June 8, 1951

PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

I come to the remarks that were made after the Prime Minister made this announcement a few days ago. I was interested to hear the comment afterwards-and when I say "afterwards", I mean in this house-that this recognized the fact that membership in the House of Commons is a full-time job. It is a full-time job of representation of a constituency. But it was never intended to be a full-time job here in Ottawa; and there is a reason why it should not be. It was never intended that the members of the parliament of this country should be something in the nature of elected civil servants. It was always intended-and that was the genius of our system-that persons elected to parliament who are actively engaged in many activities in this country would be spending a considerable part of the time with the people of their own constituencies, and that during only a part of the year they would be representing their people here in the House of Commons, with the advantage of that intimate and personal contact in their own ridings which is denied if the members are sitting here most of the time. If this is to become a full-time occupation-that is, here in Ottawa-then we might easily reach the point where only those who could give up any other occupation or who were amongst that increasingly small number who are able to live on their accumulated means-

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LIB

Alcide Côté

Liberal

Mr. Cote (Mafapedia-Malane):

Tories.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

-would be able to be candidates. They would be the only ones who could become candidates for election to this house. I suggest that the obvious reply to that might be that in the House of Commons in Great Britain the members are sitting there- with fairly extended adjournments, it is true -throughout the whole year. But you cannot compare the situation in a country the size of Canada with that in a country like Great Britain, where, week end after week end, the people can all get back to their homes with a fair measure of convenience.

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LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. Cruickshank:

Like the members from Toronto.

Business of the House

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Yes. It is suggested that the members from Toronto are in a favoured position.

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LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. Cruickshank:

And from Guelph.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

From Guelph, from Montreal and from Quebec. They are in a favoured position because they find it easier to get home, and an arrangement of this kind is particularly unfair to members from the maritime provinces, from the Pacific coast, and even from the Fraser valley.

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LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. Cruickshank:

Hear, hear.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

It is unfair to them because they are not able to move back and forth in the same way.

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LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. Cruickshank:

We always come back, though.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

The fact is that while this motion is being discussed is a good time to review the seriousness of the proposal that is being made, and its possible effect on the future of this House of Commons. If the members of this house are in fact to be called upon to sit throughout the best part of the year, as they have before, then many of them will have to revise their opinions as to their ability to carry on other occupations and serve their people with the continuing and intimate knowledge of the affairs of their own constituencies which over the years has been regarded as such an important part of the business of representing a constituency here in the Canadian House of Commons.

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LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. Cruickshank:

Item carried.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

I take this occasion, Mr. Speaker, to present these views in the hope that the Prime Minister will review the announcement he has made, and in the hope that the government will seek to plan the business of this house for the next few weeks so that we can deal with the old age pensions legislation, clean up the business, and then if necessary adjourn in order to meet for a short time to dispose of whatever other new business may come up in the meantime.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. Clarence Gillis (Cape Breton South):

Mr. Speaker, as a member of a group that supported the Prime Minister's contention that another session was necessary this year I cannot sit here, in view of the speech which has just been made, without giving some of the reasons why we supported the arrangement that brings about the motion now before the house.

In my opinion the leader of the opposition was not facing facts in any of the statements that he made. He is well aware of the fact,

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Business of the House as are other hon. members, that the business now before this house, namely, the committee work, the legislation on the order paper and all of the things that we have to handle, will keep us going night and day perhaps into July, without touching the different pieces of legislation that he mentioned specifically.

While listening to him I thought the matter over, and I think he considered very lightly the reports that have to come before the house sometime in the future. My conviction is that if we deal with all the legislation that he feels we should deal with we would not get it all through and give it the consideration to which it is entitled if we sat here until September. For example, my thinking, on the old age pension problem has led me to believe that it is going to take more than a month or two months to finalize that particular piece of legislation. The legislation dealing with universal pensions at seventy by right and the legislation dealing with the age group sixty-five to sixty-nine will go forward at the same time. Every province in Canada, with the exception of Ontario and Quebec, will have to raise additional funds in order to give effect to that legislation, if they are to accept the proposition that is being put forward by the federal government. What does that mean? It means that it is going to be necessary to have a dominion-provincial conference to determine where the provinces who have not the additional finances necessary to meet the obligation are to get that money. You cannot hold a dominion-provincial conference between now and the end of June, and that is the fact of the matter. That is what has to take place.

Ontario and Quebec may be ready to go ahead with it. Unfortunately, too many people in this house think in terms of their own provinces. In my opinion the old age pension legislation cannot be finalized before the October session. If the leader of the opposition is as anxious as he makes out that the old age pensioners should receive that money with equality as between the provinces, then he will have to agree that the only way to bring it about is to allow sufficient time to do a reasonable job as it affects the country as a whole.

The leader of the opposition mentioned the Turgeon report. It consists of at least 500 pages, and deals with one of the most complicated problems in this country, namely, freight rates. The adoption of that report means that for a long time we will be setting up machinery with regard to freight rates that will affect the economy of this country for a long time to come. It will affect the eastern and western part of the country to

the extent that they will be able to find markets at reasonable freight rates within the rest of the dominion. It is a report that requires a long and detailed examination, and we would not be able to give it that examination if we sat through until September.

It is not good enough merely to glance at this report. Every hon. member has the responsibility of analysing it, of going through the figures and ascertaining for himself how it will affect the people whom he represents in this house.

Then there is the Massey report. It is a very technical report. It suggests the setting of the culture of this country for the next fifty years. It is something we badly need. We have not any at this time.

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?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. Gillis:

My hon. friends can laugh, but I will challenge anyone in this house to show me where we have any such recognized thing as Canadian culture-

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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. Martin:

In Sydney, Nova Scotia.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. Gillis:

-or Canadian literature, or Canadian art. When I have finished my speech some hon. member in this house can get up and point out where we have any-

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LIB

Elie Beauregard (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Order. Perhaps a discussion on that question may be reserved for a future occasion.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. Gillis:

As I was pointing out, the Massey report consists of 550 pages. It will take more than the average member of this house to analyse it. It is a job that has to be done by technicians, librarians, research people and other who are familiar with that field. You are not going to be able to do that by the end of June and give it the examination that it deserves.

Then there is the seaway project. A billion dollars of the taxpayers' money is to be spent on that. It is a project that will affect Canada as a whole in different ways from province to province. If hon. members are earnest about their responsibilities, this is a project which they should examine very carefully, to find out whether we would get back any return on the investment that Canadians would be asked to make. In the items and reports that I have mentioned there are long range plans for Canada, and they are plans which will take a full session of this house if a proper analysis is made of them.

In my opinion the leader of the opposition was pressured into the statement he made, by newspaper reports and newspaper editorials. I hope neither the leader of the opposition nor members of the government

or any other members of the house will ever get into the state of mind where they are going to allow someone outside the house to mould their opinion on legislation for which the government has to take responsibility. My conception of the speech of the leader of the opposition was as I say, that he was pressured into that position by these newspaper reports. I do not think it is a responsible position for a person to take, especially one who at some time aspires to form a government in this country.

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June 8, 1951