Mr. C. E. BOTHWELL (Swift Current):
Mr. Speaker, I listened attentively to the observations of the minister in presenting the resolution. It does seem to me that since last session an effort has been made to provide something on which the committee which is being set up may work. As chairman of that committee for the last three sessions of parliament I must say that I believe every member was most anxious at each sitting to do the best he could to see that the elections act was brought to the point where it would be the most effective act we have ever had in Canada dealing with this subject.
The Political Expenditures Act came to the committee towards the close of the session. It was under discussion at two or three sittings, and although most committee members expressed themselves in sympathy with the idea, some of them were not altogether in favour of the terms of the bill. It was for that reason the resolution which passed the committee was worded in the terms quoted to-day. We recommended and expected that a committee would be set up this year to further study the principles embodied in the bill, and I believe I am safe in saying that every member of the committee was more or less in sympathy with the suggestions made by the minister to-day, although possibly not in all cases with the details.
When the committee is set up I believe it will have the duty of considering all the suggestions which can be made by the minister and other members of the committee who have studied the political expenditures measure, and by others from whom the committee can get further information which may be required.
I need hardly say every hon. member realizes that the first part of the resolution requires considerable study. I refer, of course, to the paragraph dealing with methods used to effect a redistribution. In 1937 the committee had the opportunity of devoting considerable time to a discussion of this problem, and although they did not report, it was not, as suggested by the hon. member for Leeds (Mr. Stewart), because they could not come to a finding. They believed the matter would have to be returned again to the committee for further study. From the discussions which took place with respect to redistribution, it was my opinion that an arrangement
which would be a substantial improvement over the method now in vogue could be arrived at.
With respect to paragraph (b) of the resolution, and the amendment moved by the hon. member for Peace River (Mr. Pelletier) I can say only it does seem to me that the speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) part of which was read to the house to-day, and as we listened to it last year,' expressed the very opposite of the interpretation the hon. member for Peace River has placed upon it. The amendment proposes that a committee of the house inquire into contributions which have been made to campaign funds over the last ten years, and ascertain the effect and influence of those contributions, where they were spent, or what disposition was made of them. Well, why stop at ten years? If we are going into an investigation of that kind we might as well go back to confederation. It seems to me the only object the hon. member can have in mind in asking the committee to make an investigation of that kind, in connection with the paragraph which refers to the "methods whereby the source and disposition of sums received and expended in promoting the return of members of the House of Commons may be readily traceable"
or the second, third or fourth subparagraphs in that paragraph-is that the group to which he belongs may gain something which would be of assistance to them. Surely nothing can be gained by investigating the source and disposition of campaign funds for the last ten years, or any other period. If there have been any specific dredging contracts which should be investigated, as referred to in the article quoted, there is ample provision in the rules of this house to enable that to be done. But it is impossible for a committee to do anything as a roving commission such as this amendment proposes.
Topic: CANADIAN WHEAT BOARD