December 7, 1953

?

Murdo William Martin

Mr. Marlin:

It is a fact.

Topic:   HUMAN RIGHTS
Subtopic:   MOTION APPROVING UNIVERSAL DECLARATION ADOPTED BY GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF UNITED NATIONS
Permalink
CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. Coldwell:

I say it may be argued that the government has already done that, but in my opinion-

Topic:   HUMAN RIGHTS
Subtopic:   MOTION APPROVING UNIVERSAL DECLARATION ADOPTED BY GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF UNITED NATIONS
Permalink
LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Martin:

It could not be argued

otherwise.

Topic:   HUMAN RIGHTS
Subtopic:   MOTION APPROVING UNIVERSAL DECLARATION ADOPTED BY GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF UNITED NATIONS
Permalink
CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. Coldwell:

All right; I will accept it as a fact if the Minister of National Health and Welfare insists upon it. I wish he would insist on certain other facts sometimes in the house when he uses language rather obscurely in some connections.

Topic:   HUMAN RIGHTS
Subtopic:   MOTION APPROVING UNIVERSAL DECLARATION ADOPTED BY GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF UNITED NATIONS
Permalink
?

Murdo William Martin

Mr. Marlin:

Let us not lose our tempers.

Topic:   HUMAN RIGHTS
Subtopic:   MOTION APPROVING UNIVERSAL DECLARATION ADOPTED BY GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF UNITED NATIONS
Permalink
CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. Coldwell:

He should be a little more precise. I will accept that correction.

Topic:   HUMAN RIGHTS
Subtopic:   MOTION APPROVING UNIVERSAL DECLARATION ADOPTED BY GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF UNITED NATIONS
Permalink
?

Murdo William Martin

Mr. Marlin:

Let us not lose our tempers.

Topic:   HUMAN RIGHTS
Subtopic:   MOTION APPROVING UNIVERSAL DECLARATION ADOPTED BY GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF UNITED NATIONS
Permalink
CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. Coldwell:

But this parliament has never approved of that statement. The point the hon. member for Winnipeg North had in mind was that this parliament should approve that principle. In order to put the matter explicitly 1 am going to move an amendment to the hon. member's motion, seconded by the hon. member for Yorkton (Mr. Castleden):

That the resolution be amended by deleting therefrom the word "approving" and by substituting therefor the words: "asking parliament to approve".

The motion, if amended, would then read this way:

That, in the opinion of this house, the government should consider the advisability of asking parliament to approve as a declaration of principle, the universal declaration of human rights, as adopted by the general assembly of the United Nations on December 10, 1948.

I think that would express the view the hon. member for Winnipeg North had in mind, and would serve the purpose he had in view. I hope the house will approve the amended resolution, because we think it would be well for this parliament to express itself emphatically in regard to this matter. I believe that opinion in this country and indeed throughout all the self-governing parts of the commonwealth, with perhaps the notable exception of South Africa which places our commonwealth under a cloud, is in favour of such a declaration.

Topic:   HUMAN RIGHTS
Subtopic:   MOTION APPROVING UNIVERSAL DECLARATION ADOPTED BY GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF UNITED NATIONS
Permalink
LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Hon. W. E. Harris (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration):

May I point out to the

house, Mr. Speaker, that the subject matter of the amendment raises a wholly different question than that which is contained in the original motion. I believe it is something which would require at least the amount of notice required by the original motion. The position one might take on the amendment

might very well be wholly different from that which one would take on the main motion.

It is for that reason, and because I believe hon. members would like to consider the present amended motion, that I propose to move the adjournment of the debate.

Topic:   HUMAN RIGHTS
Subtopic:   MOTION APPROVING UNIVERSAL DECLARATION ADOPTED BY GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF UNITED NATIONS
Permalink
LIB

Tom Goode

Liberal

Mr. Goode:

I was paired with the hon. member for Medicine Hat (Mr. Wylie).

Topic:   HUMAN RIGHTS
Subtopic:   MOTION APPROVING UNIVERSAL DECLARATION ADOPTED BY GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF UNITED NATIONS
Permalink

REDISTRIBUTION

REQUEST FOR COMMITTEE ON ADJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION AND ELECTORAL DIVISIONS

LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Hon. C. G. Power (Quebec South) moved:

That, in the opinion of this house, consideration should be given as to the advisability of setting up a committee of members of the house to inquire into methods of bringing about the adjustment of representation and a plan for the division of the provinces of Canada into electoral districts in accordance with the provisions of section 51 of the British North America Acts 1867 to 1951, as enacted by the British North America Act 1946, and to report and recommend such method as may in the view of the committee be fair and equitable, and in the public interest.

He said: This motion is brought forward in order to fulfil an undertaking given to this house some two or three years ago when redistribution was being discussed, perhaps with more heat than light, and also to comply with the insistence of the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) who I am sure would have brought this matter before the house had I not done so. I may say that in this question of redistribution the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre is a valuable and forceful ally; but should the matter go to a committee, as is proposed, I will not hold myself responsible for all the vagaries in which he may indulge.

The justification for the introduction of such a resolution as this is that now we are far removed from the imminence of electoral battle and from the heat and ardour which are engendered by the contemplation of those electoral tests, and if ever we are to make a serious study of the method and the manner of bringing about the redistribution of seats within the provinces I believe it should be at a time when neither party interests nor personal interests are immediately evident.

May I say at the outset that it is not proposed in this resolution to deal with the distribution of seats as between the provinces.

Redistribution

My only thought is to deal with the distribution of the number of seats which are allocated to each province. In doing so let me lay down this as a primary proposition. The present method whereby the question of distribution is handed over to a committee of the House of Commons has not been found to be satisfactory.

I do not think there will be very much controversy on that proposition. I could, if it were necessary, quote eminent authorities who have publicly stated in this house and elsewhere that leaving to interested parties, members or those who give their allegiance to any particular group or party, the task of setting boundaries as between constituencies makes it very difficult for the members themselves to exercise their honest and conscientious effort, and the results have been such that the prestige and standing of this House of Commons have not been raised in the public eye.

Then I would make another suggestion with regard to a proposition which perhaps is not quite so non-controversial. I suggest that whatever method be found, we would be remiss in our duties and responsibilities as members of this house and as representatives of the people if we did not lay down rules, precepts and principles on which redistribution should be arrived at. The House of Commons in the final analysis must take upon itself the duty and responsibility of passing whatever report is made, whether it be by a body, a commission or an organization outside this House of Commons. So let me make it clear that it is not intended that we should divest ourselves of our duties and responsibilities, but that we should take them upon ourselves.

I next come to the suggestions as to what rules and regulations and principles-if we may call them such, when as a matter of fact principles, if ever there were any in connection with this matter, have been largely set aside and have been used on one or more sides by the same people, depending on whose ox is gored-are to be followed. Let me suggest that whatever is done there should be a decision made by this house and the members thereof on the great question as to whether there should be representation by population or not.

Are we to continue to adhere to what has been called the rule of thumb, of weighing rural constituencies so they require fewer in the way of population than urban constituencies? From the very first time that redistribution was brought into this house there was an understanding, rightly or wrongly, in that regard. I am not discussing

Redistribution

that at this moment; I am simply suggesting that this should be a matter that should be discussed definitely and once and lor all by hon. members themselves; that we cannot leave a decision of that kind to any outside powers, no matter how impartial or nonpartisan they may be, whether it is fair and just and reasonable that large cities in two or three of the provinces shall have a large number of representatives as representing that province in this house, or whether they should take into consideration that smaller centres of population and the rural districts should be entitled to a heavier weighting in their favour when we come to make that redistribution. That is a matter we cannot ask any outside body, whoever they may be, to decide for us. We must face up to our responsibilities.

I am not here suggesting that we should adopt one system or the other. I am simply calling the attention of this house to the fact that we cannot have a fair redistribution that would be satisfactory to all until the representatives of the people of this country come to a decision on such matters as these.

There is the matter of whether or not, under certain circumstances, certain communities or collections of communities should be given representation, the Northwest Territories, for instance, and the Magdalen islands. Are there reasons-there may be, and I have no doubt they will be laid before the committee-why a very much smaller quota of population in these sections of the country would be entitled to be represented by one member than a very much larger proportion of the population would be, let us say, in the city of Toronto?

There are questions of homogeneity of population, based in some instances on the racial consideration. In the old days, at the beginning of our Canadian parliamentary institutions, our predecessors attached great importance to the representation of different racial groups of the population. For instance, it is well known to hon. members of this house that the British North America Act contains a provision that eleven counties in the province of Quebec-I stand subject to. correction; it may be nine-should have their boundaries frozen to the extent that they could not be changed by the legislature of the province of Quebec. This was in order to protect the Anglo-Protestant population of Quebec, or of Lower Canada as it was then called. I cannot remember the particular counties offhand, but they include Bedford, Missisquoi, Brome and Sherbrooke. The Minister of Finance (Mr. Abbott) will probably be able to tell us just how many there are, but the legislature of the province of

Quebec may not change the boundaries of those counties without obtaining the assent of the members of those constituencies.

That is no longer of any importance, because it is. within the knowledge of all that the Anglo-Protestant population of those counties has diminished to an almost infinitesimal proportion of the population and the need or the necessity or the requirement is no longer of any great importance to anybody. I believe that up to the present time when redistribution has taken place in connection with those sections of Quebec, the members representing those particular constituencies in the legislature were consulted.

Whether or not we in this house now desire to continue arrangements similar to that I cannot say. For instance, in the constituency which I have represented for many years the voting strength was kept very low in order to give representation to the Englishspeaking Catholics who were widely scattered between Montreal and Gaspe. This was done in an effort to give the English-speaking Catholics an opportunity to elect one of their number as a member of this house. That situation has long since disappeared. The total English-speaking population in the constituency which I represent would amount to hardly 20 per cent.

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   REQUEST FOR COMMITTEE ON ADJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION AND ELECTORAL DIVISIONS
Permalink
LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. Abbott:

On looking at the act I find that the correct figure is twelve counties.

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   REQUEST FOR COMMITTEE ON ADJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION AND ELECTORAL DIVISIONS
Permalink
LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. Power (Quebec South):

There are twelve counties in the province of Quebec the boundaries of which were frozen by the British North America Act. Then there is the question of homogeneity, if I may so call it, based on occupation. It is within the recollection of many hon. members that not so long ago a government took great credit to itself in an electoral campaign by saying it had carved out two seats in order to give representation to labour. If my recollection is correct, after the first election that representation of labour was usually by a lawyer.

These are matters which I think should be dealt with specifically by any committee which undertakes a study of this matter. There are localities and constituencies in this country which if divided along certain lines would provide a large proportion of the electorate who would vote occupationally along certain political lines. Then there are others where the population, being residential, could, if the theories expressed by Professor Lower on predetermination apply, be expected to vote along more conservative lines.

These are only some of the matters which must be settled or should be settled once

and for all however we proceed to bring about redistribution, even if we bring it back to this house by means of a committee. There is not much use in our proceeding with redistribution and then have an hon. member justify what may be an apparent injustice by saying that the population or the municipal boundaries are in his favour.

Old stories of municipal boundaries fill the pages 'of Hansard during debates on redistribution. It was supposed to be a Liberal principle that one must always respect the autonomy of municipal boundaries. Within the last 15 or 20 years I have seen little respect shown to that to which so much importance was attached many years ago.

For all these reasons I suggest that the proper time to give consideration to matters of this kind is now, and the proper body to give that consideration is a committee of this house. Personal interest would not be involved to any large extent at this time. I think a study of these questions would bring recommendations to this house which would enable us to decide at some time or other whether or not we should continue the practice which has been followed 'or whether we should venture on new ground.

Without hesitation I would say that no matter what we do we would not bring this parliament into worse odour than we do by following the system we have followed in past redistributions. I have heard it said that parliament is capable of great things, of carrying on its business with dignity, decorum, fairness and impartiality, but that when it comes to decisions with respect to redistribution it falls far short of that which the people of Canada expect from it. It seems to me we can now make a study of this matter coolly, calmly and with great deliberation, and thus do some good to ourselves and to the people of Canada. I commend such a study to this house.

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   REQUEST FOR COMMITTEE ON ADJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION AND ELECTORAL DIVISIONS
Permalink
PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Donald M. Fleming (Eglinton):

Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to hear a speech by the hon. member for Quebec South (Mr. Power). The regret of many of us is that he does not speak more frequently, for many of us regard him as the last liberal in the house-I mean with a small "1".

This debate is bound to call to mind the debates on redistribution in 1947 and 1952, and one must be ready to commend what the hon. member for Quebec South had to say in relation to the timing of his introduction of the present resolution.

How much better it is that this question should be considered in a calm frame of mind at a time when we are at least some

Redistribution

distance removed from the next general election, rather than in the atmosphere that prevailed in this house in 1952 when the government was gearing itself for the next general election. That fact was evident in their whole approach to the matter of redistribution at that time. Let us therefore welcome the opportunity of a calm, deliberate and, as far as may be, objective approach to this question.

What the hon. member has proposed is that a committee of this house should be set up to inquire into methods of bringing about the adjustment of representation and a plan for the division of the provinces of Canada into electoral districts in accordance with the provisions of section 51 of the British North America Act.

Mr. Speaker, if something of this kind is not undertaken we shall be faced, about the year 1962, with a repetition of what we experienced in this house in 1952. With great respect for this house and for all in it I say the type of approach to the problem that we found exhibited in 1952 in the committee on redistribution and in the house was not such as to reflect favourably upon the dignity of this house or upon the fairness which hon. members ought to demonstrate in approaching questions as momentous as that involved in redistribution in accordance with section 51 of the British North America Act.

Broadly speaking, two methods were put before the house at that time for consideration. The one that was proposed by the government was by a parliamentary committee, that parliamentary committee working through subcommittees organized largely on provincial lines-in the case of the maritimes there was one subcommittee for the three maritime provinces-and then largely behind closed doors working out, by what was in many cases majority decision, often ruthlessly applied, a plan for the redistribution of the ridings of this country. Then that committee report was pressed through this house to a majority decision after spirited debate and strong opposition.

That is one method, Mr. Speaker. We have had ample experience of that method in Canada and in this House of Commons. I do not think we have much more to learn about that method. Suffice it to say that the criticisms we in the official opposition levelled against that method at that time stand unchallenged. That method involves the exercise by the government majority of its power of carving up the ridings in this country to suit the partisan exigencies of the majority. That, Mr. Speaker, is an unfair use of the power of a majority in the House of Commons.

Redistribution

The other method that was put before the house at that time for consideration was proposed at all stages of the debate. It was put forward by the official opposition at the time the original resolution was introduced to set up the redistribution committee, and it was introduced again when the committee brought its report back to the house. That method was to refer the subject to a commission, as is done in the United Kingdom, Australia and other nations of the commonwealth, and have that commission then bring in a report to the house where the rights of no person are limited in relation to discussion thereof.

Surely, Mr. Speaker, such a method would at least guarantee that a commission would be proceeding in a different atmosphere and, I submit, with a rather different purpose from that which governed the deliberations that were reflected in the majority report that came before the house in 1952. Let us be quite realistic about reports of commissions. Speaking for myself, I may say that I do not believe in handing over to any royal commission my responsibilities as a member of this House of Commons. But, Mr. Speaker, on many occasions I am very glad indeed to have the advantage of a careful review by an independent and impartial commission of the facts of a situation before the house is called upon to take the responsibility of making a decision in relation to a principle.

In that method there is nothing that compromises any member, any parliamentary principle or the rule of responsibility. That method has been tried, as I mentioned a moment ago, in the United Kingdom. It is a method well established there. It has been tried in Australia. It is a method well established there. It has been tried and is well established in other self-governing nations of the commonwealth. Those nations have had experience with this method. They have not chosen to go back to the former method of parliamentary committees. It is therefore quite evident, Mr. Speaker, that so far as those countries are concerned they are well satisfied with the way in which the commission principle is working out.

In none of these cases is power given to the commission to decide, in the last analysis, what the boundaries of constituencies shall be. But power is given to the commission to review the whole problem and introduce its report. Then the parliament concerned is called upon to discharge its responsibility. So far as I am aware, in the light of the discussion of this matter at some length in 1952, there has not been much change made

by these parliaments in the reports submitted by these commissions as to the redistribution of constituencies in the country concerned.

This matter, Mr. Speaker, has a peculiar importance and significance for Canada because, with us, this is not a matter of an ordinary statute. With us this is related to the fundamental law of the land. It is related directly to the British North America Act. In 1946 and again in 1952 we had the experience in this house of having to deal with the British North America Act, to amend that act or to take such steps as were necessary to bring about the amendment of the act in order to make provision for the type of redistribution that was made.

That aspect of the matter is not necessarily integrally bound up with this question of the method by which redistribution is to be carried out. We had some discussion of amendments with that end in view in 1952. But, Mr. Speaker, let us have regard to the fact that unless we put this matter of redistribution on a sound basis and remove it as far as possible from the realm of partisanship, we are going to be faced with bitter debates in the future. We are going to be faced with debates that will have some reference to the British North America Act and that will call into question the dignity and responsibility of this House of Commons before the people of Canada.

I have only to recall some of the results that have flowed from the ruthless use by a majority of this house of their powers in this respect in order to condemn the method. In 1952 we had occasion to point to certain abuses; and if the method is not changed there is no reason to think that similar outrages will not be perpetrated in the future. If the method is not changed now, as proposed by the hon. member for Quebec South (Mr. Power), there will be a temptation to any government that is in office in 1962 to repeat the same sort of ruthless exercise of the power of a majority which we witnessed in 1952, and which resulted in consequences like these: The union of the riding of

Hastings-Peterborough with the riding of Frontenac, resulting in the creation of a riding in eastern Ontario that is a veritable empire of 49 townships, approximately 80 miles in length one way by 110 miles the other, with a population of 43,741. This was brought about by the union of ridings that were represented up to that time by two Conservative members, while right alongside it was the riding of Renfrew South, represented by a member of the cabinet, that was left at about half the size of this riding

immediately adjoining and with a population of just 31,439, according to the last census. Can anyone justify that?

That is a sample of what happens when the majority in the house ruthlessly uses its power to create results like that for party advantage. We saw a similar result-

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   REQUEST FOR COMMITTEE ON ADJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION AND ELECTORAL DIVISIONS
Permalink
LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Secretary of State of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

May I ask the hon. member a question?

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   REQUEST FOR COMMITTEE ON ADJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION AND ELECTORAL DIVISIONS
Permalink
PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

With pleasure.

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   REQUEST FOR COMMITTEE ON ADJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION AND ELECTORAL DIVISIONS
Permalink
LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Secretary of State of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

What about the union of the riding of Swift Current with the riding of Maple Creek? Would the hon. member like to compare the areas of those two with the two he has mentioned?

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   REQUEST FOR COMMITTEE ON ADJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION AND ELECTORAL DIVISIONS
Permalink
PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

I hope that after the hon.

member has been in the house a while longer he will learn to see things in proportion. We are talking about things that admit of comparison with one another. It is not a case of comparing ridings or populations in the province of Ontario with the huge ridings that exist in Saskatchewan. I will have something to say about the comparison of ridings in Saskatchewan, but I am talking about two ridings in the province of Ontario, the province in which the Secretary of State lives and has lived from time to time, ridings which are right beside one another, and where the party in power in 1952 used its majority to bring about the result I have described. Here you have the riding of Renfrew South with a population of 31,439, and alongside it a new riding created by the deliberate union of two ridings represented by Conservatives so as necessarily to eliminate one of them, and resulting in the creation of a riding of the dimensions I have described, twice as big as the riding of Renfrew South-

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   REQUEST FOR COMMITTEE ON ADJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION AND ELECTORAL DIVISIONS
Permalink

December 7, 1953