August 6, 1940

NAT

Grote Stirling

National Government

Mr. STIRLING:

I wonder if the Prime Minister would see fit to make a short statement in regard to our relations with representatives of the occupied countries-Norway, Denmark, Holland, Belgium and France-and give some idea to the public as to how representations are exchanged between these representatives and in what language they talk.

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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):

As my hon. friend is aware, the representatives whom Canada has had in certain of the occupied countries-Belgium, Holland and France in particular-are at the moment for the most part in London, where they are associated with other diplomatic representatives who are in that capital. They are in a position to be in contact immediately with these representatives, and with the dominions and the foreign offices, and through Canada's high commissioner, to obtain such information as they deem it desirable that our government should have from various sources there. They are also in a position to communicate such information as the Canadian government deems it advisable to have dispatched to our representatives concerning matters affecting these particular countries or to others who are making inquiries. I do not know that I can express more specifically the present relationship. It is the only one that seems possible at the present time.

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NAT

Howard Charles Green

National Government

Mr. GREEN:

In connection with applications for passports, I suggest that the Department of External Affairs might consider allowing other officials or persons to take the declaration required upon an application. At the present time, for example, a justice of the peace cannot take the declaration nor can a member of parliament, and perhaps it would save a good deal of trouble if that privilege were extended to other classes.

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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:

I cannot say more than that the suggestion seems to be a reasonable one and that I shall be glad to see if something of the kind cannot be arranged.

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NAT

Howard Charles Green

National Government

Mr. GREEN:

Arising out of the passport question, may I point out that many people from western Canada are obliged to get passports in order to drive back through the United States, and that has brought to the fore the question of the completion of the trans-Canada highway. While it may not be

strictly in order on this item, I would ask the Prime Minister to let us have some statement with reference to the highway at the moment. A month or two ago the gap in British Columbia known as Big Bend gap was completed and there now remains a distance of only from 135 to 150 miles in northern Ontario which has not been completed. According to press dispatches, about a month ago the deputy minister of highways in Ontario said that there was no chance now of that gap being completed until after the war. He said it would cost between $5,000,000 and $6,000,000 and that there was alien labour available to assist in the work, but he thought it would be impossible to go ahead at the moment. The completion of the highway would be of inestimable value in many ways. It would be a great tourist attraction, it would enable our people to drive from one coast to the other, it would provide employment for young men who are not fit to go into the army and there is this alien labour available, and it might also be of vital importance to the defence of the country.

In view of the fact that there is such a short gap remaining to be completed I would urge upon the Prime Minister that steps be taken at once to complete the highway. I am confident it would be a good thing for Canada.

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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:

I cannot recollect a month when the subject has not come before council in one way or another. The question has been largely one of relative expense and what it was wisest to do at the particular moment. On some occasions it has been suggested that internees should be used for the purpose; sometimes the suggestion has been that the unemployed be assigned to this particular work. Each time the matter has been considered there has been a special reason for refraining from either acting at the moment or taking some particular action, but I can assure my hon. friend that the desire of the government is to have the highway completed and the matter will continue to receive consideration as opportunities arise to have the work on it progress.

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CON

Agar Rodney Adamson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ADAMSON:

Could prisoners of war be used on such work?

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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:

That question is being considered. I understand it is more or less necessary to keep in mind what is being done in other countries with prisoners of war of British origin. Matters of that sort enter into the consideration of what we should do here.

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NAT

Howard Charles Green

National Government

Mr. GREEN:

The same considerations

would not apply with respect to aliens interned in Canada. They could be used, could they 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:

I should not like to say offhand that they could or could not. That question is being explored, but what action will be taken I cannot say at the moment. However, if it is possible to give employment to those who are unemployed, whether internees or others, the desire is to have them employed in work of the kind.

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SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. JOHNSTON (Bow River):

That is an important issue at this time. There is no use our calmly saying there is no danger of either the Canadian National or the Canadian Pacific being blown up. It would be an easy act of sabotage on the part of communists or fifth columnists to blow up either of these railways or possibly both, and if that were done it would be an utter impossibility for us to connect eastern with western Canada. The work would be delayed for some time until the roads were repaired. On the other hand, if we had a completed highway it would be almost impossible for any fifth column activity to separate east and west. Moreover, we should save quite a few dollars if we had that road completed, because almost every member of parliament this session must go through the United States, if he is driving home, in order to get home, whereas it would be much more convenient to remain in Canada on the way home. It would save a great deal of expense, and one would not have so far to go. As it is, one has to go 3,000 miles to get to Alberta. Again, it would be a saving in foreign exchange, to say nothing of the urgent necessity of having the road completed.

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NAT

Douglas King Hazen

National Government

Mr. HAZEN:

May I address a question to the Prime Minister? Shortly after Great Britain was reluctantly obliged to take over the French fleet the French government severed connections with the British government and the French ambassador handed in his letters at the Court of St. James. Shortly before this unfortunate event a new representative to the French government was sent to Ottawa. If I am in order I should like to ask what is the present relation between the Canadian government and the representative of the French government in Ottawa.

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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:

May I say as hon. members are well aware, that in the relations between countries to-day there are many situations that are extremely difficult, some of which are quite serious and others of which are most critical. Speaking broadly, the attitude of the Canadian government

towards all these situations has been to endeavour so to shape its course as to help relieve the tension where it is possible to do so, and to avoid adding any fuel to the flames where that aim also can be attained.

With respect to the relations of the United Kingdom and France a)t the present time I need not say that to a certain extent they are obscure. There has been a certain severance of relations, but not a complete severance. I understand the consuls general of France are all at the present discharging their duties normally in the United Kingdom as they have hitherto done. As far as Canada is concerned our position has been to permit the minister who has come to Canada from France to remain. He understands that the situation is a delicate one and that he is here with a view of assisting our government to meet questions as they arise rather than to do anything directly or indirectly which would serve to embarrass the government. The position as far as our relationship with France is concerned is well known and understood in the United Kingdom. I believe we are helping to meet the desire of the United Kingdom government in not severing diplomatic relations to the extent of asking the present minister to retire. I belive a similar attitude is being taken on the part of South Africa towards its representative from France. Certainly as between this country and the French people there has always been the closest and friendliest kind of relationship. France has been the ally of the United Kingdom more than once and we certainly hope that the day will come when relations will be restored to the old normal happy state that has existed in past years. In the interval if there is anything we can do to further that end, and avoid, as I have said, any new issue arising, I think it should be done. And it is on that basis that the relationship is being maintained as it is at the present time.

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NAT

Douglas King Hazen

National Government

Mr. HAZEN:

What I had in mind was this. The French government to-day is apparently under the domination of the German government, and there must be communications passing from the French representative here to the French government in France, which communications must be available to the German government. Is there any control over the communications that pass from the French representative in this country to the French government? Is the French representative free to send any communication he likes, which would be available to the German government?

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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:

If there were the slightest reason to believe that the present French representative was able to obtain any information that is not common information,

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that might be of the least help to the German government, I imagine he would, not himself wish to stay for an hour, and certainly this government would not permit him to stay. But I have every reason to believe that M. Ristelhueber, the present minister, is a very honourable man and certainly in his relation to the administration with respect to the different and difficult questions which have come up he has given us every reason to believe that his sole desire is similar to our own, namely, in the existing very painful situation to do all he can to help relieve difficulties rather than add to them.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

Referring to section 56

of the British North America Act, would the Prime Minister be kind enough to tell the committee whether authentic copies of acts of parliament are forwarded to the office of the governor general by the Department of External Affairs or by the clerk of the privy council.

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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:

That is a question which I cannot answer offhand.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

Then in case of doubt I hope the Prime Minister would not object to a few remarks about the status of Canada, that does not enjoy now what the Oxford dictionary calls the treatment of Tiberius. Some years ago Sir Wilfrid Laurier said that Canada was a nation in the British empire, but he did not imply by that that Canada was a free nation or a sovereign nation. I find it very dangerous to say that Canada is a nation, impljdng by that that Canada is a free nation or a sovereign nation; for of course we are not. There are very few hon. members in this house who entertain the view that Canada is a colony. There is the hon. member for Broadview (Mr. Church) and the hon. member for Yukon (Mr. Black)-a former Speaker of the House-and the member for Temis-couata (Mr. Pouliot). The reason we think Canada is a colony is that even for a small affair such as the right to pass an act like the unemployment insurance act we have to snap our fingers to Westminster, asking the right to do that. I find it a great humiliation, not because I am anti-British but because I am pro-Canadian.

Of course there are children of minor age, under twenty-one years, who need a guardian. And there are others who are of mature age and can act for themselves. Canada cannot dispose of its own legislation at times without asking Westminster's permission. In my humble opinion the first thing to do regarding international affairs would be to ask Westminster to withdraw from the constitution the disallowance clauses of the British North America Act. I draw the attention of my

chief and of the committee to the absurd situation in which this parliament is placed when certified copies of the acts passed by this parliament, meaning the House of Commons and the Senate, and assented to by His Excellency the Governor General, who is the representative of His Majesty the King of Canada, are forwarded, in accordance with section 56, to one of his majesty's principal secretaries of state. I will read the section:

56. Where the governor general assents to a bill in the Queen's name, he shall by the first convenient opportunity send an authentic copy of the Act to one of her majesty's principal secretaries of state, and if the Queen in council within two years after receipt thereof by the Secretary of State thinks fit to disallow the act, since disallowance (with a certificate of the secretary of the day on which the act was received by him) being signified by the governor general, by speech or message to each of the houses of the parliament or by proclamation, shall annul the act from and after the day of such signification.

Section. 57 is to the same effect. The absurd situation is this: In May of last year his majesty came to Canada and gave his personal assent to certain bills. Of course we presumed that this was final, that the bills assented to by the king of Canada would not be sent by the governor general's secretary to the secretary for the dominions in London, and that the king of England would not have two years in which to disallow the legislation to which he had given his own assent as king of Canada. That is a most amazing situation. We may be told, of course, that these sections are spent, that they are not in force at the present time. But if certified copies of our acts are sent to the secretary for the dominions, now that Canada is enjoying the so-called benefits of the statute of Westminster, just the same as they were when Canada was recognized as a colony at the time the British North America Act was passed, what has been our progress?

One may say, of course, that there is no question of disallowance in connection with any act of this parliament. That is only a presumption, because no one can say that on some future occasion Westminster may not do what this government has properly done in the case of Alberta. There was no disallowance of provincial legislation for a great many years, but lately when a provincial premier passed some legislation which evidently was unconstitutional, it was disallowed. I do not blame the government for doing that; it was the right thing to do, but who knows What may be done in the future so far as our acts are concerned?

The only way we can have patriotic citizens in Canada is to teach them what our nation really is and tell them exactly what our con-

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stitution means. We want our constitution to be respected; I am all for that, but that constitution must make Canadians proud of their country and proud of their citizenship. We must be just as proud as the old Romans, who said, Civis Romanus sum-"I am a Roman citizen". We should be proud to be Canadian citizens. When a young boy is taught in school that he has the privilege of being a Canadian he must say the same thing, "I am proud to be a young Canadian", and that pride will last until the end of his days.

I should like to mention one thing that does not satisfy my mind. When Sir John Macdonald spent some summers at St. Patrick, in my constituency, he wrote a letter to one of his friends saying it was his intention that Canada should be called a kingdom. That was objected to by Lord Derby, and he made a few amusing remarks about that gentleman. Sir John Macdonald was one of the fathers of confederation, a great man, one of the builders of this country, and also a good Britisher. He thought Canada should be called a kingdom, but his lordship was afraid of what might be the effect in the United States, and he said no. On May 19 of last year something was said in this parliament which appears at page 4323 of Hansard:

May the blessing of divine providence rest upon your labours and upon my realm of Canada.

Those were the words of his majesty, spoken in this city, but surely his majesty is a king without a kingdom as far as Canada is concerned, because Canada is only a dominion. That may sound strange, but I try to proceed with logic. We have the king of Canada; we were told that according to the statute of Westminster the governor general no longer represented the British government but represented only his majesty, and that in fact he was a viceroy. That is all right, and later we had a high commissioner from England representing the British government. There was a division of responsibility; but what surprised me was that though many prominent people in Canada stated that the appointment of the governor general was made on the recommendation of the Canadian government, the present governor general, who was selected by this government after the statute of Westminster was passed, is the same gentleman who was selected by Great Britain before that statute was passed. I find that strange. I say this without meaning the least offence at all. I have great respect and admiration for the gentleman who now occupies that high post with great dignity. These, however, are some of the things that I cannot easily understand.

We have representatives abroad; for instance, we have legations. I was in Washington early in May and called at the Canadian legation, where I was told that the minister was suffering from jaundice, probably because he had been too close to the Japanese or the Chinese embassy. I spoke to the charg6 d'affaires over the telephone for about half an hour, during which I asked him many questions. United States is probably one of the last countries in the world where international law is respected. I studied international law in my youth; it is one of the most interesting branches of the legal profession. During that long conversation I asked the charge d'affaires if he had had any training in international law, and to my great surprise he said no. I was really rather scandalized.

For a number of years we have had a Canadian legation in Japan. I presume it is very important that the Canadian ministers and members of the staff should be well posted on Japanese questions. I wonder whether any minister or any Canadian member of the staff, down to the last messenger, has been able to speak the Japanese language. To understand the situation in Japan, to learn anything about the matters that were of importance to us, they have had to rely upon the paid help of Japanese-born people, who could commit any barbarisms or make any errors in translation that might suit theif own patriotic purposes. I do not see how we could maintain a legation in Japan without having there Canadian citizens who could fluently speak, read and write the Japanese language.

Of course the impression is conveyed throughout the world that Canada is a nation. Some diplomats, who are very courteous, accept the statement that Canada ranks as a free nation, though we are not such a nation in fact for the reason I have mentioned and others to which I shall come in a moment. I wonder what change the statute of Westminster may have made in our external relations, either with Great Britain or with any other country. Section 7 of that statute reads:

Nothing in this act shall be deemed to apply to the repeal, amendment or alteration of the British North America Acts, 1867 to 1930, or any order, rule or regulation made thereunder.

This means that the statute of Westminster does not repeal that part of the British North America Act concerning disallowance of our legislation.

Besides disallowance other matters have been mentioned, as indicated in Hansard of September 9, 1939, by my very good and respected friend the right hon. the Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe). Having stated that

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we cannot amend the constitution of Canada in any way without applying to the parliament at Westminster, he said:

It is our own will-I am not saying mine, but the will of the majority-that it should be so, and it is still so. How can we say that we have no bond with the parliament which gives us our power to legislate as it exists to-day?

The minister said it was not his own view; it was the view of the majority. I point out to him it was never submitted to the majority-never. It was never submitted to the Canadian people. I am sure if this matter were submitted to the Canadian people the answer would be this: We desire to have the right to amend our own constitution.

Then the. right hon. gentleman mentioned appeals to the privy council, and said:

. . . the lawyers of the province of Quebec were trusting more in the lords of the privy jouncil for their judicial decisions than in the majority of the Supreme Court of Canada, coming from the other provinces.

That is right. And he added:

Well, if some of our leading men who entertain these views now are for the neutrality of Canada, they still desire that judicial decisions affecting Canada shall be given by the judges in England.

Properly so. The minister was right about that. The reason is obvious, namely, that the judges of the privy council have a much more complete training than have the Canadian judges.

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LIB

Thomas Vien (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

From the beginning of this session I have allowed the discussion of matters not arising from the items under consideration. Sometimes, with the consent of the minister concerned, the practice has developed of discussing, under the item of departmental administration, questions affecting departmental policies. That is not in conformity with standing order 58 (2). That subsection provides that in discussing an item only matters relating to it may properly be discussed.

In the present instance, details of departmental administration appear at page 80 of the estimates. Hon. members will find nothing there which would justify, at this time, a discussion of the expediency of amending the British North America Act or of abolishing the right of appeal to the judicial committee of the privy council. That discussion is as foreign to the business before the committee as the discussion respecting the international highway, which arose a few minutes ago. One breach of the rules always entails several others following in its wake. Without unanimous consent, suspending subsection 2 of standing order 58, it is my duty as chair-

man to draw attention to standing order 58, and to apply it.

A discussion respecting section 56 of the British North America Act might be appropriate under the item concerning the governor general, his excellency having the duty of referring to his majesty bills he has sanctioned. But it is not admissible under the present item. It is difficult for the chairman to be fair to all hon. members and to draw the line in debate unless there is strict adherence to the rules of 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

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Mr. Chairman, may I say with respect to what you have just said that so far as I personally am concerned I have no desire in any way to circumscribe the latitude of the discussion, beyond this, that I believe there are times and seasons for all things. I believe it is the desire of all hon. members to have parliament adjourn as soon as possible, and I believe, too, that there are occasions more appropriate than the present to discuss important constitutional questions such as these having to do with the present status of Canada and the power of disallowance.

These matters are very important. In fact their importance is so great that I believe this would not be the best moment at which to provoke a debate on either subject. The answer to the hon. member for Temiscouata (Mr. Pouliot) with respect to the power of disallowance is that it was unanimously agreed at conferences in 1929 and 1930 that the present constitutional position is that the power of disallowance of dominion statutes could not be exercised without the consent of the dominion. The United Kingdom's power of disallowance is thus recognized, I may say to him, as being constitutionally dead, if not yet legally buried.

As to Canada's power to amend her own constitution, I suggest no better example could be given than that which has taken place in this very session, whereby the United Kingdom government upon presentation of an address from both houses of this parliament with respect to the amending of the constitution in one particular, did so within a limit, taken altogether, of something considerably less than an hour's time. I am referring to the discussion which took place in both houses of parliament in the United Kingdom on the amendment with respect to unemployment insurance.

If we continue to amend our constitution by way of presentation of an address to the United Kingdom parliament it is because it suits our convenience so to do, or helps to meet feelings, for the present at any rate, which some entertain, with respect to the wisdom of preserving that method of procedure.

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It is not, however, at all an evidence of subordination.

If to-morrow this .parliament were by an address to ask the British parliament to enact an amendment which would permit us to amend our own constitution, that amendment would, I believe, be passed by the United Kingdom parliament just as speedily as the one which was passed at this session with respect to amending our constitution in the important particular I have mentioned.

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August 6, 1940