September 26, 1945

PC

James Arthur Ross

Progressive Conservative

Mr. ROSS (Souris):

They had nothing to do with it.

The Address-Mr. Wright

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CCF

Percy Ellis Wright

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. WRIGHT:

I am surprised that he introduced an amendment which suggested that the farmers of Canada should be satisfied with ninety per cent of their cost of production.

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PC

James Arthur Ross

Progressive Conservative

Mr. ROSS (Souris):

Mr. Speaker, I rise to a point of order. The hon. member cannot find any wording in the amendment which says that they should be satisfied. I clearly pointed that out and I said that our idea would be that, in the period of dislocation following the war, no matter what happened the price should never go below ninety per cent. With regard to the statement in reference to the group of Toronto members, I can vouch that no member from Toronto ever saw that amendment until it was presented to the house last night.

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CCF

Percy Ellis Wright

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. WRIGHT:

Let me read the words of the actual amendment. This is what it says:

. . . immediate consideration should be given bo establishing for a period of years floor prices for all basic agricultural products at levels not less than ninety per cent of parity.

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PC

James Arthur Ross

Progressive Conservative

Mr. ROSS (Souris):

Not less.

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CCF

Percy Ellis Wright

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. WRIGHT:

For a period of years.

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PC

James Arthur Ross

Progressive Conservative

Mr. ROSS (Souris):

Not less.

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CCF

Percy Ellis Wright

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. WRIGHT:

The hon. member knows as well as I, and the other hon. members from agricultural constituencies, do, and he so stated in this house, that once you set a floor price, every time there is a small surplus prices go down to that floor price immediately, and stay here. The hon. member now suggests that for a period of years we in agriculture should be satisfied with ninety per cent of our cost of production.

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PC

James Arthur Ross

Progressive Conservative

Mr. ROSS (Souris):

Mr. Speaker, again I must interrupt. I know the hon. member does not want to misrepresent the facts. He was very fair at the beginning of his remarks. He has heard me repeatedly session after session argue with the government about the policy of parity. He is acquainted with what the government said to organized labour, and he distinctly knows the stand we have taken in the past.

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CCF

Percy Ellis Wright

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. WRIGHT:

That is why I am so surprised that the present amendment should be brought in by the hon. member, because he states we should get not less than ninety per cent. For a period of years we of this group have always maintained that agriculture should receive its cost of production. That has been clearly expressed by all agricultural organizations in Canada in their published statements and in their representations to the government. Let me quote from

[Mr. J. A. Ross.)

the address of the president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture delivered at Quebec in 1944. This is what he said:

The purpose of such a floor would be to support and stabilize farm prices in order to maintain a proper balance between farm incomes and those of other groups; and secondly, to assure to farm people a satisfactory level of purchasing power which at long last is becoming recognized as basic in national well-being. The value and success of such floors will depend upon how and at what level they are set. This is a matter which will require the careful and constant watchfulness of every branch of our industry.

That is why I am going to move, seconded by the hon. member for North Battleford (Mr. Townley-Smith) that all the words of the amendment after the word "address" be struck out and the following substituted therefor:

We respectfully submit to Your Excellency that immediate consideration should be given to the establishing of floor prices for all basic agricultural products at parity with other services and products.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. J. G. DIEFENBAKER (Lake Centre):

Mr. Speaker, my first words will be to join with other hon. members in congratulating you on the high honour that has been bestowed upon you. I trust and hope that in the years to come the manner in which you discharge your responsibilities will add lustre to the record of those who have preceded you and whose distinguished service is a matter of knowledge to us all.

I also wish to congratulate not only the mover and the seconder, but the other hon. and gallant members from all parts of the house whose contribution to the debate has been of such a high order. It indicates that these young and able men will contribute in peace as they have so gallantly in war.

This afternoon I intend to discuss the amendment and the subamendment, but before doing so there are certain general references I should like to make. In the speech from the throne tribute is paid to our men who have served in the armed forces. Coming as I do from the prairies that have contributed so much to the naval forces of this dominion, I once more ask the Minister of Justice (Mr. St. Laurent) that consideration be given to the diminution or remission of sentences imposed, both penitentiary and gaol, upon some of those naval personnel following the Halifax riots. In making that request I am not unaware of the fact that suffering and damage were caused to the people of Halifax. But, sir, these young men, and I refer to three who came from my own province, were on active service for more than two and a half or three years. They are not

The Address-Mr. Diefenbaker

criminals in the ordinarily accepted meaning of that term. Misguided, ill-guided and free as they were that day from discipline, and admitting that they committed wrong, I would say justice has been done in the period that they have served, and that the people of Canada as a whole would ask that mercy now be tempered with justice.

While I am on this subject I ask the consideration of the government for the numbers of our young men who to-day are undergoing penal servitude as a result of the imposition of sentences by courts martial both abroad and in Canada. Now that the war is over, although we have not been able to find out that it is officially over in Canada although it is as far as hostilities are concerned, the Minister of Justice or the law officers of the crown should review the proceedings in connection with those sentences, to the end that mercy be tempered with the justice that has already been meted out to them.

In this connection, when I refer to Halifax, I would point to the kind of sentences being imposed upon men who during the period of war evaded service but to-day are returning to their homes. I point to one example from my own province, that of a man who was called up in February, 1942, and who absented himself on August 24 of the same year, remaining at large until May 7, 1945. He was then brought before the courts and sentenced to six months imprisonment, for the offence of having refused to serve in the armed forces of this country and having deserted for a period of two and a half years. They gave him six months; he was let out at the end of one month, and to-day he has an honourable discharge because, while he was incarcerated, they found that he was unfit for service. I place that case alongside the cases of these young men, in whose behalf I make the plea to the Minister of Justice and the Solicitor General (Mr. Jean) that the time has come to temper justice with mercy.

As I think of these young members who served during the war and whose contribution so far to the debates of this house has been so great, I think of the years during the war when to all intents and purposes representative government and parliamentary democracy as far as legislation was concerned had abdicated in Canada. I believe the return of these men and the quality of their contribution will assure at.least one thing, that parliamentary legislative authority will be restored. We in this parliament will demand the end of government by order in council, which to-day remains unabated. We will demand the immediate removal of unnecessary 47696-31

boards. In that connection I think of the war information board, which in my opinion no longer can justify its existence. I speak with the support of Liberal newspapers all across this dominion when I say that too often during the period of the war that board, performing a good service, at the same time was performing a service of propaganda on behalf of the government. I say too, sir, the time has come to remove from orders in council, regulations and statutes of this parliament the denial of the right of the individual to recourse to the courts. I could refer to numbers of these regulations in that regard. I am not going to review them to-day; I will take them up on a later occasion, taking time at the moment only to set out the principle in which I believe. Only recently we find the courts of Ontario, referring to the operations of one board, saying:

The power of the board 'was not in any way circumscribed; no limitations were imposed on its exercise, and no standards were set up for the board's guidance. It had a free hand, and was a law unto itself. It might determine its own policy, and expendieney was its only guide.

I believe the time has come to remove from statutes, from orders in council and from regulations any power given to any board to set itself above the courts of this land, although caprice, ignorance or deliberate discrimination has been the reason for the judgments rendered. We have heard much about controllers. Well, the war is over now. Let us bring some of these controllers before a committee of this parliament and ascertain from them why certain of their orders and decisions were made. Let us take the regulations and bring them before a committee of this parliament. I am sure we have enough hon. members who would be willing to serve on such a committee, where the regulations could be analysed and the powers that were exercised reviewed together with the circumstances under which they were exercised. Let this parliament, through this committee, determine which of these regulations shall continue into the days of peace.

Do you realize, sir, that to-day in this country young men returning from overseas are denied their rights under the Veterans Land Act because of the regulations which have been passed pursuant to the powers contained in that statute? Let me give an example. The Veterans Land Act provides that any young man who served under certain circumstances shall be entitled to return and be rehabilitated on the soil. Then regulations were passed, one of which provides that no soldier can qualify to take land under the act unless he has a qualification certificate, and that he shall not be given a qualification

The Address-Mr. Diefenbaker

certificate unless he had at least two years of satisfactory farming experience prior to the date of his application. In other words the Veterans Land Act is emasculated by a board and by those charged with the responsibility of carrying out the will of parliament. Let me give another example. A young man, having lived on the farm all his life, enlisted at the age of eighteen and went overseas. Upon his return he is denied the right to take land under the Veterans Land Act.

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Veterans Affairs; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE:

Oh, no.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

Oh, yes; I can give the minister other examples. This indicates one thing,- that the board acts without the knowledge of parliament. This is the strongest possible confirmation of the argument I am now endeavouring to advance, that these regulations be brought before parliament so that we may ascertain how in fact they are being carried into effect.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

I would agree that anyone who interpreted the regulations in that way ought to be brought before a committee.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

I know whereof I speak; I do not make loose statements in the house.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

Then bring them here. Anyone who gave that sort of interpretation I agree should be brought here and investigated.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

I am glad I have the support of the Minister of Agriculture, at least. I say that any controls, whatever their purpose, which deny our service men the right to establish themselves in the business of their choice, should be done away with as far as these service men are concerned. As an example, a young man was a butcher before going overseas where he served for five years. He returns and establishes himself in a new town, investing whatever money he has left from his service gratuity. An official advises him-and I have the letter here -that he shall not have a slaughtering licence. He cannot engage in business unless he makes his purchases from the packers. The result is that this man who would have established and rehabilitated himself after service is denied the right that we in this parliament have asserted is his-to be rehabilitated at the earliest possible date.

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Veterans Affairs; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE:

Who is the letter from?

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

It is from the wartime prices and trade board. When I wrote to the chairman of that board I received a reply in his absence to the effect that there

was no record that this man had ever applied, and they did not know where the decision had come from. He applied as far back as August 18, and he is still unable to carry on, unable to carry on because of an interpretation of a regulation on the basis of its legal meaning rather than the spirit of it.

The time has come when a committee of this house should examine the orders that have been made under the provisions of the War Measures Act. I was surprised the other day, when the hon. member for Broadview (Mr. Church) endeavoured to ascertain whether the war was over, that the Minister of Justice indicated that there were certain difficulties which would flow from a decision on that matter and that the council had not as yet decided that important question.

I think it is time to review the orders still in effect under the War Measures Act under which boards are constituted. Under certain of these orders a board may bring a man before them, examine him under oath, deny him the right to have counsel, and then make the person so interrogated liable to criminal prosecution. One such case was reviewed by the court of appeal of British Columbia, and the court indicated it could do nothing about it, that the power was exercisable. Similar powers are being exercised to-day under the Excise Act. A police officer who finds he is unable to secure evidence to convict has the power, with the license of the minister, to bring an individual before an inspector of the mounted police, where he is interrogated under oath, without counsel and without protection, and on his statement there given, may be convicted.

Regulations and orders of this kind should be brought before a committee of parliament so that we may once more assert that no controller, no board, no regulation passed beyond the pale of parliament, shall control the rights and liberty of an individual in this country, while denying him recourse to the courts. There is nothing unfair in that; it is reasonable, it is just. The United States went through the war, but at no time was an individual in that country denied the right of recourse to the courts against irresponsible orders and declarations and controls, particularly those affecting the individual. I summarize by saying that the time has come to demobilize all unnecessary controls and, above all, to demobilize the powers of unregulated and uncontrolled controllers and other individuals who operate beyond the pale of parliament and sometimes beyond the control of parliament.

I pass on to the amendment that has been moved by the hon. member for Souris (Mr. SEPTEMBER 26, 1945

The Address-Mr. Diejeribaker

Ross). As I listened to the hon. member for Rosthern (Mr. Tucker), as I heard him endeavour to argue his proposition with all his powers of advocacy before the bar, I realized that his arguments were almost insufficient to establish his failure or his inability or his refusal to support the amendment moved by the hon. member for Souris. What does the amendment cover? It indicates that to-day parity prices are not being paid to the farmer. The hon. member said that parity prices are being paid to-day, thar he could only take the opinion of those who knew. An hon. member on this side of the house asked a question that was quite easy to answer when he asked, "Who said that?" But there was no reply from the hon. member for Rosthern.

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LIB

Walter Adam Tucker

Liberal

Mr. TUCKER:

I object to that statement, I said it was the statistical experts.

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September 26, 1945