July 5, 1935

CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

I think everybody will agree that the house should stop it, and that we should do everything in our power to stop it. We should not strain at imaginary difficulties in order to accomplish some great purpose which I believe we shall accomplish if we pass this clause with this affidavit.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1934
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?

Noé E. Chevrier

Mr. OHEVRIER:

Mr. Chairman, with the principle, the stoppage of personation, I am fully in accord, but I think this is a most unpopular way to go about it. The Minister of Justice says he will need from twenty to twenty-five forms in each polling booth. If personation goes on only to the extent of some fifteen or twenty it is hardly worth while going to this trouble. Impersonation does exist and the minister says that he believes it could be prevented and that it would not take much time. I know that there will be learned people, men of experience who will feel hurt to a certain extent if challenged in that way. In certain constituencies there are aged people and illiterate people and if they are challenged it will take a certain length of time to explain to them that they have to make this affidavit. If it was the ordinary oath I would foe in accord with it but this idea of explaining to an aged woman, to an old man or to an illiterate person will cause a delay in some cases of fifteen, twenty or twenty-five minutes.

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:

Oh no.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1934
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Noé E. Chevrier

Mr. OHEVRIER:

My hon. friend' is a

lawyer and he knows that when an illiterate person comes into a lawyer's office to sign an affidavit a full explanation must be made. When we were discussing the affidavits that was one reason why this declaration was left out of the act. The enumerators going from house to house would have had to sit down and explain the thing fully to illiterate persons. Everyone realizes how long that would

JULY 5, 1935 [DOT]

Elections Act

take. Then it is possible that some people will be driven away from voting. Personalty I think there is another way in which this matter could be handled but it is not my business to make up this law.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1934
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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:

Mr. Chairman, I hesitate to take up the time of the committee but I have a very strong opinion as to the desirability of having some approach to what I call honesty in the conduct of elections.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1934
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LIB
CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

There is only one way

to have it and that is to provide adequate safeguards to prevent dishonesty. I remember one statement which was made to me in connection with an election in eastern Canada. It was stated that an impersonator came here from an American city and voted forty-two times. There is only one way to stop that kind of thing, have them sign a paper. No impersonator will take the risk as perjury is an extraditable offence.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1934
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LIB
CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

The former Minister

of Justice (Mr. Lapointe) knows perfectly well that it is a different thing when a returning officer says something rather quickly and the voter replies, "so help me 'God." I was impressed by what the hon. member for Toronto Northwest (Mr. MacNicol) said last night that the provisions which have to do with the franchise should be excluded. They have been excluded and the man now swears that he is a British subject, is over twenty-one years of age and is the person named on 'the list.

A few years ago there was an election in a city in this country-I speak from memory and subject to correction-where thirty prominent persons found that they could not vote when they went to the polls because they had been voted before eleven o'clock by persons who were not residents of this country. There was another case in which evidence was unearthed that wigs and costumes had been used in order to change the appearance of these men. With the happy reputation which Canadian law has these people will not take the risk of signing their names and being charged with perjury to be proved by the production of a document. Perjury without the production of documents is always a difficult thing to prove but when you have a man sign a note that he is the person named you will stop this sort of thing very quickly.

That is the only purpose I have in mind and perhaps I must accept responsibility for the form of this section. I did not draft it but I said I thought it was highly desirable that it should be in that form. I say this from my own experience and in the light of information which has been given to me. I believe this information was correct as it was given to me by a gentleman whom I have every reason to believe knew whereof he was speaking. In a moment of frankness he told me that he had participated in the things to which I referred.

As to the polls being crowded, I do not think that will occur. I recall a case during a provincial election where because of the complexity of the vote it was thought desirable to challenge everyone who came in. Although it was thought that this would crowd the polls, it was found that everyone had an opportunity to vote. These polls will open at eight o'clock in the morning and close at six o'clock in the evening and everyone knows that it is the honest people who will be challenged.

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LIB
CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

That is always a contingency to expect; I may be challenged or my hon. friend may be. However, this law is aimed at the crook.

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LIB
CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

It will not. How will

it touch the honest man unless he is challenged?

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LIB
CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

There is no chance of

that happening to any considerable extent because public opinion would not support a scrutineer who took such action. We are trying to prevent fraud and dishonesty and to permit the exercise of the franchise by those persons who legitimately 'have the right to exercise it. I do suggest that the committee should adopt this section because not to do so would look as though we were not anxious to prevent what has became a real evil in Canada, impersonation. Speaking from my experience as a lawyer which while it has not been great, at least has been varied, I say that the crook will be through the minute he is asked to sign a document.

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LIB

Pierre-Joseph-Arthur Cardin

Liberal

Mr. CARDIN:

He will not sign his own

name, he will sign the name of the person on the list.

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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:

That signature will not

be in his handwriting and he thereby steps right into the hands of the prosecution.

Elections Act

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LIB

Pierre-Joseph-Arthur Cardin

Liberal

Mr. CARDIN:

You would not be able

to get him afterwards; you would not have his photograph.

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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:

We certainly could not

go to the expense of photographing everyone. As a matter of fact, it was suggested that finger prints should be taken. Recently I observed that the Canadian National Railways provide a small photograph of the person to whom they issue a pass on the pass. They have found that passes were being used by people other than those to whom they were issued. We are trying to do that very thing. We all should be anxious, and I believe we are anxious, to prevent fraud by the electors. I do not think there will be any difficulty in the crowding of the polls as we have limited the number to three hundred. Assuming that half are challenged there would be no crowding, or even if two hundred were challenged everyone would have an opportunity to vote. When a doubtful man enters the poll the scrutineer simply says, "challenged," and there are only two clauses to the oath to be administered by the returning officer who obtains a signature and places it in the roll book where it will be for all time.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1934
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LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

I think my hon. friend

will admit that I have had a certain amount of experience having taken part in twelve elections. There will be a crowding of the polls if everyone is challenged as may well happen. It is all right to say that honest people will not be challenged but everyone knows that there are some who will be anxious to prevent their opponents voting.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT, 1934
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July 5, 1935