Mr. ARTHUR DENIS (Translation):
Mr. Speaker, before this bill is referred to the special committee appointed to either sanction or amend the elections act. I wish to make a few suggestions in order that members of that committee be not deceived by some of the speeches delivered by our friends opposite with the intention of disguising the object which the government have in view in introducing this bill, in the last days of the session. To my mind, this bill is but a gilded pill which leaves me quite indifferent. Like the former act passed previous to the 1917 campaign, its object is simply to steal elections. Members opposite wish to sanction this bill at this session because of their fear of being put out of power and having to remain at home. I see no necessity for introducing this bill when all are aware that the two official parties were quite satisfied with the former act, at the last election. The Conservatives took office thanks to this act; however, it is obvious, to-day, more than ever, that their victory was not due to that
act, but rather to their lies and pledges, they therefore fear now that their promises might not have the same result.
I have serious doubts, sir, as to the government's intentions in introducing this measure. The following is a proof of their lack of sincerity: after accepting the suggestions of the right hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King) to appoint two enumerators, whose names would be suggested by the former candidates, the hon. Minister of Justice (Mr. Guthrie) forgets to include the suggestion in the bill, in order to be better prepared to again set aside his promise and appoint two enumerators of his own choice.
With reference to the signing of a form by the electors in what way will the object of the bill be attained, if the enumerators do not often call at each home to ascertain the names of the voters? If these enumerators simply make one call and find the people absent, the latter will have to go to the trouble of leaving their residence so as to sign a new form in the presence of the receiving officer.
If the government were in earnest, and wished to extend the franchise, thus allowing all persons duly qualified to register their vote, it would introduce a measure compelling such persons to exercise their franchise. It would thereby dispel many doubts as to its intentions.
I have little to add, sir; however, I wish to state that this conflict of opinions with reference to this new act should be settled by the people instead of by the house. The government is aware that it does not command, to-day, the confidence of the people. It is high time to appeal to the people, so as to get rid of a government which, for the last four years, is dying from inertia, has done nothing to help the people of this country and, thereby, realizes, to-day, what responsibility weighs on its shoulders.
Topic: DOMINION FRANCHISE ACT
Subtopic: ELECTORAL FRANCHISE-APPOINTMENT OF FRANCHISE COMMISSIONER-PRINTING VOTERS' LISTS