March 15, 1921

L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

Under the rule, with

the consent of the House, the minister can go into Supply.

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UNION

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Unionist

Mr. DOHERTY:

If the hon. gentleman is prepared to say now that he is ready to consent-

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L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

I will not consent unless the House consents. I do not stand here speaking for the House, but at five minutes to twelve, it is high time that the Minister of Agriculture should pass a few items or we should go to bed.

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L LIB

Georges Henri Boivin (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Laurier Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

I should like to point out to hon. members that there is now nothing before the committee. Item No. 40 has been declared carried, and unless some other item is called, this discussion is out of order.

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UNION

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Unionist

Mr. DOHERTY:

I asked the Chairman to call item No. 4.

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L LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

I protest against this method of trying to prevent members of the House froni exercising a right which belongs to them. When the new rule was passed, it was specially provided that:

On Thursdays and Fridays when the Order of the Day is called for the House to go into Committee of Supply, or of Ways and Means, Mr. Speaker shall leave the Chair without putting any question, provided that, except by the consent of the House, the Estimates of each department shall be first taken up on a day other than Thursday or Friday.

That rule was put there to give members of the House an opportunity of moving resolutions whenever the Estimates of one department came before the House for the first time. It is not fair to bring down the Estimates of two departments on the same day. We are quite prepared to expedite the business of the House; let us go on with the Estimates of the Department of Agriculture, and we will go as far as two o'clock if my hon. friend wants to keep us here; but we object that one of the privileges of members of the House should be dealt with in this way.

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UNION

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Unionist

Mr. DOHERTY:

The hon. gentleman

gets very warm and talks about things not being fair. It is not my habit to try to do things that are not fair, and so far as my judgment goes, I am not'trying to do anything that would indicate any unfairness now. In view of what the hon. gentleman has said, and the item having been called, I am quite prepared that we should revert

to the Estimates of the Department of Agriculture and go on.

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L LIB

Georges Henri Boivin (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Laurier Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

In order that there may be no difference of opinion about the matter to-morrow or later I shall call item No. 4, and we may then revert to the Estimates of the Department of Agriculture.

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L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

If item No. 4 is called, the same result is attained, and that is vhat we are objecting to. I think, with the consent of the House, the minister has a right to withdraw his instruction to call the item; he may tell the Chairman that he does not want to have it called.

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UNION

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Unionist

Mr. DOHERTY:

What I said was that item No. 4 having been called, I am quite prepared to revert to Agriculture. As to what is fair and unfair, we will settle that later on.

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L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

I object to item No. 4 being called. The minister wants to deprive us of a right we have under this rule. He says: "If you will consent now to let us go into Supply on the Estimates of the Justice Department on Thursday or Friday without any debate on the motion, I am willing to revert to the agricultural Estimates. Why does the minister endeavour to prevent a debate on his particular department? It is unfair at this time of the night to try to

12 m. railroad this thing through by brute force, and I want to protest against it because it is not right. Thing's have been going on nicely; everybody has been satisfied with the explanations given by the Minister of Agriculture, and I understand, from hon. members whom I have consulted, that they are willing to go on and pass items of the Department of Agriculture. I do not see why the Minister of Justice should butt in now and throw fire into the atmosphere. The Minister of Justice ought not to do a thing of this kind.

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L LIB

Georges Henri Boivin (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Laurier Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

There must be something before the committee to justify this debate. Let it be upon the point of order, whether or not the resolution should be placed before the committee. I shall be glad to hear any hon. member before giving my ruling.

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L LIB

John Howard Sinclair

Laurier Liberal

Mr. SINCLAIR (Guysborough) :

It

looks like an extreme step on the part of the Minister of Justice to presume to call an item of his department and thus deprive hon. members on this side of a right which they have under the rule. If the position taken by the Minister of Justice is correct,

other ministers can call an item in eveiy department of the Government and the rule will then be equal to being obsolete altogether. In that way the Government could railroad through every department at one sitting of the committee. If the minister's view that he is doing a fair thing in this matter is correct, it follows that the Minister of Public Works, the Minister of Militia and all the other ministers could take the same step now, and then we would have all the departments in the same position. That was certainly not the meaning of the rule and up to this night, it was never understood to be the meaning of the rule.

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L LIB

Andrew Ross McMaster

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McMASTER:

I do not want at this time-it is almost early morning-to discuss this matter at any length. I hardly think the Minister of Justice would wish to take in this House, any step that would prevent the Opposition from exercising any right which, under the rules of the House, we may have to discuss public questions. I am not sufficiently familiar with, nor have I studied sufficiently, the rules of the House to say whether the calling of an item by the minister will preclude us, on going into Supply, from discussing any question of public interest. But if there is any possibility of that, I have confidence enough in the Minister of Justice to know that he would npt want to use that means of closing the mouth of the Opposition. If there be any chance of that interpretation being placed upon the calling of the item, I think we of the Opposition have merely to ask the Minister of Justice courteously to withdraw that procedure, and I am sure he will be glad to accommodate us-perhaps not exactly accommodate us, but do what I know he always wants to do, that is, preserve the rights which inure to the Opposition and which may possibly have to be exercised by the other side of the House as well as by this at no distant date.

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UNION

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Unionist

Mr. DOHERTY:

If there be a desire to make a motion in regard to this particular department on our seeking to go into Supply on Thursday I would have no desire to object because of the fact that this item had been called, but if the objection is merely to create a situation where we will be thrown back into the position that we will not be entitled to go into Supply without consent because of some question that it is desired to raise about something else I really think I might be free to suggest that there is some unfairness in that. Hon. gentlemen have spoken

of me as bringing fire into this thing. I might frankly say that the fire seems to be on the other side. I have no warmth, no feeling, about it. It looked to me a perfectly normal thing to do. How does the business of this House proceed? Last evening we announced that we would take up these two departments and nobody took exception to that. Everybody seemed to think it was a perfectly natural thing that we might take up the two departments on the same day and all I now proposed to do was to carry out what everybody Understood last evening was going to be done to-day, I find myself attacked as doing unfair things, unjust things, when I am simply carrying out the programme announced last evening. If we were at a stage of the session where the missing of an opportunity to raise a question of any kind on going into Supply might be involved, I would appreciate at greater value the objection that is made but surely at this stage of the session with but one department open with everj day in the week except Thursday and Fridays as regards the department of Agriculture and if my position be correct the Department of Justice open for the making of motions I leave it frankly to hon. genelemen were exposed in many way it can be said that there is any possible injustice involved because we take a step this evening which will open up Thursday for a discussion of Estimates without a preliminary debate. I am perfectly free to say that if I could see that hon. gentlemen were exposed in any way to losing any right or any opportunity to discuss any imaginable question which they wanted to raise, I would not be disposed to insist. My one disposition in insisting on this matter was to expedite the business, and to make quite sure that on Thursday we will be able to take this thing up and go on with the discussion of the Estimates. Now I leave it to my hon. friends: Is there any ground to apprehend lack of opportunity? What will the situation be if we take up this item now? Every time we try to go into Supply, on any day other than Thursday and Friday, they will have the opportunity to make a fnotion and every day that we seek to go into Supply including Thursdays and Fridays, on any other department than Agriculture and Justice, they will have an opporunity to make a motion. Now, is it worth while getting so warm and bandying charges of

unfairness? Is it fair to say that what I suggest is unfair? There may be a difference of opinion as to whether I am absolutely within my right in doing this, but I do no.t think it raises any question of fairness or unfairness and I would put it to hon. gentlemen whether they are not willing to expedite the business of the House to that extent.

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L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

If the hon. gentleman thinks I am showing too much warmth in accusing him of unfairness I will try and state the case more cooly. The minister has not stated the case fairly. He has been urtfair for this reason: the only day on which we can discuss matters generally is Tuesday. We have no other day. Monday is private members' day, so is Wednesday, and on Thursday the House automatically goes into Supply without any opportunity for discussion. The minister takes the ground that he is justified in going on with the Estimates of the Justice Department because it was announced yesterday that the Departments of Agriculture and Justice would be taken up. Now, if that reasoning holds good, the Prime Minister could read off a whole list of departments and say, we will take these up to-morrow, and then on the following day any of the ministers could come along at midnight and take up an item in his department. We would then be in the same position we are in to-day. I say it is absolutely unfair, and I say that without any heat and after thinking it over, because it will only leave us Tuesdays. The minister would deprive us of the opportunity of discussing public matters on Thursdays and Fridays. I think we have made a very fair offer. We told the Minister of Agriculture that if he went on with his Estimates we were willing to pass some items after reasonable explanations had been given, but here is the Minister of Justice seeking to deprive us of our opportunity of discussing public matters. If the minister does not see any unfairness in that, I cannot agree with him. To speak of warmth is beside the question. It is a matter of justice and right that we are asking. We do not wish to be deprived of a right. I am sure that the Minister of Justice, when it was announced last night that his Estimates would be taken up to-day, did not expect that an item would be called at 15 minutes past twelve. Nobody expected that. We expected that it might be called at an 61

hour when we would be in a position to have a general discussion. The minister knows we do not want to start any general discussion at this time, and if he wants to be fair he will let the Minister of Agriculture go on with a few more items, and then the committee can rise and report progress, so we can go to bed. .

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L LIB

Georges Henri Boivin (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Laurier Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

I must ask hon. members in discussing the point of order now before the committee to remember that this is a question of interpretation of the rules, and not only a question of fairness. The chairman would be glad indeed to hear the opinion of any hon. member concerning the application of the Rules of the House before he gives his ruling.

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L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

Our discussion was for

the purpose of having the minister withdraw his suggestion, so that any question as to the rules would be avoided.

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UNION

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Unionist

Mr. DOHERTY:

As hon. gentlemen

seem to be so persistent in their view that there is some unfairness in the suggestion

and frankly I attach more importance to that than I do to the letter of the rule, a great deal more-while I do not see any unfairness involved-perhaps it is my obtuseness-rather than have hon. gentlemen entertain, as apparently they do, the view that I desire to do something unfair, I would prefer to withdraw the suggestion. I do not want, however, my withdrawal to be taken as a confession on my part-no doubt, it is my condition of invincible ignorance, which excuses a great many things-

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L LIB

March 15, 1921