February 12, 1937

LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

I shall not read the document, but I will read the headlines of what was going to be considered under this legislation.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I point out that there is an elementary rule with respect to these matters that it may be important for this committee to keep in mind. We are now creating a precedent. The legislation speaks for itself. It is what this house passed. What the minister had in his possession at the time the legislation was drafted and passed must be tabled if it is to be made part of the record here, and the minister, in my opinion, may not read a portion of it. It came from his files, not from the public files of this country. It is a new departure, but if you, Mr. Chairman, think it is the proper course to pursue with reference to the business of this house, well and good.

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

There is a general rule, I think, that memoranda passing between a minister and his "officers with respect to the preparation of anything that subsequently comes to the house are privileged and are not produced in the house.

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CON
LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

It remains to be seen whether or not this document falls within that category.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

He said what it was.

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

Well, at the moment I was not listening.

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LIB

Frederick George Sanderson (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

Order. I understood

the Minister of Agriculture to say he was going to table the document.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

I am prepared to table it and I am prepared not to read from it- either one or the other.

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CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

I should like, if the minister will allow me, to make one objection. Anyone who has been four or five years a minister of the crown has found in his department a

great number of private memoranda, prepared by the previous ministers or their deputies, and they are regarded in the department as private. I think during the five years I was minister I could have produced, had I been prepared to do so, some private memoranda that would have astonished this parliament. It is not proper; it has never been done, and I think it is unwise to establish a precedent at this time.

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

It is a question of what it is.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

The minister said what it was.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

I have no objection to refraining from reading this, but I will just say that it is the whole file on the drought work.

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

It is public.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

It is not public. That is the point.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

As a matter of fact the minutes of this meeting would have to be quoted from this file; I do not think anyone would object to my quoting them. The minutes of the meeting of the committee are contained in this file. These letters are the deputy minister's letters. This appears to be the deputy's file, not the minister's. I presume that this particular document may be one that was sent to the deputy by the minister.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Do you realize, Mr. Chairman, the purport of that observation? " I presume this is a document sent by the minister to the deputy"; on that statement of facts the allegation was made that that was the minister's memorandum.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

What is the position which the leader of the opposition takes- that this is not the minister's memorandum?

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CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

The objection is that it is the minister's memoranda to his deputy. It is a breach of good political morals for the minister to attempt to read from or to produce it to this house. There are certain rules of decency that succeeding ministers have always complied with in relation to their predecessors and the correspondence of their predecessors, especially that of their own deputies and clerks.

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

If it is that kind of document, what my hon. friend says is correct; but the only question in my mind is whether it is or not.

Farm Rehabilitation Act

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February 12, 1937