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