December 4, 1953

PRIVATE BILLS

FIRST READINGS-SENATE BILLS


Bill No. 12, for the relief of Catherine Hiller Mary Harris Dawson Coutts.-Mr. Weir. Bill No. 13, for the relief of Elizabeth Ann Hunter Daykin.-Mr. Weir. Bill No. 14, for the relief of Martha Anne Sutherland Clarke.-Mr. Weir. Bill No. 15, for the relief of Phyllis Best Childs.-Mr. Weir. Bill No. 16, for the relief of Marilyn Clerk Merlin Clarke.-Mr. Weir. Bill No. 17, for the relief of Kenneth Urban Lunny.-Mr. Croll. Bill No. 18, for the relief of Florence Bella Davis Baines.-Mr. Weir. Bill No. 19, for the relief of Claude Arlington Root.-Mr. Croll. Bill No. 20, for the relief of Lizzy Weiss Nomberg.-Mr. Croll. Bill No. 21, for the relief of Mildred Elizabeth Sears Leighton.-Mr. Croll. Bill No. 22, for the relief of Margot Land-wirth Steinbach.-Mr. Weir. Bill No. 23, for the relief of Pauline Noel Lapointe.-Mr. Croll. Bill No. 24, for the relief of Joseph Philippe Marc Andre Fortier.-Mr. Weir. Bill No. 25, for the relief of Nancy Rachel Bonnar Barclay.-Mr. Weir. Bill No. 26, for the relief of Marusia Zozula Hempseed.-Mr. Croll.


PIPE LINES

REQUEST FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FOLLOWING PRESS CONFERENCE


On the orders of the day: Hon. George A. Drew (Leader of fhe Opposition): Mr. Speaker, is it the intention of the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe) to give to the house information, which has already been made available to a press conference, in regard to announcements that have been made about pipe lines?


LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Defence Production; Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Right Hon. C. D. Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce):

Mr. Speaker, I do not think it is customary to give press conferences in the house but-

Topic:   PIPE LINES
Subtopic:   REQUEST FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FOLLOWING PRESS CONFERENCE
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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

No. So that there shall not be any misunderstanding, what I am asking is

whether it is the intention of the government to give to the house the information which has already been given to a press conference in regard to this matter.

Topic:   PIPE LINES
Subtopic:   REQUEST FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FOLLOWING PRESS CONFERENCE
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Defence Production; Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe (Port Arthur):

I doubt whether any new information was given. I was asked to comment on the statement of Mr. Manning. If it appears after I have read the newspapers that there is any statement that should be given to the house I shall be very glad to give it. I assure you it is not my intention to keep any information from the house.

I do not think I have any information other than the information I gained from reading Mr. Manning's statement.

Topic:   PIPE LINES
Subtopic:   REQUEST FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FOLLOWING PRESS CONFERENCE
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ELECTION MATERIAL

USE IN BY-ELECTIONS AND NORTHWEST TERRITORIES ELECTIONS

LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Secretary of State of Canada)

Liberal

Hon. J. W. Pickersgill (Secretary of State) moved

the second reading of Bill No. 5, respecting use of election material for by-elections and Northwest Territories elections.

Topic:   ELECTION MATERIAL
Subtopic:   USE IN BY-ELECTIONS AND NORTHWEST TERRITORIES ELECTIONS
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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

Is the minister going to tell us what this is all about?

Topic:   ELECTION MATERIAL
Subtopic:   USE IN BY-ELECTIONS AND NORTHWEST TERRITORIES ELECTIONS
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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Secretary of State of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

Mr. Speaker, I think there is very little I can really add to what I said by way of explanation when the bill was given first reading, but perhaps it would be useful to put the matter in its proper context.

Shortly after the general election, the Revised Statutes of Canada, 1952, were brought into effect as from September 15. I was advised, as the minister to whom the chief electoral officer reports, that on the coming into force of the Revised Statutes of Canada all the printed material used for the holding of elections, both general elections and by-elections, would no longer be usable, because, although there was no difference in the substance of the law, most of the sections in the revised statutes were numbered differently from those in the act of 1938 and all the references in the printed matter were to the old act and not to the new one.

This was obviously a technical point that no one had thought of, but it had very important practical consequences because the chief electoral officer advised me that to print the

Election Material

necessary papers to hold by-elections, if any by-elections should be necessary, would take approximately six months, particularly as they would have to be printed for an election in any possible place, and there might be occasions when it would be desirable to have by-elections within six months.

I pointed out to him that surely if that occasion arose and parliament was in session we could pass a special act to validate the use of the old papers. The chief electoral officer came back with a suggestion that commended itself to me, and also to my colleagues in the government, to the effect that it would be a great economy to validate papers for all by-elections, so long as the elections act remained the same, as there was plenty of material printed to hold any number of by-elections that were likely to arise during the life of this parliament. I felt that all hon. members, and the taxpayers who support us, would feel that this was the kind of economy that we ought to support and that, in addition, it would overcome this delay which might have been unfortunate and embarrassing.

There is another reason, of course, why it would not be desirable to print the material based on the new act. The chief electoral officer has already made certain suggestions for possible amendments to the election law and he advises me that he will have a good many more to make when he has studied the circumstances of the last election, and if there are amendments of any consequence made in the law it might be necessary to have a second reprinting of all this material. I am sure no one would want that kind of unnecessary expenditure.

The consequences of the passing of this bill, if it is passed, will be that the present material will be used and that it will be possible at any time when a by-election becomes necessary, or when an election becomes necessary in the Northwest Territories, to proceed with it without any delay of the kind I have referred to. I imagine this measure will be entirely non-controversial and that all hon. members will be anxious to co-operate in what is really a saving to the taxpayers.

Topic:   ELECTION MATERIAL
Subtopic:   USE IN BY-ELECTIONS AND NORTHWEST TERRITORIES ELECTIONS
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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. E. D. Fulton (Kamloops):

Mr. Speaker, I can assure the minister that the chief electoral officer is not the only person to whom it has occurred that the consequences of the last election indicate that changes should be made. I think I can also assure the minister that with respect to the effect and purpose of the bill now before us there will certainly be general agreement that it is a measure designed to bring about economies

or to prevent unnecessary further expense, and to that extent it should be generally approved. But I think there are one or two considerations that are relevant and that should be put forward here.

The minister has referred to the suggestion made by the chief electoral officer that changes are generally suggested by committees reviewing the elections act and that he himself would suggest some changes. I think that suggestion immediately raises the question whether this committee should not be set up at this time. I would not go so far as [DOT] to suggest that this bill itself, which is after all quite simple in its scope and purpose, should be referred to that committee but rather that this proposal along with other proposals should be considered by a committee to review the elections act. In fact, the setting up of such a committee is recommended by the chief electoral officer in his report made to the minister on November 13 wherein he points out as follows:

After general elections held in the past a special committee of members of the House of Commons was set up to study the Canada Elections Act and to consider the several suggestions and representations made for amendments to the said act received from the public, candidates, and election officers. As several such suggestions have again been received, it is respectfully suggested that a similar committee be set up to consider the suggestions and representations made during and since the last general election . . .

It is our suggestion that that committee should be appointed immediately and that, if that were done, this bill along with other suggestions might be considered by that committee.

There are one or two things which occur to mind immediately in connection with the matter. One is that the whole question particularly of advance polls needs study and needs broadening.

Topic:   ELECTION MATERIAL
Subtopic:   USE IN BY-ELECTIONS AND NORTHWEST TERRITORIES ELECTIONS
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LIB

Louis-René Beaudoin (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Order. I think the hon.

member is getting away from the bill which is under discussion at the moment. I let him make his suggestion about the setting up of a committee but he should not at this time indicate to the house what he would like that committee to deal with. Let us consider these amendments. Then if a committee is set up later, on the motion to set it up hon. members may indicate what improvements can be made in the act or in our electoral system generally. At this time, however, I should like to remind hon. members that we have before us an amending bill. What is before the house is not the general act but merely an amending bill.

Topic:   ELECTION MATERIAL
Subtopic:   USE IN BY-ELECTIONS AND NORTHWEST TERRITORIES ELECTIONS
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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the point you have made. As I think was said

by my friend the hon. member for Esquimalt-Saanich (Mr. Pearkes), the manner in which you suggest to us that the rules should be observed is so pleasant and, if I might say so, so obviously to the point that I have no course but to admit that your instruction is sound. Therefore I will not at this stage attempt to indicate the reasons why I think the committee should be set up. Those reasons will occur to all hon. members, probably with different force to those on the other side of the house from that to which they will occur to those on this side. However, I think that the nature of the improvements will be in the minds of all hon. members.

That being the case, Mr. Speaker, I think probably there is nothing further that need be said at this time except to say again that, as a suggestion for economy, we hope the pattern set in this bill will be repeated in all the other legislation introduced at this session.

Mr. Stanley Knowles (Winnipeg North

Centre!: Mr. Speaker, the desirability of our agreeing to the passing of this bill is, I think, obvious and we have no desire to delay it at all. I find myself somewhat in the same position as that of the hon. member for Kamloops (Mr. Fulton). I do not wish to invite even a pleasant reprimand from Your Honour, and that means that some of the things I might have said will have to go unsaid at least for the present.

However, Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that you would permit me to comment on one or two things the Secretary of State (Mr. Pickersgill) has said and also to indicate our endorsation of the suggestion made by the hon. member for Kamloops. Perhaps I might just underline that endorsation first. We feel strongly that a committee on the elections act should be set up at the earliest possible time in this new parliament so the elections act might be reviewed while experiences arising out of the election are fresh in our minds as they are fresh in the mind of the chief electoral officer.

From what the Secretary of State said and from what the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) said some days ago in response to a question of mine on the orders of the day, I note that it seems to be the pattern around here to act, so far as changing the elections act is concerned, only when suggestions are received from the chief electoral officer himself. All those who know the present chief electoral officer, like those of us who knew his father and predecessor, have great confidence in the ability of this devoted and hard-working public servant. I think it is only fair to say, though, that this matter 83276-40

Election Material

should be a two-way street. Not only should consideration be given by the government to suggestions made by the chief electoral officer but suggestions should be presented by the government or, more properly, by parliament to the chief electoral officer for him to consider.

There are various ways to do that. Some time ago I took the liberty of writing him myself and making certain suggestions which I realize I cannot now make. I see that pleasant reprimand coming, Mr. Speaker, if I do. But that is not the only way. Perhaps a more appropriate manner for members of parliament to make suggestions along this line is for a committee of this house on the elections act to be established. I hope that such a committee will be set up at an early date so that we can go into matters the hon. member for Kamloops wanted to raise, matters that I should like to raise, matters which were proposed to the government the other day by the Trades and Labour Congress of Canada, and so on.

May I also point out, Mr. Speaker, that this bill now before us arises from the consideration the chief electoral officer has given to the various papers and documents which he has in hand. When the question arose as to whether or not the printed material in hand should be used or whether it should be reprinted, I would hope that some of those forms might have been reviewed and I hope they will yet be reviewed. I presume that the wording of the bill now before us includes a reference to the expense forms which must be filed by candidates or their agents. It seems to me that the nature of those forms and the amount of information they require, or the information they do not require, should be reviewed. Perhaps that is stretching a bit the ambit of the bill before us at the moment, but at least it is related to the question of the papers that are on hand.

We commend the Secretary of State for bringing in this measure to save a bit of money, as he has pointed out; but we think that the most important aspect of the electoral process is that it be on as sound and universal a basis as possible. We believe that all of us have suggestions that arise out of our experience, and that at the earliest possible date there should be an opportunity for those suggestions to be made through the medium of a committee of the house. We strongly support the suggestion that such a committee be set up at an early date.

Topic:   ELECTION MATERIAL
Subtopic:   USE IN BY-ELECTIONS AND NORTHWEST TERRITORIES ELECTIONS
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SC

Solon Earl Low

Social Credit

Mr. Solon E. Low (Peace River):

Mr. Speaker, we are satisfied with the reasons given by the Secretary of State (Mr. Pickersgill) for introducing this bill. We think that every saving that can be made for the benefit

Election Material

of the taxpayers and the Canadian people generally should be made. Consequently we support the second reading of the bill. We should also like to indicate that it does appear wise to us that a committee of the house should be set up to review the elections act and to recommend changes in keeping with our recent experiences.

Topic:   ELECTION MATERIAL
Subtopic:   USE IN BY-ELECTIONS AND NORTHWEST TERRITORIES ELECTIONS
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Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and the house went into committee thereon, Mr. Robinson (Simcoe East) in the chair. On section 1-Definitions.


PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

I wonder if the minister

would be kind enough to take advantage of the opportunity which is afforded to him on this clause to say a word on the question of the setting up of this committee, and when he thinks that might be proceeded with.

Topic:   ELECTION MATERIAL
Subtopic:   USE IN BY-ELECTIONS AND NORTHWEST TERRITORIES ELECTIONS
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December 4, 1953