June 24, 1938


Amendment agreed to. Section as amended agreed to. Sections 5 and 6 agreed to. On section 7-Writs of election.


IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

We are passing these sections without the slightest consideration. Might I ask if the report of the committee was unanimous about all these matters?

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   ELECTIONS AND FRANCHISE
Sub-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 Edward Bothwell

Liberal

Mr. BOTHWELL:

So far as any sections so far carried are concerned, the vote of the committee was unanimous. There are certain

Elections and Franchise

sections of the bill on which the committee did not vote quite unanimously, but I would suggest that when we arrive at those sections those who were opposed will have something to say regarding them.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   ELECTIONS AND FRANCHISE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE RESPECTING FRANCHISE OF ELECTORS, ELECTION OF MEMBERS OF HOUSE OF COMMONS AND PRINTING AND PUBLICATION OF ELECTION DOCUMENTS
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Section agreed to. On section 8-Appointment of returning officers.


IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

I do not know what the people will think about this. Is this a proposal to fire all existing returning officers and appoint new ones; or is there that possibility, in any event?

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   ELECTIONS AND FRANCHISE
Sub-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 Edward Bothwell

Liberal

Mr. BOTHWELL:

'The situation under this

as under past elections acts, is that the returning officers will have to be appointed again. Whether it will be the same or different officers will depend upon the powers that be.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   ELECTIONS AND FRANCHISE
Sub-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:

I did not understand the hon. member. Would he mind explaining that more fully? Does the legislation require all positions to be made vacant?

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   ELECTIONS AND FRANCHISE
Sub-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 Edward Bothwell

Liberal

Mr. BOTHWELL:

It does.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   ELECTIONS AND FRANCHISE
Sub-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:

Why?

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   ELECTIONS AND FRANCHISE
Sub-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 Edward Bothwell

Liberal

Mr. BOTHWELL:

I might explain that in arriving at the general principles which are embodied in this new measure, the committee followed the act of 1930 to quite an extent. This is an entirely new bill; it is not an amending bill in any sense of the word, and officials who are appointed under this bill will have to be appointed again. No matter who have held positions in the past, we have to make provision here for either appointment or reappointment.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   ELECTIONS AND FRANCHISE
Sub-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:

Is it not the case that until to-day a returning officer holds office under a certain act which is about to be repealed and replaced by this bill? Consequently, as I understand it, he must receive appointment under this measure.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   ELECTIONS AND FRANCHISE
Sub-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 Edward Bothwell

Liberal

Mr. BOTHWELL:

That is so.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   ELECTIONS AND FRANCHISE
Sub-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:

This section states:

The offices of all returning officers appointed prior to the passing of this act shall be deemed to be vacant-

If we are doing away with the old act, they would become vacant automatically, would they not?

-and the governor in council may appoint to such offices either the same persons as now hold them, any of such persons or any other persons.

A number of years ago an attempt was made by the party now in power to take the appointment of these officers out of politics 51952-268

and make them permanent appointees. They held office during good conduct, as I understand it. When the party that is now in opposition came to power I believe they did away with that act, possibly for the reason that is now alleged in connection with this one; at any rate it was essential under the new system then introduced. But I think it is common knowledge that they did not take full advantage of the opportunity they possessed of appointing all partisan officials, and I think it would be a retrograde step if the party now in power adopted any other system. Would the minister be prepared to give an undertaking that they would not be all straight partisan appointees?

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   ELECTIONS AND FRANCHISE
Sub-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 Edward Bothwell

Liberal

Mr. BOTHWELL:

If the hon. member will look at paragraph (e), it might explain the situation to some extent. So far as this section of the bill is concerned, may I point out that it is taken almost entirely from the act of 1934, part of which the hon. member will see on the opposite page, which stated:

The offices of all returning officers heretofore appointed shall be deemed to be vacant and the governor in council may appoint to such offices either the same persons as now hold them, any of such persons or any other persons.

In so far as this particular section is concerned, may I point out that it follows rather closely the legislation passed in both 1930 and 1934.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   ELECTIONS AND FRANCHISE
Sub-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:

But I was pointing out that the late government did not take full advantage of their opportunities to make partisan appointments. I was hoping the minister would be in a position to express his opinion, conviction or determination that the same policy would be followed.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   ELECTIONS AND FRANCHISE
Sub-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:

My conviction is expressed in the legislation of 1930, at which time I was chairman of the elections committee, and brought down to the house a bill which was accepted. In it provision was made for the non-partisan appointment of returning officers. That example was not followed.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   ELECTIONS AND FRANCHISE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE RESPECTING FRANCHISE OF ELECTORS, ELECTION OF MEMBERS OF HOUSE OF COMMONS AND PRINTING AND PUBLICATION OF ELECTION DOCUMENTS
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Section agreed to. On section 9-Election clerk.


CON

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

I would like to say a few words at this point, and shall commence by referring to what the minister said a few minutes ago. He pointed out that he was chairman of the elections committee of 1930 which brought down a bill acceptable to the house. I understood him to say it was his proposal that the enumerators be of two different political parties.

In this connection I suggest to the minister, and I hope he will agree with me, that the

Elections and Franchise

same principle should be followed in the selection of poll clerks. For a long time I have been of the opinion that the time has come when in the polling subdivisions there should be officials appointed by more than one political party. I find that principle is now almost universal. So far as I can ascertain, Canada is almost alone, of English speaking countries, in insisting that the deputy returning officers and poll clerks attending polls be of the one political party. I know of no other such country which follows that plan, and I had hoped the time had come when under the guidance of a minister eminently qualified in connection with election matters we might have his approval of the suggestion whereby in Canada the deputy returning officers and poll clerks would be of two political parties.

I cannot speak with respect to all the states in the union, or even with respect to the majority of them; but certainly I know that all the principal states of the American union now follow the plan of having two political parties represented in the conduct of the poll. The reason advanced is that with two political parties represented at the poll there could be no collusion in connection with ballot stuffing, ballot switching or impersonation. It would be difficult to attempt anything like that. But where both the deputy returning officer and the clerk are of the one political party many injustices have been done in Ontario, and perhaps elsewhere; it is not necessary to mention the scores of instances. This will occur again until the two officers within the poll are of different political parties.

They found that in the United States, and overcame many of the impersonations, ballot stuffing and ballot switching by having the deputy returning officer and the clerk of different political parties. The Election Act of Missouri uses these words:

Chosen by the county court-

Not by the government-

-from lists supplied by the political party having the largest number of votes at the next preceding general election, and by the party having the next largest number of votes.

It is indicated that the officers who are to conduct the polls shall be elected in that manner, namely from two political parties.

I shall not take up the time of the committee in a detailed discussion of the point, because I appreciate the fact that the minister wishes to make progress with his bill. I must point out, however, that the state of New Jersey has a similar law. Similar laws are found in Wisconsin, Oregon, Ohio, Massachusetts and Montana. In each of those states, and perhaps in many others the election acts

of which I have not had time to read, the situation I have described obtains. The deputy returning officers and clerks in those states must be of two political parties, and are from the two parties which had the first and second largest numbers of votes in the next preceding election.

I brought this matter before the elections committee. At this time may I avail myself of the opportunity to compliment the minister and members of the house generally upon the appointment to the elections committee of an efficient, kindly and courteous chairman. He has every qualification to be chairman, and, when I suggested this change, was most courteous. I must point out further that in the beginning I believe the majority of the elections committee were in favour of bringing the Canadian methods up to the high standard in this regard which prevails throughout the world in English speaking countries outside Canada. I might point out that in Australia these officials are permanent and are subject to dismissal at all times for irregularities. In Great Britain they are not appointed by the government at all; rather they are appointed by the mayors or municipal authorities throughout the old country. Naturally the appointees are of different political parties.

But Canada has not attained the high standard I had hoped it might. I was hoping at this time, in view of the minister's wide knowledge of election law, and in view of his having been chairman in 1930, something along this line might be done. I remember that when the elections measure was being discussed in the house in 1934 there was no use in my saying anything on the government side of the house, because the minister piloting the bill through the house would simply look across at the hon. member for Quebec South and use words-probably not in these exact terms, but having the same meaning-"if the hon. member for Quebec South is satisfied, carried." Matters would be referred to him. I could not get anything through, because my knowledge of the elections act did not cut any figure.

So I had hoped that with that eminent authority piloting the elections act, in this government, this year we might expect to find real improvement in that act. Before going farther I wish to point out that I believe we are now getting close to a real elections act- at least in ninety-nine per cent of the cases. Any criticism I may have would be about the one per cent remaining.

Elections and Franchise

My submission with respect to clerks, which I moved in committee-and upon which I shall not divide the committee of the whole- was in these words:

At least five days before he proposes to appoint the persons who are to act as poll clerks as aforesaid, the returning officer shall give notice accordingly to the candidate who, representing at the next preceding election in the electoral district a different and opposed political interest to the candidate mentioned in the next 'preceding subsection, received the highest number of votes, whether or not such candidate was elected. Such candidate may, by himself or by representative, nominate a fit and proper person for appointment as poll clerk for every polling station in the electoral district and, except as hereinafter provided, the returning officer shall appoint such persons to be poll clerks for the polling stations for which they have been nominated.

Even at this late date I think the minister should consider this matter. Perhaps this section could be allowed to stand in the meantime, and we could return to it later on.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   ELECTIONS AND FRANCHISE
Sub-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 have no objection to it

standing.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   ELECTIONS AND FRANCHISE
Sub-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

Duncan Fletcher McCuaig

Liberal

Mr. McCUAIG:

The hon. member (Mr. MacNicol) is speaking to the wrong section. What he refers to is dealt with in section 26, subsection 4.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   ELECTIONS AND FRANCHISE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURE RESPECTING FRANCHISE OF ELECTORS, ELECTION OF MEMBERS OF HOUSE OF COMMONS AND PRINTING AND PUBLICATION OF ELECTION DOCUMENTS
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June 24, 1938