June 24, 1938

IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

I wanted to make some remarks in regard to subsection 7, and perhaps I might make them now so that the minister can consider the whole section at once. I am afraid I am presumptuous in finding any fault with this bill. I have some little knowledge of the time and trouble that have been spent on this bill by the committee and its most efficient chairman, and under ordinary conditions I would swallow the bill as it stands. But there are, perhaps necessarily, in a bill of such wide scope, one or two small matters of considerable importance in particular districts which may have escaped the attention of the

Elections and Franchise

committee, because I understand there was no representative from British Columbia on that committee.

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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?

An hon. MEMBER:

Oh, yes.

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:

Then, perhaps he was an interior man who was not familiar with conditions on the coast, or perhaps he was overruled. At any rate the position I want to suggest is this: Any measure of this kind

surely ought to be based upon two fundamental points. I do not know which should be put first, but the one is to prevent corruption as much as possible and the other is that it should give a vote to everyone entitled to it. I believe those principles should be carried out to the fullest extent, regardless of whether the voter be rich or poor, educated or illiterate.

The subsection to which I object reads as follows:

Save as hereinafter provided every person, man or wpman, shall be qualified to vote and be entitled to be registered as an elector on the list of electors for the polling division in which he or she ordinarily resides at the time of the preparation and revision of the list of electors-

It is the word "ordinarily" to which I object, because it makes a fundamental change in the act. According to the explanatory note, the old act was the same with the exception of the word "ordinarily," and it is the insertion of that word which makes all the difference.

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:

To what subsection is my hon. friend referring?

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:

The first few lines of subsection 1. I think this would come home particularly to any one from the district I represent and also the hon. members representing the constituencies of Nanaimo, Vancouver North, Cariboo and to a certain extent Skeena, because they all have people who will be disfranchised because of the insertion of that one word. I do not suppose the number will be very great; it may total a couple of thousand in British Columbia; but surely the logger, the miner, the fisherman or the seaman is entitled to his vote once we start out with the idea that we have more or less universal suffrage.

Perhaps I had better explain how this works. A man lives in one part of a constituency; take Vancouver North, for example. His home, where his wife lives, is in Vancouver North; but in the summer season, when logging operations are going on, he goes to the northern portion of that constituency, which covers a large area, and gets a job in a logging camp, where he spends perhaps six months of the year. Previously, when the election came

along, he registered in the ordinary way at the place where he was working, but under the interpretation that must be placed upon the word "ordinarily" he can be registered only at Vancouver North. You may say, "Well, he can go back there and vote." It is all very well to say that, but in point of fact he cannot, and we know he cannot. To do so, he would have to throw up his job; for what concern would put up with a man being away for that reason? He must be away for one or two weeks, which means that he will lose his job and have to pay $25 or $30 to go back home in order to vote. That makes it impossible, so we are depriving that man of his vote. When we say "ordinarily resides," that is interpreted in another section of the bill as the place where he has his wife. Someone said that was not so, because there was a clause dealing with men separated from their wives; but we are not dealing with that class of people at all; we are dealing with men who have their wives in one part of the district, but who are forced by circumstances to work in another part.

In previous acts, and again in this bill, the principle is recognized that consideration should be given people of this kind, because special privileges are extended to three classes, ecclesiastics, school teachers and students. It is expressly provided that although they are not resident at the place where they are ordinarily resident, they can register where they then are. That is class legislation. If a man of the gospel, who is getting a permanent salary presumably a little better than that of the average workingman, and who is better able to go to the expense of returning to his regular home, is permitted this privilege, why should it not be extended to the people I have mentioned? The minister could probably return during the week without depriving his church of his services, and the same would apply to the teacher and the student. If it is right that we should not deprive the teacher, the parson or the student of his vote, why should the same thing not apply to the logger, the miner and the fisherman? I can see no reason why it should not. As I say, there is no reason. This act goes back quite a number of years. Originally, perhaps, the matter was not of so much importance, because there were times when a move of population was what might be described as more definite and permanent in its trend. If they did move to a certain place, it was a permanent move for reasons of work, and there was a tendency to stay in that place. Nowadays the trend is variable. Men are laid off on an hour's notice because an engine breaks down. Nowadays men are

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Elections and Franchise

flown to their work and back again. There is more need to provide for new conditions.

I have not yet heard any suggestion as to any impropriety in connection with the matter, or of any abuse in any way at all. It is closely watched, and there are plenty of safeguards. There is no chance of the intrusion of a large body of men in there, in order to swing a vote, because the condition says that they must be resident for a certain period. There is no danger either in theory or in practice, because that has been the law for many years in British Columbia, and it has never been abused. It has never even been possible to make it the means of abuse. I would like the minister to look over the situation and consider the matter. If he has determined to go on. I would ask him why the word "ordinarily" has been inserted, and who asked for it.

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

Thomas Reid

Liberal

Mr. REID:

Would the hon. member

answer a question? Would it not be worked the other way? The hon. member was talking about a logger. We will suppose that a logger had registered in the interior but happened to be home; that is, at his ordinary home. How would he vote?

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:

He would still be able to

vote at home, if he were there. This is in a case where he find himself in a distant place, and unable to go home. The average logger is not in a position to take a week off.

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:

He can be sworn, can he not?

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:

Possibly I could explain something of the discussion which took place in committee in connection with this particular section. In the 1934 act we endeavoured to take care of these voters by absentee voting provisions.

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:

Yes.

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 committee found that the expense of absentee voting did not warrant our including it in this bill. For instance, in the election of 1935 there were 5,334 votes polled under the absentee voting provision. We found that 1,533 of them were rejected. The cost of absentee voting was approximately $250,000, or $65 plus, per vote. And it was by reason of the expense which was incurred in connection with absentee voting the committee decided that for the sake of a vote of that size we would not be warranted in inserting a clause which would deal with absentee voting.

Now, coming to the words "ordinarily resides" in the first subsection of section 14, may I point out that that term is defined in

section 16 of the bill. The rules are stated in connection with the residence of electors. In the 1930 act we used the same words, namely, "ordinarily resides," and we defined them in much the same way as they are defined here. So that really, Mr. Chairman, the only difference between this bill and past acts in connection with residence of electors is that in this measure we have done away with the absentee vote.

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:

Dealing with the absentee

vote for a moment-and I do not know why we should, because it does not in the least resemble the matter I brought up; there is no resemblance whatever-however, if the hon. member wishes to go into it, I will do so. It has no relation to this matter at all. The absentee vote was introduced in order to deal with a changed condition caused by the act of 1934 which provided for what was called a fixed list. .

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 would direct the attention of the hon. member also to the explanatory note on the page opposite page 12 of the bill. It would indicate that in 1934 we used exactly the same words, namely, "ordinarily resident."

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:

No.

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 says "has been

ordinarily resident in Canada."

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 will deal with that in a moment. I am surprised the hon. member f_ys that. We are talking about the absentee vote, and I say it was introduced to meet a condition caused by the act of 1934, which made a fixed list. Therefore it was felt that a large number of people would be disfranchised.

The hon. member has said that it caused great expense, and that a great many votes were disqualified. The reason for the disqualifications was that deputy returning officers were not sufficiently informed of their duties; that was the reason for the disqualification of a large number of them. Apparently they had been instructed that when a man came along and wanted to vote in a district in which he was not then resident, they were to get a blank ballot, and that the deputy returning officer's duty was to write on the blank ballot a facsimile of the ballot of that particular district.

These deputy returning officers are not lawyers. They are not men of great business ability, and they take a reasonable, by-and-large view of it and put down Smith, Jones and Brown. And if a man voted for Smith, Jones or Brown, his vote was thrown out

Elections and Franchise

because it bad not said that John Smith was an auctioneer or that Bill Brown was something else. I know of one case which came to my attention where the deputy returning officer had evidently said to the would-be voter, "Whom do you want to vote for, old man?" And the man said "Brown." So the officer just wrote down "Brown," and no other name was put on the ballot. Hundreds were thrown out in my district because the ballots were not properly drawn up, either because of a misconception or because of ignorance on the part of the deputy returning officer.

As to the cost of it let me say this: The hon. member has noted the cost as being so much per head. Did he ever figure out the per head cost of advance polls? If he would, perhaps he would find that the cost per head was more than that of the absentee vote. The machinery which is set up is expensive, and in a small place if you get four or five votes in an advance poll you are lucky. I suggest the hon. member had better look into those facts.

But the whole subject is not pertinent, because no one has asked him to introduce the absentee vote. I have asked him only to go back to the procedure that was current before the act of 1934. I have asked only that we go back to it and stick to that phase of it. The hon. member has said-and I hope he was not imposing upon my simple layman's ignorance, although it looks like it- that we should look at the explanations, which is to me a painful subject anyway, opposite page 12 of the bill, and we would find the words "ordinarily resident". That is simply a play on words. It is there, but it does not apply to what I am talking about. It reads to indicate that a person has to show that he was ordinarily resident in Canada for at least twelve months-ordinarily resident in the electoral district at the date of the poll.

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 the same thing as we have here.

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 when he came to take an affidavit all he had to swear to was that he was a "resident" of a polling division. Surely the 1936 act takes precedence over that of 1934. And here I find that section 46A in chapter 35 of the 1936 statutes reads as follows:

46A. (1) Subject as herein provided, any person who pursuant to the provisions of section four of the Dominion By-Elections Franchise Act, 1936, is qualified to vote in the electoral district in which a hy-eleetion is pending, and is, on polling day, resident-

Resident-

-in a rural polling division-

And so on. Then, at page 219 of the volume we find the form, in these words:

You swear that you are a British subject ordinarily resident in Canada-

And so on, and so on. Then it says: "that you now reside in this polling division." That is all they had to do. They had to swear that they "now reside" in the polling division, and that is all I am asking. Let us carry out the act as we have been doing for many years. It was not objected to, and the source of no corruption or impropriety. This action will certainly cut off hundreds of voters in the districts I have named. I do not know what effect it will have upon voters in the northern areas of Ontario, but hon. members from that part of the country will be more familiar with conditions than I. In the districts in British Columbia to which I have referred I know there will be hundreds of men, many of whom will vote against me- that is their privilege-who will be deprived of their vote. I think the general basic principle of this measure should be to give the greatest opportunity to people to vote, providing the proper safeguards are taken against corruption and impersonation,

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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CCF

Charles Grant MacNeil

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

Mr. MacNEIL:

I desire to associate myself with the remarks of the hon. member for Comox-Alberni (Mr. Neill). In reading subsection 1 of section 14 in conjunction with section 16, I cannot find any provision being made for the class of workers described by the hon. member for Comox-Alberni. These workers engaged in the logging and fishing industries must of necessity move from district to district according to the requirements of their industries. In many instances, while these men are absent from home, their families are compelled to move from one electoral district to another. Therefore, it is extremely difficult for them to define residence. I should like to have the minister or the chairman of the committee on elections explain how they propose, under the terms of this bill, to extend the franchise to these people.

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:

The section can stand.

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