Mr. J. G. Diefenbaker (Lake Centre):
should like to direct a question to the Prime Minister in connection with a matter that was discussed by the Canadian Legion convention in Montreal. Have there been any recent communications either from the British government or from the British-allied German commission on war criminals, relating to whether or not Canada still has jurisdiction over the person of Major General Kurt Meyer? It is a matter that has aroused some interest, to know whether or not there have been any recent discussions. That is the reason I have asked the Prime Minister, even though I have not been able to give notice of it.
Right Hon. L. S. Si. Laurent (Prime
Minister): Had I had notice I might perhaps be able to be a little more precise in my
answer, but I think I can give a satisfactory answer without referring again to the pertinent documents.
As hon. members know, there is a draft treaty that is now under consideration by the occupying powers and the government of Western Germany. There are provisions in that treaty for the treatment of prisoners under the jurisdiction of those who will be parties to the treaty. There has been correspondence to make it abundantly clear that the treaty will not of itself have any effect on the jurisdiction of- the Canadian authorities over the war criminals who are purging sentences imposed by Canadian courts; that the provisions will not exclude the possibility of their being brought under the treaty; that the treaty itself will not have the effect of changing the present position in any way. The present position is that the two prisoners still purging sentences are under the jurisdiction of the Canadian authorities, and are being held by the United Kingdom authorities as custodians.
It may be that some change will have to to be made in that situation after the United Kingdom has signed this treaty with Western Germany; but care has been taken by those who are to be parties to the treaty to see to it that it does not go beyond the rights and jurisdiction of those who are to be signatories to the treaty.
Subtopic: QUESTION OF CANADIAN JURISDICTION