Mr. McLEAN (Huron).
Yes, and they must always exist in such a body appointed as the Senate is.
Let us see for a moment how the situation stands in other countries. An elective Senate is not by any means a new thing. In the commonwealth of Australia six senators are elected for each state for a term of six years, half the number retiring every three years and the entire vote of each state is for each candidate.
In New Zealand, the upper chamber were formerly appointed for life. The term is now limited to seven years.
In South Africa, the last constitution that has been evolved, the first House of Assembly will consist of 121 representatives and the Senate of 64, 16 for each of the four provinces. Eight will be elected in each province, eight will be nominated by the Governor General in Council, four in each province.
In other countries, Mexico, Brazil, and the Argentine Republic, the upper chambers are elective. The same condition exists in the other countries of_ South and Central America. Canada is the only country in North or South America having life appointees. So it will be seen that this is the only country on the American continent that still continues this antediluvian system. I noticed during the recent discussion that my honoured leader stated that there are many difficulties in making a change in the Senate under present conditions. He has also expressed the opinion that an elective Senate would not be advantageous and that no person in the present day advocates an elective Senate. I agree with my right hon. friend in nearly everything but on this question I must certainly disagree. If I can diagnose public sentiment at all I am convinced that a very large proportion of the people of this country would very much prefer an elective Senate to the system we now have and I have paid very considerable attention to public sentiment on this matter. The objection has been raised to an elective Senate that it would be simply a reflex of this House. I think an elective Senate could be constituted which would not be a reflex of this House, but would represent quite a different constituency from that represented in this House, and I shall endeavour to outline a system which I think will accomplish this object.
In the first place, I would have the country divided into senatorial divisons.
For example, the county to which I belong now sends three representatives to this House. The adjoining county, represented by my hon. friend the Deputy Speaker, sends two representatives. If these two counties were united and sent one representative to the Senate, and the rest of the Dominion were divided in like manner, I think we would have a representation in the Senate considerably different from that in this House. My own county is at present represented by two Conservatives and one Liberal. The adjoining county of Perth is represented by two Liberals. What would be the political colour of the senatorial representative elected by these two counties it would be impossible to say, though I think it possible that he would have strong Conservative leanings. In the second place, I would have the senators elected for seven or ten years, as the case might be. In the third place, I would have a small property qualification for the electorate. At present, in the province of Ontario at any rate, we have practically a manhood franchise. I would have a property qualification for the senatorial electors somewhat similar to what we have now for our municipal elections in this province. I would also have an educational qualification to the extent that I would require that every elector should be able to read and write in his own language. I would also require each elector -whose name is on the voters' list to go to the polls and deposit his ballot. This is sometimes termed compulsory voting, and is objected to on that score. I fancy, however, that there is no such thing as compulsory voting. It would be impossible to compel a man to vote for either one candidate or another, and it would certainly be very unjust to do so. But I do not think any injustice would be inflicted on any individual by requiring him at least to attend a polling place and deposit his ballot. If he could not conscientiously vote for any one of the candidates, he could at least deposit his ballot, and in this way show that he was prepared to do his duty. I do not think that it would be an undue hardship to any one. The franchise is a privilege granted by the state to the individual; and if the individual does not think sufficiently of this privilege to exercise it, it certainly would be no hardship or no wrong to deprive him of it for at least a season. Consequently, I would say that every voter whose name is on the list and who fails to attend at the polling booth and at least deposit his ballot unless he can give some reasonable excuse satisfactory to some judicial authority, should have his name erased from the voters' list for the subsequent election, and be disfranchised at any rate to that extent. Now, let us see what the result of this
would be. At the last Dominion elections in this country there were on the voters' list 1,461,793 votes. The total vote cast at that election was 1,176,104, leaving 285,689 who did not vote at all. But there were certain elections by acclamation. At these elections there were 22,000 voters, leaving 263,689, or about one-fifth of the voters in Canada who did not record their votes at the last election. In Belgium, where compulsory voting exists, and the only country I know of at the present time where it does exist, at the last election practically the full vote was recorded. So that under thi^* system we would have a large vote brought out which does not appear in the elections to this House, and in that respect, at least, as well as in other respects, we would have a considerably different constituency represented by those who would be elected to the Senate. I would also require the practice of personal canvassing to be prohibited by law. We have been endeavouring long and faithfully in this House to make laws which would ensure electoral purity. I do not know that we have succeeded very well. I do know that we have built up the pains and penalties so high that we are now barely able to see over them, although I must say this for Canada, that I think our elections are as pure if not purer than those of most other countries, and certainly they are as pure as those of the mother country, if we are to judge by the reports concerning the last two general elections there. If we are to judge by these reports, I think our friends in the mother country can give us pointers in the ways that are dark and the tricks that are vain. But notwithstanding that fact, there is a good deal more electoral impurity in connection with our elections in this country than most of us would like to see; and in order to eradicate this evil I think it is necessary to strike at its very root, and strike good and hard. In my humble opinion, this abominable practice of personal canvassing, travelling from concession to concession, from street to street, and from door to door, begging people to come out and vote for you, is demoralizing to the candidate as well as to the elector, and has a very strong tendency to lessen the dignity which should naturally attach to the representative position. It is at this every foundation of much of this electoral impurity in this country. To do away with this evil as much as possible in connection with the senatorial elections, I would make personal canvassing on the part of a candidate an offence that would invalidate the election. I would make personal canvassing on the part of a friend or a supporter of a candidate a ground for disfranchising him at the succeeding election. But in order that the public might be made thoroughly conversant with the public affairs of the country,
2 would also require that each candidate should hold a certain number of meetings within the constituency, which should be well advertised and be open to the public, and at which the affairs of the country should be thoroughly discussed.
Another provision which I think would be advisable in connection with an elective Senate would be in reference to the veto power. I do not like the idea of any body having the veto power over this House. But I think that the function of the Senate, [DOT]constituted as it is now, or as it might be if elected by the people, is that of a revising body. The Senate would have greater leisure to consider the measures .passed by this House, and they might secure from this House additional consideration of any measure they might think required such consideration. Consequently, I think it would be advisable to adopt a system such as has been spoken of in the mother country. That is, a measure objected tQ by the Senate should be sent back to the Commons, and if it should be adopted by the *Commons at three successive sessions, it should become law, even though the Senate objected to it. In that respect, the will of the people would receive full expression, the measure would receive proper consideration, and everybody would have an opportunity of consulting with those whom he represented.
I had not intended to speak on this subject to-day, and am not going to take up much time; nor is it necessary to do so. My principal object , in bringing this matter before the House was to have it discussed here and in the country. I think the scheme I have outlined is desirable and feasible. Every legislative body in a free country should be directly responsible to the people, and I think I have outlined a scheme, which, although it may be faultily outlined, although it could be, in some respects, improved, it at least lays down a basis on which an elective Senate could be constructed, which would be acceptable and beneficial to the people of this country. In conclusion, I have only to say that I would like to see this government take this matter up earnestly, and give it very careful consideration. I sincerely trust that in their wisdom they will be able to evolve a scheme which will remove from this free *country the reproach of having as one of its legislative bodies a body that is entirely irresponsible and over and above the people, and that in this way the government, will redeem the only pledge made by the Liberal party when in opposition that has not been already fully redeemed.
Subtopic: THE DOMINION SENATE.