June 24, 1938 (18th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Angus MacInnis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)


When I was interrupted before recess I was about to say a few words in connection with paragraph (k) of subsection 2. This paragraph provides that if the electoral act of any province disqualifies for voting purposes a person who is receiving aid from the government, the same provision shall apply under this. bill. When the hon. member for Battle River was speaking to this point

he expressed the view that this was the thin end of the wedge, and that later on it might be applied to unemployed persons. I do not believe that is so; I do not think the committee had that in mind at all. As a matter of fact, this is a survival of the days before we had universal suffrage, when suffrage was based on property qualifications, and it was designed to prevent paupers from having the franchise. However, I am opposed to the principle. To-day we have universal suffrage, which is not refused to such people as those who receive old age pensions, judges who have retired and are in receipt of pensions, and so on. Such people are allowed to vote, even though they are living on the bounty of the state. I do not see why the provision in paragraph (k) should apply to old or destitute people just because they happen to live in certain institutions. I remember that some years ago, when I had something to do with municipal affairs in Vancouver, old people in receipt of old age pensions would assign such pensions to the city and would be taken into the old folks home as a result. If this law applies, a person who has done that will be prevented from voting, while on the other hand a person in receipt of an old age pension and not living in an institution would have a vote. I think this is a provision which should be removed from the measure, because I do not think it serves any useful purpose to-day. Probably we have disregarded the principle and idea which first brought it into being. So I would ask the minister to give consideration to the desirability of deleting this paragraph altogether.

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