February 19, 1925

LAB

Joseph Tweed Shaw

Labour

Mr. SHAW:

May I ask the minister if

an exception with respect to labour were incorporated into the existing legislation would he approve of it?

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT AMENDMENT
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LIB

Edward James McMurray (Solicitor General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. McMURRAY:

I would say to my

hon. friend-and I intended to mention it in any event-that the government proposes before the close of the session to introduce a bill introducing some amendments to the Elections Act. There have been several reports made by the electoral officers since the Dominion Elections Act was passed. There are some amendments not of a sweeping character that we feel the House would concur in fully, and when sufficient information can be gathered a bill will be brought down in due course, but I would suggest to the mover of the bill that it would be better possibly if he would drop the bill; and consideration might be given to hi? proposal. I cannot urge him to drop it. The government bill will be considered in committee, and he will have a chance in committee when the bill is brought down to discuss the question he has raised in this House. But the House will see that this

bill as drafted is simply sweeping away what has been on our statute books for a long time and exists there of apparent necessity. The government could not consent to the passing of the second reading of this bill at the present time.

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LAB

William Irvine

Labour

Mr. IRVINE:

Since this legislation has been on the statute books for so long, can the minister say that he thinks it has been effective?

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LIB

Edward James McMurray (Solicitor General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. McMURRAY:

I think there is no doubt of that at all. I cannot tell what corporations might have done if the act had not been passed. We find it necessary to pass many laws against crimes of all kinds and generally they are effective, and I presume this law has been effective in this case. Surely the hon. member would not propose to throw down all the safeguards that we have.

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CON

Leon Johnson Ladner

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LADNER:

Does the minister find any objections to provision being made by which labour organizations could provide funds for political purposes, such as is proposed in principle by the mover?

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LIB

Edward James McMurray (Solicitor General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. McMURRAY:

That is a matter for the deliberate consideration of the House. No man in this country is more friendly to labour than I am.

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LAB
LIB

Edward James McMurray (Solicitor General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. McMURRAY:

There would be great difficulties in that. Supposing my hon. friend was a member of a trade union and he put his money in it for the purposes of trade union work. Would he want the directors or officers of that union to vote it away for an entirely different purpose?

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CON

Leon Johnson Ladner

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LADNER:

Would the members of the union not decide that for themselves?

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LIB

Edward James McMurray (Solicitor General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. McMURRAY:

That is where the

difficulty arises.

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PRO

Robert Forke

Progressive

Mr. FORKE:

The matter contained in this bill may be viewed from two different angles. I can say frankly that when this measure was introduced in 1920, I think it was, political movement was pretty lively out on the prairies and the farmers were taking a stand to go into politics actively. There was some suspicion at that time that this law was aimed at movements of this character. Since then I have viewed the matter very carefully and we found a way of getting around it in a perfectly legal manner by becoming incorporated for political purposes. That may seem, on the face of it, to be a rather cumbersome way of carrying on political activities Thinking the matter over, I have now come

Dominion Elections Act

to the conclusion that, perhaps, it is just as well to avoid the very appearance of evil, and if people wish to go into politics actively in a body, I do not think there is any great hardship in asking that they should become incorporated if they wish to collect funds for that purpose. I quite sympathize with the ideas of the promoter of this bill in that he may think it a hardship that they should be compelled to incorporate for this purpose. Nevertheless, I am inclined to believe that the law as it stands now may have a very good effect as a warning to corporations and bodies of individuals who may wish to contribute towards political funds for the purpose of corrupting the public. In fact, I would be inclined to allow the law as it stands in section 10 to remain as it is.

As regards section 11, I am not so sure. I cannot, however, see that a great deal of harm would occur in allowing outsiders to come in and take part in our elections. As has already been said, Canadians go over to Great Britain, take part in the elections over there and get elected as members of the Imperial parliament. It is, perhaps, an open question just how far that should be allowed. I have listened to remarks made by the Solicitor General as regards foreigners coming in here, acting in a corrupt manner and then leaving abruptly so that they cannot be punished for what they have done. That may be perfectly true, but at the same time I would allow liberty of action in a matter of this kind and I would be inclined to be in favour of section 11 being withdrawn.

Hon. GEORGE P. GRAHAM (Minister of Railways and Canals): Mr. Speaker, I have to admit that I have been in public life in Canada longer than the hon. member for East Calgary (Mr. Irvine), and I will give him the reasons why this section prohibiting outsiders from taking part in our elections was placed in the statute book in the first place. As a matter of fact, it was to prevent any party from bringing men, lately from across the border, to take part in our elections. Many years ago, when this act was first passed, each party was charging the other with importing men trained in election manipulation from various cities in the United States to assist them in doing in the campaign in Canada, work which the Canadian under the law would not dare to do himself. That was the basis of this law. My hon. friend will say, of course, that if a man was caught plugging, he could be arrested, but the difficulty was that he would do that kind of work, every person would know that he was in the country doing political work for

some of the parties, but they could not discover until election day, perhaps, a direct violation of our law. Under the statute as it stands now, he could be arrested if he was found taking part in an election and you would not have to prove a direct violation of our election law in order to arrest him. If my hon. friend had passed through the experiences, particularly in the border counties, that many of us in Canada did years ago, he would not think of removing this restriction. There has been a great improvement in election methods since it became a part of our statutes. It never was intended to apply to a man like Ramsay MacDonald or any other man who, passing through the country, wished1 to make a speech, and a law is only justifiable in the way it is enforced. A law must be enforced With common sense or it will not remain law very long. I might warn my hon. friend that if he would persist in removing that section, we might have a return to the days when we were infested at election time with men brought across the border to do certain work that Canadians would not do themselves.

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IND

William Charles Good

Independent Progressive

Mr. GOOD:

In connection with tire time at which the first section was adopted, my recollection is that it was adopted in 1920, and I was rather surprised to hear the Solicitor General state that it dates back to 1908. Perhaps he or the hon. member lor South Wellington can give some authoritative information on that point.

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LIB

Edward James McMurray (Solicitor General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. McMURRAY:

The present Dominion Elections Act was drafted' in 1920. This particular section 10 comes, I think, from the Elections Act of 1908, with a slight amendment dealing with the opening words, "an unincorporated company or association," and the penalty was increased. Section 10 is substantially as it stood in the prior act. There is nothing new in the enactment in the statute of 1920. Section 11 is also the same.

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CON

Hugh Guthrie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

If my recollection serves me, clause 10 dates further back than the Elections Act of 1907. it was passed in 1898 and has been carried now on the statutes for over a quarter of a century. The other clause was passed in the year 1907 or 1908. My own opinion is that in view of the suggestion of the Solicitor General (Mr. McMurray), the hon. member who has moved this bill (Mr. Irvine) would do well to drop the matter pending the bringing down later on of the bill which the government proposes to introduce during the session. I assume that there will be quite a number of amendments to be pro-

Motions

posed to the Dominion Elections Act. Some the Solicitor General says are of minor importance while others may be of greater significance. But there will be an opportunity then for the hon. member to move an amendment in the ordinary course as in the case of any other public bill. I think he would be well advised in the meantime to let this bill drop with the idea of reviving it, if he sees fit, when the general bill is under discussion. In the meantime we could give the matter further consideration.

Motion (Mr. Irvine) negatived.

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MORRISBURG DAM


On the motion of Mr. Church: For a copy of all papers, agreements, correspondence, telegrams and letters exchanged between the government of Canada, the governments of Ontario and the United States, and the Hydro-Electric Commission regarding the generation and distribution of power at what is commonly known as the proposed Morrisburg dam on the St. Lawrence river.


LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

The wording of this motion contemplates something more than it is possible for the government to comply with. It calls for all correspondence and so on exchanged between the government of Canada, the governments of Ontario and the United States and the Hydro-Electric Commission. We clearly are not in a position to bring down papers exchanged between the government of Ontario and the Hydro-Electric Commission, or between the United States and the commission. In other words, we can bring down only such papers as have passed between the government of Canada and any of the bodies mentioned in the motion that is to say, any correspondence to which this government has been

11 p.m. a party. If the hon. member will amend his motion to carry that meaning it may pass. I suggest that he insert after the words " the government of Canada " the word " and," and substitute the word " or " for the word " and " before the words " the Hydro-Electric Commission." If the motion is amended in that way it may be adopted.

Motion as amended agreed to.

Topic:   MORRISBURG DAM
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UNEMPLOYMENT CONFERENCES


On the motion of Mr. Church: For a copy of all papers, agreements, correspondence, letters and other data exchanged between the government of Canada and the governments of the municipalities or provinces, relating to unemployment, including a return as to what action was taken at conferences between the aforesaid governments on this question, and showing the amount spent on unemployment by the government of Canada during the past four years for unemployment relief.


LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I do not like to be critical, but my hon. friend uses an expression which is hardly appropriate-" the governments of the municipalities or provinces". I would suggest that he drop the words " governments of the ".

Motion as amended agreed! to.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT CONFERENCES
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February 19, 1925