May 8, 1929

CON

George Reginald Geary

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GEARY:

The proper course is indicated in Beauchesne at page 101:

The proper course for persons who feel called upon to attack the conduct of a Judge is to proceed by way of a petition in which all the allegations are specifically stated so tha-the person accused may have full opportunity to answer the charges presented against him.

If my hon. friend wishes to attack a judge who, if I may say so, happens to be a very learned and exemplary person, let him do so in a proper manner.

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Subtopic:   FREEDOM OF SPEECH, LIBERTY OF THE PRESS, RIGHT OF ASSEMBLY
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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I do not intend

further to attack the judge. I want simply to call attention to the general situation which exists. A little while ago I pointed out the hard conditions under which many of these Finnish people had to live and work. I think I was not going too far afield when I called the attention of the house to the religious and intellectual background of the judge who presided at the trial of this case. Someone asked me a little while ago why I brought this matter before the house. I said that it was because this was the place where I had a seat. I feel this is an important enough question to bring before parliament and the country at large. I would ask several things of the government; I am not insisting upon a decision to-day, but I would urge that the government consider these matters. First, I would ask that they carefully consider the question of leniency in the case of Vaara and the six men who have been imprisoned because of the attempt to hold a street meeting. I know it is not usual to grant leniency in the case of short sentences, but this is a very exceptional type of case. Second, I would urge that with respect to these men whose 'oases are now before the Immigration department, deportation should not be ordered on political grounds. These men were attempting to hold a street meeting. Possibly they broke the ordinances of the city. They were sent down for a month. Further than that they were charged

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with being disorderly because they in some way resisted the police. Possibly they are guilty on that charge. I submit that this is not a sufficient ground for deportation, that behind the charges against them lay the fact that they were members of the communist party and attempting to carry on communist propaganda. I would hope that in this country we would not follow the lead of the American republic, which has deported people for political reasons. It is a long time since Great Britain did any such thing.

I would even go so far as to suggest that certain representations might be made to the provincial authorities and to the police of the city of Toronto that they were coming at least rather near to exceeding their authority in prohibiting meetings at which languages other than English or French were being used. If I remember aright, there are clauses in the treaty of Peace which commit the signatories to respect the language rights of nationals, and I take it that we have certain responsibilities in Canada under that treaty of protecting the language rights of the various peoples who are living in this country. Whether or not, however, we undertake to keep our faith with the others who signed the treaty, I would say that from the standpoint of expediency it is highly desirable that when we invite people to come to us from other lands these immigrants shall be assured that they will have in Canada the full use of their own language.

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CON

Alexander McKay Edwards

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. EDWARDS (Waterloo):

If they obey the laws of the country.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

My hon. friend from South Waterloo suggests, if they obey the laws of the country. We have certain laws on the statute books under which these men may be charged and tried if they are not obeying the laws of the country, but it is absolutely absurd, that the police, simply for their own convenience, should say: You must not use a language that we cannot understand.

Further, I would suggest to the government that the government put on the statute books even at this session-and only the government can do it at this session-any legislation that is necessary in ordter to protect what most of us have been taught were the fundamental rights of British people.

May I in closing venture to quote a paragraph or two from an editorial on personal liberty in the Round Table of March, 1929:

The second foundation of the British commonwealth is the liberty of the individual. This immortal idea, the most precious and important of all social rights, legally established in England by the long struggle which lasted from

Magna Charta in 1215 to the Bill of Rights in 1688, and protected by countless enactments and judicial decisions, is the basis of law everywhere in the British commonwealth. This is not always perfectly realized. Liberty may be denied to individuals by fraud or corruption or ignorance here and there.

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LIB

Hewitt Bostock (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

Order. The hon. gentleman's time is up.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I believe, Mr. Speaker, that under standing order 37 I have the privilege of speaking even beyond forty minutes.

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LIB

Hewitt Bostock (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

Standing order 37 reads:

No member, except the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition, or a minister moving a government order and the member speaking in reply immediately after such minister, or a member making a motion of "no confidence" in the government and a minister replying thereto, shall speak for more than forty minutes at a time in any debate.

In the present instance there is no motion of "no confidence", but the hon. gentleman may continue while I consider the matter further.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I shall not trespass upon the time of the house, except to finish this quotation:

It may for short periods be temporarily suspended in cases of civil emergency or foreign war. But nowhere in the British Empire can it be constitutionally destroyed, nor has it ever, even in times of emergency, been long suspended.

What this means may be realized by considering the consequence in other countries of extravagant idealisms, communistic, nationalist, facial or religious, which have recently triumphed at the expense of the older and far more important ideal of personal liberty. In Russia, in Italy, in many other countries of Europe, and in most parts of Asia outside the British commonwealth, the liberty of the individual is at the mercy of the caprice of government, whether constitutional or revolutionary. The right of assembly, the freedom of the press, the right of asylum, the integrity of the courts, the immunity of the individual from unlawful arrest, even the right of private judgment, are all habitually denied. The people may enjoy national independence; they may be able to try various experiments such as socialism, or some new but arbitrary form of law- and order after a period of chaos; but they have not the most precious of all rights, security that the law and the courts will secure to them as individuals the advantages of liberty and justice, whatever government may be in power.

I plead, Mr. Speaker, that we in this country should follow the lead not of Europe or even of the great republic to the south, but rather that of the motherland, and in all these cases absolutely and rigidly insist upon the fullest measure of freedom.

Freedom of Speech

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LIB

Hewitt Bostock (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

In order that there may

be no misunderstanding, I maintain my first ruling that the hon. gentleman should not have been allowed to speak for more than forty minutes, although by the courtesy of the house he was given that privilege. Standing order 37 says:

No member, except the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, or a minister moving a government order and the member speaking in reply immediately after such minister-

The hon. gentleman was not properly speaking in reply to the motion made by the hon. Minister of Finance (Mr. Robb) that the Speaker do now leave the chair for the house to resolve itself into committee of ways and means. It was on that motion that the hon. gentleman rose for the privilege of expressing certain grievances before the house should go into committee of ways and means, but he is not entitled to speak for more than forty minutes.

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CON

George Halsey Perley

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE PERLEY (Argenteuil):

May I suggest that Your Honour consider the matter a little further? I am not quite sure in my own mind what the committee originally intended by this rule, but the question now raised is a very serious one, and I think it ought to be carefully considered by Your Honour, if you will do so, and perhaps give a judgment later. This motion is certainly a government order; there is no question about that. The Minister of Finance moves a government order, and the first member who speaks in reply is entitled under this rule to speak for more than forty minutes. Again, if a member makes a motion of " no confidence " in amendment to the motion for supply, that case is also specially provided for in rule 37.

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LIB

Hewitt Bostock (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

If there is a motion, but there is no motion of " no confidence."

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CON

George Halsey Perley

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE PERLEY:

Apart from that, the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Woodsworth) is the member speaking in reply immediately after the Minister of Finance moved a government order, and therefore under rule 37 he should be entitled to speak for more than forty minutes. I admit that the words of the rule are not as plain as they might be, but the Minister of Finance certainly moved a government order, and the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre is the first member speaking in reply to it. I quite admit that it is arguable, but it is a matter that the Speaker might very well consider most carefully because it makes a lot of difference. It might very well be that at various times on the 78594-149J

motion to go into ways and means or supply, a member would wish to speak on a subject which it would take him much longer than forty minutes to discuss, although he would not go so far as to move a non-confidence motion. Many questions are discussed to better advantage without a non-confidence motion, as the government are then able to view the question dispassionately. To say that on a motion to go into supply no member shall speak for more than forty minutes, unless he is going to move a non-confidence motion, is proceeding a little further, I think, than the committee intended. It might be well for the Speaker to consider the point carefully. I think the first member to speak might be allowed more than forty minutes on a motion to go into supply, even although he does not move a non-confidence motion, because he might desire to discuss a very important question.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   FREEDOM OF SPEECH, LIBERTY OF THE PRESS, RIGHT OF ASSEMBLY
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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. H. H. STEVENS (Vancouver Centre):

Mr. Speaker, might we not ask that this point be debated? That is, that we might have an opportunity of presenting it before Your Honour makes a final ruling. Frankly, I think this is a most serious step. For instance, a government order might deal with any government -bill, and under the suggested ruling we would be limited lo forty minutes replying to a minister on a highly complicated bill that might take a long time properly to review. In regard to this particular motion to go into committee of ways and means or committee of supply, it is the inherent and most sacred right of a member to present to the house the grievances of any subject. In reply to the motion of the Minister of Finance that the house go into committee of ways and means, and before that is granted to the minister, a member has a right to present -his grievance, which might take him a very considerable time. Personally, I would earnestly request Your Honour not to make that final ruling on this occasion, because to my mind it would very seriously abridge our rights.

It has been suggested that I elaborate for a moment the question of dealing with a government bill. We will take as an instance a bill, that might be on the order paper now, we will say a railway -bill involving a large expenditure of money and a very complicated issue. If the member who sets himself the task of preparing an answer to the government's proposal were limited to forty minutes, he could not possibly do so adequately.

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

There is not any suggestion of that in the ruling.

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

Oh yes, it would follow

if that ruling were established. The minister

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presenting the bill has unlimited time to cover the ground fully, but the member replying would be limited to a period within which it would be impossible for him to present his case. Therefore I would respectfully urge Your Honour not to make that the final ruling until we have had further time to consider it. I would also ask that Your Honour grant us an opportunity to debate it fully, especially in the absence of my hon. leader.

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IND

Joseph Henri Napoléon Bourassa

Independent

Mr. HENRI BOURASSA (Latoelle):

Mr. Speaker, on the point of order, the remarks made by the member for Argenteuil (Sir George Perley) and now by the member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Stevens) are, I think, extremely opportune. The new rules of the house ought to be interpreted according to the spirit, and not according to the strict letter. Now, the standing proposition of the Minister of Finance every time we are going into supply is for the house to transform itself into committee of the whole to grant ways and means to His Majesty's government. This is a substantial function of parliament and, as Your Honour has well stated, it is a substantial right of every member to take advantage of that motion to present to the house any grievance from any community represented by him.

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LIB

Alexander MacGillivray Young

Liberal

Mr. YOUNG (Saskatoon):

Why should

that be limited to one hon. member?

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IND

Joseph Henri Napoléon Bourassa

Independent

Mr. BOURASSA:

I will deal with my hon. friend's point in a minute. Therefore I say it is the outstanding duty of every member not to let that privilege be abridged. It may be abused at times, it may be used inopportunely by this or that member. But we should not consider the rules from that point of view. We should take the general rule as it is, and the principle underlying it. Now, every time the Minister of Finance moves that the house resolve itself into committee of ways and means, it is the right-and very often the duty-of each or any member to oppose that motion in order to bring before the house any grievance or something which he may think of immediate interest to the country.

The question then raised takes precedence over every other business, and has to be dealt with thoroughly by the house before it decides to vote for or against the motion of the Minister of Finance.

I have been asked a very pertinent question by the member for Saskatoon (Mr. Young): Why should it be confined to one member? That is the chance of every member. The first member to stand up when the motion is made by the Minister of Finance takes that

precedence for that day. He brings up the question which he thinks ought to be discussed and settled by the house before the motion of the Minister of Finance is adopted. I think it is a very important point, Mr. Speaker. It might give rise to consequences much more important and numerous and varied than we may imagine at first. We must look at the rule, and at the ruling passed upon it, not from the sole point of view of the member who has brought up the question to-day, but from the point of view of its general application. I claim that whether there is or is not a motion of want of confidence, every member who challenges the motion to go into committee of ways and means has the right to present fully to the house the question which he thinks important for the time being to be disposed of. It can be only one question. It has to be dealt with by the house before the motion of the Minister of Finance is adbpted, and I think we should look twice before we abridge that individual right of all members of the house.

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IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. A. W. NEILL (Comox-Albemi):

Mr. Speaker, speaking to the point of order, the dilemma in which we find ourselves to-day is only another illustration of the undesirability of the rule we passed a couple of years ago. I am quite willing to accept your ruling, sir, and also the objections made against it. because they are both correct in that they illustrate our position.

You, sir, have ruled, taking the concrete instance, that the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Woodsworth) is not entitled to speak longer than his forty minutes, because the motion before the house is to go into committee of ways and means, and he was discussing a subject quite remote from the motion. Therefore it would seem reasonable that he should' not be allowed to exercise a privilege denied, as my hon. friend says, to other members. Why should the privilege be granted to the man who first gets to his feet? I may have a burning grievance of as much importance to my constituents as the grievance of the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre is to his constituents. Because he first gets your eye, sir, he can speak for all eternity, and I am limited to forty minutes.

The hon. member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Stevens) made a very clear point, but he omitted one illustration which I think is very strong. It is a well-known fact that the budget speech of the Minister of Finance is generally replied to by the financial critic of the opposition rather than by the leader of

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the opposition, and I believe this rule was worded for that purpose, so that it would allow the man speaking on behalf of His Majesty's opposition to criticize the whole budget; he would not be limited to forty minutes, which would be evidently grossly unfair. Therefore that privilege is to be conceded. If we allow that, we must also concede the privilege to any private, insignificant member to get up and delay the house while he discusses perhaps some private local grievance when that right is denied to other members following him. I suggest that the matter could be best solved by taking another vote, and I am sure that we should find the majority of the members willing to do away with this foolish forty minute rule.

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LIB

Charles Marcil

Liberal

Hon. CHARLES MARGIL (Bonaventure):

The intention of the committee at the time the rule was drawn up was to limit speeches to forty minutes, but we made certain exceptions thereto. The first exception was made in favour of the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition and that was agreed to unanimously. But the question was raised that someone might speak on behalf of the Prime Minister-someone on the government side-or some member of the opposition might speak on behalf of the leader of the opposition, as for instance the critic of the opposition speaking in reply to the budget speech. We therefore extended the exceptions from two leaders to the minister who might move a government order or to the member of the opposition replying thereto on behalf of the leader of the opposition. That was our intention.

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May 8, 1929