June 19, 1925

CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Two months otherwise.

That is what the Secretary of State said just now.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I believe I

am absolutely correct in saying that my right hon. friend found to his surprise when the general election came on that it would take three months to carry it out. Everybody knows my right hon. friend said there would be a dissolution in August; he told the country there would be an election then. We were kept campaigning through September, October, November and December, and the country was in a state of turmoil, to the disadvantage of the country and most of all to the disadvantage of my right hon. friend. I think he assumed at the time that if he had an opportunity of traversing this country from one end to the other he would win candidates in every seat, but he came back with a following not as large in numbers as the ministers he had when he went to the country. Forty-five days is the shortest time within wThich a general election can be arranged under- this act. It does not say that fortyffive days will be the time, it may be two months, it may be longer; but the government does feel it is in the public interest and in the interest of the candidates that the country should be spared these interminable periods of turmoil which work to the disadvantage of business generally and to the advantage of no one in particular.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I do not know what is

the matter with the Prime Minister to-night. His mind seems to be in a turmoil. He says I announced a general election in August.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

You did, you

stated there was to be an election that year.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

An election in August!

Never in the world.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

My right hon. friend intimated in August that there would be an election that year. The election came on in December, as he well remembers.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

What I understood the

Prime Minister to say-I suppose I was wrong in this-was that I had announced there would be an election in August.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

No.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I did not announce in

August that there would be an election; it was the first day of September.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

The last day

of August.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

No, the first day of

September. I would not have bothered correcting so narrow a point as that, but I misunderstood what the Prime Minister meant. But I did not then state when the election would be held, and it was many days before the House was dissolved and an election ordered. I do not remember being informed by anybody that it would take three months, but the time was long for the reason that I was anxious that hon. gentlemen of the Liberal party, who found fault with everything, who were always in a state of indignation no matter what was done, would not have cause to complain that they did not have a chance to persuade the electorate.

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LIB
CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

No, I do not doubt it.

Certainly there was no advantage to the government in the course it took; but that was the reason. I do remember our being advised from time to time in by-elections-I do not remember in the general election, although perhaps we were-that owing to the new act a longer time was needed than before. But the reason the period was chosen was just because there would be plenty of time for the campaign. Now I am willing to accept the definite word of the minister. If the minister will give his word that this is necessary in order that there may be no more than two months, then I am prepared to accept it so far as I am con'eerned. The minister stated that with the act as it is an election could be held in two months-sixty days-but that with the act as amended it could be held in forty-ifive days. I think forty-five is too short; I think sixty is long enough. The Prime Minister stated also that we came back

Elections Act

with less members than we had ministers. Well, I will not take time to reply to that.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

That is what

I said. If my hon. friend will count the members behind him who were returned by majority votes he will find that they are fewer in number than his ministers when he appealed to the country.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

What about the Prime

Minister's own following?

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

They speak for themselves.

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PRO

Donald Ferdinand Kellner

Progressive

Mr. KELLNER:

Mr. Chairman, if this

little -conflict is over I should like to make a few remarks about the forty-five day period. In the constituency of East Edmonton which I have the honour to represent in this House, leaving the city of Edmonton and going north to the extreme point of the constituency, would take twenty-two days to make the return trip; I might not have that schedule down exactly right, but it is approximately correct. Then going out to . the eastertn border of the constituency would probably take about six days more, so that it would take about twenty-eight days to make the round trip to the extreme ends of the constituency without any allowance for stop-offs whatever. Anyone who conceives of a constituency of that kind will readily realize that forty-five days is not sufficient. There are other constituencies that are about as bad. I think West Edmonton is probably in about the same position. I imagine we probably could function on a sixty-day limit, but I do not think we possibly can on forty-five days.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT
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CON

Hugh Alexander Stewart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEWART (Leeds):

)I think the

general understanding of the committee was that the last election covered a period of ninety days because it was really necessary to take that time, and under the amendment at least sixty days would be required to hold an election. Forty-five days comes rather as a surprise to me being a member of that committee. I think forty-five days is too short if you have to hold say thirty meetings. I think it ought to be at least sixty days.

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PRO

Thomas George McBride

Progressive

Mr. McBRIDE:

I rather think it is an

advantage to some people that there should be a short term, for I know districts in my constituency that I had not the opportunity of visiting at all, but to which my opponent got, and that is where I got most of the votes.

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LIB

Arthur Bliss Copp (Secretary of State of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. COPP:

Under the present act I am

informed that sixty days is the shortest possible time after the appointment of the returning officers. The intent of this act is to

have the returning officers appointed in advance. That gives the chief electoral officer an opportunity of forwarding them their instructions, and it gives the officers an opportunity of studying them and making themselves familiar with the act. It is a complicated act, and the returning officers who are appointed are not all lawyers; they are not able to grasp every section of the act as readily as some would do. It is felt that it will be in the interests of the better conduct of the whole election, to have the returning officers appointed in advance and given anj opportunity to etudy their instructions. It may be possible if the returning officers were appointed in advance, to hold the election in forty-five days, but the returning officers have to be appointed, of course, and no doubt it would take longer than forty-five days from the announcement of the election to polling day.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT
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June 19, 1925