May 23, 1901 (9th Parliament, 1st Session)

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The PRIME MINISTER.

I promised my hon. friend the leader of the opposition that I would take into consideration Rill (No. 47) from the Senate, further to amend the Northwest Territories Representation Act. I am sorry to say that I cannot agree with my hon. friend that it would be advisable to take this Bill into consideration this session. I express no opinion at this moment on the merits of the Bill. I move therefore that the order be discharged.
BORDEN (Halifax). I regret that the right hon. gentleman has seen fit to adopt this course with regal'd to a Bill passed unanimously in the Senate, and which was acquiesced in there by the Minister of Justice and the Secretary of State. If the right hon. gentleman had considered the present condition of legislation in the Northwest Territories, I think he would have seen that this is really necessary. In the first place, as has been pointed out in the House, very serious irregularities have occurred in the North-west Territories by reason of the condition of legislation as it exists at present. That legislation is in such a condition that a candidate running in the interests of the government may obtain cer tain advantages by the assistance of enumerators who are not very strict in the performance of their duties. Irregularities of that kjnd are alleged to have taken place during the late election. The legislation which is proposed is not only designed to make the present legislation symmetrical, but to prevent irregularities of that kind occurring in future. The position of the matter is that 'in 1894, chap. 7 of the Revised Statutes of Canada, sec. 31, was amended by striking out the word ' and ' in the second line, and putting in the words ' two days.' The effect was that instead of enumerators being able to revise the list up to polling day, they could only do so up to two days before polling day. An attempt was made to remedy that in 1896; it was partly remedied.' but some defects were overlooked. At that time, as I understand, it was thought by the Solicitor General that it was not necessary to make any further amendment, but it has since transpired that a further amendment to the Act is necessary. Now, as this legislation is for the purpose of redressing an admitted grievance, as it has passed the Senate with the concurrence of two of the right hon. gentleman's colleagues, as no possible objection can be urged against it, and as the object is to give fair-play and promote fair dealing with respect to elections in the North-west Territories, to prevent irregularities being carried on by the enumerators who might not happen to be too strict in the performance of their duties, it does not seem to me that there ought to be any possible objection to passing the legislation in the form in which it has been
agreed to in the Senate. If any possible evil, any possible danger, could be suggested by any member of the government, that would be another thing. But I understand that the Solicitor General in the House this session admitted that the amendments proposed by this Bill were proper amendments, but that they should not be appended to the Elections Act, but should be made part of an Act to amend the North-west Territories Act. My right hon. friend, with his usual sense of fairness, ought, I think, to pause for a moment before discharging this order, because the legislation has been fully considered by the Senate, and it has been considered in this House on the occasion I refer to. I would therefore ask the right hon. gentleman to reconsider his proposed motion.

Topic:   SUPPLY BILL.
Subtopic:   ACTION OF ENUMERATORS IN NORTHWEST TERRITORIES.
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