July 6, 1955 (22nd Parliament, 2nd Session)


James Horace King


Mr. Mackenzie King:

Yes, that they had been described. Let us drop the word "euphoniously" altogether and view in a clear and direct manner the simple fact that the government is asking this parliament to give it a blank cheque to deal with unemployment relief in such a manner as it may think wise.

And again at page 4288 Mr. Mackenzie King said:
Now, may I say this to him? So far as the opposition is concerned, we will be prepared to allow him to make any estimate he likes, so long as it is an estimate based on good judgment, and we will not question that estimate, we will allow him to have the amount he asks for. But we do assert, if it is only for the sake of maintaining what is the most fundamental of all obligations of the commons, namely, its control over expenditure, that he should not ask us to give him a blank cheque to borrow as much as he pleases to deal with this particular matter.
I can almost hear Mr. King speaking in a debate such as this where the powers granted are in no way limited as to time. How much more smartly would he have dealt with this particular bill than the bill which was then being debated by the House of Commons? The closing remarks by Mr. King at the resolution stage are found at page 4290 of Hansard:
But we cannot completely surrender the rights of this House of Commons and of parliament with respect to its control over expenditures for any purpose that may be named, and we cannot accord him our approval of the resolution in the form in which it has been brought down.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I should like to bring ourselves forward to the debate on second reading of that act, which commenced on July 31, 1931. Mr. King's remarks are found at page 4413 of Hansard:
It seems to me this bill disregards parliament altogether; it is a complete usurpation of the rights of parliament.
And further down the page:
I do not think it is possible to emphasize too strongly how serious is the departure which the government is making in asking this house, no matter what the reason may be, to give it unlimited powers of the kind.
This is exactly the same type of legislation which Mr. King condemned so strongly in 1931. Again, at page 4415 of Hansard, we find Mr. King saying:
If this measure were dealt with as it deserves to be, it would be the duty of this House of Commons to remain in session until the measure was withdrawn. That is the only way in which I believe a free parliament could in the circumstances be expected to maintain the rights of a free people.
I heartily endorse those words referring to the duty of this house to remain in session until either the measure is withdrawn or some more suitable measure is presented to us in line with the arguments we have presented.
Hon. Ernest Lapointe also entered that debate on second reading on July 31, 1931, and some of his remarks are most enlightening. I quote from page 4419 of Hansard:
I say that even then there were abuses, but in this measure there is no limitation as far as amounts of money are concerned-
Defence Production Act
Here I interject that in this case there is no limitation as far as time is concerned.
-there is no limitation as to the destination of those moneys or the use to which they may be put. I have been reading a book which my right hon. friend quoted many times when sitting on this side of the house but which he seems to have forgotten since he has been on the other side; I refer to that famous book written by Lord Hewart, chief justice of England, entitled The New Despotism. In that book Lord Hewart relates the story of an Anglo-Indian civil servant who returned to England on leave after an absence of many years. On arriving in London and while travelling between Victoria and Charing Cross stations he asked the man with him, "What are those buildings?" The man said, "Well, those are the parliament buildings; that is Westminster". The Anglo-Indian said, "What, does that rubbish still go on?" That was the attitude of mind of that gentleman, and if we agree to this bill in its present form I really believe we will be entering on a path fraught with grave danger. Surely someone will say, sometime, "Does this rubbish still go on at Ottawa, the parliament of Canada?"
Now I should like to refer to the speech made by the Minister of Defence Production on June 28, 1955, and in particular to one or two remarks he made. The first is at page 5376 of Hansard: "I feel that I am living in another world." When I read that remark I had visions of Alice in Wonderland, I had visions of Charlemagne, and I had visions of many other characters in ancient history. I could just imagine the right hon. minister charging into battle with his pike held high and saying, "What I want I will have." At page 5377 of Hansard the minister had this to say:
The departmental act, and the act of any department, sets out the duties and obligations of the department and the authority under which the department carries out those duties and obligations. To say that the Department of Defence Production can be made permanent without a permanent Defence Production Act is to say that the Department of Public Works can be a permanent department even though the Public Works Act is temporary in nature, or that the Department of National Revenue can be a permanent department if the Department of National Revenue Act is a temporary act, or that the post office can be a permanent department if the Post Office Act is a temporary act.
There is the typical case of a blind and wilful refusal to see the argument or to try to understand the argument which has been presented from this side of the house. The argument is simply this. The argument is that we want the Defence Production Act. Let us not hear any more of these foolish remarks coming from the other side of the house. We want this act, but we want this act either in a reduced form as to the scope of its powers or with a limitation placed on the life of those exceptional powers.
Defence Production Act
Third, I should like to quote the minister's words from page 5377 of Hansard, and this touches one:
Industry is familiar with these controls. It has been working under them for 16 years, and as far as I know it is quite happy to work under them indefinitely. Of all the complaints that have been heard since this debate started I have not heard one single complaint from the people affected, namely, the people who are actually doing the defence production work in this country.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I ask you; would anybody in his right senses who is under the thumb of the minister and who is producing for the minister for one minute dare to complain to the all-powerful Minister of Defence Production? That is the kind of argument that has been advanced in these speeches which have been delivered from the government side of the house. In the following paragraph the minister is shown as saying:
We have seen many legitimate objections-
The minister later said that what he had said was:
We have seen any legitimate objections to the bill drowned in a torrent of exaggeration.
The subtraction of the letter "m" did not help the minister a bit because, by inference at least, he admits that there are some objections. At page 5379 and again at page 5380 of Hansard we hear this from the minister:
After we had got Involved for $30 or $40 million it was quite obvious that the management of that day was not likely to produce what we required. The top management of A.V. Roe was resident in England. The men on the job just did not have the experience necessary to carry out the work, and that became obvious to all concerned.
The minister said he shuddered to think of the problems of development. As a taxpayer of this country I shudder to think that the Minister of Defence Production can spend $30 or $40 million on one project before he finds out that the management of that project is inefficient. I shudder.
One of the most masterful exhibitions of smug, self-satisfied complacency that I have ever heard in any form is that beautiful phrase at the end of the minister's speech:
I am working on the side of the angels.
I wonder if the minister has forgotten the full text from which he clipped that little gem. I wonder if he has forgotten that it came from a speech delivered at the Oxford diocesan conference in 1864. Just to remind the minister I propose to place the full quotation on the record in order to complete his own quotation. It is:
What is the question now placed before society with the glib assurance which to me is most astonishing? That question Is this: Is man an

ape or an angel? I, my lord, I am on the side of the angels. I repudiate with indignation and ahborrence these new-fangled theories.
If there ever was a new-fangled theory introduced into this house, the one which is sponsored by the Prime Minister in the interests of the Minister of Defence Production is it. We can come to only one conclusion, that the Minister of Defence Production is not the angel he claims to be. Speaking of angels-and they are interesting people to talk about-I wonder also if the Minister of Defence Production in his inquiry into the attributes and uses to which angels may be put has ever run across this quotation which I am sure he will recognize:
But man, proud man,
Drest in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he's most assured,
His glassy essence, like an angry ape,
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
As make the angels weep.
We make the angels weep. I quote once again from page 5379 of Hansard:
I may say that industry co-operated to the full, and, as I said before, I have never known Canadian industry to see the Department of Defence Production in a jam without being willing to do whatever was needed to make their contribution to solving the dilemma.
And from page 5378:
An hon. member asks why it is necessary to have these powers, since we have a good munitions industry in this country. I say "Amen" to that. No country in the world has a stronger and more devoted munitions industry than Canada.
Yet in almost the same breath, shortly after these two statements in which he gives the munitions industry credit for a job well done, the minister comes out and says that without the Defence Production Act behind him he certainly would not have been able to deal with a situation of that kind.
We have heard many illustrations of the blowing of hot and cold air by the same person at the same time in this house, but that is the pay-off. Here we have the minister praising industry in one breath and then saying that he just cannot get along without full powers, without this thumb right on top of industry, defence or otherwise.
Once again, ape or angel, I do not know which is which on which side of the house, but if one is an angel the other is an ape. I can only say that it is not we who are producing the new-fangled theories referred to in the quotation from the Oxford diocesan conference. In conclusion I repeat that we on this side weep lest we lose democracy.

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