March 21, 1921

UNION

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

Unionist

Hon. C. J. DOHERTY (Minister of Justice) :

Mr. Speaker, I do not rise to express a settled opinion upon the proposal that has been made. It is certainly a most interesting one, and while I would be prepared to concur in the view that practical advantages might result from its being carried out, I think it is one which calls for careful consideration before arriving at a final decision and, above all, before taking action.

There is one phase of the matter to which I would like to direct the attention of the hon. gentleman (Mr. Lemieux) who made the motion, and the attention of the House generally. It seems to me that the proposal involves a fundamental change in our system of government and, really, in the British Constitution. Our parliamentary system is based upon the conception of the existence of two distinct bodies deriving their authority, if I may use that word-their right of action, from two totally different sources. We have the peoples' Chamber, and. then we have the other Chamber which does not derive its authority directly from the people, which under our system is composed of nominees of the Crown, and which under the original British system was composed largely of representatives of a particular class of the people who sat there because they belonged to that class. Now, resulting from the different sources from which these two bodies derive their authority, there has grown up a system under which particular things belong specially to these two bodies. Take, for instance, everything that touches the voting of money; that belongs to the popular Chamber. It has been suggested that there would be advantages in a minister, being a member of the Senate, coming into this House and discussing his Estimates. What quality would he, as a member of the Senate, have in the discussion of the moneys that the people's representatives

ought to vote? Is it not consistent with the spirit of our Constitution that the people's representatives should act absolutely independently of any other influence when they are dealing with matters of that kind, matters which pertain specially to them; matters in regard to which it is for. the people through their chosen representatives to speak? It may be said that it is not suggested that that member of the Senate should vote. So far, so good; but the deliberation is, I think, at least as important as the vote. Can you conceive of this popular assembly being guided, in a matter pertaining to the voting of the people's money, by a gentleman who is not a representative of the people at all, a gentleman whose role in the parliamentary work of this country is to be and act as a member of a body, constituted, after all, to exercise a species of supervising and, perhaps it might not be a mistake to say, moderating influence upon the actions of this chamber? On the other hand is it proper that into the deliberations of this body constituted for the purpose of exercising that supervising and moderating influence, a body which in consequence, ought to approach the measures that come to it from this assembly in a-I do not think it would be a mistake to say-quasi-judicial frame of mind, there should be interjected a member or members of this House whose action, in a general sort of way, those who are responsible for the constitution, thought it desirable should be submitted to the reconsideration of a body not so directly, as this body is, under the immediate influence of the popular feeling of the moment. I do not say that these reasons are, perhaps, conclusive against this proposal, or some proposal along these lines, being adopted at some time. - But I would invite the House to consider these things that I have pointed out, and to realize that if, in its wisdom, it should decide that it is desirable to recommend a change of this kind, it is recommending a very fundamental change. If this proposal is adopted,

. we shall have a new system of parliamentary government. We shall have brought into combination two bodies which, up to the present time, the constitution has looked upon as absolutely distinct bodies called upon to exercise absolutely distinct functions, the one to be the immediate or direct mouthpiece of the people of the country, the other, a body that may serve, when need may be for that, because such things happen, as a species of moderating, super-74

vising body, a body which, therefore, should approach matters with which it is called upon to deal, in the frame of mind that belongs to people who are taking up the action of others, to consider whether it was wise or not.

I, perhaps, may stop there because my purpose really is only to call attention to what seems to me to be the very fundamental nature of the proposal. But looking at it from a practical point of view, might we not have very undesirable situations created, if you have a member of this House taking part in the deliberations of the supervising body and, perhaps, feeling himself called upon to act as a sort of advocate for this House of Commons? It does not seem to me that that would be a desirable situation. I am not quite sure that it would be conducive to the perfect free play of the functions of the two bodies or to the maintenance and preservation of the harmony, whether they agree with regard to particular measures or not, that it is certainly most desirable, should be preserved between the two bodies. I would earnestly invite the House, before coming to a conclusion upon this matter, to give most serious thought to just what is involved in the change that is proposed.,

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   THE HOUSING PROBLEM. PROPOSED ESTABLISHMENT OF A FEDERAL HOUSING BOARD
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L LIB

William Daum Euler

Laurier Liberal

Mr. W. D. EULER (North Waterloo) :

Mr. Speaker, my only excuse for intervening very briefly in this debate arises from the fact that, in the session of 1918, I moved a resolution dealing in some degree with the same subject, and it has always interested me since then; so much so, that in 1919, I had on the Order Paper another resolution dealing with the matter, which resolution, however, never came to debate. The resolution that I had on the Order Paper in 1919 read:

That in the opinion of this House all members of the Cabinet holding portfolios should be members of the House of Commons or become such within three months after their appointment.

That is somewhat different in principle from the resolution moved by the hon. member for Maisonneuve (Mr. Lemieux), I will admit that the proposal made by my hon. friend would effect some improvement as compared with the present condition, but I do not think it goes far enough, or that it is the correct solution of existing conditions. Briefly, my opinion still is what it was in 1918 and 1919, and it is this, that it is not in accordance with the principles of democratic government, to which we all say that we adhere, to have senators in charge of portfolios. All the port-

folios in the Cabinet should be held by members of the House of Commons, for the reason, that the spending of money and the framing of policies should be definitely in the hands of men who are the chosen representatives of the people of Canada. When I say that, I have no reflections to make upon the Senate as a body, nor upon senators as individuals. I am quite prepared to say that there are men of wide practical experience in the Senate and men who, although they were appointed as partisans, may now have a sufficiently detached frame of mind to look upon public questions without prejudice. I think that is rather unlikely; but after all, we have this condition prevailing, that members of the Senate are not representatives of the people and, in some instances -and we find it exemplified in the present Cabinet-they are men who are exactly the reverse. In at least one case, that of the Postmaster General, there is a gentleman in charge of a portfolio who was rejected by the people of Canada as a member of the House of Commons.

All of the arguments that have been adduced by the hon. member for Maison-neuve (Mr. Lemieux) are good; but I would attain the result that he desires, not by bringing members of the Cabinet who are senators into this House by permission, but by ensuring that all members of the Cabinet are members of this House, so that they, by right, may appear here to make such explanations of their Estimates and policies as may be necessary.

The argument has been advanced that the privilege which the hon. member for Maisonneuve seeks for members of the Cabinet to appear in both Chambers obtains in France. That may be all rights so far as it goes. Perhaps I am radical when I say that the mere fact that a certain condition or practice obtains in another country is not altogether conclusive, to my mind, that it is proper in this country. In Great Britain, they still have the House of Lords. To some extent, our Senate corresponds with the British House of Lords, but I should like to point out that only two sessions ago we decided in this House that we were not in favour of hereditary titles or offices or anything of that kind. So we are bound by the British practice in that case in any sense whatever.

We have at the present time in the Cabinet three ministers who are not members of the House of Commons, but members of the Senate. I should like to impress upon the House that at least one of these portfolios is of such importance that

it should not be administered by any other than a member of this House; I refer to the portfolio of Labour. Again I say, I have no reflection to cast on the hon. gentleman who holds the position of Minister of Labour. I believe he is a very capable, very earnest, and very sincere man, but I do think he should be able to come into the House of Commons direct as a representative of the people. He will have a great many important problems to deal with in the days to come. The League of Nations embodies certain principles in connection with labour matters that will be of direct interest to us, and call for action, by this House-such matters as are mentioned in the speech from the Throne-unemployment insurance and-old age pensions; also the eight-hour day, unemployment insurance, equal pay for equal work, abolition of child labour-all these things are embodied in the compact of the League of Nations, and if this country is going to live up to its position in the League, and the posit ion that is claimed for it, we are in duty be md to deal with these subjects. But can we do so to the best advantage if the man directly in charge of labour matters in Canada has not the privilege of coming into this House? Instead, therefore, of saying that the senator who is a member of the Cabinet shall have the privilege of coming into this House, I would say: So arrange it that members of the Cabinet shall be members of this House, and have the inherent right to be here, because they are elected by, and represent the people.

I believe that there is some force in the argument that there should be some connecting link between the Commons and the Senate so long as we have a Senate. Personally, I believe the Senate might be abolished, but so long as we have the two Chambers I would say, let us have one or two members of the Senate in the Cabinet, but not holding portfolios. I say that when it comes to a portfolio, the minister in charge of that department, and who is spending the people's money, should be a member of this House, a representative of the people, chosen by the people. I have * nothing further to say on that, except that I want to go on record as being directly opposed to the placing of men at the head of the spending departments of this Government who are not members of this House. When I brought my resolution up two or three years ago, the then acting Prime Minister, still supposed to be the member for Leeds (Sir Thomas White) took exception to my resolution on the

ground that it would involve a great constitutional change, perhaps an amendment to the British North America Act. I do not think that is necessary. The Prime Minister this evening has stated that in order to carry out the purpose of the resolution that has been offered, it might be necessary to amend the British North America Act, but if the Government followed my humble suggestion nothing of that kind would be required. If Parliament declared itself in favour of an unwritten law, that only members of .this House shall be members of the Cabinet holding portfolios, no constitutional change would be necessary. It would simply be a matter of acting in accordance with that view-a view which I believe will meet with the wishes of a great majority of the people of Canada.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   THE HOUSING PROBLEM. PROPOSED ESTABLISHMENT OF A FEDERAL HOUSING BOARD
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UNION

Frank Bainard Stacey

Unionist

Mr. F. B. STACEY (Fraser Valley) :

Mr. Speaker, I have only a few words to add to the discussion. I wish to say that I am in full accord with those hon. gentlemen who have expressed themselves in sympathy with the idea that ministers of the Crown should have a seat in this House. With very much of the argument adduced by the hon. member for Maisonneuve (Mr. Lemieux) I am in full accord, I think it is evident to every private member that all matters affecting Estimates can be discussed as a rule, more intelligently, at any rate, with greater satisfaction upon the representations- made by the minister in charge of the department than when presented by any other person.

The Minister of Justice (Mr. Doherty) has stated in the course of his address that the resolution if adopted suggested, if not demanded, constitutional changes inasmuch as the Senate was not representative of the people. Sir, that gives me my clue. The right hon. the Prime Minister (Mr. Meighen) also said that in his judgment, if the adoption of the resolution did not involve a constitutional change, at any rate it would he better to have the matter thoroughly discussed throughout the country, in the press and elsewhere, before such a radical change were brought into effect.

Now I have one criticism to offer, and I am speaking as private member, neither as a friend nor as an opponent of the Government, for in this matter, I take it, there is no partisanship whatever. It appears to me Sir, that neither the motion as sub- mitted by the hon. member nor any remarks so far made have gone quite far enough. I believe that the country at large is more concerned about another phase of this question than as to whether or not min741

isters of the Crown who are in the Senate should have seats here. I believe that the great body of the people of Canada are thinking seriously about the best method of selecting senators if the upper house is to continue. I cannot bring myself to believe that it can much longer continue to be the right-it may be the legal right- but I cannot bring myself to believe that it is the, moral and democratic right of any government to decide who shall constitute the senate of this country. I am convinced of this fact, that if it is desired to give the senate a stronger hold on the sympathy and the confidence of the people of Canada than it has to-day, the best way to bring that about would be to have the people themselves choose or elect the Senate. The method of so doing is not for me now to discuss, or even to suggest. It might be by some system of grouping constituencies by which the electorate of the country could determine who should constitute the Senate of this Dominion. Personally, I think we shall have two Houses of Parliament for a long time to come, perhaps always. But at this period in the history of Canada it occurs to me that it is a most opportune time for the country, for the press, for the Government, and for Parliament, to consider whether or not some such change should be made in the British North America Act. Is it not advisable to give to the electors of Canada the right to say who shall represent them in the Senate? I.believe that the Senate should represent the people rather than the Government of any day. I think the Senate should be elected for a stated time; not perhaps, for such a short period of four or five years, hut for a longer specified time; and they should be responsible to, and be elected by, the people. If that were done, the principle involved in the resolution would not perhaps present insuperable difficulties. While I admit that a change was suggested by the hon. member for Maisonneuve (Mr. Lemieux), I had hoped that he would develop it more fully, and I have ventured to express at least my own opinion, and what I believe to be the opinion of a very large number of the people of this country, namely, that the time has come when the Parliament of Canada should consider the advisability of taking such steps as are necessary in order to give to the people the right to elect, not merely the members of the House of Commons, but also the members of the Senate of Canada.

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Subtopic:   THE HOUSING PROBLEM. PROPOSED ESTABLISHMENT OF A FEDERAL HOUSING BOARD
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (leader of the Opposition) :

There are broadly

two points of view from which the resolution of my hon. friend may be considered and from which indeed, it has been discussed this evening. In the first place, there is what would be involved in the way of constitutional change should the resolution go into effect. The other point of view is the practical purpose of the resolution itself,-which I take to be the discovery of more effective channels of information between the two Houses of Parliament where matters of great public concern are under consideration. To discuss at this moment what may be involved in the way of constitutional change, seems to me apart from the question, because the extent of constitutional change will depend upon what practical steps may be necessary to give effect to the resolution which my hon. friend has proposed.

In listening to the right hon. the Minister of Justice (Mr. Doherty), I was struck by the fact that he dwelt at considerable length on the fundamental change in the constitution which would be involved in allowing ministers who have seats in the other chamber to guide legislation in this House. I do not see that the resolution, as drafted, pre-supposes any such privilege or right on the part of ministers in the other chamber. All that it suggests is that ministers of the Crown should be permitted to sit in either chamber. I do not wish to play upon words. I presume my hon. friend in introducing the resolution, intended that such ministers should not merely have seats, but should also be permitted to speak. But there is a difference between ministers on the one hand, answering questions asked from one side of the House, and giving the House information, and, on the other hand, attempting to guide legislation. My hon. friend had no thought in his mind of allowing ministers from the other chamber to attempt to influence this House in the guiding of legislation. What on the contrary, I think he has in mind, and what all of us on this side of the House have felt very much the need of, is discovering some means of getting full and explicit information in regard to matters that form the subject of discussion here.

We on this side of the House have been finding it increasingly difficult to get information touching questions of great public concern and policy, not only in regard to those departments which are not represented here by ministers, but even in regard to departments that are ministerially represented in this House. Take one of

the departments, that of Railways and Canals. I suppose more questions have been put on the Order Paper this year with respect to the expenditures of that department than with respect to any other department, and more motions have been made for the production of papers and correspondence regarding that important branch of the public service than of any other. No department of the Government has involved the country in such vast expenditures, expenditures colossal in amount. Yet, whenever we on this side of the House request information on these matters, we are told that they are under the control of a board of directors of the railways, and that the ministry has practically freed itself of all responsibility in the matter of giving information to Parliament. Take the Department of Marine and Fisheries. Since the Mercantile Marine has been established, some $70,000,000 has been spent in the creation of the Merchant Marine. We on this side of the House have tried to get information as to how the money has been expended, how much has been spent in this particular direction, and how much in that. But we are told that this is not to be given to the people's representatives because the control of the Merchant Marine is in the hands of a board of directors for that particular purpose. In other words, the Government frees itself from what is, or what ought to be, its first obligation to the Commons, namely supplying the fullest information possible on questions of great public interest and concern.

As has been stated by my hon. friend, the departments that are in some respects among the most significant, are the Department of Labour, the Post Office Department, and the Department of the Interior. When we come to discuss matters of legislation affecting these departments, these matters are taken up by some of the hon. gentlemen opposite, and if they are not informed, they tell us that they regret they cannot supply the information off-hand, and as sometimes happens, the. debate is adjourned to another day.

I am sure it has been the experience of everyone on this side of the House, who has tried to take part in any debate on questions pertaining to those departments, that it has been very difficult to obtain the information required to enable hon. members to proceed intelligently. Is it not conceivable that some plan might be devised whereby a minister who has a seat in the other chamber might be permitted at least to sit beside the minister in this

House who is giving information to Parliament in regard to the subject under discussion? or that would permit him to answer the questions that are put in regard to his department? At the outset if thought advisable we need not go so far as to permit him to speak. But he might he present to give necessary information to some other minister who is in the chamber and who has the right to answer questions. As we are circumstanced at present, there being no one here who has the knowledge to speak with authority for ministers who are in the other chamber, the power of this House to get such information as it needs is circumscribed to that extent. I think my hon. friend has had in mind in his resolution, the necessity of in some way restoring to this chamber the right of the people's representatives to the fullest possible information on all matters that are of public importance, not merely with respect to measures that are introduced, but also with respect to all expenditures and matters that come up in the Estimates and others that are of public concern. The need being what it is, it seems to me that my hon. friend is rendering a public service when he suggests to the ministry the absolute necessity of discovering some means whereby this House can be more fully informed on all phases of questions Which it is considering. Information is the basis of all intelligent legislation. It is information that we from this side of the House have been seeking and which we are getting in less and less measure from hon. gentlemen opposite. It is to remedy that tendency that my hon. friend has made the suggestion which is embodied in this resolution, and I think, looking at it from that point of view, we can all strongly endorse the object he has in view, though we may well agree with hon. gentlemen opposite in admitting that once some plan has been decided upon, we should carefully consider what may be involved in the way of fundamental constitutional change in giving effect to the resolution.

Mr. LUCIEN CANNON Dorchester): The resolution before the House has been introduced by an hon. member who is eminently competent to discuss it in all its bearings. The hon. member for Mai'son-neuve is a constitutional student whose parliamentary experience is long and ripe, and I think that of all the members of this House, he might be considered probably the most competent to introduce and intelligently discuss a question of this nature.

The manner in which the hon. member has discussed this resolution shows that my estimate of his qualifications is fairly good. The question is one of great importance; and as the Prime Minister said it is a matter in which the House should move very slowly before coming to a final decision. My hon. friend from Maisonneuve has made historical comparisons. He has spoken about the French constitution, and the British constitution, and he slightly touched on the American constitution. Well, Mr. Speaker, if you examine these three constitutions you will conclude that it is, pretty difficult for any student of constitutional law to arrive at any satisfactory decision in this matter, because the constiu-tional conditions in all these countries vary. As far as the Senate in France is concerned, for instance, we have to bear in mind that first the members of the Senate are elected by the people. The senators are representatives of the people in the Senate of France to exactly the same degree and to the same extent as are the members of the Chamber of Deputies. The only difference is that the senators instead of being elected for a short period, are elected for a much longer time and one-third of them are replaced after an interval of three or four years, if I am not mistaken. Therefore the senators of France, being representatives of the people, are entitled to receive from the members of the government all the information which must be given to the deputies.

Still the French senators do not stand in the same position as do the senators in the Canadian Senate who are not representatives of the people but have been chosen by the Government.

Another consideration we have to bear in mind, Mr. Speaker, is that in France responsible government as it exists in Canada is not recognized. In Canada the Government is responsible to Parliament. Not only is that the case, but each minister bears a joint responsibility with all the other members of the Cabinet-which means, for example, that should the House of Commons to-day vote non-confidence in the Minister of Militia or in the Minister of Justice, all the other ministers would have to interpret that vote as being a vote of non-confidence in the whole Cabinet, and the Cabinet would have to resign. But in France, the chamber may reject one minister and the rest of the Cabinet remain untouched. Therefore, when we consider these two great differences between the French constitution and our own, it makes

it difficult to accept the French system as being as effective in Canada as it might be in France. Another great difference, which was demonstrated by my hon. friend from Maisonneuve, was that in France not only does ministerial responsibility not exist, but the members of the Cabinet have not to be members of either the Senate or of the Chamber.

Taking the American constitution, we see that the representatives of the people, both in the Senate and in the House of Representatives, are under no compulsion to listen to the members of the Cabinet-that is to say the ministers at Washington have not the right to appear before either House. Nevertheless, if you examine the workings of the Congress at Washington you must come to the conclusion that legislation there is fairly good at times, although none of the ministers have seats in either chamber. When they do give information to Congress it is by appearing before one of the various committees, either of the Senate or of the House of Representatives. Hence, the example of our neighbours to the south shows that government can be carried on very satisfactorily, even though the ministers there are not elected representatives of the people and cannot appear in either House. If now we compare the Canadian constitution to that of England, we again meet with very great difficulty from the fact that the House of Lord is not a chamber whose members are elected by the people or appointed by the government. The gentlemen who sit in the House of Lords in England sit there by virtue of an hereditary right.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   THE HOUSING PROBLEM. PROPOSED ESTABLISHMENT OF A FEDERAL HOUSING BOARD
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L LIB

Andrew Ross McMaster

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McMASTER:

From the accident of birth.

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L LIB

Lucien Cannon

Laurier Liberal

Mr. CANNON:

It may be the accident of birth. Some might consider it a very happy accident, while others might deem it a very unfortunate accident. Nevertheless, the members of the House of Lords are there in accordance with rights which they possess as members of the nobility. Again, jn England you have certain ministers sitting in the House of Lords. Very few do so, the vast majority of the ministers sit in the House of Commons; but I think that all hon. gentlemen here will agree on one thing-that the British system of government as it is carried on today is probably the best in the world. I have not studied the question as thoroughly as some other hon. members may have done, but I do not think the question of having ministers given the right to appear and speak before both Houses has ever been

raised in England. The system as it exists to-day is somewhat similar to our own, and seems to have given satisfaction. The hon. member for Maisonneuve has stated that if his resolution were carried into execution it would give very satisfactory and profitable results. One of the results which the hon. member pointed out, and rightly so in my humble opinion, is that the members of both Houses of the Canadian parliament would be given better and more complete information concerning departmental matters. I do think, Mr. Speaker, that it is a great inconvenience, for example, when matters relating to the Department of Labour, or the Department of the Interior, or the Post Office Department are before the House and the heads of these departments are absent. On the other hand, Mr. Speaker, we have again to bear in mind that every minister is responsible for the policy of these departments; and therefore every minister in the House ought to be sufficiently well informed to give the proper information desired by hon.

10 p.m. members. If in former years satisfactory information has not been given to the House, as it might have been given, I contend that it is not the fault of our actual constitutional system but it may be the fault of the actual government. Every minister in the Cabinet, being responsible for the policy of every department and for every act of his colleagues- decided upon within the Council Chamber- ought to be in a position to present better information than that which is given to the House by the Government in many instances. It might be that the adoption of the resolution would result in expediting the business of this House, but if, on the other hand, it were permitted to a member of the Senate to come into the popular chamber and enter into discussion with the members here on an equal footing, we would have the rather extraordinary spectacle of a man who is not a representative of the people, a man who has not been elected by them, but has been simply chosen by the Government, coming into the House of Commons and discussing matters with those who represent the people and who possess rights and privileges that that senator does not possess. I think, too, that if we had members of our House who are members of the Cabinet crossing over to the Senate Chamber and there discussing with those who are not the elected representatives of the people, legislation initiated in this Chamber, we would be giving to the Senate an

importance that should not belong to that body. The value attaching to legislation originating in the House of Commons arises solely from the fact that that legislation is adopted after having been considered and approved by the representatives of the people, and if the senators were given the privilege of discussing openly with the ministers elected by the people, matters of legislation, the Senate would then have as much importance in the country as the House of Commons now has, and I think that would be a great danger. And my contention, so far as that is concerned, is borne out I think by what has happened in the United States. When the Fathers of American Independence framed their constitution the important body was to be the House of Representatives, but on account of the ministers not sitting in that House, and on account also of the Senate in that way having about the same influence as the House of Representatives, after a certain length of time the Senate became the important body, and to-day legislation of great importance is always originated in the Senate. I do not think we can compare the two bodies of the American legislative machinery, because one has very great influence and the other is of only secondary importance in the working of the constitution.

This is a very important resolution, and the question arises: Should such a radical change he introduced, would it be for the good of our Constitution? I cannot say. But I venture to offer this suggestion, that a solution might lie in a middle course. .We might adopt the system which is followed in England. When ministers of the different departments are members of the House of Lords, under-secretaries represent them in the House of Commons and' act as the representatives of those departments in giving information or in discussing legislation connected therewith. Or else, as was suggested by my hon. friend from North Waterloo (Mr. Euler), a happy solution would be that all ministers holding portfolios should sit in this House, and then all the inconveniences mentioned by my hon. friend from Maisonneuve (Mr. Lemieux) would disappear. The only province where the dual system exists is the province of Quebec.

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Subtopic:   THE HOUSING PROBLEM. PROPOSED ESTABLISHMENT OF A FEDERAL HOUSING BOARD
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UNI L

William Stevens Fielding

Unionist (Liberal)

Mr. FIELDING:

And Nova Scotia.

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L LIB

Lucien Cannon

Laurier Liberal

Mr. CANNON:

I beg your pardon, Mr. Speaker; and also Nova Scotia. I do not know what custom is followed in Nova Scotia, but in our province the ministers sitting in the Legislative Council are as

a rule ministers without fortfolio, and those who hold portfolios sit in the elective chamber. As the hon. member for Waterloo represented, this does away with nearly all the inconveniences mentioned by the introducer of this resolution.

The right hon. Prime Minister (Mr. Meighen) has asked, how this change, if it were to be introduced, would be put into effect. Could it be carried out simply by a resolution of this House and of the Senate? Or would we have to follow the usual procedure indicated in our Constitution, that is, go over to England with an address to the British Parliament to amend the British North America Act? This brings me, Mr. Speaker, to the subject of our powers to amend our Constitution. I regret that this question has not been more fully discussed in Parliament. It is a very important question, and I hope before the Prime Minister leaves for London to meet the Prime Ministers of the other Overseas Dominions an opportunity will be given to this House to discuss it. Should we in the future do as we have done in the past, apply to the British Parliament; or should we take upon ourselves the power of amending our Constitution the same way that other dominions have assumed that power? That is a momentous question, and one that this House ought to be called upon to discuss either by a member on this side or by a member of the Government, so that the Prime Minister will have an expression of opinion thereon before he leaves for London.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   THE HOUSING PROBLEM. PROPOSED ESTABLISHMENT OF A FEDERAL HOUSING BOARD
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UNION

Thomas Hay

Unionist

Mr. Hi M. MOW AT (Parkdale) :

Mr. Speaker, the objection to the present method and the inconveniences incident thereto seem to divide themselves under two main heads: the first being that the information given by proxy in this House by a minister who is a member of the Senate is not of a sufficiently satisfactory character; the second being something that very often looms up in this House, the suggestion that the Senate is inferior to the House of Commons because it is not composed of direct representatives of the people. It seems to me that this latter suggestion is mainly the reason for any dissatisfaction that has been expressed. If one looks back at the discussion preceding Confederation, it will be noticed that the point as to whether the Senate should be an appointed or an elected body was ably discussed, and that the two old parties did not at all divide on political lines. The chief opponent of an elective Senate was the principal Liberal representative from Ontario, the Hon.

George Brown, who was most emphatic in his arguments that the Senate should be an appointed body. His principal reason, as I remember, was that the senators being a smaller body, great inconveniences would arise in that they would have to represent districts, and that as Canada was not then well settled and consisted of very extensive electoral divisions, it would be too much of a burden upon any senator to present himself for election. Mr. Brown's arguments prevailed; the majority of the Quebec conference were in favour of an appointed Senate, and that is the system that has prevailed ever since Confederation. The question arises, is not the country now in favour of a change to an elective system? I am informed that a very large number of the members of the other House would be in favour of such a system.

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L LIB

Henri Sévérin Béland

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BELAND:

After they are dead.

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UNION

Herbert Macdonald Mowat

Unionist

Mr. MOWAT:

The opinions of individual members may differ. I do not feel, however, that the Senate is given, in the minds of the people, the position to which it is entitled. The whole question raised by my hon. friend from Maisonneuve would, it seems to me, be settled' if the charge was not so continually made that the senators do not represent the people. I am of the opinion that the desirable end could be brought about by gradually making the Senate an elective body; if necessary in order to bring that about, an amendment to the British North America Act could be petitioned for. As there are a limited number of senators, each senator would necessarily have to represent groups of constituencies. In Quebec no doubt they are nominated for districts, but not so in Ontario, and very often we find that two senators come from some district, perhaps from one small town, while hundreds of miles of territory adjoining is without senatorial representation. If we could agree on this very simple expedient the difficulty which this resolution has in mind would largely disappear. Each senator now in the upper chamber would be nominated to represent a certain district comprising either a number of constituencies or blocks out of the several provinces. The senator would then be known as the senator from such-and-such a district, and when he resigned or died the vacancy would be filled by election. The term should be for, say, twelve years, so that you would hold out to a man who was desirous of serving his country in the Senate the prospect of twelve years of legislative life, and if he could not make a name for himself; if he

could not give good service during that twelve years in his country's behalf, it would be almost irrefutable evidence that he was not qualified for the position. Under the plan proposed there would be no disturbance of the hon. gentlemen who are at present in the other Chamber, but gradually the Senate would become an elective body.

It may be said that the objections urged by Mr. Brown at the Quebec conference are valid now as they were then. But that is not altogether so, because with the construction of railways and the building up of the country a man who is well known in his district is likely to be well known in the districts around about. He would be a prominent man; he could not expect to be elected unless he were a well known public man. Being elected for twelve years and knowing that he would be a member of the Senate during that period without cavil and without interference, he would be an independent representative and would be in a position to command a great deal more respect and honour than he is now able to get from the country. We would then have a system very much like the American system, where in some of the states the senators are elected by direct vote of the people and in others by the state legislatures. If a senator did not properly fulfil his duties; if he did not seem to be representative of the growing life of the country, somebody would be put in his place at the expiration of his term. It should be a long term; a senator should not have to go back frequently for election as we do, because the burden of representing and conducting frequent elections in a very large district is too great for the ordinary man to have to bear. But under the system which I propose the Senate would gradually assume a position infinitely superior to that which it now occupies and would be very much more satisfactory to the people. If this were done and we lived for twenty-five or thirty years to see the desirable reform accomplished, we would not have, because we were representatives of the people, a constant feeling of, might I say jealousy of those legislatures which had not that advantage. I sincerely hope that this proposal, which I have advocated for years and which I have written about, will be adopted. It may be a little beyond the exact wording of the resolution before the House, but it has been taken up by other hon. gentlemen during the course of the debate, and that is my excuse for offering it to the House at this time.

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L LIB

Andrew Ross McMaster

Laurier Liberal

Mr. A. R. McMASTER (Brome):

Mr. . Speaker, I did not have the pleasure this afternoon and this evening of listening to all that was said by the member from Maissoneuve (Mr. Lemieux). This I regret, because I know that to a question of this kind the hon. gentleman brings the research of the student, the mind of the statesman, and the experience of a parliamentarian of many years standing. I have, however, listened with a great deal of enjoyment to speakers on both sides of the House, and it would appear to me that this is a question of a very abstract nature because it has been surrounded by much sweet reasonableness from both sides of the House.

We have been referred to British precedents in regard to this matter. As I recall it, Mr. Speaker, down to the middle of the last century even cabinets organized by Mr. Gladstone contained as many members of the upper House as, if not more than, they did of the lower House; that is an example to be avoided in this country. The British people have, indeed, only apparently a bicameral system. There were two Houses operating or functioning in the British Isles when the Liberal party was in power, but when the Tory party was in power the House of Lords was a mere registry office for registering the legislation passed by the Tory majority in the House of Commons. That is another thing which we wish to avoid.

I am at one with the member for Maison-neuve in his desire that when we are discussing Estimates or legislation for which a department is responsible, the minister in charge of that department should be in this House. Where I differ from my hon. friend is in that he desires to bring the minister temporarily from the other chamber ; I say that the minister should not be in the other chamber at all. I rise, therefore, to support the attitude taken by the hon. member for North Waterloo (Mr. Euler). I would, however, make one exception; I think it would be reasonable that as, under our system, a minister without portfolio has no emolument and as the leadership in the Senate demands the full attention of the member, not only during the session, but between sessions, the Government of the day should be allowed to have in the upper house one man holding a portfolio and that one man should be a Government leader in the upper house. But I would not have that one man in charge of what I would call a great popular department. The Prime Minister (Mr. Meighen) stated that all departments were spending departments. That, of course, is true; but they differ so much in degree that there is a distinction in fact to be drawn between a great spending department, such as the Department of Railways and Canals and the Department of Public Works, and lesser departments which spend hundreds of thousands of dollars where the larger departments spend millions. It is nothing short of a scandal that, in a democratic country like Canada, the Ministry of Labour should be represented in what amounts to our House of Lords. It is something which should be repugnant to our democratic institutions, and it is a great reflection upon the Government, because the Government should be able to elect a labour man in the country to support them if they really represent the working people of the country, and the fact that they take this worthy gentleman-I have nothing to say against him for the moment-and place him in the upper chamber, is as unconstitutional under our democratic practice as it is ridiculous. The idea that the Postmaster General, beaten in two constituencies, should be taken and placed in our House of Lord's to misrepresent the views of the province from which he comes, in spite of the emphatic protest of the electors of two constituencies in both of which he lost his deposit, if I mistake not, is, to my mind, unconstitutional.

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UNION

John Wesley Edwards

Unionist

Mr. EDWARDS:

That is not correct.

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L LIB

Andrew Ross McMaster

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McMASTER:

Perhaps he lost his deposit in only one constituency and nearly lost it in another.

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UNION

John Wesley Edwards

Unionist

Mr. EDWARDS:

That is not correct.

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L LIB

Andrew Ross McMaster

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McMASTER:

I know that in one constituency, that of Champlain, the minister in question received a few hundred votes against thousands that were given for his adversary. As regards the other constituency of Laurier-Outremont, I have not the figures under my hand at the moment.

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UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER:

I hope the hon. gentleman will not pursue this phase of the subject too far, because it is not really germane to the subject at issue.

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L LIB

Andrew Ross McMaster

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McMASTER:

I agree with you, Mr. Speaker, and I find that, as regards the constituency of Laurier-Outremont, I was wrong, and I hasten to withdraw the statement. He was beaten there by 1247. The hon. member for Parkdale (Mr. Mowat) stated that we might get rid of the question by having the Senate elected, and one hon. member from British Columbia, who

spoke in this debate, was very-strong for an elective Senate. The question of an elective Senate is certainly a very interesting one, and it seems consonant with our practice and our constitutional outlook, if I may use the expression, that the Senate should be elective. If I mistake not, the old Legislative Council in Upper Canada prior to confederation was elective.

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

In its last years.

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L LIB

Andrew Ross McMaster

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McMASTER:

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March 21, 1921