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.
Subtopic: EXTENSION OF RIGHT TO VOTE AT ADVANCE POLLS