Joseph Arthur Lesage
Not by the courts, but by the leader of the opposition.
Not by the courts, but by the leader of the opposition.
The distinction has been clearly drawn by the courts. There is no person capable of reading the judgments of the courts who is not capable of clearly interpreting the distinction between a general emergency and a specific emergency.
I have practised law, and you have not.
The situation in this case is that the government must assert a general emergency to justify omnibus powers of this nature. If there is such a general emergency as would justify the adoption of an omnibus bill of this nature, then there is an emergency which would permit the dominion government to invade any field of provincial rights
Transitional Measures Act at this time. A decision to that effect would have precisely that result.
If it is a fact that there is a general emergency, and apparently the hon. member who has just spoken must believe there is, then there is no aspect of provincial jurisdiction which this government could not invade under the general powers available to it. The member for Montmagny-L'Islet (Mr. Lesage) has, in fact, raised a point which should be in the mind of every member. In asserting that proposition he is asserting a proposition which this government could carry forward in other emergency measures dealing with a number of subjects that affect the constitutional position in this country. At a time when this government has refused to carry out its solemn undertaking given during the war to return the taxing powers to the provinces, every member in this house should be extremely careful about accepting the proposition that the parliament of Canada has the right to invade the field of provincial authority under a declaration of a general emergency.
Let there be no mistake about it. The view just expressed by the hon. member is an indication that he believes there is a general emergency, so do not let the government suggest they are not asserting there is a general emergency. Obviously, they would not be able to carry the conviction of the hon. member with them if they did. A general emergency, such as is asserted now, would be a general emergency which would go far beyond this omnibus bill. It would go far beyond the agricultural bill, the foreign exchange control bill, or any other bill that has been brought forward in this house. The government seems very unwilling to admit that it believes in wide bureaucratic powers. Yet this house should recognize the extent to which this government has gone in introducing new bureaucratic powers under new devices. A discussion of this is directly relevant to the way in which wide powers of this kind could be used if the parliament of Canada asserts that there is a general emergency of the type that would be necessary to cover the field included in this omnibus bill.
Let me illustrate the kind of power taken by this government which goes beyond the necessity of asking parliament to declare an emergency. This government introduced a device giving it the power to enter the field of industrial development by placing in the estimates substantial sums which are not covered by statutory authority. It is done under the broad assertion of the right of the government to appropriate moneys for any purpose. They appropriate large sums of
money for the purpose of giving to a minister of the crown undefined and uncontrolled rights to take part in the expansion of particular industries at his discretion. The adoption of the estimates by the house has the effect of statutory authority. Consequently, in that loose and slipshod manner, many millions of dollars are made available for expenditure under a procedure which is not covered by any statute of this house.
Then what happens? The government, having entered the field of industrial activity, asserts the right to hide the details of the use of that money. A perfect example of the way this government creates bureaucratic authority by new and utterly irresponsible methods is provided. A few days ago we were given an example of the manner in which this government felt it should be permitted to continue that type of business behind closed doors. A question was asked about the Polymer Corporation, which is one of the corporations in which the government has been taking an active interest under these loose powers. The question concerned the contracts that had been made by Polymer Corporation for the supplying of energy to various bodies in the area it serves. The position taken was that this was something upon which the government was not prepared-
Order. That question was put to the house and was voted upon. There is a rule that hon. members must not reflect on the proceedings of the house, except for the purpose of rescinding them.
I would draw a distinction between reflecting on the proceedings of the house and explaining the result of the decision of the house in relation to the present conduct of the government.
I should remind the hon. member that he cannot refer in the present session to a debate on a matter not now under discussion, which has been decided during the present session. It is against the rules to have a debate twice on the same subject.
Mr. Chairman, I am not debating that resolution. I am stating, as a matter of fact, that the government has refused to give information in regard to the operation of a corporation into which it has put public funds. This house, by a majority vote, supported the government in its declaration that the house is not entitled to that information. It is to that decision I am referring. I am not in any way questioning the decision; I am simply saying that the decision has shown the extent to which the use of these moneys is put beyond the inspection of the members
of this house. The principle asserted by this government applies to several other companies, and I am now asserting that their broad declaration is that this money, appropriated in this manner and advanced to these corporations, can then be spent at the discretion of the minister without the ordinary supervision of the elected representatives of the people.
If that is not bureaucracy carried far beyond even the wartime measures, then I do not know where one could find an example. The hon. members of this house have a duty to recognize that many of the powers asserted under these general provisions have been challenged and have been dealt with in the courts. There was another case that has been referred to on a number of occasions here; that was a decision in Toronto only a short time ago, again referring to this act and again holding that those charged with the responsibility for carrying out the details of the provisions carried forward under this act were exceeding their authority. In case after case there has been clear demonstration in the courts of this country that the loose powers conferred in these regulations are being abused by the bureaucracy operated by the senior bureaucrats of this government.
Let us examine, for instance, the powers conferred in regard to some of these things that have no relation at all to the question of the emergency which is alleged, and which undoubtedly exists in regard to some of the specific subjects. Take, for instance, timber and timber control. Under that wide power the government have the power now to deal with the control of the standing trees and the processed wood, as well' as all the other things-subject, of course, to what they may withdraw from that at the present time; and they have given wide powers in regard to that matter. There are powers in regard to steel, supplies and priorities which will undoubtedly be defined and discussed in various ways. But unless the government introduce specific acts of parliament to deal with subjects of this nature we shall be going on, during a period when the emergency cannot possibly have been declared to exist, with the bureaucrats ranging loose in every field that is covered by the whole of these twelve orders.
In the United States, over some period of time, a committee under the chairmanship of former President Hoover made a most useful and illuminating examination of autocratic authority and of mounting government extension of powers. The findings of that committee are illuminating to the extent that they disclose how power builds on power, and how
Transitional Measures Act the building of that power creates new groups of minor officials who constantly add to their own authority, to their number and to the cost of operation of all these controls. As recently as March 3 Mr. Hoover made a most interesting speech on this subject in New York, based on his experience arising out of the work of that extremely important committee, which has its lessons for us in Canada as well as for the people in the United States.
I quote from the report dealing with this speech.
Mr. Harris (Grey-Bruce):
I quote from the report dealing with his speech in the New York Herald Tribune of Friday, March 4:
The former president, chairman of the commission on organization of the executive branch, told the New York state chamber of commerce, during its monthly meeting at 65 Liberty street, that the increasing "bureaucracy" in Washington has been caused by three factors.
1. Because of the natural instinct of federal bureaux to "exfoliate in their desire to improve the lot of man."
2. Because "our people, under the illusion that money from Washington is pure manna, are selling right and left their birthright as free men and their responsibilities in a free man's government in order to get it."
3. Because "there are those who are impatient with the slow process of local reform and who conceive that all may be good if the federal government would only pass a law, set up a bureau, and make an appropriation."
Mr. Hoover, recalling that "the original idea" of the American republic was that the federal government was to have limited powers, said "the founding fathers seemed to have a notion that a bureaucrat might be more responsive to the will of the people if his head office were down the street instead of 3,000 miles away in some pentagon building."
Those words, Mr. Chairman, apply to the situation here with just as much force as they do to the situation in Washington.
In fact, they apply with a great deal more force, because in the United States there is a constitution which cannot be challenged by this loose appeal to the emergency which is available here under such an act as is now before this House of Commons for consideration. The members of this house are called upon to decide whether they believe these things can best be dealt with by an allpowerful bureaucracy or whether they can best be dealt with under ordinary statutory provisions which will be interpreted in the usual way in our courts. That is the basic distinction which should be in the minds of the members who are called upon to vote on this resolution or on the bill at any of its stages. If this government can establish that there is a specific emergency in regard to any one of the twelve subjects mentioned
1548 HOUSE OF
Transitional Measures Act here, then it can pass an act which makes it possible for the man or woman, in any part of Canada, who is affected by this act, to go to his or her own court in his or her own vicinity and have his or her rights determined by those who live in the place where he or she is affected by the operation of such acts, and where his or her affairs are not being decided by some distant bureaucrat three thousand miles away who does not understand the local problem but who nevertheless is called upon to determine it by loose orders that are not subject to revision or consideration by the court unless there is a case that can actually be made of complete failure to comply even with the loose provisions of this act.
When Mr. Hoover pointed out that the founding fathers in the United States had an idea that the federal system was of value in that country, he was only saying what the people in this country should say a good deal more than they do. When I hear some hon. members talking in derision about the constitutional rights in this country, I say it is time that they examined what has happened in every country where the constitution has been disregarded and the democratic processes have been abandoned.
The founding fathers of Canada, the fathers of our confederation, decided that this country should have a federal system, in which there was a division of authority between the federal and the provincial governments. They decided also that it would be only in the case of an extreme emergency, such as war itself, or a condition approximating war, that the terms of that constitution should be abandoned. If we disregard that basic consideration today in an effort to make shortcuts such as have produced the great bureaucratic expansion in the United States, as well as here, then we are paving the way to a complete loss of that democratic freedom which has been at issue at all times since we received our constitution in 1867.
The statement that it is not possible to do these things within our constitution, and that it is not possible to obtain the desired results, is not borne out by any evidence which is before this house, or before anyone who will read what is written down in plain and understandable language in the record of the meetings of the governments which took place here in Ottawa in 1945 and 1946.
This is where I came in.
Some hon. members seem to think that this is an old subject. It is an old subject which started in 1867, but which leeds to be re-emphasized for the benefit of
hon. members who seem to think that it is an old subject which should be forgotten.
In answer to a question in this house a few days ago the Prime Minister said that it had not been possible to proceed with the health and social security measures because it had not been possible to obtain agreement at the conference. That statement left the impression that there had been resistance to the advancement of health and social security measures. There is no person who understands the language of the record who can honestly say-and, I repeat, honestly say-that there was not a declared desire by every government attending that conference to advance health and social security measures. When the Prime Minister says that there was no indication of a willingness to take whatever steps would be necessary to carry forward those health and social security measures, I challenge him or any hon. member in this house to point-
I rise to a point of order.
On the right occasion, and when this matter is properly in order, I shall certainly challenge that statement; but I rise to suggest to you, Mr. Chairman, that this trend of argument is wholly out of order.
We are called upon to extend wide and arbitrary powers, and no hon. member has a right to cast his vote in regard to the extension of those powers unless he examines how arbitrary powers have been used by this government. When the appropriate time comes to deal with another subject I shall deal with some of the absurd statements made by the Minister of National Health and Welfare in regard to what he has done for health in this country. As I said on another occasion, one would think that Canadian health had been discovered only when he came to office.
I am perfectly willing to meet the hon. gentleman-