January 26, 1937

?

An hon. MEMBER:

They have not asked for it.

Topic:   EXPLANATION-MR. HAYHURST
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SC

William Hayhurst

Social Credit

Mr. HAYHURST:

But that, I suppose, is a matter for the citizens of Quebec to decide.

Topic:   EXPLANATION-MR. HAYHURST
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LIB

BRITISH COLUMBIA RELIEF CAMPS

REPORTED DISCONTENT AMONG MEN ENGAGED IN FORESTRY PROJECTS


On the orders of the day:


CCF

Charles Grant MacNeil

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. C. G. MacNEIL (Vancouver North):

I desire to direct a question to the Minister of Labour (Mr. Rogers) with reference to reports appearing in the Vancouver newspapers alleging serious discontent among men now engaged in forestry projects. Has the minister received information regarding these difficulties, and if so, have suitable steps been taken to investigate the causes?

Hon. NORMAN McL. ROGERS (Minister of Labour): The hon. member was good enough to give me notice of his intention to ask this question. The Department of Labour is aware of the matter referred to by him, but has received no official notification of any trouble that has occurred. The works plan as it affects the single unemployed in British Columbia is being administered by the provincial government, which appears to be dealing adequately with the situation as described by my hon. friend. I expect that we shall be advised of any further developments.

Topic:   BRITISH COLUMBIA RELIEF CAMPS
Subtopic:   REPORTED DISCONTENT AMONG MEN ENGAGED IN FORESTRY PROJECTS
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CCF

Angus MacInnis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. ANGUS MacINNIS (Vancouver East):

May I ask the minister a supplementary question on the same matter? In press reports from British Columbia it is stated that the minister of labour of the province has said that he will not deal with the representatives of the men affected. As the minister was very successful in negotiating an agreement during his visit to the coast last fall, would he use his good influence to arrange a discussion between the authorities there and the organization representing the men?

Topic:   BRITISH COLUMBIA RELIEF CAMPS
Subtopic:   REPORTED DISCONTENT AMONG MEN ENGAGED IN FORESTRY PROJECTS
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

I can only say that I shall be very glad indeed to look into the matter.

Topic:   BRITISH COLUMBIA RELIEF CAMPS
Subtopic:   REPORTED DISCONTENT AMONG MEN ENGAGED IN FORESTRY PROJECTS
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STAFF AT PORT OF CHURCHILL


On the orders of the day:


CON

Ernest Edward Perley

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. E. E. PERLEY (Qu'Appelle):

The Minister of Transport (Mr. Howe) will recall

Constitutional Conference-Mr. Bennett

that last year I had a question on the order paper asking how many men were employed in seasonal and temporary employment at the port of Churchill. The minister was unable during the session to furnish the information. On the second last day of the session I asked him with respect to it and he promised to furnish the information during the recess. I have not yet been able to get it. Would the minister now inform me as to how many men were employed, between June 1 and December 31, 1935, on the seasonal and temporary staff at the port of Churchill; what were their names and their home addresses, and on whose recommendations they were appointed? I know the minister cannot give me this information offhand, but the question stood on the order paper most of last session and I trust he will take this as notice and let me have the information as soon as possible.

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Hon. C. D. HOWE (Minister of Transport):

My hon. friend will recall that he asked for the information in the form of an order for return, and I know that we furnished the information required of us. If he would put his motion on the order paper once more I assume the information could be furnished very promptly.

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TEXTILE COMMISSION


On the orders of the day: Mr. JEAN-FRANCOIS POULIOT (Temis-couata): May I ask the government, first, when the Turgeon report on the textile industry will be ready, and second, when it is, will every member receive a copy of it? Hon. CHARLES A. DUNNING (Minister of Finance): My information is that the final hearings have not yet been conducted by Mr. Justice Turgeon. I believe they are to occur in the very near future. Until the report is received by the government nothing further can be said about the matter.


SUPPLY-CONSTITUTIONAL CONFERENCE STATEMENT OP MR. BENNETT ON MOTION OP MINISTER OP FINANCE


Hon. CHARLES A. DUNNING (Minister of Finance) moved that the house go into committee of supply.


CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Right Hon. R. B. BENNETT (Leader of the Opposition):

On more than one occasion both in and without this house I have pointed out that there are certain Canadian problems which in my opinion can be solved only by the united efforts of the various parliamentary and legislative bodies that are set up in our

dominion. I have been much impressed of late with what I have read in the newspapers as to the present condition of unrest and- shall I say-evidences of something stronger than that in some sections of Canada, and I venture to-day to bring to the house a suggestion which I have thought over very carefully and which may or may not be of some value.

No one can fail to realize, for instance, that there is a sharp conflict at the present moment between legislatures and the parliament of Canada. We find some of our provinces suggesting the possession of a sovereignty which is entirely out of keeping with the general principles which have governed us heretofore. That in itself is not very serious. But the terms in which references have been made in some articles in the press are so nearly allied to references taken from the press of 1860 in the United States as to sovereign rights of the states that it makes one apprehensive as to where this may lead. This suggested exercise of sovereignty by the provinces goes further than I have ever seen it go before.

The second point to which attention might be directed is the ever-present conflict between legislatures and this parliament in the exercise of their constitutional jurisdiction. In other words, the interpretation of our constitution has become somewhat more difficult, and the exclusive powers exercised by legislatures of the provinces on the one hand and by this parliament on the other have come in conflict so frequently and so sharply with respect to national questions that I think it is time some remedy should be applied. One has only to look about and read the daily press to realize the character of the conflict. Vested with powers, plenary within their ambit, as the privy council has pointed out, the provinces have incurred obligations that are such as to have made some of them at least bankrupt. This parliament has no power of supervision, nor yet has it the right of effective criticism. I think that must be granted; for under the constitution, I repeat, the provinces in the exercise of their legislative powers have the same plenary right as this parliament has within the ambit of its jurisdiction.

Note the character of the conflicts. They have been going on, but we have never seriously endeavoured to deal with them during the seventy years of our confederation. For instance, we have the debt problem. We have a far more serious problem, that which arises out of the breach of contracts by provincial legislatures. I do not intend to indulge in

268 COMMONS

Constitutional Conference-Mr. Bennett

party discussion of these matters. I only point out that what Lord Grey, when he was governor general of this country, pointed out as to the lack in our constitution of any effective powers to prevent the legislatures from making contracts, was a matter for the most serious consideration; and he did suggest that the provinces might consent to an amendment to the British North America Act which would embody within the provisions of our constitution one similar to that which prevails in the United States of America. Hon. members who are of the legal profession will recall the judgment of Chief Justice Marshall when dealing with that question in connection with the grant of lands in the state of Georgia and what a profound effect it had upon the life of the United States.

Take another question, the administration of justice. I have had occasion to examine the problem connected with the administration of justice in others of our self-governing dominions. Here, the parliament of Canada makes the criminal law but the administration rests with the provinces, and the result of course has not always been entirely satisfactory. With respect to the question of the administration of civil justice, it will be recalled that the provinces determine the number of judges that are to be appointed and this parliament has to provide for their appointment on the one hand and their salaries on the other; and it is a matter well known of course to all that in some of our provinces the judiciary are notoriously without work. That is the result of the operation of our present constitution.

Then there is one other power that has fallen into disuse but which was looked upon at one time as a bulwark to ensure the safety of what you might call the contractual obligations and responsibilities of those who had bargained with provincial governments. I refer to the power of disallowance. Early in our history Mr. Blake set up the theory that instead of the exercise of that power it would be preferable for the courts to determine whether or not legislation fell within the jurisdiction of the legislature or of federal power, and if it were intra vires of the legislature then it should be left to its operation. That principle was not the principle under which the power of disallowance was inserted in our constitution.

There are other matters to wrhich attention might be directed, but I do desire to point out that there has come about an ever-insistent and increasing demand upon the federal treasury to provide money for provincial legislatures by increased subsidies and

grants in order that they might expend it without any limitation or control being imposed upon that expenditure by the power that granted it to them. We have set up commissions with respect to matters affecting eastern Canada, central Canada and western Canada; and it is because on Monday last I saw the suggestion that it was thought desirable to set up a commission to deal with certain fundamental problems that affect our whole constitutional position that I venture to make the observations that I now make.

What I say is predicated upon the assumption that all the provinces are desirous of maintaining the confederation. Every now and then you read an article suggesting that the provinces would like to go back to the days of the crown colony. You sometimes read, from what I consider-not speaking in any sense disrespectfully-irresponsible sources, the suggestion that a free republic should be established in some parts of Canada. I dismiss these suggestions and I conclude that all Canadian provinces are desirous of maintaining the confederation. Once we concede that premise, the only problem that has to be considered is the nature and character of the instrument under which the various provinces carry on their legislative powers and their administrative functions and this parliament carries out its obligations as a national parliament. That instrument, of course, at the present moment is a document known as the British North America Act, a statute passed at Westminster in 1867, and which has been frequently amended. Under that act there was a distribution of legislative powers between the provinces and the dominion. It has been contended-and I do not propose to enter into that discussion to-day-that this was a contract between four provinces and that there must be unanimity between them before there can be any great modification of that instrument. I am not discussing that for the moment.

It is well known that Sir John Macdonald preferred a legislative union; you will find that in one of his letters in which he sets it out at length. For purely political reasons it was impossible to give effect to that conviction and we therefore enacted a statute that does not provide for a purely federal union, as was pointed out by Lord Haldane in connection with the famous Australian case; because in Australia they have a federal union embodying the principles of the American constitution. Only a few days ago the privy council held that the marketing act of Australia was illegal and invalid; that there was no power either in the legislature

Constitutional Conference-Mr. Bennett

of any state or in the parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia to enact that measure; that there was a legislative area unoccupied by either the parliament at Canberra or the legislatures of the various states. The result is that an amendment to the constitution is being submitted to the people for their consideration, to authorize the jurisdiction being exercised by the federal parliament.

All this I state merely by way of introduction to the suggestion which I have to make. The British North America Act came into operation as a result of the final adoption at Quebec of certain resolutions. To the extent that there may be variation between the resolutions and the statute another question arises which it is not my purpose to discuss. But the resolutions at Quebec were arrived at after a conference, a convention, representing all shades of political thought. There met together representatives of every one of the four provinces, and they were selected not from the party in office at the moment but from the legislatures as a whole, in order that the whole question of the constitution might be raised from the level of pure partisan discussion to a broader outlook and a wider field. The result was that the Quebec resolutions could not in any sense be said to be resolutions arrived at by a party. They embodied the convictions of the responsible representatives of the four provinces.

Topic:   SUPPLY-CONSTITUTIONAL CONFERENCE STATEMENT OP MR. BENNETT ON MOTION OP MINISTER OP FINANCE
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

May I ask the right hon.

gentleman a question?

Topic:   SUPPLY-CONSTITUTIONAL CONFERENCE STATEMENT OP MR. BENNETT ON MOTION OP MINISTER OP FINANCE
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January 26, 1937