House of Commons, 23 January 1896, Canadian Confederation with Alberta and Saskatchewan



THURSDAY, 23rd January, 1896.

The SPEAKER took the Chair at Three o'clock.


Mr. MARTIN moved for leave to introduce Bill (No. 22) further to amend chapter seven of the Revised Statutes of Canada, being the " North-west Territories Representation Act." He said: In introducing this Bill I desire to make a few remarks, as the subject is one of very great importance indeed to the Liberals of the North-west Territories. The Bill proposes to undo the legislation enacted by the House in 1894, which altered the North-west Territories Representation Act—that is, to undo it so far as it elects a change in regard to the voters' lists. It will be remembered that in 1894 the hon. Minister of the Interior introduced a Bill for the purpose of establishing vote by ballot in the North-west Territories in the coming general election. These provisions were, of course, supported on this side of the House. There had been a good deal of agitation in the North-west Territories in favour of the ballot, and, of course, the Liberals were very strongly in favour of extending to the North-west Ter 525 [JANUARY 23,1896] 526 ritories the law that was in force in other parts of Canada. During the discussion of that Bill the question of the voters' lists came up in this chamber and the condition of affairs in the North-west Territories was thoroughly explained. The Bill did not seek to alter matters at all with regard to the voters' lists. The Bill was passed by this House and sent to the Senate, and the Senate did a very unusual thing, it undertook to make a most material change in the law with regard to elections for this House. I suppose that never before since Confederation did the Senate assume to do such a thing as change the law with regard to elections for members of the House of Commons. But in this case they made a most vital change, a change which simply means that, at the coming general elections the Government of the day have the power to nominate and elect representatives of the four constituencies in the North-west Territories. That is to say, this amendment makes it impossible for any opponent of the Government to get his name upon the voters' lists unless the officer appointed by the Government is willing that his name should be there. There is no opportunity for the voter to learn whether his name is upon the list or not unless it appears upon the first preliminary list that is made up. The amendments came back to the House of Commons and were passed in this House without any discussion or any explanation whatever ; they were passed through in such a silent and secret way that even the " Hansard " reporters did not discover that they had been before the House for consideration. I find that, according to the journals, the Senate amendments to this Bill came up for consideration on the 26th June, 1894, and were agreed to without any amendment. In the "Hansard" of 26th June, 1894, there is no reference whatever to the North-west Territories Representation Act, and while, no doubt. the hon. Minister of the Interior must have moved that the House go into committee on these amendments, there is no record of it whatever. As I say, the thing was done in such a way that there was not single member of the House, unless he had some notice of it from the Government, who knew anything of this most vital, this most momentous change having been made. I must say that I was entirely ignorant of it, and I fancy that no members of the House were aware of it, apart from those coming from the Territories who had inspired this, and who had taken this means of having it done, of having the amendments made in the Senate, in a body that had nothing to do with this   question, taking good care that no explanation should be made of the matter in this House, taking good care that no opportunity should be given to members of this House to show how outrageous the change was. They no doubt knew that this was going through the House, but I fancy, apart from those few interested ones, and apart from the members (if the Government, no member of this House had any idea that any such change had been made. I myself heard of it during the dying hours of last session. It appeared that in making the changes, the hon. Minister of the Interior had overlooked some minor matters which also required to be changed, and in 1895 he brought in a Bill to correct those minor defects, and it was upon the discussion of that Bill, and in fact only after that Bill had passed its second reading, had gone through committee, and was ready for the third reading, that some members on this side of the House discovered, upon looking into the matter, that this vital change had been made. A very strong appeal was made to the Minister of the Interior not to force the amendments through, but he paid no attention to that appeal, and he placed on the statute-book the most outrageous piece of legislation. Mr. Speaker, that has ever been enacted by this House of Commons, and I think in saying that I am saying a good deal. However, I intend to prove every word of it, because I say that the legislation is not any clearer or more definite than if the House had passed a section and added it to the Northwest Territories Representation Act, providing that the Government of the day should have the power to nominate and elect for the four constituencies in the Territories, such men as they thought proper to represent those four constituencies. Now. in order to justify that statement it will be necessary for me to show, and I shall do so as briefly as I can, just what the law was prior to 1894, and what the law is to-day in regard to this matter. Prior to 1894. there was a voters' list in the Territories. But that voters' list was really of no account, because on election day it was possible for any person otherwise entitled to vote, to get his name added to the voters' list by the deputy returning officer; and the only object as explained by the hon. member for West Assiniboia (Mr. Davin) when we were discussing that Bill in 1894, of having a voters' list at all, was to save time, by preventing the necessity of swearing every one that came up, and to make it possible to poll all the votes at a particular polling division. Apart from that, the voters' list was of no use whatever. I myself believed, at that time that it did not matter at that time particularly, because there was always the right for a voter whose name had been omitted from that list, to have his name added to the list by the deputy returning officer. Now, that list is prepared in this way: Section 28 of the North-west Territories Representation Act, as amended by chapter 10 of the Statutes of 1888, provides that the Governor General in Council may appoint enumerators for each polling division, and if hedoes not do so, the returning otficer, with the assistance of any 527 [COMMONS] 528 justice of the peace. or notary public, and two electors, is obliged to appoint these enumerators. That is, instead of having, as we have in the Dominion Franchise Act, a revising officer for the whole constituency, an enumerator is appointed for each polling division when an election comes on. These enumerators, of course. are only appointed in case of an election, and they proceed to their duties as soon as the proclamation is issued for the election. Section 20 provides that the enumerator, as soon as he is appointed, shall take an oath of office and proceed to make the list. The enumerator is appointed by the Government, and in default of an appointment by the Government. the returning officer is obliged, with the assistance of a justice of the peace and two electors, to make the appointment, so that there must be an enumerator for every polling division. It may be that an enumerator may act for more than one polling division. Then he goes on, by section 29, as amended in 1888, and compiles the list. Then by section 30:
Each enumerator shall complete, date at his place of residence, and sign the copies of the voters' list, or lists, as aforesaid, eight days before the polling day ; two of the said copies for each polling division he shall forthwith post up in two of the most. public places within such polling division, and the other he retains for revision.
Now, that section remains as it was. He completes the list eight days before polling day. and posts up two of these lists in two of the most public places. Then section 31 is the section which provides for revision, and I shall read that section to the House, and ask what protection there is to any one in a revision conducted under the provision of this section :
If any enumerator, at any time after posting up any voters' list, and before the polling day, is fully satisfied, from representations made to him by any credible person, that the name of any qualified voter has been omitted from the voters' list of the polling division to which such voter belongs, he shall add such name to the copy of the list in his possession, below his own signature, and shall attest such addition by his initials ; if the enumerator in like manner is fully satisfied that there is on the list the name of any person who is not qualified as a voter in such polling division. he may draw erasing lines through such name and write his own initials opposite thereto in the column for remarks.
Now, Mr. Speaker, in this voters' list, that is all the protection there is. Eight days. before the election day this man completes        a list. he posts it up in two places, and then, by the Senate amendment, if at any time up to within two days of the polling day, that is six days after it is posted up. and during those six days, he gets any credible person to tell him that there is a name that ought to be on the list, he may put it on : and if any credible person informs him that there is some name on the list that ought to be struck off, he may strike it off. That. Mr. Speaker, is all the protection there is to the opponents of the Government in these four constituencies, in the case of an election. Eight days before the election day the list is made, made by a man appointed by the (Government. Anybody, Tom, Dick and Harry. the most disreputable man in the community, if they like, they can appoint. There is no restriction as to whom they may appoint. They may send in non-residents. the hon. Minister of the Interior may take Some of the characters that the party keep down here—I do not know that they have got so many up there—they may send them into the, Territories, one for each polling division. and ask them to make a list eight days before election. That list may have four names on it, it may have one name on it. possibly he may not find a single Voter in the constituency, or it may have twenty names on it; there is no limit. He is obliged to take no application. No elector has the right to go and make a statutory declaration and have his name put upon the list. The agent of the Government may conduct himself without the slightest restriction or limitation. He can put on every Conservative. This man goes into the polling division, and he can go to the candidate and ask him: Do you think you have any supporters in polling division No. 5 ? If so, give me the names of those supporters. And having got the names of those supporters. he puts them upon the list. Then he posts it up eight days before election day, and during six days an elector, if he could not find out where the list was posted up, because there was no means of telling where it was posted, for all the Act says is that it must be posted in two of the most prominent places—and in many of the polling divisions of the Territories there is no polling place, except possibly a post office and in some cases there is no place that you could call the most public place except, at the corner of a fence. according to the meaning of the Act—the elector could go and ask to have his name put on the list. But the official can laugh. and say. "I will put your name on the list ,' but he need not do it. There is no means of finding out whether the name has been put on the list or not until the man goes to vote on election day, and if the name is not on the list, there is no possible remedy. because after the list is completed two days before polling day, it is absolutely final. Section 46 of the Act provides that every voter shall be entitled to vote whose name is on the voters' list, and if a man is not on the list he cannot vote. I should like to ask politicians whom I see around me on both Sides of the House if they would want anything better—if they were prepared to use it, but I do not suppose any hon. member of this House would do so, although candidates to the next House might take advantage of it—to use than a snap of that 529 [JANUARY 23, 1896] 530 kind with which to carry an election. It simply means that the Government has the power to nominate and elect those four members.
Mr. MILLS (Annapolis). That is taking a leaf out of the practice of the local government in Nova Scotia, by which they disfranchised electors.
Mr. MARTIN. On this side of the House the Franchise Act of the Dominion has been very much opposed. It has been opposed for this reason, that we do not believe it, is right for the Government to appoint an otiicer of their own to make up the voters list. But let me refer to the protection there is under the Franchise Act so far as getting names on the list is concerned. Section 15 of the Act provides that the revising officer shall on 1st August prepare to commence to make his list. He continues to make up that list up to 1st October. I am taking the Act as it is at present: it has been changed in regard to time, but there has always been an opportunity to add names during the two months of September and October, when the revising officer is supposed to be in his office ready to take applications, and in fact he is bound to take them if they are properly sworn to and placed before him. Every elector in the constituency has the opportunity of knowing that, according to the law. on let August —it was in 1894 when the general list was made up—the revising officer in each constituency commences to prepare the list. On 1st October the list is closed. It. is immediately printed. It is then posted in various places; copies are sent to the defeated candidate. to the sitting member. to the different officials throughout the constituency and every man can see, if he will take the trouble to go over the list and examine it, whether his name is on the list. If he finds that his name is not on that list, a reasonable delay is granted in order that he may get his name placed there, because after the list has been posted the revising officer holds the court of revision. which must be held at least five weeks after the closing of the list. Note the difference in time. Weeks and months in the one case; days. hours and minutes in the other. Then any person whose name is not there may put in his appeal. if he gets it in within two weeks before the day of revision. He goes there and gives his evidence and after all these proceedings have taken place the judge gives notice that he will make up the list finally. and both parties have a right to be present. So far as time is concerned, an opportunity is given, under the Dominion Franchise Act. for both sides to be present and to find out what is going on. These are not the objections made by the. Liberals; the main objection taken is to the great power exercised by these revising officers and their appointment by the Government. But in the Territories there is no protection of the kind afforded by the Dominion Franchise Act. There is nothing done until the election almost comes on, and the first the electors know what is going on is eight days before the day they are called on to vote. Many of them may be away. you can never count on having all the. electors in the constituency during the eight days preceding an election. But that is the only chance given them. If they can find those two public places where the lists are posted—because there is no provision for sending the lists to any one, even to the defeated candidate, and the people have no means of finding out anything in regard to it, for the enumerator has no office and there is no means of finding him—names may perhaps be added. But the list may be made up in Toronto, so far as the law is concerned. and indeed there is nothing in the law to prevent the preparation of the whole list for the. Territories in an office in this building. All that is necessary, so far as the Act is concerned. is to get some one to put up the lists in two places in each polling division in the Territories. But if that is not done, there is no penalty for failing, to do it. Eight days before the election the lists are stuck up, and then for six days an elector (and the House will remember that polling divisions in the Northwest are frequently larger than a county in Ontario), if by some chance he learns that the list has been posted in some place, may travel fifteen or twenty miles. and he may find that the list has been torn down in the meantime. In fact. the enumerator himself may tear it down immediately after he has put it up, for there is nothing in the law to prevent it. The list having been printed and published throughout the constituency, there is no possibility of the elector being able to get his name placed there. In this case what is the provision ? The provision is that he could go and ask the enumerator to have his name on ; that is all. The enumerator is not bound to put his name on, and if he does not put his name on the unfortunate elector has no means whatever of finding out that it has been left off; except that he goes on polling day, and after having driven again fifteen or twenty miles he finds that this enumerator has obeyed the instructions he received from those who appointed him and has not put his name on the list. Mr. Speaker, can it be imagined that a Government boasting of their strength as this Government has done during all these years, deriding the Opposition for their ill-success at the election, with a majority in the House at the time they passed this Act of 55 or 60; can you imagine this Government being reduced to the extremity of passing an Act of Parliament for the purpose of stealing from us four seats in the North-west Territories, in a part of Canada which has never yet returned a Liberal to Parliament? The Minister of the Interior had been up in that country and 531 [COMMONS] 532 he had driven through it. He found that the prestige of the Government had gone, and that the people there were only waiting the opportunity of voting against the Government representatives, and so he came to the conclusion that unless he passed some Act of this kind, every member from the North-west Territories would be a supporter of the leader of the Opposition. But even then you would have thought that the Government would have some honour and some decency in the matter, and that if they were prepared to pass an Act of this outrageous character they would have had at least the decency to explain in the House in a manly, straightforward way, that they did intend to steal these constituencies and give us an opportunity of discussing and objecting to it. But, no ; the Minister introduces the Bill without a word. He puts it through the House and then he gets somebody in the Senate, a body which has nothing to do with the matter, to sneak in these amendments so vital and so important, and he brings it back here and puts it through without the slightest word of explanation. The hon. gentleman referred in another debate to the Manitoba Act in regard to the elections. Let us look at the Manitoba Act and see if there is anything in it like this: That Act provides that the voters' lists shall be made up from time to time when the Government sees fit, and that when the voters' lists are to be revised a general proclamation is to issue appointing a registration clerk for each electoral district in the province. That proclamation fixes the day for the closing of the lists, which day shall be not less than four weeks from the date of the proclamation. During these four weeks every elector has an opportunity of sending to that registration clerk. a sworn declaration showing that he is entitled to vote, and if the registration clerk does not put upon the list every one of those persons whd furnishes him with a proper declaration, he is subject to a heavy penalty. After the lists are closed they are printed and circulated. Copies are sent to defeated candidates at the previous election, to the sitting members. to every mayor, councillor, alderman and reeve in the' constituency and to every postmaster. They are put up in every school house, and every post office, and every municipal office, and then there is a revision. A revising officer is appointed who must be either a judge or a barrister of at least three years standing. These lists must be published and posted up at least thirty days before the day appointed for the final court revision, every one has an opportunity, just as they have under the Dominion Franchise Act, of putting in their appeals. as long as they get them in five days before the day for the final revision. Then an open court is held, and after that the list is completed and is published. Twenty-five copies are sent to the defeated candidate, twenty-five copies to the sitting member, and two copies to every municipal officer in the province. These are also posted up in the most public way all over the province. Therefore, under the Dominion Act and under the Manitoba Act, which the hon. gentleman criticized in another connection, there is the most ample opportunity for every man to get his name upon the list, unless some of the officers commit a fraud. But, in the Northwest Territories, I say that there is no opportunity, there is no possible chance of a man getting his name upon the list unless the enumerator is willing to put him upon the list. Now. Mr. Speaker, it is well known by the Government, and also, I think, generally in this House, that the North-west Assembly is composed very largely of Conservatives. I shall, with your permission, Sir, read a resolution which that body passed upon this vcry subject; a subject, it is true, that was not particularly within their jurisdiction, but a subject in which each one of them was interested as a citizen of the Dominion, and one in which they felt there was such a strong public interest in the Territories that they were justified in passing this very forcible resolution in regard to the matter. The following resolution was moved by Mr. Insinger, and passed unanimously :—
Whereas under the " North-west Territories Representation Act" the requirements for electors in the territories to be allowed to vote at Dominion elections differ from the requirements for electors in the provinces, inasmuch as they are not based on the provisions of the " Electoral Franchise Act ;"
And whereas, though immediately before Dominion elections in the Territories lists of voters are to be made by enumerators appointed either by the Governor in Council or by the returning officer, conjointly with any two justices of the peace, or with one justice of the peace and a notary public, or with any one of them and two electors of the electoral district, yet, till the passing of the Acts to amend the Northwest Representation Act in the years 1894 and 1895, all electors having the qualifications of such were allowed to vote independently of the fact, if they were on such list of voters or not ;
And whereas in all elections in the Territories, both territorial and Dominion, the principle of allowing a voter's name to be put on the list. up to the moment of voting prevailed up to 1894; 
And whereas such principle was reailirmed by the legislative assembly of the North-west Territories in their "Territories Elections Ordinance " of 1894, in which, moreover, the assembly did not think it advisable to make provisions for either voters' lists or lists of voters ;
And whereas experience at the general election for the assembly held in the year 1894 showed such system to be admirably adapted to the needs of these sparsely-settled territories ;
And whereas by the Acts to amend the Northwest Representation Act, passed in the 57-58 year and 58-59 year, Victoria, the list of voters made by enumerators will have the same force as a voters' list prepared under the provisions of the Electoral Franchise Act, and all such persons as are not on such list of voters will 533 [JANUARY 23, 1896] 534 be excluded from the right to exercise the franchise ;
And whereas such lists of voters do not offer the same safeguards to the rights of electors as do the voters" lists in the provinces, inasmuch as
(1) They are necessarily hurriedly prepared by enumerators between the time of the receipt of the writ for election and a week before the day of polling ;
(2) The time allowed to electors or their agents to ascertain if their names are on such list is, taken in connection with the distances generally to be travelled in the territories, and with the fact that no fixed residences are appointed for such enumerators, insufficient for the purpose ;
(3) The enumerator is the absolute judge of the right of an elector to be on such list, and he can put on or strike off names till within two days of the polling day without notice from or to such electors ;
(4) There is no appeal from the decision of the enumerator either to a revising officer? or to a judge:
Therefore, in the opinion of this assembly, it is desirable that the " North-west Territories Representation Act" be further amended so as to either adopt the system provided for in the " Territories Election Ordinances," or to bring into effect the provisions regarding voters' lists of the " Electoral Franchise Act."
Among the members of the assembly who supported that resolution, which recapitulates very well the different points which I have alleged against this outrage, is Mr. Haultain, who is the Premier of the Territories, and the nominated candidate on the Government side for the constituency of Alberta at the present time. In fact, it was at his suggestion that it was proposed; that the law should be re-enacted as it was before. What the assembly ask for is one of three things—first, that the law should be re-enacted as it was before ; second. that the Territories Franchise Act. should be adopted ; third, that the Electoral Franchise Act of the Dominion should be brought into force in the Territories. Of course, it; is quite out of the question to attempt, at this late day to bring into force the Dominion Franchise Act for the coming elections; so that the recommendations of the assembly narrow themselves down to thei others—either to have their own Franchise Act, or to have the old Act as it was. I understand that it is suggested as an objection to the Act as it was passed that it afforded more or less opportunity for; fraudulent voting. Now, whether there was opportunity for it, or not, I can say truthfully and I think the members from the Territories will agree with me—that there has not been, to any appreciable extent, any fraud in elections there. There has been no complaint on the floor of this House, so far as I have heard, from members representing constituencies in the Territories, of the law working in that direction. There is no doubt that it is a very crude law. It is certainly not a law that should be allowed to stand ; but the law that has been sub stituted for it will bear no comparison with it whatever. If the Government came to the conclusion that there was too much opportunity for persons swearing falsely that they were entitled to vote, they should, in 1894, have applied the Dominion Franchise Act to the Territories. Not having been prepared to do that, they cannot be allowed to use this flimsy pretext for the outrage they committed. I am glad to notice that the hon. member for West Assiniboia (Mr. Davin) apparently takes the same view of the Government's conduct as I do, because he has also introduced a Bill into this House, which has received its first reading, in exactly the same direction as mine. My Bill proposes to put the law back as it was before, that is, to re-enact section 44 of chapter 7 -of the Revised Statutes, which reads as follows :—
The deputy returning officer shall, while the poll is open, it required by any elector whose name is not on the voters' list, administer to such elector oath number one in the said form P; and such oath having been taken, the deputy returning officer shall at once cause such elector's name to be added to the voters' list, with the word " sworn " written thereafter.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I would like to know from the hon. Minister of the Interior whether the Government committed this outrage of their own accord, or whether they were asked to do so by any member from the Territories in the House at the present time. We may take it for granted, that the hon. member for West Assiniboia (Mr. Davin) did not request or advise the Government to do so, because he comes here and asks to have the same changes made that I am asking for. I do not suppose that the hon. member for East Assiniboia (Mr. McDonald) would request the Government to make a change in this direction, because he has been discarded by his party in his constituency, and another man substituted for him as the candidate for the coming election. So far as the hon. member for Alberta (Mr. Davis) is concerned, I am sure I am-quite safe in saying that hon. gentleman would never be a party to such a disgraceful attempt to steal constituencies. Then, the hon. member for Saskatchewan (Mr. Macdowall) is the only member left representing a North-west constituency. I do not know—I should imagine that hon. gentleman would scarcely be guilty of forwarding or asking for legislation the effect of which must be to give him a most unfair advantage over his opponent. The Government have always expressed themselves as being confident of the result of the elections in the Territories, and I would ask hon. members supporting the Government from other provinces what they think of their expression of confidence when they are reduced to extremities such, as this. Will any one believe that they have any confidence whatever in having the slightest particle of a 535 [COMMONS] 536 chance in any one of these constituencies, if they are obliged to put through this House in such a secret way, without any discussion or explanation, without any chance of their opponents knowing what they were doing, a Bill of this kind—an Act which allows men nominated by themselves to go into a polling division and make up once for all a list from which they may exclude every likely opponent from being a candidate, and from which list there is no possible appeal. Why, Mr. Speaker, I fancy that, outside of the Government, and outside of any member from the Territories, if such can be found, who has urged and supported legislation of this kind, there is not on the other side of the House a single member who will justify and support the Government in keeping upon the statute-book such an outrage as this. This is the last session of this House; it can only last a certain time ; and, so far as I am concerned, if my voice does not give out, I will certainly, so long as I am able to speak, stand up here day after day and protest against this iniquitous outrage, and prevent, so far as my efforts can, the Government getting on with any business whatever until—
Some hon. MEMBERS. Order.
Sir RICHARD CARTWRIGHT. You are perfectly correct.
Mr. SPEAKER. The hon. gentleman is not in order ; he is threatening the House with opposition.
Mr. MARTIN. I withdraw my threat.
Sir RICHARD CARTWRIGHT. Allow me for one moment on a question of order —it is always the rule that the redress of grievances should precede supplies.
Mr. SPEAKER. I did not understand the hon. member for Winnipeg (Mr. Martin) to take that position. I understood him to threaten that he would not allow the business of the House to go on unless this particular statute to which he referred was amended.
Mr. MARTIN. You certainly, Sir, understood me quite correctly, and as I find I am out of order, I withdraw the threat ; but I shall take every parliamentary means in my power to compel the Government— there is no use appealing to this Government, I have lost any idea of that kind ; I do not think there is any use appealing to their honour or patriotism or fairness—but I say that I will use my right as a representative here of taking every parliamentary and legitimate opportunity of insisting that this wrong shall be made right before this session is over. And I would like to hear from the hon. Minister of the Interior (Mr. Daly) any justification of this amendment which he put through this House without the slightest explanation. I have been in the Territories since last session, after the people had learnt of this amendment. They had no knowledge of it before last session. I have conversed with gentlemen there on both sides of politics, and was requested by them to ask for this change in the law, and I am satisfied that the hon. Minister of the Interior has few, if any, supporters in the Territories who will justify him in this attempt to take away from the people their right to vote. If the hon. gentleman's policy is acceptable to the people there, let him depend upon that alone. Let him go before the people with his policy ; let him give us the opportunity of getting our names on the list ; let him give us the right to vote—and then if he is supported by the people, all right ; if he is condemned, let him take his condemnation. But let him not attempt to get away from the votes of the people ; let him not attempt to hide his iniquity in a parliamentary election of members for those four constituencies. It is an outrage which has never been perpetrated even in this House of Commons, and I am satisfied it could not have been perpetrated here, if the members had known what was suggested to them, and what was being enacted.
Mr. DALY. In answer to the very furious attack made by the hon. member for Winnipeg (Mr. Martin), it seems to me that it is well for the House and you, Mr. Speaker, to be put in possession of the facts, and not take for gospel what the hon. gentleman has said. He has seen fit to impugn the honour and patriotism of this Government, and my own personal honour in this matter, not only as a member of the Government, but as a member of the House, because he declared that I had sneaked through this House a clause in the Bill which came from the Senate. What are the facts ? They are that in 1894 I introduced into this House a Bill to amend the Northwest Territories Representation Act. That Bill went through this House and had its third reading. I ask if the hon. gentleman will find upon record that he took any part in the discussion of that Bill, during its three readings. He will find that he did not. He will find that he did not give any attention to it.
Mr. MARTIN. It had not this clause in it.
Mr. DALY. Did you, or did you not read the Bill ?
Mr. MARTIN. I did.
Mr. DALY. So we have the hon. gentleman on record that he did look at the Bill and knew what it was when it went through the Senate. The hon. gentleman has accused me of going to the Senate and getting the members of that chamber to put in this clause, and conniving with them in doing a wrong to the North-west Territories. I tell the hon. gentleman and this House that I never spoke to a Senator, or any 537 [JANUARY 23, 1896] 538 body else, with reference to this Bill after it left this House and went to the Senate; and I was just as ignorant as the hon. gentleman is that the clause was put in the Bill by the Senate repealing clause 44 until the Bill came back to this House. When the Bill came back here, I pointed out to members of the North-west Territories the changes made by the Senate, because there was more than one change, and I was told by these gentlemen that the changes had been made at their solicitation.
Mr. MARTIN. Will the hon. gentleman give the names ?
Mr. DALY. The hon. member for East Assiniboia (Mr. McDonald) was the gentleman who informed me, and he told me the reason was that in the last elections held in the North-west Territories this clause 44 gave rise to the committal of perjury by a number of people, who had their names put on the list without any right. What does clause 44 say :
The deputy returning officer shall, while the poll is open, if required by any elector whose name is not on the voters' list, administer to such elector oath number one in the said form P ; and such oath having been taken, the deputy returning officer shall at once cause such elector's name to be added to the voters' list, with the word " sworn " written thereafter.
I should like to know if that provision does not admit of the statement made by the hon. member for East Assiniboia (Mr. Macdonald) to me that it opened the door for wrong-doing ? The hon. gentleman told me that in his own electoral division, there were 150 names put on the list under the provision of that clause, which would not have been there if the men whose names were on had not perjured themselves by taking the oath. The hon. gentleman went further. He did not only charge me with having connived with some one in the Senate in order to have the clause added to the Bill, but he said that the Bill was not discussed in this House, and that it went through silently and in an irregular manner.
Mr. MARTIN. I said as to the amendments.
Mr. DALY. I am talking about them. The hon. gentleman said that there is nothing in the " Hansard " about this particular amendment. He will not find in the " Hansard" anything about the amendments to the Bill, but he will find them in the Journals of the House. Look at the Journals of the 26th June, 1894.
Mr. MARTIN. I said they were in the Journal, but that there was no mention in the " Hansard " about any discussion.
Mr. DALY. On page 349 of .the Journals of. the House you will find, by a division that took place in" the afternoon, that the hon. member for Winnipeg was present when the amendments went through, or that, if not present, he ought to have been. He was in the precincts of the House.
Mr. DAVIES (P.E.I.) Does the hon. gentleman say that on the page 349 of the Journals of 1894 the particular amendment to which my hon. friend objects is found ?
Mr. DALY. Yes; and I call the attention of the House to the proceedings that took place on that day, so that we may ascertain whether or not these amendments were sneaked through or whether there was anything irregular in the manner in which these amendments that came from the Senate were put through this House. We find that four petitions were presented: we find that a Bill from the Senate, intituled " An Act respecting the Speaker of the Senate," was, according to the Orders. read a third time, &c., and then we find that the House, according to order, proceeded to take into consideration the amendments made by the Senate to the Bill intituled " An Act further to amend the North-west Territories Representation Act," and that the same were read as follows. There was not one amendment only. but half a dozen, and these were read to the House in the usual way, and they were passed through in the usual way. I want to call the hon. gentleman's particular attention to the fact that they went through in the afternoon, so that there was no excuse for his not knowing all about them. He may be frequently absent during the evening, but these were read in the afternoon, and, besides, they were on the Order paper, so that the hon. gentleman has no excuse for not knowing about them. And they were on the Orders of the Day, so that the hon. gentleman's attention was called to the matter. Moreover, those amendments were all spread out upon the Journals of the House, as follows :—
Clause A.
Section eighteen of the said Act is hereby amended by adding thereto the following subsection :—
" 3. The returning officer shall not receive the nomination paper of any member of the legislative assembly of the North-west Territories. Page 1, line 15.—After " Council " insert clauses B, C and D.
Clause B .
Section thirty-one of the said Act is hereby amended by adding after the word " and " in the second line thereof the words " two days."
Clause C.
Section thirty-two of the said Act is hereby amended by striking out the words " on the day " in the fifth line thereot and replacing the same  by the words " two days."
Clause D.
Section thirty-three of the said Act is hereby amended by leaving out all utter the word " division " in the sixth line thereof. '
539 [COMMONS] 540
Page 2, line 6.—Atter " twenty " insert "section twenty-eight." Page 2, line 11.—After " twenty " insert " two." Page 2, line 22,—After " application " insert " tor a recount or final addition." Page 2, line 23.—Leave out from " Act " to " shall" in line 24. Page 2, line 26.—Aiter "Territories" insert "and the application provided for by the subsection added to the said section by section eleven of chapter nineteen of the Statutes of 1891, shall be made to the said court in banco." Page 3, line 28.—After " forty-one " insert " forty-four."
This is the amendment the hon. gentleman objects to. These amendments were agreed to by this House. Now, Mr. Speaker, this was done in broad daylight when, I presume, the hon. gentleman was in his seat in the House. The Votes and Proceedings show that during that afternoon or evening a division, took place, and the hon. gentleman's name is recorded in the division. So the hon. gentleman was in the House or within the precincts of the House when these proceedings took place. Had the hon. gentleman paid the attention to his legislative duties that he ought to have paid, he would have known of these amendments, for he had the same notice of the amendments that I had. When these amendments were made I went into them to ascertain the eiifect of them, because, as I said before, they were made without my knowledge. When my attention was called to the fact that section 44 was amended, I went to the hon. member for East Assiniboia (Mr. McDonald), who, I think, was the only representative from the North-west Territories about at the time, to ascertain what the facts were, and he explained to me why the amendment was made in the Senate. So the hon. gentleman's charge that I was responsible for that amendment falls to the ground. That amendment was made by the hon. gentleman in charge of the Bill in the Senate on the advice of the representatives in that chamber from the North-west Territories. I would be quite willing to leave the matter there but the hon. gentleman goes further. He seems to wish to make a little cheap popularity by frequent claptrap discussions of this matter. The hon. gentleman would give the members of this House to understand that by that simple amendment we have changed the position of voters in the North-west Territories and that the provisions he has read were new. He seeks to impress the people with same idea, for in an interview with the hon. gentleman in the Winnipeg " Tribune," which was sent to me, the impression is conveyed that there is something new about it. Why, Sir, the Act the hon. gentleman has quoted is one of the Acts of 49 Victoria. Ten years ago thatAct was passed in this House. So if any injustice was inflicted upon the people of the North-west Territories, it was inflicted upon them by the House of Parliament of which many hon. gentlemen still in the House were members.
Mr. MILLS (Bothwell). And opposed it.
Mr. DALY. I do not know; I have not looked up the debates of the House of that time. At all events this is the law. Since then two elections have been held, and I fail to find that any of the charges made by the hon. gentleman have been borne out. I fail to find that either the newspapers or candidates in the elections have complained about the way the enumerations were made up. I was through that country in an election campaign in 1887. 1 saw those lists there, prepared, as they were, under the statute and I never heard any complaints, and we were associated day after day with gentlemen representing the Opposition. No discussion at all took place in reference to the way the lists were being made up.
Mr. MILLS (Bothwell). They were made up to the day of the election, which cannot be done now.
Mr. DALY. The hon. gentleman is mistaken. The hon. member for Winnipeg says that under the amendment, if names are not on the list two days before the election they cannot be got on at all. Under the old law persons could swear in their names on the day of the election. That is the real charge. If he rested the charge there, I would be satisfied. But he goes further and makes the charge against the Government that we are seeking to disfranchise the electors of the North-west Territories by a law that he would give us to understand was passed in 1894 or 1895. But the enumeration lists are made up under a law passed ten years ago. What are its provisions ? They were made to suit the peculiar conditions and requirements of the North-west Territories. It was well understood by Parliament that it would not do to apply the provisions of the Franchise Act to the North-west Territories. The most suitable law under the circumstances was passed. In discussing the provisions of the Act the hon. gentleman sneers at the idea of the Governor General appointing the enumerators, and says that disreputable men might be appointed, that disreputable men might be sent up from here. I think the hon. gentleman reflects severely upon the people of the North-west Territories. Does the hon. gentleman give us to understand by the charge he makes that disreputable men prepared the lists for the late local elections in Manitoba, I do not think that the hon. gentleman would like to admit that the men who prepared the lists in North Winnipeg and Brandon City and North Brandon were disreputable men. Yet I produced evidence the other day to show that hundreds of men were disfranchised by their names being left off the lists. In this case the Governor General will do just as he has done in the pasts—he will appoint men fit for the position.
541 [JANUARY 23, 1896] 542
Mr. MILLS (Bothwell). He will appoint men whom he is advised to appoint.
Mr. DALY. Who advises the Attorney General at Winnipeg to appoint the enumerators under the Manitoba Franchise Act ? Do they appoint any person opposed to the Government or do they appoint their own friends ? I do not wish the House to understand that we are going to appoint Grit enumerators; I do not think the hon. gentleman expects us to do so. But we will appoint men capable of performing the duties assigned to them. I wish to call attention to the fact that these enumerators have to take an oath and have to prepare their lists under the sanction of that oath. If the hon. gentleman could produce evidence that, in the elections of 1887 and 1891 enumerators were appointed who proved derelict in their duty, if he could show that people were disfranchised as he has given the House to understand, there might be something in his argument. But I defy him to produce the slightest proof that any person has complained, directly or indirectly. of the preparation of the lists in 1887 and and 1891. The hon. gentleman does not give the same credit that I do to his political allies in the North-west Territories. He has had no experience of those gentlemen. I want him to understand that they are alive and that they have their organizations. I speak of what I know.
Mr. MARTIN. It did not make the slightest difference in 1887 and 1891, because they could get their names on the lists on election day.
Mr. DALY. Why, Sir, I have been engaged in contests up there, and I do not think the hon. gentleman took part inthem. and it seems to me that no man ever fought harder to get their names upon the list and to elect their candidate than did our Grit friends in Eastern and Western Assiniboia, and the other constituencies. This Act. as it is now amended. does not give any advantage to the supporters of the Government as against those who are opposed to the Government, because the enumerator is bound to take their names. The only conclusion I can arrive at. when hon. gentlemen say, "Oh, oh" is that they have a different experience in preparing the lists to what I have. Are we to understand that those gentlemen know about how those lists are prepared, and that they do not do the square thing when. they prepare the lists ?—because that is the inference I draw from the remarks made by the hon. gentleman. I take it that a man who is sworn to do his duty, will do it, and any opponent of this Government, has under the provisions of the Act, the very some chance of getting his name upon the list as does any person who is a supporter of this Government. Now, Sir, the hon. gentleman sneered at the enumerators that would be appointed by the Governor General in Council, and shortly after wards he came round and said that of course he could not object to the Governor General appointing the friends of the Government. Well, all that the Act presumes is that the Governor General shall appoint men who are fit to make up those. lists. Now what does all this amount to ? It amounts simply to this, as I said before, that the conditions of that country are not such as to admit of our extending to it the provisions of the Franchise Act. In 1894 I introduced a Bill into this House for the purpose of extending the ballot to the North-west Territories, and in that Bill certain changes had to be made in the Northwest Territories Representation Act, but those changes did not affect materially the mode of the preparation of those lists, other than the amendment which was made in the Senate in repealing clause 44. I think the hon. gentleman will have to make out a considerably stronger case than he has made to-day to prove to this House that any electors in that country will be affected in the slightest degree by the changes that have been made in the Act, because so far as the appointment of enumerators is concerned, and so far as the preparation of the lists is concerned, they will be prepared as they were in 1887, and as they were in 1891, and prepared under legislation that was passed in this House some ten years ago. So how could the hon. gentleman. or how can the legislative assembly. in the petition.the hon. gentleman read, say that by the Act that was passed last session or the session before, we seek to disfranchise by wholesale the electors of the Northwest Territories ? Sir, the hon. gentleman threatened, but he had to withdraw the threat, that he was going to keep this House here until such time as he accomplished his purpose. I want to say to the hon. gentleman that we do not fear his threats. We are just as desirous of giving to the people of the North-west Territories a full franchise as he is. The hon. gentleman says that I went through that country and saw the people, and in consequence of my visit I came to the conclusion that if the provisions of the law remained as they were we could not expect to get the same representation. I want to tell the hon. gentleman that I do not fear the verdict of the electors of the North-west Territories.
Mr. DAVIES (P.E.I.) You do not show any signs of it.
Mr. DALY. I do not show any signs of it'in the slightest degree. I want to say to the hon. gentleman that remarks such. as his are very stale. We heard in 1887 that the whole North-west representation was going to be opposed to this Government ; we heard in 1891 that the whole North-west representation would go against this Government. But as the North-west people did in 1887, and as they did in 1891, the Northwest people will do in 1896, and the hon. 543 [COMMONS] 544 gentleman will find that we will have a solid representation here supporting the policy of this Government the same as we had in 1891 and 1887.
Sir RICHARD CARTWRIGHT. For "this Government," substitute " the Government," and you will be right.
Mr. DALY. Well, for the Government of the grand old Conservative party, not a Government of the hon. gentlemen opposite, because I am sure the hon. gentleman will be a considerable number of years older before he sits upon the Treasury benches, notwithstanding his own inclination to get there. Now, Sir, I say to the hon. gentleman that the charge he made against me that this amendment was made by my conniving with the Senate, I have proved to be untrue. More than that, I had no thought or idea, when agreeing to the amendment that was made in the Senate, that it would affect in the slightest degree the franchise of the electors of the North-west Territories ; more than that, the thought never occurred to me, and has never occurred to me, nor will it ever occur to me, until the last ballot is cast, that the North-west Territories will give any different verdict from the one they gave in the elections in 1887 and 1891.
Mr. MILLS (Bothwell). My hon. friend from Winnipeg (Mr. Martin) has pointed out, in the speech which he addressed to the House, the very serious objections that lie against the law as it stands at this moment. He has also pointed out the possibility of disfranchising a very large number of the electors of the North-west Territories under the provisions of the law as it is. What defence or answer has the Minister made to that ? Why, the hon. Minister says that the law as it stood before these objectionable amendments were made, worked satisfactorily, and he gives that statement as an answer to the argument of my hon. friend that the law was changed for the worse.
Mr. DALY. I said with the one exception.
Mr. MILLS (Bothwell). Well, the hon. gentleman did not say that he was prepared to take away that exception, the hon. gentleman did not say that he was prepared to remove any of the objections which the hon. member for Winnipeg made to the law as it at present stands. The hon. gentleman did not say one word that can be regarded as an argument in defence of the amendments that were made in 1894 in the Senate, and which were allowed to stand in his measure of last session. Sir, if he looks at the facts as they are stated, what do they disclose ? In the first place, the very objectionable condition of things exists, which the hon. gentleman says is to continue, that the Government, who stand as one of the parties on trial at an election, are to be the persons who are to appoint all the officers, who are to create the machinery under which their trial is to take place. Sir, there is no analogy between the condition of things that exists in Ontario and the condition of things that exists in the Northwest Territories. The hon. gentleman said that we appointed Grits to office where an opportunity occurs. Why, Sir, has the Government of Ontario—and I take that as an illustration—provided for the appointment of their own friends under the Franchise Act for the preparation of the voters' list ? Has the Government of Ontario provided for the appointment of the returning officers who are to hold the elections, when those elections take place in that province ? No, Sir, the Government of Ontario provided by statute that certain officers, some of whom may be their friends and some of whom may be their opponents, are the persons under whose authority and responsibility the elections are to be held ; but they also provided that the preparation of the voters' lists shall be in the hands of the municipality, the members of which are elected by the peopIe who represent both parties, and the final appeal is to the county judge, that is, when a new appointment takes place. by the Government who sit here. Now, look at the condition of things in the North-west. The hon. gentleman says that they take care to appoint no Grits, and he says His Excellency makes the appointments, and therefore they will be proper appointments. Sir, the hon. gentleman might as well refer to the Lieutenant-Governor as a conclusive answer to the character of appointments everywhere. His Excellency, it is true, makes those appointments, but he does not choose the men. The men are chosen by the hon. gentlemen ; they are named by the hon. gentlemen, and it is upon their responsibility thatthe appoinnments are made. The hon. gentleman may appoint in the Northwest, as he or his friends have done elsewhere, bankrupts to office in elections, where it is known that if improper conduct takes place, no prosecution can be successfully had against them. That is the position which the hon. gentleman and his friends have practically taken, and he has referred us to His Excellency, whose name ought never to have ben dragged into a discussion in this House, as a guarantee that the appointments will be all right and proper.
Mr. DALY. I rise to an explanation. I do not see why the hon. gentleman should state that I brought His Excellency's name into this discussion. I mentioned the name of the Governor General as given in the Act, and a child understands that it means the Governor General in Council. I never mentioned the name of His Excellency.
Mr. MILLS (Bothwell). The hon. gentleman will see, when he reads the report of his speech, that I am not misrepresenting him, and that I am not stating what he did not say on this occasion. What is the objection made by my hon. friend ? It is, 545 [JANUARY 23, 1896] 546 that by the alteration of the law it placed in the hands of the enumerator or revising officer, where there is one, power to disfranchise a portion of the population. Under the law, as cited, if a man's name is excised improperly, he could, go before the enumerator on the day of polling, he could swear that he was entitled to have his name on the list, he could have it placed on the list by the enumerator, and he could thereafter record his vote. Can he do that to-day ? If his name is left off the list, or struck off the list, can he go and vote ? Everybody knows that he cannot do so. And the hon. gentlemen, by changes made by the Senate in a law affecting this House, know the position of the matter is this : that the party stands in a wholly different position from that which he occupied before. Why, an unscrupulous enumerator or an unscrupulous revising officer would not undertake to excise a name from the list, or leave it out after promising to place it there, if he thought that the party on the day of election would find a fraud had been practised, and he could still have his name placed on the list and still record his vote. There would be no motive under that provision of the Act for improper and fraudulent conduct. But does it stand so today ; is that the position of the question at this moment? No. If a revising officer or an enumerator leaves a name off the list, and tells the party that he is entitled to vote, and that he will place his name on the list, and the man goes to the poll and finds his name not there, is he entitled to have his name on the list and have it then and there recorded ? No. He will be told that he should have come and had his name added two days before. The opportunity is taken away ; the temptation to fraud is created for the first time, and the list will be not only improperly made but it will be full of defects, and errors, and omissions, which cannot be corrected. The hon. gentleman (Mr. Daly) has said the position of the North-west is peculiar, and that he cannot apply there the law as it exists in the older provinces of the Dominion. I do not dispute that such may be the case. It may be necessary to make special provision for the conditions existing in the Territories ; but those should be rational conditions. and they should be such as to secure the rights and privileges of the electors, and not be framed for the purpose of taking them away. That is the condition of things now existing. Men will lose their right to vote—the number of voters will be diminished. On whose representation are enumerators or revising officers appointed ? Upon the representation of the candidates which support the Administration, upon the representation of gentlemen who for the time being are sitting in this House, in so far as they become candidates again. Is not every officer so appointed friendly to them, and though the emolument may be small, nevertheless in that country it may be important, and be sufficient to place these officers under obligations to these men. Will they not undertake to promote their interest ? Will they not feel that in looking after friends of the candidates and neglecting applications made by opponents, they are not doing an improper act ? They may feel it is none of their business to see that names of persons hostile to the Administration are placed on the list. Was the condition of things such that the list would be full and fair, and the election an honest and free expression of public opinion ? At all events, the evil has been enormously aggravated. Under the pretense of having an innocent provision added to the law, serious injustice has been done to a large section of the population, and power is given to effect serious frauds against which no remedy can be applied. You may prosecute a man elsewhere, if he has property which you can seize or reach, for the misconduct, but where you require no security of any kind, where you attach no penalties of any sort, the House should be specially careful to guard the interests, rights and privileges of the electors of the North-west ; but you destroy every guard, you throw down every barrier that stands as an obstacle to fraud and wrong-doing, and the result is that hon. gentlemen opposite have created a state of things under the law that will prevent a free and full expression of the opinion of the electors in that country. That is a condition that should not exist. It is not creditable to this House if it permits it to stand ; and it was an indignity to this House, that such matters which specially concerned its own rights and privileges and the representation of the people there should have been dealt with primarily in the Senate and not in this House of Commons. It is clear to any one who takes the trouble to look at the law that the law is seriously defective, that the amendment suggested by the hon. member for Winnipeg (Mr. Martin) should be made, and that full opportunity should be given to have as full and complete a voters' list in that country as can be prepared under the circumstances, and that an honest and fair opportunity should be given to the people to elect those candidates whom they prefer.
Mr. DAVIES (P.E.I.) I think the importance of the subject is such as to justify me in calling the attention of the House to it for a few moments longer, although I am free to admit that the hon. gentleman who has just preceded me (Mr. Mills) has presented it quite as forcibly as I can hope to do, and I only plead as an excuse for my observations the great importance and serious character of the Bill before the House. I am absolutely certain in my own mind that if hon. gentlemen on both sides of the House would give time and attention to the question before it for a few moments, they 547 [COMMONS] 548 would all agree that injustice has been done. I am not going to discuss the ancillary point, as to whether the Minister of the Interior was or was not responsible for the change made. He said he was not, and we accept his denial. We start out with the fact that an Act was passed ten years ago for the preparation of voters' lists in the Northwest Territories. The circumstances of the country are exceptional, and every hon. member will at once recognize that it was rather a crude scheme which was proposed and suggested, but still it was one which practically worked pretty well. The Minister of the Interior pledges his own experience in the House and his responsibility as a Minister, that the Act passed ten years ago worked passably well in two elections and that he for one never heard any complaint about it.
Mr. DALY. About the preparation of the lists.
Mr. DAVIES (P.E.I.) The House will understand that my hon. friend (Mr. Martin) is simply seeking to put the Act in the same position as it was when the Minister of the Interior said it worked so well. The Act vests arbitrary and extraordinary powers in the enumerators. An opportunity is given to those persons whose names are omitted, or to those who think names are improperly on, to go to that enumerator and to have the omitted names put on or the wrong names taken eoff. There is large room even there for arbitrary and improper conduct on the part of the enumerator. There is large room for partiality and bias and prejudices to exhibit themselves. There is room there to make a list which may favour one side much more than the other. But, there was a clause inserted in the Act as it existed before the amendment which was intended to prevent, if possible, and to overcome that evil. That clause was, that if anybody was improperly struck off the list who was a duly qualified voter he could on election day take the oath that he was qualified, and be entitled to vote, even if a partisan enumerator left him off.
Mr. SPROULE. You cannot do that in any part of Canada.
Mr. DAVIES (P.E.I.) My hon. friend (Mr. Sproule) is right, but the hon. gentleman will see that the Electoral Franchise Act of the rest of Canada was not applied to the Territories, that a special law was made for these Territories alone, and that that law as it formerly existed, while vesting extraordinary powers in the enumerator, had one security to the qualified voter, namely, that if his name was by accident or design omitted he could on election day vote on taking the oath. Now, why was that provision struck out ? The Government did not advise that it should be struck out ; nor did the Government bring a Bill to this House and ask that it should be struck out.
It was not discussed in the House of Commons, but an amendment—not setting out what the object of the amendment was—but simply mentioning among the clauses that were to be repealed " clause 4 " was inserted by the Senate. No human being unless he followed the legislation of this House most closely, would ever discover what the object of that was. He would have to get the original North-west Territories Representation Act, and the amendment, and read over section 44 to see what the clause was, which they were seeking to eliminate from the Act. Who asked the Senate to do that ? Was there a petition from any one in the Northwest Territories ; there was none presented to this House. What right has the Senate—legal and technical right it may have had—to amend Bills passed by this House providing for the representation of members here ? I submit it is not fair that Bills which pass this House providing for representation in this House, should be amended in the Senate ; unless it is on occasions where some important omissions have been made and they are solicited to do so by the Government or by some person promoting the Bill. This amendment was slid in and no one knew anything about it. But we need not discuss bygones here to-day. The question is: That a great evil having been committed are we prepared to remedy it ? The hon. gentleman (Mr. Daly) asks us to assume that all the enumerators will do even-handed justice. He knows well, and every member of this House knows, that of the two or three hundred revisers appointed to revise the lists throughout Canada, with all the security given by the fact that many of them are judges and lawyers, it takes an immense deal of time and money to make even an approximately accurate list. In the Northwest Territories you have no revision at all, but suddenly, after the writ is out the enumerator is asked to make a list. He posts that list. One of his friends goes to him and asks that his name should be put on, and he can arbitrarily refuse to do it if he likes, or he may tell the man he will do it and when the man turns his back, he does not do it. There is no security to the voter. There is no court held, no means of compelling the enumerator to put it on. The one and only safeguard the electors had was, that if their names were omitted by the enumerator, they could go to the polls on election day and by pledging their oaths exercise their right to vote. The Minister of the Interior says that that provision worked admirably well, and he challenges criticism upon the practical working of that Act. I am willing to accept his statement that the Act as it did stand worked practically fairly well, but what we are seeking to do now is to put back that safeguard and put the Act where it was before the Senate foolishly amended it, we propose to restore the security to the electors which they 549 [JANUARY 23, 1896] 550 formerly had, and which they are now deprived of. If hon. gentlemen find that the Bill proposed by my hon. friend (Mr. Martin) has the unanimous endorsement of the North-west Assembly, then I say the last vestige of opposition to the proposal should vanish. Why, Sir, I hold in my hands a resolution which was moved in the North-west Assembly by Mr. lnsinger, which after reciting all the circumstances calls attention to the fact that this Act. passed in 1894, practically made the voters' lists final as fixed by the enumerators and excluded from the right of the franchise every man whose name was not on that list two days before the election. The resolution gives the following reasons why the Act as it now stands does not offer same safeguard to the rights of electors, as the voters' lists in the provinces do. It says :
And whereas such lists of voters do not offer the same safeguards to the rights of electors as do the voters in the provinces, inasmuch as,-
(1) They are necessarily hurriedly prepared by enumerators between the time of the receipt of the writ for election and a week before the day of polling ;
(2) The time allowed to electors or their agents to ascertain if their names are on such list is, taken in cennection with the distances generally to be travelled in the Territories, and with the fact that no fixed residences are appointed for such enumerators, insufficient for the purpose ;
(3) The enumerator is absolute judge of the right of an elector to be on such list, and he can put on or strike off names till within two days of the polling day, without notice from or to such electors ;
(4) There is no appeal from the decision of the enumerator, either to a revising officer or to a judge.
After giving these cogent and to my mind unanswerable reasons why the amendment made by the Senate is an unfortunate amendment which should be rectified at the earliest possible moment, the resolution winds up with the following :—
Therefore, in the opinion of this assembly it is desirable that the " North-west Territories Representation Act " be further amended so as to either adopt the system provided for in the "Territories Election Ordinances," or to bring into effect the provisions regarding voters' lists in the " Electoral Franchise Act."
That system of enabling a man to vote on election day by pledging his oath when his right to vote is challenged prevails in other provinces outside of the North-west Territory. In the province from which I come, in all the local elections, if the right to vote of any duly qualified elector is challenged, he can, by taking the necessary oath, poll his vote, and it has been found to work practically very well. The neighbours all around know whether the man is qualified or not and if he perjures himself he can be punished. In this case, Sir, you have the whole North-west Assembly, irrespective of politics, invoking the aid of this House to restore to the electors of the North-west the rights and privileges which they possessed before the Senate amendments took them away. My hon. friend (Mr. Martin) has proposed a Bill to carry out that wish. I was glad to hear from the remarks of the Minister of the Interior, that he has not yet made up his mind to oppose the Bill of my hon. friend (Mr. Martin), that he has not made up his mind yet. that he will not restore to the electors the privileges and rights which they possessed before. It boots not, Sir, to cite the fact that in Manitoba, as the hon. gentleman said, or in Nova Scotia, as another hon. gentleman said, there are evils existing in the electoral laws. We have nothing to do with that. If wrong was done elsewhere, it does not justify wrong being done here ; two wrongs do not make a right. We are dealing with the fact that a grievous wrong has been committed- wrong capable of being used by improper officers to such an extent as to almost disfranchise a majority of the electors in any one district. It is a wrong that would not be tolerated in any part of Canada outside of the North-west Territories, and, if I know the men there, from what I have seen of them, they are not the men to tolerate it, either ; and when we have the whole North-west Assembly entering a public protest against that wrong, and asking Parliament to remedy it, I say that it is time that we should rise to the occasion, irrespective of party feeling or party affiliation, and determine that the wrong shall be rectified at the first opportunity. My hon. friend from Winnipeg (Mr. Martin) was called to order for threatening to obstruct the business of this House unless this were done. His words were stronger than the rules of the House justified, but nobody doubts that the action he proposed to take would have been justified by the facts. Is it not absolutely intolerable that four districts which send members to this House should be absolutely and entirely in the hands of the nominees of the Government ? Why, Sir, the fact only needs to be mentioned to excite horror, surprise and indignation ; and I am satisfied that hon. members, if they calmly and coolly consider the matter, will repeal the ill-advised action of the Senate, and place the electors of the North-west in exactly the same position they were in before the Act of 1894 was passed.
Mr. DAVIN. Mr. Speaker, some days before the hon. member for Winnipeg (Mr. Martin) arrived here, and before I had any knowledge that he intended to move in this matter, I went to the Clerk and gave him a sketch of a Bill dealing with this matter ; and as soon as he told me that the Bill was prepared, I gave notice that, I would move for leave to introduce it. I think, Sir, that a great deal more has been made of this than there was any reason for.
551 [COMMONS] 552
Mr. MULOCK. What direction does your Bill move in ?
Mr. DAVIN. It moves in the direction of repealing the legislation of 1894 and 1895, and reviving the legislation of 1886. My hon. friend from Winnipeg was most unjust in the strong attack, as it seems to me it may be called, which he made on my hon. friend the Minister of the Interior. If ever a man was innocent, my hon. friend the Minister of the Interior was innocent of introducing this clause. After I have calmly laid before the House what the law was, and how the change came about, I rather think the House will see that a great deal more has been made of this matter than was necessary. My hon. friend the Minister of the Interior was quite right in saying that in 1887 and in 1891, the law, as it was passed in 1886, worked well. In my own constituency I did not hear a single complaint against the working of that law. But that was not the case in some other constituencies. In the constituency of my hon. friend from Eastern Assiniboia (Mr. McDonald), I have been told by him and by others, 107 names were sworn on the list improperly. In 1894 certain gentlemen from the North-west who took an interest in politics, and were strongly impressed that a wrong had been done by those unscrupulous persons swearing themselves on the list, urged that a change should be made in the direction which the reform of the law took in 1894 ; and an amendment to that effect was placed in my hands when the Bill of 1894 was passing through the House. I read the amendment at that time, and while I did not take such a strong view of it as is taken by hon. gentlemen who have spoken to-day, I came to the conclusion that it was undesirable to make such a change, and I did not move in the matter. I know I never brought it to the attention of the Minister of the Interior. That is all I know about it. When the Bill came down, it appeared that those gentlemen who were interested in the matter had moved in it in the Senate, and the change had been made there. Now, Sir, the change that was made is simply this—that instead of a man having the power to go on the day of election and make an affidavit that he has the qualification entitling him to vote, he can have his name put on that list up to two days before the election, by appealing to the enumerator, should it prove not to be there.
Mr. MARTIN. I beg pardon. There is  no such provision. It is quite impossible to get his name on the list unless the enumerator is willing to put it there.
Mr. DAVIN. I think my hon. friend is wrong. Up to two days before the election he can appeal to the enumerator, and have his name put on the list.
Mr. MARTIN. Suppose the enumerator refuses ?
Mr. DAVIN. My hon. friend does not understand the men in the North-west Territories. No enumerator there would behave in that manner. I quite agree that a critic, looking at the legislation as it is, might very properly see ground for alarm ; but, knowing as I do the districts and the people, and the public criticism under which the enumerators would act, I do not apprehend any such dangers as the hon. member for Queen's (Mr. Davies) and the hon. member for Bothwell (Mr. Mills) anticipate ; if I did, I would have moved in this matter before. But, Sir, there are persons in the Territories who do think there is some danger, and I grant you that a check on the enumerator has been taken away. Under the circumstances, I am inclined to think that it is not worth debating in this House for five minutes. I do not believe that the change which my Bill and that of the hon. member for Winnipeg contemplate will affect a single vote in any constituency. But if there is any feeling on the eve of election amongst any portion of the community—I do not care what side of politics they belong to—that a check on the enumerator had been taken away and that somehow the elector was put in a worse position than he was in before it is not a matter we should quarrel about in this House, and the best way is to get rid of all cause for alarm.
Mr. MULOCK. I congratulate the hon. member for West Assiniboia (Mr. Davin) on the tone of his remarks, and I only rise now to supplement something that fell from the lips of the hon. member for Queen's, P.E.I. (Mr. Davies), and I would ask the attention of the Hon. Minister of the Interior for one minute. It appears that the Bill complained of was passed through this House without much, if any, publicity. I think we may admit that its conditions were not known to the public intended to be affected.
Mr. DALY. Is the hon. gentleman referring to the Bill or to the Senate amendments ?
Mr. MULOCK. I am speaking of what became of the Senate amendments.
Mr. DALY. They came down in the day time and were discussed in the day time.
Mr. MULOCK. I am not referring to anything which occurred in the House. What I say is that the people of the Northwest Territories learned nothing of this proposition until it was incorporated in the statutes, and we have evidence now that the people of the Territories are in favour of a return to the old law, or, at all event, against the continuance of the present law. The opinion in the North-west Territories is against the law of 1895. That is proved by the unanimous resolution of the North-west Territories legislature, and also by the remarks of my hon. friend from 553 [JANUARY 23, 1896] 554 West Assiniboia (Mr. Davin). It is probable also that if other hon. gentlemen representing the Territories were to give the results of their knowledge of public opinion, they would corroborate what has been said by the hon. member for Winnipeg. My hon. friend from Queen's has suggested that. under the circumstances, it is the duty of the Minister of the Interior to place no opposition in the way of the measure proposed by the hon. member for Winnipeg. I go further. I think it is his positive duty—not a merely negative one—to make this a Government Bill. It was through the Bill which the Minister of the Interior introduced that the law get tangled up as it is, and it is his duty, as a member of the Government, to adopt this proposed legislation with the view of having the law framed so as to meet public opinion in the North-west Territories. We all know that a private member can scarcely expect to get a public Bill through this House, and I would venture to say that despite all a; member can do. there is not the slightest; chance of a public measure introduced by the hon. member for Winnipeg, or, for the matter of that, by the hon. member for West Assiniboia. becoming law. The only way by which this wrong can be redressed is by action on the part of the Government, and I therefore rise to suggest to the Minister of the interior that it is the duty of the Government to undo their mistake by seeing that the proper safeguards are secured to the electorate before the election of 1896 comes on. If they do less than that, they will fail to do an imperative duty devolving on them. This discussion, this waste of public time, occasioned by hasty legislation, is an illustration of the manner in which, of late years, important measures affecting Parliament and affecting the public has been allowed to go through this House. We have seen, every session, important legislation put through at the last days of the session when there was scarcely a quorum present. We have seen millions of dollars voted away on bonuses. We have seen most impor ant pieces of legislatioug put on the statute-book when but a small percentage of the people's representatives were here in Parliament.
Mr. McLENNAN. They should be here.
Mr. MULOCK. I admit that, but the circumstances are such that many hon. gentlemen find it impossible to remain there. I was not one of the absent, because I took exception, in 1895, to the very clause which has been the subject of discussion to-day.
Mr. DALY. I want. to relieve the hon. gentleman from any responsibility on his part, and other hon. gentlemen on that side from any responsibility on their part, through absence from the House. These amendments were agreed to one month before the session closed. The session did not close until the latter portion of July, and these amendments were agreed to in June, one month before the session expired, and, according to the records of the House, every member of the Opposition must have been present, because they all voted on a division. There was, therefore, no snap division by the House.
Mr. DAVIES. How is it, it was not known ?
Mr. DALY. I do not know. It is for you to explain that.
Mr. DAVIES (P.E.I.) The hon. gentleman never explained.
Mr. DALY. I had not the opportunity. I do not know that I was in the House when the Bill went through.
Mr. DAVIN. I spoke to Sir John Thompson on the subject, who had charge of the Bill.
Mr. DALY. I was absent from the House at the time.
Mr. MULOCK. No; the hon. gentleman was in the House and took part in putting through the amendments from the Senate. This House prorogued on the 22nd July, and the Bill was put through on the 26th June, that is twenty-three days before prorogation. The hon. gentleman will remember that the session of last year was called at probably the most inconvenient period that could have been selected. It was called at a time when we should have been preroguing instead of convening. In the month of June, the attendance was slim, and the early part of July there were many days when scarcely a quorum was present. Towards the close, there were times when there were not over twenty members present out of the two hundred. While there was not such a limited attendance when these amendments were passed, still, the attendance was very small, indeed, and the law which got embodied on the statute- book had not the sanction of the majority of the people's representatives in Parliament. It was unknown to the people who were to be affected. and certainly a most irresistible case has been made out for the repeal of this measure.
Mr. MARTIN. I desire to say a few words in reply to what has fallen from the hon. Minister of the Interior, because he resents the suggestion which I made that he is to blame for the law as it now stands. If only such matters as occurred in 1894 were in issue. I would be quite prepared to accept his statement ; but my charges against him were not based on wnat happened in 1894 alone, but upon the fact that this amendment was brought to his attention last session, in 1895, when he was asked to make this wrong right. He himself was then obliged to introduce a second Bill to this House in order to correct some trifling errors in his Bill of 1894, because, 555 [COMMONS] 556 strange to say, the Bill of 1894, while providing that no one could get his name upon the list on election day, provided that notices should be stuck up in the polling division notifying the electors that they could apply to have their names put upon the voters' lists, even on the last day, so that the hon. gentleman was obliged, on account of this inconsistency and error in his 1894 Act, to come again in 1895 and ask to have the change made. It was only when the Bill came up for discussion, and only upon the third reading of it, that members on this side learned of the change that was made in 1894. And a very strong appeal was then made by the hon. member for Bothwell (Mr. Mills) to the Minister of the Interior to right the outrage that had been perpetrated. More than that, I went to the hon. Minister in his seat and discussed the matter with him and urged him very strongly, as a matter of fair-play to the Liberals in the Territories, not to insist upon this change in the old law. But he took a firm stand, and said it was the policy of the Government to insist upon the Act as it had been amended. So I think the hon. member for West Assiniboia (Mr. Davin) was not justified in finding fault with me for putting the case against the hon. Minister as I did. The hon. Minister assumed the responsibility of the change at that time, and he defends it today. And for what purpose ? What other purpose can there be than that I suggest ? It is admitted, it must be admitted by everybody who considers the matter, that, under the law as it is at present, it is possible for the most gigantic frauds to be perpetrated in these elections. As I have said, it is possible for the Government to elect every member for the North-west: Territories in the next general election, through the operation of this changed law. The hon. Minister, of course. repudiates the suggestion that he intends to do any such thing. If he has no such intention, why, then, does he take the power to do it ? He offers only one reason and that is that, in 1891, under the old law, certain frauds were perpetrated. If that is all, let him make some change which will right the wrong he speaks of, without taking the power to inflict this great wrong upon us. Surely, he can remedy one without causing the other. Let the hon. Minister take any course he likes, but I am going to protest, as I said before, against the Government taking into their hands the power they have under this Act. And I hold the hon. Minister of the Interior wholly responsible for it. I think I was quite justified, after the stand he took in 1895, in assuming, as l did, that his action in 1894 was taken advisedly, so that the House would not understand the change proposed. He says that the amendments were made in the Senate without his knowledge. I accept his word upon that point. But, when those amendments came before the House, surely, as a matter of fair-play, he should have explained to the House what the changes were. He stated that he had explained the changes to members from the Northwest Territories, but, when I pressed him for the name of any hon. member to whom he had explained these changes. the only name he could give was that of the hon. member for East Assinobia (Mr. McDonald), who has not had a word to say in defence of the changes then made. I could not believe that the hon. member for East Assiniboia would suggest this change. For what interest could he have in the elections? As I said before, he has been discarded by his party, he is of no further use to them. He made a very vigorous fight for the nomination, but he failed. Now, if it be true that, before these changes, outrages in the way of men falsely swearing their names upon the lists. is it not an astonishing fact to find that the legislative assembly of the North-west Territories, in their local elections adhere to the system we have abandoned? Under the law of the Territories any person can get his name on the list by going on election day and swearing that he is a British subject and is otherwise entitled to vote, just as, prior to 1894, a person could do in Dominion elections. It is hardly necessary for me to refer again to the absurd and childish argument of the Minister of the Interior in support of his plea that this change would do no harm. His argument was that the old law worked well, and. therefore. the new law would work well. The hon. gentleman must surely think there is neither sense nor reason in this House. In effect. he says that there is no difference between a list that means nothing and a list that is final and binding. When a list is made up which binds nobody, who cares what becomes of it or how it is made up. But if in the meantime, you change the law so that the list, instead of being, as the hon. member for West Assiniboia (Mr. Davin) says, a mere list for convenience, to save time on election day, and make that list final and binding, surely you effect a complete change. You could perpetrate any fraud you liked in 1887 or 1891 in keeping men's names off the prepared lists. and we did not need to care, because we had privileges under the Act which countervailed all that wrong. But, if you attempt to perpetrate a fraud in 1896 which the Act gives you the power to perpetrate, we have no protection. The only course of safety is to have this vile iniquity purged from the statute-book. The hon. member for North York (Mr. Mulock) says this Bill cannot pass. Well, Mr. Speaker, I hope it will pass. The hon. member for North York appeals to the Government in favour of the Bill. We tried that in 1895. But in 1895, unfortunately, when we first learned of this wrong, the Government business was done, and we had no chance of emphasizing our appeal effectually. We are in a different position at this time, Mr. 557 [JANUARY 23, 1896] 558 Speaker. I do not care whether my hon.       friend's (Mr. Davin's) Bill passes or whether my Bill passes; but I ask and demand of the Government of the day the righting of this wrong. As I have already said, if they have no intention of doing us this wrong, let them relinquish the power to do it. I make the demand at the instance of the people of the North-west Territories. They are alarmed about this matter, and they have shown their alarm in the clearest possible way by a resolution passed by an assembly which, as I said before, is composed largely of Conservatives. The hon. member for West Assiniboia will agree with me in that. It is true that, among the members of that assembly, are the Liberal candidate for Alberta and some other Liberals. But I know a great many of them, and I think I am quite correct in saying that there is a considerable majority who are supporters of the present Government. Mr. Haultain, as I said before, the Premier, is the Government candidate in Alberta; and these gentlemen with. one voice have condemned this outrage in language as strong and as clear as any that I have used to-day. They have pointed out the possibility of great wrong being done. and they have asked to have the law changed back into its old form, or else into their local Fran'chise Act, but it makes no difference for the purpose of the people which is done. I may say that I got a letter this day from a member of the legislative assembly urging me not to overlook this matter, to be sure and bring it up, and endeavour if possible to have the wrong made right. I again say that if this House does not at this session change that law, the prediction of the hon. Minister of the Interior will, no doubt, be fulfilled. in the elections which will take place in 1896, and there will. no doubt. be four members returned supporting the Conservative party in the North-west Territories. I have no doubt about it, it is too clear for argument. I do not think that the Liberals would put up candidates, I do not think we will be able to find four men foolish enough to risk $200 under circumstances such as these. The Conservatives will get every seat, and possibly by acclamation. But, Mr. Speaker, if they will give us a fair chance up there, if they will repeal this iniquity and give us an equal chance with them in the election, I think the issue will be different. I may be right in my prediction that we will get the four seats, or the Minister of the Interior may beright in his. But there will be some equal chance for us, there will be some Opportunity for a fight; whereas under this Act we have no chance and no opportunity. As I said before, it will be entirely useless for us to attempt to fight under the circumstances. Therefore, it is my duty, as the only representative of Liberal opinions, or the nearest representative to the Territories of Liberal opinions, to demand in this House that a change be made. While the hon. Minister of the Interior may take thestand, and his colleagues may support him in it, that he is going to take into his hands this enormous power for fraud, I doubt very much whether the members in this House supporting the Government on their general policy, will support them in any such outrageous proceeding as this. If there is any possibility, under the rules of the House, of bringing the matter to a vote, I shall certainly obtain a vote of the members upon this question. I hope when the occasion comes hon. members will see that the people of these four constituencies in the Territories have a fair chance to go to the polls and deposit their ballots, whether they happen to be in favour of or against the Government of the day.
Sir RICHARD CARTWRIGHT. I am not going to prolong the discussion which my hon. friend from Winnipeg (Mr. Martin) has initiated, although I feel bound to say that I have failed to hear one single argument from the other side of the House in the slightest degree justifying the assumption of the monstrous power—and I use the word advisedly—which the Government have, without the real knowledge of the House, taken to themselves. The thing smacks of fraud of the grossest possible description. But what I want chiefly to call the attention of the House to, is this: As I understand it, this confusion has arisen, or the ignorance of the House has been caused, in no small degree, by the very mischievous practice which prevails in our legislation of repealing a clause by number, without giving full details of the clause that is repealed. I have over and over again protested against that practice in this House. I hold that it is the most slovenly possible legislation, when we are dealing with important subjects like this, to say you repeal such and such a clause, number so and so, of such and such an Act. Not one man out of fifty in the House knows anything about the matter in general when; it is introduced in that fashion, still less, when it is introduced in the shape of an amendment from the Senate. Such a practice ought to be prohibited. I think, by a rule of this House ; at any rate, the Government in particular ought to be exceedingly cautious not to allow any legislation which passes through their hands, to be conducted in such an exceedingly slipshod fashion. I hope and trust that my hon. friends will get an opportunity of testing the sense of the House on this question, because I myself am of the opinion that if this thing had been fairly presented to the House, the members on both sides would have refused to accord to the nominees of the Government any such power as that which appears to be given to them; and I trust that my hon. friend will take exceedingly good care that a test vote be 559 [COMMONS] 560 obtained on this subject before we are much older.
Motion agreed to, and Bill read the first time.


Canada. House of Commons Debates, 1875-1949. Provided by the Library of Parliament.



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