April 5, 1938

LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

That question of provision for registration can apply only to closed lists.

I come now to the other sanction in compulsory voting, namely, prosecution. It was found by the committee, I believe, that prosecutions in Australia, were most infrequent and that almost any excuse was considered sufficient. I may be wrong in my figures, but I am under the impression that over quite a period of time only some three thousand persons were prosecuted in Australia.

Topic:   ELECTIONS AND FRANCHISE
Subtopic:   MEASURE RESPECTING FRANCHISE OF ELECTORS, ELECTION OF MEMBERS OF HOUSE OF COMMONS AND PRINTING AND PUBLICATION OF ELECTION DOCUMENTS
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

There is provision there by which the chief electoral officer receives information with respect to these matters, and he determines whether or not prosecution should take place. I think in the last election something over ninety-one per cent voted.

Topic:   ELECTIONS AND FRANCHISE
Subtopic:   MEASURE RESPECTING FRANCHISE OF ELECTORS, ELECTION OF MEMBERS OF HOUSE OF COMMONS AND PRINTING AND PUBLICATION OF ELECTION DOCUMENTS
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LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

I think that is correct; over ninety per cent of the people voted. The finding of the committee was, I understand, that the number of abstentions was considerably decreased. But we must remember also that the Australian system of voting differs considerably from ours. There one can vote under almost any conditions. One can vote by mail; one can vote in any polling subdivision in the province or state in which one resides. One can vote by what is called declaration, in case an elector's name has been omitted from the roll. So that would have a tendency to bring up the number voting. And one can register by simply sending a letter to the registration officer and receiving from him some kind of receipt. As I said, I did not follow all the discussion, but apparently the committee decided unanimously that compulsory voting and registration are not to be recommended. Since we have been considering these election bills, almost every hon. member who has discussed them with me seems to think the problem can be solved by the introduction of compulsory voting. It appears to be the general opinion both in the house and outside that compulsory voting would bring to the polls a very large number of people who do not now trouble to come. Whether that is true, I am not in a position to say because I have never given it sufficient study.

Topic:   ELECTIONS AND FRANCHISE
Subtopic:   MEASURE RESPECTING FRANCHISE OF ELECTORS, ELECTION OF MEMBERS OF HOUSE OF COMMONS AND PRINTING AND PUBLICATION OF ELECTION DOCUMENTS
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LIB

Donald MacLennan

Liberal

Mr. MacLENNAN:

Not only would it bring more to the polls, but it would prevent them from putting cars on the road and asking the candidate to pay for the cars. It would eliminate that expense.

Elections and Franchise

Topic:   ELECTIONS AND FRANCHISE
Subtopic:   MEASURE RESPECTING FRANCHISE OF ELECTORS, ELECTION OF MEMBERS OF HOUSE OF COMMONS AND PRINTING AND PUBLICATION OF ELECTION DOCUMENTS
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LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

That may be so; I do not know. All I know is that compulsory voting was carefully studied by the committee of thirty members of this house during two years, and as far as I have been able to ascertain, that committee unanimously reported against it.

Topic:   ELECTIONS AND FRANCHISE
Subtopic:   MEASURE RESPECTING FRANCHISE OF ELECTORS, ELECTION OF MEMBERS OF HOUSE OF COMMONS AND PRINTING AND PUBLICATION OF ELECTION DOCUMENTS
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CCF

Abraham Albert Heaps

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

Mr. HEAPS:

Not unanimously.

Topic:   ELECTIONS AND FRANCHISE
Subtopic:   MEASURE RESPECTING FRANCHISE OF ELECTORS, ELECTION OF MEMBERS OF HOUSE OF COMMONS AND PRINTING AND PUBLICATION OF ELECTION DOCUMENTS
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LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

In view of the strong support among the public and in this house for compulsory voting, I would make this suggestion to the committee about to be set up, that they study this question at least once more in order to be able to give the house a clear and definite opinion as to whether or not this system should be accepted in this country.

The disposal of these matters, that is, proportional representation, the alternative vote, compulsory registration and compulsory voting, cleared the way for the preparation of an elections act. It was decided by the committee that the franchise act and the elections act of 1934 should both be repealed and one act substituted. It was decided that the system set up under the 1934 legislation, by which there was an annual revision of the electoral lists, should now be discarded and there should be a reversion to the procedure established under the Dominion Elections Act of 1930 whereby the preparation and the revision of the electoral lists were made after the date of the issue of the writ. It was recommended that a provision for absentee voting enacted in the 1934 legislation should be dropped. I believe it was found on investigation that the procedure was most costly, most complicated, and, moreover, ineffective. I have before me certain figures which indicate how costly the system was. Out of a total of 5,354 ballots there were 1,553 rejected, leaving only 3,801 valid ballots. The total cost of absentee voting was approximately 8250,000, or more than $46 per electoral vote, and more than $65 for every valid ballot cast. The committee therefore recommended the abolition of absentee voting.

Topic:   ELECTIONS AND FRANCHISE
Subtopic:   MEASURE RESPECTING FRANCHISE OF ELECTORS, ELECTION OF MEMBERS OF HOUSE OF COMMONS AND PRINTING AND PUBLICATION OF ELECTION DOCUMENTS
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IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

Has the minister the cost of advanced poll votes?

Topic:   ELECTIONS AND FRANCHISE
Subtopic:   MEASURE RESPECTING FRANCHISE OF ELECTORS, ELECTION OF MEMBERS OF HOUSE OF COMMONS AND PRINTING AND PUBLICATION OF ELECTION DOCUMENTS
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?

James Augustine Power

Mr. POWTER:

I have not.

Topic:   ELECTIONS AND FRANCHISE
Subtopic:   MEASURE RESPECTING FRANCHISE OF ELECTORS, ELECTION OF MEMBERS OF HOUSE OF COMMONS AND PRINTING AND PUBLICATION OF ELECTION DOCUMENTS
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IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

For the purpose of comparison.

Topic:   ELECTIONS AND FRANCHISE
Subtopic:   MEASURE RESPECTING FRANCHISE OF ELECTORS, ELECTION OF MEMBERS OF HOUSE OF COMMONS AND PRINTING AND PUBLICATION OF ELECTION DOCUMENTS
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LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

I do not know whether a

comparison was made or not. I am referring now largely to the report of the committee. Connected with both the franchise and election machinery is the question of the respective merits of open and closed lists. An open list means that any person who is duly qualified as an elector in a rural polling division, but whose name does not appear on the final

list of electors for such division, may vote by taking certain appropriate oaths and being vouched for on polling day. A closed list means that any otherwise qualified person whose name is not on the list may not vote at all. Open lists were authorized, in rural polling divisions only, at the general elections of 1921, 1925, 1926 and 1930 and at all byelections held between 1920 and 1934. During that period urban polling divisions were those comprised in cities and towns of specified population. The minimum population required in any city or town to be treated as urban has varied with different years. In 1920 the minimum was 1,000; in 1921 it was set at 2,500; in 1925 it was set at 5,000; in 1929 it was set at 10,000, and in 1938 it is proposed to set it at 3,500.

The chief electoral officer informed the committee that during the period 1921 to 1926, with the exception of some abuses committed by summer residents in a few localities, the open lists appear to have given entire satisfaction.

In 1929, by amendments to the Dominion Elections Act, I think the question of summer residents was satisfactorily disposed of. Special legislation was provided, and as far as I am aware no complaints have been heard since that time.

It is provided in the bill, on the recommendation of the committee, that the chief electoral officer is authorized to declare urban any polling division of which the population is transient or floating, or where large gangs of men are employed at some special work.

In a locality wherein the population is less than 3,500, it is considered that closed lists are not necessary, because the people living within those localities know one another. I do not believe there is the great danger which exists where people are strangers to one another, and where the population is greater.

The committee devoted considerable time to the study of a matter mentioned by the leader of the opposition, namely, personation or, as it is sometimes called telegraphing. This is an extremely difficult matter to deal with. The person who commits the crime of personation lays himself open to the most severe penalties. Penalties as severe as could possibly be provided are already provided in the legislation; so I do not think any useful purpose would be served by increasing them.

What is sought is some means of preventing the organization of telegraphing. The former Secretary of State (Mr. Cahan), who, I am sorry to say, is not at the present time in his seat, has on numerous occasions accurately described the offences committed by gangs of paid telegraphers.

Elections and Franchise

Topic:   ELECTIONS AND FRANCHISE
Subtopic:   MEASURE RESPECTING FRANCHISE OF ELECTORS, ELECTION OF MEMBERS OF HOUSE OF COMMONS AND PRINTING AND PUBLICATION OF ELECTION DOCUMENTS
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

They have at certain

points the costumes to be used as disguises.

Topic:   ELECTIONS AND FRANCHISE
Subtopic:   MEASURE RESPECTING FRANCHISE OF ELECTORS, ELECTION OF MEMBERS OF HOUSE OF COMMONS AND PRINTING AND PUBLICATION OF ELECTION DOCUMENTS
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LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

In other words, it is organized business. Certain gangs, mostly from the United States, will undertake to poll so many votes at an election.

Topic:   ELECTIONS AND FRANCHISE
Subtopic:   MEASURE RESPECTING FRANCHISE OF ELECTORS, ELECTION OF MEMBERS OF HOUSE OF COMMONS AND PRINTING AND PUBLICATION OF ELECTION DOCUMENTS
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

For so much money.

Topic:   ELECTIONS AND FRANCHISE
Subtopic:   MEASURE RESPECTING FRANCHISE OF ELECTORS, ELECTION OF MEMBERS OF HOUSE OF COMMONS AND PRINTING AND PUBLICATION OF ELECTION DOCUMENTS
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LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

Yes, for so much money. On many occasions the former Secretary of State has pointed out the difficulty of dealing with that kind of thing. I am told that it exists only in the cities of eastern Canada; that perhaps the western boundary is the Ottawa river and the other boundary the New Brunswick border.

Topic:   ELECTIONS AND FRANCHISE
Subtopic:   MEASURE RESPECTING FRANCHISE OF ELECTORS, ELECTION OF MEMBERS OF HOUSE OF COMMONS AND PRINTING AND PUBLICATION OF ELECTION DOCUMENTS
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

It was practised in Kingston during the last provincial election. I have the evidence of the case.

Topic:   ELECTIONS AND FRANCHISE
Subtopic:   MEASURE RESPECTING FRANCHISE OF ELECTORS, ELECTION OF MEMBERS OF HOUSE OF COMMONS AND PRINTING AND PUBLICATION OF ELECTION DOCUMENTS
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LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

A great deal of thought was given to finding some means of overcoming these telegraphing difficulties. This expedient was hit upon, namely, of giving to each householder in every dwelling house in a polling subdivision a full copy of the list of electors in that particular poll. In other words, if there were three hundred dwelling houses in a poll, there would be three hundred copies of electoral lists distributed. I believe it would not be necessary to have all children of voting age receive a copy. In actual practice I suppose they would see one. This procedure would have the effect, first of all, of bringing on the electoral lists large numbers of names which normally would be omitted, because the people affected would not, unless they saw the list, take the trouble to have their names added. Neighbours would tell them that their names were not on the list and they would register. Second, it would clean the electoral lists, because people would see names such as John Jones or William Smith, and would know that those men had died five years ago. They might complain to the electoral officers asking that the names be removed from the list. Again, a person might see the name of someone who had changed his place of residence, or of someone who did not have the proper qualifications. At any rate, it would place where it actually belongs, namely on the individual citizen, a certain amount of responsibility for seeing that we have clean electoral lists.

Topic:   ELECTIONS AND FRANCHISE
Subtopic:   MEASURE RESPECTING FRANCHISE OF ELECTORS, ELECTION OF MEMBERS OF HOUSE OF COMMONS AND PRINTING AND PUBLICATION OF ELECTION DOCUMENTS
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CON

Grote Stirling

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STIRLING:

Does that take care of the apartment houses?

Topic:   ELECTIONS AND FRANCHISE
Subtopic:   MEASURE RESPECTING FRANCHISE OF ELECTORS, ELECTION OF MEMBERS OF HOUSE OF COMMONS AND PRINTING AND PUBLICATION OF ELECTION DOCUMENTS
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LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

A dwelling house would

include each dwelling within an apartment house. It is in apartment houses, boarding

houses and places like that where this legislation would, I believe, be most effective.

A large number of further amendments were suggested in the committee's recommendations, all of which have been incorporated in the bill. Therefore, so far as the chief electoral officer and counsel for the committee have been able to carry it out, this bill expresses the will of the committee, and is an interpretation of that will in legislative form.

Of course there are certain routine provisions which have been in every electoral act for many years, and those provisions are retained in the bill. Certain clauses which were in the franchise act of 1934 have been dropped, however, and I think it is only fair to call attention to them. The disqualification clauses of section 4 of the Dominion Franchise Act, 1934, have been changed by the elimination of clauses (x) and (xii) of subsection 1. The clauses eliminated are as follows:

(x) every person who is an inmate of an institution which is maintained by any government or municipality for the housing and maintenance of the poor;

(xii) in the province of British Columbia, every Doukhobor person and every descendant of any such person, whether born in that province or elsewhere, who is by the law of that province disqualified from voting at an election of a member of the legislative assembly of that province.

Those clauses have been dropped from the disqualification section. However, I want to add that with those exceptions, in so far as counsel and the chief electoral officer have been able to do so, the bill carries out the wishes of the committee. Nothing has been added by officers of the crown, or by the government. There may have been some slight changes made at the suggestion of the chief electoral officer. Moreover, I have not endeavoured to make the changes which would make this election bill conform to the elections expenditures measure, because the committee have not as yet dealt with it. As can readily be understood, quite a number of the sections of the elections act, proper, would necessarily be altered or modified by the operation of the measure affecting election expenditures.

Topic:   ELECTIONS AND FRANCHISE
Subtopic:   MEASURE RESPECTING FRANCHISE OF ELECTORS, ELECTION OF MEMBERS OF HOUSE OF COMMONS AND PRINTING AND PUBLICATION OF ELECTION DOCUMENTS
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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

Would the minister be good enough to repeat his statement with respect to the deletions?

Topic:   ELECTIONS AND FRANCHISE
Subtopic:   MEASURE RESPECTING FRANCHISE OF ELECTORS, ELECTION OF MEMBERS OF HOUSE OF COMMONS AND PRINTING AND PUBLICATION OF ELECTION DOCUMENTS
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April 5, 1938