Right Hon. J. G. Diefenbaker (Prime Minister):
From time immemorial it has been a convention in accordance with British parliamentary tradition that no one is permitted within the precincts of the House of Commons except the members, the reason being, as Your Honour knows, that in the days of Charles I and prior thereto, if there was anyone of distinction or power present in the gallery the freedom of members of parliament to speak was, to say the least, circumscribed if not denied. That tradition survives today in the fiction that there is no one present at any time in the galleries of the House of Commons.
Nevertheless, these fears of intimidation on this occasion, however distinguished the delegation, do not prevent me-and I hope the house will not deny me-the privilege and opportunity of welcoming the members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives who are in this city meeting with the parliamentary representatives of Canada. The agenda is an important one dealing with such matters as foreign affairs, defence, and economic problems which activate each of our nations. The relationship between our countries, long one of the closest in the world, is represented officially by such organizations as the international joint commission and the permanent joint board on defence and, on the cabinet level by the committee on joint defence and the committee on trade and economic questions.
These members of the United States congress who are with us today bring to us the strength, the vigour and the knowledge of the co-operation which prevails between our two countries. I for one, many years ago, advocated in this chamber the need of bringing together representatives of the United States and Canada, and I was joined in that opinion by the hon. member for
Laurier. In the intervening years those meetings were not achieved, except through the parliamentary group of the commonwealth parliamentary association, until 1958. Since then there have been these exchanges between parliamentarians of our countries which mean so much to each of us, joined together not only geographically but in the mind and soul for the maintenance and preservation of freedom.
Our interdependence cannot be achieved without mutual awareness. There will be problems. There have been problems. We solve them through the instrumentality of discussion and agreement. The removal of misunderstandings is a continuing task with us. We do this in the broad and harmonious perspective of understanding. Unofficial though this organization is, it has already contributed much to understanding between oui countries and the solution of problems which have risen, and I know that that function will continue in the years ahead.
It is therefore my privilege as Prime Minister, through you, sir, to extend to Senatoi Aiken as chairman of the visiting group o: senators and congressmen the thanks of the Canadian parliament for their visit with us, coupled with the warmest welcome that we can accord to those with whom we are united in sentiment and dedication.