Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):
I desire to take issue with the Prime Minister with regard to the substance of his statement. In the first place the Prime Minister indicated, in reply to an inquiry by the hon. member for
Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell), that some facility would be afforded for discussing the Hong Kong report. At the same time, on every occasion on which this material has been asked for, the government has taken every means within its power to frustrate any debate on this important topic, first by withholding the evidence or such portion of it as it would be in the public interest to have tabled here, and second by resorting from time to time to an alleged rule that a certain inquiry is sub judice and therefore cannot be discussed. A further reason advanced has been that the inquiry was held in camera. That I submit is no reason at all why we should not have the evidence. All these factors combine to make it impossible for this House of Commons, denied all the evidence and all exhibits, to come to any real conclusions as to justification for the report, not of the Chief Justice of Canada but of a royal commissioner appointed under the Inquiries Act.
Since when has there been a rule that this House of Commons should not criticize a report of a royal commission? The implication that is made by reference to the Chief Justice of Canada is merely a method to evade a proper discussion of this report; and I protest against it. It is not the Chief Justice of Canada who made the report; it is a royal commissioner appointed by this government. Further, if we are to have any debate on the Hong Kong report, how in the world can we arrive at any dependable conclusions; how can this House of Commons come to any conclusions at all, unless we have the evidence before us to ascertain whether the conclusions of the royal commission were justified or not?
I submit that it is within the right of this House of Commons to order that the evidence, such as is not inter-governmental-and I reserve judgment on that for the moment- should be tabled. Without that the government makes it impossible to discuss this report or to arrive at any just or dependable conclusions with respect to the accuracy or otherwise of the report of the royal commissioner. I submit that this motion, either in its present form or in some amended form, should as a matter of right be passed by this House of Commons.