December 7, 1953 (22nd Parliament, 1st Session)


Charles Gavan Power


Mr. Power (Quebec South):

There are twelve counties in the province of Quebec the boundaries of which were frozen by the British North America Act. Then there is the question of homogeneity, if I may so call it, based on occupation. It is within the recollection of many hon. members that not so long ago a government took great credit to itself in an electoral campaign by saying it had carved out two seats in order to give representation to labour. If my recollection is correct, after the first election that representation of labour was usually by a lawyer.
These are matters which I think should be dealt with specifically by any committee which undertakes a study of this matter. There are localities and constituencies in this country which if divided along certain lines would provide a large proportion of the electorate who would vote occupationally along certain political lines. Then there are others where the population, being residential, could, if the theories expressed by Professor Lower on predetermination apply, be expected to vote along more conservative lines.
These are only some of the matters which must be settled or should be settled once

and for all however we proceed to bring about redistribution, even if we bring it back to this house by means of a committee. There is not much use in our proceeding with redistribution and then have an hon. member justify what may be an apparent injustice by saying that the population or the municipal boundaries are in his favour.
Old stories of municipal boundaries fill the pages 'of Hansard during debates on redistribution. It was supposed to be a Liberal principle that one must always respect the autonomy of municipal boundaries. Within the last 15 or 20 years I have seen little respect shown to that to which so much importance was attached many years ago.
For all these reasons I suggest that the proper time to give consideration to matters of this kind is now, and the proper body to give that consideration is a committee of this house. Personal interest would not be involved to any large extent at this time. I think a study of these questions would bring recommendations to this house which would enable us to decide at some time or other whether or not we should continue the practice which has been followed 'or whether we should venture on new ground.
Without hesitation I would say that no matter what we do we would not bring this parliament into worse odour than we do by following the system we have followed in past redistributions. I have heard it said that parliament is capable of great things, of carrying on its business with dignity, decorum, fairness and impartiality, but that when it comes to decisions with respect to redistribution it falls far short of that which the people of Canada expect from it. It seems to me we can now make a study of this matter coolly, calmly and with great deliberation, and thus do some good to ourselves and to the people of Canada. I commend such a study to this house.

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