April 10, 1962

PC

Henry Frank Jones (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Jones:

Two flags and two election dates.

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

The hon. member says "Two flags and two election dates". What we have had for the last three months is the spectacle of the Prime Minister of this country like a little girl among the flowers in a meadow in the summer picking the petals from a flower and saying "He loves me, he loves me not-shall we have an election, or shall we not?" For three months that performance has been going on all over Canada while the business of the country has been neglected.

I would draw the attention of the hon. member for Saskatoon to the fact that he provoked that irrelevant observation by his intervention.

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PC

Henry Frank Jones (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Jones:

I might tell the hon. member that he seems to have plenty of irrelevancies without my provoking them.

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

I suggest, then, that if the hon. gentleman is worried about the number of my irrelevancies he should not provoke more. However, that is an aside. I want to go on and deal with this measure. Either this legislation is going to take effect and become operative, in which case I have no criticism to put forward, though I maintain it is being brought forward too late to be done properly, or the time of this parliament is being taken up unnecessarily with something that should be left over to the next parliament because it is not in fact going to come into operation during the life of this parliament and we have been told that urgent matters are being held up by the opposition. This is not the first measure of a hypothetical

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Electoral Boundaries Commission nature that has been brought in; we had one last week which was hypothetical when it was introduced.

I say if there is urgent business-and I think there is; I think there is very urgent business that should be before us-it is not expedient, to employ the language of the motion, to be debating something that can have no effect upon the course of events for several years to come, because it is now too late in the life of this parliament for it to have any effect.

It may be that the reason this is being done is in an attempt to create an impression upon the public for another general election, I do not know; but before we decide the basic question as to whether it is expedient to have a bill we are entitled to be told what the government envisages will happen in connection with it. We are also entitled to be told why it is being brought in now at this particular time in this particular session.

I said last night I am sure that unless an attempt is made to put undue pressure on the commission to make it work in a hasty and slipshod fashion it will be impossible for the work of any commission of this kind to be brought to completion within two years from the date of the passing of the legislation. If in fact the legislation had been enacted even as late as last year, and if the organizational work had all been completed so that on the day the census returns became available the job of redrawing the boundaries could have begun the next day-

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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Prime Minister)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

The returns are not yet completed.

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

Yes, I know that. If I have time to do so I will shortly say something about that or perhaps later in the afternoon when I speak again.

In 1882 they were completed in time for the redistribution to be completed by parliament on May 17. In 1872. notwithstanding the nature of communications in this country at that time, they were able to complete the redistribution and have royal assent to the act on June 14.

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PC

William McLean Hamilton (Postmaster General)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hamilton (Notre Dame de Grace):

What about the population?

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

The population has grown, but so have the electronic devices for dealing with these matters promptly.

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PC

William McLean Hamilton (Postmaster General)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hamilton (Notre Dame de Grace):

The

population has also grown.

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that if the bureau of statistics had been told that the work of gathering the basic data required for the redistribution, which does not involve counting all the cattle

in the country or processing all the data about other things but only involves getting the population statistics and nothing else for each constituency, should be expedited; if it had been given priority, there is no reason on earth why this information should not have been ready on April 10. I am not charging that they were told to have a deliberate slowdown, but it would require quite a lot to convince me that they had been asked to expedite it. I do not believe they have.

I suppose because I have been around a long time and have taken a certain amount of interest in these things I was asked more than a year ago what I envisaged about this matter, whether I thought there would be a redistribution or not before the next election, whenever it was, and I said, "Well, you know, I am not one to predict or to try to read the right hon. gentleman's mind-"

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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Prime Minister)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

Has the hon. gentleman a crystal ball, too?

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

No, I have not. I think the right hon. gentleman's mind is something I ought not to try to read, and I do not try to read it; unlike many other people in the press gallery and elsewhere, whose reading of the right hon. gentleman's mind seems to be still pretty uninstructed, I simply do not try. I think it is too difficult. What I do say is that I did what I am sure every hon. member did. I made my own prediction. I am sure all hon. members did this, because we were all interested in whether our constituencies were going to be changed, and we were all interested in whether there would be a redistribution.

I said, "I know what will happen. It will be like everything else. It will be left to the last minute. At the last minute we will be told we must not have a conventional redistribution but that we must have a new kind, and then it will be too late; it will be mentioned in the speech from the throne in 1962."

I made this prediction over a year ago.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Prime Minister)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

Where did the hon.

gentleman make this revelation?

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

I could produce the witnesses. When the bill goes to the committee on privileges and elections, as all these bills always do, I shall be glad, if the Prime Minister is interested, to bring two or three witnesses to whom I made this statement. I do not think it would be very profitable to do so, and I am sure the right hon. gentleman does not doubt my word in this matter.

I made the prediction that it would be mentioned in the speech from the throne, that it would be at least three months or nearly three months after the speech from the throne was read before this urgent legislation was

ever introduced into parliament, that it would take some considerable time for it to pass, and that even if the election were not held until 1963 it would be easy to have sufficient delay so the redistribution could not be completed during the life of this parliament. I do not think that prediction will prove to have been wrong.

Of course there are circumstances in which an election would be justified after a census without a redistribution, if there were some critical situation, if the government lost the confidence of the house and wished to test the confidence of the country, if there were some great emergency of some kind and there was some doubt in the government's mind about whether or not it had the support of the country; but in times which we are told are tranquil, when we are told everything is going so well in the country, and when the government still has what appears to be a rather large majority, there seems to be no valid reason for the government not having taken every precaution in good time to ensure that this constitutional obligation would be carried out as the fathers of confederation intended it to be carried out. And that, sir, has not been done.

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PC

Paul Raymond Martineau (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

The Chairman:

Order. I regret to interrupt the hon. member, but his time has now expired.

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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Official Opposition House Leader; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

Carry on.

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

I shall have an opportunity to speak later.

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NDP

Douglas Mason Fisher

New Democratic Party

Mr. Fisher:

Mr. Chairman, I would agree to the hon. member for Bonavista-Twillingate carrying on, but I think he intends to do so later in any event.

Any pleasure we may have experienced at the introduction of this resolution is tempered by disappointment arising from its lateness and the realization that an injustice, although it may be an abstract one, is going to be done to a great many voters in Canada because the commission has not been made effective at an earlier date, and because we will not have a redistribution, apparently, before the election.

The remarks of the Prime Minister last evening were quite disappointing to me as one who for several sessions has introduced a measure that had the same intent as this, although as a private member I was limited in the extent to which I could spell out the intention. My disappointment stems from the very apparent fact that the Prime Minister has not fully thought out the kind of instruction that ought to be given to the electoral commission that draws up the boundaries and this, it seems to me, is one of the key

10. 1962

Electoral Boundaries Commission points. What is the use of making the general statement that representation by population is not to be the over-all principle, that some account must be taken of traditional boundaries and so on, without some indication as to the-

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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Prime Minister)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

I do not want to interrupt the hon. gentleman but that is the reason I suggested last night that it would be helpful to pass the resolution so that we could have the bill before us. I cannot go into detail, as the hon. member knows, but the bill has in it directions and guides for the commission. If we could hasten the passing of the resolution to the bill would be before the house, the fullest consideration could then be given to the bill. I do not wish to interrupt the hon. member except for the purpose of making that very clear.

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NDP

Douglas Mason Fisher

New Democratic Party

Mr. Fisher:

Mr. Chairman, I suppose I should have got in touch with Jackson of the Journal; maybe I could have found out something about the situation and what is planned. It does seem to me there is no point in going ahead with a commission unless full guiding lines are to be laid down as to how it is to operate in this regard. I will apologize to the Prime Minister if it is later revealed that I have done him an injustice, but I thought he was very indefinite on that particular score.

There is another point he did not touch on at all that I thought he would almost be forced to deal with. The fact is that at least in the province of Quebec there is a very strong body of opinion that has had its voice in this house during this parliament and also found a voice in the Tremblay report several years ago. That body of opinion has indicated that the whole question of representation in the federal parliament by its very nature, as intended by the fathers of confederation, was meant to be on the basis of provincial representatives within the federal chamber rather than national representatives from particular areas of Canada.

I disagree with this point of view, but it has immense consequences if it is going to be accepted. Though it is a delicate matter, it seems to me it is one that needs to be faced because in my view the Canadian parliament at any time has to be completely in charge of the whole conception. I would point out to the Prime Minister and to other hon. members that because of the Senate floor that now keeps Prince Edward Island at four seats, New Brunswick at ten, Newfoundland at seven and will probably keep Nova Scotia at ten for the next one or two redistributions, these provinces are now guaranteed a representation which it seems to me lends some support or even some sovereignty to the idea

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Electoral Boundaries Commission that the provinces in themselves, that is as organizations of their own, have a right to a certain measure of representation at all times.

This point is an important one to me in view of the information that the Prime Minister brought out. He dealt with the projection as to what would be the effect on the house of an increase in the membership to 293, and he showed very effectively, as I had demonstrated to me a couple of years ago by the chief electoral officer, that this really would not do much good for Saskatchewan, which in the short run tends to be the province that is going to lose the most so far as the number of seats is concerned. But I wonder how much longer we can go on carving down provinces such as Saskatchewan and Manitoba while leaving the maritime provinces protected by the Senate floor, when in the name of equity and having regard to population figures it is quite apparent that Saskatchewan and Manitoba in relation to the maritime provinces are being cut down below their respective weights in the chamber.

This is an extremely touchy and delicate point, and in considering the question of adding more seats I wonder whether a more pragmatic approach has not been considered by the Prime Minister or by his adviser, who I assume was the chief electoral officer in this case. That approach would be to freeze at this stage, in 1962, the present representation in the House of Commons. Why should Saskatchewan and Manitoba suffer because of the fact that constitutionally they have not been protected in the same way the maritime provinces have? If you were to work from the basis of freezing the membership at a minimum as at the present time and then making adjustments upward in those parts of the country where the population is moving up, it would at least remove the factor of the Senate floor, and limit the disadvantage to those provinces that are going to suffer at the present time. Since the Prime Minister comes from Saskatchewan I would have thought that he would be interested in that kind of approach.

With regard to his comments about the chamber, the number of members in it and the need for more intimacy, if he really feels as strongly about this matter as he has indicated on several occasions I think he should plan to proceed with it in the next parliament. I have said in the past that I am no great respecter of the British House of Commons in terms of what it accomplishes. I suppose I have watched it in session as much as most Canadian members of parliament, and I think the reasons for the different calibre of the debates there stem from factors other than the make-up of the actual chamber or the lack of desks. I should like to make one

point here. I do not think the attendance of the members of the British House of Commons, compared with the attendance of members in the Canadian House of Commons, is quite as good when it is considered that they are so much handier to Westminster than we are to Ottawa. There are hardly any British members of parliament who have to come from a great distance away, as many of our members do, and who are in London for such long periods of time as many of our members are stuck in Ottawa, if one may put it that way. So far as this house is concerned, I am thinking particularly of the western and eastern members who in my view have always tended to carry the burden of attendance in this chamber so much of the time.

I should like to move on to another point in relation to redistribution. I do not know what is in store with regard to who will be on the commission, but as the Prime Minister is a lawyer I have anticipated that it may be heavily weighted with judges, and if more than one judge pops up on this commission I will be quite disappointed. The hon. member for Bonavista-Twillingate made the point that the members of the commission should be named in the bill. I agree with him, and I think one of the people named should be a demographer. I think all members know that a demographer is a special kind of geographer who is trained in population studies and who has rather expert knowledge, as most of them I have encountered have, of trends, shifts and changes in population. Canada happens to be fairly well supplied with such people, and I think it would not be very difficult to find one distinguished professionally to take part in the work of this commission.

An indication was given that the chief electoral officer would probably be a member of the commission. I have tried to look at this both from the point of view of the office and the present incumbent, and I cannot particularly quarrel with the idea. From my experience with the present chief electoral officer it always seems to me that he is the most articulate man in Canada. I can only think of one person who approaches him, and that is Professor Cohen of McGill University.

The difficulty that I and other people, I suppose, have always found with regard to the chief electoral officer is that most of the arguments that we may put before him tend to founder on the very knowledge and brilliance that he brings to his job. One point about the chief electoral officer which the Prime Minister did not touch on and which is germane to the position I want to advance is that in his expressed opinions about redistribution I have found in him a tendency to fairness and a knowledge that

I think are unique. But I have never been able to make any headway, I will acknowledge frankly, in the recognition of the problems of rural ridings and the old distinction between urban and rural constituencies. In this sense the chief electoral officer tends to be what I might call a traditionalist. If there is any formula developed, I am sure he would be interested in an urban-rural formula or ratio.

I insist that this is not sophisticated enough, not practical enough, in the Canadian situation. I think I can show it to a degree, not *only by reference to my own constituency but to several others. I have insisted for several years that we have four kinds of constituencies in Canada. I think I might label them as urban, suburban, rural and frontier or hinterland. Naturally, since Port Arthur is a hinterland constituency, it interests me the most. There are a number of others like this, and I should like to put on the record the ten largest constituencies in Canada with their present populations. They are Mackenzie River with 527,490 square miles and a population of 14,895; Saguenay with an area of 374,950 square miles and a population of 81,097; Yukon with 207,076 square miles and a population of only 14,628; Churchill with 170,827 square miles of area and a population of 54,952; Port Arthur, with an area of 148,482 square miles and a population of 87,977. This is the largest in terms of population for these very large constituencies. Then constituency No. 6 is Grand Falls-White Bay-Labrador, with an area of 125,710 square miles and a population of 82,433. In my view this is probably the most difficult constituency in Canada. Then there is Skeena with an area of 125,641 square miles and a population of 58,740; Cariboo with an area of 120,544 square miles and a population of 82,173; Meadow Lake, with an area of 96,327 square miles and a population of 37,937; Chapleau, with an area of 83,640 square miles and a population of 71,394.

Now I should like to draw to the attention of hon. members that of those ten largest constituencies in area, perhaps those which have shown rather exceptional growth are Saguenay, because of mineral developments there, Port Arthur, Grand Falls-White Bay-Labrador, again because of mineral developments. Then Cariboo has grown amazingly in the last ten years, and the Peace River constituency has shown considerable growth. I add that one, and it is No. 11 in size.

The traditionalists argue that rural areas- it seems to me the Prime Minister was being a traditionalist last night-deserve what is in effect better representation. Well, we have so many anomalies. What is the difference

Electoral Boundaries Commission between Port Arthur and Fort William in terms of background? Yet a voter in Fort William has just about twice as much effect as a voter in Port Arthur in terms of the relationship to population. We have a situation where my hon. friend from Timmins is right in the centre of a group of huge constituencies. I kid him about it and say he has a little pocket borough that he can drive around in an hour. It is very small and has a population of about 25,000. Then we have an example of a big suburban constituency such as the one the hon. member for York-Scar-borough represents. I think we all know something about the problems he has, and these problems are shared by the hon. member for York Centre and the hon. member for York West. There is the problem of tremendous boom development and an inordinate number of people to look after.

Then we look at the other constituencies in Ontario such as Dufferin-Simcoe and Grey-Bruce, which have a population much below the median. Then we run into this argument that they are rural constituencies. I wanted to put on the record the most compact review of this particular point that I have encountered. It is an article written by J. B. McGeachy on redistribution which appeared in the Financial Post of August 20, 1960. The article outlines the arguments advanced in favour of these rural constituencies. The arguments advanced are as follows:

1. The farming or food producing interest has a special value to the community and deserves special protection in parliament.

2. The farmers are lusty yeomen, the salt of the earth, splendid fellows, etc., and heaven forbid this superior racial breed should be permitted to die out.

This is the argument I believe Mr. Frost has used in the past.

3. The farmer is less alert and vigorous mentally, less well educated than the city man, more likely to be taken in, hornswoggled and otherwise put upon. He needs some protection against his natural dumbness.

4. The city man has the press, boards of trade, chambers of commerce and other agencies to speak for him directly to government. The farmer has none of these.

Then Mr. McGeachy has put in brackets:

(Though the farm associations seem to do very well when it comes to extracting subsidies).

5. Many rural ridings are represented by city men whereas the reverse almost never happens. Thus the Toronto area, e.g., really has more m.p.'s than the 17 elected in the greater Toronto seats.

6. There must be a limit to the size of rural constituencies. A city man who represents only ten square miles can walk around it in a day but a rural m.p. may speak for the inhabitants of thousands of square miles.

But this surely means nothing at all in the motor car age-except, of course, in a few vast

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Electoral Boundaries Commission

north country areas like Saguenay, Port Arthur, etc., which can't be helped by redistribution anyway.

I assure the reader that I have not invented any of these arguments for making urban ridings more populous than rural ones. I have found them all in the writings of distinguished students of the subject; and, on balance, I think very little of them indeed.

I tend to find very little in them, indeed, myself. I believe that the overriding principle in representation should be representation by population. I should like to point to the example of Saskatchewan. I say this despite the criticism suggested by the Prime Minister last night. I think the province of Saskatchewan is the most fairly proportioned of all the provinces at the present time in terms of the median of population and some kind of median in terms of the size of the constituency. I know that both Saskatoon and Regina are out of line, and I feel they should be reduced in population terms by adding either to the adjoining constituencies or by creating other constituencies. It seems to me that in Saskatchewan, and to a lesser degree in Manitoba, we come closer to representation by population than in any of the other provinces. It seems to me that this is the goal we should really put forward as the first, overriding principle, to our electoral boundary commission.

The last thing I really wanted to touch upon stemming from the Prime Minister's remarks was his suggestion that county lines, and I would assume municipal lines, are to be considered to a certain extent by the electoral commission. This is a traditional argument, for example, that has held sway for a very long time in the province of Quebec and to a degree in rural Ontario. The argument is that it would be wrong to break up these traditional ridings and constituencies. People worry a great deal about traditional boundaries of municipalities and townships and, as the Prime Minister indicated, they even worry about the courses taken by rivers.

However, as I look at the situation faced by the hon. member for Mackenzie, the hon. member for Yukon, the hon. member for Grand Falls-White Bay-Labrador and myself,

I cannot help laughing at this. The hon. member for Grand Falls-White Bay-Labrador has a part of Newfoundland and a chunk of Labrador in his electoral area. I received word in a sessional paper yesterday that I have some 1,400 Indians in my constituency at a place called Trout lake, which I have never seen. To get there I would have to go 200 miles to Sioux Lookout, and there charter an airplane to make another flight of 280 miles in order to locate them. Is it any wonder that when I look at problems like

those which hon. members for these big Ontario ridings face, I cannot help but chuckle ironically at the fuss made over old lines in the redistribution of urban constituencies, particularly in Ontario and Quebec.

I see that the hon. member for York-Scar-borough is giving me an unsolicited accompaniment-

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April 10, 1962