June 22, 1934

PRIVATE BILLS COMMITTEE


Eleventh report of the select standing committee on miscellaneous private bills-Mr. Stinson.


CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY LOAN

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):

I lay on the table a certified copy of the order in council passed on June 20, 1934, consenting to the Canadian Pacific paying off $12,000,000 of the $60,000,000 borrowed

Australian Wheat

from the chartered banks of Canada, releasing one-fifth of the security on which such loan was obtained.

Topic:   CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY LOAN
Permalink

AUSTRALIAN WHEAT AND FLOUR


On the orders of the day:


CON

Henry Herbert Stevens (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. H. H. STEVENS (Minister of Trade and Commerce):

Yesterday on the orders of the day I. had unfortunately to leave for the sittings of a committee and I was not present when the hon. member for South Perth (Mr. Sanderson) asked a further question regarding importations of Australian flour. The direct answer to the question, which was answered once previously, though not with complete assurance, is as follows. The question is as to whether or not Australian wheat or flour coming to Canada is subsidized. We cabled the Canadian trade commissioner in Australia and recently received from him a reply in which he states that there is no bounty in force on wheat or flour. The Wheat Growers' Relief Act passed on December 12 last was a purely temporary measure, and it will be recalled that I explained the nature of that on a former occasion, on June 7 last, as appears in Hansard. I do not think I need to repeat that; it does not involve anything in the nature of subsidizing wheat or flour. May I add to what I said then a brief statement regarding the situation in connection with the winter wheat supply and the winter wheat crop of Ontario. There were 630 000 acres of fall wheat seeded last autumn, and it is estimated that there were about 246,000 acres winter killed. The condition of the balance of the wheat crop is not up to last year; in the early part of June, I think, it was estimated at around 45 or 50 per cent. So that the winter wheat crop is certainly behind that of a year ago. In estimating the supplies of winter wheat available for flour-soft wheat flour-consideration must be given to stocks in hand; and upon careful examination and inquiry .it is ascertained that on March 31, 1934. a total of some 3,140,000 bushels of winter wheat was considered to be in the hands of the farmers. There is reason to believe that stocks of wheat on the farms in Ontario at the end of July, 1934, will approximate 1,000.000 bushels which, together with the new crop, will of course supply the requirements. Furthermore, while I have under my hand the exact figures, it must be remembered that a comparatively small proportion of winter wheat grown is used for flour. When I say a small proportion, if my memory serves me aright, it is less than 30 per cent. Therefore there should be ample Canadian wheat for soft wheat flour purposes.

I might make a further statement to the house as to the steps taken by the government in connection with the importation of flour from Australia. It will be recalled that in the Canadian-Australian trade agreement provision was made under article IX for giving notice and I shall read just briefly from the article so that the exact language may appear on Hansard. It reads:

If at any time either party to this agreement gives notice in writing to the other party that, in consequence of the importation of goods of a kind specified in the notice, being the produce or manufacture of the exporting country, intc the other country, the sale of similar goods produced in that other country is being prejudicially or injuriously affected-

And so forth. Then three months' notice may be given by the importing country to the exporting country. If within that period satisfactory remedial measures are not arranged, the article complained of goes under the general tariff.

In respect to the agreement I may say that we have always had the heartiest and most genuine cooperation from the Australian government; in this instance all that has been necessary is to give notice and we are assured that the importation of Australian flour under present conditions is not likely to be of any magnitude. Furthermore, such quantities as are already en route are not sufficient to give any alarm; in fact, there is a certain small quantity that regularly comes in to the Pacific coast and the quantity coming in to the eastern seaboard is comparatively small. The officials of my department as well as other officials of the government, after giving the matter the most careful study, are quite satisfied that nothing will occur that need in any sense give alarm, and I believe from recent advices from the trade the same opinion is shared by it.

Topic:   AUSTRALIAN WHEAT AND FLOUR
Permalink
LIB

Frederick George Sanderson

Liberal

Mr. SANDERSON:

I take it from the remarks of the minister the government are still going to permit the importation of Australian flour.

Topic:   AUSTRALIAN WHEAT AND FLOUR
Permalink
CON

Henry Herbert Stevens (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

No, the hon. member is wrong; he is not even approaching the fact. We have given notice and the importation of Australian flour has been stopped. I would suggest to my hon. friend that it is not necessary for Canada to be rude to Australia. I repeat that Australia and the Australian government and officials have cooperated with us in the most cordial spirit in this and in other matters. We have had no trouble and further importation of Australian flour will not occur.

Dominion Elections Act

Topic:   AUSTRALIAN WHEAT AND FLOUR
Permalink
LIB

Frederick George Sanderson

Liberal

Mr. SANDERSON:

If I misunderstood the minister I am very sorry. Now I understand him to say that importations of Australian flour will be stopped. Am I right in that?

Topic:   AUSTRALIAN WHEAT AND FLOUR
Permalink
CON

Henry Herbert Stevens (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

Yes, quite right, with one point which I think any reasonable person will recognize. There was a small quantity en route and naturally we are not under present circumstances going to reject that. But let me make it clear to the house-and I trust the house will accept this and be satisfied with it -the normal imports of Australian flour are not large but there is a considerable quantity; we could not reject flour that was already en route but it is a very small quantity. There is nothing whatever to be perturbed about.

Topic:   AUSTRALIAN WHEAT AND FLOUR
Permalink
LIB

William Duff

Liberal

Mr. WILLIAM DUFF (Antigonish-Guys-borough):

Speaking for the maritime provinces, may I say to the hon. member for South Perth (Mr. Sanderson) and to the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Stevens) that if Australia can send to Canada as good wheat as that produced in this country and at a lower price I want to say on behalf of the consumers of the maritime provinces that they desire that wheat to come in.

Topic:   AUSTRALIAN WHEAT AND FLOUR
Permalink

DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT


On the orders of the day:


IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. A. W. NEILL (Comox-ALberni):

I

should like to inform the Minister of Justice now that he is in his seat that Bill No. 115 that he introduced on Wednesday has not yet been printed. We are told that it will not be available to-day so that it will not be in the house until Monday and at this stage of the session that is rather a long time to wait for an important bill.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT
Permalink
CON

Hugh Guthrie (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. HUGH GUTHRIE (Minister of Justice) :

The bill is not important in this way that, as I mentioned before, there is only one real change in it. It is the Elections Act which is to-day on the statute book with, taken out of it, those clauses which refer to the preparation of the election lists. The only change of any importance is the one as to the appointment of returning officers. While I am mentioning the matter, it will be the intention of the government to refer both the elections bill and the franchise bill to a special committee. When they are called to-day I would be obliged if the house would give its consent to the reference of those bills to a committee in order to expedite business.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT
Permalink

DOMINION FRANCHISE ACT

ELECTORAL FRANCHISE-APPOINTMENT OF FRANCHISE COMMISSIONER-PRINTING VOTERS' LISTS


Hon. HUGH GUTHRIE (Minister of Justice) moved the second reading of Bill No. 101, respecting the franchise of electors at elections of members of the House of Commons.


LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, I understand from what the Minister of Justice said a moment ago it is his intention to ask the house to refer this bill to a special committee. That course is in accord with the suggestion that was made yesterday from this side of the house. It is a step which should help to expedite the consideration of the measure and avoid protracted discussion. In this particular so far as the official opposition is concerned, we are wholly in accord with the course the government proposes. It will be understood, of course, if the second reading is passed at the moment, this is without prejudice to the fullest discussion of all features of the measure when the bill returns from the committee.

I should like to say just a word before the motion for second reading passes. In discussing the resolution at the time of introducing the measure the Minister of Justice made it clear that the present elections act was really three acts in one: a franchise act, an act relating to the preparation and revision of voters lists, and an act relating to the machinery of elections. As I understood at the time the franchise phase was one which it was not intended to alter except possibly in one particular that would be considered and that is the one that relates to the Doukhobors in British Columbia. If that is strictly adhered to, I imagine there will be little difficulty in reaching agreement on the measure. I should like to stress the importance of it being seen to that the bill when it comes back to the house is not a measure that because of its provisions may serve to disfranchise any persons who at present enjoy the franchise but one that will ensure a continuance of the enjoyment of the franchise by all who at the present time enjoy that right.

The bill as originally drafted-and for that the government says it takes no responsibility -would have disfranchised large numbers of persons; it would have disfranchised those who are not able to read and write English or French, Doukhobors and others. However, the government has disclaimed, and rightly, I think, any intention of having had that object

Franchise Act-Mr. Mackenzie King

in view. But the bill as it was presented lacked certain features that are in the present Dominion Elections Act, and this, I believe, would have materially affected the enjoyment of the rights of many of those whose names should appear upon the list. As a consequence they would really have been disfranchised. There was the provision that limited the preparation of the lists to a single enumerator. If that provision had not been altered, and the government had not agreed to double enumerators in the preparation of the basic list, I believe that numbers of names would have been left off the list which under the act as it now stands would have been on it. The measure in such circumstances would have been in reality a disfranchising measure. The arguments urged in support of the employment of double enumerators in connection with the preparation of the basic list are equally applicable with respect to the annual revisions that are to take place. It does not follow that because a revision is to take place every year, the amount of work in connection with a revision will be anything like that required for the preparation of the original list. Double enumerators might very easily go from house to house and check up on the basic list in a way which would avoid the omission of large numbers of names or the possible inclusion of names that should not appear. That is a requirement which I think should be considered by the committee.

Then, as the bill was introduced, there would have been deleted another provision which appears in the Dominion Elections Act at the present time, namely, the right to appeal to a county court judge. The removal of that right would, I believe, have served to disfranchise a certain number of persons. But the government has conceded the restoration of that feature, and to that extent as far as the rights of electors are concerned their chances of having their names appear upon the lists will continue to be what they are under the present act.

There still, however, remain in the bill certain provisions which are new and which if not altered will, I believe, lead to the virtual disfranchisement of a large number of persons. One of these is the provision which obliges those who wish to exercise the franchise to make application and sign a document which will have to be witnessed, and which will state that the signatory has read over certain sections of the act and certain regulations that will appear upon the document itself, and that they are thoroughly understood by him. May I say that, knowing human nature as I think all hon. members

of this house know it, there is reason to believe that if many of the electors are to be obliged to sign documents, no matter how understandable they may be, or how genuine their purpose, they will refuse to sign altogether, and will be disfranchised as a consequence. In this country the franchise-manhood franchise-ought to be considered an inherent right of the citizen. If a man or woman is twenty-one years of age and qualifies in regard to the conditions that have been generally set forth and the requirements that have been generally accepted, citizenship in and of itself should include the right to vote, without any preliminaries or accessories of a kind that are at all likely to threaten or impinge upon that right. It ought to be and is a duty of parliament to see that this inherent right is protected above everything else, and that anything which will tend to take away from an individual who is a qualified citizen absolute freedom in the matter of the exercise of his vote at the time of an election is not countenanced. The fairness of that general statement will I am sure appeal to all hon. gentlemen.

With the alleged objects of the bill, as stated by the government, we are as I have said, in complete sympathy. With the object of shortening the time necessary for an election, the object of reducing expenses, the object of having a clear, clean list which will help to prevent impersonation or what is called "plugging" and "telegraphing" at the time of election-with all those objects we are in complete accord, and they are the objects as set forth by the government. If however they are to be attained in this measure only at the expense of other provisions which will have the effect of disfranchising a large number of electors, then the price to be paid will be too great and the measure should not be permitted to pass. I would think it should be possible for the government to attain the objects it has in view without imposing on the electorate conditions which will involve the possibility of a large proportion of its numbers not having the right to record their votes at the time of an election. I might say that one of the reasons I had for expressing the hope that the government in the first instance would consider this measure by a special committee was that I believed it would take up a great deal of the time of the house to set forth the variety of instances in which it could be clearly shown that under the machinery as at present provided in the bill the voting might be so blocked on the day of election, or electors themselves so terrified

Franchise Act-Mr. Gardiner

or discouraged or nonplussed with respect to preliminary requirements that there would be a very large number who on election day would be deprived of the right of having their votes recorded. I am prepared to accept, and I am sure the house will accept the statement of the government that it really has in view only the objects which have been alleged, and that any measure that we shall be asked to accept after consideration by the committee will not be one which because of provisions not existing at the present time will obviously limit the numbers of those who on election day will be in a position to exercise their right of the franchise. There are other features of the bill which have to be carefully examined, and to which as they stand we would wish to take exception. With these few remarks, however, I am quite agreeable that the bill should pass the second reading and be sent to a special committee.

Topic:   DOMINION FRANCHISE ACT
Subtopic:   ELECTORAL FRANCHISE-APPOINTMENT OF FRANCHISE COMMISSIONER-PRINTING VOTERS' LISTS
Permalink

June 22, 1934