I have no information regarding this and some of the other constituencies that have been added to the schedule. I may explain that as regards the constituencies of Provencher and Maple Creek, hon. gentlemen representing these ridings interviewed me and explained the necessity for adding them to the schedule. I accepted their explanation. There has been no intimation however regarding the others and clearly we cannot go on adding constituencies indefinitely. If this is the last one I do not mind including it in the schedule.
pointed out the necessity for this addition and I was afraid that the committee might be impatient if I spoke again on the question. The constituency of Macleod is bounded on the west by the Rocky mountains for a distance of 160 miles and there are a number
of polls that are difficult to reach on account of the mountain trails. If the weather is bad, they must be reached by horse and buggy; in the last election some ballot boxes were sent part of the way by horseback. The reason for asking that this constituency be added to the list is much the same as might be given in the case of any other constituency. I am afraid that in the limited period of seven days some of the polls will be left without any ballot boxes on election day and that is my only reason for moving this amendment.
That the bill be amended by adding thereto anot.ncr section, to be known as section 39, which shaft! provide as follows:
Section 21 of the said act is amended by adding thereto the following:
"Provided that for any general election not less th ,n sixty days shall elapse between the date of the issue of the writs of election and the polling day."
The amended section would then read:
The writs for an election shall be in form No. 1 and be dated and returnable on such days as the Governor in Council determines, provided that for any gene*al election not less than sixty days shall elapse between the date of the issue of the writs of election and the polling day.
The other day we debated the advisability of providing that not less than sixty days be allowed to elapse between the issue of the writ and the polling day. I do not desire to take up the time of the committee by again debating this point, but I would direct the attention of hon. members to the fact that the act applies not only to constituencies in western Canada, where they are very large, but to many in other parts of the Dominion where I believe the campaign cannot be carried out in less than sixty days. In the amended bill we have provided that the machinery necessary for the conduct of an election could be put in action and the campaign completed in less than sixty days. This amendment which I am moving would provide that the full sixty days shall be allowed, regardless of the time that may be necessary for the transaction of the various matters of business that are provided for.
Mr. Chairman, the following information, I think, should be sufficient to convince the committee of the undesirability of this amendment. The other day I asked the Chief Electoral Officer to find
out what time had elapsed between the date of the issuing of the writs and the date of the poll in every general election since confederation. The first three elections having taken place on different days, it was not possible to give the figures, but he has supplied me with the following information: In the
election of 1878 the writ was issued on August 17 and the date of the poll was September 17 -31 days. For the other elections the respective dates were: 1882, May 18 and June 20-33 days; 1887, January 17 and February 22-36 days; 1891, February 4 and March 5- 29 days; 1896,-hon. members will recall that the Tupper administration had stayed in office the full five years, and they stretched the interval to the full sixty days; this is the only occasion where sixty days have elapsed between the issuing of the writ and the date of the election, the respective dates being April 24 and June 23; 1900, October 9 and November 7-29 days; 1904, September 29 and November 3-35 days; 1908, August 3 and September 21 -49 days; 1917, October 31 and December 17 -47 days; 1921-the last election-October 8 and December 6-59 days. Now, my hon. friend from Humboldt suggests that we should make the period sixty days. Well, I ask the committee if that would not be an intolerable situation? It does not follow, as has been said repeatedly, that because the writs must issue on a certain date the elections will necessarily be limited within that period. The last election began in the month of August and ended on December 6. According to the statement of the Chief Electoral Officer forty-five days is the least possible time within which the polling could take place after the issuing of the writs, assuming that everything goes without a hitch. The government in planning the date of the election unquestionably will be governed by the advice of the Chief Electoral Officer, and with forty-five days as the minimum, and nothing to restrict us in the other direction- to take as many extra days as we want, I submit it would be very foolish for the House to bind itself to a period of sixty days.
May I again remind the House that there is a certain obligation on our part to the business community not to have the country in a state of turmoil over an unnecessarily lengthy period, and while sixty days might serve a useful purpose on one occasion, on other occasions it would be altogether too long a time. Having regard to the circumstance that in all the previous elections, with the exception of the one that I have referred to, sixty days has been found unnecessary and has never been used, I submit that there is
no necessity at this stage of our development to alter our election law in that regard. May I point out this further circumstance, that in the early elections the constituencies were much larger than they are to-day, that they were more sparsely settled, and that the means of transportation did not begin to be what they are to-day; we had fewer railways and the automobile was unknown. Why should we at this time want to take up a period for election purposes that all our governments since confederation have found wholly unnecessary and inadvisable?
reason for lengthening the period because the machinery has changed. The right hon. gentleman will recall that in the earlier years we had a Dominion franchise that differed from the provincial franchise; and we had our own lists which were prepared and ready in advance of an election. I think it would be about 1900, or some time shortly after, that the Dominion franchise was repealed and we adopted the franchises of the various provinces, and also their lists. The last act provided for bringing the lists down to date by registration in towns and by enumerators in rural districts, and a great deal of machinery was set up, involving a lot of work in connection with elections to-day under this act that formerly had not been necessary. All this work has to be done from the issue of the writ, everything dates from that time, and really sixty days is not too long an interval within which to accomplish it. Any shorter period does not give the candidate an opportunity to take all the steps in connection with his campaign to which he is entitled and which are necessary. I think sixty days is not at all too long between the issue of the writ and the polling.
I would like to be permitted to revert to section 3 for the purpose of making an amendment. This is the same amendment I moved a few nights ago, but owing to a mistake the vote was not taken. As you are aware, Mr. Chairman, there was the usual noise going on. There was no opposition to my amendment and I presumed that it was
going through unchallenged, and when the chairman said the " nays " had it I understood him to say the " ayes " had it, and I did not challenge the vote. It is a very important matter for British Columbia, and I hope the committee will see its way to allow the vote to be taken now.