April 13, 1915

CON

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DOHERTY:

Even in England or in Bermuda we are creating a situation where, if by any accident it should happen that officers cannot find this qualified officer, all our machinery will fall to the ground. Will the hon. member consider giving in the alternative the right of the officer being sworn, because we are dealing with a company officer, before the commanding officer? *

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CON

William John Macdonald

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MACDONALD:

If the duty is done by a subordinate, the commanding officer could administer the oath.

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CON

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DOHERTY:

We are dealing with company officers, so that there will always be above them a higher officer. I beg to move that subsection 4 be amended by adding thereto the words:

The officer receiving affidavits and taking votes under the above provisions shall in the United Kingdom and in Bermuda be sworn faithfully to perform his duties before the regimental commanding officer, a notary public or any official authorized to administer oaths under the iaws of the country where the said duties are performed.

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LIB
CON

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DOHERTY:

The right given by this Bill.

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

But we have no such power. What power have we to confer upon soldiers who are in England or in France the right to administer oaths?

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CON

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DOHERTY:

As I have already pointed out, we shall get from this only the moral sanction of the oath. It may be more amusing to hear the statement more frequently, but that is the fact which I concede. As for myself, I have already expressed the view that I entertain upon that subject. I was willing to believe that without the oath we might have trusted the officer.

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LIB

William Manley German

Liberal

Mr. GERMAN:

Might you not just as well do away with the oath altogether, because you are binding the conscience of no one by any oath that you are prescribing in this Bill?

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CON

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DOHERTY:

I do not understand how the lion. member appreciates conscience, but I think that the average man, if he takes an oath, binds his conscience just as much if he takes it before a non-qualified man, if he takes it in Bermuda or in England or in France, as he does when he takes it in Canada before the most solemnly constituted officer that can be conceived of. I would have been satisfied with my confidence in the officer's honour; but, to meet the objection, I am willing to go further and give the guarantee of the officer's conscience, and I should think that at least we may feel satisfied in resting on the officer's conscientious respect for the oath by which he binds himself upon all that is most sacred to all of us.

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LIB

William Manley German

Liberal

Mr. GERMAN:

As far as I am concerned, I believe it is as binding on a man's 157i

conscience to tell the truth whether he takes an oath or makes a statement. But the hon. gentleman has brought into this Bill what he says is an oath, which is not an oath in the accepted meaning of the term. A man's statement should be just as binding though it were made under this so-called oath before this officer who is appointed to administer it.

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CON

William John Macdonald

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MACDONALD:

The proposition the

minister is good enough to accept was made by myself in regard to the officers who take the votes in Great Britain and Bermuda. In so far as this amendment provides that the oath should be taken before a notary public or other authorized individual, there is no doubt that in such a case perjury could be assigned. But the minister has added a clause which gives the commanding officer the right to administer the oath. To that alone, I think my hon. friend could take exception, though I think that something might be said in regard to the right of the commanding officer of a regiment in England or in Bermuda to administer the oath with the duties assigned to him under the Bill.

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CON

Amendment agreed to.


LIB

Jacques Bureau

Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

On a former occasion I

called the attention of the minister to the words " I vote for the Government," " I vote for the Opposition," and " I vote for the independent candidate." Has the minister made up his mind to change these words from " Government " to " Conservative," and " Opposition " to " Liberal?" On a former occasion the hon. gentleman said that he used the terms given here because they were the terms recognized by law. But " independent candidate " is not recognized by law; yet that does not say that a man could not cast a good vote for the independent candidate.

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CON

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DOHERTY:

There is a general principle that words are to be read in law according to their ordinary significance. I think " independent " is well understood. I said that " Government " and " Opposition " are recognized by lan a">d will not be misunderstood. But if you make it " Liberal " or " Conservative " I do not know how you are going to find either as a matter oi fact or as a matter of law an exact definition. For this reason, which I pointed out on previous occasions, I think it better to keep the terms we have.

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LIB

Jacques Bureau

Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

There is not a man who is going to cast his vote but knows what is meant by Conservative party and Liberal party." If he does not know it, he is not fit to vote. I do not see why " Government" and " Opposition " should be used in our ballot; it has never been done in our elections, and it is not a fair way to put it. Under this Bill, questions relating to the parties are referred to the discussion of the leaders of the party. I think we should use in this law words that are intelligible and will allow the soldier to give an intelligent vote. As to the independent candidate, I think that should be left blank. The candidate who does not belong to either of the great parties may be a Labour candidate, a Socialist candidate, or a Nationalist candidate, for all I know.

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CON

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DOHERTY:

But a fourth alternative is allowed under which the soldier may vote for the individual. The independent candidate I would understand to be the one who presents himself as independent as between the Government and the Opposition, whether he counts himself a socialist or gives himself some other title.

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LIB

Jacques Bureau

Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

Suppose there were two Conservative candidates. I suppose the interpretation given to the word " Government " would be in favour of the candidate who was chosen by the convention. And the same with the Liberal candidate. But suppose that the Conservative candidate who has not been chosen by the convention has a majority of votes of those who heard him and saw him, but when these soldiers' votes come in, the votes of men who have not seen and heard, they give the majority to the other candidate. In that case, surely these votes should be eliminated and let the election go to the man who was the choice of the people.

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CON
LIB

April 13, 1915