June 3, 1961

CCF

Frank Howard

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

Mr. Frank Howard (Skeena):

I should like to ask the Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources if he has yet received a reply from Mr. Finlayson, president of the Canadian Marconi Company to the letter sent by the minister regarding the so-called nonfraternization clause in the contracts of employees of the company and, if so, whether he would be prepared to table it.

Topic:   NORTHERN AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   CANADIAN MARCONI COMPANY
Sub-subtopic:   LETTER RESPECT- ING NON-FRATERNIZATION
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PC

Walter Gilbert Dinsdale (Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. W. G. Dinsdale (Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources):

I have as yet received no reply.

Topic:   NORTHERN AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   CANADIAN MARCONI COMPANY
Sub-subtopic:   LETTER RESPECT- ING NON-FRATERNIZATION
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PUBLICATIONS

INQUIRY AS TO REPORT OF ROYAL COMMISSION


On the orders of the day:


LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Hon. J. W. Pickersgill (Bonavista-Twil-lingate):

May I ask the Prime Minister whether he has yet received the report of the O'Leary commission and, if so, whether he expects to meet the deadline set for its publication, which I believe is June 5.

Topic:   PUBLICATIONS
Subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO REPORT OF ROYAL COMMISSION
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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Prime Minister)

Progressive Conservative

Right Hon. J. G. Diefenbaker (Prime Minister):

I do not expect it will be possible to meet that deadline. I think there will be a delay of several days before the report can be tabled.

Topic:   PUBLICATIONS
Subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO REPORT OF ROYAL COMMISSION
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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

Has the report been received?

Topic:   PUBLICATIONS
Subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO REPORT OF ROYAL COMMISSION
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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Prime Minister)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

I think that question was asked by the hon. gentleman's leader several days ago.

Topic:   PUBLICATIONS
Subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO REPORT OF ROYAL COMMISSION
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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

I was not here.

Supply-Secretary of State NATIONAL DEFENCE

Topic:   PUBLICATIONS
Subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO REPORT OF ROYAL COMMISSION
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STATEMENT ON CLOSING OF U.S. RADAR STATIONS IN CANADA


On the orders of the day:


PC

Joseph Pierre Albert Sévigny (Associate Minister of National Defence)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Pierre Sevigny (Associate Minister of National Defence):

Mr. Speaker, in reply to questions asked by the hon. member for Grand Falls-White Bay-Labrador and Bona-vista-Twillingate yesterday, I should like to comment as follows.

In view of the fact that the distant early warning system for the defence of North America against attack from the air will be improved by the extension of the D.E.W. line across the north Atlantic all the way to England via Greenland, it has been found that three radar stations located at Baffin island, Resolution island and Redcliffe, Newfoundland, as well as six gap fillers, do not fill the role for which they were designed, and do not justify the high cost of operation involved in maintaining the stations. Consequently these three radar sites, as well as the six gap filler sites, will be closed.

The improvement to the early warning capabilities of the D.E.W. line is such that the limited additional coverage provided by the three prime radars and the six gap fillers, all manned and operated by the United States, does not warrant the high cost of operation. The discontinuance of these radar installations will have no effect on the work load of any other radars which will remain in the system.

Topic:   STATEMENT ON CLOSING OF U.S. RADAR STATIONS IN CANADA
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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Hon. J. W. Pickersgill (Bonavisla-Twillin-gate):

Mr. Speaker, I wonder whether the minister could reply to the question I asked in regard to Sydney.

Topic:   STATEMENT ON CLOSING OF U.S. RADAR STATIONS IN CANADA
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PC

Joseph Pierre Albert Sévigny (Associate Minister of National Defence)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Sevigny:

Mr. Speaker, I regret that I have not that answer as yet.

Topic:   STATEMENT ON CLOSING OF U.S. RADAR STATIONS IN CANADA
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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

I wonder whether I could ask the minister if he would indicate whether there is any contemplated extension in the activities at the Point Edward naval base in Cape Breton?

The house in committee of supply, Mr. Chown in the chair.

DEPARTMENT OF THE SECRETARY OF STATE Office of the chief electoral officer-

46. Salaries and expenses of office, $83,685.

Topic:   STATEMENT ON CLOSING OF U.S. RADAR STATIONS IN CANADA
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CCF

Frank Howard

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

Mr. Howard:

Mr. Chairman, before this item carries, while it is perhaps not always necessary to go extensively into the consideration of the elections act and its administration because that subject matter is reviewed by the standing committee on privileges and

5806 HOUSE OF

Supply-Secretary of State elections, I should like to place on the record, as has been done during past sessions in this committee, as well as in the standing committee on privileges and elections, a question regarding absentee voting.

I should like to draw a distinction here between absentee voting and advance polling, because in some quarters the difference is misunderstood. The procedure of absentee voting is designed to allow an elector to cast his vote on election day in a polling division other than the one in which he is registered. This procedure is provided for under the provincial elections act of British Columbia, and allows electors whose names appear on the voters' list to vote in any polling division in the province, including the polling division in which the electors are registered, regardless of whether the same or a different constituency is involved.

This is a right which I, and I am sure many others, would like to see included in the Canada Elections Act. I realize this is not just a simple matter of saying, "Let us include it in the federal absentee voting arrangements", because there are other complications which flow from the idea itself, one of which is the question of cost to the taxpayer of instituting such an arrangement. Perhaps this is not the session when we can deal with amendments to the Canada Elections Act, but at some time in the future-

Topic:   STATEMENT ON CLOSING OF U.S. RADAR STATIONS IN CANADA
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PC

Gordon Campbell Chown

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Chairman (Mr. Chown):

Order. There is a noticeable and continuous current of conversation competing with the hon. member who has the floor, which I am sure is making it difficult for the Hansard reporter to hear and report the speech of the hon. gentleman. Therefore I would ask hon. members to quieten down, if they would, and oblige both me and the hon. member who has the floor.

Topic:   STATEMENT ON CLOSING OF U.S. RADAR STATIONS IN CANADA
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CCF

Frank Howard

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

Mr. Howard:

That is very kind of you, Mr. Chairman. I express my thanks, and I am sure the Hansard reporter also expresses his thanks.

One of the principles we should keep in mind is that an individual should not be denied the right to vote in an election because of the fact that he happens to have a vocation, or because of some other circumstance, which causes him to be away from his home polling division on election day. This is what happens to many workers of the country who are employed in industries which are perhaps seasonal, such as the heavy industries of mining, logging, construction work, and so forth. This applies also to the activities of salesmen and lawyers who have occasion to be away from their homes from time to time attending courts and so forth. I mention this only as indicative of a group of people

who for one reason or another beyond their control are ofttimes absent on election day from the polling division in which they are registered and are thereby denied the opportunity of casting a ballot.

There is some saving feature now, in that the Canada Elections Act was amended at the last session to expand the class of people who may vote at advance polls before election day. The group was expanded from three classes to include everyone who is an elector, but it confined the advance polling to two days. This does not meet entirely the difficulties encountered by many people in the country.

As I said, one of the reasons advanced in opposition to this particular proposal is the cost of instituting a foolproof system of registration of electors which will guarantee that some of the dishonesty and skulduggery which takes place in elections in some parts of Canada will be eliminated as far as possible, thereby assuring that such dishonesty will not become rampant throughout the country and people will not be elected by crookedness at the polls rather than by the honest votes of the electors themselves.

I think these safeguards, of course, must be placed in the act, just as there are many safeguards in the act now to ensure that elections are conducted with honesty and that this is the prevailing factor during the campaign and in the preparation of the electoral lists. I think if we approached the problem from this point of view of not denying the elector the right to vote when he is absent for reasons beyond his control, we would be adopting the correct attitude.

In years past there has been some demand that electors be permitted to vote at the advance poll in order to take care of this problem of absentee voting. I believe there is still some demand for this. I think at the next general election and subsequent elections, depending upon the time of year at which these elections are held, many people will find that the advance poll system will not afford them the opportunity of casting their ballots on election day as they thought might be the case. I am sure that in the years following elections, when people find they are denied the right to vote by reason of being away from their poll on election day, some pressure will be brought to institute a system of absentee voting. Perhaps the system could be similar to that which exists in British Columbia. I do not say this is a foolproof or guaranteed system, but it is a system of absentee voting, and I am talking in terms of something similar to that or similar to the systems they have in Saskatchewan and the United Kingdom.

I should like to see the day come very quickly when members of parliament will think in terms of the right of the individual to vote as the paramount principle that should be considered, and when members of parliament will be willing to find the necessary extra money to institute a system of absentee voting containing the necessary safeguards against abuses. This will ensure every voter in Canada the opportunity to cast a ballot. He will not be denied the right to vote, as many are now, by virtue of his occupation or other circumstances beyond his control.

Since the Secretary of State has been in office only a short period of time, perhaps I could say publicly now what I have said to him privately, that I extend to him my congratulations upon his elevation to the cabinet.

I wish him success in this particular post as long as he stays there. I do not mean to imply that he is going to be fired or anything like that, but elections do come along from time to time and the mortality amongst elected representatives is somewhat high. Despite the fact that the minister has been in office only a short time, I should like to have from him some indication as to the government's attitude toward this suggestion and perhaps some estimate of the cost, in order that we might ascertain whether or not such a system may be brought into effect in the near future.

Topic:   STATEMENT ON CLOSING OF U.S. RADAR STATIONS IN CANADA
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CCF

Douglas Mason Fisher

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

Mr. Fisher:

Yesterday, Mr. Chairman, you ruled out of order any discussion on redistribution, and particularly any interpretation of the forthcoming redistribution that will follow the census. I am not going to try to abuse that ruling, but I should like to ask the minister if he will check with his chief electoral officer and tell us how long it took for the chief electoral office to carry out the changes in terms of constituency maps, instructions to returning officers and all that sort of thing, following upon the last redistribution. It seems to me, Mr. Chairman, that would be in order. I want to get some idea of the time involved.

Topic:   STATEMENT ON CLOSING OF U.S. RADAR STATIONS IN CANADA
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June 3, 1961