June 16, 1970

LIB

James Hugh Faulkner (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

The committee will now consider clause 5.

Subclause 1 agreed to.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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LIB

James Hugh Faulkner (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

Shall subclause 2 of clause 5 as revised carry?

On clause 5, subclause 2-Superannuation and compensation.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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LIB

Donald Stovel Macdonald (President of the Privy Council; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Macdonald (Rosedale):

Mr. Chairman, the changes to apply with respect to the Assistant Chief Electoral Officer are the same as apply to the Chief Electoral Officer himself, that is to say, with respect to changes in the public service benefits.

Subclause 2 agreed to.

Clause 5 agreed to.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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LIB

James Hugh Faulkner (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

The committee will now consider clause 6, subclauses 1 to 3 inclusive.

Subclauses 1 to 3 inclusive agreed to.

[DOT] (5:30 pun.)

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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LIB

James Hugh Faulkner (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

The committee will now consider clause 6, subclause 4 as amended.

On clause 6, subclause 4-Returning officers to act to enable elections to be held.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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LIB

Donald Stovel Macdonald (President of the Privy Council; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Macdonald (Rosedale):

Mr. Chairman, there has been a general revision of the criminal provisions in the bill and this will appear later. The revision really reflects the changes in so far as they pertain to the returning officers being able to act.

Subclause 4 agreed to.

On clause 6, subclause 5-Withdrawal of writ.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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NDP

Leslie Gordon Benjamin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Benjamin:

Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment to present, for the consideration of the committee, on clause 6, subclause 5, paragraph (c). I assume this subclause means that in the event of flood, riot or other disaster that would prevent the holding of an election within the electoral district, the Chief Electoral Officer may cause the writ of election in that electoral district to be withdrawn and a

June 16, 1970

new writ to be issued later. The provisions of paragraph (c) of subclause 5 now read:

a new writ ordering an election shall be issued within six months-*

I am sure that the Chief Electoral Officer, the President of the Privy Council and all members would agree that for a general election the decision should be made at the earliest possible date. Therefore, it seems to us that in this case six months is not necessary. I would therefore like to submit an amendment for the consideration of the committee. I hope and trust that the President of the Privy Council and other members will agree that the amendment is suitable for this purpose. I move:

That clause 6 be amended by deleting paragraph (c) from subclause 5 and substituting therefor the following:

"(c) a new writ ordering an election shall be issued within three months after publication of the notice of withdrawal of the writ in the Canada Gazette-, and that such writ be returnable within three months after issue; and"-

Then it goes on to the succeeding paragraph. The intention of this amendment is that when a writ had been withdrawn in an electoral district because of a disaster or emergency, the Chief Electoral Officer would cause a new writ to be ordered by the Governor in Council within three months, the writ to be returnable within three months after issue. In a general election the vacancy would be filled within six months, instead of taking six months to issue the writ and then whatever period was necessary after that to hold the election. I urge that this amendment be accepted because it seems more fitting and proper to conduct the election process in this manner, particularly in a general election when all electoral districts should be settled as early as possible.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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LIB

Donald Stovel Macdonald (President of the Privy Council; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Macdonald (Rosedale):

Mr. Chairman, the substance of the amendment would be acceptable, but in terms of the procedure I have one objection. The subclause provides that the election shall be conducted according to the procedures prescribed in this act for all elections. I would advise that at by-elections, writs are not returnable; therefore, the final line of the hon. member's amendment will appear not to be consistent with our procedure. I would suggest that we stand this particular subclause, consider any consequential effects it may have on the wording throughout the rest of the bill, and return to it after the dinner hour, if that is agreeable to the House.

Canada Elections Act

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

Subclause 5, paragraph (c) stands.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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NDP

Leslie Gordon Benjamin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Benjamin:

Mr. Chairman, I have another amendment to present for the consideration of the committee. It would have the effect of adding a new subclause to clause 6. Many of us have been concerned over the years about the length of time it has taken to fill vacancies in Parliament. In years gone by vacancies were filled in a manner which nowadays would be considered nothing more than political chicanery or political manoeuvring. I think members of all parties agree that the electors of any electoral district have the right to be represented in Parliament at the earliest possible date following a vacancy in the House. I believe that no party in Canada, in this modern age, desires delay when vacancies are to be filled. I appreciate that on the death of an hon. member a reasonable period should be observed, out of respect for the member, before a writ is issued. That would be natural and courteous.

Having said that, Mr. Chairman, I think delays in the recent past have been longer than necessary. I do not ascribe any motives to the government. In the case of the former hon. member for Nanaimo-Cowichan-The Islands, who died on July 10, 1968, subsequent to his election to the twenty-eighth Parliament, eight months passed before the vacancy was filled. In the case of the former hon. member for Selkirk, who resigned from this House and was successful in seeking opportunity elsewhere, 11 months passed before the vacancy was filled. At present a vacancy exists because a member of the Ralliement Creditiste resigned to sit in another chamber.

I urge upon the members of the committee an addition to this clause. I move:

That clause 6 be amended by adding thereto the following subclause:

"(6) Notwithstanding anything in this or any other act, where any vacancy happens in the House of Commons a writ ordering an election of a member of the House of Commons to fill such vacancy shall be issued within three months after the receipt by the Chief Electoral Officer of the warrant issued pursuant to the House of Commons Act, and that such writ be returnable within three months after issue."

I hope all members will favourably consider this amendment, Mr. Chairman. I know all of us would be interested in hearing the views of members from all parts of the chamber. I hope there is a general feeling that the day has long past when any government, of whatever party, would delay filling vacancies

June 18, 1970

Canada Elections Act

in an electoral district at the expense of Canadians who would not have representation as soon as they should.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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LIB

Donald Stovel Macdonald (President of the Privy Council; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Macdonald (Rosedale):

Mr. Speaker, the short-coming of the amendment is similar to the one already moved, in the sense that writs are only declared to be returnable in the case of a general election. More fundamental, perhaps, is the fact that the House of Commons Act regulates this particular situation and the membership of the House of Commons as it is constituted from time to time.

[DOT] (5:40 p.m.)

I would think that any amendment along those lines ought to be considered within the over-all context of that statute and not of this bill which seeks to amend the Canada Elections Act. Therefore, instead of making the change at this time we would be disposed to consider it in any future amendment to the House of Commons Act. Very likely, that measure will arise for consideration in the next session. We will, therefore, not make this change in the context of the bill now being discussed.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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NDP

David Orlikow

New Democratic Party

Mr. Orlikow:

Mr. Chairman, I am not enthusiastic about the suggestion of the President of the Privy Council. He has merely said it is likely that the Senate and House of Commons Act will be amended in the next session. In view of the number of times we have been told it is likely that legislation apropos the Canada Development Corporation will come before the House, we take the minister's suggestion with a great deal of skepticism.

I would be more disposed to listen to the President of the Privy Council if he advanced some real arguments showing why the amendment of the hon. member for Regina-Lake Centre is not now practical. Surely the minister does not want members of the House to think that the government needs freedom, for political reasons, not to call an election in any constituency for up to one year after a vacancy has occurred, and so leave that constituency unrepresented in this House. I have some experience of this situation. The former hon. member for Selkirk, who is now the Premier of Manitoba, asked me to look after certain matters relating to that constituency until the by-election could be held. I was happy to accommodate him, but I must admit that being a member who represents an

urban riding I found some difficulty in dealing with the difficulties raised by the farmers of the constituency of Selkirk.

The President of the Privy Council has not told us why any seat in this House should remain vacant for almost one year. The government may have political reasons; but I suggest to the minister that the democratic system being what it is, it is possible that the Liberal Party will not always form the government of Canada. There may come a time when it will be in opposition, and it will wish certain by-elections to be held even though the government of the day may not wish them to be held.

I suggest that we ought not to be playing politics in this kind of situation. We ought to enact rules saying that as soon as possible after a vacancy occurs, a by-election shall be held, no matter which party forms the government of the country. Therefore, if the minister has no political reasons for refusing the request of the hon. member for Regina-Lake Centre, I urge him to accept the proposal of the hon. member.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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LIB

Donald Stovel Macdonald (President of the Privy Council; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Macdonald (Rosedale):

Mr. Chairman, as I pointed out when replying to the hon. member for Regina-Lake Centre who introduced this question, my reason for neither accepting nor rejecting the proposal put forward is that I think it should be considered in the over-all context of the House of Commons Act and not on the spur of the moment or in the manner now suggested. I would agree with the hon. member that it is patently obvious that the ability to postpone the holding of a by-election has not in any sense been of advantage to this government. The hon. member could characterize my reasons as political, but probably the sensible thing would be to deal with the matter within the context of the over-all statute and not to agree to this particular change at this time.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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PC

Heath Nelson Macquarrie

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macquarrie:

Mr. Chairman, I think the hon. member for Regina-Lake Centre has brought forward a significant matter. This question has been dealt with in other jurisdictions. We seem to have developed a technique, if it is a technique, of prolonging vacancies. We have here a device whereby the executive arm of government is influencing improperly the composition of the legislative chamber. Other jurisdictions have, as a result of unfortunate experiences, found it expedient and wise to write into their laws provisions of the sort which the hon. member for Regina-Lake Centre has brought forward.

June 16, 1970

While the suggestion may have been brought forward on the spur of the moment, in the eyes of the minister, the spirit of the suggestion is not at all new. I think events in this Parliament have served to underline the iniquity of our system whereby the executive, through inertia or other causes, can delay by-elections and thus the completion of the people's representation in Parliament.

I think any self-respecting government would wish to move as quickly as the law allows so that the people's parliamentary representatives may be installed in the lawmaking chamber. So I support the amendment, which I think would improve-and it is improvement that we are after-the efficacy of our system of representative government.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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PC

J. Michael Forrestall

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Forreslall:

Mr. Chairman, may I join the mover of this amendment and my colleague the hon. member for Hillsborough in supporting this amendment. It seems that about every ten years we turn our attention in a substantive way to major changes to the Canada Elections Act. While I support the spirit of the Government House Leader's comments and think the matter ought to be looked at in the larger context, I hope the committee will not need to wait ten years for the consideration in that larger context to which he referred.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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LIB

James Hugh Faulkner (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

Is the committee ready for the question?

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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?

Some hon. Members:

Question.

Amendment (Mr. Benjamin) negatived: Yeas, 14; nays, 28.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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LIB

James Hugh Faulkner (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

I declare the amendment negatived. The committee will turn to clause 7. Shall subclause 1 of clause 7 as revised carry?

On clause 7, subclause 1-Appointment of returning officers.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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LIB

Donald Stovel Macdonald (President of the Privy Council; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Macdonald (Rosedale):

Mr. Chairman, may I draw to the attention of the committee a related clause. I refer to clause 114(2) on page 198 of the bill which provides:

The Chief Electoral Officer, the Assistant Chief Electoral Officer and every other election officer appointed under the former act who held office immediately prior to the coming into force of this act shall continue to hold office with like effect as though they had been so appointed under this act.

[DOT] (5:50 p.m.)

Under the previous Elections Act, the statute enacted in 1960, the positions of returning officers were declared vacant, for whatever use it was at that time. It is the considered

Canada Elections Act

opinion of the Chief Electoral Officer that, particularly in light of the change in the size of the electorate and the complications which would result from having to appoint 263 new returning officers, it would be desirable to keep in office those who have had experience. This preserves the positions of the returning officers.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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PC

James Aloysius McGrath

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McGrath:

What is the rate of pay for returning officers at the present time? I understand there is a retainer paid during years when there is no election, and a special rate during the time of an election. I also ask what procedures the Governor in Council follows when appointing people to fill vacancies in places where vacancies exist.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE AND REVISE
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June 16, 1970