March 31, 1931 (17th Parliament, 2nd Session)


James Shaver Woodsworth


Mr. J. S. WOODSWORTH (Winnipeg North Centre):

Mr. Speaker, in speaking on
the point of order it seems to me that this matter involves the rights of the members of this house. In stating the procedure subsection 3 of standing order 31 reads as follows:

He then hands a written statement of the matter proposed to be discussed to Mr. Speaker, who, if he thinks it in order, and of urgent public importance, reads it out and asks whether the member has the leave of the house.
If objection is taken, Mr. Speaker requests those members who support the motion to rise in their places and, if more than twenty members rise accordingly, Mr. Speaker calls upon the member who has asked for leave.
I submit that the mover of this resolution (Mr. Heaps) has complied with the rules. He has handed to the Speaker a written statement of the matter proposed to be discussed.
I realize that the next clause of the standing order is to the effect that if the Speaker thinks it in order it is read out, but I take it that that is only a formal matter. The proposed motion might not be formally in order; then it is for you, Mr. Speaker, to say that it is not in order and to reject it. But we are here dealing with another matter. With all deference to Your Honour I do not think it can be said that thd possibility of the introduction of a motion of this kind is dependent upon the decision of Your Honour as to what is an urgent matter; that is dependent upon the twenty hon. members who may rise and support it. I do not think there can be any question that the motion is formally in order. Several years ago a motion in precisely the same form was introduced upon a like occasion and no question was raised by the Speaker as to its being out of order. A precedent was established and I do not see how it can be said that this is not in order. The only ground upon which he can rule that it is not in order is as to whether it is a relevant matter or not, and that depends on the decision of twenty members. I claim that it becomes your responsibility, Mr. Speaker, to ask whether or not twenty members believe that this is a matter of urgent public importance.
The suggestion has come from the opposite side of the house that already a reference along this line has been made in the speech from the throne. It must be conceded, however, that that is a very general reference, and my colleague has more than answered that when he has shown that similar action was taken on a previous occasion when the members of the present government were in opposition. As to the urgency of the matter-, may I emphasize that the grant runs out today and that already a number of municipalities are cutting off direct relief to large numbers of men and women? The municipalities take the ground that they have no help from the Dominion government. What is to be done in such a situation as that ? The Dominion government has given no indication of what its policy is to be and tomorrow these men will be on the streets. I have to-day from a western city a letter along that line.

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