June 14, 1922

CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

Unfortunately I am not bound to suit my argument to my hon. friend. I have the unfortunate habit of proceeding with my argument in my own way, which may not quite suit the scintillating intellect of my hon. friend, but after all it is my way, and, for some reason or other, I am stubborn enough to follow it. Now, Mr. Speaker, Bourinot, referring to reports of committees, and so on, says this at page 479:

A report may be referred back to a committee for further consideration (f), or with instructions giving them power to amend the same in any respect (g). In this way a committee may regularly reconsider and even reverse a decision it has previously arrived at. As the rules of the house govern the procedure of committees generally, a committee cannot strictly speaking renew a question on which its judgment has been already expressed.

And then at the foot of the page there is this comment:

Every question by voice in committee bindeth, and cannot be altered by themselves, but by the house it may.

I shall not read the various other authorities but I have them here. The point is this: On that day-and that is what I wish to emphasize-on that day, the last, as I call it, legal day, this report which I hold in my hands, as reported in the proceedings of Tuesday, May 23, was adopted. The point of order which I raised on that occasion was sustained. I will admit that the Chairman did say that my point of order was not well taken "at the present moment," but later in the day, after the report had been adopted, one of my hon. friends to my left sought to re-open the matter and the Chairman ruled that it was not in order. That was on Tuesday and, I think it was the same afternoon, the chief clerk of committees, Mr. Todd, intimated to me that there had been some technical oversight, that the Chairman of the committee had forgotten to say these magic words "Shall I present the report to the House?", and that, because he had forgotten to use those magic words, it was impossible to present the report to the House. Mr. Todd informed me that afternoon that the Chairman had instructed him that a meeting would be called on Friday for the purpose of securing that authority. I asked the Clerk if there was any intention of reopening the question; because every member of the committee knew perfectly well

186J

the stand I had takn on the matter, and also knew of my objection to the question being opened, and that the ruling had been given-

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LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie (Solicitor General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. McKENZIE:

I rise to a point of order. My hon. friend is discussing a former decision of this committee whose report we are now discussing, and saying there were softie irregularities in connection with the former finding of the committee, whether it was reported or not. I submit to you, Sir, on the question of procedure, that if my hon. friend-or any member of the committee or any member of the House-was dissatisfied with that finding of the committee at that time, that there should have been an ap-

5 p.m. peal to the House at once and the will of the House ascertained upon that point. But that was not done, the committee went on with other proceedings, and, I submit, Sir, upon the discussion, for ratification or otherwise, of the second report, it is not open to a member of the committee, or a member of the House, to discuss a point as to irregularity or as to proper procedure in connection with that report. I submit that the discussion upon this question as to a former irregularity is not in order, and it is not competent for the House to deal with it.

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

May I, Mr. Speaker,

speak to the point of order in just one sentence? My hon. friend says that there existed a right of appeal to the House at the time of the first report. Let me tell him that, being absent in the flesh at the time referred to, I was unable to make that appeal.

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LIB

Hewitt Bostock (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I understand that the hon. member for Centre Vancouver is simply reciting the facts which took place in the committee, and that he does not intend to move that the report be referred back.

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LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie (Solicitor General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. McKENZIE:

fn further argument in support of the point of order, I understand from the arguments advanced by the hon. member that he considers the report in question to be irregular and bad, and that while he may not move to refer it back at the present time, he may perhaps do so later on.

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LIB

Hewitt Bostock (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

The hon. member for Centre Vancouver has waived that right by his admission of a few minutes ago.

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

I am seeking to lay the foundation for an argument which I

Wheat Board

propose to make in a moment. As I say, another meeting of the committee was held on Friday. Of that meeting certain notice was given, and in this I answer my hon. friend's question of a moment ago. I was asked if I received notice of that meeting. I did. I received this notice:

The Select Standing Committee on Agriculture and Colonization, of which you are a member, will meet in room No. 271 at eleven o'clock, tomorrow, Friday.

No notice whatever was given that it was intended to change the original report. I also had the assurance of the Chief Clerk of Committees that it was the intention of the committee merely to ask for leave to present the original report. Now, I come to the last meeting. At that last meeting-based upon this call that I mentioned a moment ago, in which no intimation was given that there was to be a very vital and important change in the report-this resolution was proposed:

It was moved by Mr. Forke, seconded by Mr. Lovett; that

"The resolution proposed by Mr. Johnson (Moosejaw), on the- 11th day of May and adopted on the 17th day of May be rescinded."

That was done. Now I submit to the House that was an extraordinary action, especially in view of the facts which I have referred to. But that is not the chief significance of it. All the committee did was to rescind a resolution which formed a part, a very small part, of the volume of a report which had been adopted. However, on the same day a new report was drafted and presented to the House, and I learned of it when I returned to the city the next day. I feel, sir, that it was perhaps the most flagrant breach of parliamentary etiquette which obtains, and has obtained for so many years, the only case that I remember where members were deliberately- perhaps, I am putting that too strongly- where members were led to believe that no new or important action would be taken; but when they knew that he was away and was not there, and when they knew perfectly well the position he had taken on previous occasions, they deliberately changed the report which had been previously adopted;- yes, and I am advised, after the Chairman had stated at the previous meeting that it could not be changed. The fifth report of the committee was moved in this way:

Moved by Mr. Garland, seconded by Mr. Mc-Conica, that the following be the report of the committee.

And so forth. What I am referring to is a statement by the hon. member for Marquette (Mr. Crerar), who told the House, in his discussion of the matter, that the report now before the House had been carefully considered by the committee. That portion of the report which exempts the flour milling industry from the control of the Wheat Board was never considered by the committee. Furthermore, when that committee was called on May 26, there was a caucus of the members of this section of the House, and only two members, the hon. member for Victoria city (Mr. Tolmie) and the hon. member for Peel (Mr. Charters) attended that meeting of the committee. These hon. gentlemen attended the committee at eleven o'clock. The committee was not called to order. There were little groups of members standing around talking. The Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Motherwell), the hon. member for Marquette (Mr. Crerar), the hon. member for Moosejaw Mr. Johnson) and a few others had their heads together concocting the report that is now before the House. Then my hon. friend says that this report was considered by the committee. There was absolutely no notice given of the changes in the report. There was absolutely no consideration given to this vital change in the original report, namely, the parr, " except as they include the direct marketing of flour and other mill products ", and this is a vital part of the report now before the House.

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PRO

Thomas Alexander Crerar

Progressive

Mr. CRERAR:

If my hon. friend states that I was a party to concocting any scheme to deprive him of his right of appearing before the committee, he is stating what is entirely incorrect. The committee on the occasion in question met in the regular way after notice to members had been given, and the fact that my hon. friend was absent was not noted by myself. A discussion took place for an hour and a half and a decision was reached. When my hon. friend imputes motives that are altogether wrong to myself and other members of the committee in the manner he has done, he is transgressing the bounds of what is actual fact.

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

Might I set my hon. friend right in one respect? I remember the occasion to which he has referred and also that as I had to attend a council meeting, I had to leave the committee before any decision was reached.

Wheat Board

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

That was the first meeting. My hon. friend is not going to divert me from my argument one particle. My hon. friend is referring to the meeting of May 23, and he gives me the very material which I was going to use. On that occasion my hon. friend violently differed from the resolution of my hon. friend from Moosejaw. He stated on that occasion that he was absolutely opposed to a compulsory wheat hoard or a wheat board with compulsory powers and he threw out some suggestions which my hon. friend from Moosejaw, after his resolution had been adopted, intimated that he might be prepared to accept. It is these facts that lead me to the conclusion that, in the interim between May 23 and May 26, these hon. gentlemen, in some mysterious way -maybe spiritual, psychological, but in some way or another-brought their minds into harmony, and they produced a report changing vitally the report that had been adopted.

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CON

Simon Fraser Tolmie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. TOLMIE:

If the hon. member is referring to the last meeting when the report was adopted, I may say that the hon. member for Peel (Mr. Charters) and myself attended it. We waited for twenty-five minutes. No business had been commenced at that time, and the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Motherwell) left before any business was done at that meeting.

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

The meeting was not called to order until long after that hour-eleven o'clock. If this practice is adopted in connection with Parliament, that, after a committee have given weeks of consideration to an important matter and have arrived at a conclusion, and after members of the committee have accepted that conclusion as definite and final, one wing of the committee may get together and say: "We will have another meeting on Friday; we will send an ordinary notice around with absolutely no intimation of a vital change, and then we can meet and reverse or vitally change the previous decision"-if that can be done, a hopeless condition faces committees of this House in the future. The situation is absolutely appalling, and I intend to protest now and at any other time against procedures of that kind. It is not, in my estimation, in the slightest measure in keeping with the ethics of Parliament. It is a violation of all the decencies of business procedure. How can we have confidence, if we attend a committee and pass a bill, that at some future meeting of

which we have no notice of intention to vary that bill, those who favour the particular bill will not meet and change, modify oi amend it? Or, how can we have confidence that a vital resolution may not be changed in this way? Every member who was present in the committee from among my hon. friends to the left supported the resolution of the hon. member for Moosejaw. Yet after weeks of consideration and a vital decision, at a meeting at which I was officially informed that no business of that kind would be taken up, a vital change was made, moreover, I say, in face of a lengthy debate at a previous meeting where I raised a point of order that this could not be done and a ruling was made accordingly. The report is now before the House. I submit that this report has not received the consideration of the Committee on Agriculture; I submit to the Government that this report does not represent a considered opinion of the Committee on Agriculture as regards that portion which exempts the flour milling industry from control of the board.

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PRO

Thomas Henry McConica

Progressive

Mr. McCONICA:

I rise to a point of order.

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LIB

Hewitt Bostock (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I understand the hon. member rises to a point of order.

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PRO

Thomas Henry McConica

Progressive

Mr. McCONICA:

My point of order is that this report is regularly before the House and that the discussion of the hon. gentleman is not germane to the substance of the report and, therefore, is out of order. This is not a proceedings at which we can review what took place in the committee.

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LIB

Hewitt Bostock (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

The Solicitor General (Mr. McKenzie) raised the same point a moment ago; but I understood from the beginning of the remarks of the hon. member for Centre Vancouver (Mr. Stevens) that he waived the point of order which he might have raised, but he was only reciting facts in order to reach certain conclusions, which conclusions he is reaching just now. I understand he has left the question of order and that he does not protest the validity of the report of the committee now that it is before the House.

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

I close that portion of my remarks with this observation, that when the hon. member for Marquette in this debate states that this report was under consideration by the committee and was adopted after study, that is not an accurate statement of fact.

Wheat Board

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PRO

Thomas Alexander Crerar

Progressive

Mr. CRERAR:

If my hon. friend will permit me, I have just this to say in that respect, that I was present in the commlittee and apparently my hon. friend was not; that this report that is now before this House was considered in that committee, if my recollection is right, for an hour and a half and discussed and agreed upon. If my hon. friend, after he received the notice for the committee, was not present, that is no fault of any other hon. member of this house.

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

In the way described by the hon. member for Victoria (Mr. Tolmie), exactly. But if they persist in the argument I submit this. We have the report of the previous committee, arrived at after a period of about six or eight weeks' sitting; and in an hour and a half, my hon. friend says, they reversed the principle of that report by exempting from the operation of the Wheat Board the flour and milling industry of Canada. That is a vital change. Now, my hon. friends to my left have asked this Parliament for a wheat board. I have never taken a stand in favour of a compulsory wheat board; they have. Their leader (Mr. Crerar), the member for Mposejaw (Mr. Johnson), who consented to the changing of his motion, and the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Motherwell), by their tactics at the last meeting have completely vitiated any useful purpose that would have been served by the resolution of the member for Moose-jaw. That is my point. I am not in favour of a compulsory wheat board, I repeat; but it does look mighty funny to me that hon. gentlemen should come into the House with an emaciated resolution such as this and support it as meeting their requirements. As I told the committee on more than one occasion, we stand clearly on the principle of a voluntary pool for the handling of the products of the West.

Now, let me turn for a moment to a brief consideration of this resolution. My hon. friend from Marquette a moment ago, in his address, ridiculed the questions that my right hon. leader (Mr. Meighen) and I asked regarding the practical working out of this proposal. I ask whatever hon. gentlemen on the treasury benches may have charge of the drafting of the bill to consider one feature,-I am not going into very many phases of the subject, but I want to take this one. By this resolution, upon which, it is stated, the House is to base the legislation that is to be passed, you will control, if it is to be effective at

all, by subsequent provincial legislation, the compulsory acquisition of wheat in two provinces. I should like the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Robb) to note this in particular: In this resolution we are saying to the milling industry, "We are not going to touch you; we are exempting you from the compulsory features of this board." Am I wrong in that view of the matter? Is that a mis-statement of fact?

I submit it is in the resolution and you cannot escape it. Now, how are we going to exempt the milling industry? Take the millers of Alberta and Saskatchewan. They are to be exempted from the compulsory features of the board by the legislation which this resolution proposes, and that is the price of the consent of the Minister of Agriculture and of the Government tos this proposal,-at least, that remark applies to the Minister of Agriculture, for I have heard him express his views. But you will commandeer or acquire under compulsion all the wheat in these two provinces. Where will the millers get their wheat? My hon. friend from Marquette says, from the wheat board. But how can the millers operate under normal conditions-as you assure them you intend them to do, by exempting them from the compulsory action of the board-, if the only place they can get their wheat is from the board, which will have absolute control? They are compelled to go to the board for their wheat. Some one will say, of course, and it occurred to me myself, that perhaps, Manitoba being unable to come under this system this year, the millers can buy their wheat there from the Wheat Exchange in Winnipeg, which will be in full operation. But my hon. friend from Marquette (Mr. Crerar), who sneered at my questions a moment ago regarding imports, laid down as a doctrine in regard to importations, that the moment the wheat entered the provinces that were under the wheat board it would immediately come under the control and into the possession of the board. That is what the hon. member said; it is his interpretation of the proposal; and I presume that he is right. Now, I ask, where will the millers get their wheat? From one source only, and that is the wheat board. I appeal to the Minister of Trade and Commerce, who is a business man of broad experience and sound common sense. He is experienced in the milling business and I defy any hon. gentleman to besmirch his character with any of the terms of opprobrium they heap on millers generally. When you single a man

Wheat Board

out and look him in the face, general denunciations vanish into thin air; and so I will address myself, through you, Mr. Speaker, to the hon. minister. If he were operating a mill in Alberta, like the Maple Leaf, or Robin Hood in Saskatchewan, knowing that he had to compete in the world's market with his products-knowing that he had to compete in British Columbia, in Ontario, in Europe, in the West Indies, in China, in Japan with his products -does he for a moment think that he could operate if he could not buy his wheat on the open market? Will my hon. friend intimate whether he thinks that would be possible?

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LIB

James Alexander Robb (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. ROBB:

If they created embarrassments in Alberta, I might have to move to Ontario or Quebec.

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June 14, 1922