Stuart Sinclair Garson (Solicitor General of Canada; Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)
Hon. Sluarl S. Garson (Minister of Justice):
Hon. Sluarl S. Garson (Minister of Justice):
If the minister speaks now he will close the debate.
I am sure it will be a source of great comfort to the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) to know
that his reasoning is identical with that of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. That chamber took the position that section 32 (1) of this bill in the form in which it was first passed was an intimidation of people who might be affected by it; and that it was preferable to have inserted in the Combines Investigation Act itself an alternative penalty of a fine.
Now, actually, as I explained when this suggestion was first made in this chamber by the hon. member for Eglinton, there is no difference whatsoever, so far as substance is concerned, between the present wording as amended by the Senate and the wording of the bill in its original form. The position was simply this. Strange as it might seem it is impossible to imprison a corporation. Therefore when you have a penalty of imprisonment of this sort in this Combines Investigation Act, and in many sections of the Criminal Code dealing with offences which it is possible for a corporation to commit, it is preferable, instead of having in each one of those sections, wherever they occur, a provision that if the accused is a corporation it shall be fined instead of imprisoned, to have instead only one section in the Criminal Code, namely, section 1035. This section provides, amongst other things, that the courts shall have authority, instead of imposing a two-year penalty of imprisonment upon an accused person-including a corporation that cannot be imprisoned-to impose a fine without limit. Read with this section 1035 of the Criminal Code, the original wording of this section 32 (1) of the Combines Investigation Act amendments was quite sufficient to achieve exactly the same effect that it now achieves when it is spelled out in the way in which it has been spelled out by the Senate.
The chamber of commerce wanted to have it spelled out for exactly the same reasons as those which have been urged this morning by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre for not spelling it out; and I must say-
If my hon. friend will just let me continue. I must say I find this reasoning equally unconvincing from both these sources.
On a point of privilege, the minister seems to have misunderstood what I was saying. I did not want it spelled out in this way.
My hon. friend does not want it spelled out in this way because my hon.
friend thinks the same as does the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and that is, if it is not spelled out that way it will serve as an intimidation. The argument is that you will then frighten these people into being good by the fact that there is no alternative of a fine. Well, I find that sort of argument extremely unimpressive. I cannot understand why corporations-
You are encouraging corporation directors to break the law by telling them that there will now be no jail sentences.
-who will be advised by the cream of the legal talent in this country, are going to be frightened by a provision in the Combines Investigation Act which says that a person which includes a corporation is going to be imprisoned for two years-
If they break the law there will be no jail sentences for directors of corporations. That is what you are now saying.
-when there is and can be no jail sentence for corporations, and when the court already has power to fine instead of imprisoning both an individual and a corporation.
Shall the motion carry?
Motion agreed to on division, amendments read the second time and concurred in.
Hon. W. E. Harris (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) moved
the second reading of Bill No. 393, to readjust the representation in the House of Commons.
May I ask if it is the intention of the minister to make any statement? If so, I will naturally wait until he has done so.
Mr. Harris (Grey-Bruce):
Mr. Speaker, this bill, as I have already explained on two occasions in the house, is a bill which was recommended to the house by the special committee on redistribution.
The purpose of the bill is to give legal expression to the decision which has been reached by this house in amending the British North America Act earlier this month. It sets out the number of seats which are allotted to the various provinces, the district of Mackenzie and the district of Yukon, and provides, incidentally, instructions as to the interpretation, descriptions and the like. It
is, so far as I have been able to determine, in the form which has been common to these bills for some time, and certainly in the past two or three redistributions. It follows almost precisely the wording of the 1947 act, with minor variations. The procedure which we hope will be adopted, if second reading is given, is that I shall move that this bill be referred to the special committee on redistribution for consideration, and for the purpose of attaching thereto the schedule of the constituencies as defined by that committee. That, I believe, has been the custom since 1903.
There will be other amendments suggested, I think, in that committee-if I may be permitted to suggest this to the house- having in mind the fact that some constituencies will be renamed, and therefore amendments will be required in the Canada Elections Act.
I want to point out to the house again that this is merely a bill for the purpose of carrying out the allotment of members among the provinces as determined by the House of Commons recently. It does not contain and makes no reference to the boundaries of the constituencies, which have not yet been reported to the house, nor will they be until the schedule has been affixed to the bill.
Mr. George A. Drew (Leader of the Opposition):
Mr. Speaker, this subject is one which has frequently engaged the attention of the house, since the British North America Act of 1867 requires a decennial census, and a redistribution of seats in accordance with that census. Section 8 of that act makes mandatory the taking of a census every ten years. Section 51 makes it equally mandatory that there shall be a readjustment of seats in accordance with that census.
There has been earlier discussion on a number of occasions about the interests of the provinces in the question of redistribution. I have expressed my own opinion that, when it comes to the number of seats each province will have, the provinces should be consulted. I mention that now because I would not wish any remarks I make in regard to the delineation of boundaries within a province, once that allocation of seats has been determined, to leave the impression that I am in any way disregarding my earlier argument, and the belief I hold very strongly, that the provinces have an interest, and that they should be consulted in regard to the number of seats by which each province will be represented in the House of Commons.
Up to that point, however, it appears to have been generally accepted by members in the house from every part of Canada
that the problem of finding the method by which the delineation of the boundaries of the various constituencies will carry out the requirements of section 51 of the British North America Act is the responsibility of the parliament of Canada. Once again we are called upon to carry out the duty of members of the house to reallocate the seats as required by section 51 in relation to the census taken, under the provisions of section 8 of the British North America Act.
I agree that it is the duty of the House of Commons to carry out that responsibility, and that this responsibility should be accepted during the course of the present session. Having said that, I wish to review some of the considerations which it seems to me should be borne in mind at the time we are asked to accept a principle established by an act which perpetuates the unsatisfactory method that has been followed for so many years in carrying out that responsibility.
We have indicated our disapproval of the method. That disapproval has been expressed on both sides of the house. I am not claiming any originality either on my part or on the part of any member of the Progressive Conservative party in suggesting that the procedure is unsatisfactory, and that another procedure should be adopted.
Over and over again very strong arguments have been made against a system which has aroused cynicism in the minds of the people of Canada as to the way in which the boundaries of our electoral districts are actually decided. And, after all, it is of importance to the members of the House of Commons if the public does regard with cynicism the method we adopt, and if we do not do everything within our power to remove the grounds for that cynicism.
I am not suggesting for one moment that either party can claim any particular credit for virtue in the way in which this has been done in the past. Perhaps I may anticipate the fact that some hon. member opposite will recall the well-remembered words of Sir John A. Macdonald, that in carrying out a redistribution he was going, to use his own words, to do what he could to hive the Grits.
Perhaps there was a fairly frank approach to this subject at that time. At least it was frank; at least he left no doubt as to what his intention was. I must say that it is better to be as frank as that than to proclaim virtue and then to adopt a course which is just as cynical as any which has ever been followed since 1867.
After all, as we are so often reminded, there has been great progress in this country.
Our parliamentary system has been described as a transcript of Westminster. Stage by stage we have advanced to an increasing measure of maturity, and of pride in our own acceptance of responsibility. Nevertheless we all recognize that our parliamentary system was borrowed from the parliamentary system of the United Kingdom, and that we have very closely followed the rules and practices of that system throughout the years.
That has been true in substantial measure of the other nations of the commonwealth. I mention this because there has been marked progress in the other nations of the commonwealth in dealing with this problem. While at one time they followed the same methods we follow, they have now advanced from the stage of the pocket boroughs and the political liquidation by redistribution of opponents whose presence in the House of Commons they were not inclined to encourage. The result is that in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa they have impartial bodies conducting an examination of this problem outside the House of Commons and presenting to the House of Commons recommendations which can be accepted, amended or refused. It has worked in the other nations of the commonwealth. It has found acceptance and has increased the confidence of the public in the way in which they have an opportunity to be represented in the House of Commons where government of the people by the people through their elected representatives is supposed to be truly representative as far as that can be possible.
Whatever may have happened in the past, whatever arguments may have been made for or against this system, we should be ready to move with the times. There comes some point when the professions of both parties should reach some effective interpretation by legislative action in this House of Commons and in the parliament of Canada. If the arguments had been made only on one side of this house then it might well be that the repetition of any of those arguments might be regarded simply as an attempt to embed in the records of this house a repetition of earlier statements so that the position of any party might be before the people of Canada and it might be possible at some future time to say, "This has been our position and we ask you to support us in that position."
The fact is, however, that objections to this system have been just as vigorous and just as critical when uttered by members of the Liberal party as when uttered by members of the Conservative or any other party in this house. Those remarks were particularly
critical when they were uttered by the late Right Hon. Mackenzie King. Members of this party have not been notorious for their complete agreement with everything that Mr. King did in this house, but I think it is a matter of record that the members of this party have indicated their acceptance of his respect for parliamentary institutions and his knowledge of parliamentary practices. For that reason I suggest that when we are called upon to consider this measure at this time it is a good thing to recall what was said by Mr. King in regard to this subject in view of the extent to which the members of the Liberal party now in the house have expressed at all times their faith and confidence in his political opinions.
Again I would indicate that sometimes the views that have been expressed seem to have been more vigorous when some of the speakers were in opposition than when they formed the government. What I propose to quote now was said by Mr. King at the time he was in opposition. However, I point out these words because he indicated when he returned to office later that he had not changed his opinion in that respect. On May 25, 1933, as reported on page 5425 of Hansard of 1932-33, Mr. King had this to say:
My own view, and I have come to it after observing pretty carefully what has been taking place and what has been said in debate in this house as well as in the corridors,-
May I repeat those words, "in the corridors." -is that redistribution should be taken out of the hands of the House of Commons, where the parties are immediately interested, and should be put into the hands of a commission of judges. I would have that commission composed of judges selected in equal numbers by both sides of the house. The redistribution, if it is carried out in a fair way has not to do with party advantage at all. It ought to have solely to do with seeking to effect a fair and impartial division of the constituencies, and if three judges were named from one side of the house and three from the other, and if the choice were made, if you will, from among those who have been in politics and who therefore may be presumed to know something about conditions generally as they exist throughout the country, I think a redistribution which would be regarded as fair might be arrived at. Probably it would not be perfect, and any report which the commission made would have to be submitted to parliament and made subject to discussion and debate in parliament. But I do think that something of that kind would serve to bring about a much fairer result. May I say that if the choice were made in the manner indicated the judges in my opinion ought to be chosen from different parts of Canada. The result would be that in the matters that came before them, there would always be a majority of the commission of judges from outside of the particular province whose affairs might be under consideration by the commission at the time a decision was to be made. It is impossible to get perfection in anything, but I do submit that part of the duty of every member of this house is to consider not only the problems of his own day, but as well the future of his country. I hesitate to think of the complexion of this house as it may be ten years hence. Looking back on the past ten
years, the changes that have taken place in that period have been very many. I imagine that the greater part of those of us who are now here will before the time for another redistribution comes have, so far as continuing as representatives in this House of Commons is concerned, passed beyond its bounds. In the circumstances I think it is a duty that those of us who have views as to what we believe would most be in the interests of our country should assert our views and leave them of record, that they may be there to guide future parliaments in so far as their members may wish to be governed by them.
I have quoted those words because when Mr. King spoke them in this house he indicated that he was putting them on the record in 'the hope that they might be remembered by others who would recognize his parliamentary and political experience no matter whether they might agree with other views that he expressed. Mr. King had the opportunity to speak again on this subject. He was spared to return after the next decennial census and to express his views once again at a time when he was prime minister of this country. He again repeated his view that a redistribution of this kind should be carried out by an independent commission. He had not changed his opinion.
May I quote from Hansard for July 15, 1947, at page 5648. At that time he was speaking in reply to a speech by the hon. member for Lake Centre (Mr. Diefenbaker)-, the same hon. member who now represents that very well known constituency in Saskatchewan. These were Mr. King's words at that time:
May I say that with much of what my hon. friend from Lake Centre has just said I am in most hearty accord and agreement. I think I made it very clear at the beginning of this session when I spoke on the question of redistribution that I myself would like to see the whole question of redistribution of the constituencies taken out of the hands of the hon. members of the House of Commons and placed before a commission of judges. I have here the daily Hansard of February 3, 1947, and I read my words as spoken at that time:
I believe I have covered all that I think it desirable to say at present, beyond giving my hon. friend an assurance that the redistribution measure will be brought in at an early date in this session. I still hold the view which I expressed before. I personally would prefer a commission of judges to make the redistribution of seats in this house, but I do not believe that the majority of hon. members take that view, and in that particular I am prepared to accept the will of the majority. I hope, however, the day will come when the House of Commons of Canada will see the wisdom of allowing its redistribution to be made by some impartial tribunal and not by the members of the house themselves dealing with the matter in committee as it has been dealt with in former years.
Then he went on at that time to repeat the view that he had expressed in 1933 and to which I have already referred.
Now, Mr. Speaker, that opinion has been put forward by other hon. members of the Liberal party and of those one who has put it forward most frequently and most vigorously has been the hon. member for Quebec
South (Mr. Power), who has spoken over and over again on this subject from his long experience in parliament. He has dealt with the subject during the course of the current session. He has over and over again emphasized the need for having a different method than the committee method which we are now asked to repeat. The member for Quebec South has referred to the difficulties which have arisen and he refers to the difficulties that arose in the committee which was set up after the speech made by Mr. King in 1933. On a later occasion this is what the member for Quebec South said:
Members who were in this house in 1934 will remember that the committee pretty well ended up in what might have been called an unseemly turmoil, . . .
On that occasion the hon. member was using words which less than described the vigour of the exchange of opinion covered by the term "unseemly turmoil". The difficulty has been that, on each occasion when these very clear and, one would have thought, convincing arguments have been put forward, it always has been suggested that the next time will provide the opportunity. Over and over again we find the explanation that we are now confronted with-that of the necessity of carrying out the obligations under the British North America Act to effect redistribution, and therefore the consideration of a better method must be deferred until some other time.
May I quote from what the hon. member for Quebec South said in 1939 at the time that he was a minister of this government? I quote from Hansard for 1939, volume II, page 1807, and I will continue to quote until I indicate that the quotation is ended:
. . . the object of this motion is to set up again for this year a committee which has been functioning for the past three sessions of this parliament. During the 1936 session the committee studied and reported on such matters as proportional representation, the alternative vote, compulsory registration and voting. During the session of 1937 it considered a large number of proposals which had been made to this house, and particularly to the committee, having for their object the revision of the elections act. Of these proposals, something over one hundred in number, I am informed, some thirty-three were adopted and passed into legislation.
The committee also gave some consideration during the 1937 session to the question of the method of arriving at an equitable redistribution of the seats in this house. During the session of 1938, in the light of the information they had gained from the suggestions made to them by the public, by members of parliament, by organizations, and also by the chief electoral officer, whose long experience in matters of this kind formed the basis of his recommendations, the committee studied and finally recommended unanimously an act known as the Dominion Elections Act, which, with some minor amendments, finally passed this house. I think it can be said, generally speaking, that this act, so far as we are able to judge, since it has not been in operation in an actual theatre of war, has given general satisfaction.
There remain for the consideration of the committee two subjects which are cognate to those already discussed, namely, first, that of methods of effecting redistribution of seats in this house, and second, the question of election and campaign expenditures.
With respect to the redistribution of seats, I think the advisability and even the necessity of remodelling the procedure whereby every ten years or so this house is made the theatre of a somewhat unseemly, undignified and utterly confusing scramble for personal or political advantage, should be evident to all. The difficulty of making an equitable distribution of seats in any country is increased many fold in this country, where we must take into consideration diversity of interests, economic and social; the racial distinctions which exist; the growth of population; and the varying movements of our population brought about to some extent by economic causes in our cities, and in the rural districts, by the opening up of our hinterland. I say this country is an extremely difficult one to redistribute, and that makes it all the more necessary that there should be a drastic change in the system which we have followed up to the present.
As hon. members of the house know, these redistributions have taken place as a result of conferences, of meetings of committees, and finally of what you might almost call a battle royal in this house. It is inevitable no matter which party is in power that there should be complaints and that the distribution of seats will not meet with the approval of all. There are today, as there have been in the past, what I might call almost appalling inequalities of distribution. To cite only a few of them: In
the province of Quebec, the constituency of Argen-teuil has 11,122 voters and sends one member to this house. Another rural constituency, that of Joliette-L'Assomption-Montcalm, has 30,363 voters and sends only one representative to this house. Among the urban constituencies in the city of Montreal, St. Lawrence-St. George, with 22,549 voters, sends one member, and St. James, with 54,760 voters, sends one member. It is not surprising that there has arisen a suspicion that the redistribution was undertaken or was carried out not so much in the interests of giving a better distribution of seats but, on the part of some government, to have a greater number of their own followers in the house. But I say and repeat that this would happen no matter what government were in power, and we can only come to the conclusion upon looking over the ground that there should be evolved some method other than the law of the jungle-might is right- in order to bring about a distribution which would be fair to the people of Canada.
Now, that is the end of the quotation I propose to put on the record at the moment. I do so, and I place it side by side with the statement by Mr. King so that the arguments that have been made from this side of the house and the arguments that may be made now will not stand simply as partisan expressions in relation to a problem which, in the interests of dignity and respect for parliament, should be brought out of the turmoil and the type of log-rolling which have been part and parcel of this system no matter which government was in power.
Today, we are called upon to decide a simple question put forward in such clear terms by the dean of the Liberal party in this house, the member for Quebec South (Mr. Power). We are simply asked, when we
consider the principle on second reading, whether we are going to perpetuate the law of the jungle in carrying out redistribution or whether we are not. We are being asked to decide, in dealing with the principle inherent in this act, whether we are going to have an unseemly, undignified and utterly confusing scramble for personal or political advantage. Do not let anyone in this house suggest that there has not been a scramble for political advantage during the considerations given to this subject by the committee already. If anyone says that is not so, may I say in advance that his respect for the intelligence and confidence of the house will be left seriously in doubt when that statement is made. Granted, we have had professions of a desire for a fair and impartial way of dealing with this, but once again qualifying my remarks to say that no one party can claim particular credit for its virtue in tackling this subject in the past, may I say that the professions of impartiality have not gone hand in hand with the actual conduct of either the provincial committees or the general committee in dealing with this problem during this session.
The law of the jungle is the law that has been followed in several cases, and the inequalities referred to by the hon. member for Quebec South, in his very clear and intelligent interpretation of the weaknesses of the system we are asked to perpetuate, are still there. Being a very well known representative from the province of Quebec, he naturally dealt with the inequalities in that province, but those inequalities exist all over Canada. It is not only the acts of commission of the committee which are open to criticism, but it is the acts of omission as well. It is not only that there has been gerrymandering of the most vicious kind in certain cases, but it is also the fact that there has been no attempt to deal with this problem of inequality of representation. There are still seats, under the plans put forward, with a small population that will send one member to this house, and there are seats with more than 90,000 who will have one member; that is not representation by population.
I recognize, and I think all the members of this house recognize, there are certain considerations which must prevent any system of absolute equality of representation by population. I recognize that there are distant and remote constituencies where the distribution of population would make it utterly fantastic to follow any strict basis of the allocation of population. We had the example of one member representing that vast area including the Yukon and the Mackenzie area, an area greater than the :most of western Europe. Here was an
empire in itself, represented by one member. It is not only impossible for the member to get in touch with all the prospective voters before an election, but it is utterly impossible for any member, no matter what his energies or wishes may be, to keep in touch with all that vast area. There has, in this case, been a very sensible attempt to recognize that there are cases where any rigid rule will not apply, and it is therefore intended to have an electoral district for the Yukon and an electoral district for the Mackenzie areas. Even yet, they will be enormous areas for a single member to represent.
But surely there must be some line drawn. There must be some better explanation than we have yet of the necessity for having constituencies with a population of 20,000, or a few more, and other constituencies with a population of more than 90,000 as South York will have under the plans now being presented. We know, Mr. Speaker, that no real effort has been made to deal with this problem on the basis of any settled! principle. Even under the unsatisfactory procedure which we are called upon to perpetuate, it would seem that the logical method would be for the committee to meet and decide on some basic principle which would guide the provincial subcommittees and the general committee in reaching a conclusion as to what the division of population within the various constituencies should be. But that was not the method. There was, of course, some confusion created by certain maps that got into the press. The members of the committee were told that there were no maps and then in some strange way maps appeared in the press, indicating an extraordinary prescience on the part of certain newspapermen in interpreting the minds of the members of the committee. It would indicate a very high ability on the part of certain members of the press to anticipate the opinion of the members of the committee in that particular case, because maps appearing in the press when no maps existed, according to statements made to the committee, afterwards turned out to be quite correct.
It does indicate, of course, that close association between members of the press gallery and members of the house which is extremely helpful in interpreting the events of this house to the public of Canada. Of course, in everything I say I am paying my respects in the utmost sincerity to the members of the press. They were performing their proper duty and seeking to interpret to the people of Canada this very important function of parliament which was being carried out. I must confess that it has strained the credulity of some of us to believe that there were
no maps in existence. However, if we are told that is the case, we are bound to accept that statement. It would have seemed that the way in which maps should be drawn ultimately would have been to say, this is the principle we will follow, and then appoint subcommittees to draft maps in accordance with that principle. But that was not the method that was followed. The people of Canada should know that it was not the method that was followed, if we are by any chance to be forced to perpetuate the law of the jungle by a majority vote of this house at this time. I of course point out again that I am simply following the words of the very distinguished hon. member for Quebec South (Mr. Power) in describing the procedure in that. way.