May 26, 1933

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

SATURDAY SITTING

CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Right Hon. R. B. BENNETT (Prime Minister) moved:

That on Saturday the 27th May, instant, the house shall meet at 11 o'clock in the morning. That in addition to the usual intermission at 6 o'clock p.m., there shall also be an intermission from one to three o'clock p.m., and that both the order of business and procedure shall be the same as on Friday.

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Subtopic:   SATURDAY SITTING
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Motion agreed to.


REDISTRIBUTION BILL


The house resumed from Thursday, May 25, consideration in committee of Bill No. 2, to readjust the representation in the House of Commons-Right Hon. R. B. Bennett- Mr. Morand in the chair. On section 1-Short title.


CON

Armand Renaud La Vergne (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

The CHAIRMAN:

Shall section 1 carry?

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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. E. J. GARLAND (Bow River):

Encouraged by the remarks of the Prime Minis-

Redistribution-

-Mr. Garland (Bow River)

ter a few days ago, in which he intimated first of all that he was not aware of the exact boundaries even of his own constituency in Alberta, and further encouraged by his subsequent remarks towards the close of his address on that occasion, -when he said, as reported at page 5347 of Hansard:

. 1 am not yet advised as to the whole issue m Alberta and not having had an opportunity to discuss it fully with anyone who could inform me, I am not going to do more than say that I believe the former Minister of the Interior (Mr. Stewart, Edmonton) with his conciliatory spirit, and the hon. member for VSee, R'ver (Mr. Kennedy) will have no difficulty m working out that problem.

And again, on the same page:

To-day the problem of the boundaries of Bow River is one of some difficulty, but I think there should be no really insurmountable obstacle in the way of its solution.

-encouraged, I say, by these remarks of the right hon. gentleman, I intend to devote a few minutes to the consideration of this question. What I propose to discuss is not so much the boundary of Bow River itself as the conditions in connection with the Calgary seats and the effect which that division has had on the rest of these constituencies. Before I come to that part of the discussion this morning, however, I must say that I share the views of many in this house, that redistribution left in the hands of those who are directly interested in its results is perhaps one of the unfortunate features of our so called democracy. After listening for several days, in patience and silence, to the somewhat bitter and acrimonious discussion -that has been carried on,

I do feel that the public interest would be better served if we could work out some practical method by which redistribution would not be left to us as members of the House of Commons. I do not however see the practical side of the proposal made by the leader of the opposition in that regard.

The leader of the opposition suggested that there should be set up a committee of supreme court judges, three from one side of the house and three from his party, I presume-

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I did not say party; I said opposition.

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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

There was

no other possible interpretation of the right hon. gentleman's words.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I do not want to interrupt my hon. friend, but I was very careful to make it clear that the government represents one side of the House of Commons while all those who sit opposite represent the Mr. E. J. Garland.!

other side. I did not try and was careful not to limit the opposition to one party.

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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

But there still remains a practical difficulty, because this comer, or this group on this side of the house, has never yet been in the happy position of being able to appoint judges. Again let me point out to the right hon. gentleman that in the division he makes he implies, what I think he did right to imply, that judges, no matter how high spirited they may be, might under pressure of political influences revert to their former political partisanship.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Quite the

opposite was in my mind. I felt they would view matters judicially though with special knowledge.

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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

Such a conclusion is inevitable from his suggestion that three be selected from one side and three from the other; he cannot get away from it.

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

You would have a political judiciary.

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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

If on the

other hand we could secure something as intelligent, poor as it may be, as we have in our election act, it would not be so bad. The chief electoral officer is appointed for life, and if the chief distributing officer were appointed for life, not subject to the continual whims or influences of political parties, then perhaps we could get somewhere. Let me say this to the right hon. gentleman. I will support any practical proposal that will place redistribution beyond the power or influence of private members, but at the moment I see no practical way by which it can be done. If I thought it could be done I would support it heartily.

I come now to the second constructive proposal of the right hon. gentleman, namely, proportional representation. He says that if returned to power the party to which he belongs and has the honour to lead will once more bring up this question in the House of Commons-I presume with the intention of putting it through the house. I am very glad indeed to hear him say that, but my pleasure in the matter would be much greater if I did not have vividly in my mind a recollection of what has taken place in connection with this very question, during the government of the hon. gentleman. He was careful to say yesterday that his own ministry had introduced a bill into the house. He did not say just why it was not proceeded with but in soft tones he implied that it was because of the position of the Senate. What are the

Redistribution-Mr. Garland (Bow River)

facts? They are set forth in the journals of the House of Commons, sessional papers 1916 to 1930. In 1917 a motion was made by Mr. Turriff that necessary legislation should be enacted. There was a debate thereon which was adjourned as so often happens with these private members' resolutions. In 1921 a further resolution was introduced that some system of proportional representation should be adopted. An amendment was moved by Mr. Calder that a subcommittee should be appointed to consider the subject, and this was agreed to. The committee was appointed by leave, and there was a motion by Mr. Davidson to reduce the quorum, to report from time to time, to have leave to print and so on. The first report appears on page 391 of the records of that year. In 1922 there was a resolution to adopt the alternative vote method moved by Mr. Good, but the debate was adjourned. In 1923 there was a resolution to adopt the alternative vote method. That also was moved by Mr. Good who was a member of the group in this corner of the house. He came from Brant and I think he sat in the seat now occupied by the hon. member for Acadia (Mr. Gardiner). The motion moved in 1923 was agreed to. In a moment I will check it up and see what happened. It will be noticed that that was a motion to adopt the alternative vote method in constituencies like city constituencies. That was carried by the house at a time when my right hon. friend's party was in power. But no further move was made in that direction. In 1924 there was a resolution to adopt the alternative vote method, also moved by Mr. Good. The debate was interrupted by the six o'clock closing rule for Wednesdays.

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

May I interrupt my hon.

friend? Has he the record there of what happened to the resolution regarding the alternative vote?

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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

Yes, I

have the whole record. In the year 1924 the former Minister of Justice, the hon. member for Quebec East (Mr. Lapointe) introduced Bill No. 128. The purpose of this bill as stated in the explanatory note was to make to the Dominion Elections Act the amendments necessary to provide for the single alternative vote at any election when three or more candidates had been nominated and only one member was to be returned. That bill was given first reading and then allowed to stay on the order paper. In 1925, the hon. gentleman introduced a similar

measure, the purpose of which was precisely that of the bill of the year before. All of us who sit in this comer of the house know perfectly well why that bill was introduced, why it was placed upon the order paper, and why it was given only first reading. The only reason was to prevent further embarrassing discussions of the subject from this comer of the house. It was nothing more or less than that. I have a too vivid recollection of what happened. Why was not the bill given second reading so that there could be an intelligent debate? Why was it not sent to a committee, if necessary? The right hon. gentleman would have had the support of this group, and it was no mean strength at that time. Why did he not challenge the Senate when with the two groups combined he had such an overwhelming majority as to make it beyond question that the bill would carry. But he went no further in the matter. According to the records of 1923, I find that Mr. Good, seconded by Mr. Brown, then in this comer of the house, moved a resolution This contained many whereases and ended up with the resolve that in the opinion of this house an alternative vote method should be adopted for use in future elections for this house in all single member constituencies where more than two candidates were running for election. After a debate thereon, the motion was agreed to without division. The records of 1923 show that. May I ask my right hon. friend why this legislation was not pressed through in view of the non-contentious character of the decision of the house on that occasion? In the same year another resolution was introduced by Mr. Good, again seconded by Mr. Brown. After many whereases it resolved that in the opinion of this house, for the purpose of demonstrating the working and effects of the system of true proportionate representation, one or more multi-member constituencies should be constituted by the redistribution legislation in which that system should be applied at the next general election. There was a chance to pass that resolution and pass that legislation. It was not a sweeping form of proportionate representation, such as is now proposed, but only a moderate experiment to see if it would work out and if it really was subject to all the frailities and flaws to which it is said to be subject. What happened? When the vote was taken, although the right hon. gentleman and the hon. member for Quebec East voted in fav-

5476 COMMONS

Redistribution-Mr. Garland (Bow River)

our of the motion, among others, there was lined up the following Liberals against:

Mr. Benoit Mr. Binette Mr. Bouchard Mr. Boucher Hon. Mr. Cannon Mr. Dechene Mr. Deslisle Mr. Denis (St. Denis) Mr. Duff Mr. Fafard Sir Lomer Gouin Mr. Macdonald (Pictou)

Mr. King (Kootenay)

Mr. Maclean (Halifax), Mr. MacLean (Prince) Mr. Malcolm Mr. Marcil Mr. Martell Mr. Michaud Mr. Marler Mr. Mitchell Mr. Power Mr. Rinfret Mr. Roberge Mr. St-Pere Mr. Seguin.

There were five or six ministers who voted against that motion and I should like to ask the right hon. gentleman if he has consulted those ministers and received their consent as well as the consent of these various genial French Canadian members to the legislation which he now proposes.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I might say

that the matter has been discussed and agreed to in a Liberal caucus.

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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

I am afraid that it was also agreed to by the party upon a former occasion. I am pointing this out in all kindliness because we do not want to be disappointed again. If the right hon. gentleman does come to power again we want to nail him down now to this principle.

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May 26, 1933