Hon. E. M. MACDONALD (Minister of National Defence):
Mr. Speaker, from time
immemorial parliament has always exercised control over its own privileges and over the question of whether its members were properly elected. Down until 1874 that was the practice in Canada, but in that year there was passed by this parliament the Controverted Elections Act, by which parliament divested itself of the right to inquire into the methods by which members were elected to this House. Since that time the uniform practice, no matter
what party was in power, has been to recognize the validity of that act and the wisdom of that practice.
There is only one question, it seems to me, in regard to this point of order-as to whether or not this petition which my hon. friend for West Calgary has sought to present to the House is a matter pertaining to an election which comes within the purview of the Controverted Election Act. If the assertions which he makes relate to matters which under that act have been committed by this parliament to the courts, then he has no right to present this petition and ask parliament to interfere in a question with which for the time being it has nothing to do.
My hon. friend in presenting the petition stated that it was a petition:
Praying that the House of Commons of Canada may determine and declare that Donald Macbeth Kennedy -was not duly elected and returned at the election held on the 29th day of October, 1925, and that the said return was and is void, and that it may be declared that the petitioner was duly elected at the said election and is entitled to be returned as the member eleoted to represent the electoral district of Peace River in .the House of Commons of Canada.
Now I assert beyond all question that the facts alleged and the relief sought are matters that wholly come within the purview of the Controverted Elections Act. They were committed absolutely to the courts in 1874, and no one up to date has seriously questioned this in this House. My right hon, friend the leader of the House in making his abjection to you, Mr. Speaker, cites two cases in which petitions of this character h^ve been presented and ruled out by Mr. Speaker of the day. Reference has been made to what is known as the Ooderre case, which arose in parliament in 1913. This matter did not come to parliament by way of petition, but by way of a question of privilege which was raised1 by the then hon. member for St. Hyacinthe, Mr. Gauthier. He came to parliament, presented certain affidavits and asked parliament to refer the matter to the Privileges and Elections committee. That is, what appears by the record of the day; I remember being in the House at the time. The position taken was that this being a matter which involved questions that could be determined by the courts on election petitions, the House should not deal with the question or refer it to the committee on Privileges and Elections. The then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Borden, took that position, as did the then Minister of Justice, Right Hon. Mr. Doherty. On the other side it was urged' that the matters contained in the affidavits submitted went beyond and were not part of those questions committed
Peace River Election
under the Controverted Elections Act to the courts. It was conceded by almost every hon. gentleman who took part in the argument that if the questions raised on the matter of privilege related solely to those matters which had been committed to the courts, no action could be taken. My right hon. friend took that position; he quoted from Sir John Thompson and asserted with emphasis that at no time had parliament ventured to assert its right to deal with or inquire into matters committed to the courts by that act.
I submit the only thing Your Honour need consider is the point of order. If this petition relates to a question which has been committed to the courts for consideration I submit that under the precedents, as a matter of law and a matter of procedure, Your Honour should rule that the petition be not received. What purpose would be served in receiving it if parliament could not deal with the question in any way? What would be the use of reading a document here in relation to a subject with which we have no power to deal? The precedents which have been cited are, I submit, quite ample to justify such a ruling on the point of order.
Topic: PEACE RIVER ELECTION
Subtopic: PETITION ASKING THAT RETURN OF MR. KENNEDY BE DECLARED VOID