May 12, 1908 (10th Parliament, 4th Session)

LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

Exactly. We are agreed upon that. Who then shall do this duty ? We did entrust it to the re-turing officer, but we would not do so now. On this point, for my part, after having conferred with my hon. friend the Minister of Justice and my colleagues, we are ready to accept the suggestion made by my hon. friend from Marquette (Mr. Roche) 'in his speech the other day. My hon. friend quoted the law passed by the legislature of Manitoba subsequently to the last election and then went on in this way :
I tell the Prime Minister that there would not .have been the slightest objection to the manner in which the last elections in Manitoba were conducted had the law been observed. I tell the Prime Minister candidly that if he wants to prevent a recurrence of the carelessness of transferring names, and if he wants to prevent the disfranchisement of electors by means of transferring where there is overlapping, the only thing he has to do is to adopt the provision of the provincial Act and employ a county court judge to do that dividing. That will get over every complaint that has been made and it wiil obviate the necessity of the thin red line. Let the county court judge do the transferring where there is overlapping, let him appoint each one of these separated places as a, separate polling division as the provincial Act enacts, let him do the dividing of the lists and there will not be a single complaint from Grit or Tory in the province of Manitoba.
The Act to which the bon. gentleman refers says :
In the event of territory comprised within or partly comprised within an electoral division being, changed and included in another electoral division, or other electoral divisions, whether newly created or not, a judge of one of the county courts divisions of the province to be nominated and appointed bv the Lieutenant Governor in Council, shall subdivide the names - appearing on- the list of electors, as so finally revised, according to the altered
boundaries or limits, and make a complete list of electors for the electoral divisions affected, as aforesaid, and appropriately divide the names of electors and allot the territory between suitable polling subdivisions as shall, in the opinion of such judge, be just and equitable.
I must say that the provision of this Act of the legislature of Manitoba seems to be fair. We are disposed to accept it. But we cannot do this except by legislation, and legislation of this parliament. And I say to my hon. friend (Mr. W. J. Roche) that, if this would be agreeable to Grit and Tory alike, for my part I am quite willing to take this means of giving satisfaction to Grit and Tory alike. But my bon. friend should have had some consistency in his speech. After making this offer, he has moved an amendment which practically defeats the object he has iu mind.

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