April 6, 1926

PRIVATE BILL

FIRST READING


Bill No. 18, to change the name of the Dominion Express Company to "Canadian Pacific Express Company"-Mr. Fournier. PRIVILEGE-Mr. KENNEDY


STATEMENT REGARDING IRREGULARITIES IN PEACE RIVER ELECTION


On the Orders of the Day:


PRO

Donald MacBeth Kennedy

Progressive

Mr. D. M. KENNEDY (Peace River):

Mr. Speaker, I rise to a question of privilege.

2126 COMMONS

Privilege-Mr. Kennedy (Peace River)

On April 2 there appeared in various newspapers reports of the trial of Baldy Robb at Edmonton, Alberta. He was charged with and convicted of irregularities in the performance of his duties as deputy returning officer at No. 4 poll, near Brule, in the Peace River constituency at the federal election on October 29 last. Mr. Justice Walsh presided at the trial and is reported in the Edmonton Journal of April 1 as having said when addressing the jury:

The fraud which was alleged to have been perpetrated was or.e of a very serious character. In all the history of the Dominion there has never been an instance of such a glaring attempt to deprive citizens of their rights as voters. If this was true, then ninety voters had been deprived of their franchise. Mr. Collins had been deprived of his seat m the Dominion parliament, and the people of this riding had been deprived of their rights in having a man of their choice to represent them at Ottawa. . . . There was the evidence of the 111 people who had sworn that they voted for Collins on that day. This was the foundation on which the crown had built their structure. There was a possibility that these people might have committed wholesale perjury. Personally, said His Lordship, he found it hard to believe that a number of apparently respectable people like these had perjured themselves through fear of their employers.

In order to appeal to my sense of fairness the Ottawa Journal on April 3 in an editorial headed "Should Mr. Kennedy vote" strips this statement of Justice Walsh of all qualification, and makes this statement:

The fraud which was perpetrated was one of a very serious character. In all the history of the Dominion there had never been an instance of such a glaring attempt to deprive citizens of their rights as voters. Ninety citizens had been deprived of their franchise.

The words "If this was true," and the reference to the possibility of wholesale perjury are omitted, and then the editorial is built up to convince me that I have no moral right to sit in parliament or to vote for or against government measures. I intend to do both.

The statement of Mr. Justice Walsh, even if it were as the Ottawa Journal has it, was made at a trial held in connection with one poll out of 278. I claim now and have claimed ever since the early part of November that other irregularities in Peace River cost me more votes than the alleged switching of ballots at Brule cost Collins, even assuming that none of my ballots were switched at that point. The final results of No. 4 poll were: Collins (Conservative) 22; Kennedy, 12; Rae (Liberal) 127. It would therefore appear from the evidence that 89 votes were switched to Rae. I was elected by a plurality of 17 votes over Collins and 41 votes over Rae.

Six neighbouring polls in one district had all the election machinery set up and ballot boxes mailed addressed to the deputy returning officer, but no deputy returning officers

had been appointed. Three of these polls through the initiative of the people themselves were opened and the total results were: Collins, 15; Kennedy, 114; Rae, 15. The other three boxes remained in the nearest post office all day but no poll was held. At the latter three polls 225 persons had the right to vote. Many of them went to look for the polling place and of course found none. My information is that the vote there would have been divided similarly to the vote at the three polls that

The recount in Peace River was completed im December 19. A representative of the Conservative candidate asked me if, in view of the Brule situation, I would not consent to go through the first session of parliament and then resign. I told him at once that in my judgment owing to other election irregularities I had lost at least as many votes as Collins and that the proper course to follow, if they were not satisfied, was to petition under the Controverted Elections Act.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Would the hon. gentleman tell us the name of that gentleman?

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PRO

Donald MacBeth Kennedy

Progressive

Mr. KENNEDY:

Mr. Milner who was

acting for Mr. Collins. Instead of this they appealed to a Supreme court judge to have the poll at Paddle River, where the vote stood Collins, 11; Kennedy, 87; Rae, 5, thrown out, and 103 voters disfranchised on the technical ground that the deputy returning officer was not properly sworn in. It appears that the commissioner was not present when the deputy signed the oath form. In any event with sixty days in which to act under the Controverted Elections Act nothing was done by the Conservatives.

However a petition against my return has been filed in the Supreme Court of Alberta under the Controverted Elections Act by J. B. Page of Coalspur, through the legal firm of the hon. member for Athabaska (Mr. Cross).

If the Conservatives have now any desire to act and Page fails to press his petition I am informed that they can do so.

The petition charges me with everything the election act prohibits and asks that I be completely disfranchised. In view of this fact, even if I were otherwise disposed to resign I would not do so until the matter was disposed of. If no one else does so, I fully intend to press for action in this matter as soon as this session is over.

But, Mr. Speaker, I cannot resign. Chapter 11, section 8, of the Revised Statutes of Canada 1906, reads as follows:

No member shall tender his resignation while his election is lawfully contested, or until after the ex-

Privilege-Mr. Kennedy (Peace River)

piration of the time during which it may by law be contested on other grounds than corruption or bribery.

Until this petition is disposed of I intend to assume all the responsibilities and exercise all the privileges of a member of the House of Commons. I do not wish, however, to take shelter behind the petition or the law. I would refuse to resign even if there were no petition. I would not resign if I could and could not if I would. And let me say to that section of the press that has alternately flattered and threatened me during these last few days: I do not value their praise nor

fear their threats. I defy them.

There is a bigger question involved than the Peace River seat or the government in power. Northern Alberta has come through an election that has shown the existence of elements that must be rooted out of our political contests if respect for our parliamentary institutions is to remain. The chief question is how to do this. If I can help, neither the loss of the Peace River seat nor even disfranchisement would worry me in the least degree. And let me say that if this end can be served by unseating me, I will hold no grudge against anyone taking action to do so.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Right Hon. ARTHUR MEIGHEN (Leader of the Opposition):

This is a matter that

affects not only the privilege of the hon. member (Mr. Kennedy, Peace River) himself, but the privileges of the House as such. I do not propose to comment at any length on the subject now. The House was not apprised until this very moment of the stand which the hon. gentleman purposed taking; prior to meeting we had only a rumour upon which of course we could not decide, much less act. I should not let the occasion pass, however, without saying that I cannot agree with the reasoning advanced by the hon. member for Peace River, and I must take issue most flatly with the conclusion to which he comes.

It is true that under the House of Commons Act, while a petition stands against him in the courts the right of resignation is not the hon. member's. But the act of resignation is one thing and the act of exercising his functions here as a member and a voter is another. The hon. member now stands in this position, that the official and judicial findings as respects the election in his county show that he was not returned a member of this House.

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PRO

Donald MacBeth Kennedy

Progressive

Mr. KENNEDY (Peace River):

That was not the trial of an election petition.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

There is no charge

against the hon. member himself of malpractice, nor is there any charge that there was any dishonesty on the part of anyone else on his behalf. The only fault to be found with the hon. member exercising his functions is that he was not elected. The hon. member argues that but for "other irregularities" he would have been elected, and I must pause to comment on the use of the word "irregularities" which he was benevolent enough to apply to one who has now been convicted of a gross criminal offence against the code of Canada and is in consequence under a sentence to the penitentiary. The hon. member's euphemism may have some significance, but it does not at all detract from the heinousness of the offence. He argues that but for "other irregularities", namely, the fact that certain polls were not voted at all that the government's agents failed to send boxes to those polls, he would have been elected inasmuch as he is able he believes, to read the minds of the voters well enough to know that they would have voted for him. How weak and feeble this is by way of defence is evident on its mere statement. The fact is that from the votes polled the official judicial findings are that the hon. member was not returned, but that Mr. Collins secured the largest number of votes and has therefore the right to sit in this House. Under these circumstances it is difficult indeed to understand how the hon, member can feel himself playing his right part, in relation not only to his constituents but to this House, in continuing to exercise the functions of a member; and still more difficult it is to understand his reasoning by which he throws the blame for the circumstance that he did not obtain enough votes upon irregularities by officers of this government when the fact is. as he must admit, that he owes his alleged return to frauds and crimes perpetrated by a deputy returning officer acting on behalf of the same government. The hon. member represents those frauds in this House to-day, and he represents the men who perpetrated them: He is here because of them, and I

think he would have done himself more credit had he realized the position, and, pending at least the event of the action under the Controverted Elections Act, retire from membership in the meantime. The subject is one which undoubtedly will require further consideration and certainly this House has the right to pass upon it. It has that right, and at the first convenient opportunity it will be called upon to exercise it.

Privilege-Mr. McPhee

PRIVILEGE-Mr. McPHEE

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REPORTED STATEMENT OF MR. BAKER, MEMBER FOR TORONTO NORTHEAST


Mr. GEORGE W. McPHEE (Yorkton): Mr. Speaker, I rise to a question of privilege. I see in one of the Ottawa journals published this morning the report of a meeting held in the city of Toronto on April 5, and before making the observations which I desire to make. I want to read from the article in question: Toronto, April 5.-Describing Hon. Charles Dunning, Minister of Railways and Canals, as "a fresh lad" who was "trying to run federal affairs," R. L. Baker, Conservative member of parliament for Northeast Toronto, predicted at a Conservative Association smoker here to-night that Mr. Dunning "was going to get in wrong." "I think," he said, "the bringing of Dunning into the House was the best thing that has happened to us."


CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Is this a question of

privilege, Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman is referring to another member.

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LIB

Hewitt Bostock (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I desire to hear the hon.

member's statement.

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LIB

George Washington McPhee

Liberal

Mr. McPHEE (reading):

Continuing, Mr. Baker said that the Quebec Liberals would rise up in protest against the government's actions, and that before the end of the session the reins of power would pass over to Rt. Hon. Arthur Meighen, Conservative leader.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

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LIB

George Washington McPhee

Liberal

Mr. McPHEE:

I presume my hon. friends will applaud the next paragraph as vigorously :

He predicted that the upset would come when the budget was brought down.

"I don't see," Mr. Baker said, "how the men from Quebec can stand a fellow like Dunning and the young cubs of farmers dictating a policy for Canada. I think they'll explode. We old ginks aren't going to listen to young cubs tell us where we get off at.

''The so-called government," he said, "is there at the mercy of these selfish grain men from the west. If King had been a man at all he'd have thrown up the sponge."

Reading this report I am reminded ' of the lines from Pope's Essay on Criticism:

All seems infected that th' infected spy,

As all looks yellow to the jaundic'd ejre.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order. [DOT]

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LIB

George Washington McPhee

Liberal

Mr. McPHEE:

On behalf of the members sitting on this side of the House who come from Saskatchewan, I resent these slanders hurled against the third largest province in Canada. These insults offered to the representatives from the prairie provinces show a contemptibly mean and narrow concept of Canadianism.

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April 6, 1926