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Voting citizens should beware of any party of any stripe that attempts to change election rules without the support of some, or all, of the opposition parties.

Attached is an article from the St Thomas newspaper dated Dec 15, 1908. It seems lessons have not been learned.

Steve Lalonde
St Thomas, ON

Voters' List Revision Reveals Party Politics and Machine Working

December 15, 1908

Some of Yesterday's Appeals Before County Judge - Glaring Case of Commissioner's Partiality in Making of Roll - Offers no Defense for Action and Appeal Sustained - Tory Machine Counsel's Unsuccessful Effort to Burke Enquiry Topic on Street Today - Investigation

The first stages of the revision court's work yesterday were a revelation of the policy of the Tory machine in St. Thomas and the continuation of the hearing of appeals to the voters' list will be heard with interest.

That the Tory party finds its neck in a noose of its own making, there was ample evidence yeasterday, when Solicitor Sanders, counsel for the machine, made a desperate attempt to balk all enquiry and avoid the necessity of arguing appeals which he apparently realized would be lost by him.

Another feature of yesterday's proceedings that is significant was the announcement made by the bailiff of his inability to serve a long list of those appealed against, most of them having left the city. There was a handful of such notices, probably a couple of hundred.

This incident, reported in last evening's paper, is being commented upon freely today on the street and there is not a little indignation over the way the voters' list must have been prepared.

Several appeals were dismissed as just at the time there was no evidence to show that the petitioners was right, as for instances in the case of John R. Anderson, who it is well-known was here a year ago or more and was entitled to be on the list. The assessment commissioner was of little assistance to the judge in cases like this, where it was an appeal to put a Liberal on the list. There were Liberals, however, put on the list. Once or twice his honor asked the assessment commissioner why names were not on the roll. Mr. Freek claimed it was because they were new since he took the roll in 1907. He did not volunteer any information, however, from his knowledge of the roll taken this year.

That the assessment commissioner was wrong as to some, whose names were asked to be added, having not been in the city when the previous roll was taken, was proved in the case of R.J. Newton. This was a glaring example of the misuse of the assessment department as a tool of the Tory ring.

Mr. Newton was the man to whom Mr. Sanders showed such a dislike yesterday, and who he asked should be sworn as a witness. Mr. Newton had no objection to telling the truth on oath any more than he would have unsworn and he appealed to the judge to be put on the roll for 48 John street. The commissioner looked up his book and said A.H. Blackman was assessed for that address. Mr. Newton pointed out that Mr. Blackman had not lived there for 14 months, but that he, witness, had been the tenant at the time Mr Freek was on his rounds in 1907.

The judge asked the commissioner why it was Mr. Newton was not on the roll and Mr. Freek said Mr. Newton was not there at the time.

Mr. Newton then showed how his aunt, who keeps house for him had come to the door when Mr. Freek called and talked to him for some time, attempting to impress the commissioner with the fact that her nephew who was the tenant should be given a vote. In spite of that the name of Mr. Blackman had been deliberately entered on the roll and the voters' list.

The assessment commissioner offered no defence and his honor forthwith granted the appeal.

If the machinations of the Tory party went as far as this in one case why not in others? That is the question being asked among those who know the circumstances as brought out in evidence yesterday and wen the court resumes next week the investigation will doubtless arouse the interest of both Liberals and Conservatives, who believe that civic positions should be free from partisanship.


Editor's Note: The above is the article as it was originally published, with spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors uncorrected. The activities complained of in the article bring to mind the injustices of Colonel Talbot's day, and it appears things haven't changed much even today. The attempts at the local level to manipulate polices, events, special deals or advantages, and business in favour of one's cronies (be it kin by blood or marriage, club or group members, or political party/social affiliation) continues today, not noticeably modified by any laws prohibiting such conduct.

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