The hon. gentleman (Mr. Bennett) has been misinformed, for I was not west of Port Arthur during the whole period of that election, and never saw Sullivan anywhere in the province about the time of the election.
Then the statement of Dr. Gunn is untrue. I say that all means [DOT] were resorted to in that riding in the local election, and it resulted in the election of the Conservative candidate. Now, the Prime Minister is placing legislation on the statute-book that will not enure to his political benefit. I say this, and I am confident that my statement will be proven true, when-I hope within the next few months -the people of the ridings affected have an opportunity to express their opinion.
House divided Boyce.
on amendment of Mr. YEAS:
Borden (Carleton), Boyce,
Chisholm (Huron), Christie,
Haggart, Henderson, _ Hughes (Victoria), Jackson (Elgin), Kemp,
I do not intend to delay the House for more than a moment, I wish to call attention in the first place'to a paragraph which I find in the editorial column of the Toronto ' Globe ' of Saturday, July 4, to which my attention has been directed only recently. The paragraph to which I allude is this :
There need not much he said regarding the Dominion Elections Bill, which has at last reached the committee stage in parliament. But, in the interests of truth, it should he put on record that the concessions which the opposition now declare to be satisfactory were offered early in May last. The time since wasted might far 'better have (been devoted to serious public.business.
I am inclined to agree with the principle enunciated in the last sentence of this extract, but in so far as the statement of alleged fact in the second sentence is concerned, namely, that the concessions alluded to were offered to the opposition early in May, I desire to say in all sincerity, that the statement has no foundation in fact whatever and that it is absolutely devoid of truth. I do not say this by way of Imputing any desire of misleading to this journal but simply to place the matter on its proper basis as far as tbe facts are concerned.
I have already, in Committee of the Whole House, moved a resolution foivthe amendment of the Bill now under discussion by way of providing that the poll in a general election in Canada shall be held in every constituency on the same day except in so far as the Yukon Territory is concerned. By section 80 of the Dominion Elections Act five electoral districts are excluded from the general rule. As to certain of these there may be some question, but as to others I think there is no question. The Kootenay division of British Columbia, at least, according to the statement of Mr. Smith Curtis, the Liberal candidate for the riding should not be included iu this list As far as other British Columbia ridings are concerned, I have the same information. My information with regard to them has been controverted by hon. gentlemen on the other side of the House. As far as the Kootenay riding is concerned, I am supported not only by the provincial government of British Columbia, not only by the circumstance that the provincial elections are all held on the same day In that province but also by the statement of Mr. Smith Curtis, to whom I have referred. I will not take up further time in discussing the subject, but I beg to move, seconded by Mr. Bristol :
That the Bill he not now read a third time, hut be referred 'back to Committee of the Whole House with instructions to aimend the same by making provision that at every general election in Canada the day for holding the polls shall be the same day throughout Canada except in the Yukon Territory.
It may properly be inquired, why, having regard to what I have said just now with respect to the difference of opinion between the two sides of the House, I make the motion in this way. My answer is that my hon. friend from Prince Edward county (Mr. Alcorn), in the amendments which he introduced into this House in this Bill and which were proposed as amendments to the Bill now before the House, pointed out a simple and easy way by which these five constituencies could be brought within the general rule. The difficulty arises, I understand, in all eases with respect to the posting of the proclamation and by adopting the means pointed out by my hon. friend for Prince Edward there should not be the slightest difficulty whatever in fixing one day for the whole of Canada.
I agree with the hon. member from Prince Edward (Mr. Alcorn) that his estimate that the proclamation should be twenty-three days In the hands of the returning officer before nomination day is a reasonable one. If he gets it twenty-three days before nomination day there will be sufficient time except in Comox-Atlin if the returning officer happens to live in Atlin. But, does not my hon. friend see that if it requires twenty-three day's before the nomination it must necessarily require twenty-three days after tbe nomination so as to distribute tbe ballot boxes and swear in the returning officers? That would make forty-six days from the time that the returning officer receives the proclamation until tlie poll can be held.
I am obliged to confess, and I trust my hon. friend (Mr. D. Ross) will not blame me for doing so, that I do not see anything of the kind. As a matter of practice in every constituency it is known and will be known perfectly well that the election will not be by acclamation and that a poll will be demanded. It will neither be necessary nor desirable for tbe returning officer to sit down and wait for nomination day for he knows perfectly well that two candidates will be nominated and he can make arrangements accordingly As a matter of fact in my own province of Nova Scotia, long before nomination day the returning officer makes his arrangements with his deputies. In the county of Halifax, which is 140 miles long and where men have to come a distance of 120 miles in some cases, this is always done and it can be done in these ridings in British Columbia just as well. I do not think there would be the slightest difficulty In adopting'the proposal of my hon. friend from Prince Edward.
The hon. gentleman must see that in a district such as Yale-Cariboo the ballots must be printed at some central point after the nominations are held, and his suggestion that the returning officer might anticipate what was going to happen on [DOT]nomination day does not apply to British
Columbia. We do not know until nomination day whether a socialist candidate will be nominated. They might make up their mind the day before nomination to place a candidate in the field. Then, the ballots must be printed at, say, Kamloops, the ballot boxes must be distributed from that central point and consequently the work cannot be done in a shorter time than the proclamation can be posted from any settled point.
As far as that is concerned my hon. friend from Prince Edward was not fixing twenty-three as the minimum time, but he was fixing a period of twenty-three days as a time which would be absolutely ample in all constituencies.
Well, it is not worth while to bandy contradictions across the floor of the House. I have said all that I have to say on that point. I think there is some difficulty to be encountered, but in so far as the Kootenay district of British Columbia is concerned, there is absolutely no difficulty at all if we are entitled to rely upon the statement of Mr. Smith Curtis who says that there is not only no necessity, but that he does not desire any postponement in that riding.
We have been accused of doing this to get a political advantage, but so far as I am personally concerned I do not think there is much dishonour in getting beaten in an honourable way, and I would much rather have the election on the general election day and take chances. I believe if the election is held on the same day as tl.e other elections you will have your organization better in hand. But, the district of Yale-Cariboo is 700 miles in length from the United States boundary to the Alaskan boundary and it contains 175,000 square miles, while the district of Kootenay contains about 29,000 square miles. So far as Kootenay is concerned, if Mr. Curtis Smith wants his election or the same day, I think it can be arranged, but in Yale-Cariboo and Comox-Atlin-X know the districts well-it is a different matter. It is absolutely impossible to hold the election in Yale-Cariboo on the same day unless the proclamations are issued at least 60 days before the day of polling. If His Excellency can dissolve the House and wait 60 days fur an election then I am perfectly satisfied? Notwithstanding the telegram read by the leader of the opposition from Premier McBride, the fact Is that the provincial government found it absolutely necessary to pass an older in council deferring the election in the provincial district of Skeena for two weeks after the general election because it was impossible to get the ballot boxes into that district. I know the leader of the opposition wants to be fair and I tell him it is absolutely impossible to hold an election in Yale-Cariboo unless 60 days elapse between the issue of the proclamation and the polling. There are nine provincial electoral districts in Yale-Cariboo and the provincial elections are . arranged from nine different centres, while in the Dominion election they must be arranged from one centre for that large area. Under the provincial election law the deputy returning officer makes a declaration before any two voters who happen to be there, whereas under the Dominion election law the deputy returning officer must be sworn in before a justice of the peace and :n many instances there is not a justice of the peace within 100 miles of where the poll is held. It is more difficult now than in 1904 to arrange for an election in that constituency because people have gone into Stewart lake and Chapel valley along the line of the Grand Trunk Pacific in northern British Columbia where there are no transportation facilities. It will therefore take you a much longer time than in 1904 to provide that the settlers in that remote area shall have their votes recorded.
I assume that the hon. member (Mr. Duncan Ross) knows of the amendment placed upon the Votes and Proceedings of the 29th of June containing the scheme set forth in Bill (No. 80) with regard to this subject. He is perhaps aware that part of that scheme is that in these five at present excepted constituencies the nomination day is advanced one week, and (hat therefore 14 days will elapse between the nomination and the polling.
If it were true, which I believe, it is not, that the ballot boxes must necessarily be distributed from one common centre for the whole electoral district, there are 14 days in which to perform that service and surely that would be sufficient. But, I believe that nowhere in the Dominion are there Dominion ballot boxes specially provided. The practice is to use the ballot boxes used in the provincial and municipal elections and therefore there is no distribution to be made except within a very restricted area. The only thing the returning officer would have to do would be to distribute his ballots, and I believe 14 days would be sufficient for that, even in as large a constituency as my hon. friend has.
But, under the Act, ibe ballot box which is received by the returning officer must be sealed, must contain a copy of the election law, must contain sufficient ballots for the polling subdivision, and must be opened by the deputy returning officer in the presence of two electors. If that be so the argument of my hon. friend (Mr. Alcorn) falls to the ground.
The Magdalen islands are attached for federal purposes to the county ol' Gaspe and at certain seasons of the year it is next to impossible to communicate with them. The electoral district of Chicoutimi extends to the Labrador coast and in certain seasons of the year the obstacles to communication in that district are almost insurmountable. I call the attention of the leader of the opposition to the fact that it is certainly impossible to have the elections in these two districts held at the same time as in the other constituencies.
In our judgment there are very serious objections to section 17 of this Bill. However, as there is a desire to hurry the proceedings I shall not refer to the matter further than to move, seconded by Mr. Bergeron :
That the said Bill be not now read a third time, but be referred back to the Committee of the Whole House with instructions to strike out section 17 thereof.