Mr. ROBERT GARDINER (Acadia):
Mr. Chairman, I was very much interested indeed in the explanation which the Minister of Justice gave of the proposed legislation which is to be founded o>n this resolution. It would appear to me that there are two important
points which this house must keep in mind when considering any changes in the franchise act or in the electoral machinery which we may devise for the purpose of expediting elections.
First, we must safeguard the franchise of the electors. That in my judgment is the most important function of this house, and irrespective of the manner in which the lists may be prepared this house must see to it at all times that the name of every elector who is entitled to vote must be placed on the list if he so desires. Any legislation that falls short of that will in my judgment be a retrograde step and detrimental not only to the standing of the members of this house but to the country as a whole.
So far as the other point is concerned, namely, the reduction of the time that is necessary between the issuing of the writs and the day of the election, I believe that that is all to the good. My judgment is that elections in this country in the past have been carried on over too long a period of time, and if we can reduce the time necessary to give the electorate an opportunity of weighing all the circumstances and the proposals of the various parties who may be appealing to them, if the campaign can be confined to the time suggested by the Minister of Justice, about four weeks, that again would be a step in the right direction that I believe would be beneficial to all.
The only other point with which I wish to deal at the present time is this conference that took place between the government representatives and the official opposition. It seems to me, Mr. Chairman, that there is a decided move on the part of the two major parties at the present time to ignore third and fourth and even more parties in the field at the present time, and not only to ignore them but to organize against them. In so far as the remarks of the leader of the opposition are concerned, he even went so far as to discuss the possibility of an understanding between the two major parties. In so far as the group in this corner of the house is concerned we wish to register our strong protest against any such proceedings because we recognize the fact that not only in Canada but the world over, because of the difference of opinion with regard to economic conditions, there is a growing tendency for more and more groups and more and more parties to come into the field. This house must recognize that fact, and give those parties and those groups the same standing and the same consideration that they expect to receive themselves.
Subtopic: ELECTORAL FRANCHISE-APPOINTMENT OF FRANCHISE COMMISSIONER-PRINTING OF VOTERS' LISTS