April 5, 1938

LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

You can be a corporation without any expense to yourself.

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:

Thank you. I also understood the minister to say that the amount would be based on the number of electors. Is that the number of electors on the voters' list, not those who actually voted?

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:

On the list.

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 may lead us to see that as many get on the list as possible. I presume, too, the amount would apply to every candidate, whether there was one or six running, that each candidate would be allowed the same expense?

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:

Yes.

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 is satisfactory. The minister also made some remark about each electoral district being charged, if I understood him, a pro rata allotment of the total national funds of each party.

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:

That would not apply to my hon. friend, who, I take it, is an independent.

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:

I do not want to have anyone running in my seat charged with the expenses of one or other of the parties.

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:

Provision is made for independent candidates.

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:

Thank you. Then I understood that he spoke about five pence or six pence, which, the leader of the opposition suggested, would be about ten cents. Am I right in suggesting that possibly that would be the amount?

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 is no fixed amount in the bill.

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:

Well, will not that have to be inserted?

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:

That is left to the committee.

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:

I see. Well, anything like ten cents, as suggested, will be wholly inadequate in a sparsely populated district. In the cities perhaps it would be too much, but in large areas such as the district I represent, and I think also the districts represented by my hon. friends from Cariboo and Skeena it would be utterly impossible to run an election on any such sum as is represented by ten cents for each of the voters, because the expense of canvassing these sparsely settled areas is very great.

I believe it was indicated that contributions to party funds would be published. On the

face of it that is an admirable idea, but it is provided for now. The act requires each candidate to publish a statement of all his election expenses and how they are contributed. The way they get around that requirement is to state that a certain amount is contributed by "Mr. Jones and others"-which of course renders the whole thing invalid. If it were made obligatory to give the names of everyone who contributed it would meet the circumstances to a large extent.

Another point upon which, I believe, the leader of the opposition touched, and which may be dealt with in another bill, relates to this matter of election returns. As the successful candidate is compelled, as he should be, to put in the returns of his expenditures, the defeated candidate ought to be compelled to do the same. I can see no reason why the unhappy candidate who succeeds is subject to the loss of his seat, while the man who has done all kinds of corrupt things against him simply says, " Well, you can't unseat me; go to it."

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:

The returns are automatic under this bill.

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 is very good. I was talking about the publication of contributions. I foresee this possibility of a danger which the minister probably has foreseen and guarded against. There should be some reasonable limit, some low point below which the names of donors would not be published. One can understand the situation of a man holding some small government position, or, someone working on the roads who might be asked by the government road foreman to contribute a five dollar bill to party funds. It would be very difficult for such a person to refuse to do so, and if he contributed, the money might go to the support of a candidate with whom he was wholly out of sympathy. Then after the election is over, the opposition perhaps having been returned, they look up the lists and everyone who contributed five dollars to the campaign funds of the losing party would be discriminated against in the way of road work or things of that kind. I suggest that small amounts, say up to fifty dollars, should not have to be recorded.

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:

No civil servant will ever contribute under a law like this. Of course he will not.

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:

He might want to. Or he might be advised that it would be to his interest to do it, and it might be very difficult for him to refuse.

There is another point I should like the minister to deal with. Eventually the amount will be stated in the bill; I assume it will

Political Expenditures

be so much for each district. How is a candidate to know until the election is over how much it has cost him? I suppose that very few of us in the bigger districts know within five hundred or a thousand dollars what an election is going to cost until it is over. The candidate will have this haunting fear over him all the time that when the election is over it will be found that he has exceeded the amount allowed by ten dollars, fifty dollars, a hundred dollars. It seems to me there should be some provision by which that can be avoided.

There is another point. The minister says, we will be very strict and say that we must not pay any illegal expenses or even legitimate expenses beyond so much. I think he said that if we had to disclose the names of every person to whom we pay sums of money in connection with an election many people would not ask for any return for their services. That sounds very well, but there is this other side to it. Supposing I hire a man to go to a certain logging camp, perhaps for nothing more than to put up notices that there is to be a meeting there, and it takes him three days, and he asks for fifteen dollars and his expenses: if I pay him that money I have indicated my appreciation of his services, and I am under no further obligation to him. I have paid for that service a man who is perhaps in poor circumstances and may have lost some days' work; it is a thoroughly justifiable and legitimate proceeding. But if he is prevented from accepting money or I am prevented from paying him, then the opposite side of the picture comes around. When the election is over he comes along and says, "I am a poor man; I lost several days working for you; what about it?" I shall have a political claim upon me which I am not entitled to recognize and which perhaps I am unable to recognize. If I had paid him a justifiable remuneration for his work I would not be under the same obligation to him as if he were able to say, "I have worked for you for nothing." That phase ought to be dealt with, or we shall be instituting an evil almost as great as the one it is desired to get away from.

There is just one other remark I should like to make in connection with something which was said by the leader of the opposition, although I understand he was dealing with what it now appears will be dealt with under another bill. He emphasized very strictly that the measure will have no effect at all unless the member concerned will lose his seat by a summary process if he or anyone representing him has been guilty of any infraction, however slight. If that is carried

out in its entirety, no member will be able to sit here, because it is an almost impossible requirement, and it would be unfair. I am willing to go the whole length where a connection with a candidate can be shown, If the candidate has been guilty of or has lent himself to any corrupt practice, by all means unseat -him. But one can conceive a case in a sparsely settled district or in a large city where a perfectly honest man, representing the candidate at a little polling station, has done something which is technically illegal. Perhaps some one has rung up and said, "I want to go down to vote"; it is voting time, and in his enthusiasm the helper sends a taxi out for that particular person, yet because he has done that the member will be unseated. That sort of thing is not in conformity with the intention of our laws, and if it is attempted to enforce it strictly, the very opposite effect will result. Judges will hesitate to unseat a man on such inadequate grounds. I can see the point when the leader of the opposition says, "You must not begin to tinker with the law, the only way is to have it strict." Yes, -have it strict, but also have it work in a reasonable way. I have no doubt that my right bon. friend, as a great lawyer, knows cases where the very strictness of the law has led to its non-enforcement. I know of cases in British Columbia where- it was desired in a small way to stop the evil of what is called pit lamping.

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:

"Hard cases make bad law."

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:

The right hon. gentleman has put it in a nutshell. If you make the penalty too strict the law will not be enforced. My right hon. friend has expressed it much better than I could.

Topic:   POLITICAL EXPENDITURES
Subtopic:   PUBLICATION OF RECEIPTS AND EXPENDITURES AND LIMITATION OF AMOUNT EXPENDED IN ELECTION OF MEMBERS
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April 5, 1938