Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)
Mr. Erharl Regier (Burnaby-Coquillam):
Subtopic: REPORTED STATEMENT BY MINISTER
Sub-subtopic: MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 26
Mr. Erharl Regier (Burnaby-Coquillam):
Order. The hon. member may rise on a matter of privilege, if there is one involved, or he may rise to assist the Chair in determining whether it is a definite matter of urgent public importance.
Mr. Speaker, I think it is both a matter of privilege and a matter of assisting you in determining the matter of urgent public importance. The two of them work together, as it happens, in this particular case.
I will hear the hon. member on the matter of privilege first, if there is one.
On Saturday night, Mr. Speaker, I attended a mess dinner at H.M.C.S. Carleton at which I made a few brief remarks. The writer of the article to which the hon. member refers was not present at this dinner, nor were any other reporters present. I think the writer of the article has come to some conclusions and made some assertions here which are completely unwarranted by anything I said at this mess dinner.
From reading this article one would think I had devoted myself chiefly to discussion of nuclear arms and nuclear armaments. As a matter of fact I did not mention the matter of nuclear armaments at all, and I did not have them in mind at all. Therefore the assertions which are made in this article on that score, and the assertion that I was inviting reserve officers to dip their feet in politics are without any warrant or any background whatever. It was the last thing in my mind and, I am sure, in the minds of any of the officers who were present at this dinner. In view of these circumstances, Mr. Speaker-
The substance of the matter of privilege which the minister raises is that the alleged episode has been misreported, as I understand it. Am I to understand from him that the reports on which this motion is based are not in accordance with the facts?
Yes, Mr. Speaker.
May I, Mr. Speaker, make an observation on the question of privilege raised by the minister? I believe you will note that the minister has not denied that he has invited the armed services to participate in a campaign against ban the bomb movements in Canada. The minister carefully avoided a denial of that fact.
In connection with this point, Mr. Speaker, may I say that what I did in this speech was to state-and I am prepared to state it again now-that there is a considerable amount of propaganda of a neutralist and pacifist type; and by "pacifist" I mean in favour of unilateral disarmament and so forth. A considerable number of people who are putting forward that propaganda are taking part in ban the bomb movements, putting advertisements in newspapers, engaging in marches, and things along that line. In my opinion their purpose in doing this is to undermine the will of the Canadian people to resist aggression and to weaken Canadian defence efforts.
Order. I think if I allowed the minister to go further we would in effect be debating the matter for which the hon. member seeks to move the adjournment of the house. The minister has raised, as a matter of privilege, the accuracy of the report. It remains for me to consider whether this request for leave to move the adjournment of the house under standing order 26 comes with the rule.
There are two difficulties that seem to me to stand in the way of the hon. member's request. Standing order 26, subparagraph 1 reads as follows:
Leave to make a motion for the adjournment of the house when made for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance must be asked after starred questions on Wednesdays and on other days after the ordinary daily routine of business-
I have very serious doubts whether this is a definite matter of urgent public importance. The request is based on some remarks alleged to have been made by the minister during a speech at a private dinner, and not in the exercise of any administrative function of the minister. Standing order 26 has been invoked only to deal with administrative responsibility and acts of the government. Therefore I think that on those two grounds this motion is scarcely within standing order 26. I do not find here a definite matter of urgent public importance. A remark made in the course of a speech at a private dinner seems to me not the kind of urgent matter for which this rule was devised so as to permit the house to interrupt all other proceedings for the purpose of considering that definite matter of urgent public importance. The other question is whether the matter alleged is an administrative responsibility or act.
Having said that much, there is another difficulty. We are today embarked upon a supply motion which is governed by standing order 56, which calls upon the house to vote in the course of this debate at 8.15 o'clock
this evening. If I permitted this proposed debate to go on, how could this house comply with standing order 56, which calls for a vote on this motion at 8.15 p.m., if the debate on the motion to adjourn the house were still continuing? It seems to me there is a conflict here of procedure. It is perhaps unnecessary to resolve it, because on other grounds already stated, I do not think this request for leave to move the adjournment of the house can be granted.
There are these difficulties. The two rules, standing as they do, would prevent standing order 26 being used in the course of debate on a supply motion. If the hon. member who made the request wishes to be heard on the two points on which I find against him, I will be glad to hear him. Otherwise I do not find the rule has been satisfied.
On the orders of the day:
Hon. Lionel Chevrier (Laurier):
Mr. Speaker, may I direct a question to the Minister of Transport, and ask whether the minister gave directions to Sky-Caps Incorporated at Dorval airport to stop handling passengers' luggage; and is it a fact that this cannot be done without the minister's permission, in accordance with the so-called order in council dealing with the matter?
Hon. Leon Balcer (Minister of Transport):
For a number of years prior to the opening of the new terminal building in Montreal in December last, porter service was provided under an arrangement made between T.C.A., on its own behalf and on behalf of certain other air lines, and Murray Hill Limousine Service Limited. Payments were made by the air lines concerned to Murray Hill Limousine Service Limited in consideration of which the latter maintained a porter service for the general public with particular regard to the requirements of the air lines.
Some time prior to the move to the new terminal building, discussions were entered into between T.C.A. and Murray Hill, on behalf of T.C.A. and the other air lines concerned, with respect to the provision of an enlarged porter service at the new terminal. In view of the substantial increase in the number of porters and the consequential increase in the cost of providing the service, alternative means of paying for the service were discussed, and an arrangement was made between the air lines concerned and Murray Hill for the adoption of a new system under which baggage checks would be issued to members of the public and a modest charge made for the service. I am informed that this 90205-6-100
Inquiries of the Ministry is similar to systems used elsewhere, and particularly in the New York area in respect of porter services at railway and bus stations and, I believe, New York international airport, which have proved to be very satisfactory. One particular advantage is that it minimizes the possibility of lost baggage and facilitates its recovery if mislaid.
In or about November last, as a result of differences which had arisen between Murray Hill and the porters, the services of the porters were terminated and a new group of porters was hired by Murray Hill. At the same time a couple of other groups started operating their own porter services and proceeded to offer their services to members of the public using the airport. This led to confusion and a deterioration of the service. It proved very unsatisfactory, and something had to be done to restore order on the premises of the new airport.
My officials had always assumed that the department had adequate authority to control activities at airports, but in view of the serious aspects of this situation they sought the advice of the Department of Justice, and as a result new regulations entitled "Government airport concession operations regulations" were drafted and approved by the governor in council and promulgated in the Canada Gazette on January 11, 1961. These regulations prohibit the carrying on of any business, including the provision of services, on government airports without the authority of the minister, and provide penalties for infractions.
These new regulations are now in force and Murray Hill has been authorized, in accordance with their provisions, to operate the porter service in accordance with the original plan and in accordance with their contract with the air lines, and they were authorized to start this new arrangement commencing February 1, 1961. The unauthorized porters have been served with copies of the regulations and notified that they will not be allowed to operate, commencing tomorrow, February 1.
Murray Hill has stated that it will employ both coloured and white porters and will reemploy any previously employed porters whose work had been satisfactory.
Under the new arrangement Murray Hill will provide a complete service designed to meet the requirements of both the general public and the air lines. The porters will be paid the minimum wage, which I understand in this case would amount to about $35 a week, together with 10 cents on every 25 cent baggage ticket issued, in addition to any tips they might receive. A locker room has been provided by Murray Hill for the porters; telephones have been installed at key points
Inquiries of the Ministry to ensure more effective control, and there will be adequate and competent supervision on a 24-hour basis.
The new arrangement has been authorized on a trial basis for a period of six months. At the end of that time a full report of the operation will be reviewed by departmental officials.
A supplementary question. Is the minister aware of the judgment of the superior court of the province of Quebec authorizing Sky-Caps Incorporated to do this carrying of luggage in competition with any other groups? Has he given any consideration to the fact that the order in council is opposed to the judgment of the superior court of the province?
Mr. Speaker, these matters have been studied very carefully by the legal officers of my department. Of course we do not want to interfere with the ordinary legal rights of the parties in this dispute. The only thing we are doing at the present time is to give effect to an arrangement which has been made between the air lines, the T.C.A. on their own behalf and on behalf of the other air lines, so that a decent service can be given to the public.
As far as the labour problems between Murray Hill and the former sky-caps are concerned, this is a matter for the two parties to fight out between themselves. As far as the department is concerned we could not allow different people to run their own private porter services nor could we allow any individual to walk on the premises of the department and start carrying baggage without proper liability insurance and without proper protection for the public.
What happens to the rights of those people which have been guaranteed by the judgment of the superior court, and which are now taken away by order in council.
Order. Put it on the