June 24, 1938


Section agreed to. Section 25 agreed to. On section 26-Deputy returning officers and poll clerks.


CON

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

I want to elaborate-

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:

Would the hon. member care to have it 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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CON

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

I might not be in the house when it comes up again. The matter is of such transcendent importance, and the minister has such transcendent knowledge of elections acts, may I refer to it now? I refer to subsection 4 only, which now reads:

Each deputy returning officer shall, forthwith after his appointment, appoint by writing under his hand, in form no. 30, a poll clerk, who, before acting as such shall take the oath printed on the said form no. 30. Such forms of appointment and oath shall be printed in the poll book.

Rule 3, on page 21, which we passed unanimously a few minutes ago, relating to the appointment of enumerators, is, I believe, a very fine and practical rule. I should like to see subsection 4 of section 26 changed to redd similarly in intent to rule 3 of section 17, which reads:

At least five days before he proposes to select the persons who are to act as enumerators as aforesaid, the returning officer shall give notice accordingly to the candidate who, at the then last preceding election in the electoral district, received the highest number of votes,

Elections and Franchise

and also to the candidate representing at that election a different and opposed political interest, who received the next highest number of votes. Such candidates may each, by himself or by a representative, nominate a fit and proper person for appointment as enumerator in every urban polling division comprised in the electoral district, and, except as hereinafter provided, the returning officer shall appoint such persons to be enumerators of the polling divisions for which they have been nominated.

I should like to see that principle incorporated in subsection 4, of section 26. I cannot see any reasonable argument against it. If it is sound for section 17, it ought to be sound for section 26. In my opinion it would be even more sound in section 26 than in section 17, because in section 17 the poll itself is referred to. I should like to see the principle of having two watch-dogs instead of only one in the poll. When the deputy returning officer and the clerk are appointed by the same party, you have only one watch-dog; but if the deputy returning officer and the poll clerk are appointed by two different parties, you have two. It would certainly eliminate ballot stuffing, and impersonation and so on.

I have no. desire to continue any further. I have no intention of trying to force the adoption of what I suggest; I could not do so if I would; for the government majority is too large. But I hoped that hon. members on the government side would see the light and be willing to raise this bill to the high standard to which I referred. This is now done in practically all English-speaking countries: Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and throughout the United States. I believe we are the only English-speaking country that does not now protect the ballot box .by officers of two opposite political parties.

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-PRO

George William McDonald

Liberal Progressive

Mr. McDONALD (Souris):

I should like to agree with the hon. member for Davenport (Mr. MacNicol). It would be a very fine thing to raise the standard of elections and make everything as fair as possible, but after the gerrymander of 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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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

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-PRO

George William McDonald

Liberal Progressive

Mr. McDONALD (Souris):

That cannot be remedied here; it is a contentious matter, and it is too late now as far as my constituency is concerned; but in improving the elections act, why should we allow any party to gerrymander the constituencies, and then they cannot be changed for the next ten years? Certainly an attempt was made to steal the seat which I hold, and they nearly got away with it. What is the use of talking about a fair act when there is so much of that?

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

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

We are trying to make it fair now.

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-PRO

George William McDonald

Liberal Progressive

Mr. McDONALD (Souris):

Yes; if we ever want to have a fair act, we had better have the Liberal party undertake the work.

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:

Some further consideration

should be given to this question. I have in mind the constituency I represented in the last election. The second highest candidate was a representative of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation. He left that party, joined the communistic party and then left the district. If an adherent of the communistic party has anything to do with choosing the enumerators, when he does not even live in the district, I can foresee all sorts of complications. I do not believe even the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation would elect him to choose enumerators for the constituency of New Westminster.

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

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

Under the amendment I suggest, the returning officer does not surrender all his powers. If he is not satisfied with those named by anyone else, he can still make appointments under the circumstances mentioned by the hon. gentleman.

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 know that this matter was fully discussed before the committee, and I suppose my best answer to the hon. member (Mr. MacNicol) would be to refer them to the 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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CON

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

I had the committee with me at the beginning.

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:

It would not help very much if my hon. friend had the committee with him at the beginning and argued them out of their sympathy. On the principle of the proposal, might I suggest to the hon. gentleman that there is a vast difference between the duties of the enumerators and the duties of the deputy returning officers. The enumerators go together. They decide who shall be on the list; if there is a dispute, there is a third part}', and the enumerators are not in the polling booths on election day. On the other hand, the deputy returning officer is to some extent in a judicial capacity.

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

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

So he is in England and in the United States.

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:

Well, in England, as my hon. friend knows, the returning officers are appointed by law, being sheriffs, prothonotaries, city clerks and so on, public officials. As to the deputy returning officers, I have no knowledge, but I should be very much surprised if you could find anywhere in the English law any reference to any political party, because that is contrary to the principle of their law.

Elections and Franchise

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

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

They are appointed by the municipal authorities.

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:

But there is no question of appointing a person from an opposite political party, as my hon. friend wants us to do. The deputy returning officer is in a judicial capacity. He is in control of the polling booth on election day, and my hon. friend's suggestion is that there be two in control of the polls. There is trouble enough now with one in addition to four or five scrutineers, without having two judges and no referee. The enumerators can submit a list to the returning officer who may come to a decision. Suppose, however, there is a dispute as to who has a right to vote, or who has not, or as to the conduct and discipline in the poll, it would not be possible in most rural constituencies and in a large number of urban constituencies to get the returning officer there himself to decide who was right as between the poll clerk and the deputy returning officer. It would appear to me to bring about a conflict in the polling booth rather than to promote peace, good order and discipline. If the poll clerk has not the same power and authority as the deputy returning officer, then he becomes a mere spy on the deputy returning officer and there is no value to the position at all. I should like to meet my hon. friend because he has taken a deep and sincere interest in this measure; I know that in anything he says his motives are the highest, and he firmly believes that the bill would be improved by some such amendment as he suggests. But with all credit for his sincerity, I cannot believe that the general economy of the elections act would be improved by any such set-up as he proposes.

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

Louis-Prudent-Alexandre Robichaud

Liberal

Mr. ROBICHAUD:

The hon. member for Davenport tells us that when he first brought forward the suggestion he thought he had the unanimous support of the 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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CON

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

Right.

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