February 14, 1905 (10th Parliament, 1st Session)


Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN (Carleton).

Mr. Speaker, before the Orders of the Day are called I would like to ask the government whether they have any information as to the cause of the somewhat extraordinary conduct of the returning officer in the Yukon. If I understand it he delayed the date at which he should open the ballot boxes and sum up the result of the elections until the 7th February with the result that the member for that constituency will not be gazetted until, I suppose, near the end of March. I do not know what period of time at this season of the year is required for the transmission of the mails. I have been led to look into the condition of the law a little, and while it seems to me perfectly evident that a clear and satisfactory explanation is required from the returning officer of his Mr. MACDONELL
conduct in this regard, it also seems desirable that the condition of the law should be looked into. I think that the returning officer under the law has the right to fix the date. I have examined the provisions of the Yukon Representation Act and of the Dominion Elections Act, and they seem to be identical in that regard. Unless I have overlooked some provision of the law the result seems to be that any returning officer can postpone as long as he sees fit the date at which he shall open the ballot boxes and sum up the results. The iesult in regard to the Yukon seems to indicate that this condition of the law should be amended in some way. Some period should be fixed within which the returning officer shall open the ballot boxes and sum up the results, and some provision should be made giving him the power to adjourn whenever an adjournment might be necessary by reason of his not having received all the ballot boxes. I may have overlooked some provision of the statute which can be brought to my attention by the right hon. Prime Minister (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) or the hon. Minister of Justice (Mr. Fitzpatrick), but from a very hasty perusal of the statutes I have arrived at the conclusion which I have just mentioned. However, I rose for the purpose of asking whether any explanation has been obtained from the returning officer because I think the hon. Minister of Justice, somewhat earlier in the session, stated that an inquiry had been made of him by telegram asking him to give the reason. The results are somewhat serious. The gentleman who was elected in that constituency on the 16th December last will not be able to take his seat in this House until the middle or the end of March. As a result of this the "Yukon is disfranchised during a period of about two months when matters will come before the House in which the interests of the Yukon are very much concerned. I would therefore be glad to know from the right hon. Prime Minister whether or not any answer whatever has been made by the returning officer in regard to this subject.

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