too late for anything to be done during that session. Now, as the House has already adopted the first recommendation of that committee, I wish to deal with the other question presented to it. I pointed out last year that, having adopted the alternative vote method, we would not necessarily get very far towards a true representation, and I instanced a number of cases under the old system which showed how difficult it was either with the voting method we have followed in the past, or with the alternative vote method, to secure a true representation. May I briefly enumerate the cases which I presented to the House last year in that connection? They were: Nova Scotia federal election of 1904; British Columbia federal election of 1911; Dominion federal election of 1896; Manitoba provincial election of 1914; Dominion federal election of 1908; Dominion federal election of 1911; British elections of 1918; Transvaal elections of 1914; Ontario provincial elections of 1919; Alberta election of 1921; New York alder-manic elections of 1921. I then proceeded to make a somewhat exhaustive analysis of the last Canadian general election and gave a very large number of facts in that connection. Next I pointed out-illustrating this point by referring to the Canadian federal elections of 1908 and 1911-the way in which the pendulum swung from one extreme to another, with a very small change in popular vote; and in that connection I pointed out that in 1911 a majority of 47 representatives could have been wiped out by a change in the popular vote of less than 3,000. So there is a great deal to support the statement that under the old system the result of our elections was pretty much of a political gamble. I pointed out, next, the very remarkable accuracy in representation which occurs under the system of proportional voting, referring in that connection to the Tasmanian elections of 1909, 1912, 1916 and 1919; the Belgian elections of 1908; the Finland elections of 1909; the New South Wales' elec- Proportional Representation



tions of 1920; and the Winnipeg elections of 1920. . I dealt next with the growth of the sentiment in favour of proportional representation throughout the world, referring to a number of places and countries which had adopted this newer system of representation. Among these I may again mention the following: New South Wales-and in that connection I may say that Queensland and Victoria have adopted the alternative vote,-Tasmania; New Zealand; South Africa (for the Senate); England (for the university constituencies); Scotland (for the school board); Ireland; India {the alternative vote); some cities in the United States; Switzerland; Belgium; Bulgaria; Sweden; Finland; Norway (optional lor municipal elections); Germany; Austria. Moreover Poland, Czecho-Slovakia, Italy and France have adopted half-measures of proportional representation. In addition I pointed out that a number of Canadian cities had adopted this system, among them the following: Winnipeg, Vancouver, Calgary, Regma, Saskatoon, Moose Jaw, and so on. I referred next to the report of the committee appointed by the Ontario legislature about three years ago, which reported two years ago. And lastly I considered a number of advantages and disadvantages, or advantages of and objections, to proportional representation First, I discussed the idea of majority representation as against proportional representation. In the second place I showed the security of tenure of office of outstanding men which is obtained by this better system of representation. Third, I showed that the claim that proportional representation will necessarily lead to small majorities in legislative bodies cannot be substantiated, and I examined a number of cases to prove that point, namely, British Columbia, New South Wales, Australia and New Zealand. I examined, in the fourth place, the charge that proportional representation encourages the formation of groups, and I think I showed pretty conclusively that that charge could not be substantiated. In the fifth place, I pointed out that proportional representation makes impossible or difficult the spoils system. In the sixth place, I examined the allegation that proportional representation is .un-British. In the seventh place, I discussed the supposed difficulties of holding by-elections under proportional representation. In the eighth place, I dealt with the alleged difficulty in canvassing large constituencies. In the ninth place, I discussed the effect of proportional representation on the power of a small minority of floating or purchasable voters. And, in the last place, I discussed the question of the difficulty of operating this system in large, sparsely settled areas. That, Mr. Speaker, in brief, is the case which I presented last year. I want to discuss now just for a very short time one or two objections that were raised last year, and which, owing to the adjournment of the debate, I had not the opportunity of dealing with on that occasion. I wish to refer to the remarks of the hon. member for Vancouver South (Mr. Ladner) last year, which are found in Hansard at pages 1651 and 1652. In answer to a question of mine the hon. member for South Vancouver to-day, spoke as follows: Unfortunately I did not hear the hon. member- Referring to myself. . But I have had the advantage of reading Lord Bryce's "Modern Democracies" in which that aspect of the question is very ably dealt with. A little further on, in answer to another question of mine, the hon. member said: If the hon. gentleman puts it that way, I may tell him that I heard very little of what he said, and if I had heard it I do not think my view would be changed by the hon. gentleman's argument, having read the words of Lord Bryce and a number of other constitutional authorities for the past fifteen years. The inference from these remarks is that the late Lord Bryce was opposed to proportional representation. I want simply to point out that Lord Bryce was a vice-president of the British Proportional Representation Society, and I wish to read at this point-


CON

Leon Johnson Ladner

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LADNER:

Has the hon. gentleman

read through my speech of last year? I do not say that Lord Bryce is an exponent against proportional representation; but I say that he gives such an analysis of the federal systems of government that it is impossible for a person studying those systems to apply in practical polities and statesmanship the principles underlying proportional representation. I do not suppose my hon. friend intends to distort my speech; but that is what he is doing. He is leaving the inference that something which I stated to the House last year is not correct. If my hon. friend will read through my remarks, he will see that iu the application of the principle of proportional representation to our federal system, there is a difficulty which he has yet to overcome, and so far, in his speeches of this year and last year, he has not overcome it.

Topic:   PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION IN MULTIMEMBER CONSTITUENCIES
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IND

William Charles Good

Independent Progressive

Mr. GOOD:

I am very sorry if I misunderstood the hon. member last year. I certainly heard all his address last year, and I think I read it all again this year in Hansard. But it is possible that I misunderstood the hon. gentleman, and I am very glad to

Proportional Representation

hear him state now that Lord Bryce did not oppose proportional representation. Since the matter was raised last year and since I was afraid that a wrong impression had been given as to Lord Bryce's position, I wished to read some remarks which Lord Bryce made in a debate on the Representation of the People Bill in the House of Lords in England, on 22 January, 1918:

My noble friend, .Lord Harcourt, poured some scorn upon the whole plan of proportional representation as if it was a fad confined to certain persons in this country. It is the fact that over nearly all the free countries at this moment men's minds are very much exercised upon this question of proportional representation. There is hardly any considerable country popularly governed which has not been confronted with the very same difficulty which proportional representation is meant to meet as we are trying to grapple With here. The experiment is being tried in an additional number of countries almost every year. New Zealand has just adopted it. I was in Tasmania a few years ago and I can tell my noble friend Lord Harcourt that the opinion of Tasmania was in favour of the plan which has been adopted, and that I did not hear of any desire to depart from it. The same thing is true about other countries which I will not enumerate. And the reason is this, that conditions have changed. My noble friend quoted the opinion of Lord Beaconsfield, Mr. Gladstone, and Mr. Bright. It is thirty-eight years since Lord Beaconsfield died. Our politics and our party system have changed completely. We have now got three or four parties and we cannot tell whether the process of dividing up parties, which has gone so far in some countries, may not fall upon us also. Under conditions so different it has surely become desirable to find new expedients for meeting the evils which have arisen. I think these considerations justify my noble friend in the proposal he has made, a proposal which of course is capable of modification, which need not be extended to that amplitude which he indicated, but which can well be adopted in more modest form, and which, I think, in one form or another, well deserves to be tried.

Just in that connection I may say that after investigating this whole question in 1909 and 1910, the British parliament appointed a Speaker's Conference in 1916, which reported in 1917. Lord Bryce was a member of that committee, and- I might here refer briefly to the recommendations made by that Speaker's Conference in Great Britain in 1917. They are as follows:

A parliamentary borough which may be entitled on a basis of population to return three or moro members shall be a single constituency; provided that a constituency entitled to return more than five members shall be divided into two or more constituencies, each returning not less than three, nor more than five members. The election in any such constituency shall be held on the principle of proportional representation and each elector shall have one transferable vote.

That, Mr. Speaker, is the recommendation with respect to proportional representation. At the same time, with reference to those constituencies which would not be thus grouped, the conference made this recommendation:

At any election in a single member constituency where there are more than two candidates, the election

shall be held on the system of voting known as the alternative vote.

So I think we may conclude that Lord Bryce was distinctly in favour, not only of the alternative vote, but of proprotional representation, and I do not know of any man who was better qualified to express an opinion on a question of that sort than the late Lord Bryce.

I should like also, to refer to what the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) said in the debate of last year on this subject. His remarks will be found on page 1655 of Hansard. He said:

In a word, Mr. Speaker, I find myself in entire sympathy with the resolution, and, so far as an individual member has voice in the House, would like to express myself as supporting it as it stands. In this matter, the government would wish to be governed by the opinion of the House, and if the House approves the resolution the government will do all in its power to give effect to it as opportunity affords.

Answering a question asked at that time by the hon. member for Vancouver South, the Prime Minister said:

I confess that as I study the question more and more, it is my view that instead of adding to the number of groups in the House, the adoption of what is proposed here might tend to limit the groups.

And so on. I should like also to refer, just in passing, to a remark which the Prime Minister made the other day when he was introducing the Redistribution bill. He spoke about the bitterness that was aroused one or two decades ago in connection with the process of gerrymandering. I would suggest that there is no possibility of gerrymandering being effective under proportional representation, and that is a consideration which, I think, we ought to bear in mind.

I have not much more to add at this time. No doubt a good many objections will be raised, and I shall have an opportunity of replying a little later on. But there is some additional information which we have now, which we did not have when this matter was debated last May. I would just briefly call the attention of the House to some of the information which we have received since that time. In the first place, I would point to the adoption of proportional representation in Edmonton on 11th December last by a vote of 5,664 to 3,075. The Edmonton Journal of the next day, December 12, comments on the election as follows:

Proportional representation was not defeated yesterday in a single polling sub-division and received the approval of the citizens by practically a two to one vote.

It seldom happens that a political reform is so emphatically endorsed when first submitted. Those who have watched its operation elsewhere can have no doubt that it will realize all that is hoped for from it in the improvement of the character of our city government.

Proportional Representation

I might also quote from the Calgary Herald, which extended greetings to the city of Edmonton in these terms:

By a decided majority Edmonton has voted for the proportional representation system of conducting municipal election. Edmonton is the last of the cities of first class importance in the West to decide to employ that system. Calgary's experience with it has been so satisfactory that we are in no doubt of the success of it in Edmonton and we can indeed congratulate our northern neighbour on joining the cities that have adopted the system which best reproduces the political preferences of the voters.

Next, I would refer to the last British elections. I do not wish to burden the House with all the figures that I have here, but I may give some examples that go to show the extraordinary unfairness of the results in Great Britain last year. The Conservative party won 296 seats. In proportion to its voting strength it should have won only 208. The labour and co-operative forces won 138; they were entitled to 164. The Liberals won 54, although they were entitled to 101; while the National Liberals, who won 51, were entitled to 61. Independents and others won 8 seats, but they were entitled to 13. In this connection, let me quote from the late Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Lloyd George:

The result of the elections has fully justified those who maintained that no party standing alone could hope to secure the measure of public support which will guarantee stable government. It is true that the Conservatives have succeeded in obtaining the return of a majority of the members to the new parliament, but the most notable feature of the elections is the return of a decisive majority of members by a very definite minority of electors.

I observe that the Prime Minister, in returning thanks to the nation, claims that he has received a vote of confidence from the people of this country. Out of a total of 15,000,000 his candidates secured fewer than 3,000,000 votes. Making full allowances for uncontested seats, this figure cannot be stretched out to a height much above 6,000,000. That means that only two-fifths of the electorate voted confidence in the administration, while three-fifths voted confidence in other leaders of groups. A minority of 3,000,000 in the national referendum could hardly be claimed as a vote of confidence.

I do not wish to quote all that Mr. Lloyd George says, but towards the end of this extract, I read:

Of one thing I am, however, certain. That is that a minority administration in 1922 and onward will help to discredit the government with certain classes of the community. A minority administration will weaken the respect of other classes for representative government, and between them, an atmosphere will be created inimical to the moral authority of all government in this country.

I therefore earnestly trust that in the interest of stability and good government, which must be based on the good will and co-operation of the community as a whole, this Parliament will apply its mind seriously to finding some means of preventing a repetition, either in one direction or the other, of this freak of representative government.

Next, I shall refer very briefly to the second trial of proportional representation in the city of Winnipeg last summer. I have here an article that appeared in the August 2 issue of Canadian Finance, a magazine which is not especially given to propagating the Farmers' platform, -or the Progressive policy. In the course of this article the writer states:

There are a number of general criticisms against P. R. which should be either admitted or denied by supporters of P. R. They include the following:

(1) P. R. is too complicated. People will refrain from voting under it.

(2) There will be a heavy percentage of spoilt ballots under it.

(3) The counting takes too long.

(4) The voter cannot understand what happens to his vote.

(5) P. R. breaks up the party system and leads to group government.

(6) It is not a perfect system.

(7) It does away with government by the majority or tends to create governments with small majorities.

This article goes on to examine each of these criticisms against proportional representation. Let me read one or two of its answers to these criticisms:

The reply to the statement that people will refrain from voting under P. R. because it is so complicated is effectively given by the recent Winnipeg elections, when 45,000 persons voted out of a total of 61.736 persons entitled to vote, a higher percentage than was usual under the old system, and this despite the fact that the ballot paper contained 43 names and was 22 inches long. The next objection regarding large numbers of spoilt ballots is also shattered by actual facts. In the recent election at Winnipeg spoilt ballots were less than 2 per cent of the total votes, a percentage which compares favourably with the results obtained under the old system. The assertion that P. R. leads to group government is without foundation. Ontario has group government, but they do not have P. R. there. The Dominion government is without a majority in the House-

This, of course, was written last summer-

-but they have no P. R. elections under the Dominion Elections Act. The Farmer party in Manitoba is a minority party at the present time, mainly as a result of the vote in the rural districts, where P. R. is not in force.

I do not wish to weary the House with any further quoting of these answers, but I submit that the various criticisms that have been levelled against proportional representation can all be, and in my judgment, have been, very effectively answered. Of course, one must admit very frankly that it might break down in operation if those who are responsible for counting the ballots do not know

4 p.m. how to count them, or if the voters do not take the trouble to read the instructions and to vote according to those instructions. But our experience has shown that these difficulties are no more under this system than the same difficulties under the present system.

Proportional Representation

The allegation has been made that proportional representation is un-British. I happened to hear this statement at a meeting of the Social Service Council of Canada a short time ago in the Chateau Laurier, and Mr. Gisborne, who was Parliamentary Counsel for many years, combatted the idea very definitely and emphatically on that occasion. I fancy the evidence which I have already given as to the action being taken in Great Britain, and the fact that the Australasian countries are generally committed to this reform, constitute a pretty effective rejoinder to that criticism. I have here a certified copy of an interview that took place in Saskatoon not long ago. The date of the letter enclosing the certified copy is December 4. I read as follows:

"The proportional representation single transferable vote has undoubtedly proved a great success in Saskatoon ," says Mr. M. C. Tomlinson, city clerk. "First it has stimulated greater interest in the election. Last year there rvas practically 5,000 votes polled, while the highest number at any previous election was 3,000.

Secondly, it was found that there were fewer spoiled ballots under this system than under the old.

Frio( to the election last year we heard on all sides that numerous ballots would be spoiled by the voters, chiefly due to the western cities having a large foreign population.

This was not the case. The percentage of rejected bailot papers under the P.R. system was actually lower than was the case with the X-marked ballot, when voters were called upon to mark their ballot papers for more than one candidate. This would lead one to believe that the P.R. system is easier for the elector than the old.

Although this was the city's first election under the P.R. system, the carrying out of the voters' wishes as expressed on the ballots proved to be a very simple process.

The new system has won favour with the city council, the press, and the public. There are a few objectors, of course, but they are very few."

I have here a copy of a letter from the Secretary of the British Proportional Representation Society, Mr. Humphreys, to the secretary of the Canadian society, in which he says in part:

P.R. has never been so much discussed in England as it has since our recent general election.

I do not know that at the present juncture I should say anything further. I should be very glad indeed to hear any further objections that can be made to the proportional representation system, and I shall do my best to meet those objections when my turn comes.

Topic:   PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION IN MULTIMEMBER CONSTITUENCIES
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CON

Leon Johnson Ladner

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LADNER:

Mr. Speaker, I am sure that the hon. member who proposes this motion has taken a great deal of interest in the subject and is thoroughly informed with regard to it. I wish to put to him a few questions concerning phases of the subject with which he did not deal, at least so far as I could hear him.

The first question is: Does the hon. member not distinguish between municipal government and its operations, on the one hand, and the federal system of government, or government by majority rule and" cabinet responsibility, on the other hand? The second question is: Does he consider that the application of proportional representation to our system of government will have the effect of dissipating cabinet unity and cabinet responsibility to the House?

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LIB

Hewitt Bostock (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

The hon. member who proposes the resolution stated in his last sentence that he would like to hear from other hon. members who have objections to offer or suggestions to make regarding the subject matter of his motion. If he speaks now, that will close the debate. I think some other hon. members are desirous of speaking on the resolution; and if that is the case they must do so before the proposer of the motion replies and thus closes the debate.

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IND

William Charles Good

Independent Progressive

Mr. GOOD:

I shall be pleased to answer the question later or now, whatever is the desire of hon. members.

Mr. A. W, NEILL (Comox-Alberni): Mr. Speaker, while I am heartily in sympathy with the last resolution that we passed regarding the alternative vote, I would like to point out one effect of the present resolution. The mover calls upon the government to constitute one or more multi-membered constituencies. I would suggest that the word "urban" should be put in there; otherwise this is what would happen: The hon. mover of the resolution suggested that a multi-membered constituency might appropriately consist of five ordinary constituencies. In British Columbia that might include the constituencies of Skeena, Cariboo, Comox-Alberni, Yale and, we will say, East Kootenay, constituting, I should say roughly, seventy-five per cent of British Columbia. I do not think that any of the members for the districts I have mentioned would contradict me when I say that to make an ordinary canvass-not fiom house to house, but by the holding of meetings at which two or three score of people could be got together-six months might reasonably be required in respect of any one of these constituencies. I am quite sure that the members for Cariboo and Skeena will bear me out in that; I myself can speak for Comox-Alberni. Can one conceive of the work that would be imposed on a candidate-especially a new candidate, because he would be unknown-in attempting a personal canvass of five constituencies the size of those represented by the ordinary

Proportional Representation

country constituency in British Columbia? It cannot be gainsaid that it is desirable and in the public interest that the candidate should endeavour to meet at least a number of the constituents and explain his point of view on the issues before the country at the time, and also that the electors should have an opportunity of seeing the different men who are seeking their support. But how will that be possible with a multi-membered constituency of five seats such as we would have in the country districts of British Columbia? It would take at least two years to canvass such a constituency in that way.

1 can see further vast possibilities of trouble after the wretched man had been elected. For myself I would hate to be bracketed with four other members in such a constituency. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that three of those members were not in the habit of paying attention to their correspondence- a failing that we often see in members, at least, until the next election comes round. What would be the fate of the unhappy man who had got the reputation of attending to his business and who had all the correspondence to answer emanating from such a multi-membered constituency? It would not be fair to him, to his colleagues, or to the public. I think the hon. member who moves the resolution has lost sight of that, and in my opinion he should introduce an amendment, if he wishes the motion to pass, providing that such multi-membered constituencies shall be urban in their character.

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LIB

Hewitt Bostock (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

If no other hon. member

rises now, the mover will close the debate

Topic:   PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION IN MULTIMEMBER CONSTITUENCIES
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CON

Robert King Anderson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. K. ANDERSON (Halton):

Mr. Speaker, I have listened with a great deal of interest to the address of the hon. member for Brant (Mr. Good) on the subject of proportional representation. I have heard this subject discussed in the House on two previous occasions, in 1921 and in 1922, and so far as I am concerned I still hold the view that proportional representation is not in the best interests of parliamentary institutions in this country. The hon. member for Brant did not give us any exposition of how true proportional representation might be worked out; nor has any other hon. member done so.

I have before me a pamphlet prepared by the exponents of proportional representation which deals with one or two elections carried out under that system, and which refers particularly to the single transferable vote in multi-membered constituencies. In the election held in the city of Winnipeg in 1920 under the system of proportional representation, labour polled 20,167 votes, or 42.5 per

cent of the total vote polled, getting only four seats. The Liberals polled 14,423 votes, or 30.4 per cent of the total vote, giving them four representatives. The Conservatives polled 6,475 votes, or 13.4 of the total, getting two members. The Independents, with 6,362 votes, having 13.4 per cent of the popular vote, received no representation whatever. It is supposed that under this system all parties appealing for the suffrages of the people will get proportional representation, yet in the Winnipeg election, the Independent party received no representation at all, while the Conservatives, with the same amount of popular vote, received two members; the Labour party, having 42 per cent of the total vote, received four representatives, and the Liberal party, with 30 per cent of the total vote, also received four.

Consequently, it will be seen that, proportional representation does not quite work out as its advocates say, that is, it does not always give proportional representation to the various parties that are appealing for the suffrages of the people. Proportional representation, if it means anything, means tjiat it will give representation in the House of Commons, or in municipal government, to all the parties that have candidates before the public. It therefore means the breaking up of the party system, and the substitution for it of the group system of government. That is the intention of the principle; it cannot be anything else; and that is how it works out in practice. It is intended to give representation in our government and in municipal affairs to the minorities among the people. It is for that purpose, and for no other purpose. Consequently, its purpose is to disrupt the present condition of affairs, to do away with our democratic system, for democracy means the rule of the majority. It would do away with the rule of the majority, and give a system of rule to minorities and to group government; and we know what group government is. We have one in the province of Ontario at the present time, although it was not put in power under the proportional representation system.

In a pamphlet that has been submitted by the exponents of proportional representation, a copy of which has been handed me by the committee here in Ottawa, I find the result of a municipal vote in the town of Sligo in Ireland, and this is given for the purpose of proving that proportional representation gives proportional representation to the parties that are putting up candidates for election. In that vote, taken in 1919 in the town of Sligo-and I point this out in

Proportional Representation

view of the claims made that proportional representation gives a better result than any other system-we find that in one of the wards-a small ward was taken so that the vote could be more easily counted to illustrate how the system worked-there were sixteen candidates. Altogether 940 votes were polled, and we find that the eight candidates having the highest number of votes on the first count were, with one exception, the eight candidates who were elected on the twelfth count. There was no change whatever so far as the parties were concerned, but there was a change in that one member of a party was substituted for another. The Sinn Feiners on the first vote had a candidate who came third in their party but who, on the twelfth count, was placed first in their list, and the first Sinn Fein candidate on the first vote was defeated. That was the only change made in the whole twelve counts. Apart from that there was no change whatever between the twelfth count and the first. The advocates of proportional representation say that the system is very easy, that it does not give any more trouble to count the votes than the old system. Yet why the necessity of having twelve different counts when the first count gives the same result?

The other test vote I received from the city of Ottawa, and possibly it was made up by the hon. member for Brant (Mr. Good) himself. It has a number of names of late representatives of parliament, and the name of my hon. friend is also to be found. Whether by accident or intention, we find the same thing works out in this case, and the hon. gentleman has unconsciously given an argument against proportional representation, for on the first count in his test we get exactly the same results that were obtained on the sixth count. Why the need for six counts when the first gives the same result?

The hon. member also said that in this country in 1921, of 140 representatives from constituencies where there were several candidates, seventy-four or seventy-eight were returned as minority candidates. Now I think that same argument will apply to proportional representation. Take the results in the city of Sligo, for instance. There were 940 votes cast in that election under the system of proportional representation, and 105 votes was the quota-that number of votes were required to elect a candidate. I wonder if a man who is elected by 105 votes out of a total of 940 can be called a majority candidate. I think he is a minority candidate, and in that election two candidates were elected who did not receive the quota. They were considerably below the 105 votes necessary to

elect them, but they were elected. Surely they were minority candidates. I have no doubt that in that Sligo election the will of the people would have been more effectively expressed, and with the same results probably that obtained on the twelfth count, under the present system of election. Therefore I cannot see how proportional representation, particularly with regard to the single transferable vote is of any use in multi-member constituencies. It might have a different application in a constituency where only one member was to be elected.

With regard to the system itself, as I said before, democracy is based on the principle of majority rule: I think all will agree with that. Proportional representation would do away with that, because it gives you minority rule; it gives representation by minority groups in the House.

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IND

William Charles Good

Independent Progressive

Mr. GOOD:

Does not the hon. member distinguish between majority rule and majority representation?

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CON

Robert King Anderson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ANDERSON:

Majority representation in the House of Commons should be based on the popular vote. The people are supposed to rule in a democracy, and the majority of the voting people should be represented in the House. But proportional representation gives us minority representation. It is intended for one purpose and one purpose only, to give minorities in the country representation in the House. In many instances these minorities are so small as not to be entitled to representation at all.

The hon. member for Brant in his speech last year made this statement:

The remarks I have ventured to address to the House to-day can make little or no appeal to those who do not believe in democracy.

I think that that statement is scarcely correct. I believe it applies more to proportional representation. I believe that proportional representation will appeal more to the enemies of democracy than to its friends. You will find the people of other countries who have come to Canada and brought with them perhaps some of the ideas of their own country lined up behind proportional representation. I do not mean to say that those who would advocate proportional representation are not in favour of democracy, a great many of them are in favour of democracy even though they support proportional representation; but I say that behind proportional representation you will find all those who are opposed to democracy and would be very pleased to see it destroyed. The hon. member went on to say that there are many in Canada who are not in favour of democracy. I do not know that

Proportional Representation

there are so many of that type in this country. However, that may be, I do not think there are any hon. members of this House who are opposed to democracy; I would take it that all of us here are in favour of democracy and are working in its best interests notwithstanding the fact that our views on certain questions may not be the same. Therefore taking our democratic institutions all in all I cannot see that proportional representation will, in any way, give a better representation in this House of the will of the people. The will of the people must rule in Canada, and it is upon that will we depend for the maintenance of the present constitution and the proper enforcement of our laws.

Proportional representation, to my mind, will mean an increasing number of groups in parliament, not only in the provinces but in the Dominion, and this will have the result of creating group parliaments. Group parliaments and group representatives cannot be for the best interests of the country, because that state of things inevitably leads to bargaining for position. When you get several groups in the popular chamber they lose sight of the best interests of the country, of the general interests of the state; they look only to the interests of their groups and they will go ahead bargaining with one another in order that they maintain some selfish interest that will apply only to the group with which they are identified, and they will lose sight of the welfare of the country as a whole.- I cannot find myself in harmony with the representations made by the hon. member for Brant, and must say that I am strongly opposed to the system of proportional representation.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. J. S. WOODSWORTH (Centre Winnipeg) :

The hon. member for Brant has covered the ground so completely in explaining the principle underlying proportional representation, and also in marshalling the facts and authorities bearing upon it, that it would seem as if very little remained for anyone else to do. I would, however, just like to refer to the conditions which prevail in some sections of the country.

Mention has been made of the city of Winnipeg. For some time we have had proportional representation in Winnipeg, both in our provincial and in our municipal affairs, and my judgment would be, in so far as I have talked with considerable numbers of men in all the different parties, that proportional representation has worked well in that city, and to my knowledge there is no movement whatever, in either branch of public life, to return to the old method. There (Mr. Anderson.]

is some little difficulty, perhaps, for those unaccustomed to this method to understand the principle on which it is worked. A great many in reading of the question have been inclined to think that the system of counting is very cumbersome. I quite agree that it requires some patience in order to master the actual counting of the ballots, but so far as the ordinary elector is concerned there is no difficulty whatever; as a matter of fact in our last federal election we had to go to a very considerable amount of trouble in getting the ordinary electors to understand that they had to revert to the older method of marking a cross. Under proportional representation the ordinary elector goes in and simply marks his ballot, one, two, three and so on, in order of preference. So far as voting is concerned, the system is simplicity itself, and it is always a very easy matter to arrange for an expert staff to count the ballots.

I take it that the mover of this resolution has not in mind the extension of this principle to the rural districts, in fact he is not suggesting that it can be immediately put in force in all the urban districts, but he is asking that the principle of proportional representation shall be tried out. How it works is evidenced in a matter aside altogether from party consideration, in the late provincial elections in the city of Winnipeg. There was a very considerable minority of the people who believed in what is known as moderation with regard to temperance matters. Generally speaking this group represented the liquor interests, and personally I had no particular sympathy with the representations of that group, but I have to acknowledge that there were a considerable number of people in all parties who believed that the act in Manitoba ought to be changed. The people holding that belief were able to elect their own representative to voice their particular views on the floor of the legislature. They would have been unable to do so had not this principle of proportional representation been in operation. The principle being in existence, men of all parties who believed strongly in the Moderation party's programme voted for this programme, and then they had their chance to be heard within the legislature. So far as labour is concerned I may say that for a good many years the labour organizations throughout this country, as well as in older countries, have advocated this principle and have very frequently used it in their own elections.

The last speaker has suggested that democracy is based on majority rule. Now, I cannot for the life of me see how democracy is

Proportional Representation

going to be interfered with or how the majority rule, as far as that goes, is going to be interfered with. I take it that the very principle of democracy is that the people, and all the people, shall have a voice in the government. It seems to me that it is not the underlying principle of democracy that one particular section of people shall rule over other sections. The danger is, or might be, in minority rule; but the fact that there are minorities in this House does not mean that the minorities rule. The fact is that under proportional representation the minorities would have a chance of expressing themselves in the House to some extent in the same proportion as they express themselves outside of it. Surely that is fair. The fact that there are minorities in the House does not mean that the majority does not still rule; it means what we are all in favour of, I take it, that every section of the community has a right to be heard here.

The last speaker also made the statement that group representation cannot be in the interests of the country, that if we had group representation it would simply mean that men would be free to further their own selfish interests and disregard the best interests of the country. It seems to me the hon. member goes too far in making that statement, because it is unproven. If there are in fact various groups outside the House, as I think we must admit, why should not those groups have a chance to be heard inside a House that ought to be representative of all the people? I take it that to-day there are various interests represented in Canada. There are certain western interests, for example,-we have heard it again and again on the floor of this House that there are certain distinctive western interests. There are certain other interests in Canada represented by the people from the Maritime provinces. We have interests repre-sentated by the people in this central part of the country. There are interests represented by the people who come from Toronto, and there are very different interests represented by the people who come from Quebec. Surely we approve the principle in this country that it is well worth our while to hear, not merely the representatives from the prairie provinces but also the representatives from the provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, not merely the representatives from Toronto, but also the representatives from the province of Quebec. We go on that principle.

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CON

Robert King Anderson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ANDERSON:

Does the hon. gentleman not think that the various sections of

the country have their views on all questions represented in parliament under our present system?

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Quite so. If the hon. gentleman will follow me I think he will see the bearing of my argument. I say we recognize that in the geographical distribution, which we have had for some time, but within each of these constituencies there are also divergent interests, or within each of these areas there are divergent interests that are just as important, and I think considerably greater than those that are caused by mere geographical divisions. We have within any one city certain divisions, for instance, manufacturers, bankers or railway people; we have the smaller business man; we have those generally known as labour people. The interests of these different groups are often by no means identical, or the people themselves do not think they are. As long as we have these divergencies among the people, as long as we have these divergent groups, surely they have a right to be heard. I do not think hon. gentlemen here ought to be afraid of having the minority express viewpoints. It seems to me we obtain the very highest and best results by each man or group speaking out as to what are their essential principles. Otherwise there is more or less autocracy and more or less force exercised by the majority over the minority. I do not know that we ought to be afraid of having the minority express their views, for it would seem to me that if we are going to suppress any particular body of public opinion by in some way refusing it a voice on the floor of the House, we are thereby giving to those who hold that opinion a direct incentive to express their opinion in some other way. As an example, the other day we had a discussion with regard to the trouble amongst the steel workers down in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. A year ago we had trouble among the coal miners in Cape Breton. These people for some reason or other have not been enabled to have their own direct representatives here to express themselves on the floor of this House. It is quite true, there are men who represent the constituency in which they live, they do not represent particularly the interests of the steel or mine workers. If these men cannot express themselves on the floor of this House, then it seems as though they would have to resort to some other method of having their will expressed. It would seem to be in the interest of the country as a whole that they should be able to express themselves, as we have so often said, through constitutional

Proportional Representation

means. If we deny them the right to express themselves through regular parliamentary agencies, it is inevitable that sooner or later they shall try to express themselves in some other way. So that from that standpoint alone I would suggest that we ought to afford these men every opportunity of expressing themselves through their own representatives here on the floor of this House. As we approach this matter of redistribution, I would like to think that we could settle some of these fundamental principles before we go into committee and thresh out the details. Here we have an opportunity of laying down the principles, and it does seem that we are on the side of thorough-going democracy if we say that it is in the general public interest that suitable machinery be provided. Proportional representation means, simply that machinery should be provided, so that as far as is possible we shall have represented on the floor of this House every considerable body of public opinion in any section of Canada.

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February 19, 1923