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

LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LATJRIER.

Very well. Here is section 61 :
In order to give full and due effect to the powers of the hoard, the said board may provide for any proceeding, matter or thing for which express provision has not been herein made, or for which only partial provision has been made; or, where it shall be found that the time allowed to do any act is insufficient and an alteration or extension of such time, and any alteration of dates consequent thereon, shall appear to be necessary, the board may declare that such alteration may be made, and thereupon the same shall be made and take effect accordingly.
This is the power of the board. As I understand it is to extend tbe time and to

do anything else they think proper to-carry on their work.
Section 42 contains this also t
In case, by reason of interruptions or other emergency a sitting of the registration clerk is not commenced on the proper day, or is interrupted after being commenced and before the closing thereof, the registration clerk shall resume the registration on the following day and so on from day to day within the hours hereinbefore limited, until the registration sittings have been opened and kept open without interruption, and with free access to persons desiring to be registered, for the full number of days provided in the proclamation to bo issued under the provisions of this Act. The times limited for the registration of electors shall be directory only, and any mistake o" miscarriage in respect thereto shall not invalidate the list of electors of any electoral division.
This seems to be perfectly fair. I have nothing to say against it. On the contrary I would altogether commend it. It provides that if the registration clerk, within the time allotted to him by the proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor, has not sufficient time to hear all the applications or to erase names or to do all the work he is commanded to do, he can extend the time.
I would call the attention of my hon. friend who has interrupted me to section 65, subsection 11 :
The revising officer shall also receive and deal with the applications of all persons to be registered as electors who shall be present at the time fixed for the closing of the court of revision, notwithstanding that the time so fixed shall have elapsed.
*Section 42 relates to the duties of the registration clerks ; section 65 relates to the duties of the revising officer. There is a marked difference between the two. I do not know whether it is intentional or accidental, I suppose perhaps it is only accidental, but if it is accidental it has worked serious mischief to some people. Whereas the registration clerk can according to section 42 extend the time not only to receive applications, but to erase names and correct the list in every particular, section 65, subsection 11, gives power to the revising officer to extend the time for receiving applications, but not for the erasing of names. I do not say that this is not accidental, 'but at all events I understand that whereas the registration clerk could and did on more than one occasion extend the time to receive applications and to erase nafcnes, the revising officer would, under certain circumstances on certain occasions, extend the time to receive names, but refused to extend the time for erasing names. Upon this we have the testimony of the hon. member for Portage la Prairie (Mr. Crawford) 'who stated that to his knowledge, in his personal case, in order to have certain names
erased which he could not get erased because the time had expired, he had to bargain with his opponents in order to get a certain number, although he could have doubled the number if the time had been given. But be this as it may, I point out to the hon. member for Souris (Mr. Schaff-ner) and the hon. member for Marquette (Mr. W. J. Roche), who are both conversant with this Act, that though I find in this Act power given to the revising officer, though I find power given to the registration clerk to extend the time, I see no power given in this Act to extend or change the locality where the registration is to take place. The Act, section 22, says distinctly, that:
The Governor in Council shall fix the date or dates on, the place or places at, and the hours between which, applications for registration and the correction and striking off names of electors will be received and shall be concluded in each electoral division.
I speak subject to correction, as I have not given to the study of this'Act all the time I would wish, but in my hasty perusal of it I did not find anywhere that the reg-< istration clerk or the revising officers have the power to extend the locality in which the registration is to take place. The order in council says that the registration shall take place at this locality, it shall take place at Beausejour, but you cannot extend it to Lac du Bonnet. It must take place there, and there alone. Is that fair, is that right, is that according to justice? The hon. member for Lisgar (Mr. Greenway) the other day gave an example of its unfairness. He stated to the House that in a certain place, which turned out to be Beausejour, the revising officer, finding that a certain number of men in another settlement in the same registration district, called Lac du Bonnet, could not come to register their names, took upon himself to go to Lac du Bonnet, to extend the place and there he registered the names of thirty qualified electors ; and he stated further that when this registration list was brought to the Attorney General's office the names were simply contemptuously torn from the list and these men were disfranchised. When the hon. member for Lisgar made that speech the other day the hon. member for Marquette (Mr. W. J. Roche) hastily rose to his feet with this interruption :
Would the hon. member for Lisgar be fair enough to state that Judge Walker, the chairman of the registration board, reported to the government that this officer had held a court of revision illegally, after his certificate had expired.
Yes, Judge Walker actually said that officer was acting illegally. It was contrary to the law of Manitoba-but it was in accordance with natural justice. It is unfortunate that the law of Manitoba and the law of natural justice are not on a par. It was against the law of Manitoba,

but I ask, in all fairness of my hon. friend from Marquette, should this be against the law of Manitoba? Will it be said that such a law should be maintained and are we in this House powerless to remedy such an outrage against duly qualified electors ? Shall it be said that although the law of Manitoba will not allow justice to be done under such circumstances we have to sit still and allow these men to be disfranchised? That is the position in which we are placed and that is one reason why we calne to the conclusion that we had to take some action this year.
The hon. member for Marquette (Mr. W. J. Roche) stated the other day, and his statement was repeated by the hon. member for Souris (Mr. Schaffner), that in 1904 an Act had been drafted to deal with the province of Manitoba, that the Act had been printed, not only drafted, but printed. I wondered at the time if my ears did not deceive me when such a statement was made. If such a Bill had been prepared I would have known something of it, and I have to say here that no Act was drafted in 1904 but the Act which was brought down by the Minister of Justice and which became law. No such Act as has been suggested by the hon. member for Souris and the hon. member for Marquette even was contemplated, although the suggestion may have been made.

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