Right Hon. R. B. BENNETT (Prime Minister) moved the second reading of Bill No. 2, to readjust the representation in the House of Commons.
He said: In moving the second reading of Bill No. 2, to readjust the representation in the House of Commons, I think it is necessary only to point out that the bill corresponds identically, except as to dates, with chapter 63 of the statutes of 1924. It is identical also with the bill introduced by the leader of the opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King) in 1923 when Prime Minister, except as to section 4 which has been amended to meet the changed conditions with respect to population. It might be pointed out that the practice of introducing this bill in this form commenced in 1903 when the late Sir Wilfrid Laurier brought in a bill which set forth the number of members to which the provinces would be entitled under redistribution, it being left- to the house to determine the boundaries of the constituencies. This matter was very fully dealt with by the right hon. gentleman opposite when he introduced a bill in 1923, and I do not think any good purpose will be served by repeating the statements then made except to say that the practice commenced by Sir Wilfried Laurier in 1903 has been followed in subsequent redistribution measures. The old contest in the House of Commons over the boundaries of constituencies which
represented the views of the government of the day, has not taken place since 1903. In this instance, it is proposed to proceed exactly as has been done since 1903.
It will be recalled that the British North America Act provided that ait Confederation the number of members in the House of Commons would be 181-this is covered by section 37-and that the method by which increases were to be made as provided by the constitution is covered by section 51, which reads:
On the completion of the census in the year cue thousand eight hundred and seventy-one, and of each subsequent decennial census, the representation of the four provinces shall be readjusted by such authority, in such manner, and from such time as the parliament of Canada from time to time provides, subject and according to the following rules:
(1) Quebec shall have a fixed number of sixty-five members;
(2) There shall be assigned to each of the other provinces such a number of members as will bear the same proportion to tile number of its population (ascertained at such census) as the number sixty-five bears to the number of the population of Quebec (so ascertained) ;
(3) In the computation of the number of members for a province a fractional part not exceeding one-half of the whole number requisite for entitling the province to a member shall be disregarded; but a fractional part exceeding one-half of that number shall be equivalent to the whole number;
(4) On any such readjustment the number of members for a province shall not be reduced unless the proportion which the number of the population of the province bore to the number of the aggregate population of Canada at the then last preceding readjustment of the number of members for the province is ascertained at the then latest census to be diminished by one-twentieth part or upwards;
(5) Such readjustment shall not take effect until the termination of the then existing parliament.
It will be observed that the unit of representation is ascertained by dividing sixty-five, the constant number of members from Quebec, into the population of that province. Inasmuch as the boundaries of the province of Quebec were extended in 1912, it was provided, in order that the other provinces might not feel that they had been unfairly dealt with, that the population into which sixty-five would be divided would be the population of old Quebec, that is, the population within the area of the provinces as it was at confederation. The effects of the present census are set forth in the notes to the bill. It might be well to indicate the populations of
the provinces under the census of 1931, which were as follows:
Prince Edward Island 88,038
Nova Scotia 512,846
New Brunswick 408,219
British Columbia 694,263
Quebec (without new Quebec).. 2,872,078
The population of new Quebec is given at 2,177. The total population into which sixty-five is to be divided is 2,872,078, and the result of that division is a quotient of 44,186, which constitutes the unit of representation. By dividing the population which I have indicated for the different provinces with this unit of representation, we have the representation to which each province is entitled.
However, there are two exceptions which must be borne in mind. The first is found in subsection four of section 51 of the British North America Act, to which I have just directed attention. This deals with the diminution in population and provides that where the change in population does not exceed one-twentieth, there shall be no change, but where it does exceed one-twentieth, it is competent to reduce the number of members.
The second exception is to be found in the provisions of the constitutional amendment of 1915. It will be recalled that after Prince Edward Island came into confederation, the number of senators from the three maritime provinces remained at twenty-four. Two senators were taken from New Brunswick and two from Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island was then given four senators, so that Nova Scotia had ten; New Brunswick, ten and Prince Edward Island, four. But it was provided in 1915, in consequence of the representations so strongly urged in the house at that time, that a change should be. made by amending the constitution and, as a result of the amendment which was made it was provided that the representation in the House of Commons should never be less than that in the Senate. So Prince Edward Island, which would be entitled to only two members, is, by reason of the operation of that provision, entitled to four and the province of New Brunswick that would be entitled to only nine members, under the rule set forth in section 51 of the British North America Act, will be entitled to ten members because it has a representation of ten in the Senate. There-