June 25, 1925

CON

Hugh Guthrie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

I think this is too important to let go through without consulting the Chiel Electoral Officer. If we are going to amend the rule, well and good, but I am satisfied the rule will not work under this clause. I want to see the seven-day clause retained. I want to see a workable act. This says that on the twelfth day before the election the returning officers shall do something in respect of the candidate, and on the ninth day before election he shall do something in respect of the candidate. Let us assume that there are no candidates announced on the ninth day before the election, how is he going to carry out his duties? On the 7th day we will say there are a dozen nominees.

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Subtopic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT
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LIB

Arthur Bliss Copp (Secretary of State of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. COPP:

He would send out the lists

as soon as he knew about them.

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CON

Hugh Guthrie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

Then he would not be

complying with the law and anybody with a candidate could object that in his election he did not receive the list twelve days before the election. That is a practical difficulty.

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

That is an extreme case. Has my hon. friend ever known of an election in which there was no candidate announced before nomination?

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CON

Hugh Guthrie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

I have known elections

where there were candidates brought out on nomination day, and if that candidate can say that the election law has not been complied with, that on the twelfth day before election he did not receive a list which he was to have received, I dt>

not know but that he could object to the election. We have a practical difficulty here. It is no use passing a new clause when your rules do not apply to that clause.

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PRO

Neil Haman McTaggart

Progressive

Mr. McTAGGART:

I think we should

appreciate the fact that there are in Canada, particularly in western Canada, a large number of rural constituencies. I do not know whether rule 15 applies to other than urban constituencies, and if not, I am not particularly concerned because I have the honour to represent a rural constituency. I think however, it would be impossible to get the ballot boxes distrubted to the various polls in seven days, and before we vote on this amendment I would like to have some assurance from the minister that where there are large rural constituencies,, they will be added to the schedule when we come to section 38.

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LIB

Arthur Bliss Copp (Secretary of State of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. COPP:

That might happen in some

districts, but rule 15 does not apply to rural

(Mr. H. A. Stewart.]

constituencies at all. In reply to the hon. member for South Wellington (Mr. Guthrie) it is the desire of the government and of the House to get a workable elections act, and as I think the majority are in favour of seven days between nomination and polling day, I would suggest that we carry the section and leave the bill in committee till the Chief Electoral Officer, who happens to be away to-day but who will be back to-night, is here; and if it is necessary to amend the rule we will do it.

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CON

Hugh Guthrie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

Some of us may be badly surprised if on nomination day we are met with a new candidate, and he takes objection to the whole election.

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LIB

Arthur Bliss Copp (Secretary of State of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. COPP:

We will not take it out of committee entirely until the Chief Electoral Officer comes back, and if it is necessary to amend the rules to apply to the section we will do it.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Why not let this thing

stand, too? Once it passes there would be no possibility of having an honest election at all. If I were running and I felt I was not going to win, and1 I wanted to take advantage of the act, I would get another candidate out on nomination day.

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

Oh, well-

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

The minister says, "Oh

well." I fancy he would be surer to do it than I wmuld be. He would get a candidate out on nomination day, and that candidate could upset the election.

Amendment (Mr. Coote) negatived.

Section agreed to: Yeas, 60; Nays, 48.

Section 23 agreed to.

On section 5-Use of provincial voters' list.

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LIB

Arthur Bliss Copp (Secretary of State of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. COPP:

This is a rather difficult clause, and I am very much confused in regard to it because it affects almost entirely the province of Ontario. The act as passed in 1920 provides that in every province the provincial lists, where there are provincial lists, are to be taken as the basis for the preparation of the voters' lists. The registrar is instructed to take that provincial list and from it to make up his preliminary list for further revision. During the last election the Chief Electoral Officer had some difficulty in regard to Ontario. Personally, I have not the knowledge as to how the provincial lists are made up in that province, but the Chief Electoral officer informs me there was considerable difficulty, when he came to prepare a list

Elections Act

in Ontario, in getting proper provincial lists from which to make up the preliminary lists for the election. The reason, I understand, was that there was no provincial list that wa3 less than two years old. I think the act provides that any provincial list that is less than two years old can be used as a basis for the preparation of the list. I do not know what difficulty they had or how it was rectified, but I think there was some understanding in some sections, if not throughout the whole province, in regard to it. The Chief Electoral Officer drafted clause 5 in the bill in order to get over this difficulty. After some consultation, he admitted that he was somewhat in doubt whether this special clause actually provided the proper machinery from which to prepare the list. When the hon. member for South Wellington (Mr. Guthrie) came to see me and Col. Biggar, the Chief Electoral Officer, we talked the matter over and one or two amendments were suggested that might be used to cure the difficulty. As I say, personally I do not know the intricate work of making up the lists in Ontario, and I shall be glad to consider any amendment that may be suggested to overcome the difficulty which the Chief Electoral Officer has found. I shall be pleased to hear from any hon. gentleman from that province who understands the situation.

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CON

Hugh Guthrie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

The Secretary of State is

quite right in saying that when the act was passed in 1920, the intention was to utilize the provincial lists, where provincial lists were in existence, as the bas:s for the preparation of the Dominion list, and the clause was inserted in the act providing that where provincial lists existed that were not more than two years old, they should be accepted as the basis for the Dominion list. Two years was fixed upon having regard to the time limit in Quebec in connection with the revision of lists. It was the present Minister of Customs and Excise (Mr. Bureau) who made the suggestion and the government of the day adopted the two-year term. In the amendment as prepared to-day by the Chief Electoral Officer, the two-year clause is omitted, and it leaves Ontario in this position. ,Under the provincial law the voters' lists are prepared in three parts, parts I and II apply to municipal voters and provincial voters. Part III of the Ontario list applies only to provincial voters or manhood franchise voters. Part III is a list which is never actually completed unless a provincial election is pending. It is the duty of the municipal clerk annually to prepare such a list as part III, but until word is received from the Provincial Secretary, the list is not printed. It

30 happens that last year, while there was no provincial election, there was a provincial plebiscite, and the clerks of the municipalities prepared part III and part III was printed. But it was printed for the purpose of taking the vote on the Ontario Temperance Act. I believe it was looked upon as a very complete and excellent list. The vote upon that list took place on the 23rd October of last year and it is still available, I believe. But the trouble is this. Municipal clerks, in many instances in Ontario, have treated that as an ejection list although it was only for the purpose of a plebiscite, and they have not this year made up part- III at all. In some municipalities part III exists, but in others it is said that part III has not been prepared and will not be printed or available until probably December 1 of the present year. It is rumoured that we might posibly have an election this year, and if that election comes before 1st December, I doubt if there would be in existence provincial lists containing part III which is the large body of manhood franchise voters. The list prepared last October is available and could be used if the language of the amendment now before us were directed to its use. I had the benefit of a talk yesterday with the Chief Electoral Officer on the subject. He recognized the difficulty. The clause which he prepared, and which is in the bill before us, permits the use only of a list which is prepared for provincial election purposes. The Ontario Temperance Act was not prepared for an election in the province and it cannot be used unless we authorize its use. We drafted some amendments to get over the difficulty and I think the minister has them. I have gone over them very carefully and I think they cure the difficulty. The department of the Secretary of State in Toronto has also communicated this difficulty to the Chief Electoral Officer. His suggestion to cure the matter is as follows and if the minister would move it, I think the committee would do well to agree to it:

(4) The lists used for the purpose of a plebiscite held on the 23rd day of October, 1924, in the province of Ontario, may be used at any election in the said province, provided

(a) That no later lists, which would be used under the laws of the province at a provincial election commenced at the same time, have been subsequently prepared under the said laws; and

(b) That the writ for the Election under this act is issued on or before the 22nd day of October, 1920. The Chief Electoral Officer shall direct when the provisions of this subsection are to apply.

Then the Chief Electoral Officer intimated to me and the minister that he also thought he should have a discretion as to a right to rule what this should apply to, and he

Elections Act

has drafted another clause in the following language as subsection 3:

(3) If any question arises as to whether any list, or which of two or more lists, prepared under the laws of a province, should be used pursuant to such laws **t a provincial election commenced at the same time as the election under this act, the Chief Electoral Officer may direct the use under this section of such list as should in his opinion be used, and such list shall be used accordingly.

This applies only to urban municipalities, towns or cities having a population of over five thousand. The difficulty in large cities will be very grave if we have no voters' lists. It will be well nigh impossible to register the number of voters entitled to register in cities like Windsor, Hamilton, Toronto or Ottawa unless there is a basic list, and the basic list has been part III of the provincial voters' list, which unfortunately, in) many instances, in many years does not exist and in many instances will not be issued before December 1. If the government assures us there will not be an election before December 1, this discussion will be unnecessary, but if there is a fall election, we shall have trouble in Ontario unless some such clause is inserted as that suggested by the Chief Electoral Officer.

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LIB

James Malcolm

Liberal

Mr. MALCOLM:

Does the hon. member

think the lists made up at the time of the plebiscite will be reliable lists? There will be the difficulty, for instance, of municipalities which were in favour of the drys and where the officers might have prepared the lists accordingly; in other communities there was a strong feeling towards the wet ticket. Lists are not always fair that are prepared for a plebiscite. There is, therefore, very grave danger of such a list being a poor list.

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CON

Hugh Guthrie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

It is not the conclusive

list. It is only the basis of a list. It is the list which the returning officer takes in the first instance and places on his voters' list. There is power to strike off or to add. In the city which I have the honour to represent that list comprises over 2,000 names. In larger cities it runs into 10.000 or 20,000 names. If you have no basis and all these voters have to be registered, there will not be time to do that. There is no unfairness in taking that as a preliminary list with power to add or to strike off.

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LIB

James Malcolm

Liberal

Mr. MALCOLM:

Would it not be better

in rural districts to make up a new list altogether?

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CON

Hugh Guthrie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

This only applies to

cities of five thousand and over.

[Mr. GuthrieJ

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LIB

Albert Frederick Healy

Liberal

Mr. HEALY:

What would be the objection to using the municipal lists as the basis?

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CON

Hugh Guthrie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

They will be used under

part I and part II. They are printed and all ready. I have been informed that in the city of Windsor they will not have any list under part III, taking it for granted that the last list printed in October for the plebiscite was the right list. Part I and part II are completed, but part III is not.

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June 25, 1925