June 8, 1951

PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Mr. Speaker, on a question of privilege, I do not often have occasion to take issue with the hon. member for Cape Breton South, but I do want to point out that I objected to this procedure before any of these editorials appeared. I made my position clear at that time.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MORNING SITTINGS ON AND AFTER MONDAY, JUNE 11
Permalink
LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. Cruickshank:

No excuses.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MORNING SITTINGS ON AND AFTER MONDAY, JUNE 11
Permalink
CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. Gillis:

I was merely commenting on the position taken by the leader of the opposition in the house today, and his argument about having read1 those newspaper reports.

The other point I wish to make is one I do not wish to discuss at length now, because some time I think there will be a full-dress debate on the subject. I refer to this job of being a member of parliament, and its being a full-time job. I recognized that in 1940. It has been a full-time job for me since I entered the House of Commons. I think of members of the house who accepted the position on the basis of what it was in 1939 or 1935-that it was a place where one could come for two or three months to get away from his business, have a rest and make a lot of business contacts. The member who does that now must make up his mind whether he will work here or work somewhere else. I am doing now what I think every member of this House of Commons should do; and any member who has not the time to come here and sit eight or nine months if necessary, to do the business of the House of Commons- well, my advice to him is to go back to his riding, attend to his business and allow someone else to come here who is more interested in the welfare of Canada than he is.

I have no illusions on this question. Some of my lawyer friends around-I can understand why they would want to get back home, and I do not want to get into a personal argument; but if they want to keep chirping in and disagreeing, I am prepared to make an analysis of that position.

I commend the government for the stand it has taken at this time. It is the first time since I entered the house in 1940' that I have known what I was doing. There are a lot of members sitting immediately to my right who 80709-245J

Business of the House do not know what they are doing even yet.

It is the first time a prime minister of this country has advised members of the House of Commons, well in advance, that he was going to try to clean up the immediate business of the House of Commons that could be cleaned up, as soon as it could be done, and has indicated that a large amount of important legislation that could not be dealt with at this time, and given due consideration, was to be allowed to stand, and that we would be called back here for the purpose of dealing with that legislation.

It is the first time since I have been here that I have known that I am going home and that I can stay there until October, and that I will come back here in October. In my opinion it is a good development; and I think that instead of the criticism, recriminations and accusations based upon assumptions, suspicions and editorials, the Prime Minister should be commended upon his honest approach to this problem.

The monetary aspect of this matter I will not consider. I am not mercenary. I demonstated when I came to the House of Commons that I was prepared to come here for $4,000 a year. I am still working full time for what I am getting, and I will continue to work full time for what I am getting. I do not want to run home and sell any hardware or anything else. I am anxious to stay here, and I am prepared to do so. I am not concerned about the monetary aspect of the matter. I know that perhaps the fellow who wants to run home at the end of June and stay there until next January might be able to make $12,000. But that aspect of it does not [DOT] concern me at all, and I do not think it concerns the people of Canada.

I would point out to the leader of the opposition, on this question of monetary returns, that members of the House of Commons, in terms of business office hours and the hours of industrial workers, are working twelve months in six. There is no other group of individuals in this country that works until eleven o'clock at night. The trade union movement from which I come would scorn the attitude we take in the House of Commons with regard to hours, social conditions and recreation. They do not ask their employees to work for peanuts, and they do not want them to work all night, either. The average trade union leader in this country today is paid twice as much money as the average member of parliament, and he has a full-time expense account. The worker in a mine, a steel plant, or a textile mill does not want to place his representative in such a position that he has to lose sleep and deprive himself of recreation, or stay in

Business of the House a cheap rooming house or a cheap hotel. He wants his representative to have the best.

There is one thing I am sure of, and that is that the people I represent will never say to the government: You are paying that member too much money. The story I have always got from my people is: "How do you get by on it?" That is the attitude they take. And I think that raising this monetary consideration, in a forum such as this, having regard to the position members of the House of Commons occupy, in one of the highest offices in the country that can be given, voluntarily, by the people in the ridings, is small potatoes. It certainly is not supported by the average Canadian citizen.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MORNING SITTINGS ON AND AFTER MONDAY, JUNE 11
Permalink
LIB

Daniel (Dan) McIvor

Liberal

Mr. Daniel Mclvor (Fori William):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to place on record two reasons wliy the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) should be supported.

I have been surprised many times that there has not been some form of closure to cut out these long speeches, and so much repetition. I believe this motion will tend toward shorter speeches, fewer words, and greater thought.

The second reason why we should have morning sittings is that our volume of mail is nothing like it was in the last four months; therefore we have more time to sit in the mornings.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MORNING SITTINGS ON AND AFTER MONDAY, JUNE 11
Permalink
PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Donald M. Fleming (Eglinton):

Mr. Speaker, I do not suppose any member of the house entertains any illusions as to what will be the effect of the adoption of this motion. We are working hard now, with committees meeting as they have been, and the long hours all of us are putting in. This motion will mean an increase in those hours and an increase in the work, and it will make it increasingly difficult, for opposition parties particularly, to man the committees, so many of which are sitting at the same time. Nevertheless, I think all of us are prepared to accept any reasonable expedient for pushing ahead the business of the house and doing as best we can the work we were sent here to do.

We shall not complain of long hours, fourteen hours a day, or of hard work as long as we have the satisfaction of doing the country's business. But I commend my leader with all my heart for having today brought into the realm of discussion in this debate some of the things that were said in the house on Monday last, June 4, concerning the duties of members of parliament, the proper length of sessions, the method of proper organization of the work of the house, and kindred questions.

fMr. Gillis.l

As you know, Mr. Speaker, I had hoped on Monday to have the opportunity to comment on some of the things that were said in that discussion, and I claim the opportunity as a private member speaking for myself to do so now. On that occasion the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell) said, as reported at page 3668 of Hansard:

The experience we have had over the last several years, particularly since the beginning of the war, clearly indicates that membership in this House of Commons can no longer be regarded as something in the nature of a sideline to a particular profession or business. Membership in the House of Commons today is a full-time position, and members must devote their entire time, sooner or later, to the business of the country.

Let those on the other side of the house who have been engaging in very noisy displays today indicate that they subscribe to sentiments of that kind, because those who have been noisiest in the chamber today will be the first to tell you outside the chamber that they are not here to spend twelve months a year sitting in this house.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MORNING SITTINGS ON AND AFTER MONDAY, JUNE 11
Permalink
LIB

J. G. Léopold Langlois (Parliamentary Assistant to the Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. Langlois (Gaspe):

Speak for yourself.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MORNING SITTINGS ON AND AFTER MONDAY, JUNE 11
Permalink
CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. Coldwell:

That is not what I meant.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MORNING SITTINGS ON AND AFTER MONDAY, JUNE 11
Permalink
PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

The hon. member says that is not what he meant. I take his words as they stand and I say to members of this house that, in the light of the duties that are cast upon members, with long sessions, long hours and hard work, nobody can say that being a member of the House of Commons is a sideline for anybody in this house today. For anybody who takes his duties as a member of the house seriously, I defy anyone to say that his duties can be regarded, or are in their nature, or are regarded by any of us as a sideline to his particular calling in life. Any assertion of that kind just does not fit the facts.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MORNING SITTINGS ON AND AFTER MONDAY, JUNE 11
Permalink
CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. Coldwell:

Then it is a full-time job.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MORNING SITTINGS ON AND AFTER MONDAY, JUNE 11
Permalink
PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

No, it is not. There is a fine sample of the kind of fallacies with which the speech of the hon. member for Cape Breton South (Mr. Gillis) abounded this afternoon, and I am going to deal with some of them.

The hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar said on Monday last: "Membership in the House of Commons today is a full-time position." I entirely refute that statement, and I say to the house that if the time ever comes when the house accepts the view that membership is a full-time position you will thereby automatically be closing the doors of public life, of public careers, to a great many people who cannot afford to take the risks and insecurity of public life. What does it mean? It means that the avenue of public

service in the House of Commons will be open only to those who are possessed of independent means-

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MORNING SITTINGS ON AND AFTER MONDAY, JUNE 11
Permalink
PC

William Earl Rowe

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Rowe:

Or are no good for anything else.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MORNING SITTINGS ON AND AFTER MONDAY, JUNE 11
Permalink
PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

-or those who somehow, by reason of not having family responsibilities, or not having-

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MORNING SITTINGS ON AND AFTER MONDAY, JUNE 11
Permalink
PC

William Earl Rowe

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Rowe:

Any other iob.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MORNING SITTINGS ON AND AFTER MONDAY, JUNE 11
Permalink
?

An hon. Member:

Nonsense.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MORNING SITTINGS ON AND AFTER MONDAY, JUNE 11
Permalink
PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

This is realism. Membership in the House of Commons will be open only to those who are fortunate enough to be so independent financially that they can give twelve months a year full time to their work as members of parliament or to those who have no family responsibilities and can somehow get along on the somewhat meagre amount that is left out of the sessional indemnity after the expenses and cost of keeping up two establishments and the other financial burdens of public office are met. There is nothing that can be more antidemocratic in its conception than anything which will confine public life to people who are on the one hand possessed of independent means and are completely independent of any financial worries, or to those on the other hand who do not have the responsibilities that most of us have, and somehow can eke out an existence on what may be left out of the sessional indemnity.

Sir, the strength of democracy and the strength of this House of Commons is that there are in this house people drawn from all walks of life. Every aspect of Canadian life in every part of the country is represented in the house, and the strength of this House of Commons is to be measured also in terms of the sum total of the experience which 262 members sitting in the house bring to the discharge of their duties. That is the reason why the experience of members in this house, contributed through debates in the house, contributed through discussions in committees, is so vitally important to the functioning of democracy. If the time ever comes when members of parliament are expected to sever themselves entirely from their other callings and take these risks that go with public life, these risks to their whole economic future, then I say to you, sir, that we will have taken a retrograde step, and democracy in this country will pay for it.

What we must do in shaping the course of parliamentary affairs and parliamentary work in the future is to try to see to it that the doors of public life are not closed to people who, having family responsibilities and

Business of the House responsibilities in other respects, are nevertheless capable of making a most valuable contribution to public life in the House of Commons. If you shut off from public service people bearing these responsibilities, then make no mistake about it, democracy will pay the price in Canada.

How do we go about achieving that purpose? Let me say at once that I do not think the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) shares the point of view expressed by the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar. It is true that the Prime Minister has never sat in the house as a private member, and he does not know from firsthand experience the problems that face private members. Naturally when one becomes a member of the government he gives his full time to his position, and the compensation is at least intended to bear some resemblance to full-time responsibility. But I think the Prime Minister has some knowledge of the difficulties faced by private members in trying to discharge their duties. I think he has an appreciation also of the importance of keeping the doors of public service open to people in all walks of life, regardless of their means.

I want to say this concerning the proposal to hold a second session. There is not one of us who relishes a protracted session into the summer with its heat; nevertheless I say to you, sir, that is preferable to coming back here in the fall to face a session then. Make no mistake about it. Experience cannot fail to be a sure guide. It should teach us that when we come back the debates will be longer than they would have been if we had continued into the summer. Nobody will relish sitting in July. Nevertheless I say that as between these two choices it is the preferable choice.

I go further and I say that, as to the broader problem of making public life, a public career or public service possible for people who have heavy responsibilities to bear outside this house, two sessions a year are no answer. Whether you pay one indemnity or whether you pay two, that is not the way to handle this problem. It is not a question of indemnity. It is not a question of two sessions a year, and I would not be speaking today if I were not prepared to make some concrete proposals that would enable-

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MORNING SITTINGS ON AND AFTER MONDAY, JUNE 11
Permalink
CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. Gillis:

Will the hon. member permit a question?

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MORNING SITTINGS ON AND AFTER MONDAY, JUNE 11
Permalink
PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

If the hon. member will not interrupt in the middle of a sentence, I shall be very glad to.

3852 HOUSE OF

Business of the House Mr. Gillis: It is hard to pick out your sentences.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MORNING SITTINGS ON AND AFTER MONDAY, JUNE 11
Permalink
PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

Whether or not the hon. member agrees with these remarks, as I have indicated I shall be glad to take his questions when I have finished the sentence or thought that I was just in the midst of expressing. I always welcome his questions and observations, as he well knows. But, Mr. Speaker, holding two sessions a year is not the way to meet this problem. I would not be speaking today unless I were prepared to make some concrete proposals with a view to meeting this problem, which is a problem for every member of this house, because I question very much whether many hon. members relish the idea of two sessions a year. We have had two sessions now for the last two years. This will make three years in a row. Once these things are begun they have a habit of sticking; and I am very much concerned over the effect that two sessions a year, carried on year after year, will have on the minds of many in this country who might otherwise be prepared to offer themselves as candidates for public office and who are capable of making a very effective contribution. Now I will be glad to answer my hon. friend's question.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MORNING SITTINGS ON AND AFTER MONDAY, JUNE 11
Permalink
CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. Gillis:

I was just wondering whether the hon. member could inform me if under the Ontario judicial system they have fall assizes.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MORNING SITTINGS ON AND AFTER MONDAY, JUNE 11
Permalink
PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

There are sittings of the Supreme Court of Ontario for ten months of the year, and I doubt very much if my hon. friend was unaware of that fact. If he possesses the fitness for public office which I have always considered him to possess I am sure he would know that simple and elementary fact without interposing such a question.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MORNING SITTINGS ON AND AFTER MONDAY, JUNE 11
Permalink

June 8, 1951