April 5, 1938

CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Topic:   POLITICAL EXPENDITURES
Subtopic:   PUBLICATION OF RECEIPTS AND EXPENDITURES AND LIMITATION OF AMOUNT EXPENDED IN ELECTION OF MEMBERS
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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

There was one connected with the provincial house, in the north.

Topic:   POLITICAL EXPENDITURES
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Yes, in the Prince Albert constituency-and it is a terrible story to read, as it is reported, at any rate.

Topic:   POLITICAL EXPENDITURES
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CON

Grote Stirling

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STIRLING:

And Athabaska.

Topic:   POLITICAL EXPENDITURES
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Athabaska did not come,

of course, under the controverted elections act. We appointed a commission in Athabaska. The commission made a report; it was proven beyond peradventure what had happened, and the seat was ultimately vacated. But in Manitoba there was once a great deal of difficulty. I am tempted to remind the house of the part women sometimes play in enforcing a sense of morality on the part of their husbands. I believe it is sufficient for my purpose to say that in one instance a substantial sum of money was paid to a man for looking the other way while votes were being counted. His wife discovered what had been done. The money was brought to court and deposited there on the ground that it was ill gotten and had been improperly taken. It was the influence of the woman which had made it possible for that to be done.

Topic:   POLITICAL EXPENDITURES
Subtopic:   PUBLICATION OF RECEIPTS AND EXPENDITURES AND LIMITATION OF AMOUNT EXPENDED IN ELECTION OF MEMBERS
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LIB

Donald MacLennan

Liberal

Mr. MacLENNAN:

What happened to her?

Topic:   POLITICAL EXPENDITURES
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I will tell you, my cynical friend, what happened to her: she had the proud satisfaction of self-respect. That is what she had, and that is somewhat important.

During the last twenty-five years I can recall no federal election protests in Ontario. Before that we had substantial numbers. We will remember that there was a very important one from London; and we will remember too the one concerning the Hurons, which

it is unnecessary to discuss, and some others as well which need not here be gone into. In Quebec there have been very few in recent years, none so far as I can remember in twenty-five years in the federal arena. One of the most important ones you will find is in volume 1 of the supreme court reports. It had to do with that Minister of Public Works who was blamed for making a carpenter shop into the Supreme Court of Canada. I dare say that most hon. members are familiar with that story. Our supreme court, like the supreme court of the United States, was not dignified with very fine premises. As you know, the supreme court of the United States was not thought to be very important when it came into being and it was given a poor little room in which to sit. An old carpenter shop was turned into the Supreme Court of Canada. In connection with the question of the influence of the clergy in elections an appeal was taken by the late Sir Hector Langevin. The court decided against him and the Supreme Court of Canada never found other quarters.

Topic:   POLITICAL EXPENDITURES
Subtopic:   PUBLICATION OF RECEIPTS AND EXPENDITURES AND LIMITATION OF AMOUNT EXPENDED IN ELECTION OF MEMBERS
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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

And have not to this day.

Topic:   POLITICAL EXPENDITURES
Subtopic:   PUBLICATION OF RECEIPTS AND EXPENDITURES AND LIMITATION OF AMOUNT EXPENDED IN ELECTION OF MEMBERS
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

And have not to this day. That was always the sort of tradition that attached to the story of the Supreme Court of Canada.

I ask this simple question: What are we going to do to make effective the provisions suggested by the minister? We have been making provisions of various kinds ever since we had an election law. We have been extending them year after year. I recall the observations of the then Minister of Justice who with the Secretary of State was dealing with the problem. The present Minister of Finance referred in a cynical way to the small effect that such legislation would have upon human conduct and action. At that time we were dealing with the question of impersonation, familiarly known down here as telegraphing. In western Canada we do not know it by that name and for obvious reasons we have had very little of it. I was much impressed then by the observations of the present Minister of Pensions and National Health in connection with the proposed legislation. He did not think it would accomplish much; I am not familiar enough with conditions to say whether it did or did not. But are we going to have this legislation accomplish anything, or are we going to fold our hands and say: Behold what we have done; look upon our goodly works! The same old story will go on and on in the same old way. Not so publicly, but nevertheless it will go on

Political Expenditures

because we have not made the punishment fit the crime, in the language of the Mikado.

If we are going to pass this legislation, then an inevitable result must follow. And it must follow by summary process, by a summary judicial effort. It must not be necessary to deposit a thousand dollars, it must not be necessary to meet all the technical requirements now in the act. The inspector general of elections should be in a position, at the request of any elector in any constituency, to demand that action be taken and that that action should be summary. A man should forfeit his seat upon proof of an illegal condition existing. If he says he did not know, that is no excuse. It is the job of a candidate to know what is being done. That is the reason he is a candidate. If we once open the door by saying that all that is needed is to say that a candidate has no knowledge, and therefore the result of the loss of his seat does not flow from .the proof of these conditions, you will be destroying entirely the efficacy of the law.

If we mean business, there is just one thing we must do. We must provide for summary process. In order to promote the effective and efficient administration of the law we must not hedge it about with conditions that make it impossible for the average man to take action. I am as satisfied as I could be of anything in the world that once we provide for summary process of dealing with these offences, you will see such a change in the electoral life of this country that you will hardly know it. I doubt if there is any greater offence against the sound conduct of elections, even in the payment of money for votes, than to have someone say on behalf of the government, "I promise you this if you will do so and so." I want hon. members to release me from any desire to make any personal application of this. That is a phase of it upon which I thought the minister was going to touch.

Topic:   POLITICAL EXPENDITURES
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LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

I shall come to that.

Topic:   POLITICAL EXPENDITURES
Subtopic:   PUBLICATION OF RECEIPTS AND EXPENDITURES AND LIMITATION OF AMOUNT EXPENDED IN ELECTION OF MEMBERS
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

It might have been done better in the minister's opening statement.

Topic:   POLITICAL EXPENDITURES
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LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

On another bill.

Topic:   POLITICAL EXPENDITURES
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

That is very gratifying. It will probably have an effect upon all of us. When I say "all of us," I mean men in office and men who might be in office. As I do not intend to be in office any more, it is simple and easy for me to talk from a dispassionate viewpoint.

May I dwell once more upon one phase of this matter? We must by some means provide for a result when there is a violation of the statute. This measure as presented by the

minister is admirable, but there are some expansions possible. I shall not go into them until we have the particulars; it is idle to talk about details when we have not seen the measure itself. But it will have to be expanded if we mean business. If we are to do something worth while, if we are to prevent the racketeer and the hoodlum, this combination which has been bleeding all parties during the years, from carrying on, we must provide a punishment to fit the crime. If a candidate is likely to lose his seat he will not have this combination going around handling his election. The minister quite properly puts his finger upon it. He has had more to do with elections than I and he knows what he is talking about. He said with great frankness that the danger lies in the fact that you have this type. of person dealing with a situation about which he does not want the candidate to know anything, and about which the candidate does not want to know anything- where the money comes from that runs the election.

That is the only phase of it that I should like to dwell upon. It is the only hope I have for any improvement in conditions. I shall discuss the question of compulsory voting on another occasion when another bill is before us. I do not think it properly comes under this resolution, but apart from all that let me say that if we are to make this measure effective there is just one way to do it, and that one way we should follow. Legislators are always very careful about matters of this kind because they realize sometimes that they have an election to run in the not too distant future. [DOT] They are always concerned about it. Here is a test of our citizenship. Here is a test of our love of democracy. Here is a test of our sincerity in dealing with realities and not with academic questions. Are we prepared to provide by summary means through a proper official that violation by an elected member of the provisions of this proposed legislation will mean the loss of his seat? If we do that, then we shall have really made a step forward, as they have done in other countries.

I confess, Mr. Speaker, that it was the hope of the late administration that we might be able to deal with some of these matters, and we had information prepared for that purpose, but the pressure of many things which the present government has happily escaped made it not easy to do very many things one would like to have done. But here is something which the government has brought into this house, and which each one of us can help to make effective, not as a party matter, but as representatives of this

Political Expenditures

Dominion of Canada, under a representative system of government. If we mean what we say and say what we mean, then by providing for summary punishment by the loss of a seat in this house for violation of the provisions of this law, we shall have made a very long step forward and shall have made real progress-and progress, as I always say, is a change for the better, not mere change.

That is all I care to say at the moment, Mr. Speaker. I should like to examine the bill in its details before saying that to all its provisions I can give my support, but with the broad general principles that characterize the legislation I am certainly wholly in accord.

Topic:   POLITICAL EXPENDITURES
Subtopic:   PUBLICATION OF RECEIPTS AND EXPENDITURES AND LIMITATION OF AMOUNT EXPENDED IN ELECTION OF MEMBERS
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CCF

James Shaver Woodsworth

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. J. S. WOODSWORTH (Winnipeg North Centre):

Mr. Speaker, it is not my

intention to make a speech but I should like to express a word of support for the measure as presented. One cannot sit in this house for any number of years without coming under the temptation of being somewhat cynical. However, I confess I was stirred by the appeal of the minister and I shall gladly take it at one hundred per cent value. We in this corner welcome this move towards cleaner elections, which, I agree with the minister, are essential if we are to maintain democracy.

Topic:   POLITICAL EXPENDITURES
Subtopic:   PUBLICATION OF RECEIPTS AND EXPENDITURES AND LIMITATION OF AMOUNT EXPENDED IN ELECTION OF MEMBERS
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SC

René-Antoine Pelletier

Social Credit

Mr. R. A. PELLETIER (Peace River):

Mr. Speaker, my only purpose in rising at this time is because of the experience we have had in this house of a bill not following exactly the terms of the resolution upon which it was based, and I believe the hon. member for Comox-Alberni (Mr. Neill) is in a very good position to support me in that contention.

I must say that I had hoped that the legislation to do away with corrupt electoral practices would be much more sweeping than is indicated by the resolution before us. However, the minister mentioned that another bill would be brought down as supplementary legislation.

Topic:   POLITICAL EXPENDITURES
Subtopic:   PUBLICATION OF RECEIPTS AND EXPENDITURES AND LIMITATION OF AMOUNT EXPENDED IN ELECTION OF MEMBERS
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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

It is on the order paper now.

Topic:   POLITICAL EXPENDITURES
Subtopic:   PUBLICATION OF RECEIPTS AND EXPENDITURES AND LIMITATION OF AMOUNT EXPENDED IN ELECTION OF MEMBERS
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SC

René-Antoine Pelletier

Social Credit

Mr. PELLETIER:

Thank you. I cannot

help recalling, Mr. Speaker, the remarks made in this house some time ago by the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King), who told us that the things we had said were nothing but shadow's and the government had no intention of fighting shadows. But I contend that the minister has perfectly justified us to-day because in introducing this legislation he said in effect that the present electoral system was bringing our elections into disrepute. He did not particularize but he did imply that there was something radically

wrong with our electoral system; so I think it is clear that we were not speaking of shadow's at all but of things that actually existed, indicating that action was necessary.

The Prime Minister not very long ago explained to me how a petition could be presented under the Corrupt Practices Act, chapter 51 o

The language of the resolution is:

That it is expedient to introduce a measure respecting political expenditures-

It makes no mention of political contributions. It is important to have the words "political contributions" in the resolution, because we remember how a bill founded upon a resolution was brought into this house which, in our opinion, did not carry out the intent of the resolution. Perhaps the minister will give us the assurance that political contributions will be included.

Motion agreed to and the house went into committee, Mr. Sanderson in the chair.

Topic:   POLITICAL EXPENDITURES
Subtopic:   PUBLICATION OF RECEIPTS AND EXPENDITURES AND LIMITATION OF AMOUNT EXPENDED IN ELECTION OF MEMBERS
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IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

Mr. Chairman, if no one else is going to speak I should like to say a few words, and I hope that any criticism I may make will not lead the minister or the house to think that I am not heartily in accord with the principle of this resolution. No one, I think, would doubt that, and no one, I think, would oppose the principle of the resolution. But there are one or two points on which I should like a little more information, and perhaps the minister may be able to give it to me in committee.

He spoke of a corporation sole. To my lay mind that carries visions of an incorporated company, and of the expenses that go with incorporating it. I am not clear on that point.

Political Expenditures

Topic:   POLITICAL EXPENDITURES
Subtopic:   PUBLICATION OF RECEIPTS AND EXPENDITURES AND LIMITATION OF AMOUNT EXPENDED IN ELECTION OF MEMBERS
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LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

There will be no expenses.

Topic:   POLITICAL EXPENDITURES
Subtopic:   PUBLICATION OF RECEIPTS AND EXPENDITURES AND LIMITATION OF AMOUNT EXPENDED IN ELECTION OF MEMBERS
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IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

That relieves nay Scotch soul.

Topic:   POLITICAL EXPENDITURES
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April 5, 1938