Mr. D. M. KENNEDY (Peace River):
Mr. Speaker, I rise to a question of privilege.
Privilege-Mr. Kennedy (Peace River)
On April 2 there appeared in various newspapers reports of the trial of Baldy Robb at Edmonton, Alberta. He was charged with and convicted of irregularities in the performance of his duties as deputy returning officer at No. 4 poll, near Brule, in the Peace River constituency at the federal election on October 29 last. Mr. Justice Walsh presided at the trial and is reported in the Edmonton Journal of April 1 as having said when addressing the jury:
The fraud which was alleged to have been perpetrated was or.e of a very serious character. In all the history of the Dominion there has never been an instance of such a glaring attempt to deprive citizens of their rights as voters. If this was true, then ninety voters had been deprived of their franchise. Mr. Collins had been deprived of his seat m the Dominion parliament, and the people of this riding had been deprived of their rights in having a man of their choice to represent them at Ottawa. . . . There was the evidence of the 111 people who had sworn that they voted for Collins on that day. This was the foundation on which the crown had built their structure. There was a possibility that these people might have committed wholesale perjury. Personally, said His Lordship, he found it hard to believe that a number of apparently respectable people like these had perjured themselves through fear of their employers.
In order to appeal to my sense of fairness the Ottawa Journal on April 3 in an editorial headed "Should Mr. Kennedy vote" strips this statement of Justice Walsh of all qualification, and makes this statement:
The fraud which was perpetrated was one of a very serious character. In all the history of the Dominion there had never been an instance of such a glaring attempt to deprive citizens of their rights as voters. Ninety citizens had been deprived of their franchise.
The words "If this was true," and the reference to the possibility of wholesale perjury are omitted, and then the editorial is built up to convince me that I have no moral right to sit in parliament or to vote for or against government measures. I intend to do both.
The statement of Mr. Justice Walsh, even if it were as the Ottawa Journal has it, was made at a trial held in connection with one poll out of 278. I claim now and have claimed ever since the early part of November that other irregularities in Peace River cost me more votes than the alleged switching of ballots at Brule cost Collins, even assuming that none of my ballots were switched at that point. The final results of No. 4 poll were: Collins (Conservative) 22; Kennedy, 12; Rae (Liberal) 127. It would therefore appear from the evidence that 89 votes were switched to Rae. I was elected by a plurality of 17 votes over Collins and 41 votes over Rae.
Six neighbouring polls in one district had all the election machinery set up and ballot boxes mailed addressed to the deputy returning officer, but no deputy returning officers
had been appointed. Three of these polls through the initiative of the people themselves were opened and the total results were: Collins, 15; Kennedy, 114; Rae, 15. The other three boxes remained in the nearest post office all day but no poll was held. At the latter three polls 225 persons had the right to vote. Many of them went to look for the polling place and of course found none. My information is that the vote there would have been divided similarly to the vote at the three polls that <vere opened.
The recount in Peace River was completed im December 19. A representative of the Conservative candidate asked me if, in view of the Brule situation, I would not consent to go through the first session of parliament and then resign. I told him at once that in my judgment owing to other election irregularities I had lost at least as many votes as Collins and that the proper course to follow, if they were not satisfied, was to petition under the Controverted Elections Act.