May 25, 1933

LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

-we should

be confined to a discussion of one schedule at a time, which would prevent our discussing the entire province to which that particular section might refer.

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LIB

Charles A. Stewart

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Edmonton):

May I point out to the Prime Minister that there is no need to discuss section 3 at all-

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Quite so.

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LIB

Charles A. Stewart

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Edmonton):

-if you

settle all the provincial seats that are in agreement. If you did that, certainly section 3 would not be discussed so far as they are concerned, so that it would apply only to those in dispute. That being the case, of *course the house would empty out. I would go home myself if I felt that matters were settled in that way. It is therefore quite natural to presuppose that only those members interested would remain.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

The motion is that the

Speaker do now leave the chair.

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Motion agreed to, and the house went into committee, Mr. Stirling in the chair.


LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

On Tuesday afternoon the Prime Minister spoke at some length with reference to the measure which is before us. I did not follow him at that time because the discussion had begun to centre round the province of Quebec and I was anxious not to interrupt it. For that reason also I made no further reply to the Prime Minister's remarks yesterday. I think however it is advisable that I should not delay beyond this afternoon in touching upon some of the matters which were referred to by my right hon. friend in the course of his speech.

One subject mentioned by the Prime Minister had relation to the representative character of parliament as effected by previous redistributions. The significant paragraph in that connection is one which appears at page 5339 of Hansard. I will read the paragraph in full and then comment upon it very briefly. The right hon. gentleman said:

Let us pause for a moment, endeavouring if possible to be perfectly fair in this matter, and look at the position of the parties in this house, bearing in mind the conditions which existed in the province of Quebec. Let us for a moment look at what the position was in 1921. There were elected to this house from the province of Quebec sixty-five Liberals- see page 316 of the Parliamentary Guide- Conservatives none. So it would appear that when the redistribution was made the_ Conservative party was without representation in this chamber from the province of Quebec. Behold the result. In the succeeding election, notwithstanding the fact that the Conservative party polled between forty per cent and forty-five per cent of the entire votes, they did not elect any candidates. I ask this committee if that, in itself, does not give cause for thought. I am endeavouring to be as fair as a man can who has had some little legal training, and I shall stick to a recital of the facts.

Redistribution-Mr. Mackenzie King

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I said between forty and forty-one; I did not say forty-five. I notice that that should be French speaking representatives.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

The right hon. gentleman continues:

Will any judge say that the fact I have recited would not, in itself, give cause for thought? Does it not cause every thoughtful man in this house just to ponder a moment on the situation?

The impression I got at the time the Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) was speaking, and I think the impression left on the committee, as well as the impression likely to be conveyed to anyone reading this paragraph, was that as a result of the Liberal redistribution the province of Quebec had been left without any representatives in the House of Commons. While the paragraph does not say so in so many words, the manner in which the presentation was made would leave the inference that it was the redistribution made by the Liberal party in 1924 to which reference was made. The Prime Minister says that he is anxious to give the facts; let me give some. The fact is that the election of 1921 was fought on the redistribution made in 1914 by Sir Robert Borden. My right hon. friend, the Prime Minister, was a member of the committee that initialed the agreement which was come to at that time. In other words, if there was any injustice in the province of Quebec during the 1921 elections because of redistribution, it was the government of Sir Robert Borden and my right hon. friend who was a member of the redistribution committee who were responsible for the injustice.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

There is no allegation that there was unfairness in 1914.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Let us go a step further. The Prime Minister said:

In the succeeding election,-

That was the election of 1925.

-notwithstanding the fact that the Conservative party polled between forty per cent and forty-five per cent of the entire votes, they did not elect any candidates.

As a matter of fact they elected four candidates at that election.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

French speaking candidates.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

The Prime Minister now says that he was referring to French speaking candidates. I am quite prepared to accept his correction but it does not appear on the record of his original statement. They did elect four candidates in the election of 1925 and they elected twenty-four in the election of 1930. Any candidates

elected in 1930 were elected under the redistribution measure framed by the Liberal administration. The inference which the Prime Minister sought to draw from these two redistribution measures has not been borne out by the facts as to what took place under them. The truth of the matter is that the returns in these various elections bear out what has been said so frequently in the course of the present debate, that the issues at a general election are apt to be more important than the alteration of a redistribution map, all important as that may be, it being the basis upon which representation is obtained in this House of Commons. In 1921 the government of the day was just as unpopular as the present government is at this time, and the results disclosed the extent of the unpopularity of the administration. There were issues which came up in subsequent elections which helped to account for the changes which have since taken place but the fact is that so far as any inference is to be drawn from a redistribution measure under which the province of Quebec received no representation in this House of Commons must be drawn from the redistribution measure framed by the Conservative party itself, and by a committee of this house of which the present Prime Minister was a member.

I think it is important to do just what the Prime Minister has suggested should be done, pause for a moment and consider the significance of the facts. The Prime Minister says:

I ask this committee if that, in itself, does not give cause for thought.

That is to say, that an entire province should have no representation in this house of one of its leading political parties. The Prime Minister might have added that in the general election of 1921, the Conservative party did not elect a single member in six out of the nine provinces in the dominion.

I am endeavouring to be as fair as a man can who has had some little legal training, and I shall stick to a recital of the facts. Will any judge say that the fact I have recited would not, in itself, give cause for thought? Does it not cause every thoughtful man in this house just to ponder a moment on the situation?

With the Prime Minister's desire to pause for a moment and give thought I am in complete accord. Having given a good deal of thought to the matter I am more than ever convinced that the fact that a political party of an entire province should remain unrepresented in a parliament following an election indicates that there is something fundamentally wrong with the system under which our elections take place. It is not

5422 COMMONS

Redistribution-Mr. Mackenzie King

merely redistribution; it goes deeper than that; it has to do with the method of electing members from single member constituencies. I venture to say that if there ever was a strong and unanswerable argument for the need of adequate provision for minority representation in parliament it will be found in what has occurred under the various redistributions which have taken place whereby in some cases certain provinces were without any Conservative representation and in other cases, certain provinces and large cities were without any Liberal representation. I believe that the only true method of securing a representative parliament is by a system of proportional representation properly worked out with regard to the dominion as a whole. The reform should commence with the cities and the larger municipalities in our country. When the Liberal government was in office we introduced into this house a measure of proportional representation in connection with city constituencies. It was fought for some little time, there was considerable opposition from the then opposition and the measure was not proceeded with. It was not re-introduced because the government of the day had not a majority in the other chamber which would ensure its enactment, and there were more pressing matters requiring attention. I might add the late Liberal government did not have a majority in the Senate all the time it was in office. If we had had a majority in the other house upon which we could have relied, we would have proceeded with our proportional representation measure. If we are ever returned to power a proportional representation measure will be a feature of the Liberal platform and program of legislation.

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CON
LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

The hon.

member for Lincoln (Mr. Chaplin), who has just interrupted, has a constituency containing about 70,000. He ought to be content with that and not interrupt.

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CON
LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I do not wish to be drawn into replying to a lot of interruptions. I am anxious to present this matter, which I think is one of the most important with which parliament has had to deal, in as impartial a way as I possibly can.

Having stated what I believe to be the really important consideration, namely, the manner in which the representative character of parliament itself can best be brought about, namely by a measure of proportional

representation rather than through the single member constituency plan which has existed up to the present time, may I now proceed to say a word with regard to the next point referred to by the Prime Minister and with respect to which I am inclined to think that neither he nor I greatly differ in opinion. The Prime Minister has referred to the trend of population from the rural to the urban centres. I do not know whether my right hon. friend will agree with me when I say that it is unfortunate that in a country with vast agricultural resources and other vast natural resources the urban population should come to exceed the rural. I think it is a trend in the wrong direction and I believe that greater prosperity and contentment on the part of the people as a whole will be found when .they can be profitably employed in larger numbers on the land and amid the other vast resources of the dominion rather than becoming overcrowded in the urban centres. For that reason I believe that in this country policies which have to do with the shaping of our national development should be so fashioned as continually to keep in mind the effect which they are going to have upon the general trend of population. The fact that the urban population in Canada is to-day larger than the rural, notwithstanding the vast size of this country, is the strongest evidence that our industrial policies have been wrong; that the policy of protection has had the effect of bringing people into the cities, over-industrializing the manufacturing side of our country and as a consequence helping to deplete the rural sections.

I believe whatever difference of view there may be as to what I have just said as respects the wisdom and justice of giving the rural communities a larger unit of representation than is given to the cities, there cannot be a doubt in the mind of anyone who really for a moment considers the effect of the basis of representation in this parliament. Different arguments have been advanced why the unit of representation should be larger in the cities. One reason given is that in the urban centres so large a number of voters do not turn out to vote as is the case in the rural parts. I do not know that that argument appeals particularly to me; I have never cited it in giving the reasons why the unit of representation in urban centres should be larger, but it may nevertheless be a good reason. One reason, however, is is found in the fact that parliament exists for giving expression to the popular will, not necessarily to numbers of persons merely, but

Redistribution-Mr. Mackenzie King

to the prevailing opinion. I wish to submit that with respect to the opinion of urban communities there are a thousand and one voices which are brought to bear upon this parliament in its decisions and acts as compared with one voice which comes from a rural constituency. There is first of all the voice of the press. There is no other factor that plays so large and powerful a part in determining opinion in the country as the press, and particularly the daily press. There is no daily press in the rural parts; such press as there is in the rural parts is weekly, semi-weekly, by-weekly or monthly. But the daily press comes from the urban and particularly the large urban centres. May I point out another feature; the city papers are read in the rural parts and influence thought there, but the rural papers are not read to any extent in the urban centres. So you have urban opinion constantly making itself felt to a degree that is not at all possible so far as rural opinion is concerned.

In addition to that, there are a hundred and one agencies that exist in the cities for the purpose of influencing and organizing public opinion, and some of them for bringing their vews immediately before parliament. These are organizations of a character that are found only spasmodically in the rural parts. Take, for instance, the chambers of commerce, the boards of trade, the great social service organizations and the like; all of these are continually, by resolutions, meetings and in other ways, helping to formulate and to voice public opinion and to make that opinion find its echo in the House of Commons. There again the influence of the urban centres on opinion and thought ini parliament is a hundredfold greater than is that of any corresponding number of persons, in the rural parts. There is also this further factor: it is not uncommon in this parliament to find on both sides of the house hon. members representing rural constituencies though they themselves come from and their business associations are entirely with, urban communities. You find many a member of parliament coming from a city who is a representative of a rural constituency, but you do not find except in a few rare instances one who is resident of a rural community representing an urban constituency. Therefore, if we take only these factors into consideration -and they are but a limited number-there is every reason that a much larger unit should be assigned to the urban than to the rural centres. _

I have not mentioned another factor that is coming to play a very important part, and

that is the radio. Radio broadcasting stations are all located in urban centres. There is no head office of a radio broadcast in the rural parts of the country, and those who are using the radio for broadcasting purposes are for the most part people whose interests and associations are entirely with the urban centres. These are all factors that are increasing materially in importance and influence and they must be taken into account with respect to a redistribution measure. So I say that a redistribution measure which assigns to a city a considerably larger unit than that assigned to a rural constituency is tending wholly in the right direction, and where that rule is not recognized, the redistribution cannot possibly be fair as representing public opinion.

Mention has been made of the island of Montreal as having the equivalent of almost half of the entire population of the province of Quebec. One might add to what I have already said the fact that Montreal, the largest city in Canada, is the nearest to this capital of any centre of importance in the whole of the dominion. The influence of Montreal as we all know-we have only to walk into the corridors in the evening to see it-is exerted day after day by gentlemen coming here from that city to have interviews with the Prime Minister and other members of the government, but those who come from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan or Manitoba, or from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick or Prince Edward Island, have to consider ways and means to a large extent before they can venture on a journey to the seat of government in order to make their views personally known to the ministry of the day. In these circumstances it is not fair, where the endeavour is to secure the expression of all shades of opinion, minority as well as majority opinion, that the island of Montreal should be accorded a unit of representation at all comparable with that which is given to the rural portions of the country.

I come now to the next remark of my right hon. friend which had to do with the method of arranging redistribution by a joint committee. The Prime Minister has given his views as to what, where their are alternative courses, should govern such a committee in its endeavour to reach a decision. Let me quote his words as reported on page 5341 of Hansard. He said:

But knowing human nature as I do and knowing the instincts that govern men with respect to political matters I do say that I am perfectly clear that when there was a favour

Redistribution-Mr. Mackenzie King

possible by doing a thing in one of two ways, with either way just and proper, they would choose that method which gave the greatest benefit to themselves and their friends.

A little further on:

Undoubtedly where two courses were open our friends chose the course that was more helpful to them.

And further:

Is it not fair to say that hon. gentlemen opposite must recognize that fact, and to recognize the further fact that when a choice has to be made in one of two given ways you must expect that choice to be made in the way that will be most advantageous to the party in power.

I believe the Prime Minister in those remarks did not intend to convey that he was seeking in this redistribution measure, to see that the government got the advantage in every case. His language is guarded, but as one reads what is asserted there it is impossible to do other than believe that in the view of the Prime Minister, whatever government is in office, when a redistribution is being arranged, if there are two courses open then the course that is likely to give an advantage to the government of the day is the one to be taken.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Both parties being equally right.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I notice what was said in that connection, but in matters of justice there cannot be two courses one of which gives an advantage, and both be equally right or just. There can be only one course. That is the essential feature of agreement; the feature we are seeking at the moment; agreement comes instantly the moment it is recognized by both sides that a certain course is right and just. As long as there is ground for debate between two courses, if the two sides cannot decide between themselves, it becomes necessary to call in an umpire to decide upon the fair and just course. It does not do to say that we have argued the matter up to this point and that we cannot agree and therefore we are going to give to the government the advantage of the position that it wishes to take. I do say I am afraid that the view expressed by the Prime Minister has prevailed to a very considerable extent in this redistribution. I will be perfectly frank and try to be as fair as my right hon. friend says he wishes to be and will say that in previous redistributions an element of the same kind has undoubtedly crept in with respect to some decisions. That brings up the whole question of our present method of settling the redistribution of boundaries of constituencies. It comes down, apart from

the superior power which a majority possesses, very much to a matter of endurance, and physical endurance at that, a question as to which side can hold out the longest for a particular contention that is likely to be to its benefit.

I am going to show in a moment that when the redistribution of 1923 was made, I laid down, as the Prime Minister of the day, what I regarded as the view that should be taken as the basis of all decisions. Certainly it was in quite a different direction from that which has been taken by my right hon. friend, and from what he has said in the passages I have quoted.

But before coming to that, I wish to say that I think we might well consider whether the present is not the time for some statement to be made of considerations of which account should be taken in future redistributions. I do not wish to make this matter contentious by saying that this and that thing has been done at the moment, but no one can have been in this House of Commons within the last month or two, and especially within the last week, without knowing that those who have had to do with the arrangement of the redistribution map have been beset on every side by members of the house, no matter on which side of the house they are, wanting to make perfectly sure that their particular seats are going to be safe for them if at all possible, that in some way the map shall be arranged so that those now in the house shall come back again, whether they are on one side or the other. I say that that is not playing fair with the people of Canada as a whole. The constituencies of Canada do not belong to the members of this present House of Commons. They belong to the people at large, and the task of those who have to do with a redistribution map is not to see that those who are at present in the House of Commons shall be made perfectly sure of coming back again but rather that whoever does come back will come back with the knowledge that so far as the people themselves are concerned he is coming here as a result of a fair and just redistribution in a capacity truly representative.

Allied to what I have been saying is the theory-I might call it the practice advocated [DOT]-of the Solicitor General (Mr. Dupre) with respect to what should govern in arranging a redistribution map. As I listened to the Solicitor General, what I understood him to say was this: There are some Liberal seats that as matters stand, are very strongly Liberal and we have made them even more strongly Liberal. On the other hand, there are some

Redistribution-Mr. Mackenzie King

Conservative seats none too strong, and we have made them a little stronger, and therefore we think we have been just to both sides.

What does this mean, Mr. Chairman? It simply means, if that has been the guiding principle governing the committee, that the parties who have been on it have been trying to dig in for themselves and others regardless altogether of the effect the redistribution is going to have on the complexion of the next parliament. Any principle of that kind is wrong and should not be countenanced. If that kind of thing is going to be thought of, I think that this house should give expression of its views upon it. We cannot do so now, but those of us who are here to-day may well leave on record our views as to what should govern ten years hence when another period of redistribution will come around. I shall avoid saying anything that may be referred to the present or to what may be done now. But in the light of what we have seen and heard in this house within the last month something ought to be said.

My own view, and I have come to it after observing pretty carefully what has been taking place and what has been said in debate in this house as well as in the corridors, is that redistribution should be taken out of the hands of the House of Commons, where the parties are immediately interested, and should be put into the hands of a commission of judges. I would have that commission composed of judges selected in equal numbers by both sides of the house. The redistribution, if it is carried out in a fair way has not to do with party advantage at all. It ought to have soley to do with seeking to effect a fair and impartial division of the constituencies, and if three judges were named from one side of the house and three from the other, and if the choice were made, if you will, from among those who have been in politics and who therefore may be presumed to know something about conditions generally as they exist throughout the country, I think a redistribution which would be regarded as fair might be arrived at. Probably it would not be perfect, and any report which the commission made would have to be submitted to parliament and made subject to discussion and debate in parliament. But I do think that something of that kind would serve to bring about a much fairer result. May I say that if the choice were made in the manner indicated the judges in my opinion ought to be chosen from different parts of Canada. The result would be that in the matters that came before them, there would

always be a majority of the commission of judges from outside of the particular province whose affairs might be under consideration by the commission at the time a decision was to be made. It is impossible to get perfection in anything, but I do submit that part of the duty of every member of this house is to consider not only the problems of his own day, but as well the future of his country. I hesitate to think of the complexion of this house as it may be ten years hence. Looking back on the past ten years, the changes that have taken place in that period have been very many. I imagine that the greater part of those of us who are now here will before the time for another redistribution comes have, so far as continuing as representatives in this House of Commons is concerned, passed beyond its bounds. In the circumstances I think it a duty that those of us who have views as to what we believe would most be in the interests of our country should assert our views and leave them of record, that they may be there to guide future parliaments in so far as their members may wish to be governed by them

May I now come to the point that I mentioned a moment ago, and this brings up a matter which was a subject of discussion earlier in the week. I said that at the time of the last redistribution in 1924 my attention had been drawn to the fact that the members of the joint committee were finding it difficult to agree because amongst other things no agreement could be come to with regard to the constituency of North York, a constituency which I was representing in the house at that time, when I was also holding the office of Prime Minister; that in reply to my inquiry as to what the committee thought should be done, I had been told they wished to add the townships of Markham and Vaughan in the county of York to the then existing riding, and that I had said that if that were the view of the committee, if they thought it was just, if it would serve to bring confidence generally, by all means that that should be done. At the time I made that statement I said that I believed that the result would be prejudicial to myself but that I did not intend as Prime Minister to take advantage of my position to seek to make secure the riding I then represented at the expense of any others.

My statement as to the result having proved prejudicial to my chances of election has been challenged.

5426 COMMONS

Redistribution-Mr. Mackenzie King

The present hon. member for North York (Mr. Lennox), speaking in the debate of that day, made the following statement:

If it had not been for the assistance he received

That is to say, which I received-

-from the new municipalities which were added, instead of having a majority of 494, I would have had a majority in the old constituency of 681.

Then, later, the Prime Minister, following what had been stated by the hon. member for North York, added these words:

-just as the right hon. gentleman had with respect to his position in North York. It turns out as a matter of fact that had it not been for the two townships that were added by the redistribution of 1924 he-

Myself.

-would have been beaten by a much larger majority than he was.

Then the Prime Minister added, characteristically.

I am not for a moment asserting that he made the misstatement deliberately. It is just one of those accidents that sometimes happens to one's memory, and I merely correct the misstatement in order that the record may be historically correct.

The historically correct record will be found in the report of the chief electoral officer for the fifteenth general election, 1925. I have that report in my hand, and I would refer hon. members to pages 179 and 180 in which the total ballots oast are recorded. They are recorded under the headings "Right Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King" and "Thomas Herbert Lennox." I shall read to the committee the figures as therein set forth, as respects all of the parts added by the redistribution of 1924. I shall read the figures as they go down the list in this book. Markham township gave me a majority of 71; Vaughan township gave Mr. Lennox a majority of 282; Woodbridge village gave Mr. Lennox a majority of 167; Richmond Hill village gave Mr. Lennox a majority of 58; Markham village gave me a majority of 16. These are all of the localities and communities included in the addition made by the redistribution of 1924.

What do they show? They show that of the total number of votes cast in two subdivisions I received a majority of 87, and in the three remaining subdivisions Mr. Lennox received a majority of 507. Subtracting the 87 from the 507, the majority for Mr. Lennox in the new part taken in in 1924 was 420. The hon. member is in his seat, and if I am making a misstatement I ask him to correct me.

Those are the facts. Out of that newly added part the hon. member received a majority of 420 votes. And I am not surprised that he received a majority, in the light of the knowledge which was before the committee at the time redistribution was under consideration. How did the probable results appear from the information which the committee had before it when they were preparing the redistribution bill? The latest figures were those of the general election of 1921. In that election there were three candidates in South York and in West York in which the constituencies of Markham and Vaughan were then situated. These were in parts of those constituencies which in 1924 were taken into North York. I shall place on record just what majorities were given to Liberal, Conservative and farmer candidates, respectively, in the election of 1921. May I say in a word that while there were three candidates running in South and West York, that is, in the parts to which I have referred, in every case except one where the majority was 3, the majority was against the Liberal candidate. Markham township in South York, gave a majority of 595 against the Liberal. Markham village in South York gave a majority of 3 for the Liberal candidate. Richmond Hill gave a majority of 86 against the Liberal; Wood-bridge, in West York, gave a majority of 109 against the Liberal; Vaughan, in West York, gave a majority of 939 against the Liberal. In other words, in these parts which were added in 1924 to North York, in the election of 1921 a majority of 1,726 was rolled up against the Liberal candidate in that election.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Does that include the

votes for both other candidates?

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May 25, 1933