Mr. A. J. LEWIS (Swift Current) :
I think we are all agreed that every Canadian citizen eligible to vote should have the right to do so, and the mere fact that a man is forced sometimes, by circumstances beyond his control, to go to another constituency should not penalize him and prevent him from exercising the franchise as a Canadian citizen. I can readily understand that the provision that has been incorporated in the Election Act on this point has some basis in reason. It may have been placed there to make sure that no
Income Tax Act
individual would vote twice. But we are told by various hon. members that it appears to infringe upon the rights of voters more in the cities than anywhere else. In the rural districts very few people are penalized in this respect by moving; but in the cities, where people are continually on the move, it may be a great hardship, and I can see that there is likely to be some difficulty, no matter what you may do, to remedy the existing law. We do find, however, that in the resolution No. 12, relating to proportional representation and the alternative vote, there is a safeguard not only to the man who wishes to exercise his franchise, but also to the public interests of Canada, and I believe that when this subject is brought before the House and we have time to study it carefully we shall be able to remove a great many of the electioneering difficulties that at present exist. In this connection, I might refer to proportional representation in the cities. Under proportional representation I understand that no matter where a man may reside in the city, or whether he changes from one district to another within the pale of the city, he still has the right to vote; and I think that when that system comes up for consideration it will be time enough to indicate the benefits to be derived by the removal of a great many of the difficulties and anomalies of the Franchise Act. By the adoption of a proper system then we shall be able to ensure, not only to the individual who votes at an election, but also to collective bodies of voters, in the actual returns of men to this Parliament, a fair proportion of representation for every constituency. If it is necessary to change the existing law for rural districts, well. and good. But as we have been told that the great majority of inequalities that result from the present law are to be found in the cities, and as these inequalities can be finally removed only when we have a system under which every man will have the right to exercise the franchise under a city list rather than under a list in an electoral division, I believe that action should be delayed until the question of proportional representation is before the House for consideration.
Topic: FEDERAL ELECTIONS ACT