January 17, 1939

DISCHARGE OF MEN FROM CULTUS LAKE, B.C. FORESTRY CAMP


On the orders of the day:


CCF

Charles Grant MacNeil

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

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

Has the Minister of Labour (Mr. Rogers) received reports on the situation of Cultus Lake forestry project camp in British Columbia? If so, are any steps contemplated to prevent undue hardship if any number of single unemployed transients are now compelled to accept transportation to points in eastern Canada?

Hon. NORMAN MeL. ROGERS (Minister of Labour): The hon. member gave me notice of the question. I have received a report with respect to the matter to which he has referred. Disciplinary action was taken in this forestry camp against two men who had broken regulations. As a result of that disciplinary action forty-seven men went on strike. They were subsequently discharged from the camp and offered transportation to their homes. No steps have been taken or will be taken to cause unnecessary hardship to anybody.

Topic:   DISCHARGE OF MEN FROM CULTUS LAKE, B.C. FORESTRY CAMP
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RADIO BROADCASTING

REFUSAL OF BROADCASTING PRIVILEGES TO PUBLISHER OF TORONTO GLOBE AND MAIL-REQUEST FOR TABLING OF CORRESPONDENCE


On the orders of the day:


CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. R. J. MANION (Leader of the Opposition):

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   REFUSAL OF BROADCASTING PRIVILEGES TO PUBLISHER OF TORONTO GLOBE AND MAIL-REQUEST FOR TABLING OF CORRESPONDENCE
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BREN MACHINE GUN CONTRACT

TABLING 0" EVIDENCE AND ARGUMENT HEARD BEFORE COMMISSION OF INQUIRY


On the orders of the day:


LIB

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

Liberal

Right Hon. ERNEST LAPOINTE (Minister of Justice):

In the absence of the Prime Minister I desire to lay on the table the documents asked for by the hon. member for Vancouver North (Mr. MacNeil) in connection with the Bren machine gun inquiry.

Topic:   BREN MACHINE GUN CONTRACT
Subtopic:   TABLING 0" EVIDENCE AND ARGUMENT HEARD BEFORE COMMISSION OF INQUIRY
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RIGHT OF MEMBERS TO SECURE INFORMATION FROM DEPARTMENTS AND PROCEDURE RELATING THERETO


On the orders of the day:


CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. H. H. STEVENS (Kootenay East) :

May I ask a question of the right hon. gentleman who for the moment is leading the government? In view of the uncertainty of some of the figures and data used in the debate yesterday, is it permissible for members of the House of Commons to ask the various departments for information in order to be assured of the accuracy of that information, or to what extent is a limitation placed upon giving to hon. members information which they may desire?

Hon. NORMAN McL. ROGERS (Minister of Labour): Perhaps I might be allowed to answer the question. The question, I take it, relates to the figures with regard to unemployment or more particularly the unemployed on relief. If I may say so, the figures given by the leader of the opposition (Mr. Manion)

68 COMMONS

European Situation-Publishing Correspondence

with respect to unemployment in Canada are from the bureau of statistics and they do not pretend to be a registration. They are, I believe, accurately described as an estimate based upon various indices of unemployment in different parts of Canada. So far as the unemployed on relief are concerned, we have had for the past two years a national registration and each month a summary of the registration is released to the press. I believe that for some months past a copy has gone to the leader of the opposition. Certainly the desire of the Department of Labour is that the figures of registration, which are the most accurate we have, should be made available at all times. There is, of course, in the publication of these figures, a time lag sometimes of two months. For instance, the figures for October cover the entire month of October up to the first of November and they might not be available until the middle of January, let us say. But these figures are the most accurate that we have and they are available to all members of this house.

Topic:   RIGHT OF MEMBERS TO SECURE INFORMATION FROM DEPARTMENTS AND PROCEDURE RELATING THERETO
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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

That is not my question. I was not referring to any particular department. The Prime Minister is now in his seat, perhaps I might put the question again. It concerns the extent of the right of members of the House of Commons to secure access to accurate information. My question was: What rights have members in the matter of requesting information from departments where they know it to be, and what limitation is placed upon officers of the government in giving information to members?

Topic:   RIGHT OF MEMBERS TO SECURE INFORMATION FROM DEPARTMENTS AND PROCEDURE RELATING THERETO
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):

I understand that the procedure in respect to information which is not available in public documents is that any hon. member may ask for it by way of resolution. I think that answers the main point of my hon. friend's question. Certainly as far as the government is concerned, in supplying information the wish would be to give to hon. members at any time the fullest information that it is possible to let them have. There are of course documents that are confidential, and they must be so treated. But with regard to general information I see no reason why any hon. member should not inquire of the minister of any department with respect to any data that he may wish to have. But there is always the method of proceeding by resolution with respect to information that is not available in public documents.

Topic:   RIGHT OF MEMBERS TO SECURE INFORMATION FROM DEPARTMENTS AND PROCEDURE RELATING THERETO
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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

One question further. Am I to gather from the Prime Minister's reply

that it is not possible for a member of the House of Commons to go to a department where he knows certain public information is to be found, and discuss the matter with the deputy or any other officer of the department who understands the matter and to whom he can explain what he desires to secure in the way of information?

Topic:   RIGHT OF MEMBERS TO SECURE INFORMATION FROM DEPARTMENTS AND PROCEDURE RELATING THERETO
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

My hon.

friend knows as well as I do that under the system of responsible government a minister must be responsible for everything that relates to his department. I should think that the proper procedure in respect to what my hon. friend has just mentioned would be for the member wishing to get certain information from a department to go to the minister of the department and inform him of what he desires. The minister would then give instructions to those in his department to accord the facilities, or not to do so. If an hon. member were not treated with the courtesy with which he should be treated, the minister would be responsible. But I do not think it has ever been the practice, nor do I think the practice would be a right one, to have officials in departments interviewed by hon. members without the knowledge of the minister responsible, or be obliged to give out information without the minister being consulted in reference thereto.

Topic:   RIGHT OF MEMBERS TO SECURE INFORMATION FROM DEPARTMENTS AND PROCEDURE RELATING THERETO
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EUROPEAN SITUATION


REQUEST FOR PUBLISHING OF CORRESPONnENCE RELATING TO CRISIS OF SEPTEMBER, 1938 On the orders of the day:


January 17, 1939