August 3, 1940

MOTION FOR ADJOURNMF.NT ON COMPLETION OF BUSINESS UNTIL NOVEMBER 5, 1940

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, hon. members are anxious, I am sure, to know the

intention of the government with respect to adjournment or prorogation when the business for which the present session was called is concluded. My colleagues and I have given thought to what in the public interest would be most advisable, all circumstances considered, and we have endeavoured to meet, as well as it possibly can be met, the convenience of hon. members of the house generally. With the consent of the house, I desire therefore to propose the following motion:

That this house, on completion of the business for which it was specially summoned, do adjourn till Tuesday, 5th November, 1940, at three o'clock p.m., provided always that if it appears to the satisfaction of Mr. Speaker, after consultation with His Majesty's government, that the public interest requires that the house should meet at any earlier time during the adjournment, Mr. Speaker may give notice that he is so satisfied, and thereupon the house shall meet at the time stated in such notice, and shall transact its business as if it had been duly adjourned to that time.

As hon. members will understand, this means that when the business of the session is completed, be it to-day, on Monday, or on whatever day it may be, the house will then stand adjourned until Tuesday, November 5. If in the interval for public reasons it should appear necessary to have the house reconvene, it will be possible for the government, upon consultation with His Honour the Speaker, to bring hon. members together in the shortest possible time. If it should not appear necessary to bring hon. members together until November 5, at that time the government would be in position to know whether the public interest would be best served by calling the next session of parliament almost at that very time. Whether that would be wise or unwise, I am unable to say at the moment. These matters can be decided only in the light of the circumstances that may exist at the time.

I realize that it would be a great inconvenience to hon. members to have them come from all parts of the country to Ottawa for a very short period, have them return home, and then call them back again almost immediately afterwards in order to begin a new session of parliament. At the time to which adjournment is being made, I believe the government, will know whether it would be better for the house to meet for what time may be necessary, then prorogue, and have the next session begin early in the new year or, should there not be much business to attend to in November pertaining to matters which have happened meanwhile, and the government then be in a position to bring down its programme for the next session, to prorogue forthwith and have parliament imme-

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diately summoned for its next session possibly on the Thursday of the week to which adjournment is now being arranged for.

Upon reflection hon. members will see, I am sure, that the government has considered the matter from every side, in the light of conditions in our own country as we know them, and of conditions in the world as we know them. Hon. members will have observed that when I spoke before on this matter, I always declined to say that parliament would adjourn rather than prorogue, and I declined to give any definite undertaking in respect to prorogation. I have always said that I thought these matters could properly be decided only in the light of circumstances as they might exist at the time when it was necessary to make a final decision. All circumstances considered, I believe what is proposed in this motion will meet with general approval, at least I hope so.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise for the

purpose of expressing concurrence in the motion which has just been placed before the house by the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King). I had asked for something similar to this on two occasions during the session, and I had not intended returning to it again, rather leaving it entirely to the discretion of the government.

We are of course aware that parliament is the proper place to discuss the state of the defence of Canada should this country become further imperilled. I have always held the view that if the circumstances are such as to imperil the safety of the state, indeed our very existence, the high court of parliament should be functioning.

I am not unaware of the inconvenience which private members of the house may suffer by the action which is proposed, but I hope they will accept the suggestion contained in the motion as a patriotic gesture in their public service and that they will agree unanimously to the motion.

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. M. J. COLDWELL (Rosetown-Biggar):

Mr. Speaker, the proposal of the Prime Minister meets of course with our approval. I believe it is the right thing to do and I feel that none of us, no matter how inconvenient it may be, can possibly complain with respect to the action that is proposed. We do not know what may happen during the next two or three months and I feel that the Prime Minister is acting in the best interests of the country.

There is just one question I should like to ask, to clear up any doubt there may be in our minds. I understand that the reassembling of parliament on November 5 is mandatory.

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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:

Oh, yes. Parliament will have to meet on that day, if it does not meet again at an earlier date.

Mr. JEAN-FRANCOIS POULIOT (Temis-couata): Mr. Speaker, I am always fearful when a suggestion comes from the leader of the opposition. He suggested conscription; we have got it. He suggested an adjournment of the house instead of prorogation; we have got it. It is not the desire of a great many members to have an adjournment at this time. I am not grouching, of course. I am a good enough sport to accept my financial responsibilities as a member, although I am not a big corporation lawyer like the hon. leader of the opposition.

But the Prime Minister should remember one thing. It is that we had a special session of parliament last year, when we came here for one week. Canada is a larger country than England and what works well in England does not necessarily work well here. You can travel overnight from Plymouth to Inverness or from the northern part of Scotland to London or from any part of the British Isles to Westminster. But it takes a long time to come from British Columbia to Ottawa; it takes a long time to come here from Halifax, and it takes a long time to come to Ottawa from Riviere du Loup. But I am not afraid to do so. I can do so. I can pay for my berth; there is no objection to that. But I do not see why people who have high salaries and others who have high positions as corporation lawyers-

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

There is one thing, Mr. Speaker, with respect to adjourning the house to a certain date in order to have the members here then. It takes British Columbia members a week generally to get here by train, but if they come here by Trans-Canada Air Lines I wonder if the government would be ready to pay the travelling expenses of the members who want to reach Ottawa in a day. That would be all right; but otherwise it is quite different. Every member must answer the call of the chair for a sitting of the house. It is evident that it is our duty to be here, and in that sense, being true to my duty as a member of parliament, I am behind such a call.

You know, Mr. Speaker, and the members know that I am just as assiduous in my duties in this house as my correspondence will permit, and that correspondence is exclusively political. By that I mean I am working in the interest of my electors. I have expressed regret that I cannot attend the sittings of the house more often because of the trouble we have had in

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certain departments, but I do my best, as the members will agree. We can come to Ottawa at any time. We have done so before.

But there is another thing. The members of parliament were summoned to Ottawa to sit for one day in January last. They came here expecting to be here for a whole session, and some rented apartments, and when the sitting suddenly ended they had the trouble of settling with the landlords from whom they had rented apartments. Now they are to live on the pure air that we breathe outside. I find it pretty hard.

I remember the time when Mr. Lavigueur was a member from Quebec and Mr. Irvine a member of the Progressive group, and they rose to ask for an increase in the indemnity. We all needed it, but I did not join with them. But this time we have been sitting long enough to be entitled, under the Senate and House of Commons Act, to payment of our full indemnity, and I do not see why we should not get it. Why should we be afraid to speak plainly?

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

Most of our indemnity

goes back to our electors in the form of contributions of funeral wreaths, masses for the dead, wedding gifts and charity. It costs me $1,500 a year of my indemnity to meet these expenses, but now if people will wed or die I shall have to tell them: I am sorry but I have not the means to pay for masses or funeral wreaths, and I can send you only my sympathy; and if they get married I shall have to give them my blessing. I am not afraid to put it in Hansard. The people of my constituency know how I treat them. As members most of us spend at least $5 a day in contributions of one kind and another. I do not complain about it, but I want to have what is owed to me according to the statute.

I am sick of the idea of copying what is done at Westminster under entirely different circumstances. The leader of the opposition says, in a prayerful attitude: I hope this

motion will be agreed to unanimously. It is not agreed to unanimously; I am against it, just as I was against the rotten social legislation of Bennett and against all bad things. What I ask now I do not ask for myself. I ask it on behalf of my electors. Many members who have just applauded me are in exactly similar circumstances to my own. I tell the Prime Minister once for all that he is on a much safer road when he follows the views of his supporters than when he follows the views of the leader of the opposition. Why, why, why cater to the Ottawa Journal, that Tory paper which is making lots of money by renting space to the government

during the war. I am not the first to say that. It was said in the house by Doctor Edwards, an Orangeman, a Tory, but a good fellow with a good heart and a sense of fairness. He complained of the Ottawa Journal being so greedy to get money and then preaching immolation and sacrifice. They are just hypocrites, like those hypocrites the Lord expelled from the temple with a whip.

Let us be sensible. That is my last recommendation to the house.

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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 should like at once to say to my hon. friend the member for Temis-couata (Mr. Pouliot) that I myself take full responsibility for this motion. It has not been brought forward as a result of any suggestion made from any part of the house. It has been brought forward as the result of careful thought to what is most in the public interest, all circumstances considered, at this time. I believe that the motion as it has been presented will serve to meet any and every possible contingency, in the most effective way. It is not an imitation of what is being done in any other country; it is a statement of what in this country, having regard to the position of Canada, having regard to the position of the United Kingdom, and having regard to the world situation, is obviously the wisest thing to have done with respect to the proceedings of parliament.

In regard to the question of indemnity which my hon. friend has raised, the effect of the motion is that on adjournment of the house, each day on which there has been no sitting in consequence of its having adjourned over such day shall be reckoned as a day of attendance. The result is that hon. members will not get the balance of the indemnity as of prorogation, but will be paid monthly until the $4,000 is fully paid.

My hon. friend has referred to sacrifice. When men of this country are crossing the ocean to join with others in the old land, prepared to sacrifice their lives if need be for the preservation of freedom, it ill becomes, I think, any hon. member of this house to make comparisons with respect to the extent of possible sacrifice.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

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

Mr. Speaker, on a question of

privilege. The hon. member for Temiscouata (Mr. Pouliot) has referred to me in somewhat contemptuous terms. Under ordinary circumstances I should greet those words with the silence they deserve. But I should like to make this personal explanation to the house. When I was sworn in as a member of his majesty's Canadian privy council in 1934 I

Questions

severed my connection with my legal firm. I want to say that it was not without a good deal of misgiving that I did so, because it was a firm of which I was very proud and which had grown and been built up in the esteem of a large clientele over many years. In doing so I sacrificed a very substantial professional income. Since that time I have had no connection with that firm save and except in a consulting capacity, and at the same time I returned all the retainers of any consequence and of any character which I had as being a member of that firm. I am happy to think, however, that the firm still bears my name. That is quite in accordance with the laws of the province in which I live. I have had no connection in a professional capacity with any corporation except one since the middle of November, 1934. I have retained such directorships as I have enjoyed because in certain cases I was acting in a fiduciary capacity, and in other cases I felt it my duty to do so and that it was in no way inimical to the public interest.

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LIB

Georges Parent (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

Is it the pleasure of the house to adopt the motion? Carried.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

On division.

Motion (Mr. Mackenzie King) agreed to, on division.

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PRIVILEGE-MR. POULIOT

LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

On a question of privilege, I wonder if my chief, the Prime Minister in stating that the soldiers were making sacrifices overseas, was implying that I as a member of parliament was making no sacrifice. If such is the case, may I remind him that both of us are over forty-five years of age and that I am married, am a father, and do my duty as a member of parliament?

A second question is this: Will the

expenses of the members, if they come at the call of the chair during the adjournment, be paid or not?

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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:

As to the first question, may I say that I am not aware of having made any reflection upon the character of my hon. friend or on the extent of his sacrifices; certainly nothing of the sort was intended. I think we are all fully aware how considerable they are. My hon. friend himself raised the question of sacrifice, and I deemed it desirable in that connection to indicate as I saw it, a true sense of proportion between any sacrifice which a member of parliament as such can make and that

which is made by a man who is prepared to give, or actually does give, his life on the scene of conflict.

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NAT
LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

As to the question of the payment of expenses of members coming back to attend the session when it is reconvened, whatever is customary in that regard will be followed at that time.

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QUESTIONS


(Questions answered orally are indicated by an asterisk.) house rentals in war time


August 3, 1940