May 31, 1929

CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

There is the difficulty. We believe in liberty of opinion and liberty of action within certain limits in this country. I am simply stating how this question appeared to the committee. On the other hand, the ordinary day labourer who is employed in the village factory or in the small store in the smaller urban centres has no difficulty whatever in arranging with his employer for ample time to go out and vote. The relations between employers and employees of that class are so amicable in this oountry that very little difficulty has arisen in respect to voting. I prefer the half holiday for this reason, that it assures the hundreds of thousands of men who are employed in the larger factories and the great industries a half holiday for them to go to the poll, and if they are brought back to work for the purpose of carrying on the operations of the company it entitles them to double pay.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

A few moments ago the hon. member for St. Lawrence-St. George was arguing against the amendment of my colleague, and suggesting that it would be wise under the circumstances to leave things as they were, but as soon as the amendment is turned down he suggests that now we adopt the half holiday.

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CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

I beg pardon. That is a

mis-representation of my intention. My intention was not to make an argument but to state to the committee the views that influenced us when we were dealing with the matter as a committee.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

But the effect is as I stated, whereas a few moments ago the hon. gentleman was suggesting that we leave things as they are; he now suggests an amendment.

I submit that that is hardly a consistent attitude. There may be some truth in what the hon. member has said in regard to a few people in the large industries, but there is a very large number of shops where men are not brought back to work on a holiday. I should say that the vast majority are not brought back and paid double time for the holiday. The suggested plan would work a substantial injustice in their case. It would seem to me that when we remember the very narrow margin on which a great number of the workers have to operate, it is highly desirable that they should be given the opportunity to vote without being penalized too much for so doing. Further than that, I would point out that whilst the relations between employer and employee may in some instances be amicable in many instances they are not of the most cordial nature. It may be all very well to say that a man is free to go and vote, yet in a great many plants a man is not free unless his employer gives him the opportunity. I myself have had difficulty with large employers in that connection who paid no attention to existing legislation for providing suitable hours in which their men could go and vote. They said they could not arrange to let them all go at the same time, and so on. It is quite true I was representing the interests of the employees, but I would take that position whether a man were voting Liberal, Conservative or Labour.

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CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

Is the hon. gentleman in

favour of continuing the original section?

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LAB
?

An hon. MEMBER:

We are all agreed.

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LIB

Lucien Cannon (Solicitor General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. CANNON:

I think the committee

would be satisfied if we simply dropped the clause, and left the question open; we might attend to it next year. That is section 4, subsection 14.

Dominion Elections Act

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CON

William Alves Boys

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BOYS:

I agreed with the clause as

it appears now. I did not take the trouble to look it up myself, but I was informed- I think the information came from the chief electoral officer who appeared before the committee-that this very question was dealt with in the house in 1925, and that by a vote of 54 to 32 the change was then made, and that merely by oversight it was not incorporated in the act. I feel that that being so it would be very proper now to adopt what was done in 1925. I have no very pronounced views on the matter myself, and if they who feel that they have some right to speak for labour think that it would be better to revert to the previous subsection whereby two hours are given with pay I would have no objection to that. On the other hand, I have nodesire to oppose the suggestion of the Solicitor General that the matter be dropped now, and with many other matters to be attended to which will be subsequently referred to in another report of this committee it mightwell stand to be dealt with at the next

session of parliament.

Section withdrawn.

On section 20-Name not on the list.

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IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

Might I ask the permission

of the committee to refer to another section which oame up yesterday in the house when I was attending a rather important committee? It is a small matter but it is

rather important. With the consent of the hon. Solicitor General, who I suppose is in charge of the bill, I would like to insert one word in section 20. If you will refer to section 20 of this bill you will find that it deals with the question of allowing, as it is known in popular parlance, a man or woman to swear himself in on election day. I am talking entirely of rural matters. This does not concern the urban electors at all. There is a privilege there where a man can, as I say, go and swear himself in, on complying with certain formalities, and it is a highly-prized right in those .country places. It is a safeguard against a lot of things; it is a safeguard against corruption, if such should exist, although it does not in the district that I represent; it is a safeguard against carelessness which might exist, or ignorance oif the local deputy returning officer, who has no desire to do an injustice. Under the old act a man went there and he swore, aided by a voter who was on the list, that he had resided in the electoral district the regulation number of days and that he was now a resident in the polling division. Now they have gone further, he has to swear not only that he has been the regulation number of days, and so on,

[Mr. Cannon.3 .

but that so far as he is aware his name does not appear on the list of voters prepared for any other polling division. That is the trouble. Those registrars, as they are called, who put the names of people on the list, are paid so much a head, and sometimes for that reason, and sometimes due to pure carelessness, they just take the last list, or some other list, and they jam on every name that is there, men who have been away for years, or men who have been dead for years. They do not put them on deliberately; they simply take the list and will not be bothered checking up to see whether Bill Jones has left the district, or has gone to heaven or to some other place in the meantime. Then the man comes along on election day and wants to vote in this other polling division where he has been residing for perhaps six months. He knows his name is on the old list, or someone tells him so; he may be aware that he is left on the old list, but-improperly. What is he going to do? He has no remedy; he loses his vote. That is not the intention of this amendment.

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LAB

Herbert Bealey Adshead

Labour

Mr. ADSHEAD:

He can vote at the polling division where he belongs.

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IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

But he does not want to.

He cannot afford to take a long trip. His interests are in the polling division where he then resides. We are proposing to make it easy for the workingman, and for everyone, to vote. I would ask the Solicitor General to be permitted to insert this one word. It is not the way I would like to have it, but I know it would open up a lot of discussion to change the whole section. I would ask leave to insert the word "properly" down on the second last line of the section, so that it will read that the man has got to swear that so far as he is aware, his name does not "properly" appear on any other list. There is no opportunity for abuse; he has to have someone who lives there swear to his identity. He has got to swear himself that he has resided in that polling division. It is rather a retrogade step from the old act. If the Solicitor General would allow me to put in that one word "properly" it would, in great part, meet my objection.

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LIB

Lucien Cannon (Solicitor General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. CANNON:

I have no objection. I

think that would improve the section.

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Amendment agreed to. Section as amended agreed to.


LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

May I. ask the

chairman of the committee whether the committee gave any consideration to the question of proportional representation which question,

I think, was presented to the committee.

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CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

We had a speech on it yesterday before this committee.

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LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

The committee did give

some consideration to the question of proportional representation. We even invited representatives of labour to appear before us to give us their views on it. They did speak briefly. We also heard another witness who told us what he thought of proportional representation, but the committee did not see fit to change our present system.

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CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

Nor to introduce so controversial a question where we were anxious for unanimity.

Bill reported, read the third time and

passed.

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RAILWAYS AND CANALS


The house in committee of supply, Mr. Johnston in the chair.


May 31, 1929