Mr. F. S. Zaplitny (Dauphin):
Mr. Speaker, I rise to oppose the bill. I do so with a certain amount of reluctance because of the
fact that at least two of my colleagues have spoken in favour of it, but this is the kind of question upon which I am sure each member speaks his own mind and for himself and not for his party.
I cannot object too much to the first provision of the bill; in other words, the candidate who takes out a nomination paper and wishes to put on that paper something to indicate his political affiliation or interest perhaps should be permitted to do so. I think, Mr. Speaker, that that can be done right now without any amendment to the Canada Elections Act whatsoever because under the act at the present time there is provision for the candidate to place his name, his address and his occupation on the paper. If a person wishes to name his occupation as Social Credit there is absolutely nothing to prevent his doing so at the present time.
It is the second part of the bill to which I have more serious objection, and I do say that in all sincerity because I think it would create a very dangerous, if not a chaotic situation. I think the sponsor of this bill, if he thinks the thing through carefully, will probably see what I mean. It provides that in case the returning officer has any doubt as to the proper political affiliation:
The name of the political party or interest represented by a candidate shall be shown in the manner required by the written direction, if any, of the recognized leader of such party, which shall be filed with the returning officer before five o'clock in the afternoon of nomination day: Provided that where the recognized leader of the political party or Interest represented by a candidate does not file a written direction the name of that party shall be shown in the manner in which it appears on the nomination paper of the candidate.
In other words, the recognized leader of the party shall provide the proper designation of what is considered to be the official candidate. One serious objection to that has already been raised by the hon. member for Bonavista-Twillingate (Mr. Pickersgill) which I think is quite valid. That is, it would force the hand of the returning officer, and put him in the position of having to recognize a poltical party which perhaps today does not exist, or evists only in the minds of those who are interested in that particular movement. I think I can cite an example. The comumnist party of Canada no longer exists except in the minds of the communists. Their official designation now, as far as I can gather it, is Labour Progressive. They are not considered to be, or recognized to be, a major or even a minor political party in Canada. But every time someone attempted to run as a Labour Progressive candidate, or even as a communist candidate, he would have the right, under this legislation, to have the leader of his party
Canada Elections Act
recognized by the returning officer in his constituency. I think that is a sort of lefthanded way of doing something which the sponsor of the bill himself would not want to do.
Not only that, but the bill provides that the recognized leader of the party concerned shall do the designating. Now who is the recognized leader? I wish to point out to my Social Credit friends that up until three weeks ago in the province of Manitoba the Social Credit movement had three leaders and none of them was recognized by the Social Credit party. Who is going to be the recognized leader? Who is going to do the designating in that province?
They would find themselves in an impossible situation, where the returning officer would first of all have to be the person to decide what is a recognized party; and, second, who is the recognized leader of that party.
With all due respect to the sponsor who has good intentions I wish to point out that the returning officer in a constituency has enough to do, within the very limited time provided under the elections act to do all the things he is called upon to do, without having to decide who are the recognized parties in the country and who are the recognized leaders of the recognized parties. I would also like to say there are a good many returning officers who would not be qualified, in my opinion, to do that. They would not have the knowledge, nor do I think it is their responsibility to do that kind of recognizing.
Just in case the sponsor of this bill might think I am opposing it because I personally have reluctance to make known on my ballot, or on my nomination paper, what my affiliation is, I wish to tell him that is not the case. I am a member of the Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation and have been for well over 20 years now, and I have been a candidate under the sponsorship of that party on seven different occasions, and I have no intention of changing that affiliation. Therefore it is not a personal matter with me; but I do want to point out the weaknesses of the bill. My advice to the sponsor would be this- his intention I respect-the only step which I think could be properly taken in these circumstances is for him to withdraw his bill, think the matter through carefully, and present a different type of bill with which he may have greater success.
Subtopic: AMENDMENT RESPECTING PRINTING OF BALLOT PAPERS