We never say very mucli that is new, and if some bon. gentlemen understood that, they would not be so proud of what they do say. Feeling that, 1 would be very loath to say that because a man did not conscientiously think that on a given occasion he should vote he should therefore be told that he is not a good citizen, and that he cannot exercise that privilege. We do not cease visiting our friends because they may do something that we think they ought not to do. I do not think we should interfere with the liberty of the individual to decide for himself whether he is best discharging the duties of citizenship by voting or refraining from voting.
Hon. Mr. I1AGGART. The hon. gentleman (Mr. Fraser) seems to have forgotten the object of the Bill which is now before the committee. The statement of the hon. Minister of Finance (ITon. Mr. Fielding) and admittedly of every person in this House is that corrupt practices have been committed in the different ridings of this country, which both parties have resolved to Stamp out, What principle (is it most necessary to apply for the purpose of doing this ? The committee have applied, as a first principle, that of compulsory voting. That will do something to prevent the crime of corruption, if it does nothing else. But, I think they would have made it more effective if they had added another clause to the Bill-I know I differ from the great mass of the members of this House in reference to this-and that is a clause providing for open voting. If a man receives a bribe for depositing his vote his neighbours know what his convictions are, and he is ear-marked if he votes against his convictions. This would be a means of preventing that crime. There are only two ways of preventing bribery and corruption, and they a re by adopting the principle of open voting and compulsory voting. Talk about the liberty of the individual ! How is it infringing upon the rights of conscience to say that a man shall go up to the poll and deposit his vote ? There arc; lots of people who do not exercise their franchise, and who have not the right to do it. The party who has the right is the delegate of all the others, and if that right is delegated to him, he should exercise it. If no candidate is acceptable to him, he has the right to nominate a man who is acceptable to him. He has the right to vote, and the community have the right to expect that he will exercise the power which they have given him, because where there is power given to him it is his duty to exercise it. I have heard that principle advocated by perhaps the ablest Liberal who ever sat in
this House-Hon. Edward Blake. It has been advocated by Liberals in every section of the world. I think it is the correct principle, and I think the time has arrived in this country to compel every man, for the sake of decency in elections, for the sake of preventing bribery and corruption to exercise the right which parliament has conferred upon him. If the system of enfranchisement under the Act is not correct, let us have a correct one, but let us adopt the principle of compulsory voting, because It is one of those principles that will do more than anything else to prevent the crime of bribery and corruption.
Topic: IQ, 1903