Right Hon. R. L. BORDEN moved second reading of Bill No. 62, to readjust the representation in the House of Commons. He said:
I desire to offer just a few words upon the second reading of the Bill. When the Bill was introduced, I stated that it was precisely in the form in which the Bill of 1903 had passed Parliament. That is not precisely correct, because sections 7 and 8 as they appeared in the Bill of that time have been omitted from the present Bill. The reason for that is that those sections were repealed in the following year by a Bill which was introduced by Hon. Charles Fitzpatrick, Minister of Justice at that time, who in introducing the Bill made these observations:
. The object of this Bill is to correct two or three errors which, through inadvertence or oversight, crept into the Representation Act of last session. Sections 7 and S of the Representation Act slipped into their present position in the body of the Act through error. They are taken from the Quebec Act, Revised Statutes of Quebec, chapter 2, sections 67 and 68, which define the provincial electoral districts. The intention was to insert these particular sections 6 and 7 where they ought to be, in the Quebec schedule. They have been incorporated in the body of the Act, which would make them applicable to the whole Dominion. Of course, this is absolutely impossible under the system of dividing constituencies as they exist elsewhere.
As the sections had been repealed in the following year and were held to be inapplicable, for that reason they were not
included in the Bill which I introduced a week ago to-day.
Upon the introduction of the Bill, my hon. friend from Pictou (Mr. E. M. Macdonald) raised a question as to the effect of subsection 4 of section 51 of the British North America Act, which is as follows:
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 par or up war!'.
And it has been suggested that in giving this section its effect there should be no reduction in the representation of the Maritime provinces and possibly of Ontario, under the results disclosed by the last census. I regret as much as any hon. gentleman in this House the necessity that the provinces mentioned shall lose representation in this House, and, as I assured my hon. friend from Pictou on the occasion alluded to, I would be only too glad if I could find such assistance or aid from this section as would do away with the necessity for reducing the representation as it is proposed in the Bill. I fear, however, that there is no such assistance to be derived; and the question as I understand it may be illustrated by a concrete example. Let us suppose that a certain province in Canada, to which is applied the unit of representation as defined by the population of Quebec, finds itself confronted with the loss of one or more members. It is necessary to consider the effect of subsection 4, to see whether or not there is any sufficient safeguard in its provisions. In order to avoid long and complicated fractions, let us suppose that such province finds itself in this position: that at the -last preceding readjustment the proportion which the number of the population of that province bore to the number of the aggregate -population of Canada was one-tenth. And suppose that upon the readjustment under consideration it is found that the proportion which the number of the population of the province bears to the number of the aggregate population of Canada at that readjustment is one-twelfth. The question then is as to the meaning and effect of subsection 4. If you reduce these proportions to a common denominator, you will find that at the preceding readjustment the proportion was six-sixtieths, while at the readjustment under consideration it is
one-twelfth, or five-sixtieths. As I understand the meaning and effect of the section, there is a reduction from six-sixtieths to five-sixtieths in the proportion which the population of that province bears to the aggregate population of Canada. Therefore, I would consider-and this is the view that has been taken on all occasions in the past, as I understand-that the proportion which the population of that province bears to the aggregate population of Canada has been reduced, in the suggested case by one-sixth, that is, from six-sixtieths to five-sixtieths. The argument, as I understand it, which has been put forward in contradistinction to that is this: that inasmuch as the proportion in question at the previous readjustment was six-sixtieths and at the present readjustment is five-sixtieths, the proportion in question has been reduced by only one-sixtieth; but I think that upon the slightest consideration it will be found that that contention cannot be sustained. At the former readjustment the proportion stood at six-sixtieths, at the readjustment in question it stands at five-sixtieths, and therefore the proportion, according to my view, has obviously been reduced by one-sixth or more than one-twentieth, and therefore the province finds no aid or'assistance in the provisions of subsection 4 of section 51 of the British North America Act.
I went into the general subject somewhat fully in introducing this Bill; therefore I do not find it necessary to add anything further at this stage.