February 19, 1935

CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

within a radius of

of twenty-five miles of their home, to vote by special ballot at the nearest poll, in the event of their not being able to go home.

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IND
CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

Yes. Now, when that

amendment was before the house-and it was adopted-my hon. friend from Vancouver South (Mr. Maclnnis), who has moved the second reading of the present bill, made the motion which he has made to-night, and on that occasion a vote was taken. It is recorded in Hansard, and I see his proposal was negatived by a vote of forty-three to ten. It was at the end of the session and there was a small house, but in the committee there was unanimity in regard to this proposal and a certain degree of unanimity also in this house when the vote was taken.

I cannot accede to the request. I think it is going beyond the bounds of common sense. It is not a reasonable request that men from Nova Scotia or New Brunswick or the prairie provinces settling in Ontario, say, should be entitled to vote in a constituency in which their camp happens to be situated. There is nothing to prevent them-

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IND

Angus MacInnis

Independent Labour

Mr. MacINNIS:

The amendment does

not ask for that.

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CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

There is nothing in the

election act to prevent these men from voting in their own localities. The question of transportation is a serious one, but I am not in favour of the proposal. I was not last year, and the house was against it then, as was also the committee. I must vote against the bill.

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie

Liberal

Hon. IAN MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

The statement of the Minister of

Justice (Mr. Guthrie) in regard to what took place last year is eminently fair. It is quite correct to say that there was a unanimous understanding in the committee, of which I was not a member, in regard to the special concession in the bill with respect to absentee ballots. At the same time, when my hon. friend from Vancouver South introduced the amendment last year I took the same stand as I take to-night. I see no reason why these men who, through no fault of their own, are compelled to live in unemployment camps, should be deprived, not actually of the franchise through registration, but of the opportunity to register their votes in whatever riding they may be registered. A considerable number of these men have been registered-in our province at any rate some have been

Dominion Elections Act

registered in more than one riding-but unless the Department of National Defence, in charge of these camps, makes some arrangement for transporting them to the polls when the election is held, these men are inferentially deprived of the franchise, though through the regulations in connection with the Franchise Act they may have been given the opportunity of registering. I am certain that many of these men in the camps in British Columbia will be inferentially deprived of their right to vote unless the government makes some arrangement to transport them to the riding in whiah they are registered under the procedure adopted last year.

The minister is entirely correct in the statement that there was an understanding by the committee last year, a unanimous agreement as a concession for having inserted the provision with respect to absentee ballots, that it would be limited to the four classes mentioned in the act; and after that agreement my hon. friend from Vancouver South, on the third reading of the bill last year, moved his amendment and ten members of this house supported it. On grounds of equity and justice, I submit that these men in the unemployment camps are entitled to exercise the franchise either by the method suggested by the hon. member for Vancouver South or by arrangements made between the government and the proper officials for the transportation of the men to the polls, because they themselves have not the facilities for their own transportation. They are Canadians, and they should be entitled to vote, and for that reason they should be given the proper facilities for registering their votes when the election is held. My hon. friend has suggested one means of enabling them to do so, but there is another way of doing it. That way is to have proper guarantees given by the officials in charge of the election that the necessary facilities will be provided for the transportation of these men.

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LIB

Thomas Reid

Liberal

Mr. THOMAS REID (New Westminster):

I think there is perhaps a little misunderstanding regarding both the present bill and the act which was passed last year. The hon. member for Vancouver South (Mr. Mac-Innis) asks that men within the province of British Columbia working in unemployment camps be given the privilege of voting. Last year when we were discussing this matter it was urged that if a man coming from Ontario were working in a relief camp in British Columbia it would be unfair to ask

him to vote in the latter province. Since that time the subject has been discussed from one end of the province to the other. I am going to cite one case. In the constituency of New Westminster there are two camps, both close to White Rock, and in those camps there are four hundred men, mostly returned soldiers. During the registration period one-half of the men gave t'heir address as the city of Vancouver, which is twenty-eight miles from the camp, and if they are going to vote on election day they will have to be transported to that city. The hon. member for Vancouver South is bringing up this question to give to those men the same right as is given under the act to four other classes, and for that reason I support the bill.

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CON

Harry James Barber

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. H. J. BARBER (Fraser Valley):

I

think there is some misunderstanding in regard to the registration, at least as to the ruling given by the commissioner. In my riding there are some twelve to fifteen camps and over four hundred men are registered in them. The commissioner classed the camps as urban districts; registrations took place in them and I believe close to five hundred registered as residents at the camps for the simple reason that they swore that they had no previous place of residence. The commissioner ruled that anyone who had no previous place of residence could register as living in the camp. Thus we have between four and five hundred men who are registered as voters in the camp. I understood and I understand again to-night this is contrary to the provisions of the statute as passed last session.

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LIB

Colin Alexander Campbell

Liberal

Mr. C. A. CAMPBELL (Frontenac-Adding-ton):

May I add a few words to what the hon. member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Mackenzie has said? I should like to relate this incident to the house. In the riding which I have the honour to represent there are two camps with a registration of around seven hundred men. The registration last fall allowed only one hundred and thirty-one men in one camp and forty-seven in the other to be placed on the list; one hundred and seventy-eight men out of the total strength have the privilege of voting in that riding. At the present time there are more than five hundred men in the two camps who will have no vote unless they are allowed that privilege under this bill. I agree with the principle of the bill and should like to support it.

Dominion Elections Act

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CON

Arthur Edward Ross

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. A. E. ROSS (Kingston. City):

While, as the hon. member for Frontenac-Addington (Mr. Campbell) said, some hundred men voted, I have before me the list of about three or four hundred-

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LIB

Colin Alexander Campbell

Liberal

Mr. CAMPBELL:

May I say that I have a list for the coming election-

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CON

Arthur Edward Ross

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ROSS:

I think I have the floor. In the camps there are to-day nine hundred in one and two hundred in the other. It is most unfair to the voters in that constituency that eleven hundred men should come in and exercise the franchise there. I have their names before me. In June some of them voted in Kingston City and also voted in the camp. There is no way of controlling the vote; it is a most difficult matter.

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

Put them in the penitentiary.

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CON

Arthur Edward Ross

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ROSS:

There is a way of controlling them which we are not mentioning at the present time. All a man in the camp had to do was to go into Kingston and exercise his franchise and then return to the camp and take an oath that he had been in that camp for so many months. We have them checked up from the time they entered that camp, and I can give the house hundreds of instances-

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LIB

Colin Alexander Campbell

Liberal

Mr. CAMPBELL:

I rise to a point of order.

I understood the discussion was about an amendment to the elections act of 1934. The matter about which the hon. member for Kingston City (Mr. Ross) is speaking is with regard to the old elections act.

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CON

Pierre Édouard Blondin (Speaker of the Senate)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

The hon. member for Kingston City is quite in order.

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CON

Arthur Edward Ross

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ROSS:

This is most unfair to the constituents proper. I do not care whether they are in a Conservative or in a Liberal constituency, it is most unfair that by accident a camp is established in some riding and men may gather there from Nova Scotia or British Columbia to a number equal to nine hundred or a thousand and be given the vote, thus offsetting the desire of residents in that constituency who should have the say as to its direction rather than men who happen to be there for a few months. The provision has been unfairly used. This affects not only men in the camps but students in the universities where perhaps two or three thousand may be gathered. Why not give students the vote the same as the men who are gathered in camps? These students have not been given the vote; they are required to be residents so long and they were ruled out. This question

affects both parties. It would be most unfair to make an amendment which would apply to constituencies where these camps for unemployed men are situated.

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LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. C. G. POWER (Quebec South):

I have just entered the chamber, but after listening to the remarks of the hon. member for Kingston City (Mr. Ross) I am rather of the opinion that the distinction between the franchise act and the elections act is not quite clear in his mind. The matter of giving the franchise to persons in these camps was discussed before the committee which considered the Dominion Franchise Act last year and I think it was pretty generally, almost unanimously agreed that persons who were in these camps should not have the right to be registered on the electoral list of the place where such a camp was situated. That is the point brought up by the hon. member for Kingston City. It would be grossly unfair to colonize any given constituency by opening unemployment camps there and allowing the persons who temporarily are in that camp to have the right to vote in that constituency. It was with this in mind that when the Dominion Franchise Act was passed there was inserted in it a provision dealing with residence, stating, among other things, that no person should be inscribed on the list unless he was a bona fide resident of the constituency in which he wished to be inscribed. I am reading from the franchise instructions issued on August 15, 1934, Dominion Franchise Act, part I, page 46, rule 9. Rule 9 governs the registrar in deciding whether or not a person living in an unemployment camp should be registered- that is, who shall have the right to vote in the constituency in which the camp is situated.

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CON
LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

August 15, 1934, under the authority of the Dominion Franchise Act, 19.34. The rule says:

Notwithstanding the provisions of any other of these rules, time spent by a person at an unemployment relief camp, or in any institution or refuge maintained, either by public or private moneys, for the relief of distressed or unemployed persons, shall be deemed to have been spent by that person in temporary absence from his last place of residence as determined pursuant to these rules and if there be any such place of residence or home, either of himself or of any member of his family, to which he could return, he shall, notwithstanding his presence in such employment camp, 'be registered at such place or residence or home, and moreover no person who has registered as an elector under this act shall merely because of time spent by him at an unemployment relief camp, or in such an institution or refuge, lose his residence qualification in the electoral district in which he is so registered.

Dominion Elections Act

So that under this rule the registrar and the enumerators at the time of the general registration last summer were not permitted to register persons living in unemployment camps as voters or electors of the constituency in which the camp was situated. But there was nothing to prevent relatives or friends, the wife, employer, or anyone connected with these persons living in the unemployment camps, from registering them in their home town, where they had a perfect right to vote, the place in which they resided prior to taking up residence in the unemployment camp. I understand that in some camps at any rate that was done. In the camp with which I am familiar, that in my own constituency, there were five or six hundred persons, but the enumerators, acting under instructions from the registrar, placed on the list only those who had no other place of residence and who on being questioned stated that they had no home to which they could go. So that out of approximately five hundred, some two hundred I think remained on that list. In Valcartier, in the constituency of the hon. member for Quefoec-Montmorency (Mr. Dorion), there were I believe some 1,700 voters. The enumerators there made the mistake of believing that everyone who was in the camp had the right to have his name placed on the list. I happened to see some of those lists, and they registered people somewhat in this fashion; Mr.-inski, Russia; Mr.-oski, Roumania; Mr. So-and-so, England; Mr. So-and-so, Montreal, and so on. Well, it was pointed out to the registrar that in the first place an address in Russia did not give a person the right to the franchise in Canada; neither did one in Roumania, and after a while he understood that and these names were stricken from the list. The next step was to bring to his attention the fact that residence in Montreal did not under any franchise act in force in Canada give the right to vote in the constituency of Quebec. After considerable and careful perusal of the act he came to the conclusion that perhaps that was so, with the result that the 1,700 names on the list at Valcartier camp were eventually reduced to eighteen.

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February 19, 1935