March 26, 1941 (19th Parliament, 2nd Session)


William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)



I feel I ought to say a word or two about the questions which the hon. member for Broadview (Mr. Church) has asked, and in that connection point out to him and to hon. members of the house that in considering both the placing of questions on the order paper and the replies to be made thereto, it is desirable that we should all have in mind the effect which the questions when asked and when answered may have upon the situation with which the entire British empire is faced at the present time. It is important that we keep in mind particularly the position of the United Kingdom and the government as well as that of our own country in dealing with matters which affect not one part of the empire only, but all parts. If any useful purpose can be served by asking and answering questions, if we can achieve a purpose which will assist the war effort of the British commonwealth, then I think questions might well be asked and should be answered. But if a question is of a character to provoke discussion and is in no way calculated to aid in meeting an existing situation and one which may be very embarrassing, with all due respect I submit that any such question should neither be asked nor answered.
There are one or two questions asked by my hon. friend which I can answer. He asks: "Has Canada a foreign minister or envoy to the Eire republic in Dublin?" I would reply that Canada has no foreign minister in Dublin. There is the office of high commissioner which unhappily, due to the death of the late Mr. John Hall Kelly, is vacant at the present time. At present the acting high commissioner is Mr. E. J. Garland, a former member of this House of Commons. My hon. friend following his first question asks: "If so, who is the acting head, what is his staff, what duties do they perform and what are their respective salaries and other allowances?" I have already given him the name of the acting head. The staff is a small one. It consists of one stenographer, Miss E. O'Malley, grade 3, who receives a salary of $1,560 and an allowance of $250 per annum, and Mr. Chambers, messenger, who receives $465.
I shall have to bring the next question to the attention of the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. MacKinnon). My hon. friend asks: "What trade commissioners or other Canadian officials are in Eire, where are they located, at what cost, and is there duplication of services?" Perhaps this question may be allowed to stand on the order paper to be answered later by my colleague. The hon. member's next question is: "Has the government made any representations to Eire as to the loss of Canadian shipping off Eire ports
by enemy action, resulting from the refusal of Eire of the use of her ports for defence purposes?" To begin with, this question is out of order because it carries with it an implication. It is asked not so much for the purpose of getting information as for the purpose of purporting to give information, which may and probably is wholly incorrect.
The next question asked is: "Has Canada made representations to Eire or to the government of Britain requesting the use of Irish ports and bases as a protection to Canadian and empire shipping against enemy submarines and air bombers?" And next: "Have empire ships been sunk, and Canadian and British seamen drowned as a result of the lack of protection by the use of Irish ports?" What I said a moment ago about a previous question would apply also to these. Then my hon. friend asks: "What has the government done in the matter, or what action will be taken?"
I submit, Mr. Speaker, that to give any replies to these questions, either in the affirmative or in the negative, would serve only to provoke discussion which might prove unfortunate to the relations between Canada and Ireland or create complications as between the United Kingdom and Ireland. I would not wish it to be assumed that the matters which are referred to have not been the subject of careful consideration by representatives of Ireland and our own government. On the other hand, I have no desire to answer questions which might quite unnecessarily occasion further questions or occasion embarrassment in other parts of the empire, with respect to a controversial matter. I think the whole matter is perhaps best left in that position. I am sure that my hon. friend, who is the most loyal of men, will appreciate that it is only because of reasons of great loyalty to the crown that I take the position I do.

Subtopic:   SYDNEY, N.S., AIRPORT
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