The minister will hear a good many times about the incompetency with which the affairs of his department are being conducted. He told us to-night that there was a column for Canadians and in that column are counted those who may have been born in Great Britain and Ireland, and presumably natives of Sweden or any foreign country who have taken the oath of allegiance will be included. A more absurd systejn of taking the census could not be devised. Canadians ought to be assumed to be Canadians born. My hon. friend from Victoria, B.C. (Mr. Prior), was, I presume, born in England, and when he puts his name down as being of English birth, he cannot claim to be a native Canadian as well. He cannot be born in Canada and in Great Britain. The thing is absurd. The minister told us to-night that he had not heard of this circular to which attention has been called until this morning. I will read a report of the debate which occurred in the Ontario legislature on Thursday last, four days ago. It says :
Mr. Whitney sprang a surprise by producing a copy of a circular which has been sent out in thousands to census enumerators all over the province, directing them to fill out certain forms stating the politics and religion of every male over sixteen in their ridings, and forward this record to the Liberal member or defeated candidate in the riding. This information, it was proposed to use, said Mr. Whitney, in the coming Ontario and the next Dominion general elections.
Mr. Whitney pointed out that as census enumerators were sworn to secrecy, this was a direct inducement, almost a command, to them to perjure themselves. The moment they complied with the request they would be guilty of perjury.
Here is a matter affecting the department of the minister (Hon. Mr. Fisher) in reference to which every paper in Canada was ringing about on Friday morning; a thing that every person in Canada except the Minister of Agriculture knew all about, and he was oblivious and ignorant of the whole thing until this Monday morning. Of course we have to accept his statement, but it simply means that the minister (Hon. Mr. Fisher) knows nothing about matters which vitally affect his department. A few days and the census will be over and yet this Minister of Agriculture seems to put himself some place where no information can reach him.
Subtopic: THOMAS COTE,