March 29, 1932

LIB

Joseph Oscar Lefebre Boulanger

Liberal

Mr. BOULANGER (Translation):

I shall again ask my friend, the hon. member for Quefoec-Montmorency (Mr. Dorion) instead of bewailing, in the house, over the results of the Quebec provincial election, to kindly give us his support in our request to the government to continue the services of these agricultural experts and also continue the grants to the agricultural fairs.

By giving us this support, he would be doing far more useful work than belittling his province and making use of the House of Commons to wash Quebec's soiled clothes.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OP RESOLUTION
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CON

Charles Napoléon Dorion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DORION (Translation):

The clothes are so soiled that they are unwashable.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OP RESOLUTION
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LIB

Joseph Oscar Lefebre Boulanger

Liberal

Mr. BOULANGER (Translation):

Another thing which my hon. friend from Quebec-Montmorency, who unceasingly interrupts me, could do, would be to help the Quebec and New Brunswick farmers who are requesting the government to negotiate a reciprocal trade

Unemployment Continuance Act

treaty with Cuba so as to sell their potatoes and other farm products on the markets of that country.

Mr. ST. PERE (Translation): Hear, hearl

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OP RESOLUTION
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LIB

Joseph Oscar Lefebre Boulanger

Liberal

Mr. BOULANGER (Translation):

In the lower part of Quebec, in the counties of Rimouski and Matane, for instance, potato growing was once an important industry; the farmers got good returns which allowed them to live in comfort. Now, owing to the poor prices which potatoes fetch, the farmers' returns are not sufficient to cover the expenses of growing them, and on account of this situation, the Quebec farmers are in a sad plight. Assistance should be given to the farmers of that part of Quebec and the Quebec Conservative members...

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OP RESOLUTION
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LIB

Joseph-Arthur Denis

Liberal

Mr. DENIS (Translation):

The members "by accident".

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
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LIB

Joseph Oscar Lefebre Boulanger

Liberal

Mr. BOULANGER (Translation):

...especially those who here represent the farmers, should join us in our request that the government should find markets for the Quebec potato crop as well as for our other farm products.

Mr. Speaker, instead of doing that, instead of helping us to serve the best interests of the farmers that we are representing here, our Conservative friends, in the course of this discussion, went so far as to revive the old question of conscription, which is defunct, even more so than chapter 58 of the statutes of 1931, the very act we are asked to restore to life. Seeing how fond they are of talking about conscription, why do they not suggest to the government to conscript wealth? According to the Prime Minister, the crisis was not as serious during the war as it is now; still conscription was established at that time. It was a conscription of blood. It was then "our war," the war of the common people,

.... nous, les petits, les sans-grades

Que allions pied nus, transis et malades,

... as it is described in L'Aiglon.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
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CON

Charles Napoléon Dorion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DORION (Translation):

The old story 1

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
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LIB

Joseph Oscar Lefebre Boulanger

Liberal

Mr. BOULANGER (Translation):

During

that period, our great financiers, our purveyors of bacon and military equipment were growing rich, while the common people, the rank and file were sent to the shambles.

Now we have another war, we are going through a crisis which is said to be far more serious than that of 1914-18; it is "their" war, the war of the financiers, brought about by their own blunders and more particularly by their own cupidity. Since it is "their" war, let them bear its consequences and obli-41761-91

gations, let them make now the same sacrifices as they asked us to make between 1914 and 1918.

Some hon. MEMBERS (Translation):

Hear, hear.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OP RESOLUTION
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LIB

Joseph Thauvette

Liberal

Mr. JOSEPH THAUVETTE (Vaudreuil-Soulanges) (Translation):

Mr. Speaker, I

think I would not be doing my duty as a representative of the people of Canada and more particularly of the people of my own constituency if I did not take part in this discussion, in order to protest on their behalf against this motion which we have been discussing for several days past.

In order to justify my opposition to this measure and to grasp the import of this resolution, it is necessary for me to consider its very terms, the time at which it was submitted to us and the constitutional results its adoption might bring about. These various considerations offer, to my mind, a wide field for discussion. So far as I am concerned, during the few minutes at my disposal, I cannot give this question all the attention its importance calls for. Most valuable suggestions have already been made by hon. members from this side of the house; therefore, I shall not try to rise to the plane of those experienced parliamentarians and prudent economists. With your permission, Mr. Speaker, I shall only express my humble opinion and that will take me only a few minutes.

First, let us see what the resolution says:

That it is expedient to introduce a bill to amend chapter 58 of the statutes of Canada, 1931, striking out the word "March" in section 8, and substituting the word "May" therefor.

Apparently the changing of the word "March" into "May" is not in itself a difficult operation.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OP RESOLUTION
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CON

Charles Napoléon Dorion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DORION (Translation):

No need of a surgeon.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OP RESOLUTION
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LIB

Joseph Thauvette

Liberal

Mr. THAUVETTE (Translation):

To find the reason why, we must refer to the act itself, which is chapter 58 of the statutes of Canada, 2nd session.

Mr. ST-PERE (Translation): Et nunc

erudimini!

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OP RESOLUTION
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LIB

Joseph Thauvette

Liberal

Mr. THAUVETTE (Translation):

The act

says:

Whereas by reason of the continuing worldwide economic depression there exists in many parts of Canada a serious state of unemployment and distress;

That was on August 3, 1931.

. . . .and whereas the partial failure of the wheat crop of western Canada. . . .

Unemployment Continuance Act

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
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CON

Charles Napoléon Dorion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DORION (Translation):

That is a

good book you have there.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OP RESOLUTION
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LIB

Joseph Thauvette

Liberal

Mr. THAUVETTE (Translation):

. . . .has intensified the adverse economic conditions theretofore prevailing

Those are the first words of the act. I pause here...

An hon. MEMBER (Translation)^ You may well pause.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OP RESOLUTION
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LIB

Joseph Thauvette

Liberal

Mr. THAUVETTE (Translation):

.. .to call your attention to the inconsistency between the attitude of the government at that time and the stand they took during the 1930 campaign. The leader of the opposition, who is now the Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett), knew how to meet the situation, and that great doctor prescribed to the citizens of this country two remedies which could cure all their ills.

Mr. ST-PERE (Translation): 0 doctor

optime 1

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OP RESOLUTION
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LIB

Joseph Thauvette

Liberal

Mr. THAUVETTE (Translation):

Unemployment Continuance Act

Mr. Speaker, there is a sound principle of philosophy that says: "The end does not justify the means." We are fully agreed on the principle of this resolution; we are clamouring for the relief of the farmers. I shall further say that as long as the government does not lower its tariff walls in order to let other countries exchange their goods for the surplus of our farm products, there cannot be any prosperity in this country, specially among the farming class.

One must bear in mind that the large farming community comprises 53 per cent of the population of Canada. When the majority in a family is suffering and unhappy, it is easily understood that the other members cannot be cheerful. Let us bring prosperity to the farm because it is the fundamental industry- in a country. It is an industry whose products are perishable. The farmer is not in the position of the manufacturer whose goods can wait on shelves or in storage for higher prices. He is governed by the law of supply and demand. Therefore, the duty of the Canadian government is to create a demand.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OP RESOLUTION
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CON

Maximilien Dominic (Maxime) Cormier

Conservative (1867-1942)

The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr. Cormier):

The hon. member has spoken for 20 minutes.

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?

Noé E. Chevrier

Mr. E. R. E. CIIEVRIER (Ottawa):

The question before the house now, as moved by the right hon. the Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) is that the debate shall be not further adjourned. In other words, the Prime Minister is invoking a rule of procedure which is now one of the rules of this house. Without going into its history, I submit that it is a rule that should be used only with the greatest discretion and only in times of absolute need. I say that, Mr. Speaker, because the reaction from the use of such a rule of procedure is bound to reach far beyond the precincts of this house. I submit that the time had not yet come when this rule should have been invoked. When this house rose on Wednesday last, out of 138 supporters of the government 18 had spoken, and there were therefore 120 government supporters who by some process of alchemy or otherwise had suddenly been stricken dumb. Probably the Prime Minister himself could explain why this was so. On this side of the house, out of 85 members, 61 had spoken, leaving about 24 still to speak, and this afternoon when the vote was taken, that number had been reduced probably to 15. We had, therefore, on this side of the house 15 more members who probably wanted to exercise their right of free speech, in addition to the 120 members on the other side who for reasons best known to themselves and the Prime Minister had

decided not to speak. But there were at least 15 members on this side of the house who wanted to avail themselves of their privilege to speak on this issue.

The Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Weir) rose in his place on Wednesday last and moved that the question be now put, and the Prime Minister himself explained the reason why that had been done, that it was in anticipation of an amendment being moved to the resolution from this side of the house. Once more the Prime Minister's calculations fell by the wayside. He anticipated something that did not happen. What he should have done, I submit, was to wait until this debate had exhausted itself, until every member on this side of the house, at least, had had the opportunity of speaking on the resolution, and then having so spoken, the debate would have ended there, and if an amendment was moved, that might have been the time to apply the rule; or if all the members on this side of the house had spoken, the debate would have petered out. Then there would have been no reason to apply this rule of closure. However, the Prime Minister has seen fit to apply it, and he says he is quite content to do so. I leave it to the people of Canada. Mr. Speaker, to say whether they are content with such a practice.

The objects of this resolution I would divide under three heads: First, to prolong the provision for peace, order and good government as it appears in the preamble of chapter 58 of the statutes of Canada for the year 1931; secondly, that for those purposes, such moneys as may be necessary may be expended from the consolidated revenue fund, and thirdly to extend the time, March 1, 1932, mentioned in the statute to May 1, 1932. We are now debating a resolution concerning a statute which has been dead for twenty-nine days. That is no fault of ours, but arises because of the way in which the resolution was allowed to stand. Mr. Speaker, we did in 1931, submit to a vote for a certain amount of money, for the relief of unemployment. But in the same session of 1931 we objected to the principle, but were told that the words "peace, order and good government" were necessary. At page 4278 of Hansard for 1931 I find the following words of the right hon. Prime Minister:

The measure provides for the maintenance of peace, order and good government in Canada. It is not for a moment to be thought that an insignificant number of strongly vocal persons shall be able so to affect the populace of this country as to make it impossible for us, in cooperation together as Canadians, to work out our destiny.

Unemployment Continuance Act

That was the reason why the Prime Minister wanted those words inserted. He referred to " strongly vocal persons." At page 1412 of Hansard for 1932 we find the Prime Minister stating:

We increased the number of police. . . .

And

They were tear bombs. . . .

At page 1413 he is recorded as follows:

The commissioner of police placed fifty policemen about these buildings-fifty.

He went on to state that twenty carried revolvers and thirty were mounted, carrying batons. That is what the Prime Minister has stated was done. Then at page 4439 of Hansard for the year 1931 we find the Minister of Justice (Mr. Guthrie) reported as follows:

If the bill is not founded upon the theory that it is necessary to maintain peace, order and good government in Canada, then parliament would have no authority to pass it.

Without these words the bill in the form in which it is enacted into law might be set aside when challenged in the courts. . . . They were placed in the bill as the foundation of our authority to pass such an enactment. . . . They are merely a declaration to give us jurisdiction which we know we have under the circumstances, but of which we want to be sure.

There is the reason given last year. It would seem that those words were inserted in order to be sure that the government's action was proper.

Referring to page 1419 of Hansard for the year 1932, we find that because of those words, and despite the fact that they were used merely as a declaration to give jurisdiction, the government amended the Bank Act, valued securities of insurance companies, prohibited the export of gold, and increased the mounted police. In addition, the government have taken a multiplicity of actions, although we had the assurance last year from the Minister of Justice now sitting in his place, and from the Prime Minister, that those words were placed in the act merely to take care of strongly vocal people. The Minister of Justice took the ground that the words were inserted purely and simply to make the bill constitutional.

Now however they want a renewal. They want to revive their dead plans and amend this dead statute. At page 4279 of Hansard for the year 1931 the Prime Minister is recorded as follows:

I will say frankly to the house that in asking what euphemistically is spoken of as a "blank cheque," we are not unmindful that we are asking very considerable from this House of Commons.

Of course they were. Then, at page 1414 of Hansard of 1932 the Prime Minister is reported as follows:

I would not ask this power from any parliament except reluctantly. . . .

Of course he would not, because the right hon. gentleman is not unmindful of the fact that he is asking for something which is absolutely unconstitutional. He knows what that will mean, and how it will affect the fundamental principles of responsible government. He knows he is undermining the very base of constitutional and responsible government. Both he and the Minister of Justice know that the eases cited bear no relation whatever to the matter under discussion. The Prime Minister has placed cases before hon. members in an attempt to show that the proposed measure is constitutional, and he has objected to the fact that minorities have had something to say. I am sorry I have not time to deal with the subject of minority rights, but to my mind they are highly important. The right hon. gentleman has expressed his surprise and astonishment that under certain conditions we would let this resolution go through. The right hon. gentleman simply flouted our offer in our faces, and said, "What? Must we submit to the wishes of a minority?"

I want hon. members to realize that the procedure under the resolution now before us is not proper. The Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice know that we cannot amend the statute. I challenge the Minister of Justice, with his reputation as a lawyer of eminent standing, to say that the amendment of a dead statute is within the competency of parliament or any other body. That is what we are called upon to do. Had we been in a position to continue this debate another ten days I think we would have shown conclusively that the Prime Minister is wrong. He has retraced his steps considerably by stating that now he wishes to revive the statute, to resuscitate the statute, to put new life ino it, to reenact it. He has changed his wording, and it would seem that now he does not seek to amend the statute.

I have endeavoured to show that the present procedure is absolutely .unconstitutional. I have been unable to find an authority exactly in point because in British parliaments no such procedure has been attempted. When statutes such as the one enacted last year have been passed, they have passed voluntarily; all parties in the house have agreed. There was however a case in the year 1917 which went before the privy

1446 COMMONS

Unemployment Continuance Act

council. I refer to Ottawa Separate School Trustees vs. Ottawa Corporation. The head note explains that the school trustees refused to obey certain dispositions of the school law, and when the Ontario legislature decided to create a commission to administer the schools injunction proceedings were taken, and the action finally went before the privy council. There and then the privy council held that this commission was ultra vires of the legislature in that it had taken away the rights of the electors to the duly elected commission that was administering their schools. All through we have been told: This procedure

is quite in order because we will not make use of the powers which will be given to us. I am sorry, sir, that time does not allow me to place before the house the full judgment delivered by Lord Buck master; I must content myself by quoting a few excerpts from it. The judgment will be found in 1917 Appeal Cases at page 81. Lord Buckmaster states:

The case before their Lordships is not that of a mere interference with a right or privilege, but of a provision which enables it to be withdrawn in toto for an indefinite time. Their Lordships have no doubt that the power so given would be exercised with wisdom and moderation,-

I want the hon. Minister of Justice (Mr. Guthrie) to listen to this:

-but it is the creation of the power and not its exercise that is subject to objection, and the objection would not be removed even though the powers conferred were never exercised at all. To give authority to withdraw a right or privilege under these conditions necessarily operates to the prejudice of the class of persons affected by the withdrawal.

It is on all fours with this particular situation -the rights of parliament are being taken away and are being conferred upon the governor in council.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we are called upon, in order to grant the wishes of the Prime Minister, to amend this dead statute. Those who have spoken for the government have not touched upon that aspect of the situation at all; they have simply said that no damage has been done, that we could not place our finger on anything that was wrong. That does not make the principle of this proposal right. When the hon. Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Stevens) waxed eloquent about this particular subject he reminded me very much of Bassanio in the Merchant of Venice:

And I beseech you,

Wrest once the law to your authority:

To do a great right, do a little wrong.

I thought that probably he would continue along that line, but I find he did not. We have told the Prime Minister he is wrong, but he insists on being right.

There is no power in the tongue of man To alter me: I stay here on my bond.

There is Shylock! Then there is this other

passage:

The pound of flesh, which I demand of him, Is dearly bought: 'tis mine and I will have it. If you deny me, fie upon your law!

There is no force in the decrees of Venice.

I stand for judgment: answer; shall I have it?

Here is the answer-closure. Here is the Prime Minister's dead statute and here is Shylock.

You'll ask me, why I rather choose to have A weight of carrion-flesh than to receive Three thousand ducats: I'll not answer that: But say, it is my humour: is it answered? . . . So can I give no reason, nor I will not,

More than a lodged hate and a certain loathing

I bear Antonio, that I follow thus A losing suit against him. Are you answer'd?

But, sir, I am convinced that the people will be satisfied with the stand we have taken. Evidently the Prime Minister, having made up his mind, will never change it. Allow me to give the house this appropriate quotation from the same play:

You may as well go stand upon the beach, And bid the main flood bate his usual height; You may as well use question with the wolf, Why he hath made the ewe bleat for the lamb;

You may as well forbid the mountain pines To wag their high tops, and to make no noise, When they are fretten with the gusts of heaven;

You may as well do any thing most hard,

As seek to soften that-than which what's harder ?-

His "own stubbornness": therefore, I do

beseech you,

Make no more offers, use no further means, But with all brief and plain conveniency Let "us" have judgment and "the Prime Minister" his will-

And the Prime Minister is equally insistent for judgment. In this connection these words of the great Macaulay come to my mind; they occur in his essay on Hallam's Constitutional History:

A statesman ought to pay assiduous worship to Nemesis, to be most apprehensive when he is at the height of his power and popularity, and to dread his opposition most when he considers that party most completely prostrated.

Then I quote these words from Proverbs; they are carved over the windows of the Tower:

Where there is no vision, the people perish.

Unemployment Continuance Act

There are some other words that should be engraved over the door of the privy council office and over the door of the Prime Minister's sumptuous apartments, and they should be taken very much to heart by the Prime Minister; I quote them:

He, that being reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy. [DOT]

We have been reproving him for some time, his neck has become stiffer and stiffer, and redder and redder. Let him repeat those words to himself daily and hourly "lest he perish."

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OP RESOLUTION
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LIB

Paul Mercier

Liberal

Mr. PAUL MERCIER (St. Henry) (Translation) :

Mr. Speaker, I now rise to take part

in this debate because I earnestly feel that we, on this side of the house, have proceeded along constitutional lines in our opposition, during the last few days, to the motion to amend bill No. 58 by substituting the word "May" for the word "March". One of the chief duties of the members of the opposition is unquestionably that of upholding the rights and privileges of the house. Rules and regulations have been made as to the procedure to be followed, and a perusal of parliamentary law and practice shows that when it comes to grants of public money, the house as supreme, and that is the very thing we are contending for when protesting against this measure. Had the government asked for a definite amount, no matter how large, in order to relieve unemployment, in the farming community as well as in industrial circles, we would have indeed been pleased to vote the funds, leaving it to the government to give an honest account of the expenditure, and reserving ourselves the opportunity of ascertaining, through the public accounts committee, just what use would have been made of the funds thus voted.

According to the principles laid down by the right hon. Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett), a majority should enable a government to do anything, and it is a fact that his ministry commands quite a large majority at the present time. However, the minority is called upon to offer constructive suggestions in the name of His Majesty, for it must be remembered that the leader of the Liberal party is the spokesman of His Majesty's loyal opposition. The opportunity now offers to uphold the rules and regulations of this house and it is our duty to see to it that the procedure followed is in accordance with the constitution.

Under the circumstances the idea of giving a blank cheque to the government and of conferring unusual powers upon them should

not be entertained. No industrial, no dealer would ever think of such a thing in connection with his own business. Take, for instance, the average business man in this country: would he give to his manager unlimited powers and authorize him to sign a blank cheque whereby that manager could dispose of the larger part of his employer's property? How could the latter keep tab of his own affairs, ascertain what are his profits and check up the doings of his manager or his accountant? Common sense alone tells us that such a stand is a sheer impossibility. We are now being asked to give the government a blank cheque for an indefinite amount.

We are not unmindful of the fact that relief must be given to the unemployed and to the farmers in this country, but as members of the opposition, we must be suspicious of such a resolution as that now being introduced by this government. Should we have allowed the measure to pass without a word of protest, we would have been charged by the people with living made no opposition to it and therefore, with having made no attempt to safeguard the constitutional privileges of this House of Commons, privileges which our forefathers have striven to secure, under the Union, and which they succeeded in vindicating along with responsible government, by strenuously opposing governors bent on extorting a civil list from the people.

Looking back upon the past, we find a parallel to the present situation. Referring to the official report of the Debates of the House of Commons, for the session of 191213, under date of April 7, 1913, page 7223, I see that at the time a similar debate took place. Even now, I visualize the countenance of my hon. friend from Quebec-Montmorency (Mr. Dorion) when I shall read a certain extract of that report. It is said that, barring electricity, the radio and the wireless, there is nothing new under the sun; indeed, one only has to revert to the past in order to find similar political conditions. For instance, under the heading "Motions for Papers", I notice-

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
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CON

Charles Napoléon Dorion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DORION (Translation):

Are you

giving us a spiritual lecture?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OP RESOLUTION
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March 29, 1932