May 30, 1938

CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

He is reading from the 1927

debates, when another phase entirely of the question was under discussion. Oh, I know of the 1927 debates and recollect them very

Privilege-Mr. Cahan

clearly. In 1927 the discussion arose upon addresses which had been delivered by right hon. gentlemen opposite. One was by the right hon. the Prime Minister of that day in Toronto; that was under discussion. I was then discussing another phase of the question entirely, particularly that the right hon. the Prime Minister had pledged himself publicly to submit the imperial conference resolutions for the approval of the house, and had afterwards refused to do so. He himself and the right hon. gentleman (Mr. Lapointe) had given interpretations which I did not think were clearly expressed in the resolutions, as I have stated. My own opinion with regard to those resolutions is expressed and their real implications are contained in addresses which I gave in December, 1926, and also in May, 1928, from which I read to this house, and I am quite prepared to submit what I said on all three occasions to the judgment of the right hon. gentleman and to the house.

I did not state that the right hon. gentleman had deceived the house. I said that his comments were due to a misapprehension on his part of the real tenor of those discussions. Certainly I adhere to everything I then said, so far as my memory is clear as to what I did say.

Mr. LAPOINTE (Quebec East); Mr. Speaker, on a question of privilege-and it is a question of facts now,-I have the right to say what the facts were.

My hon. friend said that I did not refer to the debates of 1927, but if he will look at Hansard of May 24, containing the remarks to which he took exception, he will see that it was exactly the debates of 1927 that I was referring to. I said:

Those who were in this parliament in 1927 will remember that my right hon. leader and I were strongly criticized, not perhaps by my right hon. friend-

Meaning the leader of the opposition.

[DOT]-for I do not believe he took part in that debate; he was absent from the house-but by the then leader, the Hon. Mr. Guthrie, and the hon. member for St. Lawrence-St. George.

And it was in that debate that my hon. friend uttered the words which I have just mentioned-"disruption and destruction." That had nothing to do with the fact that the report had not been submitted to parliament for approval. My hon. friend was emphatic; he has a good memory and must remember having used the words "silly," "foolish," "half-baked," and such. I learned some words during that debate.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   IMPERIAL CONFERENCE OF 1926-DESCRIPTION AS SEPARATIST MOVEMENT FROM BRITISH COMMONWEALTH
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CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

I am grateful to the right hon. gentleman for referring to the debates,

fMr. Cahan.]

and I commend those debates to hon. gentlemen sitting opposite as well as to those sitting on my side of the house. I think a reading of them will not bear out the interpretation which the right hon. gentleman, through a misapprehension, gave the other evening, or the misapprehension he has expressed to-day.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   IMPERIAL CONFERENCE OF 1926-DESCRIPTION AS SEPARATIST MOVEMENT FROM BRITISH COMMONWEALTH
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LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE (Quebec East):

All's well that ends well.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   IMPERIAL CONFERENCE OF 1926-DESCRIPTION AS SEPARATIST MOVEMENT FROM BRITISH COMMONWEALTH
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GRAIN HANDLING AT QUEBEC


On the orders of the day;


LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Hon. C. D. HOWE (Minister of Transport):

Mr. Speaker, at the last sitting of the house the hon. member for Kootenay East (Mr. Stevens) asked a question having to do with the handling of grain at the government elevator at Quebec, and referred to the questions placed on the order paper by himself and the answers that had been furnished to those questions. Those questions were fully and accurately answered. The matter was again discussed on the estimates when the vote for the national harbours board was up, and I think a full explanation and a complete statement of the facts was given at that time.

The first question, and apparently the one that is disturbing my hon. friend, was this:

1. Has the Minister of Transport recently concluded a special agreement with the Louis Dreyfus and Company or any of its allied or subsidiary companies for the handling of grain through the government elevator at Quebec?

The answer to that is not only "no," as given, but I can go further and say that the government never at any time considered concluding a special agreement with Louis Dreyfus and Company.

The situation that did arise, as I explained on the estimates, was that at the opening or before the opening of navigation, the government discovered that a differential rate had been applied to Quebec as against Montreal by lake carriers. The reason Louis Dreyfus and Company came into the scene at ail was that earlier in the season they had notified the harbours board that they intended to make considerable use of the Quebec elevator this year. In 1933 or 1934, I am not sure which, a similar situation arose, in that the lake carriers applied a higher rate from the head of the lakes to Quebec than from the head of the lakes to Montreal. At that time shipments involved Canadian grain, and the board intervened by ruling that the lake carriers must remove the discrimination between the two ports.

Grain Handling at Quebec

In this season the situation differed somewhat in that the grain to be carried was United States grain, over the transportation of which the board of grain commissioners does not exercise jurisdiction. Therefore the question arose as to how this discrimination could be removed. Some discussion took place between a representative of Louis Dreyfus and Company and a member of the harbours board suggesting compensating for the carrier differential by a reduction in elevator rates. It was of course thoroughly understood by both parties that if any reduction of rates was made it would apply to any user of the Quebec elevator. In the course of that discussion I understand that a letter was written by a member of the harbours board to a representative of Louis Dreyfus and Company, asking whether the statement contained in the letter was a correct understanding of a previous conversation. After this letter was written the differential in lake rates was removed, by negotiation with the shipping lines, so that any necessity for a special tariff or a special commutation of elevator tariffs was removed. As I told the house in committee, a special commutation was made, and is to be found at page 2979 of the Canada Gazette. That commutation represents the only difference in the charges on grain through government elevators as between Montreal and Quebec.

The effect of that commutation is that in the period from May 18, 1938, to August 30, 1938, there will be no storage accrued against grain moving in full cargoes from the Quebec elevator. The tariff was published in the Canada Gazette, based on the commutation which, as I say, was passed by order in council. I will now file that tariff and will make the further remark that all grain handled at Quebec or to be handled at Quebec up to August 30 of this year will move on the rates set out in this tariff.

Hon. II. H. STEVENS (Kootenay Ejast): Mr. Speaker, I must respectfully request however that the letter to which the minister has now referred as having passed between a member of the harbours board and the Dreyfus Company be tabled. It was that request I made the other day; the minister now having himself referred to it makes it doubly important that this be done. I now request again that the letter be tabled for the information of hon. members.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   GRAIN HANDLING AT QUEBEC
Sub-subtopic:   KATES FOR HANDLING FROM LAKE VESSELS THROUGH ELEVATOR AND FREE STORAGE-QUESTION OF TABLING DOCUMENTS REFERRED TO
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

I may say the letter referred to was marked private and confidential, and was sent by a member of the harbours board- it was not sent officially by the harbours board-to a representative of the Dreyfus

Company, and was addressed to him personally. The letter had no effect, as the negotiations to which it referred were not consummated. When we consider that the national harbours board is engaged in a competitive business I think we can all agree it is not in the public interest to table letters passing between a member of the harbours board and any firm or individual referring to negotiations which are not consummated. Therefore I must decline to table the letter referred to by the hon. member for Kootenay East.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   GRAIN HANDLING AT QUEBEC
Sub-subtopic:   KATES FOR HANDLING FROM LAKE VESSELS THROUGH ELEVATOR AND FREE STORAGE-QUESTION OF TABLING DOCUMENTS REFERRED TO
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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, and again on the orders of the day: in the first place, marking as private and confidential a document dealing with the conduct of public business is not sufficient excuse for not producing it in the house. In the second place, the document having been referred to in the observations of the minister himself, the rules of the house provide that it is competent for a member to request that it be tabled. In the third place, the question of the confidential character of a communication certainly cannot be extended to a document passing between the national harbours board and a firm doing business and, according to the minister's own statement, having under way negotiations for a variation in the fees or tolls fixed by a statutory body, namely the board of grain commissioners. I must again submit that the letter ought to be- indeed under the circumstances should be- tabled.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   GRAIN HANDLING AT QUEBEC
Sub-subtopic:   KATES FOR HANDLING FROM LAKE VESSELS THROUGH ELEVATOR AND FREE STORAGE-QUESTION OF TABLING DOCUMENTS REFERRED TO
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

I would simply say that a question was asked by the hon. member about this particular letter, and was answered by myself. The only reference I made to the letter was in reply to a question which bore directly on the letter.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   GRAIN HANDLING AT QUEBEC
Sub-subtopic:   KATES FOR HANDLING FROM LAKE VESSELS THROUGH ELEVATOR AND FREE STORAGE-QUESTION OF TABLING DOCUMENTS REFERRED TO
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Right Hon. R. B. BENNETT (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, the issue is

far larger than a controversy between the Minister of Transport (Mr. Howe) and an hon. member of the house. It is a matter of extraordinary importance. I do not think any words I could use would be language too strong to employ in dealing with the matter.

A member of a public tribunal created by this parliament has seen fit to write a letter to a member of a firm which does business with this country. There cannot be anything personal about that, if it touches public business. He can write about visiting the city, or he can write about social engagements, but the minute he touches upon public business he has no privacy. He cannot protect himself by putting "personal" on the letter,

Grain Handling at Quebec

and the rights of the House of Commons so much transcend that that I trust the minister will not arrive at a hasty conclusion with respect to it.

I wonder if he realizes just what is involved. I had occasion to traverse this matter with a great deal of care some years ago when I was leader of the opposition, as I still am. I had difficulty in dealing with a matter in which certain correspondence was marked "private." The minister properly took the view that it had to be introduced and was on the file. Then the further question arose as to whether or not we had a right to have laid on the table of the house a letter to which he referred. The Speaker had to rule in accordance with the rules of the house, that when a minister refers to a public document in the course of his observations he must table that document, because he cannot deal with it when other members of the house are not permitted to see it. He cannot place his construction upon a document which I might not know about, and which I cannot see.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   GRAIN HANDLING AT QUEBEC
Sub-subtopic:   KATES FOR HANDLING FROM LAKE VESSELS THROUGH ELEVATOR AND FREE STORAGE-QUESTION OF TABLING DOCUMENTS REFERRED TO
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LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

That was the Simcoe post office?

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   GRAIN HANDLING AT QUEBEC
Sub-subtopic:   KATES FOR HANDLING FROM LAKE VESSELS THROUGH ELEVATOR AND FREE STORAGE-QUESTION OF TABLING DOCUMENTS REFERRED TO
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Yes. The Minister of Pensions and National Health is quite right. It was in connection with the Post Office Department. I do not recall the exact letter, but it was under that department-whether it was the Simcoe office or not, I cannot say. However I believe the hon. member was interested in the matter at that time, and probably will have a very good memory with respect to it.

The reason for the rule is obvious. Let us look at it for a moment. A member of the government, having access to public papers, sees fit to refer to those papers, and to place upon the contents of the document the construction which suits him, when presenting his case to the house.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   GRAIN HANDLING AT QUEBEC
Sub-subtopic:   KATES FOR HANDLING FROM LAKE VESSELS THROUGH ELEVATOR AND FREE STORAGE-QUESTION OF TABLING DOCUMENTS REFERRED TO
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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

That is not the case in

this instance.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   GRAIN HANDLING AT QUEBEC
Sub-subtopic:   KATES FOR HANDLING FROM LAKE VESSELS THROUGH ELEVATOR AND FREE STORAGE-QUESTION OF TABLING DOCUMENTS REFERRED TO
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Yes, it is the case in this instance. The hon. member for Kootenay East (Mr. Stevens) asked for some information which he did not get. He thereupon asked for definite information with respect to a letter. The minister admits that he has the letter but he says, "This is a personal letter written by a member of the board to somebody who is a member of Dreyfus and Company".

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   GRAIN HANDLING AT QUEBEC
Sub-subtopic:   KATES FOR HANDLING FROM LAKE VESSELS THROUGH ELEVATOR AND FREE STORAGE-QUESTION OF TABLING DOCUMENTS REFERRED TO
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

May I correct my right hon. friend?

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   GRAIN HANDLING AT QUEBEC
Sub-subtopic:   KATES FOR HANDLING FROM LAKE VESSELS THROUGH ELEVATOR AND FREE STORAGE-QUESTION OF TABLING DOCUMENTS REFERRED TO
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Certainly.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   GRAIN HANDLING AT QUEBEC
Sub-subtopic:   KATES FOR HANDLING FROM LAKE VESSELS THROUGH ELEVATOR AND FREE STORAGE-QUESTION OF TABLING DOCUMENTS REFERRED TO
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

I may say that I have never seen the letter. I have never seen it and I do not know whether it is in existence; it is certainly not in any file of the department.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   GRAIN HANDLING AT QUEBEC
Sub-subtopic:   KATES FOR HANDLING FROM LAKE VESSELS THROUGH ELEVATOR AND FREE STORAGE-QUESTION OF TABLING DOCUMENTS REFERRED TO
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

That makes the minister's case so extraordinary as to cause me to wonder how he can possibly stand in his place and make the statements he has.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   GRAIN HANDLING AT QUEBEC
Sub-subtopic:   KATES FOR HANDLING FROM LAKE VESSELS THROUGH ELEVATOR AND FREE STORAGE-QUESTION OF TABLING DOCUMENTS REFERRED TO
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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):

It is quite

true.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   GRAIN HANDLING AT QUEBEC
Sub-subtopic:   KATES FOR HANDLING FROM LAKE VESSELS THROUGH ELEVATOR AND FREE STORAGE-QUESTION OF TABLING DOCUMENTS REFERRED TO
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Yes, it is quite true- what I say. Anyone would wonder how a minister of the crown could stand in his place and make that observation, how any minister could stand up and say, "I don't know what is in the letter; I do not know whether it exists; I have never seen it". That is monstrous. Surely the minister does not mean that. Think what that means. He is a responsible minister of the crown and this is a responsible government, not a dictatorship. The minister says, "I don't know what is in the letter but I have been talking about it. I don't know whether it exists or not, but I have been talking about it. I have never seen it, but I have been talking about it." Can anyone imagine a responsible minister doing that? I say, the minister must have an entirely erroneous impression of what the duties of a minister of the crown are. Does he realize what his responsibilities are? There are those sitting beside him who can tell him.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   GRAIN HANDLING AT QUEBEC
Sub-subtopic:   KATES FOR HANDLING FROM LAKE VESSELS THROUGH ELEVATOR AND FREE STORAGE-QUESTION OF TABLING DOCUMENTS REFERRED TO
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May 30, 1938