George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)
Yes, except to the extent that if there are any other changes-
Yes, except to the extent that if there are any other changes-
Speak louder, please.
Information could quite properly be placed before the committee to indicate the extent to which any of these orders, as distinct from the bill, are to be changed or amended in themselves. I am not now referring to the extent to which the act may limit the exercise of powers in relation to these matters. I want to know whether we may take it that the twelve orders referred to in the explanation of the Minister of Justice last week are to be put forward in the same form as they were last year, subject of course to any interpretative provisions which might be in the amended bill itself.
I would say the bill being introduced applies to the orders in council in question in the form in which they were last year. But what I would suggest in that connection is that the bill be printed and distributed, and that we then lay before the house, if it so desires, a text of the orders in council to which the bill will apply. When these are laid before the house hon. members will see, if they wish to make a comparison, that there has been no change of any substance in the orders in council along the lines indicated by the leader of the opposition's question.
When the minister spoke the day before yesterday he mentioned the prerogative powers that permit of the issue of orders in council. I was quite interested in the statement he made, and I should like to ask him how far the crown now possesses the power to pass extraordinary and prerogative orders in council outside and above those particularly covered in this resolution.
Transitional Measures Act
I wonder if my hon. friend would make clear before I answer his question whether he refers to prerogative powers with respect to the subject matters covered by the bill before the committee. If he refers merely to these subject matters I apprehend just offhand that there is no intention to pass any prerogative orders in council, seeing that our powers have been determined by parliament to be covered by the statute, of which the present bill is an amendment. If his question is not confined to the subject matters before us, then I would object to the hon. member's question as irrelevant to the present discussion.
I do not want to bring in anything irrelevant. Perhaps I can put it this way. I was wondering whether or not the matter of emergency might apply in this case to which I would direct the minister's attention. There is a motion on the order paper to permit the sittings of the house to start in the forenoon. This is to be referred to tomorrow. Naturally any motion such as that gives rise to speculation. Then again the budget is to be brought down on March 22. I was wondering whether or not under these emergency powers it is considered by the Minister of Justice that once the budget has been introduced, without its being passed by parliament, the emergency powers of an order in council could make effective its recommendations. Would that come within the emergency powers or within the prerogative powers exercisable under the emergency legislation?
I have been in the legal profession now for some twenty-five years odd, and I have never yet acquired the habit of answering like a slot machine questions of the type just asked by my hon. friend. If my hon. friend wishes an opinion on that I shall be glad to confer with the law officers of the crown and produce it for him, but I regret that I cannot feel responsible to produce it at a moment's notice at the present time.
However, I might say this, if it does not offend my hon. friend's professional sense. As a lawyer I think he knows that, when parliament has provided in the Transitional Measures Act the power for the executive to pass orders in council, certainly, following the usual process, the executive would confine itself to the powers so granted when dealing with any of the subject matters which are within the limits of the legislation. That being the case, and the hon. member being a lawyer, I think he should be as able to read the statute and draw his own conclusions as I, also being a lawyer, am to draw them.
I think the allusion to a slot machine is about the best thing I have heard in reference to orders in council. When I think of the thousands that have been turned out, the slot machine allusion is most applicable and pertinent. But still that does not answer my question. The experience in the past has shown that this government has not been too careful about exceeding its powers when passing orders in council, even when those powers are granted under a statute passed by this parliament. It was because of that fact that I asked the question, and the uncertainty of the reply gives me the answer that I was endeavouring to get.
Mr. Chairman, I think there are certain points that should be put forward at this time in regard to the matter now before the committee and which have been emphasized by the reply made by the Minister of Justice to the hon. member for Lake Centre. It is very noticeable that on the part of many hon. members, particularly some of those in the government ranks, there is an attitude of impatience, not to say annoyance, that the wisdom of the government should be challenged in any way as to the necessity for the continuance of these extraordinary powers.
When the Minister of Justice indicates his reluctance to act like a slot machine, he is obviously announcing on behalf of the government a new policy which it is hoped will actually bear some fruit in the future. It is obvious that this is a new declaration of policy as of today, but not as of last night, because in some of the comments the minister made last night on this subject he was certainly following the slot machine process and not paying very much attention to what he had learned during his twenty-five years in the practice of law.
There are a great many points that come up in this house that are not matters calling for special legal consideration, but there are also many matters which call for the practical attention of those who because of special knowledge can express the most expert opinion. But when it comes to matters that relate to the constitution and to the division of authority between the governments of this country, that relate to the powers and responsibilities of this house and of parliament as a whole, then it is wise for every hon. member to have some regard for the legal effect of the measure before the house. The decision made by hon. members is going to have a profound effect upon the opportunity of our courts to protect the rights of the people of Canada in relation to many
of their ordinary occupations and their ordinary rights which are disturbed by arbitrary powers of this kind.
Last night the Minister of Justice stated that he did not think it was proper to refer to the judgment given last Thursday in Manitoba. I do not know by what process he came to the conclusion that the mere fact that there may be some further action precluded the possibility of comment upon the latest decision of the courts in interpreting the judicial attitude toward any matter of this kind. That was the latest judgment dealing with the emergency transitional powers act which the government seeks to continue by the bill which is to follow this resolution. Therefore, it was most proper to examine what that court found and what was the opinion expressed by the five judges of that court in regard to an order in council passed under the broad provisions of this act. The judgment was one of great importance, not merely because of its effect upon the broad issue with which it was dealing but because of the fact that it made an important observation in regard to the type of emergency which should be present before it is possible for anyone to say that there was such an emergency as called for a decision to that effect.
The Minister of Justice (Mr. Garson) said that in this case the emergency is one which is apparent to everyone. It was not apparent to the judges of the supreme court of Manitoba, and in a very powerful statement one of the judges pointed out that, far from being a general economic emergency, the situation was precisely the contrary. After all, that was only stating what reason and common sense would assert in any case without the necessity of going to that judgment for an interpretation of the proper attitude towards emergency controls of this kind.
The Minister of Justice is asserting here that every member of the house can see for himself, without any argument or anything to substantiate it, that there is such an emergency as makes it possible for the members to declare that this omnibus bill should be passed which covers twelve different orders that are carried forward from the period of war emergency. There can be a general emergency or there can be a specific emergency relating to a particular condition or a particular subject. I submit that the distinction between those two types of emergency should be in the mind of every hon. member of the house before making the very important decision to declare by his vote that there is an emergency of the kind which the government argues in this case.
Transitional Measures Act There have been a number of cases in the past where a specific emergency was declared and legislation presented to the house and ' dealt with by the house in relation to that specific emergency. The circumstance which has undoubtedly caused the most extensive legal consideration of this point was the passing by the Canadian parliament many years ago of the Canada Temperance Act. That was an act dealing with a specific emergency. I do not know that there is in the house anyone who, from his own recollection, can recall the condition which was regarded as a national emergency of that nature at that time. In fact, it is apparent that there is no one who remembers the conditions which led to the passage of that bill under something approaching recognition of a national emergency. It was only in the light of the recognition of something of that nature that it would have been possible to have dealt with the situation. There is, of course, the fact that the provinces at that time had not provided their own liquor control acts, and this device was apparently necessary if there was to be a general supervision of the use of spirits.
I only mention the Canada Temperance Act to point out that there can be a specific emergency which becomes the justification for the passing of a bill to deal with that subject. It may well be, and in fact I assert, that there is an emergency in regard to certain matters under consideration in the broad purpose of this bill. It is very noticeable that some of those to the left who believe in controls for the sake of controls-
That is nonsense.
-are extremely caustic in regard to the very positive statement that-
On a question of privilege, the privilege of refuting the statement of the leader of the opposition, who is merely making-
Order. That is not a question of privilege. The hon. member will have an opportunity to reply later on.
Let the government speak for themselves. They have spokesmen everywhere.
I was just saying that there are those who are very caustic when the statement is made that there should be controls over certain matters during a continuing period of emergency in respect to certain subjects. It is strange how people will accept the general extension of powers, and the continuance of those powers to the point where ultimately they seem to forget how
Transitional Measures Act wide those powers are, and how dangerous the principles are that are involved in them. When a perfectly sound and logical proposition is put forward that these matters should be dealt with in the proper, parliamentary way of having separate bills to deal with the specific emergencies that are alleged, there are those who try to convey the impression that a submission in regard to a constitutional position of that kind means that those who assert it properly, and with due recognition of the rights of parliament, are opposed to any measure of control over any of these subjects. I hope it will not be necessary outside of this house to call any hon. gentlemen by a short and descriptive name afterwards, but I for one will certainly reserve the right to do so if any hon. member suggests that I-
-, or any other member of the party with which I am associated, have expressed opposition to rent control, or to any other specific question.
It seems that I shall be given the opportunity and duty of using a very short but expressive word.