July 16, 1942

WAR EXPENDITURES COMMITTEE


Third and fourth reports of special committee on war expenditures-Mr. Fournier (Hull).


SHIPPING LOSSES

REQUEST FOR SECRET SESSION-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31

IND

Joseph Sasseville Roy

Independent

Mr. J. S. ROY (Gaspe):

Mr. Speaker, under standing order 31 I wish to move the adjournment of the house for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance following further developments of a very grave nature. What I want is an immediate secret session of the house to discuss certain grave events which have occurred within the past few' days in the St. Lawrence, about which this house should be fully informed. I cannot give details in open session because it would give information to the enemy, but my information leads me to believe that there is reason to fear that persons responsible for the protection of our coastal waters have been negligent in their duty.

Topic:   SHIPPING LOSSES
Subtopic:   REQUEST FOR SECRET SESSION-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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LIB

Georges Parent (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

There is a degree of

urgency in the motion made by the hon. member, and I should prefer that the hon. member have the leave of the house to make the motion. Standing order 31 reads:

(1) Leave to make a motion for the adjournment of the house (when made for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance) must be asked after the ordinary daily routine of business (standing order 15) has been concluded and before notices of motions or orders of the day are entered upon.

(2) The member desiring to make such a motion rises in his place, asks leave to move

[Mr R. B. Hanson.]

the adjournment of the house for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, and states the matter.

(3) He then hands a written statement of the matter proposed to be discussed to the Speaker, who, if he thinks it in order and of urgent public importance, reads it out and asks whether the member has the leave of the house. If objection is taken, the Speaker requests those members who support the motion to rise in their places and if more than twenty members rise accordingly, the Speaker calls upon the member who has asked for leave.

Is there any objection on the part of the house?

Topic:   SHIPPING LOSSES
Subtopic:   REQUEST FOR SECRET SESSION-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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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):

The government of course is responsible for holding a secret session or for withholding it. The responsibility rests on the government. Therefore the government should in the first instance have the information at its disposal in order that it may be able to decide whether it is in the interests either of the House of Commons or of the country that a secret session should be held at this time. I would ask the hon. member if he has spoken to the Minister of National Defence for Naval Services (Mr. Macdonald), or to the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Ralston) who is acting for him at the moment in his absence, in regard to those matters which he wishes to have discussed in secret session. If he has not, I suggest that it would be preferable for him to make known the nature of the subjects -which he wishes to have discussed so that the government may decide, wisely and in the light of the circumstances themselves, whether or not a secret session should be held.

Topic:   SHIPPING LOSSES
Subtopic:   REQUEST FOR SECRET SESSION-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

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

I desire to support the request

of the hon. member for Gaspe (Mr. Roy). I have heretofore I think observed all the caution that would be expected of one in my position with respect to matters of this kind. But since this matter was adverted to in the house I have received numerous communications of a startling nature from a part of the province of Quebec with relation to what has taken place in that province and1 in the coastal waters thereof. I have been assured that there is a large measure of authenticity in the statements that have come to me-

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Subtopic:   REQUEST FOR SECRET SESSION-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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LIB

Georges Parent (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. gentleman, but in the first place the motion is not debatable.

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Subtopic:   REQUEST FOR SECRET SESSION-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

I do not

wish to debate the motion, Mr. Speaker; I was just answering an observation made by the Prime Minister, if I may be permitted.

Shipping Losses

Topic:   SHIPPING LOSSES
Subtopic:   REQUEST FOR SECRET SESSION-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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LIB

Georges Parent (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I hesitate to interrupt the hon. leader of the opposition, but in the first place the hon. member for Gaspe is asking leave of the house to discuss the motion for adjournment. Leave to move the adjournment to discuss a matter of urgent public importance must first be obtained from the house, and any remarks subsequent to that would be in order. In the meantime the question before the chair is whether the hon. member has the leave of the house to introduce his motion.

Topic:   SHIPPING LOSSES
Subtopic:   REQUEST FOR SECRET SESSION-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

With

respect, may I just make this statement in answer to an observation made by the Prime Minister. The government should have before it the information which the hon. member has. I was about to say that I had attempted to give the Minister of National Defence for Naval Services on Tuesday last an epitome of the information which had reached me. I wrote him a note asking for an interview, but-through no fault of his, I have no doubt-he did not make that arrangement for me. His secretary telephoned to say that the minister had to go away and would not be back until Friday. Consequently I have not been able to see him, otherwise I would have gone to him personally with a request like this. I make that explanation to indicate to the Prime Minister that there is information which I personally, not through cooperation with the hon. member for Gaspe but on my own account, desired to give to the Minister of National Defence for Naval Services. Therefore I am going to support the request of the hon. member so far as I am able to do so.

Topic:   SHIPPING LOSSES
Subtopic:   REQUEST FOR SECRET SESSION-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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LIB

Georges Parent (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

If objection is taken, as

it has been in this case, the Speaker requests those hon. members supporting the motion to rise in their places, and if more than twenty members rise the speaker calls upon the member who has asked for leave. Those supporting the motion will please rise.

And more than twenty members having risen:

Topic:   SHIPPING LOSSES
Subtopic:   REQUEST FOR SECRET SESSION-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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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:

Before the

hon. member speaks, may I make perfectly clear the position I took in addressing His Honour the Speaker. I did not oppose the motion which the hon. member was making, nor did I oppose the idea of a secret session. What I said was that the government would have to assume responsibility either for holding or withholding a secret session, and in order to have the information on which to reach a correct decision I asked) the hon.

member if he had spoken to the minister concerned and given him the facts which would enable the government to reach a decision. That is as far as I went in what I said.

Topic:   SHIPPING LOSSES
Subtopic:   REQUEST FOR SECRET SESSION-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

His

Honour the Speaker interpreted that as an objection.

Topic:   SHIPPING LOSSES
Subtopic:   REQUEST FOR SECRET SESSION-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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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:

It was not

intended as an objection.

Topic:   SHIPPING LOSSES
Subtopic:   REQUEST FOR SECRET SESSION-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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IND

Joseph Sasseville Roy

Independent

Mr. J. S. ROY (Gaspe):

I offer my sincere thanks to the house for its support in these circumstances of my request for a secret session in order to discuss these very important events which have occurred and still are occurring in the lower St. Lawrence. I have asked several times for a secret session, mostly since the torpedoing of three ships that occurred a week ago last Sunday. In each instance the Prime Minister, as he has done to-day, and the Minister of National Defence for Naval Services, asked me to give him the information I have. I understand from the Prime Minister that he needs the information in order to make his decision on my request.

First I should like to recall that I have in the past communicated information to the government in regard to this matter, and many times in the house I have asked for some protection, some defence works at Gaspe and on the coast. Since the first torpedoings on May 11 and 12, at the instance of the Prime Minister, I have written letters to the Minister of National Defence, and copies of those letters were sent to the Minister of ' National Defence for Naval Services and the Minister of National Defence for Air. In those letters I was saying this-I shall quote only a few parts. This letter was dated Ottawa, May 15, 1942:

Most of the gasoline and oil stocks are imported down there by boats in ordinary 50-gallon drums. Therefore some measures should be taken to prevent the landing of the submarines for purpose of getting gasoline and supplies. There is no guard whatsoever between Gaspe and Rimouski, a distance of about 250 miles. As it is, it remains a wide open gate for the enemy to perpetrate its depredations.

Topic:   SHIPPING LOSSES
Subtopic:   REQUEST FOR SECRET SESSION-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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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 interrupt to point out to my hon. friend that the house is not in secret session at the present time. If I understand him aright, he is disclosing alleged information which, if true, it might be quite proper to give in a secret session but which I should think it was wholly improper to make public in the manner in which he is doing at the present time. I would not interrupt my hon. friend except to say to him that I think he should give the government what

Shipping Losses

information he has or has received, not in a public way, as at present, but in order that we may decide whether or not a secret session should be held. If we refuse the secret session, that would be the time my hon. friend might make his protest.

Topic:   SHIPPING LOSSES
Subtopic:   REQUEST FOR SECRET SESSION-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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IND

Joseph Sasseville Roy

Independent

Mr. ROY:

Mr. Speaker, as to the first remark of the Prime Minister, I think this communication could not be of any value to our enemies, but if the Prime Minister thinks it might, I am very willing that it shall not be recorded on Hansard. Before sending the Prime Minister the information he desires to have I will say briefly that I have on several occasions given the government information on the situation down there; nevertheless the situation remains as it was. I do not think this is disclosing anything that can be of any help to our enemies: I was saying in this letter that the most urgent need for the time being was to send some bombers to Mont Joli and to Gaspe. I am informed that bombers were sent to those two places only after the last torpedoing. I said at the time that the Germans could make a landing to get gasoline and supplies-[DOT]

Topic:   SHIPPING LOSSES
Subtopic:   REQUEST FOR SECRET SESSION-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order.

Topic:   SHIPPING LOSSES
Subtopic:   REQUEST FOR SECRET SESSION-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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July 16, 1942