May 25, 1933

LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I just draw attention to the fact that hon. gentlemen opposite are responsible for interruptions and if they make interruptions, they must expect to get the replies they deserve.

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION BILL
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CON

Grote Stirling

Conservative (1867-1942)

The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Stirling):

May I appeal to hon. members in committee to allow tnis debate to be carried on without such frequent interruptions?

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I thank you, Mr. Chairman.

May I now say a word in reference to the new boundaries of Prince Albert as set forth in the schedules that are before us. The government have brought down a redistribution map and they have presented to us the boundaries of Prince Albert among those of other constituencies. Let me first of all draw attention to the fact, .as I did the other day, that the average unit of representation for constituencies has been fixed at 44,186. Let me draw attention to this further fact. It has been admitted on all sides, that where there are cities there should be a larger unit of representation than in the rural districts. Now the constituency of Prince Albert has in it the fourth largest city in the province of Saskatchewan, the city of Prince Albert, which has about ten thousand population. The present constituency of Prince Albert has a population of 50,898. The map which hon. gentlemen have presented and which they ask us to accept reduces the total number of electors in the constituency of Prince Albert to 38,469. Though the unit in a rural district is 44,186, Prince Albert is reduced to 38,469 under the measure which is now before the house.

We are told that the problem which the committee was confronted with was to reduce the size of the constituency. How have they gone about reducing the size of the constituency? What they have done is first of all to add to the constituency on its eastern side a considerable part of the constituency of Melfort, the present seat of the Minister of Agriculture. I ask this house and the country, is there evidence of fair play with respect to a constituency that is to be reduced in size, when it is found necessary to begin by adding to it a considerable portion of another constituency? I have looked at the part that has been added to see if I could discover the reason why an addition should be made, and I think I have found it clearly enough in the fact that in the last general election the part which is added gave a considerable Conservative majority. It has been found desirable in the minds of hon. gentlemen opposite to add to this already very large constituency of Prince Albert a part of a Conservative majority from another constituency.

What else have they done? They have taken away from Prince Albert a great part of the southern portion of the constituency. When one examines the constituency as a whole one finds exactly what was in the mind of the Minister of Agriculture when he said the other day that Prince Albert in all its

Redistribution-Mr. Mackenzie King

northern part had voted against me. He stated that on the floor of the house. He has had to do with the drafting of this map. He knows all about it. The part that voted against me he is allowing to remain in, but the part that supported me most- strongly in the last election is being taken out. The pre-eminently Liberal portion of the constituency is being taken away, and they have taken away so much that it has been found necessary to add something from another constituency so as to have a constituency which will look reasonably large. But even then the constituency which they have given me at the present time is considerably below the unit. They have reduced the constituency of Prince Albert, notwithstanding the fact that there is a city in it, to 38,469, when the unit of population even in the rural districts is placed at 44,000 odd. They have by this process of gerrymandering changed the Liberal majority of 1,192 which I received in 1930 into a Conservative majority of 967.

May I add this? Take a look at the other constituencies in Saskatchewan. Have any of them been reduced in this fashion? Last Mountain, a purely rural constituency, has according to this map a population of 48,657; Mackenzie, 47,458; Regina, 53,209; Saskatoon, 47,362; South Battleford, 47,084; Yorkton, 49,423. Does that look like a desire to be fair as between the different constituencies of Saskatchewan? The new constituency that has been created immediately to the south of Prince Albert has been given a population of 46,285, and it is made up largely or partly out of what has been taken away from Prince Albert. Prince Albert has been reduced to 38,469, eight thousand less than the population of the new constituency that has been created, and which is a purely rural constituency while Prince Albert has a very large and growing city in the very centre of the constituency. If that is not gerrymandering, Mr. Chairman, I do not know what is.

The Prime Minister has said: If there is

any fault to find, if there is any injustice, we are here to remedy it. Now I have presented a case to him and I am going to leave it with him and the government. They must do whatever they think best.

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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 say here and now that

the letter written by Mr. Turnbull and Mr. Totzke fixing the boundaries of the constituency will be accepted by the government.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

The letter

written by Mr. Turnbull to Mr. Totzke was in reply to a plan that related to the province of Saskatchewan as a whole. It was 53719-343J

not a communication that had reference to the constituency of Prince Albert.

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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 mean the letter about

Prince Albert.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Pardon me, it was a letter that dealt with the general plan of the constituencies. The hon. member for Humboldt (Mr. Totzke) is here to speak for himself. He will say that he never proposed or agreed to anything that had not relation to the province as a whole, and the reason the committee did not come to an agreement was that they could not agree on the constituency of Prince Albert among other constituencies.

As the Prime Minister has requested it, Mr. Chairman, I am going to state to my hon. friend opposite what I believe in the circumstances to be a perfectly fair redistribution with respect to the constituency of Prince Albert, and I shall leave myself in the judgment of the house and the country as to whether what I suggest is or is not fair.

I have in my hand the constituency map of Prince Albert as it stands at the present time.

I notice that most of the constituencies in Saskatchewan -have their boundaries marked out by lines parallel both east and west and north and south.

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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 townships.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Yes, the townships are all framed on the square. What has happened in regard to these northern constituencies in previous redistributions and in the present redistribution has been to narrow the territory between the boundaries east and west. That is to say, the constituency is made narrower, and narrower for this reason, that the population continues to run up to the north. What is happening in the redistribution map in Saskatchewan is much like what one sees on the banks of the St. Lawrence in Quebec, where as the population has increased one will find a large farm which has come to be subdivided among the members of a family, in a manner which will give to all a certain frontage along the river. These northern constituencies run to an indefinite part of the country, a part not inhabited at all, and as the population continues to increase towards the north they have been made narrower. I say that that same process should be followed with respect to Prince Albert at the present time. It is being followed with regard to constituencies lying to either side of it.

The boundary on the east side is along range 24 west of the second meridian. The lower

Redistribution-Mr. Mackenzie King

part of the constituency of Prince Albert as it exists at the present time is on a range line between ranges 25 and 26. My suggestion to hon. gentlemen opposite, and it is only a suggestion of what I think is fair, is that the line which starts between ranges 25 and 26 at the southern part of the boundary be carried direct north, and that that portion of the constituency which lies to the east of that line be made a part of the adjoining constituency, I should be sorry to lose any part of the present constituency, but if the constituency is to be reduced in size this would appear to be the fairest way to all concerned to go about it.

I did not know when I looked at the map What would be the result of that arrangement politically. I may give to the house what I think is ;a correct statement, and that is that the total number that would be affected is something around four thousand. I think about four thousand, would be taken out of the constituency as it exists at the present time.

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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:

What would the population remain?

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

The population would remain about 46,000 as I gather it. At the present time it is 50,800, and if 4,000 were taken out 46,000 odd would be left. In my view 46,000 for Prince Albert constituency is a small enough unit. It is smaller than that of the constituency of Mackenzie, smaller than Last Mountain, smaller than Regina, smaller than Saskatoon. It would be the same as the new constituency of Hague. As a matter of fact, owing to the fact that there is a city in it, it should be one of the larger constituencies of the province. I have since looked to see, so far as I could figure from the results at the polls, what the effect would be.

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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:

What is the population

of Prince Albert now?

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LIB
CON
LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Yes, about

10,000. As I figure it out as a result of the transfer I have suggested there would be a loss of Liberal votes. In round figures there would be a net Liberal loss of about 100 votes. It would take off, as I have figured it out-and I am subject to correction although I believe my figures are correct

it would take 4,420 from the present constituency which would mean a loss according to the

figures of the last election of 678 Conservative votes and 761 Liberal votes, or in other words a net Liberal loss of 83. I know the government have to consider other constituencies, and that the addition of 83 Liberal votes to the Melfort division might occasion some concern. But I submit that that could be offset by a rearrangement of the line, elsewhere.

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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:

Leaving out the question of votes-because those of us in the west know that only small importance attaches to that from one time to another-what is the effect upon the population of the nearby ridings? I am asking that question for information.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

The effect on

the population?

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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:

Yes, by the addition.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Melfort, as

I see it here, is 36,237. It is a very small unit under the proposed map.

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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 hon. member is

referring to Melfort?

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May 25, 1933