Mr. E. M. MACDONALD (Pictou) moved:
That the action of Mr. Blondin, the Deputy Speaker, as Chairman of the Com4 mittee of the Whole House, while thei committee was considering Bill No. 21, entitled: 'an Act to authorize measures for increasing the effective Naval Forces of the Empire ', in refusing to permit Mr. Carroll, the member for South Cape Breton, to move to add an additional section to said Bill, and also in declining to put the motion that the Chairman do now leave the Chair, as
9712 moved by Mr. Pugsley, the member for the city of St. John, was a violation of the rules and constituted an infringement of the privileges of this House.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I desire to move the motion, notice of which I gave last evening, with reference to the Deputy Speaker. The conduct of the gentleman who occupies the Chair of this House, either as Speaker or as Deputy Speaker, is a matter of the greatest possible importance to every member. ' That that position should be filled with absolute impartiality and with due regard to the privileges of Parliament is a matter that must be recognized not only by the occupant of the office himself but by every hon. member of this House. Where there has been any failure to live up to the high standard that has been maintained, not only in this House but in the Parliament upon which we pattern our forms, where there has been any lapse or failure to live up to those high standards, I say the result has always been of the most pernicious character in its effect not only immediately, but in the subsequent deliberations of the Parliament or the committee as the case may be and upon the country itself because unless absolute fairness and impartiality, absolute regard for the principles and precedents which are formulated in the rules of Parliament, animate the Speaker of the day or the man who fills that position temporarily, the whole fabric of parliamentary government will be imperilled, and dangers to the body politic will be liable to arise at any time. Hence it is, and feeling how serious and important it is that we in this parliament should recognize these facts, that I rise to move this motion, notice of which I gave last night.
I may be permitted to call to your attention a statement which I find in the English Hansard for 1871 in an address made by Sir Eoundell Palmer, afterwards Lord Sel-borne, in moving the resolution that Mr. Speaker Brand should be elected as Speaker of that Parliament, wherein lie sets out the qualifications of the person who is to fill that high office. He says:
It cannot be a matter of great difficulty to us to realize what the Speaker of this House ought to be. He should be a man of long parliamentary experience and great knowledge, who has habitually paid much attention to the public and also to the private business of Parliament. He should be a man of high personal bearing, of spirit, and of dignity of character such as befits a thorough English gentleman, and such as will make him fit to preside over an assembly which, having to discharge the most august functions of any assembly in the world, has always been proud of bringing to those functions the essential qualities which distinguish gentlemen, qualities without which doubtless it would never be able rightly to discharge Mr. MACDONALD.
those duties. He should be, of course, a man of strict justice and impartiality, beyond impeachment or suspicion. He should be a man of large attainments and of a mind fitted for business. He should be a man of a kindly and genial temperament, of good practical sense, of firmness, and at the same time of sound judgment. He should understand our privileges, and be capable, on all proper occasions, of maintaining them with authority and dignity, and at the same time with wisdom and moderation. He should also be able-especially in the times in which we live-to discharge the still more important and far more difficult duty of maintaining, by moral authority, the order of our debates and the dignity of our proceedings, helping us all; both in seen and in unseen ways, to maintain that self-respect and self-discipline, that mutual respect for each other, and that spirit of obedience to the laws of this Assembly, which are essential to the discharge of the duties of Parliament, and by reason of which Parliament, in the most difficult times, has hitherto been able to discharge those duties to the satisfaction and advantage of the country.
That is a statement in not too glowing language of those qualities which a presiding officer in this Parliament, just as well as in the mother of parliaments, should have and possess at all times in the execution of his duty. Let me say that, occupying as you do the position of First Commoner in this country, your status, while the most important, yet is not in any degree more exacting than the position which your Deputy fills, because in presiding over the deliberations of the Committee of Supply and the various other committees of the House where the House sits as a Whole and the details of particular measures are passed upon, the gentleman who for the time being fills the position of Deputy Speaker has duties to fill which demand from him the. possession of exactly the same qualities which Lord Selborne says should be possessed by the man who fills the higher position of Speaker. Previous to 1885 we had no position of Deputy Speaker in this House but with the advancement and development of the country and the increased business before Parliament, Parliament saw fit to create a distinct and important position to be filled by a gentleman to be known as the Chairman of Committees and Deputy Speaker and ever since that time there has been elected by each Parliament an officer who exercises the rights and authorities which pertain to that particular office and who, actiiig in your stead when you are absent and by reason of the fact that he is, to a certain extent, your vice Chairman has always been regarded as a man who ought to have those qualities which in course of time would make him eligible to ascend the Speaker's chair. In this Parliament that has been the practice. Gentlemen who have filled
the position of Deputy Speaker have advanced to the Speakership by reason of the fact that the House recognized that they possessed the proper qualities for the higher position of Speaker in a subsequent Parliament. The man who occupies that position is a man who should feel that he is there occupying a judicial position. He should not by any possibility take that position because it is given to him to perform certain duties as a political servant, because if the gentleman who is supposed to be the embodiment of courtesy and impartiality and clearheadedness in stormy debates is to be a man who says to himself: I am not here to act as a judge, to hold firmly the balances between the parties but because my political party sent me here, why, Sir, parliamentary government will be demoralized. If there have been times in the history of Parliament when gentlemen have been selected for the position either of Speaker or of Deputy Speaker by reason of the fact that they had rendered some special political service to the party which chose to nominate them, at all times history and the experience of this Parliament will show that was disastrous to Parliament and to the cc untry.
The question is as to whether or not in the proceedings on Friday night the gentleman who happens now to fill the position of Deputy Speaker performed the duty of his office having in mind the high standard which was set for gentlemen occu: pying that position by Lord Selborne thirty years ago. If he did not, it is to the interest of Parliament that we should know it. If he has not come up to that standard. Parliament should deal with the matter accordingly because it is not an important matter for the moment whether he may or may not have done wrong, that is an incident merely. There are cases on record in the history of colonial parliaments and of Imperial parliaments where the House has been called upon to deal with resolutions censuring the gentlemen who filled the position from time to time of the presiding officer for conduct not in accordance with this high standard.
This has been a session in which a measure has been under the consideration of Parliament which hon. gentlemen on both sides of the House must recognize as being among the most important measures that Parliament has ever been called upon to consider. It is a measure which may materially affect for all time to come our relations with the Mother Country. It certainly was put forward with the view of most materially affecting our relations in one important particular, and in the consideration of that measure it was the bounden duty of the gentlemen who for the time being happened to occupy the
position of presiding officers, to preside over the deliberations either of this House or of the committee with that calm deliberation, with that high appreciation of the importance of their positions and with the realization that they were there as judges and not as political appointees, so clearly described in the quotation which I have made. I may say that those are the feelings that should -animate the gentlemen who preside over the deliberations of this body in the consideration of this measure. That being so, let us consider whether or not and wherein the Deputy Speaker fell short in the performance of his duty in his course on Friday last. Apart from any question as to what the rights of Mr. Carroll were or were not under the rules, there was a question of the good faith of the Deputy Speaker in the undertaking and the understanding which was arrived at in the earlier portion of the debate as to what Mr. Carroll's rights were and when he was to be recognized in this House. Sir, if a judge presiding over any one of the courts of law in this country said to counsel who proceeded to make a motion in any particular case that he would hear him at a certain stage later on in that case, and if that counsel approached the judge at the time indicated by him and asked leave to make the application which he had already spoken of in an earlier part of the proceedings, and the judge said to him: I shall not hear you, I do not propose to hear you, I am going on to decide this case without regard to anything you may urge, without regard to any understanding, without regard to the information I gave you in the beginning of this trial that I would hear you in this matter, I am going on to decide this case without hearing you -what would be said about the good faith of the judge who acted in that way in any case, whether of small importance or of great importance? How much more would be said by public opinion in a case where the eyes of the community were focused upon the actions and deliberations of the judge to whom was committed the all important task of holding the balances fairly between the parties litigating before him? In this high court of Parliament we have the right to ask from the gentleman exercising for the time being the position of judge as Deputy Speaker and as Chairman of committees, that same good faith, that same appreciation of the importance of his position which we demand from any judge, no matter whether he is in a high or in a lower court, in the administration of justice in the country.
Now, Sir, what did occur? You will find on page 9690 of ' Hansard ' that the hon. member for South Cape Breton attempted to move and did state to the House his motion by way of amendment in the con-
sideration of Bill 21, an Act to Authorize Measures for Increasing the Effective Naval Forces of the Empire. He proposed in the committee to move that a clause be added to the Bill as section 7. I need not read the clause for the purposes of the argument which I am attempting to make. When he asked to make this motion the Deputy Speaker said:
I think it would he more advisable if the hon. member would defer his motion until we have disposed of clause 6.
In other words, the Deputy Speaker, purporting to act as a judge, just as a judge in a trial of a case would do to counsel, intimated to the gentleman approaching him: I cannot hear you now but when we have disposed of clause 6 come with your motion and I will hear it and dispose of it. That is what the Deputy Speaker said to the member for South Cape Breton. My hon. friend from South Cape Breton after some little discussion said:
That being well understood I shall not encroach further upon the time of the committee.
Referring to the understanding which had been arrived at, that at a later stage, after clause 6 had been disposed of, he would be heard and a right would be given him for the purpose of making his proposition. I need not go into all that took place from that time until my hon. friend from South Cape Breton rose to assert the privilege and the right which he had been informed would be accorded to him at the proper time. As to his absolute right to make the motion after clause 6 had been disposed of, I may point out that it was expressly recognized by my hon. friend from Portage la Prairie (Mr. Meighen) when he said he was not disposed to disagree with the argument made by the right hon. the leader of the Opposition, who argued conclusively I think that my hon. friend the member for South Cape Breton was quite in order in making that motion, and that under the rules he had the right to make it. When my hon. friend from South Cape Breton came to claim the privilege and to assert the right which, it had been intimated to him by the Deputy Speaker, would be freely accorded to him after clause 6 had been disposed of, what occurred? Simultaneous with his asking that the right should be given to him, the right hon. the leader of the Government arose. Hon. gentlemen who were in the House will recall the fact that both of these hon. gentlemen were standing on the floor, the hon. member for South Cape Breton prepared to make the motion which he had been told he could make. If the Deputy Speaker had fulfilled his duties according to the high traditions of his office, he would have carried out his pledge to the hon. member for South Cape Breton, and would have accorded him the right to move Mr. MACDONALD.
his motion. But he did not do so. Apart from any other question, I say that the Deputy Speaker was open to censure because he did not do so. Upon whom are we to rely in the fulfilment of our duties in this House? When we come to you openly and frankly, Mr. Speaker, and ask whether we should take this course or that course, you, being for the time the repository of judgment as to the rules of the House, indicate to us what our proper course would be. But what would we say, Sir, if. you told us what we should do and afterwards you turned round without any reason and committed an absolute breach of faith by taking a course entirely different from the one you had indicated? I am sure you feel that such a thing would be impossible in your case. Parliament has the right to demand from the judicial officer who for the time being presides over the committees of this House that he shall fulfil the pledges he makes. That is essential to the carrying on of parliamentary government. Therefore, the Deputy Speaker stands in this position before Parliament, that he broke faith with my hon. friend from South Cape Breton, and did not do what he had undertaken would be done.
Had my hon. friend the member for South Cape Breton the right to move that amendment? My hon. friend from Portage la Prairie is recognized on the other side of the House as being an authority in regard to the interpretation of the rules, and when he undertakes to speak his opinion is received with every respect by hon. gentlemen on this side, though sometimes we do think he strains a point in order to make an argument on behalf of the party with which he is associated. Still, no one doubts his ability, and with regard to the question as to whether, after the first six clauses of the Bill had (been disposedof, my hon. friend from South Cape Breton should proceed to move that a clause to be known as clause 7 should be added, his judgment ought to be worth a good deal. I am not going to repeat the argument made by the right hon. the leader of the Opposition on Friday night. That argument is unanswerable as was the absolutely convincing argument of my hon. friend from Shefford (Mr. Boivin). I wish to call attention to this statement of my hon. friend from Portage la Prairie:
I do not know that I have any quarrel, so far as my individual opinion goes, with the interpretation of the rule put forward by the right bon. leader of the Opposition. But what I say is that that has no application here, for this reason. It is true I rose to a point of order when the hon. member for South Cape Breton had the floor. I rose, not because I doubted his right-
That is his right to move his amendment, -but I did object to his rising after the
Prime Minister had moved-
So that my hon. friend from Portage la Prairie, supplementing the argument made by hon. gentlemen on this side of the House, an argument which was absolutely convincing upon the point, conceded that as a matter of party practice, even under the amended rules, my hon. friend from South Cape Breton had the right to move that clause 7 be added to the Bill. My right hon. friend the Prime Minister practically told him that he would be perfectly willing to let my hon. friend from South Cape Breton move his amendment if we undertook to finish the discussion that night. That was the proposition which he made.