June 4, 1956

CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. M. J. Coldwell (Roselown-Biggar):

Mr. Speaker, I think all of us today assembled in this chamber realize the serious situation with which this house and the members of this house are confronted. I join with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Drew) in saying that, in my opinion, the introduction of this motion is something of a tragedy. I remember very well what took place about a year ago when a group of members of parliament in my office were discussing parliament and what had transpired. Among other things, we came to the conclusion that the time had arrived when this house might choose a Speaker who would preside over the house not for one parliament but for a number of years; and each and every one of us-may I say we were not of the language of the present Speaker of the house-were of the opinion that the present occupant of the chair at the end of this parliament should be offered that position on a longterm basis. I therefore say that what has happened at this session-and particularly what happened during the present debate-is indeed a tragic circumstance.

Quite early in the debate, Mr. Speaker-as no doubt you knew from a casual remark I made in the house-I thought that some of your rulings were partisan, and I so expressed myself to some of my friends on both sides of the house. As the days went by I felt that instead of there being protection of the rights of the minority, the majority opinion-that is government opinion-must of necessity prevail. I was saddened by that thought but then, as the time passed and various other rulings occurred and members who rose on this side of the house were denied the right,

now and then, which I thought was legitimately theirs to express their opinions on points of orders, that feeling turned more or less to anger.

I join with the Leader of the Opposition in saying that I am sure all of us regret the scene in this house last Friday afternoon. The bells were ringing even after some of us had risen to try to get a word in on a point of privilege which we felt was justifiable at the time. Members were called in to vote, I thought, without being given the opportunity to express themselves on a point of order or a question of privilege that I believe was really valid. I felt that the division had been hurried along in order, once again, to prevent those expressions of opinion that should have been heard by the Chair.

The Leader of the Opposition has, I think, fairly well expressed the view of those of us who felt that way. I think he has dealt with this problem. I have often disagreed with the Leader of the Opposition and probably on occasions shall do so again; but this afternoon I thought that the manner in which he dealt with this situation was a credit to him. He dealt with it in a statesmanlike and dignified manner and I hope that the example he set will be followed by all of us. He dealt with the events of Thursday evening and of Friday. I want to say just a word about that matter because I think that was the crucial point at which the opposition was really aroused. On Friday morning, as reported at page 4540 of Hansard, the Speaker said this:

. . . yesterday around 5.15, when I was called back to the chair for the purpose of receiving the chairman's report. I made a very serious mistake in allowing the point of order and the other dilatory motions; . . .

He then goes on to speak of the rights of the majority, with which I have no quarrel as long as the rights of the minority are safeguarded. Then he went on to say this:

I intend at the moment to submit to the house that, in my view, the house should revert to the position where it was yesterday when I was brought back to the chair to receive the chairman's report at 5.15. I submit to the house that the intervening proceedings should not be superseded, and it is up to the house to decide as to the situation which I take at the moment.

As has already been said, Mr. Speaker, this was a most unprecedented request to the house. Indeed it so surprised me that, as reported on the same page, I called out as loudly as I could, "What are you doing, Mr. Speaker?" I did so because I felt that what was being done was something that was going to stifle parliament in the future, change our procedure in the future, and make it possible on some other occasion for a Speaker to rise in his place and say that

the business which had been done heretofore should be wiped out. I thought that was a most unheard-of procedure.

Then later on the Speaker spoke of placing a proposition before the house. There was, of course, one way in which the Speaker could have got his views before the house, and that way has already been indicated. He could have got some member of the house to move an appropriate motion or to give notice of an appropriate motion. That was the proper procedure to follow if it was desired to make a change in what had already been done.

I am not going to speak very long because, as I have indicated, I do not think that any of us like the position in which we find ourselves. We do not like the breaches in those personal friendships that have been established over the years in this house. Some of us do not like the feeling that we have perhaps lost respect for one another. In this connection I should like to feel that we could go back to the position in which we found ourselves three weeks ago and wipe the slate clean. But that cannot be done. We must face up to this situation. There is no doubt, Mr. Speaker,-as the Leader of the Opposition has said-that no matter what we may do or say for the balance of this parliament, the Speaker has not the confidence of the entire house, something which is so necessary to conducting the business of this house. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that, under these circumstances, there is only one way out. Regardless of our individual fortunes in an election period or of our party fortunes, I think that way out should be undertaken. It is the only way. I think that way should be taken in order that a new House of Commons might assemble in a few months' time; in order that that new House of Commons could come here with a new and fresh feeling; and in order that we might once more in this house establish the kind of atmosphere which has prevailed during most of the 21 years that I have been in this House of Commons.

I may say, Mr. Speaker, that this perhaps is unprecedented in our parliament. Of course, Mr. Gladstone refers to some of the turmoil in the British House of Commons, where events similar to those of last Friday have not been unknown even in the past half century and less. But it is today a great misfortune that we have to face the situation with which we are confronted. As the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Drew) has said, and let none of us deny it, some responsibility rests on all of us.

The other afternoon I rose to speak and the shouting and so on from those on the 67509-295

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other side was certainly enough to make one feel rather angry. I wish that I had suggested what I think might have been a way out at that time. In view of the tempers of hon. members of the house, the sittings might have been suspended while we cooled off a bit. But that was not done. So, we support the motion of the Leader of the Opposition. I suppose that it will be a vote directly along party lines. That seems to be indicated, and that is unfortunate. I know the feeling of my own friends. The Leader of the Opposition has indicated the feeling of his friends, and there is no doubt that there is no way out other than for the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) to dissolve this house and go to the country so that a new parliament, with all this sort of thing wiped out, may be assembled within the next few months.

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SC

Victor Quelch

Social Credit

Mr. Victor Quelch (Acadia):

I have listened with attention to the two previous speakers, and I agree with the leader of the C.C.F. party that the present situation is an unfortunate one. Let me say right at the start that I do not like the motion that is before the house. The suggestion that the government should resign as a solution is, of course, a suggestion that the government should surrender to the minority.

I listened to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Drew) and it seemed to me that his main weapon was that of exaggeration. It is true that he was able to keep himself fairly well controlled, mainly no doubt because there were no interruptions. He referred at length to what transpired in this house on May 31 and June 1. I would say that what transpired on Thursday and Friday cannot be judged by those days alone. It was the culmination of days of lawlessness in this house; shouting and defiance of the Speaker. I am not surprised that the Leader of the Opposition would say he would like to forget those days. It is not easy to forget what transpired in this house during that time. There was the phony display put on by the hon. member for Eglinton (Mr. Fleming) and action taken to deliberately force this house to expel him. We will not forget that. Hon. members can groan, but they should have been groaning at that time and not now.

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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

I rise on a question of privilege, Mr. Speaker.

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LIB

Louis-René Beaudoin (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Order. The hon. member for Eglinton rises on a question of privilege.

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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

The hon. member for Acadia (Mr. Quelch), Mr. Speaker, has just made two remarks which are a grave offence against privilege and a falsification of fact. He has referred to a "phony display" and has also

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said that there was, on the part of the hon. member for Eglinton, an attempt to bring about a certain course of action that the house took. Mr. Speaker, there is not a measure of truth in one word, one syllable, one letter of what the hon. member said or what was said in my absence on Friday night by the hon. member for Iles-de-la-Madeleine (Mr. Cannon).

You know, and most members of this house know deep down in their hearts, that no member of this house was more surprised than I that the government took the partisan and vindictive course it did. The hon. member for Iles-de-la-Madeleine said, speaking on Friday night, that I had defied the Speaker. There was no defiance of the Speaker. He said also that the action on my suspension was the action of the chairman. It was nothing of the kind. My suspension was due to one thing and one thing alone, a government motion introduced by the Minister of Finance (Mr. Harris), the government leader. The first vote cast to suspend the hon. member for Eglinton was cast by the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent). There was nothing premeditated. No one was more surprised than I.

The immediate situation that brought this about, as hon. members will remember, was one in which the Deputy Speaker of this house had said, while he was standing on his feet, he would not hear me on either a point of order or a question of privilege. He did hear the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) and he did say, at the very same time and under exactly the same circumstances, that he would hear my colleague the hon. member for Greenwood (Mr. Macdonnell), but he would not hear me. That was the situation, and that was the fact. Any member, whether in this house or outside, who says I sought to provoke this suspension, had any idea that it would be made or made a show here for the purposes of publicity commits the most vile kind of falsehood. Let there be no mistake about that.

I just make one further observation. It has been said outside the house by the hon. member for Timiskaming (Mrs. Shipley) that there was something very strange about the appearance of the flag. I want to say this. When I took my departure from the house that day following the passing of this partisan and vindictive motion, I did not know there was any flag going to be put on my desk.

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?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh.

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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

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CCF

Angus MacInnis

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

Mr. Maclnnis:

Mr. Speaker, I do not like to stop anyone talking on a question of privilege or any other question, but it seems to me that if there was a question of privilege to begin with it disappeared long, long ago.

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SC

Victor Quelch

Social Credit

Mr. Quelch:

Mr. Speaker, so far as the point the hon. member has raised is concerned, I will just say this. I will allow those hon. members who sat in this house at that time to decide whether or not the statement I made was correct. We had the display put on from time to time by the hon. member for Kamloops (Mr. Fulton). I could not help thinking at the time that probably the hon. member had taken so much time in reading crime comics he had absorbed the mentality of a juvenile delinquent.

The Speaker of this house is the unfortunate victim of circumstances that were not of his making. I think that this is something we must keep in mind at all times. He was not responsible for the situation that developed in this house during the past few days. I think most of us will agree, and the Leader of the Opposition has already stated it, that he had earned a fine reputation for impartiality and for fairness. I would say that he invariably leaned over backwards in order to meet the requests of the opposition, and it was probably that very action that got him into trouble in this debate. It is a very fine way to act in normal times but you cannot act that way in times of lawlessness because those who are committing those acts will take advantage of that type of leniency.

Let me go back to May 9 when this matter first came up. The opposition has blamed closure for their obstruction but of course that is not true. It started several days before the motion for closure was moved; that is, when the notice of motion first appeared in Votes and Proceedings on May 9 it started and it continued on May 10, a long procedural wrangle with four divisions, and then resumed again on May 14 when two more divisions and more wrangling took place. Finally, when the Minister of Trade and Commerce spoke, he moved closure, no doubt because the government realized that so long as the opposition was going to

continue that type of wrangling and obstruction there would have been no hope of ever getting that bill through without closure.

Again I stress the fact obstruction started first and closure followed. The opposition then became angry as a result of closure being moved, but unfortunately instead of fighting the government or the measure they should have fought they vented their spleen and their spite upon the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker and the chairman, and in my opinion that was a cowardly procedure to follow.

Since then they have tried to dictate to parliament. They have tried as a minority to tell the majority how the affairs of this house should be conducted. We have seen in other countries what happened when a minority is allowed to dictate to the majority. We saw that when Hitler was borne to power, then Mussolini was borne to power, and we have seen it in Russia, and we do not want that kind of thing to happen in this country. You cannot appease that type of mentality. Every time you appease that type of mentality they want more concessions.

Instead of debating the legislation before us the opposition staged a number of attacks against the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker and the chairman. It has been said by those on my right that we in the Social Credit group have nothing to talk about in relation to this matter because we filibustered the Bretton Woods agreement and on the rivers bill; but let me point out that there is a great difference between the filibuster we staged and the one we have witnessed in this house during the past two or three weeks. When we opposed the Bretton Woods agreement and the rivers bill we attacked the legislation. We did not at any time enter into a procedural wrangle and we never defied the chairman or the Speaker.

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?

An hon. Member:

Nor did we enter into the debate by insult.

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SC

Victor Quelch

Social Credit

Mr. Quelch:

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ihajority from having an opportunity to manifest its will in accordance with our constitutional principles.

This has not failed to be obvious to persons outside the house. I have here a clipping from the Montreal Star-not an unimportant newspaper in this country. It is from its edition of May 30 and is headed "The Speaker's Dilemma". It reads in part as follows:

The Speaker's first duty is to keep the business of the House of Commons moving smoothly. When the opposition embarks upon a planned campaign of obstruction, it is obvious that the Speaker (or, in committee of the whole, the chairman) will become a target of attack-

Not because of the qualities of the Speaker or the chairman but because of the fact that there is a contentious measure that is being opposed by all means that can be devised under the rules of the house to bring about delay and to waste time.

' The editorial continues:

Every restriction on debate, from the sharp weapon of closure down to the hour-by-hour * rulings of its presiding officers, is challenged in extreme terms-so extreme indeed that they arouse laughter and contempt among the thinking public which is not so dumb as to believe that free discussion is being slaughtered.

I think the concluding paragraph should .-also be put on the record. It reads:

As to Mr. Beaudoin's present unhappy position, a study of recent Hansards reveals an extraordinary patience and courtesy in dealing with a series of heated situations. He has proved himself to be a good Speaker. When the present row is over, and tempers have cooled off, it would not be surprising to hear compliments about his conduct from the opposition benches.

What is it that has brought about the unfortunate situation in which we find ourselves at this moment? On Thursday I made *a motion to apply closure based upon a 1932 precedent. A point of order was raised by the hon. member for Kamloops (Mr. Fulton). That was one point of order in this whole long series to which I took no exception whatsoever. I did think that when the .government was resorting to a procedure so rarely used as standing order 33 has been, and when there were two precedents which might be applied, it was a quite proper question to raise as to which was the really valid precedent. I am sure that all hon. members on both sides of the house will admit that we on this side listened with great respect to the arguments presented from the other side of the house. I attempted to present an argument in support of the precedent we were invoking. In due course, and not until every hon. member who desired to speak on the point of order had had an opportunity to be heard, did the chairman make his ruling. That ruling was immediately appealed 'toy the hon. member for Winnipeg North

Centre (Mr. Knowles) and the appeal was reported to Your Honour.

It was at this point, if, with respect, I may use the words you used, that a mistake was made-you used those words the following morning-but nowhere in the use or application of those words was there any suggestion to declare as a nullity what had taken place from the time you referred to as being the moment when you made the mistake of not enforcing the usual practice that you were back in the chair merely for the purpose of receiving a report from the chairman of the committee, and putting the appeal which had been made on the question contained in the report to the house for its decision. You did commence to put that question. You had previously ruled on numerous occasions that when such an appeal came before you through the report of a chairman there was nothing else before the house and that that report had to be put to a vote.

The hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre (Mr. Churchill) rose and raised a point upon what appeared to me and what appeared to many to be an academic question. You allowed him to proceed and he did proceed at considerable length. After he had submitted his point and when you were on the point of making your ruling, it was suggested to you that you should not complete your ruling until after six o'clock. We all know what took place after the dinner recess. We know that there were then various proceedings which were obviously undertaken for the purpose of taking up time and preventing the report from the chairman of the committee being submitted to the house and the house getting back into committee.

In the course of the discussion Your Honour indicated to the house that the point raised by the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre was merely an academic point and there was nothing on which to rule. Your Honour then proceeded to put the question on the appeal of the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre, the question which was before the house, the only question which could be before the house at that particular time. Your Honour had actually called the yeas and, according to Hansard, you were about to call the nays when the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre, although Your Honour was on your feet, rose in an insistent manner and demanded an appeal from a ruling Your Honour had not made. The appeal was granted and Your Honour's opinion was sustained on the appeal.

At this point the hon. member for Quebec West (Mr. Dufresne), although a motion to adjourn the house had previously been disposed of and had taken, as these proceedings do take in our house, about three-quarters of

an hour, renewed a motion for the adjournment of the house. That motion was put and decided and according to page 4528 of Hansard Your Honour then rose and said the following words:

The question is now, shall we-

At that point the hon. member for Nanaimo (Mr. Cameron) rose and raised what you have since declared to be an improper question of privilege and which I am informed the hon. gentleman himself was astonished to find was taken seriously. On this the hon. member founded a motion which Your Honour put to the house. At that point the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Drew) rose to speak and after he had proceeded briefly he asked this question:

Do I gather that some members opposite do not think the rules were properly applied?

That was the first opportunity that any member of the government had had to raise a point of order. The Minister of Finance (Mr. Harris) raised again the point of order which he had raised at six o'clock and once more drew Your Honour's attention to the fact that no intervening business could occur, and that the only purpose of Your Honour being in the chair was to put the appeal of the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre which had been reported to the house at 5.15. The remarks made at that moment by the Minister of Finance will be found at page 4531. When the hon. Leader of the Opposition said this afternoon that there had been no objection to the course which was being followed he evidently overlooked this paragraph in the second column of page 4531, which reads:

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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Finance and Receiver General; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Hon. W. E. Harris (Minister of Finance):

Mr. Speaker. I do raise a point of order now that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Drew) has made that inquiry. As I recall the situation, a short while ago Your Honour ruled that you must put the question which was submitted to you from the committee of the whole. From that ruling there was an appeal to the house and the house upheld your decision. That being the case I suggest to Your Honour that no intervening proceeding can occur, because you had in effect said that the interpretation of the rule was that you must then put the motion. If that is so then I suggest that nothing can happen until-

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PC

William Earl Rowe

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Rowe:

You have thrown the rules away.

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LIB

Louis-René Beaudoin (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

The matter raised by the hon. member for Nanaimo (Mr. Cameron) is one of privilege and is one that is very serious. I had not seen the letter entitled "They Will Pay" but I had read the letter written by Mr. Eugene Forsey, in which he discusses instances in which I was myself involved. It would seem to me, however, that in a matter of this kind the thing to do, after having placed ourselves in a position where we can deal with the matter, especially since I am concerned. is to postpone the consideration of that motion.

Normally when a member brings to the attention of the house an article which concerns privilege and in which someone in the house is involved, after he has made his motion it is up to the other member

House of Commons

involved to be heard. If hon. members care to debate this matter before I myself am heard on the subject, I am not going to object; I am just going to let them go right ahead, but at one stage of the proceedings I want to say that I will have to be heard.

There was no decision made upon the point of order or the motion. The motion was before you, and on that and on another occasion you had suggested that the matter should not be further considered but should be adjourned. As recorded at the foot of the second column of page 4532, this is what you said, sir:

As regards the article by Mr. Eugene Forsey, in which he writes under the title "About Closure, the Speaker, and Rights of Parliament", there may be more paragraphs there which are incriminatory, but certainly not the whole of the article. This is a matter on which perhaps I might give a ruling on a future occasion, but at this moment I would ask hon. members to consider that there is a very serious matter before this house, perhaps much more serious than one foresees at this moment in the midst of other proceedings. I repeat the suggestion I made earlier, that this matter for the moment be adjourned.

Your suggestion was not accepted, and the Leader of the Opposition said:

Mr. Speaker, with deference, I do not believe this should be adjourned.

He went on to discuss the matter until we reached the hour of ten o'clock. You had already made it quite clear that you felt you might have to make a ruling upon the question at some time. On the following morning, when the matter was called, you did give the ruling that was cited in the Votes and Proceedings of June 1 by the Leader of the Opposition. I shall not read it again. You stated at that time that you were sufficiently informed and did not need to hear any further discussion on the point of order, or the matter as to whether or not this was a proper motion relating to privilege.

Sir, it has always been my understanding that points of order were not matters for debate. Points of order were matters to be decided by the Speaker, about which any remarks that were made by hon. members were not remarks in the form of a debate but remarks designed to inform the Speaker, to call his attention to certain other precedents or to what should, in their view, be the manner in which the point of order should be decided.

These rules in their application, sir, are made to protect the rights of parliament in the psychological atmosphere where the business of parliament is being carried out. They are not rules designed to furnish weapons to delay the passage of the regular business of the house. If it were to be decided that when a point of order is raised it is a subject that is open to debate for every hon.

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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

Why not give them a chance?

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. St. Laurent (Quebec East):

This situation will appear to many, in spite of the elevated tone of the addresses made in the house this afternoon by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Drew) and by the leader of the C.C.F. party, as being one more attempt to prevent the majority in parliament from reaching a point where it would be entitled to vote upon the propriety or otherwise of this controversial measure.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Mr. Speaker, I must intervene on a question of privilege. I think it is a most improper suggestion that a matter

House of Commons

brought forward in this way should in any way be suggested as a means of delaying debate in the pipe-line proceedings.

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Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh!

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LIB

Louis-René Beaudoin (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Order.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

I repudiate any suggestion of that kind and greatly regret that the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) would have thought of making such a suggestion.

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June 4, 1956