September 9, 1903 (9th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. F. D. MONK (Jacques Cartier).

Before you leave the Chair, Mr. Speaker, that we may go into a more minute consideration of the important measure now before the House, I desire to offer a few observations in relation to that measure which, I think, will help us to carry on in a more regular way tlie discussion of the details of the measure itself. As the House is aware,
I formed part of the committee on this Bill, together with my hon. friend from Lanark (Hon. Mr. Haggart) and the leader of the opposition (Mr. Borden, Halifax), whose absence we very much regret, hut who, I am pleased to be able to say, is already very much better and will soon be able to be with us again. The House, no doubt, is aware- at least many of its members are aware- that the proceedings of the committee were very arduous and lasted for a considerable time. We began sitting on the 18th of June,

and sat frequently until the 23rd of July. There were informal meetings by the general consent of the committee, and meetings of a more formal character whose proceedings were reduced to writing. When I say that the proceedings of the committee cover nearly 400 foolscap pages of closely typewritten matter, the House will admit. I am sure, that the members of the committee gave considerable attention to the study of the important question committed to their consideration. Of course, the labours which we had to perform were extremely important. From time to time, at intervals of ten years we are called upon to readjust the representation in this the most important assay of the Dominion of Canada, to reconsider the limits of constituencies and to diminish or increase the representation of certain divisions of the Dominion-provinces and territories-always bearing in mind the rule, which we know very well, but which is, perhaps, not generally known, that the representation of the province of Quebec and its proportion to the population of that province determines the representation of the other provinces. The province of Quebec returns Go members, and that number and the proportion which that number bears to the population of the province of Quebec serves to determine representation of other parts of the Dominion. The work, therefore, consists largely in subtracting, in certain cases, from the number of representatives who, during the period of ten years previous, have represented a certain part of the Dominion, and In other cases in adding to the number of representatives. In some cases, we have been called upon to diminish the number of representatives-always a very difficult task. In other cases, where the population has increased. as it lias greatly increased in the West, we were called upon to add the number of representatives. And, although this is a less invidious work than the work of subtraction, still, to apply the rule with justice requires a great deal of study of all the circumstances surrounding the portion of the Dominion on which it is intended to confer a larger and more extensive representation. Of course, in a work of this kind, I may say at once-and I am sure that every member of the House will agree with me-in a work of this kind it is difficult to avoid the influence of party spirit. There is no doubt about that. It has been evident to me, at least-I say so frankly-that, during the examination of the schedule of the Hill now before the House, at moments-because we are all human-considerations of party have necessarily impressed themselves to a certain extent on members of the committee, as. no doubt, they will act upon the minds of the members of the House at large, unconsciously even to those thus affected. So natural is this that, in most eases where the fear of political feeling influencing the decisions of this House has existed, we have conformed to the practice of the older institution, the parliament of England, and have endeavoured to secure the. study and decision of these questions by a tribunal removed from the House, and one which would be in a position to diseuss. try and decide these questions without being exposed in any way to influence of any semblance of partisan spirit. This appears in the cases which frequently arise of reference of these questions to commissions of an independent nature. We all know through what gradual process the House of Commons in England and our own arrived at the conclusion that the trial in the first instance of election cases could not properly be carried on by the members of the House of Commons themselves, and there is no doubt that great advantages have resulted from the reference of these difficult cases to independent tribunals, constituted under special law. That course was resorted to, not because the members of the House of representatives were considered incompetent or naturally inclined to be unjust, but for the reason which has frequently been mentioned to me by judges of the highest character, that unconsciously people, holding strong political views, are * swayed by political motives to a far greater extent than they l'ealize.
The delimitation of counties is a most difficult task, especially as the decisions of those to whom that task is entrusted cannot fail to have a bearing upon the elections. Very frequently upon the division of a county may turn the result of an election, and considering that the work was done during the heat of a very long session, when political feeling ran high. I think that we who formed that committee may all claim to have endeavoured as much as possible to free ourselves from that influence. At all times the proceedings of the committee- and I shall refer in a moment to the peculiar character of that committee-were open to free discussion by members of this House. All the members, in fact, appeared from time to time before the committee and gave us the benefit of their advice. They gave us information which, in many cases, could only have been obtained from the members themselves.
At the very inception of that work we found it necessary to lay down certain specific rules, certain guiding principles, without the assistance of which our work would have been extremely difficult. My right lion, friend the Prime Minister himself recognized the necessity of such cardinal principles or rules when first he brought to the notice of the House the Bill under discussion. This is what my right lion, friend said on the 31st of March* when lie introduced this Bill :
We have always maintained that the guiding principle in this redistribution should be that

county boundaries should be preserved. And we lay to-day as the basis of redistribution, which we hold ought to be accepted and adopte.d on this occasion, that the municipal representation of the country ought to be the basis of the parliamentary representation. The position we take is, that we should take the map of the municipal organizations of the Dominion and make it the basis of the parliamentary representation. There are counties for which one man is sufficient. The unit of population-which, of course, cannot be followed with absolute exactness-would not warrant any more. There are other counties in which there may be two or three members to be elected. There are certain cities in which there must be more than three or four members, whereas there are other municipalities whose population is so small relative to the unit of population that they should not be allowed to send even one member here. This, therefore, involves the work of selecting, of dividing, of uniting. And the question arises now-and, perhaps, it is the most delicate of all the questions with which we have to deal- by whom is this work to be effected ? Who is to make this division of counties-if counties are to be divided ; who is to direct this union of counties, if counties are to be united ? This is a question of great moment ; and, after having given it the best consideration we are able to give it, we think that in this, as in mostly all matters, the best policy to follow, the best and safest rule to follow, the policy and the rule which, under similar circumstances prevails in that country which has been the mother of all free institutions- Great Britain. We propose, therefore, on this occasion, as we did on a former occasion, when the last Redistribution Bill was before us, to propose to the House to follow the British precedent. The last redistribution which took place in England took place in 1884, under the government of Mr. Gladstone. On that occasion, Mr. Gladstone, before making his Bill, adopted the policy which we intend to follow on this occasion. The Bill was prepared, at the invitation of Mr. Gladstone, by a conference of the two parties in the House of Commons, by a conference of the government and the opposition. Mr. Gladstone invited Lord Salisbury, who was then the leader of the opposition. to meet with him and discuss with him the details of the Redistribution Bill which he had to introduce, following consequent upon the new Franchise Act. This conference took place, and, as a result, a measure was introduced which proved satisfactory to both parties. Let me quote to the House what took place on that occasion-and I quote from a well-known book, ' The Annual Register ' of 1884.
After having stated that Lord Salisbury had been invited by Mr. Gladstone to meet him and discuss the details of the measure with him the author goes on to say :
' During the next fortnight the process of arrangement was steadily pursued. Lord Salisbury and Sir S. Northcote attended the meetings of the cabinet, and conducted the negotiations with the specially selected delegates of that body.'
Then my right hon. friend further on, considering. no doubt, that the principle adopt ed by him of making the division according to the municipal county boundaries, and the principle of a conference, were not the Mr. MONK.
two only principles which would suffice to decide the large number of complicated cases which would present themselves for the consideration of the conference, or the committee, thought it fit to lay down some general guiding principles as to all these questions which might arise. He said :
AVe believe that if our friends opposite will meet us in this way, we can prepare a measu-e which will be at all events fair to all parties. We believe that we should be able to bring Into this House a measure which will be free from those blemishes which are to be found in the Redistribution Acts of 1882 and 1892. We believe that if they will agree to meet us in committee, to discuss this Bill fairly, without trying to take an undue advantage over each other, we shall ho able to present to the House a measure of which every Canadian will have reason to feel proud, a measure which will be free from those contentious elements which characterized former Redistribution Acts which have been passed in the history of the Dominion of Canada. We intend to do this as a basis to be followed not only upon this occasion but upon all occasions.
Now 1 have referred a little to the basis which the government established at the outset of these proceedings, In order to recall to the members of this House under what circumstances they were begun. It was deemed advisable to have a conference such as was held between the members of the Gladstone government and the leader and other important members of the opposition at that time in the English House of Commons, Lord Salisbury and some of his supporters. It was deemed necessary to lay down some guiding principle for the work of that conference, some dominating principle, and that was laid down by my right hon. friend when he stated that they would proceed accoi'ding to municipal county boundaries. My hon. friend from Lanark (Hon. Mr. Haggart) insisted at that time, as the report will show, to know Avhat was understood by municipal county boundaries ; and without laying down any further principles, a matter which my experience in the committee has proved to me was a mistake-without laying down any further direct principles from which one could only depart under special circumstances, my right hon. friend stated that, apart from that principle, the treatment accorded should be treatment founded absolutely on justice and equity, if we expected to arrive at a generally satisfactory result. Probably my right hon. friend was guided by what may have been stated by the leader of the government in England at the time of the redistribution to which he referred. It seems certain that at that time a conference was held under which the principles of justice and equity were so far adhered to that the findings, the agreements, of the conference met with no opposition. But I repeat, I think it is a matter of regret that, apart from stating that the very general principle that municipal

county boundaries should be adhered to, a principle from which there has been no important dissent-it is, I say, to be regretted that the House itself, before sending this important work to the committee, did not lay down some few additional rules which would have saved a great deal of controversy in the committee itself during the proceedings of the conference, and would probably have given a far more satisfactory result, in certain cases, than the result to which we have arrived.
I have used indiscriminately the words ' conference ' and ' committee.' No doubt, to make the proceedings more regular, we proceeded pretty much as a regularly constituted committee. But reference being had to the words of my right hon. friend whicli I have already quoted at length, it must be evident to the House that the object in view in creating that committee was to follow the example set in England, and in reality to constitute a conference of both parties in order, if possible, to arrive at some unanimous conclusion on this very important matter of redistribution. I mention this because, although during the proceedings of the committee it was found in many cases, I regret to say, that all agreements between members of the conference was impossible, and although, to preserve what rights we might have, we found it necessary to protest against the conclusions which the majority of the committee have arrived at, I submit to this House that there can be no doubt that the House itself is not absolutely bound by the decisions to which the conference may have arrived. Furthermore, I would say that there seems to have been no misunderstanding in the committee itself as to the character of that committee. It was a conference. It is sufficient to glance at the pages containing the report of the proceedings of the committee to see that these proceedings were considered to be the proceedings of a conference purely and simply.
Now the rule laid down by my right hon. friend, it is well to observe-because I was not as familiar with that as I am now-that rule as to county boundaries was intended to apply, principally if not entirely, in the two great provinces of Quebec and Ontario. In the other provinces and in the Northwest Territories there was no ground for the application of the rule of municipal county boundaries, and there we were obliged to take into consideration other circumstances in proceeding with our work. In that regard I think it is a pity that, in addition to that one rule, to which we for our part adhered during the proceedings of the committee, and which we accepted, it is a pity perhaps that further additional rules were not laid down. But upon examination it will be found that the rule does not apply in the same way in the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick. Prince Edward Island, Manitoba, British Columbia
and the North-west Territories, where there is no municipal organization to which it would have been possible for us to conform in carrying out the work entrusted to us.
1 would like to say, speaking more particularly as a member from the province of Quebec, sitting on that committee, that the rule which the committee accepted at the outset of its labours was followed and adhered to in the province of Quebec and that generally, except in certain cases where the population is extremely dense, in my own county, for instance, and in the neighbourhood, of large centres, it was followed, although, in some cases, it operated disadvantageous^ to the party to which I have the honour to belong. I will give an instance. There was the case of the parish of St. Pie, which in the previous redistribution, had been taken from the county of Bagot, to which it belonged for municipal and comity purposes viewed from the provincial standpoint, and had been annexed to the county of Rouville, a neighbouring county to which it did not belong for those purposes. Under the provisions of this Bill, the 'parish of St. Pie is taken back out of the county of Rouville and returns to the county of Bagot in conformity with the principle to which I have already referred. Of course,
I may say that I, for my part, have received numerous representations against that step. There was some ground for these representations because, by removing that parish, a large and important parish, from Rouville back to the county of Bagot we were giving a larger population to the county of Bagot than we should under the system of the equalization of representation by population. As a consequence of the return of the parish of St. Pie to Bagot that county found itself, if I remember aright, with a larger population than it should have had. The population was more evenly divided between the two counties by leaving matters as they were. Of course, outsiders who were not familiar with the laying down of this principle and its ac-' ceptance for ourselves, outsiders who viewed the matter from a purely political standpoint, very plausible men having a far better knowledge of the locality than I have myself, pointed out to me that we were injuring ourselves considerably not only in the county of Bagot but in the district to which that county belongs by that action. Still I accepted this part of the Bill because it was carrying out the principle upon which we had agreed. I may say, generally speaking in regard to the province of Quebec, that the committee experienced little or no difficulty and had the work been narrowed down to the changes that were made in the province of Quebec it would have been very greatly abridged. But where we experienced the great difficulty-and I am speaking as one who is a stranger to a certain extent to the province

of Ontario, and therefore, as I claim, to a certain extent, an independent witness of the proceedings and yet a disinterested one, because I belong to a province that is not immediately concerned-where, I say we experienced the greatest difficulty was unquestionably in the great province of Ontario, and there ts where I felt very keen regret as one responsible to a certain extent for our proceedings that in addition to the very general rule which had been laid down in this House and which we were the first to take up in the committee and declare our willingness to adhere to we found it a matter of regret that more explicit guidance for our work had not been laid down when our work was in this province of Ontario. I stated a moment ago, and I believe that for our part, at least, we did our best to carry out the views of this House as laid down by the right hon. Prime Minister (Rt. Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier), that we from tlie inception had adopted the principle Which had been laid down by the right lion, gentleman. That is to be found by reference to the discussion which took place on the 31st March, and I would like to quote in support of what I have stated in regard to our willingness to be guided by wlrat the hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Borden, Halifax) stated at that time on the spur of file moment, rising from his seat Immediately after the right hon. leader of the government had concluded :
Said tlie lion, leader of the opposition :
-I do not know that I have fully apprehended all the details of the Bill which my right hon. friend has presented, but, when it is printed, and before it comes up for the second reading we shall have an opportunity of considering what its provisions really are. Speaking offhand, I may say that the proposal for a conference for the purpose of determining the boundaries of the different constituencies would impress one as having the merit of fairness, although we recognize that by means of the committee holding a majority from the other side of the House, the fairness might not in the end be so real as suggested by my right hon. friend.
Now, when we came to an examination of the question in Ontario, as I have stated already, we found a number of counties complete, entire, easy to define and delimi-nate according to the municipal county boundaries but which from tlie population these counties had it was necessary to subdivide. We found in some cases also counties that had to be increased on account of their falling below the unit of representation. We found cities to which representation had to be given-some cities or towns below the unit of representation and some far in excess of the unit of representation such as, for instance, the city of Toronto and here I. for the first time, I may say, Mr. MONK.
found it regrettable that the House had not laid down some clear and definite rules which should guide us iu that very important and very delicate work of subdivision. Rules we had none whatever. Where we had not laid down any rules we found it very generally and very skilfully laid down by the right hon. gentleman that we should be governed by principles of Justice and equity which should satisfy, if not all, at least the vast majority of those who are interested in the redistribution. We felt the necessity when we came to deal with the province of Ontario that certain rules should be laid down, not hard and fast rules which would never have any exception-no rule exists to which exception lias not been made at some time-but certain principles which would guide us and which would apply wherever possible, just those principles "of justice and equity to which tlie right hon. gentleman referred in a general way when he introduced this Bill. If the House will return to the proceedings of the committee on page 146, the House will find that a very serious effort was made at that time to have the committee accept such principles, at least, discuss, examine in limine wliat would be the proper rules which we should follow in the redistribution of the province of Ontario. We knew that difficulties had occurred in the past in the province of Ontario, both in the provincial and in the Dominion arena, and by common consent we foresaw that difficulties would arise in regard to the distribution there. We saw that if we wanted to proceed with any degree of fairness, it was necessary to agree on certain general rules. If it were deemed so important by my right lion, friend, that we should lay down a rule as to municipal county boundaries, that he announced it asi a guiding principle when we introduced the Bill ; how much more necessary was it to lay down certain guiding rules when we came to subdivide in detail the counties, and where it was necessary above all things to agree upon general principles. Realizing that, at the meeting of the committee on the 26th of June, Mr. Borden, the Hon. Mr Haggart and myself, submitted to the committee some short rules which I shall read to the House because I deem them wise rules ; rules which consolidated the principle laid down by my right hon. friend as well as the very important principle of representation by population. These are the rules submitted by us respecting the redistribution in Ontario.
1. In accordance with the principle laid down by the Prime Minister in tho House on the introduction of the Bill, municipal county boundaries shall he observed.
2. Where separate representation is given to cities, the municipal boundaries of such cities shall be observed.
3. (a.) The municipal county boundaries shall be those set forth in chapter 3, Revised Statutes of Ontario, 1897 ; and that the word ' county '

herein shall include any provisional county or territorial district established by said act. (b.) The separate representation to be allotted to cities of Ontario shall be first fixed and determined before proceeding with the representation of the rural constituencies ; (c.) the unit
of representation for such rural constituencies shall be determined by deducting from the total population of Ontario, the combined population of the said cities, and by dividing the remainder by the total number of seats to be allotted the rural constituencies ; (d.) the population
of any city receiving separate representation shall be excluded in computing the population of the county within which it is situated ; (e.) the redistribution of the representation of Ontario shall then be determined as follows :

Counties having a population below the unit ; (a.) each county having a population of not less than two-thirds of the unit shall be entitled to one member.
That I believe was the rule followed in previous redistributions.
(b.) Any county not entitled to one member shall be added to that adjoining county to which it is related as a judicial district, or with which it is connected for judicial or municipal purposes and the representation of such combined counties shall be dealt with upon the principles already, and hereinafter stated.
Counties having a population larger than the unit.-(a.) Each county or combined county having a population of not less than 50 per cent and not more than 150 per cent above the unit shall be entitled to two members ; and each county or combined county having a population not less than 150 per cent and not more than 250 per cent above the unit shall be entitled to three members ; (b.) if after applying these principles it is found that any seats remain to be allotted, such seats shall be allotted to the .'ounties or combined counties approaching most closely to the conditions which under the above rule would entitle them to additional representation.
Division of cities or counties into ridings.- In the division of cities or counties into ridings the geographical limits of such ridings shall be as symmetrical and compact as may be.possible, always having regard to equalities of population.
These were the rules which were proposed by us to guide the committee in regard to the province of Ontario. They were the subject of discussion, and they were submitted in order that these rules, or some wiser rules if possible, should be devised. We proposed not to enter upon the study of the redistribution in Ontario until certain principles were laid down for our guidance. Speaking for myself, I say that these were wise rules or at all events they might have been discussed, and if necessary altered and improved. I deem it that we committed a mistake in entering upon the division of the province of Ontario without adopting these or some analogous rules, by which we would have been bound, except in extreme cases.
I repeat that if these rules or some similar rules had been adopted, many of the unsatisfactory results of that conference would have been avoided.

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