June 13, 1934 (17th Parliament, 5th Session)

LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Yes, that is the only possible change in regard to the franchise, and it is a matter which may easily be considered when we have the clause before us. If we leave that matter out of account, and it is understood that so far as the franchise is concerned the new measure will be in all particulars the same as the present act, that will be entirely satisfactory.
The one further matter for consideration or perhaps I should say the one real matter for consideration is the preparation of the lists and the changes which may be consequent thereon. As to the objective, namely the obtaining of a closed list which will be available at any moment for the purposes either of a general election or a by-election, I would say that personally I agree with the Minister of Justice when he states that a closed list is preferable to the kind of lists we have had heretofore, provided that its preparation can be made in a manner which will be obviously fair to all concerned. I believe that such will be the general concensus of view of hon. members in this chamber. After all, the elections are part of the machinery of governments, as such, necessary liabilities arising therefrom should be made as largely as possible a public obligation. I believe it is only reasonable and right that so far as possible the expense placed upon those who are nominated candidates should be made as light as possible, and that other onerous features of a general election, so far as the candidate is concerned, should be lightened as much as possible. I believe they can be lightened very considerably. All hon. members in this house know that in the conduct of elections, with matters as they now stand, to a great extent the burden of the preparation of -lists and expenses incidental thereto falls upon the candidate. It is a cumbersome and costly duty, and prevents that amount of attention being given to public issues by candidates which should be given since it necessitates their giving attention to a great deal of the details of organization which, if it can be made such, should be a public liability since it is a matter of public concern. In this regard I believe the present act might be considerably improved.
Franchise Act

The Minister of Justice has referred to the preparation of electoral lists in geographical form, and the suggestion has been made that they might also be made out alphabetically. He has intimated, however, that by this considerable additional expense would be entailed. May I say to him that, when one considers the public necessity of having an election conducted as much aboveboard and with as little confusion as possible, the expense is relatively trifling. If the preparation of alphabetical lists as well as geographical lists would help to enable candidates and electors the more readily to ascertain whether or not names are on the lists, and whether or not lists have been properly prepared, I believe there is every reason why there should be both lists. That is a matter, however, upon which I imagine there will not be much difficulty in reaching an agreement.
May I say the justice of a measure of this kind will depend on two things, first the manner in which the lists themselves are originally prepared, and second, whether in relation to the time that a general election is to be held, the preparation is made in such a way as to avoid possible pressure and confusion resulting from the preparation of the lists at the time the election itself is being held. I can see where, if the act were so to be administered that the preparation of the basic list would be taking place at the time that candidates were being placed in the field, and being nominated in a general election which had already been proclaimed, an impossible situation might be developed, so far as confusion and the possibility of mistakes and unfair dealings are concerned. If, however, the basic list, the first list of all, is prepared in advance of the time of the proclamation of an election, and the work completed in its entirety so that an election may be brought on a short time thereafter, it should be all to the good. I think there is everything to be said for having lists completed in a satisfactory way before an election is announced, thereby reducing to as short a period as will best serve the public interest the time necessary for the election itself. I believe that the bill in these particulars can be made acceptable.
The Minister of Justice has referred to the ;act that in the preparation of the lists under ;he measure to be introduced, the government proposes to have but one set of enumerators, or rather that the revising officers who will be appointed by the franchise commissioner, who will be an appointee either by joint agreement or by the government-

Topic:   DOMINION FRANCHISE ACT
Subtopic:   ELECTORAL FRANCHISE-APPOINTMENT OF FRANCHISE COMMISSIONER-PRINTING OF VOTERS' LISTS
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