May 5, 1939

PRIVATE BILLS

SUSPENSION OF STANDING ORDER 109

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) moved:

That private bills reported from standing or select committees be placed on the order paper for the consideration of the committee of the whole house on the day on which such report is received, and that standing order 109 be suspended in relation thereto.

He said: This is the customary motion before the close of the session.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS
Subtopic:   SUSPENSION OF STANDING ORDER 109
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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. COLDWELL:

May we have an explanation of the effect of the motion?

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS
Subtopic:   SUSPENSION OF STANDING ORDER 109
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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 did not catch what I said. Standing order 109 provides:

Private hills reported to the house by any committee, shall be placed upon the orders of the day following the reception of the report, for consideration in committee of the whole, in their proper order, next after hills referred to a committee of the whole house.

Citation 886 reads:

Towards the end of the session, it is not unusual to place bills reported from select committees immediately on the orders of the same day, but this can be done only on motion and by general assent.

I assume that we are towards the end of the session, and this is the usual procedure at this stage.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS
Subtopic:   SUSPENSION OF STANDING ORDER 109
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Motion agreed to. 3606 COMMONS Business of the House-Saturday Sitting


FIRST READINGS-SENATE BILLS


Bill No. 125, for the relief of Audrey Elizabeth Logan Williams.-Mr. Plaxton. Bill No. 126, for the relief of Winnifred May Routledge Nilsson.-Mr. Walsh. Bill No. 127, for the relief of Ernest James Feasey.-Mr. McAvity. Bill No. 128, for the relief of Ethel Jean Peters.-Mr. Bercovitch. Bill No. 129, for the relief of Eva Clara Doe Durrell.-Mr. Hill.


BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

MOTION FOR SITTING ON SATURDAY, MAY 6

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) moved:

That on Saturday, the 6th instant, the house shall meet at 11 o'clock in the morning and continue to sit until 6 o'clock p.m., with an intermission from one to two o'clock p.m., and that the order of business and procedure shall be the same on Saturday as on Friday.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR SITTING ON SATURDAY, MAY 6
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?

Charles Stephen Booth

Mr. J. S. WOODS WORTH (Winnipeg North Centre):

I must protest against any motion of this kind being carried. We all know that there is a regular drive on now to prorogue at the end of next week. After to-day there would normally be only five full days of parliament. I submit that one more day such as now proposed will not be sufficient to accomplish the proper conduct of the business in order that we might close a week from to-day. The Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe) said the other day that there was no desire on the part of the government to "railroad" business; that if necessary the government were prepared to stay here as long as any of us, or longer. Those are very good words, but I regard this motion to-day as the beginning, or possibly the second move, in the railroading of business-that is the pushing of the business through without adequate consideration.

I submit in the first place that few hon. members of this house have the physical and nervous energy to stand the strain which is being imposed upon us. I think personally I have been as wiry as almost any member of the house, but at the close of a session I find I have not the energy to be here during extra hours as one would be required to be, in fact to accomplish the impossible feat of being in two or three or four places at the same time. Throughout the session I, as many other members, have been here at the buildings shortly after nine o'clock in the morning, and we are here until eleven o'clock at night, with the exception of luncheon and dinner hours; and even these hours are not infrequently used for consultation and small con-

ferences. I submit that from nine in the morning until eleven at night is altogether too long a daily period for any normal being to be asked to work. Yet now it is proposed to extend those hours. I wonder that the Prime Minister does not put us on Sunday work as well; it would be quite in keeping with the general program.

Committees are not by any means through with their work, and are still meeting almost every day. One committee that I am on met this morning and is proposing to meet again this afternoon, while the house is in session, while important business is being dealt with here.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR SITTING ON SATURDAY, MAY 6
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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE (Quebec East):

Is it new, this process?

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR SITTING ON SATURDAY, MAY 6
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?

Charles Stephen Booth

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

No; I have objected to it on other occasions.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR SITTING ON SATURDAY, MAY 6
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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE (Quebec East):

We have been doing it every year.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR SITTING ON SATURDAY, MAY 6
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?

Charles Stephen Booth

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Yesterday I was asked to attend a subcommittee of one of the committees both in the morning and again in the afternoon, while the house was sitting, and while another important committee of which I was a member, was sitting. Other important committees are being called daily, in some cases twice a day, in a desperate effort to get through. That does not permit the proper conduct of business. We have an important committee studying the Bren gun matter. We all know that that involves questions concerning the conduct of a minister of the government and prominent government officials. I would not like to suggest-* I do not really believe it-that this procedure is proposed in order to avoid discussion of that unfortunate affair; but if this motion is pushed through it will have the effect of preventing discussion of that matter as it ought to be discussed on the floor of this house. I should think that for the sake of its own self-respect the government would see that it should be discussed before the close of this session, which may be the last session of the present parliament. [DOT]

There is much other important legislation to be dealt with. We have these very important agricultural bills. Only to-day I received a telegram from the council of the city of Winnipeg urging that I take a certain stand, namely the support of the 80 cent pegged price for wheat in connection with the bills now before us. It is not a question affecting merely a few farmers; it is a question vital to the whole west. How can I permit a matter of that kind to be rushed through, a matter so important as to have already

Business of the House-Saturday Sitting

compelled certain concessions from the government, and so important that it ought to compel other concessions? How can we pass over these very important agricultural bills?

Then what about the Canadian National capital expenditure, another very important matter, and one which the other chamber has been discussing-or at least allied subjects; the whole question of the railways and the suggested amalgamation or cooperation or whatever it may be termed? These are important matters which have not been heretofore discussed.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR SITTING ON SATURDAY, MAY 6
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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE (Quebec East):

We are all opposed to that.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR SITTING ON SATURDAY, MAY 6
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?

Charles Stephen Booth

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

That may be, but let us discuss the proposals and decide them in a regular manner.

Then the estimates; I have not checked carefully the estimates myself, but I think not more than twenty-five per cent of them have been considered. It is all very1 well to say, "Well, the estimates are there and we have to take them or leave them; we cannot help ourselves." But that is contrary to the whole principle of parliamentary procedure and the rights of parliament. After all, in practice the estimates provide the only opportunity we have for review of the activities of the various departments of government. Most of these departments have not been under review at all, and now it is proposed in the dying hours of the session to rush through the major part of the estimates without consideration.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR SITTING ON SATURDAY, MAY 6
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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE (Quebec East):

It does not seem to be dying.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR SITTING ON SATURDAY, MAY 6
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?

Charles Stephen Booth

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Well, I hope it is not. That is one reason for my speaking, in order to prevent its dying without completing its work.

Take another question, the matter of national defence. We have been told by our military people and others that national defence is the most important matter before the country to-day. We have been told that war is imminent, that if such is the case Canada ought to devote a great deal of her energy to considering what her part will be in the defence of the countiy. We have not yet had any opportunity to discuss defence. We discussed foreign policy; some of us almost had to urge its discussion, but now that we are within a week of prorogation- what is suggested should be prorogation- although concerning the matter of national defence there is a very great deal of difference of opinion in this country. In spite of this,

we are told we are to have no opportunity of adequately discussing this all-important question. I should think that if I were strongly in favour of largely increased grants for national defence on account of the danger by which our country is threatened I should want to stay here, if necessary, all summer in order that we may be prepared for this coming war. Not taking that view, I feel that some of us will have to stay here as long as necessary to prevent the government from proposing heavy expenditures for these purposes without at least telling us what the expenditures are for, and without showing how they really implement any policy the government may have brought down.

I said to the Prime Minister following his statement on the matter of foreign policy that really after his speech I did not know precisely what the foreign policy of the government is, although I listened to him attentively. Now the best we can do is to try by means of study of the national defence estimates to determine what the government proposes to do with regard to foreign policy. Are we preparing to send an expeditionary force? If we are, as the estimates might easily indicate, then we members ought to know it, and the country ought to know it. Conscription is to be introduced in England, and it is quite possible that it may be introduced in this country-under our constitution. If that is to be done, the country ought to know it; if that is not the policy of the government, the government ought to say so in unequivocal language.

We are told that all these great and important matters must be set aside simply because the king is going to visit the country. I have nothing to say against the visit of their majesties; I do not want in any sense to disparage any honour that might be paid to them. But I believe that we would honour them in the highest degree by carrying on the business of the country; that is my firm conviction-not by scamping that business, as I consider would be the case if this motion goes through and other similar measures follow as they are almost inevitably bound to do.

I think the Prime Minister, if I may say so, is becoming almost obsessed with his responsibilities and the responsibilities of this house, in making the most extraordinary arrangements with regard to the coming of the king.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR SITTING ON SATURDAY, MAY 6
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May 5, 1939