January 25, 1940

LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

REFERENCES TO THE SELECTION OF HON. R. B. HANSON, MEMBER FOR YORK-SUNBURY

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):

Mr. Speaker, to adjourn this house with a view to having it sit again to-day would under the rules require a formal notice of twenty-four hours. In the circumstances I propose to move that the house suspend its sitting until three o'clock. Before, however, that action is taken, I should like to avail myself of the earliest possible opportunity to extend to the hon. member for York-Sunbury (Mr. Hanson) my warmest congratulations-and in so doing I fepeak also on behalf of all hon. members on this side of the house, and I think I may say on behalf of the house as a whole-upon the confidence which has been expressed in him by the members of his party and upon his assumption to-day of the office of leader of His Majesty's Loyal Opposition in this House of Commons.

May I say to my hon. friend that his choice as the one to become the leader of the opposition at this time did not come at all as a surprise to those of us who have been with him in previous parliaments. My hon. friend has had great experience in parliamentary life; indeed I imagine that only a few members of this house have served for a longer time in parliament. Though not a member in the last parliament, the present leader of the opposition has been in this house for a period of some fourteen or fifteen years. During that time he has taken a very active part in its proceedings. We know him to be a forceful debater; we know he has been

very active in the proceedings of the commons generally. He has occupied important positions, as chairman of different committees of the house, and as a minister of the crown. If I am not mistaken my hon. friend is one of the two members of his party in this house to-day who have held portfolios in previous administrations. I should, of course, say that three hon. members opposite have been members of a previous administration, but I think only two of them actually held portfolios. My hon. friend was Minister of Trade and Commerce for a year or more in Mr. Bennett's administration. His present desk-mate, the hon. member for Yale (Mr. Stirling) was Minister of National Defence in Mr. Bennett's administration for about the same time. The hon. member for Dufferin-Simcoe (Mr. Rowe) became a member of the same administration, but unfortunately for him there was a change in the administration before there was time to have him given a portfolio.

The parliamentary experience of my hon. friend the leader of the opposition will be of the greatest value, not only to him in the position which he now occupies but also to the House of Commons itself. I think I may say that no one in this house has a better knowledge of the responsibilities and anxieties which go with the position now occupied by my hon. friend than I have. For some seven years in all, I had the privilege of occupying the seat which he now occupies, so I know something of what is expected of a leader of the opposition and, as I have said, something as well of his responsibilities and anxieties.

Speaking of responsibilities and anxieties I think I may say that at this time of great peril in the affairs of the world, at this very solemn hour, all of us who are members of this parliament will be conscious alike of responsibilities and anxieties which I am equally sure it will be our desire to share. Just as the few free nations that still remain and those that until recently were free are looking for all the help they can get; just as England and France are sharing to the full the burdens of the struggle in which they are engaged; just as 'the British commonwealth of nations needs the effective cooperation of its every part, so we who are members of the government, with 'the great responsibilities we must bear at this time, are more conscious than we ever have been of the need for cooperation and help from hon. members in all parts of the house, and from none more than from the leader of the opposition and those Who sit around him,

A few moments ago the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Woodsworth) mentioned that he and others might require

Leader oj the Opposition

the assistance of the Speaker to protect the minorities against the government. May I say to him that I am inclined to feel that the government may need the protection of the Speaker against the minorities. Seriously, however, I greatly hope that in this parliament at least we may not be as conscious of minorities and majorities as perhaps it has been found necessary to be in some previous parliaments, but rather that all may feel a profound sense of collective responsibility.

In this connection may I point out that the position of leader of the opposition is a most important one in the system of government as we have it under our constitution and is so recognized by statute. As hon. members are aware, the leader of the opposition holds a position which in degree of responsibility is, I should say, second only to that of the Prime Minister in the management of the affairs of the House of Commons.

Responsibility for government does not mean monopoly of government. In parliament, particularly in most critical times like the present, everyone can make some contribution to the needs of the day, and indeed will be expected to do so fearlessly and to the best of his ability. To a great extent an opposition can help a government in shaping the policies which may be best for the administration of public affairs. We shall not expect from the leader of the opposition the kind or degree of support which naturally we will expect from our own party. We will not expect to be exempted from criticism. Indeed one of the great functions of an opposition is that it may help to safeguard the proceedings of a government and that by its constructive criticism may prevent what might otherwise be in the nature of hasty or ill-conceived action, or what some might feel to be a lack of sufficient action.

We shall not expect, I say, to escape criticism, but I believe I am speaking for all hon. members when I say that I hope the house will be spared anything in the nature of recriminations. In the light of the great problems with which we are faced at this time, it would be our hope that criticism will be constructive.

In conclusion may I say that the cooperation which we believe we will receive from members in all parts of the house will be reciprocated in the fullest measure possible by the government. It will be our effort to work together in this House of Commons as one body of citizens who have, first and foremost in their hearts, the interests of their country, the interests of the great empire to which we all belong, the interests of free nations, and the interests of freedom throughout the world.

Topic:   LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
Subtopic:   REFERENCES TO THE SELECTION OF HON. R. B. HANSON, MEMBER FOR YORK-SUNBURY
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LIB

Olof Hanson

Liberal

Hon. R. B. HANSON (Leader of the Opposition) :

Mr. Speaker, at the very outset I desire to thank the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) for his kind personal references to myself. I believe no one recognizes more than I do his own limitations, but because it is the unanimous wish of my colleagues that I assume this important duty, after the fullest and gravest consideration I have agreed to accept the responsibilities that have been placed upon me. I shall endeavour to discharge the function of the leader of His Majesty's Loyal Opposition not only in accordance with the best of my ability but, I hope, in accordance with the highest traditions of the office.

As the Prime Minister has said, we are meeting under extremely critical conditions. The whole of the civilized world is in a turmoil. Members of that group of free democracies of which we pride ourselves we form a part, are being attacked in the most vicious and violent manner that can be imagined by the human mind. As the senior dominion and an integral part of the British empire, Canada, along with our mother country and our gallant allies, is being attacked. It is the duty of Canadians, the duty of this parliament, the duty of the government charged with responsibility for the time being and, as I conceive it, my duty as the leader of his majesty's opposition, to render to the cause of liberty and freedom the very best that is in us.

Canada's participation in this great conflict which, I fear, may grow successively worse instead of better, should be bound only by our limitations in men, in treasure and in concentrated efforts. That, in my opinion, should be our one and undivided aim in the course of this, perhaps the most important session of parliament in the history of our dominion.

Of course we shall want to know what is going on. We shall expect from the administration a full accounting of its stewardship during the past seven or eight months. The Canadian people are asking for that. I fear that they have been too complacent during the early period of the war. However, now that the shock of this tremendous conflict is being borne in upon them, and through them to us, they desire to know the measure of effort Canada is putting forth at this time.

Topic:   LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
Subtopic:   REFERENCES TO THE SELECTION OF HON. R. B. HANSON, MEMBER FOR YORK-SUNBURY
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SUSPENSION OF SITTING


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):

Mr. Speaker, I move that

the house suspend its sitting until three o'clock this afternoon.

Topic:   LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
Subtopic:   REFERENCES TO THE SELECTION OF HON. R. B. HANSON, MEMBER FOR YORK-SUNBURY
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Motion agreed to. At one p.m. the sitting was suspended until three p.m. this day. Speech from the Throne



The house resumed at three o'clock.


OPENING OF THE SESSION


Mr. Speaker read a communication from the assistant secretary to the Governor General, announcing that His Excellency the Administrator would proceed to the Senate chamber at three p.m. on this day, for the purpose of formally opening the session of the dominion parliament. A message was delivered by Major A. R. Thompson, Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod, as follows: Mr. Speaker, His Excellency the Administrator desires the immediate attendance of this honourable house in the chamber of the honourable the Senate. Accordingly the house went up to the Senate chamber. Then the Hon. James Allison Glen, Speaker-elect, said: May it please your Excellency, The House of Commons have elected me as their Speaker, though I am but little able to fulfil the important duties thus assigned to me. If in the performance of those duties I should at any time fall into error, I pray that the fault may be imputed to me, and not to the Commons whose servant I am. The Honourable the Speaker of the Senate, addressing the Honourable the Speaker of the House, then said: Mr. Speaker, I am commanded by His Excellency the Administrator to assure you that your words and actions will constantly receive from him the most favourable construction. Then His Excellency the Administrator was pleased to open parliament by a speech from the throne. And the house being returned to the Commons chamber:


LIB

Walter Edward Foster (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I have the honour to state that the house having attended on His Excellency -the Administrator in the Senate Chamber, I informed his excellency that the choice of Speaker had fallen upon me, and in your names and on your behalf I made the usual claim for your privileges, which his excellency was pleased to confirm to you.

Topic:   OPENING OF THE SESSION
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OATHS OF OFFICE


Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister) moved for leave to introduce Bill No. 1, respecting the administration of oaths of office. Motion agreed to and bill read the first time.


SPEECH FROM THE THRONE

LIB

Walter Edward Foster (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I have the honour to

inform the house that when the house did attend His Excellency the Administrator this day in the Senate chamber, his excellency was pleased to make a speech to both houses of parliament. To prevent mistakes, I have obtained a copy, which is as follows: Honourable Members of the Senate:

Members of the House of Commons:

You have been summoned to the first session of a new parliament at a time of the greatest conflict in the history of mankind. Upon the outcome of the struggle will depend the maintenance of civilized society and the inheritance of human freedom for our own and future generations.

Since parliament last met, the nature of the conflict, the character of the enemy, and the perils w'hich menace all free nations, have become only too clear. In that short space of time, the world has seen the peaceful and peace-loving peoples of Denmark, Norway, Holland, Belgium, and Luxembourg made the victims of the treachery and barbarism which have marked the successive outrages of nazi Germany. It has also witnessed the invasion of Finland, and, despite the epic resistance of its heroic population, the partition of that unoffending country. At any time, the lust of conquest may vastly enlarge the theatre of war. These tragic events have but served to intensify our determination to share in the war effort of the allied powers to the utmost of our strength. In this resolution the government has been fortified by tire direct and unquestioned mandate of the Canadian people.

The organization and prosecution of Canada's war effort have commanded the unremitting attention of my ministers. The constant consultation and complete cooperation maintained with the governments of the United Kingdom and France have been materially strengthened by the recent visit to those countries of my Minister of National Defence.

You will be fully informed of Canada's action both in the military and economic fields. You will be asked to consider measures deemed essential for the prosecution of the war, and for the social and economic requirements of the country.

While the present session of parliament will necessarily be mainly concerned with Canada's war effort, and the measures essential to the achievement of ultimate victory, my ministers are of opinion that, despite what to-day is being witnessed of concentrated warfare, it is desirable, as far as may be possible, to plan for the days that will follow the cessation of hostilities.

As a contribution to industrial stability in time of war, and to social security and justice in time of peace, resolutions will be introduced for an amendment to the British North America Act which would empower the parliament of Canada to enact at the present session legislation to establish unemployment insurance on a national scale.

The report of the Royal Commission on Dominion-Provincial Relations, which has just been received, will be tabled immediately.

Internal Economy Commission

Members of tlie House of Commons:

YTou will be asked to make financial provision for expenditure necessitated by the existing state of war.

The estimates for the current fiscal year will be submitted to you without delay.

Honourable Members of the Senate:

Members of the House of Commons:

Since the last session of parliament, a much beloved Governor General has passed from our midst. In the death of Lord Tweedsmuir, Canada mourns one whose character and achievements had endeared him to our people; the British commonwealth has lost a wise and understanding counsellor, and the fellowship of writers a gifted interpreter of the graces and humanities of English literature. I join with you in the expression to Lady Tweedsmuir and the members of her family of the deep sympathy of the Canadian people.

His Majesty the King has been pleased to appoint the Earl of Athlone as His Representative in succession to the late Lord Tweeds-muir. The sense of duty and the public services which have distinguished the lives of the Governor General designate and the Princess Alice ensure for His Excellency and Her Royal Highness an eager and cordial welcome to Canada.

As you assume, in these dark and difficult days, the grave responsibilities with which you have been entrusted by the Canadian people, may your resolution be sustained by the knowledge that it is the liberties of all free peoples that you are helping to preserve. Unless the evil powers, which threaten the very existence of freedom, are vanquished, the world itself will inevitably be reduced to a state of international anarchy.

I pray that Divine Providence may guide and bless your deliberations.

Topic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
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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) moved:

That the order for the consideration of the motion for an address to His Excellency the Administrator in reply to his speech at the opening of the session, have precedence over all other business, except introduction of bills, until disposed of.

Topic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
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Motion agreed to.


STANDING COMMITTEES

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 a special committee be appointed to prepare and report with all convenient speed lists of members to compose the standing committees of this house, under standing order 63, said committee to be composed of Messrs. Mackenzie (Vancouver Centre), Casgrain,

Casselman (Grenville-Dundas), Taylor and

Douglas (Weyburn).

Topic:   STANDING COMMITTEES
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Motion agreed to.


January 25, 1940