February 19, 1923 (14th Parliament, 2nd Session)


William Charles Good

Independent Progressive


I shall be pleased to answer the question later or now, whatever is the desire of hon. members.
Mr. A. W, NEILL (Comox-Alberni): Mr. Speaker, while I am heartily in sympathy with the last resolution that we passed regarding the alternative vote, I would like to point out one effect of the present resolution. The mover calls upon the government to constitute one or more multi-membered constituencies. I would suggest that the word "urban" should be put in there; otherwise this is what would happen: The hon. mover of the resolution suggested that a multi-membered constituency might appropriately consist of five ordinary constituencies. In British Columbia that might include the constituencies of Skeena, Cariboo, Comox-Alberni, Yale and, we will say, East Kootenay, constituting, I should say roughly, seventy-five per cent of British Columbia. I do not think that any of the members for the districts I have mentioned would contradict me when I say that to make an ordinary canvass-not fiom house to house, but by the holding of meetings at which two or three score of people could be got together-six months might reasonably be required in respect of any one of these constituencies. I am quite sure that the members for Cariboo and Skeena will bear me out in that; I myself can speak for Comox-Alberni. Can one conceive of the work that would be imposed on a candidate-especially a new candidate, because he would be unknown-in attempting a personal canvass of five constituencies the size of those represented by the ordinary
Proportional Representation

country constituency in British Columbia? It cannot be gainsaid that it is desirable and in the public interest that the candidate should endeavour to meet at least a number of the constituents and explain his point of view on the issues before the country at the time, and also that the electors should have an opportunity of seeing the different men who are seeking their support. But how will that be possible with a multi-membered constituency of five seats such as we would have in the country districts of British Columbia? It would take at least two years to canvass such a constituency in that way.
1 can see further vast possibilities of trouble after the wretched man had been elected. For myself I would hate to be bracketed with four other members in such a constituency. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that three of those members were not in the habit of paying attention to their correspondence- a failing that we often see in members, at least, until the next election comes round. What would be the fate of the unhappy man who had got the reputation of attending to his business and who had all the correspondence to answer emanating from such a multi-membered constituency? It would not be fair to him, to his colleagues, or to the public. I think the hon. member who moves the resolution has lost sight of that, and in my opinion he should introduce an amendment, if he wishes the motion to pass, providing that such multi-membered constituencies shall be urban in their character.

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