MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
Mr. JEAN-FRANQOIS POULIOT (Temis-couata): Mr. Speaker, I desire to move that this house shall be adjourned to discuss a matter of urgent public importance. My motion is as follows: Whereas on August 3, 1940, the Prime Minister, with the concurrence of the then leader of the opposition and of the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar, has moved a long adjournment of the house, provided that, "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"; Whereas that motion was carried and whereas similar motions were passed on December 6, 1940; June 14, 1941; November 14, 1941; August 1, 1942; July 24, 1943; August 14, 1944 and December 7, 1944; Whereas from 1940 until January 31, 1945, with the exception of November 6, 1940, the opening of each session has taken place on the day immediately following the date of the prorogation of the previous session; Whereas "parliament is the proper place to discuss the state of the defence of Canada should this country become further imperilled"; Whereas, especially in wartime, "the high court of parliament should be functioning"; Whereas, at ten different intervals since the beginning of this war matters of vital importance to this country and to the whole world have been referred to the consideration of parliament; Whereas parliament is a democratic and national institution which could not be dispensed with, especially during the war; Whereas the term of the present parliament is about to expire in eleven days, viz. on April 17, this month; Whereas it would be in the public interest and in conformity with the British parliamentary traditions to extend the life of the present parliament for one year, I move that this house shall be. adjourned to discuss a definite matter of urgent importance, the government should take immediate steps to provide for the extension of the life of the present parliament for one year. That is the conclusion that appears on the motion, but I would rather make it a little different. The conclusion should be that we should either have an election right now, and parliament should be dissolved before its life expires-
-or we should have an extension of the life of parliament.
Order. I have received a copy of this motion. It reached me immediately before my coming to the house, and I have read it carefully.
The standing order under which this motion is made is standing order 31 which 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 the adjournment of the house for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, and states the matter.
All of which has been dlone.
Duration of Parliament
(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 so on. My difficulty in reading over this motion is with regard1 to the degree of urgency. It is the responsibility of the Speaker to decide whether there is that degree of urgency which would justify sncn a motion being discussed. I would ask the hon. gentleman to give me some idea as to why he considers there is that degree of urgency in the motion before the house.
I would also point out to the hon. member that when the house goes into committee of supply he will have the right then to discuss that which is contained in the motion. But I want to be satisfied about the degree of urgency, and I frankly confess to the hon, member that I have considerable doubt in my mind that there is that degree of urgency which would justify me in giving him leave to move his motion. However,, in fairness to the hon. member I would be glad to hear him on the question of the degree of urgency.
Mr. Speaker, I am most
grateful to you for giving me the opportunity to tell you why I consider this an urgent matter. As you so aptly said, according to the rules of the house a motion made by a member for the adjournment of the house before the orders of the day are called shall be "a definite matter of urgent public importance."
It is obvious that the life of this parliament will expire in eleven days. Between the date at which the term of the present parliament will expire and to-day there are two Sundays, so that there will be only nine sitting days before the end of this parliament. That is a matter of fact known to everyone. Before stressing my point I want to say that it is not the fear of the elections which has prompted me-
Order. I have allowed
the hon. member the privilege of speaking to his motion. This is rather unusual, but I thought the hon. member should have the opportunity at least to convince me that there is sufficient urgency to justify the motion. I ask the hon. member to address himself solely to the question of "urgent" as set out in our standing order.
I cannot tell it to you, sir, with motions of the hand. That is what we do in conversations with the deaf who are not blind, but we are neither blind nor deaf. I have great respect for you, Mr. Speaker, but there is an axiom of law, "donner et retenir ne vautyou cannot give and keep the same thing. If you are giving me that right, and I am thankful to you for doing so, please allow me the privilege of using it.
I have to prove something that is just as evident as sunlight at noon. If parliament had died yesterday we would not be sitting here to-day, and I warn the house that after nine possible sitting days there will be no more parliament.
Order. I have given to the hon. member a privilege which is quite unusual, but I thought if it was not his right, at all events it was a courtesy to him that he should be allowed to address himself to the question of urgency. That is what troubles my mind in making a decision. As I read the motion I do not see that degree of urgency, and I have given an opportunity ,to the hon. gentleman to instruct me in that regard.
I appreciate what you say, sir, but I regret the insinuation of what you are about to do. With the one hand you give it to me and with the other you take it away.
Order. I would not have given the hon. gentleman an opportunity to discuss his motion if my mind had been made up. I am asking him to justify his motion in regard to the degree of urgency.
Yes, sir; but now let us speak of that right which every member of this house has. No member on the treasury or front benches has any more rights than the back bencher has. I am astonished to have to defend the existence of parliamentary institutions in this chamber alone. I hope that members in other parts of the house will rise to defend our own parliamentary institutions.
Order. The hon. member is now getting all the privileges and rights which he enjoys as a member of parliament, and, as I have already said, perhaps more than I am entitled to concede. I wish the hon. gentleman would address himself to the question of urgency and to that alone.
Mr. Speaker, I shall not repeat indefinitely the word "urgency" but shall try to establish that there is an ex urgency about this matter, and a very definite and clear urgency. It is quite clear in the motion itself. I have not a copy of my motion before me, because I sent you the first
one and then afterwards the one from which I had read, and I also gave copies to the leaders of the parties, but one of them has now been kind enough to let me have his copy back.
To summarize the whole thing, we have reached the time when parliament is like a man on his death bed who is in a state of mind where his will could be questioned before the courts. The very reason why there is urgency is precisely the short lapse of time before parliament comes to its death in nine possible sitting days, and if that is not enough reason to permit us to discuss this whole matter in order that the atmosphere of uncertainty in which we have lived since the beginning of the war may be brought to an end, we will see to it that hon. gentlemen will have to record their votes and say whether they are for or against this motion. They will have to cease to fear public opinion and assume their responsibilities.
Order. I have given the hon. member an opportunity to give me some evidence as* to the urgency of his motion. I must say that the hon. gentleman has not in my judgment supplied the evidence to justify his motion.
CANADA-INDIA INQTJIBY AS TO EXCHANGE OF HIGH COMMISSIONERS
On the orders of the day:
Mr. GORDON GRAYDON (Leader of the Opposition):
Mr. Speaker, I desire to direct a question to the Prime Minister. A dispatch from London appearing in the press this morning states that the representative of India told the commonwealth conference yesterday that he had a definite promise from Prime Minister Mackenzie King that a Canadian High Commissioner to India would arrive there soon and that negotiations with regard to the exchange of high commissioners are proceeding. I should be glad if the Prime Minister would inform the house on the point raised by the Indian representative, and, if possible, indicate who will be appointed as High Commissioner for Canada in India.
Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):
Mr. Speaker, may I say in reply to my hon. friend that the matter of exchange of high commissioners between Canada and India has been under consideration for some little time. It is wholly correct to say that Canada intends to send a high commissioner to India, and that India intends to send a high commissioner to Canada. The exchange of high commissioners will be reciprocal. The government up to the moment
have not been able to decide on the particular person to be appointed as high commissioner from Canada but I hope that an appointment may soon be made.