I object to clause 22 because it is partisan. The candidate supporting the Government has the naming of the returning officer; the returning officer has the naming of his deputies, and of the registrars and poll clerks. From the very beginning the thing is unfair. I know it to be unfair because I have had experience on two occasions myself. Under the party system I had the naming of the returning officer. What did I do? I tried to pick a man at least as partisan as myself, and I succeeded. Now that is an unfair advantage, there is no question about it. This officer has power to influence not only his officials but very many voters. He decides where the polling station shall be located and whose house shall be rented. It is patronage of the most vicious kind, and I must plead guilty of this offence twice. We were told when the Union Government was appealing to the country that patronage would be abolished, that a new political era had arrived, that everything would be good from now on. Now is the time for hon. gentlemen opposite to make good their word. The sins they have to answer for are many, but they might as well leave power with the credit of having been fair once. They can be fair by accepting the amendment of my hon. friend (Mr. Fielding). There is no question that they are going to leave power, because throughout the length and breadth of the land the electors have learnt to hate them, to detest and despise and desert them. A certain number of the Government's followers deserted them last night because they knew that the day of reckoning was near at hand when they would have to appeal to the men who voted for them the last time. And I can tell some hon. gentlemen this also, that there are in this House many men whom we and the country know to be "compromise" candidates. They are com-
promised candidates for the reason that when the Union party was formed, if a constituency was allotted to a Conservative candidate, the Union Liberals would not accept a Conservative whom they considered to be a strong man. They demanded that a weak man should be chosen because they contended that the Union Government was only a temporary expedient, and they did not desire to place in power any man whom they would find it difficult to defeat when the union was dissolved and party politics were resumed. I therefore say that there are hon. gentlemen who were compromise candidates, and although they may vote for this measure it. will not help them in any way, for they will not be elected again. They will not be elected for the simple reason that the majority of them will not be nominated again. I say to this Government that they ought, as honourable men, to be fair in the appointing of returning officers. But even if it were in the power of this Government to make every man in Canada a returning officer the Government would be defeated just the same. Ilf this Bill goes through I shall of course be bound to accept it and I shall do the best I can to have it observed. But it is most unfair, and this Government, which we were told was formed for the sole purpose of saving the British Empire, Canada and humanity, ought to realize the necessity for justice and fair play in this matter. They have nothing to lose but everything to gain by being perfectly honest and fair. I recall, in considering the unfairness of this Act, a story which was told of General Sam Steele many years ago in Western Canada. We believe that no braver man than General Steele ever lived, and on one occasion, when he was in very close quarters and pitted against great odds, he made an address in which he said that it did not make so much difference how long a man lived, in view of the immortality of the soul and the eternity of time, but that it did make a great difference what name he left behind him. This Government, rightly or wrongly, is charged by the people with having been derelict and unfair in the administration of the affairs of the country, and that they will be defeated there is no possible question. In view of this probability-nay, this certainty-does it not behoove them to leave behind them a name which will at all events partly redeem their errors? That they will not be re-elected they know perfectly well.
Topic: DOMINION FRANCHISE ACT.