December 10, 1951


On the orders of the day:


PC

Douglas Scott Harkness

Progressive Conservative

Mr. D. S. Harkness (Calgary East):

Will the Minister of Trade and Commerce say whether the government or the wheat board has yet taken any steps to move feed grains into those areas of western Canada in which they are in short supply or, in some cases, non-existent?

Topic:   FEED AND COARSE GRAINS
Subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO MOVEMENT INTO SHORT SUPPLY AREAS
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Defence Production; Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Right Hon. C. D. Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce):

The wheat board sells grain to any purchaser, and will arrange to have it loaded for any destination. I have no knowledge of any movement of the type described, but I presume if such movement is required some purchaser in the area will be buying wheat and having it moved in. If so, I am sure prompt attention will be given io the movement.

Topic:   FEED AND COARSE GRAINS
Subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO MOVEMENT INTO SHORT SUPPLY AREAS
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PC

Douglas Scott Harkness

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

What about coarse grains, which are even more important than wheat from the point of view of feed?

Topic:   FEED AND COARSE GRAINS
Subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO MOVEMENT INTO SHORT SUPPLY AREAS
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Defence Production; Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe:

The same statement applies to coarse grains.

Topic:   FEED AND COARSE GRAINS
Subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO MOVEMENT INTO SHORT SUPPLY AREAS
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On the orders of the day:


LIB

Daniel (Dan) McIvor

Liberal

Mr. Daniel Mclvor (Fort William):

I rise on a special question of privilege, Mr. Speaker. I know that earlier this session it was decided that hon. members would not notice distinguished visitors in the gallery, but there are outstanding exceptions-

Topic:   FEED AND COARSE GRAINS
Subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO MOVEMENT INTO SHORT SUPPLY AREAS
Sub-subtopic:   DISTINGUISHED VISITORS IN GALLERY-LORD PROVOST OF GLASGOW
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?

Some hon. Members:

Order.

Topic:   FEED AND COARSE GRAINS
Subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO MOVEMENT INTO SHORT SUPPLY AREAS
Sub-subtopic:   DISTINGUISHED VISITORS IN GALLERY-LORD PROVOST OF GLASGOW
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LIB

Daniel (Dan) McIvor

Liberal

Mr. Mclvor:

I am sure you will allow us the privilege of noticing the presence in the gallery of the distinguished Lord Provost of Glasgow, and welcoming him.

Topic:   FEED AND COARSE GRAINS
Subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO MOVEMENT INTO SHORT SUPPLY AREAS
Sub-subtopic:   DISTINGUISHED VISITORS IN GALLERY-LORD PROVOST OF GLASGOW
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KURT MEYER

REFERENCE TO STATEMENTS BY COUNSEL


On the orders of the day:


PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. George A. Drew (Leader of fhe Opposition):

I wish to direct a question to the Prime Minister. In view of the uncertainty which has been created by the statements made by those counsel responsible for the prosecution of Kurt Meyer and those defend-

ing him, as well as statements by counsel more recently engaged, which throw a great deal of uncertainty upon the propriety of what is taking place, will the Prime Minister indicate whether the government intends to take any action?

Topic:   KURT MEYER
Subtopic:   REFERENCE TO STATEMENTS BY COUNSEL
Sub-subtopic:   REQUEST FOR CLARIFICATION
Permalink
LIB

Louis Stephen St-Laurent (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Right Hon. L. S. St. Laurent (Prime Minister):

I am sorry, but I have no comment to make at this time.

Topic:   KURT MEYER
Subtopic:   REFERENCE TO STATEMENTS BY COUNSEL
Sub-subtopic:   REQUEST FOR CLARIFICATION
Permalink

SPEECH FROM THE THRONE

CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY


The house resumed, from Wednesday, December 5, consideration of the motion of Mr. Robert Cauchon for an address to His Excellency the Governor General in reply to his speech at the opening of the session, and the amendment thereto of Mr. Argue, as amended.


PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, in this house we have been engaged for some time in debating a motion that a humble address be presented to His Excellency the Governor General, Field Marshal the Right Hon. the Viscount Alexander of Tunis. It so happens, sir, that today is the birthday of His Excellency the Governor General. I know I am speaking on behalf of all hon. members of this house when I extend to him birthday felicitations, greetings and good wishes. A man great in war and in peace, the manner in which he has discharged his responsibilities as Governor General has made him justly popular everywhere in this Dominion of Canada.

There have been amendments and subamendments, the latest of which was moved on Wednesday last. For the first time in more than a generation, in order to water down an amendment that would constitute a motion of non-confidence in His Excellency's advisers, a member supporting the government has moved a subamendment which was, to say the least, constitutionally unusual. I believe the result of that subamendment, regular in its form as it was and in order as declared by Your Honour, has been to place the government of this country in a quagmire of difficulty. I intend, if I may, to refer to the only examples that exist of an amendment or a subamendment along the lines of the one in question. When I do so, I want to give my thanks to the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre (Mr. Churchill) for his collaboration and study in connection with this matter.

Topic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
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?

An hon. Member:

North Centre.

Topic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

It is usually North Centre who deals with the rules, but this time I refer to South Centre, a new member who has come into the house but recently, and who adds

The Address-Mr. Diefenbaker that strength and ability to the house which able and qualified men bring to our deliberations.

I believe it is worth bringing to the attention of the government that an examination of the Journals of this house indicates that from 1867 until 1902 the practice was followed of moving a resolution to the effect that a humble address be presented to the Governor General. The formal address was followed by a series of paragraphs repeating almost word for word the corresponding statements which appeared in the speech from the throne. From 1888 until 1896 the practice was to put the question for each paragraph of the resolu* tion, and it was discontinued.

The custom up to 1895 was to refer to a special committee of the house the drafting of an address to His Excellency or to His Majesty the King. In 1903 a short form of address was adopted which is the one in effect now. It is interesting to note that. Between 1867 and 1902 only two amendments to the resolution were ever considered. The first of these was in 1893 and was an amendment by Sir Wilfrid Laurier, then in opposition, and the amendment was defeated. The seoond amendment occurred in 1899, and that is one similar in nature to that moved by the hon. member for The Battle-fords (Mr. Bater). That amendment proposed adding a tenth paragraph to the resolution and suggested the appointment of a judicial commission to investigate alleged malpractices in the administration of the Yukon. A subamendment was moved by the government supporters expressing confidence in the commissioner of the Yukon. The subamendment carried and was added as paragraph ten of the resolution.

Someone will immediately say that what the hon. member for The Battlefords has done, even though it is as far back as 1899, indicated that we have the right to do it now. At the time that subamendment was moved general procedure was different from what it is now. As I pointed out a moment ago, in 1903 the humble address that we now send to His Excellency was then adopted. From 1903 to the present day the debate on the address in reply to the speech from the throne has occupied more time of the house than it had previous to the adoption of the short form of address. In the period between 1903 and June 1951, 35 amendments and 30 subamendments, a total of 65, that have been found in order or have not been challenged, have been proposed to the address in reply to the speech from the throne. In all those 65 amendments never has there been a case, since the alteration in the procedure connected

The Address-Mr. Diefenbaker with the address from the throne, in which a government member has moved a subamendment. We therefore have to turn to Britain and examine its constitutional practice and history.

The practice in the British House of Commons appears to have been the same as that which is now followed in Canada. The short form in reply to the speech from the throne was adopted in Britain in 1891, and amendments thereto have always been considered as motions of want of confidence. The Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) gave his imprimatur to that viewpoint when, on October 15 last, the leader of the opposition (Mr. Drew) moved an amendment and asked that there be a free vote in the House of Commons, and said that there was no intention to have the amendment to the motion considered as a vote of non-confidence. As reported at page 33 of Hansard the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) said:

If It is not a motion of no confidence it probably is not in order . . .

He had said earlier that it was a matter for the Speaker to decide. In the fifteenth edition of Erskine May's Parliamentary Practice, 1950, there are only two references to amendments to the address being passed in Britain. One of those occurred in 1924 and resulted in the immediate resignation of the government I repeat, Mr. Speaker, what I said a while ago, that this government is in a procedural quagmire. I think they are in the position that the psalmist referred to when he said: "In the net which they hid is their own foot taken". Apparently they devised this form of adulteration which removes from the opposition the right to place before parliament and have parliament vote on amendments that are non-confidence amendments. We have gone far enough along the way of the one-party state. We in this opposition and all future oppositions should not be denied the right to introduce specific motions of non-confidence and have them voted upon in the house irrespective of the difficulties or the mental exercise that may be caused to some of the members for having to vote on an amendment which they would like to support but which their political persuasion does not permit them to do.

I believe that before we are through with this matter, if we are to restore some degree of constitutional regularity to what has happened, I think the government will have to do something similar to that which was done in 1894. Then a Liberal government was in power and Lord Roseberry was Prime Minister. Sir William Harcourt was leader of the house. An amendment was put forward

by a private member on the opposition side dealing with the subject of restricting the power of the House of Lords. Some of the government members then had a higher degree of independence than has been characteristic of government members at other times and in other places, and they voted for the amendment. The result was that the amendment to the address was supported on a vote of 147 to 145.

If you read Hansard and the London Times of that period you will find that, for two or three days, there was an unusual degree of excitement in the house. The government was embarrassed. Governments sometimes became embarrassed in those days as a result of constitutional difficulties in which they found themselves. There was no precedent. Mr. Balfour of the official opposition, who was always a master of understatement, said that this was "an unexampled position in our parliamentary history". The government did not feel they should resign. But the government found itself in a position where it could not submit the address in its amended form to the king. Can you imagine, Mr. Speaker, His Excellency receiving the following address, as it will read if the subamendment passes:

May it please Your Excellency:

We, His Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the House of Commons of Canada, in parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Excellency for the gracious speech which Your Excellency has addressed to both houses of parliament; but this house regrets the serious difficulties encountered by the western farmers in harvesting their crops, and commends Your Excellency's advisers for the continuing attention they have given to the problems caused thereby, and is confident that effective measures will continue to be taken to help the farmers in meeting these problems.

When His Majesty's representative receives that message, it will have one qualification: it will be unique in parliamentary history. In effect it says: This is a motion of confidence and regret but in voting for the motion of non-confidence we want at the same time to say that we have confidence in the government. We are slipping a little but we will not fall in expressing our confidence in the government. My submission is that if the government and the members supporting it vote affirmatively in connection with the amendment of the hon. member for Assiniboia (Mr. Argue), as amended by the hon. member for The Battlefords (Mr. Bater), it will be tantamount to saying that they have no confidence in the government while at the same time saying that they have.

Topic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
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December 10, 1951