Hon. JAMES MALCOLM (Minister of Trade and Commerce) moved:
That 1,000 copies in English and 250 copies in French of the report prepared for the National Research Council by Dr. Robert Newton on an inquiry in Europe regarding the feasibility of using protein content as a factor in grading and marketing Canadian wheat, tabled in the house on Friday, March 7th, 1930, be printed in blue book form, and that standing order 64 be suspended in relation thereto.
DIVORCE COURT FOR ONTARIO Mr. WILLIAM IRVINE (Wetaskiwin): Mr. Speaker, on March 12 I gave notice of motion, which appears upon the votes and proceedings for that date and which I desire to move now, seconded by Mr. Kellner. That notice of motion reads:
That Bill No. 20, an act to provide in the province of Ontario for the dissolution and annulment of mariage, be read a second time on Tuesday, the 18th of March, instant.
I have no desire to debate this motion at any great length because I would prefer to trust the issue to the disposition of the house. Hon. members will realize that the rules of the house will not permit a discussion on the merits of the bill itself so the only matter now before the house is whether or not the bill shall be read a second time.
Since this motion virtually asks parliament to consider a bill which already has been dealt with, I must state without undue elaboration my reasons which I hope will be considered adequate.
As hon. members are aware, Bill No. 20 provides in effect for the establishment of divorce courts in the province of Ontario, It was read a second time on Tuesday, March 11, during the hour for private bills. The result
Divorce Court for Ontario
of the vote upon that occasion was unsatisfactory ; I do not mean that it was unsatisfactory to myself or to hon. members who like myself were interested in the success of the bill, but it was unsatisfactory to the house and I think I am safe in saying, from what I have read since, that it was unsatisfactory to the country.
Bill No. 20 has been very contentious, having been moved in the house for several years. It has been very contentious in parliament and outside of parliament; it threatens to arouse latent religious animosities. Therefore I submit it was and is desirable that parliament should speak in no uncertain voice in regard to it. The vote should be decisive, but unfortunately on the 11th instant the vote was not decisive. There was registered against the bill a majority of one. A majority of one would be decisive under ordinary circumstances. If, for instance, there had been as many hon. members present on that occasion as we have in the house to-day, a majority of one would have been as decisive as a majority of several, but on that occasion there were present only 157 members out of 245. I do not wish to reflect on hon. members who were not present. Let me draw the attention of the house to a set of circumstances which combined to produce the unsatisfactory result which the motion before us now seeks to correct. It was anticipated that the bill would give rise to a protracted discussion; it was reasonable to expect that from previous experiences. The bill had been before the house in the private bills' hour for only one night prior to the vote to which I refer, so that hon. members did not expect a vote to come at that time. I know I did not expect a vote myself and I have been interested in the bill. It happened that the discussion terminated suddenly, shortly after the opening of the sitting at eight o'clock, with the result that many hon. members had not time to get back to the house. In fact I know that perhaps about a score of members arrived in the lobbies after the question had been put and they were therefore, by the rules of the house precluded from voting. This fact accounted in a large measure for the small vote.
Another consideration which I offer to the house is that a slight error was made by the clerks in counting the vote. In the house we of course paid very little attention to that. The error did not alter the result at the moment, but it did increase the dissatisfaction both in the house and outside of it.
Another thing we should take note of in this connection is that there was a misunderstanding as to the recognition of pairs. I do not again wish to suggest that any hon. member broke faith designedly, but the fact remains that certain hon. members who were away on urgent business and had their pairs arranged, assuming that the pairs would be recognized under all circumstances, were very much dismayed and dissatisfied to discover that the pairs were broken. In fact, I think the only pair recognized was that by the leader of the opposition (Mr. Bennett) who was paired with the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King). These circumstances which I have enumerated may not be regarded by hon. members as constituting a sufficient reason for voting again for the second reading of the bill to-day, but I will offer no others to the house.
I hope the majority of the house, in view of all the circumstances, are as dissatisfied with the vote as I am, and also appreciate the desirability of having a decisive vote on the issue. So I ask that parliament speak with decision on this matter. If that should result in the defeat of the bill, then those interested in the issue can turn their efforts in another direction. I appeal to the fairness and good judgment of the house. This is not a party issue. So far as I know, neither the government nor the opposition have compromised their following in any way on this matter. The only obligation that we have is as individuals to ourselves and to the issue before us, and so I hope every member will consider the question. I know, as has occurred in other instances, religious convictions and sentiments enter into a vote of this kind. I have every respect for the sincerity of hon. members, whether they be Catholic or Protestant, who vote in accordance with their convictions; but let us vote anyway; let us have a decisive vote on this matter. All I ask is for the voice of parliament.
Subtopic: REPORT OF NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL ON PROTEIN CONTENT OF WHEAT