July 5, 1935

CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

Yes. Then at the end of the bill there is a clause stating at what time the act shall come into force. This is a usual clause in regard to criminal legislation:

This act with the exception of sections one, two A, and five thereof shall come into force on the first day of December, 1935, section five thereof shall come into force on the first day of January, 1936, and sections one and two A shall come into force on the passing of this act.

Section 5 is in regard to the issuing of advertisements, sale catalogues and the like. I think we can concur in all the amendments,

but I have an open mind and I want the house to come to a conclusion in regard to the racing section.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   CONCURRENCE IN SENATE AMENDMENTS
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LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

I am willing to accept my hon. friend as my guide in that.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   CONCURRENCE IN SENATE AMENDMENTS
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CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

Personally I have no objection to it; the Senate have seen fit to put it in, and I move concurrence.

Motion agreed to; amendments read the second time and concurred in.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   CONCURRENCE IN SENATE AMENDMENTS
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THE GOVERNOR GENERAL

MESSAGE FROM SENATE JOINING IN ADDRESS TO HIS EXCELLENCY

CON

Pierre Édouard Blondin (Speaker of the Senate)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

I have the honour to advise the house that I have received a message informing this house that the Senate do unite in an address to His Excellency the Governor General on the occasion of the approaching termination of His Excellency's official connection with this country and have inserted in a space therein the words "Senate and."

Topic:   THE GOVERNOR GENERAL
Subtopic:   MESSAGE FROM SENATE JOINING IN ADDRESS TO HIS EXCELLENCY
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DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1934


The house resumed from Thursday, July 4, consideration in committee of Bill No. 105, to amend the Dominion Elections Act, 1934- Mr. Guthrie-Mr. Smith (Cumberland) in the chair. On section 3-Form 20 amended.


CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

When the committee rose yesterday we were discussing the affidavit which is part of section 3. I have gone over the matter very carefully since that time; I have considered it from a good many angles, and I think I can make some suggestions modifying the form of affidavit that perhaps will meet with the approval of the committee.

I think we will all agree that the fundamental questions in regard to the exercise of the franchise are first that the person exercising it should be a British subject and second that he should be twenty-one years of age. I do not suppose there is any difference of opinion in that regard. These lists have been prepared, in the cities, to a very large extent by enumeration; inquiries have not been made in regard to the citizenship, in many instances, and I am afraid there also has been some laxity in regard to the ages of the persons who have been put on the lists by the enumerators. The first clause of this affidavit merely reads:

(1) That I am a British subject of the full age of twenty-one years;

Elections Act

I do not think anyone could have any objection to that clause remaining. The second clause, in regard to the residence in Canada, I think may well be stricken out, and I think the third clause might be struck out as well.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1934
Permalink
LIB
CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

It is the affidavit in the bill that I am discussing. I would not hesitate to strike out the fourth clause also. I also assume, however, that it is the earnest wish of everyone in the house that we should have a fair, clean election and abolish as far as possible personation which has become very prevalent in certain parts of Canada. For the purpose of doing so I submit that we should have some means of identifying the man who attempts personation or who actually personates someone else on election day. I am inclined to think we should all agree to the last clause. This will make an oath of two clauses, as follows:

(1) That I am a British subject of the full age of twenty-one years;

(2) That the signature which I have made to this deposition is in my usual handwriting, and is my true name.

"Signature" includes a mark, and anyone who cannot sign his name makes his mark, whether on a cheque, a contract or an affidavit. The only other suggestion is a technical one. At the bottom of the affidavit appear the words "justice of the peace." I would put there, "deputy returning officer or justice of the peace." If these two clauses are accepted I would withdraw paragraphs 2, 3 and 4, and just leave the one "I am a British subject of the full age of twenty-one years," and the other "I have signed this document and that is my handwriting." It was suggested yesterday that the effect might be to choke the poll if these affidavits were taken. I have ascertained that the number of parties sworn runs from only ten to twenty in any polling booth. The chief electoral officer seemed to think it would involve a great deal of printing as there are 35,000 polls and he would have to get out from ten to twenty affidavits for each poll. Well, that can be done. The oath is not a long one; it is a very short one, and it can be printed very readily, and if twenty or even fifty have to be supplied to each poll it would not clog up the poll because there cannot be more than three hundred names on the polling list for any division. I suggest that this is a simple way of remedying what has become a disgrace in some parts of Canada. In Ontario we call it plugging and personation, in Quebec they call it telegraphing. I know that it is the desire of all parties in this house

to stop that if we can do so, and this requirement that a person may be sworn and leave his signature for identification purposes will I think go a long way in stopping this thing happening.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1934
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UFA

Robert Gardiner

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARDINER:

I am rather surprised

and regret very much the attitude the minister has taken in regard to this oath. He states he is willing to accept clauses 1 and 5, and delete clauses 2, 3 and 4. Clause 1 simply states "I am a British subject of the full age of twenty-one years." That in my judgment is very important to have in the oath. The last clause, No. 5, which the minister wishes to have included in the oath, states "That the signature which I have made to this deposition is in my usual handwriting and is my true name." That is very important too and should remain in the oath. But now let us look at clause 2 for a moment. It reads:

That I have been ordinarily resident in Canada for at least twelve months immediately preceding the commencement of the annual revision of the lists of electors on the fifteenth day of May last.

Why should not that remain in?

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1934
Permalink
CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

The reason is that that

is a part of the franchise act, and this is the elections act that we are dealing with. These clauses that I have agreed to strike out deal with matters that have all been considered before the name was put on the voters' list.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1934
Permalink
UFA

Robert Gardiner

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARDINER:

If the situation is

covered in that way I have not the same objection.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1934
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CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

It is.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1934
Permalink
LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

I am sorry I cannot agree with this requirement which forces any elector who is challenged at the poll by a representative of a candidate to sign an affidavit in the way prescribed by this section. Where is that done anywhere else? As I said last night, instead of putting obstacles in the way of electors coming to the poll and registering their votes, we should facilitate their voting. In some countries they have a system of compulsory voting. It is a disgrace that citizens do not take the trouble to go to the polls and register their votes, and we should do what we can to facilitate their voting, rather than put obstacles in their way.

The Minister of Justice says that twenty such forms on the average will be required for each poll. But what is there to prevent a representative who wants to make trouble, and unfortunately there are some even in our country, from insisting on challenging the

Elections Act

vote of all the electors, especially in certain polls? In a labour division, as in my own constituency, where it is well known that practically all the voters would vote for me -I do not say that in any boasting way but simply because they belong to the Liberal party-what is there to prevent a man who has nothing to lose from going to the poll and, simply for the purpose of making trouble, forcing everybody to take the oath and to sign the affidavit, the women as well as the men, thereby clogging the polls and obstructing the work of the returning officers? There are certain hours during the polling day when more people come to register their votes than at some other period of the day, and there m&3r be some voters who will be unable under the circumstances to register their votes.

There is also this fact, that there are some people-I know it is so in certain constituencies-who do not like to be forced to take an affidavit. They have some sort of scruple of conscience about it. They do not like to give their signature in order to foe allowed to vote. My hon. friend from Quebec West the Solicitor General (Mr. Dupre) knows that in his own constituency there are workmen and women too who will not like this, and it may make trouble there, a great deal more than in my own constituency.

Why force this thing? It is not done anywhere else. I do not see why the honest people, those who have the right to vote, should foe inconvenienced in this way because there are some culprits who would come and personate voters. As I said last night, these culprits will not be prevented from carrying out their intention. They can easily say they do not know how to sign and they will mark a cross. As I said 'before it will inconvenience the honest voters, and for these two reasons I am strongly opposed to it. I know that this will not be a pleasant thing for a large number of bona fide voters, and I would like to know who is insisting on having this thing.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1934
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CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

I think, Mr. Chairman, that the difficulties which my hon. friend sees in the adoption of this system are largely imaginary. Very few people are sworn at a poll.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1934
Permalink
LIB
CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

Very few are sworn. My hon. friend says that if anyone desires to do so he might plug the poll by insisting on swearing everybody that comes along, but even if he did, the voters would all be able to register their votes between eight in the morning and six at night because no more than

three hundred can vote at any poll. Experience shows that from ten to twenty sworn is the average. That is from Mr. Castonguay, who says that he would have to supply from ten to twenty forms. Well, I said, supply enough if it passes. I do not think anybody is going to be very much hurt if they are asked to sign their name to an oath. At the present time they can be sworn and they take a verbal oath, and the returning officer enters their name. It is a very slight thing to ask the person making an affidavit, "Please sign this." That is all you have to do. I think everybody will agree that this is going to stop a lot of this personation.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1934
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LIB

July 5, 1935