April 28, 1930

PRIVILEGE-MR. MANION

CON

Robert James Manion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. R. J. MANION (Fort William):

I

rise to a question of privilege. I do so at this moment, because the Minister of Labour (Mr. Heenan) is in his seat, and he might not happen to be when we reach the orders of the day. As a question of privilege is in order at all times, I presume I may bring it up at this moment. The question I wish to deal with is the report of a speech made by the Minister of Labour at Sioux Lookout and reported in various papers. It was reported in the Fort William paper and the Port Arthur paper along the same lines as I shall read from the Toronto Star of April 15, 1930. The heading is:

Proud of his birth. Heenan scores critic. Answers remarks of Hon. Dr. R. J. Manion but sees he is unaffected.

The despatch is dated Sioux Lookout, April 15. It says that this was a nonpolitical banquet. Then the following paragraph occurs:

149G

Privilege-Mr. Manion

During his short address Mr. Heenan declared that the occasion did not warrant the discussion of politics. In connection with interruptions and apparent attempts by certain members of parliament to throw him off his equilibrium, particularly a speech made by Dr. R. J. Manion (Conservative, Fort William) during which remarks were made in connection with the mediocrity of Mr. Heenan's early life and the humble surroundings in which he was born, the minister said: "Far from feeling down-trodden by the honourable gentleman's exposure, I am proud to let it be known that I was born under the thatched roof of a humble cottage in Ireland. In spite of the sarcastic reference by Dr. Manion, I was blessed with a home influence that cannot be equalled."

Asked if he were not a bit shaken by such unusual remarks made by Dr. Manion in connection with his birth, he smiled. "Why should I be shaken by an exhibition of bad manners on the part of another member?" he said.

Neither in the House of Commons nor on a public platform did I ever in any shape, manner or form refer to the place or the condition or the surroundings of the birth of the Minister of Labour or of any other hon. member. I am one of those who believe that the condition of a man's birth has nothing whatever to do with his attainments in life. If the minister is correctly reported, he stated what is absolutely and wholly untrue. Furthermore, if he is correctly reported, he stated what he knows to be untrue. I am hoping the minister will rise in his place and say that he is misquoted, and I am also hoping that the Toronto Star and the other papers that published this false information will give as much importance to the correction as they have given to the statement.

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LIB

Peter Heenan (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Hon. PETER HEENAN (Minister of Labour):

I hope the hon. member for Fort

William will not expect me to try to interpret the speech he made on the floor of the house. I have a few editorials, one or two of which I might read. This is from the London Advertiser of April 7, 1930, and it is headed: "Parliamentary Manners." It reads:

The Honourable Peter Heenan is a labour man in the fullest sense, and one of the secrets of his success in settling labour disputes is his sympathy with the workers, with whose needs he is familiar by practical experience. Another of his valuable qualities is his unfailing courtesy and good temper.

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CON

Leslie Gordon Bell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BELL (Hamilton):

The member should blush when he reads that.

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LIB

Peter Heenan (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. HEENAN:

I am speaking now about good manners for members.

This appeared in a very marked way in the debate on unemployment, because of the contrast afforded by the extremely unmannerly interruptions to which he was subjected from the opposition benches, and that not from the back benches, but very largely from the front

row. Even the leader of the opposition so far forgot his dignity as to ask Mr. Heenan who had prepared his speech. Mr. Heenan himself treated the interruptions with good-humoured indifference, but the Speaker, as guardian of the dignity of the house, felt obliged to intervene and to say that the continual interruptions were unfair. Dr. Manion (Fort William) was afterwards called to order for unparliamentary language. His remark that Mr. Heenan had "reached realms of prosperity beyond his fondest dreams in days gone by" was a contemptible sneer at the minister because he had not been born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Wage-earners will resent the snobbish attitude of Conservative front-benchers toward one of themselves, who has carved out his career unaided, and has discharged the duties of his important office with distinguished success. We quote from Hansard to show the boorishness of the minister's critic.

Dr. Manion: The hon. gentleman has a

method of his owm, ,a method which is cunning, if one cares to stoop to it during election time. He has a habit of misquoting statements and misstating facts, and after he has done that for a week

Some hon. Members: Order.

Dr. Manion: He spends a week doing that

sort of thing during election time, and. then on Sunday he goes to church and prays that the good Lord will not allow anybody to come around to tell the truth during the next week.

Some hon. Members: Order.

Dr, Manion: He also conjured up in his

brain-if I may use that term after listening to his three-hour speech-a sort of idiotic delusion that in some way I had endeavoured to stop the building of the trans-Canada highway.

Some hon. Members: Order.

At this point the Speaker intervened, and Dr. Manion was obliged to retract. The member for Fort William was not the only offender. Many passages as reprehensible as the foregoing could be reproduced from Hansard. By actual account, the minister was interrupted 145 times.

Labour has reason to be proud of the demeanor of its representative in the government, and of his observance of the best traditions of parliamentary decorum. He showed an example of the manners which spring from natural goodness of heart, and which neither wealth nor college and professional training was able to impart to those whom Speaker Lemieux was obliged to rebuke.

I have another quotation here from the Toronto Globe of April 9, 1930. It is headed, " 'Smart Alecks' in the House," and reads:

No doubt the people of Canada generally regard the House of Commons as a place where the public business of the country always is transacted in a dignified and orderly manner. They will be disillusioned-and it is a pity- by reading reports of proceedings in parliament during a recent speech by Hon. Peter Heenan, Minister of Labour. Reasonable interruptions always are in order, but on this occasion opposition members went out of their way to create a ridiculous situation. Mr. neenan essayed to discuss the problem of unemployment; but, as reported in Hansard, his speech was rendered quite ineffective by "smart" interjections by honourable members who appeared to have little regard for the time and the business of parliament.

Privilege-Mr. Manion

The Stratford Beacon-Herald has been analyzing the incident, and finds that by actual count there were eighty-one interruptions during the course of the address. As the Beacon-Herald says, "the score runs like this": Stevens, 12; Irvine, 2; Bennett, 8; Manion, 12; Arthurs, 2; Geary, 1; Spence, 2; Fraser, 1; Short, 2; Ernst, 1; Hanson, 2; Ryckman, 1; Garland, 2; honourable members, 15; MacDougall, 13; McRae, 1; Chaplin, 1. Total, 81.

This record reads like the story of a cricket match, but unfortunately it indicates the view taken by some men of their responsibilities as members of a national deliberative assembly

the parliament of Canada. The annual session of the federal house costs the country in the neighbourhood of $2,000 per hour.

Mr. RYCKMAN; What is it costing now?

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

Six thousand dollars

for the minister's speech.

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LIB

Peter Heenan (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. HEENAN:

If my remarks will help

to correct what these papers call bad manners, it will be money well spent. To continue the quotation:

There will be created in the minds of the taxpayers a feeling of resentment that so many members are willing to take up the time of the house in this way. There is no public interest in nonsensical interruptions-at least, not in eighty-one of them during one brief speech. And there will be disapproval of the evident attempt to make of the serious condition of unemployment a political football to be kicked about during the next election.

Here is another quotation that I think will be well worth my reading. It is from the Toronto Star of April 8, 1930, and is headed, "An Eruption of Interruptions." It reads:

The editor of the Stratford Beacon-Herald has been reading Hansard-and to good advantage. For he has discovered that the transaction of business at Ottawa is impeded at times by meaningless and frivolous objections. He has taken the trouble to count those which "turned into somewhat of a muddle" a speech recently delivered by the Hon. Peter Heenan. There were in all eighty-one-eighty-one interruptions in the course of a short address. Including those which Hansard lists as having been made by anonymous "honourable members" the interruptions were contributed as follows:

Then follows the list of interruptions by different members which I have already quoted. It goes on:

An occasional interruption is justified, hut a running fire of parliamentary heckling serves no good purpose. And wastes valuable time.

Here is a quotation from the Toronto Star of April 14, 1930, headed, " Giving Character to a Government." It reads:

The old saying that the most sticks and stones are to be found under the best apple trees may apply to Hon. Peter Heenan and the numerous attacks made on him by the Conservative opposition in the Commons. By actual count Mr. Heenan was interrupted eighty-one times during a recent speech, and this, while it 2419-95

may have been an unintentional tribute to the work of Mr. Heenan, must also be characterized as an abuse of parliamentary practice.

Mr. Heenan has been attacked as one who has bettered his position in life, as though the opportunities of self-improvement afforded by Canada were not among her chief attractions and the number of citizens who have risen from humble beginnings to prominence were not a source of national pride. Unlike many others Mr. Heenan has not forgotten the class to which he belongs, but has been tireless in his efforts to promote the welfare of the workers, not only by encouraging the application of the eight-hour-day principle and the payment of fair wages, but by trying to secure such high standards of working conditions at all times as to foster industrial peace.

Mr. Heenan has not been many years in the federal cabinet. But in the short period of his experience as a minister he has had a share in the establishment of the old age pensions system, the partial application of the eight-hour day in the civil service and the settlement of many disputes that threatened the interests of both workers and employers. His conduct of the Labour department thus far has enhanced the prestige of the Mackenzie King government.

I have read that last sentence for the benefit of the Prime Minister. To answer directly the question put by my hon. friend from Fort William, I had not even thought of him, let alone mentioned the hon. member's name in my address at Sioux Lookout.

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CON

Robert James Manion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

I take it, then, that the

hon. gentleman denies that he made any of the statements which the various papers throughout the country have quoted?

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LIB

Peter Heenan (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. HEENAN:

No, I did not say that.

In my speech I said that I was born under a thatched roof, that I was proud of it, and that I got a training under that thatched roof which neither college nor university had imparted to those who heckled me during my speech; but in my address I did not mention the Hon. Doctor Manion or any other hon. member.

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CON

Robert James Manion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

All I have to say is that

the hon. gentleman allowed the reporters to be under the impression that he applied this whole statement to me. I repeat, sir, that I have never either in this house or elsewhere spoken of the hon. gentleman's birth or upbringing or home surroundings or anything of the sort. I may add, Mr. Speaker, that the hon. gentleman's quoting from a lot of partisan articles in praise of himself is no answer to this statement at all. I repeat, the whole statement is absolutely and wholly untrue.

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EXCHEQUER COURT ACT


Hon. ERNEST LAPOINTE (Minister of Justice) moved for leave to introduce Bill No. 122 to amend the Exchequer Court Act.



Criminal Procedure in Alberta. He said: It happens quite frequently, Mr. Speaker, that the crown finds itself in possession of moneys which belong to parties other than the crown, and the claims to these moneys cannot be investigated under the present system because no judicial machinery has been provided for the purpose. This bill is to give authority for the Exchequer Court of Canada to order the deposit of such moneys into court and to adjudicate as to the law and the facts thereon. Motion agreed to and bill read the first time.


CRIMINAL PROCEDURE IN ALBERTA


Hon. ERNEST LAPOINTE (Minister of Justice) moved for leave to introduce Bill No. 123 respecting criminal procedure in Alberta. He said: In the Alberta Act it is provided that the procedure in criminal matters as enacted by the Northwest Territories Act shall apply to the province until the governor in council declares that that procedure or part of it is inapplicable. In 1929 an order in council was passed declaring section 66 of the Northwest Territories Act inapplicable to the Supreme Court of Alberta. This section provided for the trial of many criminal offences summarily without a jury. The present bill is to confirm the order in council and to amend another section of the act to bring it into harmony with the present situation.


CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Does the same apply to Saskatchewan?

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

Yes; but this was done at the request of the government of Alberta.

Motion agreed to and bill read the first time.

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PRIVATE BILLS

FIRST READINGS-SENATE BILLS


Bill No. 113 respecting the capital stock of the Ottawa Electric Railway Company-Mr. Chevrier.


April 28, 1930