purpose of debating any controversial subject, but to ask for certain information and to make suggestions to the right hon. gentleman, that I ask the consent of the House to speak at this time. The right hon. gentleman, in introducing this measure, read in the course of his lucid explanation a clause of the British North America Act which has always given rise to considerable discussion in dealing with the question of representation. I refer to clause 4 of section 51, which says:
On any such readjustment the number of members for a province shall not be reduced unless the proportion which the number of the population of the province bore to the number of the aggregate population of Canada at the then last preceding readjustment of the number of members for the province is ascertained at the then latest census to be diminished by one-twentieth part or upwards.
I would like to ask if the right hon. gentleman would lay upon the table of the House before the second' reading of this Bj.ll, the computation which I assume was made for him in connection with this fractional difference spoken of in this Act. I want to call his attention to the fact that, taking the word * one-twentieth ' as it is found in that section, and interpreting it in the ordinary way as being one-twentieth of a unit, we have these results as regards the province of Nova Scotia: In 1901 the population of Nova Scotia was 459,574, and the population of Canada 5,371,315; that is, in the proportion of 1 to 11; or if it is placed as a fraction, the fraction would be 1-11.6876.
It may be remarked that this section should be interpreted in accordance with a comparison between the relative proportions of the two decennial periods, and it is the difference between the proportions the statute speaks of and not the difference in the populations. The proportion after the last census was the proportion which existed as between 492,338 and 7,206,643, which was the population of the whole of Canada. That proportion, to give
it in short language, was in the relation of 1 to 14, or, taking it as a fraction, you have a proportion of 1-14.6876. When you oome to make a comparison between these two proportions as a mathematical proposition, you find that the second proportion is l-58th less than the proportion made in the first instance. Thus the difference between these two proportions which the statute says you have to make is a difference of l-58th.
Quite so; there is that difference between the proportions. It is l-58th of the unit.' This is less than l-20th. I am submitting to my right hon. friend the question whether this l-20th is l-20th of the unit or l-20th of the original proportion of the previous ten-year period. How is the statute to be interpreted? The matter was called to my attention by an hon. member of the Senate from St. John, who was very much interested in it, and I have no doubt that he discussed it with my right hon. friend. The position of affairs is this, that if you take l-20th of the unit as being the difference which the statute contemplates, the difference between the two proportions is a difference of l-58th, and that difference is less than l-20th, and consequently we should suffer no reduction iu representation. My difficulty in considering this question was increased to some degree by reason of the fact that you can find'in the books no definite or accurate statement as to how this matter has been dealt with in the past. I find that in the Supreme "Court representation ease the Chief Justice of Canada, who was then Minister of Justice, made this statement-
The hon. member seems to be starting in upon a practice which is not in consonance with the English practice or with our practice. Our practice is that when the motion is made that a Bill be now read the first time, it shall be adopted without amendment or debate. There may be on the proposal to introduce and an amendment, but not on the motion for the first reading of a Bill. In attempting to override that rule the hon. gentleman would be establishing an inconvenient precedent for the future.
I quite understood that I was only speaking with the consent of the House and of the Prime Minister. I will not enter into any debate, and I do
not want to make any argument. I simply want to put for the consideration of the Government a question in regard to this matter, which has been a serious question to hon. gentlemen who have looked into it, and I think this is the most convenient time for me to do so, before the debate on the second reading takes place.
I think the hon. member for Pictou is nearly through anyway. With your permission, Mr. Speaker, and with the consent of the House, he might be allowed to proceed. I would like very much to know what his point is.
I am getting to the point. I am afraid that my hon. friend would require the statute before him to enable him to see the point. The only plq.ce I can find any record of any public statement as to how this computation has been made is at page 527 of chap. 33, Supreme Court of Canada Reports. There the present learned Chief Justice, arguing in the representation case, -when Minister of Justice, made a statement as to how this computation was made up both in regard to Ontario and Nova Scotia at that particular period. It seems to me that there is a statement from which one is not able to get any very clear deduction as to the view which I am presenting as being an incorrect one. On the contrary, viewing this purely from the mathematical standpoint, I think the reason which he gives as to why this computation is made up in that way is incorrect. I thank the House for its courtesy. I merely wanted to put this consideration, or this suggestion which has come from hon. members on both sides of the House from the Maritime provinces, before the Government, as
under it we are entitled to .maintain our representation unimpaired. I think we ought to have that point settled and that we should have the matter thoroughly discussed. I would like to have an assurance from the Prime Minister that this data will be brought down.
I am very glad that the hon. member for Pictou has brought this matter to my attention. I may say that I examined the computation to which he alludes and I regret to say that I do not find much consolation in it for the Maritime provinces. I would be glad to find any assistance in a computation of that kind. The question is: What was the
proportion at the last census and what is the proportion now, the proportion in question being that of the population of a particular province to the population of the whole of Canada. If you take either Ontario or Nova Scotia, or New Brunswick, and find the proportion of the population of the province to the whole population of Canada in 1901, and the proportion of the population of the province to the whole population of Canada in 1911, a very simple mathematical calculation will, I think, show that the proportion, as I understand it, has been decreased by more than one-twentieth.
come to me I will explain that mathematical calculation to him. I regret that I could not find much consolation or assistance in it. However, I have the calculations already prepared, but I would like to have them verified, so that they will be accurate beyond question, and I had intended, even if my hon. friend had not brought the subject to my attention, to have placed them on the Table before the debate upon the second reading of the Bill.