October 4, 1949 (21st Parliament, 1st Session)


Louis Stephen St-Laurent (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)


Right Hon. L. S. St. Laurent (Prime Minister) moved:

Whereas the office of chief electoral officer has become vacant by resignation of Jules Castonguay;
And whereas subsection two of se'ction four of the Dominion Elections Act, 1938, provides that in the event of a vacancy in the office of chief electoral officer the vacancy shall be filled by resolution of the House of Commons;
Be it therefore resolved, that Nelson Jules Castonguay, executive assistant to the chief electoral officer, be and he is hereby appointed chief electoral officer.
He said: Mr. Speaker, in submitting this motion for consideration of the house I wish to say first of all how much we regret the illness which necessitates the resignation of Mr. Jules Castonguay from the office of chief electoral officer. For twenty-two years Mr. Castonguay has held that office, and I believe everyone will admit that during those years he has done a thoroughly good job. Through five general elections he has supervised our electoral machine, and at times this supervision has kept him and his small office staff working almost day and night. Even between elections he and his few associates have been kept busy with plenty of routine planning and revision work.
Mr. Castonguay's work as chief electoral officer has not been without its endless worries, inquiries and sometimes protests. But through it all he has displayed a remarkable impartiality. In my eight years of public service I have yet to hear a word of adverse criticism of Mr. Castonguay's handling of the many electoral problems with which he has been faced. To him we owe many of the laws which govern Canada's voting-laws which have been studied by other countries of the commonwealth, and copied in other countries of the commonwealth and elsewhere.
Canada is indeed fortunate in having been served so faithfully and so long by Mr. Castonguay. He has discharged his duties with distinction, and with credit not only to himself but also to the office which has been his, and to the public service at large. I am sure every member of the house would wish you, Mr. Speaker, in conveying to Mr. Castonguay this tribute of our appreciation of his public service, to extend to him also our best wishes for his speedy return to health so that he may enjoy many years of well-earned rest, freed from the cares of that office.

Chief Electoral Officer
Mr. Jules Castonguay's resignation, coming as it does just prior to the forthcoming by-elections, necessitates the immediate appointment of a successor. Since 1934 Mr. Nelson Jules Castonguay, his son, has been in his father's office, and for the last few years has been his father's righthand man. In 1941 his work was interrupted when he entered the navy. As a wartime naval officer, rising from the rank of probationary sublieutenant to that of lieutenant commander, he served on two destroyers and became captain of a frigate. Shortly after returning to Ottawa and to his father's office he was promoted to his present position of executive assistant to the chief electoral officer. It is my opinion, and one which I am sure many will share, that his promotion would probably have been more rapid had he not been Mr. Jules Castonguay's son.
As executive assistant to his father, Mr. Nelson Castonguay served in an advisory capacity in matters having to do with preparations for Newfoundland's recent provincial election, as well as for the federal election which followed; and I am told he was largely responsible for the setting up of the electoral machinery in that province prior to that provincial election. I am told, too, that it functioned, as we would expect it to function with the good will of our new Canadian fellow citizens in Newfoundland, in an admirable manner.
Just this summer Mr. Nelson Castonguay travelled to Colombia, at the request of the government of that South American republic, to explain our electoral system to officials of their electoral court. As a result of these and other experiences in close association with his father, Nelson Jules Castonguay has become an expert in electoral matters under the kind of system we have in this country. It is my opinion that no one else has in the same degree the experience and knowledge necessary for the proper discharge of the duties of this responsible position.
It is particularly fortunate that we should find these qualifications in one who had such an excellent war record, and, if the house sees fit to adopt this resolution, not only shall we be expressing confidence in a competent public servant, but we shall be honouring the body of veterans of which he is a distinguished member.
Because of the large number of by-elections now in progress, as I have already intimated, the appointment of a successor to Mr. Jules Castonguay is urgent. Accordingly I move the resolution which you, Mr. Speaker, have read to the house.

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