February 2, 1939 (18th Parliament, 4th Session)


James Earl Lawson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. J. EARL LAWSON (York South):

Mr. Speaker, in speaking the other night on the order before the house the hon. member for Brant (Mr. Wood) referred to the triplet of defeated candidates for the Conservative leadership who were sitting in support of the new leader of the official opposition. I desire to take this opportunity to assure the hon. member for Brant that he will find those triplets not merely sitting in support of the new leader of the official opposition, but loyally and actively supporting his cause, particularly because he has those very human qualities of friendship and understanding which endear him to all members of the National Conservative party which he has the honour to lead.
With respect to the leader of the opposition may I heartily endorse what has been said in the house by the other two of the triplets. I suggest to the hon. member for Brant that in his observations he missed something; he failed to observe that there were five candidates for the leadership of the National Conservative party. Now that the hon. member who has the honour to lead the party has been chosen, he is attracting to the National Conservative party more votes than the famous quintuplets are attracting tourists to Callander. If any further evidence were required as to the forward march of the National Conservative party I would quote

The Address-Mr. Lawson
from the writings in 1927 of a Liberal member of the house. The article was written on the eve of the Conservative convention held in Winnipeg in 1927. After the hon. member had outlined the causes as he saw them for the former defeat of the Conservative party, he then proceeded as follows:
Now, as I have outlined the causes of defeat of Toryism wherein lies the remedy? Soft words butter no parsnips. More people perish from fear of the scalpel than from septicaemia. The remedy must be heroic. Toryism cannot play both ends against the middle and win. The way to tolerance is the road to understanding. Wisdom must come to Toryism before the people think of giving it power. It should prove its fate by selecting as its leader one from the province of Quebec, a Canadian of French origin, and a Roman Catholic in religion.
Well, Mr. Speaker, the new leader of the National Conservative party has nearly all those qualifications. And who, do you think, was the hon. member of the house who uttered those prophetic words?-none other than the hon. member for North Huron (Mr. Deachman). So for once in my life I find myself in agreement with the hon. member in that the Conservative party is on the road to power following the next election.
I was indeed disappointed when I listened to the speech from the throne, because I fully anticipated that in view of the developments last year before the special committee of the house on radio, and in view of the public outcry there has been against the' administration of radio and the functioning of the bureaucracy of the broadcasting corporation, the government in the meantime would have devised and proposed some measure to deal with the situation.
By reason of temporary illness I was not present in the house when the discussion with respect to prohibiting Mr. McCuIlagh from expressing his views over the air with respect to national problems was at its height. On this occasion I have no intention of repeating any of the arguments so ably made on that occasion by other hon. members. I could not however but be impressed by the absurdity of the position taken by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the government in defence of the bureaucratic and undemocratic attitude in respect of the administration of radio. I for one will not allow the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) to create a false impression in the country through the resounding declaration he made in the house that the government proposes to give the people's representatives in parliament an opportunity to deal with the situation. In reply to some speeches which had been made the Prime Minister said a committee of the house would be set up to consider the subject matter, and he went on to say:
Every opportunity will be given hon. gentlemen opposite to name their members on that committee.
What a concession! Was there ever a time in the history of this supposedly democratic institution of parliament when the respective parties in the house were not given the opportunity of naming members who should represent them on any committee of the house? The Prime Minister went on further:
An opportunity will be given to the committee to call the general manager, the governors and any others connected with the corporation, and they may go very fully into all the rules and regulations which have been drawn up.
What a privilege is being granted by the Prime Minister! Think of the absurdity of setting up a committee of the house to inquire into the action of a government-created body, and to be allowed no evidence and no witnesses except those who compose the very body with respect to which the inquiry is being held. At least in the words of the declaration of the Prime Minister this session as spokesman for the government he has been more frank with hon. members and the people of the country than he was last session when a similar committee was set up. At least on this occasion by his words he lets us know in advance that the committee is to be a glorified whitewash brush for the purpose of whitewashing the administration of the radio corporation and the government. To accomplish that purpose last session it was necessary to rely upon his Liberal supporters in the house who were members of the radio committee to do the whitewashing job. I propose to take a few minutes to demonstrate what was done at the last session.
On February 7, 1938, it was ordered by the house that the select committee on radio broadcasting appointed to consider the annual report of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation be empowered to examine and inquire into all such matters and things as may be referred to them by the house, and to report from time to time their observations and opinions thereon, with power to send for persons, papers and records. I ask you to note the lack of limitation so far as the order of the house was concerned as to what persons, papers and records might be sent for. On the face of it the committee had wide power to send for persons, papers and records. Now let us see what happened.
The very first witness called before the committee was Mr. Brockington, K.C., chairman of the board of governors of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He proceeded in his evidence with a sticky laudation of the Minister of Transport (Mr. Howe) and of the present government, and then he pur-

The Address-Mr. Lawson

ported to read what he alleged to be an excerpt from the minutes of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, which excerpt declared, in part, the intention and the policy of the government with respect to radio.
After Mr. Brockington had finished his evidence I asked that the minutes of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation be filed with the committee and be available to its members. Who do you think was the first hon. member of this house to object to our having access to the minutes? The Minister of Transport himself. To permit a witness to read an excerpt from a document and not allow the inquiring tribunal to have access to that document is so offensive to every principle of British justice that I insisted that the committee be put on record in connection therewith, and so I moved, seconded by my colleague from Fraser Valley (Mr. Barber):
That the minutes of the meetings of the board of governors be filed by the governors with the clerk of the committee for the information of the members of the committee and be made available to members of the committee.
That motion was defeated by a vote of nine to two. Let me read to you, Mr. Speaker, the names of the hon. members of this house who voted against that motion and made it impossible for the committee to have access to the minutes of the broadcasting corporation. They were the hon. member for Ottawa West (Mr. Ahearn), a Liberal member supporting the government in this house; the hon. member for Laurier (Mr. Bertrand), a Liberal member supporting the government in this house; the hon. member for Chambly-Rouville (Mr. Dupuis), a Liberal member supporting the government in this house; the hon. member for Spadina, a riding in the city of Toronto (Mr. Factor), a Liberal member supporting the government in this house; the hon. member for Algoma West (Mr. Hamilton), a Liberal member supporting the government in this house; the hon. member for Port Arthur (Mr. Howe)-the hon. Minister of Transport, the responsible minister of the crown; the hon. member for Bow River (Mr. Johnston); the hon. member for Neepawa (Mr. MacKenzie), a Liberal member supporting the government in this house; and last but not least the hon. member for Cariboo (Mr. Turgeon), officially the assistant whip of the Liberal party in the House of Commons.
Those who voted in favour of the motion were my colleague, the hon. member for Fraser Valley (Mr. Barber), a Conservative member, and I.

Again I call attention to the fact that the order of this house gave power to the committee to send for papers and records.

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