June 8, 1956


Private Bills Bill No. 345, for the relief of Alice Isabel Christian Thompson.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 346, for the relief of Czarna Landz-man Desmarais.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 347, for the relief of Real Perras. -Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 348, for the relief of Andrea Marietta Hiekisch Farago.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 354, for the relief of Barbara Mary Elliott Priestley..-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 355, for the relief of Nancy Elizabeth Theresa Butler Waugh.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 356, for the relief of Robert James Clarke.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 357, for the relief of Veronica Rose Latter Haworth Robinson.'-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 358, for the relief of Billie Mae Margaret Taylor Dennis.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 359, for the relief of Naida Donni-thorne St. James.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 360, for the relief of Alma Elizabeth Mackie Wahlberg.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 361, for the relief of William Maguire.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 362, for the relief of Anne Perley-Robertson McNicoll.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 363, for the relief of Colette Palardy Loranger.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 364, for the relief of Esther Kathleen Hamilton Williamson Maynard.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 365, for the relief of Helga Maria Berger Pilgrim.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 366, for the relief of Ruth Carol Friedman Allen.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 367, for the relief of Joseph Thomas Evans.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 368, for the relief of Marie Jacqueline Carmen Van Troyen Morin.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 369, for the relief of Hazel Wil-helmina Langtry Kimpton.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 370, for the relief of Sergei Ver-mala.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 371, for the relief of Stanley Tom Wood.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 372, for the relief of Amelia Alice Stefani Schofield.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 373, for the relief of Bridget Rowley McHale Bowman.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 374, for the relief of Shirley Susan Morris Duggan.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 375, for the relief of Maureen Evelyn Allison Cooper.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 376, for the relief of William Windsor Frewen.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 377, for the relief of Ethel Hansen Echlin.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 378, for the relief of Muriel Doreen Southall Fisher.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 379, for the relief of Paulette Lavallee Plotkin.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 381, for the relief of Peter Butler.- Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 382, for the relief of Ivy Umilta Gooding Joseph.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 383, for the relief of Margaret Lash Johnston.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 384, for the relief of Ethel Simon Baroff.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 385, for the relief of Golda Cohen Winter.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 386, for the relief of Henriette Lessard Hughes.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 387, for the relief of Ewart Ernest Clouston.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 389, for the relief of Mary Ethel Irving Buchanan Simcox.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 390, for the relief of Constance Catherine Mary Pilon Milmine.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 391, for the relief of Joseph Henri Maurice Messier.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 392, for the relief of Mildred Helena Seale Darker.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 393, for the relief of Robert Alfred Price.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 394, for the relief of Alfred Sevigny. -Mr. Henderson.


SECOND READINGS-SENATE BILLS


Bill No. 395, for the relief of Marie Therese Gerega St-Jacques.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 396, for the relief of Julius Michael Cantor.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 397, for the relief of Gerald Zel-man.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 398, for the relief of Lucille Viola Arthur Ward.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 399, for the relief of May O'Connor MacKenzie.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 400, for the relief of Rita Cleevely Scott.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 401, for the relief of Leah Banfield Rideout.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 402, for the relief of Margaret Isobel Gillespie MacKenzie.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 403, for the relief of Edda Roehm Sackmann.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 404, for the relief of Joseph Ernest Adrien Joly.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 405, for the relief of Jacqueline Bussiere Sirois.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 406, for the relief of Doris Elaine Cameron Gladwish.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 407, for the relief of Myra Goodman Lobell.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 408, for the relief of Jennie Zalezniak Wiseman.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 409, for the relief of Phyllis Elizabeth Jardine Williams.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 410, for the relief of Martha Hope MacDougall Fortier.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 411, for the relief of Hugh Oliver Semper.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 412, for the relief of Yvonne Elizabeth Thurgarland Brosseau.-Mr. Henderson. Bill No. 413, for the relief of Hugh Lawrence Byers.-Mr. Henderson.


CANADA ELECTIONS ACT

EXTENSION OF RIGHT TO VOTE AT ADVANCE POLLS


The house resumed, from Friday, March 9, consideration of the motion of Mr. Knowles for the second reading of Bill No. 121, to amend the Canada Elections Act.


PC

George Clyde Nowlan

Progressive Conservative

Mr. G. C. Nowlan (Digby-Annapolis-Kings):

Before the mover of the bill closes the debate, if there are no other speakers I should like to say a few words on this matter. I have forgotten the date upon which we had this bill up for second reading, but it was many weeks ago.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   EXTENSION OF RIGHT TO VOTE AT ADVANCE POLLS
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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Knowles:

It was March 9.

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PC

George Clyde Nowlan

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Nowlan:

At that time the Secretary of State (Mr. Pinard) spoke on this matter and presented certain facts to the house which I think are relevant, because I have had the opportunity of sitting on the committee of this house which has dealt with the elections act and proposed amendments over a period of six or seven years, ever since I have been in this house.

This matter contained in the proposed bill, or at least the important phase of it which is the matter of the advance polls, has been considered by that committee on various occasions. Evidence has been taken and views have been strongly presented, but in every case of which I have knowledge the committee has decided that it was not advisable to adopt this proposal.

I think many arguments could be advanced in its favour. I believe one of the things which many people overlook is the difference between our election act and the election acts of Great Britain and other parts of the commonwealth. As I understand it, we are the only part of the commonwealth which does not have a closed election list which enables them to be ready for an election at any time. You get your certificate that you are entitled to vote; therefore elections can be brought on very

Canada Elections Act

quickly and with very few complications. In our country, for reasons which apparently are justified because of conditions which prevail here, we have never adopted that practice. Our lists are prepared at election time and that involves a great deal of time and expense. Arguments which may apply in other jurisdictions with respect to this matter, therefore, I do suggest do not apply here.

Now, of course, it is very easy to argue, and it is desirable, that everyone be given an opportunity to vote no matter what the circumstances may be; that is the idea. It is perhaps difficult to argue against that. It is always difficult to argue against something which has a theoretical appeal. We all realize that people are deprived of a vote because of the fact that occasionally they have to be away. I think it is desirable that the elections committee of this house, when that committee is set up again, should consider, as was recommended as I recall it at our last session, enlarging to some extent the scope of the advance poll so as to give more people an opportunity to vote. In fact I believe that scope has been enlarged during the time I have served on the committee.

The proposal contained in this bill is to the effect that any person who signs a declaration that he intends to or thinks he will be away on election day, can vote at the advance poll. As I recall it, the Secretary of State put certain financial considerations on the record which I think should be considered by this house, although they are not definitive and should not be taken as absolute. The mere fact that it is going to cost the country something additional should not be the yardstick we use in deciding whether or not we are going to give people the vote. Nevertheless, it is somewhat of an important factor.

I have discussed this matter with the chief electoral officer, who is an official of the house, and as I recall it he told me, although I did not take time to look up the record, that in the last election we had 243 advance polls in Canada. If this bill is adopted the chief electoral officer assumes we would have to have one advance poll for every 5 polls in urban areas and one advance poll for every 15 polls in rural areas, or approximately 5,000 more advance polls. If we take the cost as it was the last time, $130 a poll, you will see that it means a substantial increase in cost to the treasury. As I say, it is only one factor, but it is one which we have to consider.

There is also the factor that you are going to have a miniature general election over a period of three days instead of one. At the

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Canada Elections Act

moment everyone knows pretty well who is entitled to vote at the advance poll. The classes are defined and you make your preparations accordingly, in so far as manning the polls is concerned by the chief electoral officer, as well as by the political parties who may or may not decide to be represented at those polls. If you are going to have a situation where anyone may come in and vote it is going to result in a miniature general election for a period of three days rather than one. I assume that would mean that the political parties would have to be represented at these polls.

Again that may or may not be a matter of expense, and as I say expense should not be the definitive factor in this question. It would mean extra expense in most ridings, certainly in the urban areas, though I think there are some rural areas where workers can be found on a voluntary basis and where they would be shocked at the thought of being paid for their services. But I am told there are many areas, and I can see the practice developing even in the rural areas in the maritimes which I think is reprehensible, where you have to pay people to work for a political party at election time.

In urban areas, if you have to employ agents and scrutineers for a period of three days instead of for the one day which is generally the practice, it means that at least this is going to aggravate the problem of getting candidates, running elections, and so forth. I think also it involves the fact that candidates would have to be nominated at least one week earlier than has been the practice heretofore.

That is what the chief electoral officer advised the committee a year ago, and I think we have to take his judgment on this because he is an experienced officer, and certainly a very fair one, and one whose judgment I am sure this house will accept. He says it involves the nomination of candidates for at least three weeks prior to an election rather than the two weeks which has prevailed heretofore. That may or may not be an important factor but, generally speaking, there has been the feeling that there has been difficulty in the past when political parties nominated candidates too early. That is another reason why I think one should consider this very carefully.

I think an important factor above all which hon. members should consider, particularly those from urban areas-and certainly it does not concern me because I come from a rural area-is that in an urban area you would have a situation where a person could vote on an advanced poll certificate. All he would have to do would be to sign a declaration that he thought he was going to be

away on election day. The opportunities for impersonation are such that what may have happened in certain urban areas in the past will, to use a slang expression, seem like a Sunday school picnic compared with what will happen if this provision comes into effect.

I have heard these arguments pro and con over the past years. I have listened to evidence of various people dealing with the suggestion. The committee representing all parties in this house gave careful consideration to those representations, and in each case the committee decided by a very substantial majority that it was not in the public interest to enlarge the advance poll to the extent that is proposed in this bill, though recognizing the theoretical advisability of giving everyone a chance to vote.

Opposed to that would be the practical and mechanical difficulties, to say nothing of the cost, which could be imposed on the other side. In every case the committee has voted against this proposal. My own feeling, Mr. Speaker, is that the committee adopted the proper procedure on those occasions. As one who has gone through it in past years, I cannot support the bill at this time.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   EXTENSION OF RIGHT TO VOTE AT ADVANCE POLLS
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CCF

Angus MacInnis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Angus Maclnnis (Vancouver-Kingsway):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to say a word or two on this matter. I have had a little experience with elections, and I believe we should make it as easy as possible for people to cast their votes in our elections.

One criticism that is being made everywhere about democratic elections is that people are no longer interested in them. We cannot get the vote out. In municipal elections the number of voters is as small as 30 per cent. In my opinion we should do anything we can to make it easier for people to vote at an election without, of course, irregularities.

I am not greatly impressed with the argument of additional costs made by the hon. member for Digby-Annapolis-Kings. I have noticed that in almost every department of life when anything new is suggested there is always opposition to it. Once it is accepted nobody would think of doing away with it. The class of people who can vote at advance polls has been changed from time to time. At one time it was reserved for railroad men and commercial travellers. As hon. members know, a person can cease to be a commercial traveller, still be a member of the commercial travellers' association and carry his card in that association, and vote at an advance poll as long as he lives.

The number of people who may be away from their homes on election day is increasing

because of changes in our way of life. A few years ago very few people in this country, with the exception of professional and wealthy people, had holidays. Now almost everybody has holidays and they get them at different times. We found that because the last election was held at the time it was, a great many people were prevented from voting because they were away on holidays. We should use every means we can, with all the safeguards that are necessary, to make it easy for people to vote. If a man or woman knows that on election day he or she is going to be away and would like to cast a vote and takes steps to do that, we should look upon it as an indication of good citizenship and we should help that person to perform his or her good citizenship function.

I imagine at all elections, if voters know the right people, they can vote at an advance poll whether they fall within the class who vote at an advance poll or not. I am going to give a little incident that I have knowledge of myself because it happened to me. I shall not mention names or dates, because in agreeing to this I may have committed an offence under the Canada Elections Act. On the Friday night preceding the election a man called me up and said, "Angus, I would like to vote for you on Monday, but I am a contractor. I have a contract in Victoria and I have to be there. Is there any way by which I can vote at an advance poll?" I said, "No, there is not. There is no way by which you can legally vote at an advance poll, but I will give you a tip. You go to the headquarters of the Liberal party and tell them of your predicament but do not tell them whom you are going to vote for. Then call me up on Saturday night before you leave for Victoria and tell me how you got along". Well, he called me up on Saturday night and said, "I voted". I knew he would vote if I sent him to the right people. I did not ask him how he voted.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   EXTENSION OF RIGHT TO VOTE AT ADVANCE POLLS
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LIB

Roch Pinard (Secretary of State of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Pinard:

Was he not a travelling salesman instead of a contractor?

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   EXTENSION OF RIGHT TO VOTE AT ADVANCE POLLS
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CCF

Angus MacInnis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Maclnnis:

I do not know what he was when he voted, but he was a contractor before and he was a contractor after he voted. What he was during the time he cast his vote is not material. We should use every means we can to get people to vote and to vote honestly. We should use every means we can to keep people from having to use subterfuges to perform their duties of citizenship.

The amendment proposed by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre may be too wide. Perhaps it is; I do not know. If it is too wide we should accept the principle sympathetically. If we cannot accept it today we should refer it to the next meeting 67509-310

Canada Elections Act

of the elections committee, and I am quite sure that if we discuss it with the sympathy it deserves we shall increase the number of people who will be able to cast their ballots at advance polls because they will be away from their homes legitimately on election day.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   EXTENSION OF RIGHT TO VOTE AT ADVANCE POLLS
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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Knowles:

Mr. Speaker-

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
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LIB

Louis-René Beaudoin (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

If the hon. member speaks now he will close the debate.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Stanley Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

Mr. Speaker, when this bill was debated on March 9 the Secretary of State (Mr. Pinard), speaking for the government, indicated his opposition to the bill, though he did profess sympathy with my contention that it should be made possible for everyone who is on the voters' list to vote.

The arguments the Secretary of State advanced against the bill were mainly two. In the first place it was his view that if it were made possible for anyone whose name is on the voters' list to vote at the advance poll there might be a tendency for great numbers of people to vote at the advance poll and leave only 60 per cent or half the population to vote on the ordinary polling day. He felt that that would be injurious to the interest in general elections, and for that reason he was not sympathetic to the bill. He also indicated there were certain technical difficulties in connection with carrying out a procedure of this kind. It was mainly on those two grounds, if I remember correctly, that he felt the government could not accept the bill.

The hon. member for Nicolet-Yamaska also spoke in opposition to the bill, and as I recall it he echoed the sentiments expressed by the Secretary of State. He also expressed some surprise and perhaps concern over the fact that if this bill went through people simply going off on trips to Winnipeg would be able to vote before they left on such a desirable journey.

I should like to say, Mr. Speaker, that I think the Secretary of State put up a rather absurd argument when he suggested that a large percentage of people would vote at the advance poll even though they were not going to be away from home on election day. The reason I think that argument is absurd is that we already have universal voting at advance polls in a number of the provinces in this country. It happens in my home city of Winnipeg in the province of Manitoba in provincial elections, and although more people percentage-wise take advantage of that right than is the case in federal elections-because of the difference in the law-still the number is not great at all.

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Canada Elections Act

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
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LIB

Roch Pinard (Secretary of State of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Pinard:

That does not make the argument absurd, I believe; but it might well be that the situation would become such in a dominion general election.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   EXTENSION OF RIGHT TO VOTE AT ADVANCE POLLS
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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Knowles:

I think it is pretty difficult for the Secretary of State to argue from no known facts to the position he takes. I think it is much more logical to deduce what would happen from a parallel situation that already exists.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
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LIB

Roch Pinard (Secretary of State of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Pinard:

But it does increase, does it not?

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   EXTENSION OF RIGHT TO VOTE AT ADVANCE POLLS
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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Knowles:

No, and there are other hon. members from other provinces, as a matter of fact, who have expressed the same surprise at that argument. I do not think there is any question but that the general interest would be in the ordinary day of polling, the general election day. All we are asking for here is that those who find they have to be away from home for any reason be given the right to vote at an advance poll.

As to the technical difficulties in carrying out a matter of this kind, I recognize them readily. I did so, as a matter of fact, when I spoke in introducing the bill on second reading. I was able to indicate on that occasion, and express my appreciation in doing so, that I had assistance from two of our officials, the chief electoral officer and our parliamentary counsel, in the preparing of the bill. I take the responsibility for what is in the bill, but I did have their advice and assistance in putting it together, and I suggest that it does contain practical ways in which this principle of the right of anyone who has to be away to vote at the advance poll can be preserved.

Nevertheless, as I suggested when I moved second reading of the bill on March 9, these technical difficulties constitute the kind of details that can be discussed if this bill can have second reading and then be referred to a committee. In other words, Mr. Speaker, what we are dealing with at this point is the principle rather than the details of the bill, and the principle is very simple and clear; namely, that if we are going to have advance polls the right to vote at an advance poll should not be restricted to a limited category of people but should be extended to all who find they will be away from their homes on election day.

As to the point raised by the hon. member for Nicolet-Yamaska regarding people who go on trips, let there be no doubt about it, Mr. Speaker; one of the main reasons I have presented this bill and one of the main reasons it has support from certain sections of the community to which I shall refer in a moment, is because it is now true that more people have holidays than used to be the case.

It is also true that elections generally seem to come in the summer period. In recent years elections have been held in June or in August or in October, if we go back to 1935. I think it is generally recognized that barring some unexpected event that would force an election at an unexpected time, elections will continue to be held in the summer period. Let there be no secret about it; this bill is advanced partly in order that people who rightly go away on holidays might have the right to vote. Surely going away on a holiday is not a crime for which one should lose his right as a citizen to vote at a general election.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   EXTENSION OF RIGHT TO VOTE AT ADVANCE POLLS
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CCF

Angus MacInnis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Maclnnis:

Legitimate business.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   EXTENSION OF RIGHT TO VOTE AT ADVANCE POLLS
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June 8, 1956