September 6, 1945

OFFICIAL REPORT

FIRST SESSION-TWENTIETH PARLIAMENT 9-10 GEORGE VI, 1945 VOLUME I, 1945 COMPRISING THE PERIOD FROM THE SIXTH DAY OF SEPTEMBER, 1945, TO THE SEVENTEENTH DAY OF OCTOBER, 1945, INCLUSIVE BEING VOLUME CCXLVI FOR THE PERIOD 1875-1945 INDEX ISSUED IN A SEPARATE VOLUME OTTAWA


EDMOND CLOUTIER, C.M.G., B.A., L.Ph., PRINTER TO THE KING'S MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY CONTROLLER OF STATIONERY 1946



House of Commons Rebates


ELECTION OF SPEAKER

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. Beauchesne, the first duty of the Commons at the beginning of a 47696-1

new parliament is to ascertain the reasons why His Excellency the Governor General, the king's representative, has summoned its members to meet with him in parliament. As hon. members have just been made aware, His Excellency is not prepared to impart those reasons until the Commons have elected a Speaker. As a matter of fact the house itself will not be duly constituted until a Speaker has been elected; therefore our first duty this morning is to choose a Speaker.

In matters of parliamentary procedure our parliament largely follows the procedure at Westminster; there are certain differences, however, that, in the past, have been observed in reference to the selection of a Speaker. The first difference is that at Westminster the Speaker of one parliament, if he proves to be acceptable, is frequently reelected from parliament to parliament. I recall quite well the occasion when Mr. Speaker Lowther of the House of Commons in London visited Canada some years ago and presented to this House the Speaker's chair which is in place here. It is a replica of the one at Westminster. Mr. Speaker Lowther informed our members that for sixteen years he had occupied that seat while the Commons was in session, and that, during that period of time, he had never left the precincts of parliament while either the Commons or the Lords were in session. Since Mr. Speaker Lowther's day three or four other speakers have been appointed. The latest selection was made a few days ago when Mr. Speaker Brown, who had been the Speaker in the last parliament in the United Kingdom, was again chosen Speaker. At that time this action was commented upon as being in accord with the best tradition of recognizing that where a Speaker has shown himself to be impartial, a change of government should not necessarily mean that there would be a change in the position of Speaker. The fact that Mr. REVISED EDITION

Election of Speaker

Brown had served under a Coalition government which was largely Conservative, and was now under a Labour administration, selected

as Speaker was commented on very favourably on all sides.

For reasons of our own, however, we have for the most part found it desirable to have a Speaker chosen at the beginning of one parliament, and a new Speaker chosen at the beginning of the following parliament. That has not always been the case; there have been three exceptions. Mr. Speaker Cockburn, Mr. Speaker Rhodes, and Mr. Speaker Lemieux were, as I recall, elected for more than one parliament. However, they are the exceptions rather than the rule. We have thought that, at this time, we should follow the general practice of choosing a new Speaker at the beginning of a new parliament.

The reason why this difference prevails between the custom in our country and that in the United Kingdom, is that it is felt desirable in this as in many other respects to give recognition to the two races that laid the foundations of our country. That recognition is given, after a Speaker whose mother tongue is English has occupied the chair, by choosing at the next parliament a Speaker whose mother tongue is French. If the Commons is agreeable we propose to have that practice carried out at this time. The Commons itself is, of course, complete master of the situation.

May I point out a further difference in procedure. In the United Kingdom the Speaker is usually nominated by a private member and the nomination is seconded by a private member. That is done in order to make it perfectly clear that so far as the government is concerned, or any other authority, there is no authority greater than that of the members of the Commons themselves; and that, among the members, there is equality in the matter of their rights and privileges. In Canada it has been the custom to have the Speaker nominated by a member of the government, and, I believe, in each case the nomination has been by the Prime Minister.

I should like to make it clear that the Commons is not obliged in any way to accept the nomination of the Prime Minister. Any member is free to nominate and to support the candidature as Speaker of any other hon. member. I am hopeful, however, that the name I intend to propose to the house is one which will prove to be generally acceptable, and that the Speaker who is to occupy the chair throughout this parliament will be elected unanimously.

I have noticed from the press that there appears to be doubt in some quarters as to

the correct procedure in the selection of the Speaker both in the Commons and in the Senate. I have made it abundantly clear, that so far as the Commons is concerned the government is not in any way seeking to impose a Speaker on the house. We are simply carrying out the custom that has prevailed in the past.

In regard to the Senate, I give the following to the members of the house for purposes of information. From section 34 of the British North America Act it will be seen that the Speaker is appointed by the government. He is not chosen in the same manner as in the Commons. Section 34 reads:

The Governor General may from time to time, by instrument under the great seal of Canada, appoint a senator to be Speaker of the Senate, and may remove him and appoint another in his stead.

The section of the British North America Act which governs the selection of a Speaker in the Commons is section 44. It reads as follows:

The House of Commons, on its first assembling after a general election, shall proceed with all practicable speed to elect one of its members to be Speaker.

That then is the position in which we are at the moment, namely, we are about to elect a Speaker with all practicable speed.

Perhaps I may be permitted, before placing before the house the name of the hon. member I intend to nominate, to say just a word about the position of Speaker and the qualities expected in the occupant of that position.

The position of Speaker is the highest office in the gift of the Commons, it is also the most honourable. The Speaker is the first commoner, he is also the presiding officer of this house and is the custodian of its honour, its rights, its privileges and its prerogatives. The Speaker must possess qualities of good judgment and a judicial temperament, also many other qualities that I would not say are too rare, but, found in combination, are often rare enough. He should in his occupancy of the chair be wholly impartial in his manner and in his preferences as between members of the house. Impartiality between the two sides of the house and towards all members in the house is a first requisite in the fulfilment of the office of Speaker. Hon. members who have been in previous parliaments will agree that a great deal of patience is required, a certain sense of humour, together with as much as possible of a conciliatory attitude. I noticed in reading some remarks made recently in the British

Election of Speaker

house, it was said the Speaker must be possessed of a capacity to sit still for a long time. A Speaker, of course, should be a person of quick perceptions, firm, tactful and wholly familiar with the rules of the house and with the procedure of parliament.

As I have said, this is a remarkable combination to find in any one person, but I do believe the hon. member of this house whom I am about to nominate does possess all these qualities to an exceptional degree. The hon. gentleman whose name I wish to place in nomination is Mr. Gaspard Fauteux, the member for St. Mary, Montreal. Doctor Fauteux, I believe, has the character and ability which eminently fit him for this high position. He is a young man, which is all to the good, though he is not too young to be a veteran of the first world war, during which he served in the ranks, nor is he too young to have had considerable parliamentary experience. For some time he wras a member of the Quebec legislature and, as hon. members are aware, he has been a member also of this parliament for some time past. Doctor Fauteux comes of a family that has contributed much to our public life. He is a grandson of Hon. Honore Mercier, a former very distinguished! Premier of Quebec, and is a nephew of another premier. I refer to the Hon. Sir Lomer Gouin, who not only was also a distinguished Premier of Quebec but for some time Minister of Justice of Canada.

Those who know Doctor Fauteux will say that they recognize, in his abilities and public service an inherited strain that is all to the good both for him and for our country. And I may say that Docteur Fauteux possesses a good deal in the way of political prowess in his own right, as is evident from what we have seen on his part in political campaigns. However, now that he is being nominated for the Chair, if he is elected to that office, he will be expected to leave behind him the controversies of party and to be wholly impartial.

In nominating Doctor Fauteux, I have much in mind that he recognizes that the great problems of to-day relate themselves not merely to our own country, but to the countries of the world in general. During this period of transition from the terrors of a world war that has been unequalled in its frightfulness, unequalled in history, it is fortunate that we may have in this office of Speaker one who, for years past, has given very special study to international questions, has spoken upon many occasions in this and in other countries of the world situation, and has done much to educate others on the importance of a wide outlook in international affairs.

47696-li

I may repeat that Doctor Fauteux has, I believe, the qualities of quick perception, keen discernment, patience and impartiality; and if elected by the hon. members of this house, he will, I believe, fill the high office of Speaker with dignity, with honour and distinction to himself and to parliament and with credit to the traditions established by his predecessors.

May I be permitted to add a single word. The ability of a Speaker to preside over the house in a manner which will commend itself generally is dependent even more upon the attitude of hon. members themselves than upon the one who may occupy the Chair. This is certain to be a difficult parliament. The questions which will have to be considered here will be much more difficult of solution than those which have had to be faced by any previous parliament. For this reason, if for no other we should recognize that the Speaker may have upon occasions an exceptionally difficult time. In some parliaments there has been I think a tendency to question far too often, the decisions of the Speaker. I am not in any way trying to lecture the house; I am seeking to emphasize what has been stressed very strongly at Westminster, namely, that the more the Speaker can be supported by the house, the better it will prove in the long run for the dispatch of business and also for the reputation of parliament itself in all parts of the world. I hope hon. members will not think I am unduly anticipating possibilities of that kind. I would only say that the more hon. members strengthen the hands of the Speaker, in his decisions, and in his maintenance of order and decorum in the house, the more rapidly and effectively will it be possible to proceed with the dispatch of the business of the house.

Mr. Beauohesne, I would move, seconded by Mr. St. Laurent:

That Gaspard Fauteux, Esquire, member for the electoral district of St. Mary, do take the chair of this house as Speaker.

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PC

John Bracken (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. JOHN BRACKEN (Leader of the Opposition):

Doctor Beauohesne, speaking

for the members in this section of the house I am very glad to have the opportunity of supporting the motion made by the Prime Minister. The right hon. gentleman has outlined something of the circumstances leading up to the present situation and has given us something of the historical background of the choice of Speaker. With his motion I am in agreement. With his practice I am not fully in accord.

My remarks to-day will not be at all contentious and will be very brief. The position of Speaker in the House of Commons carries

Election 0/ Speaker

with it the highest honour in the gift of this assembly. For that high task the hon. member for St. Mary has been proposed. In expectation of his election I want, on behalf of my associates and myself, to extend our sincere congratulations and best wishes for his successful tenure of office.

In the choice of a presiding officer for the House of Commons there are three essentials we ought never to forget. One is that he is elected by us; another is that he is our officer, and the last is that in no degree is he an officer of the government. In democratic parliaments these facts ought never to be overlooked.

As the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) pointed out, in Westminster special care is taken to protect the independence of that position. As he has explained, private members make the motion appointing him and, we have found that speakers, once appointed have continued from one parliament to the next, even though in the meantime there may have been a change of government. The action of the Labour government in Great Britain within the last few days when they continued in office the Speaker of the previous administration is evidence of that fact.

I draw attention to these facts at this time, not in a spirit of censure of the procedure we are witnessing here to-day. Rather I do so for the purpose of pointing out that the government's action a few days ago-like some similar actions in the past-in designating in advance of the meeting of parliament who would be Speaker of the House of Commons, was not in accordance with the best parliamentary tradition. It was, in fact, and I say this in all deference to the Prime Minister and to such of his predecessors as followed the same procedure, an affront to that tradition; and, to that extent, was an invasion of the rights of the house.

I mention this matter to-day only because if it becomes a regular practice that the Speaker be chosen by the government, without, as in the present instance, any consultation whatsoever with the members of the house, it will tend to prejudice the independence of the office, and to that extent hamper its occupant in the sometimes delicate task of satisfying members of all parties that he is, in fact, completely impartial.

I need scarcely add that this protest is not in any sense directed against the hon. member who has been proposed as Speaker, and in no way detracts from the commendation and good wishes which I express to him personally.

It is one of the happy traditions of the House of Commons that a Speaker of one

parliament who is of English descent shall be followed by a Speaker of French descent, and vice versa. The government's choice is in accordance with that worthy tradition. Furthermore, on grounds of personal merit, I feel it to be a wise one. I believe it will be generally accepted as fortunate that the government's choice has fallen upon the hon. member for St. Mary.

During his period of public service in the house and in the legislature of his native province, the hon. member has demonstrated that he possesses ability and tolerance of a high order. If it be true, as the Prime Minister has said, that the hon. member has in the past been a strong partisan and a doughty fighter for his party, that need not be held to his discredit in his new role.

We on this side of the house are hopeful that, in the tradition of his many distinguished predecessors, the hon. member will be able, as they did, to cast off the mantle of partisanship in the administration of the onerous duties of his new task. We are confident that he will consider himself the guardian of the rights of members wherever they may sit in the house; and we trust that he will be equally zealous in protecting the rights of those who sit in opposition as well as those who sit on the government side.

To the degree that he succeeds in doing this, his administration will be a success and he will be assured from all sides of the house of the respect and deference due his high position.

In assuming the speakership the hon. member for St. Mary will follow a long line of predecessors, whether of Anglo-Saxon or of French descent, who brought distinction to that position. It is our hope and expectation that his record will be no less distinguished than theirs.

For myself and associates I say to the hon. member so soon to be chosen Speaker that he will have our full cooperation in making his term of office a credit both to himself

and to the twentieth parliament now about to open.

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

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

Doctor Beauchesne, on behalf of one of the numerically smaller parties in the house, I wish to support the nomination of the hon. member for St. Mary (Mr. Fauteux) as Speaker.

Doctor Fauteux came to this house some three years ago in a by-election, and since that time those of us who had come to know him paid respect to him for his views, and for that sense of humour which has been

Election of Speaker

mentioned by the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King). I am rising to support the nomination of Doctor Fauteux because I believe he will bring honour to himself and, I hope, add to the dignity of this chamber in the years to come. I support him, not because he chose his ancestors carefully, but rather because I think he is eminently suitable for the office.

The high office to which he has now been nominated is one which concerns the whole membership of the house. Perhaps I have a rather strong sense of history, because I once taught it for a number of years. When we went to the senate chamber this morning my mind recalled that occasion when a Speaker of the English House of Commons, during the reign of Charles I, when the King violated the Commons chamber, informed him when he came to wreck his vengeance upon a small minority in that house that he had no knowledge of their whereabouts, and that he could not tell the King other than he was told by the House of Commons to tell.

It seems to me that the Speaker of the House is the guardian of the privileges of the house, and of those of individual members. I would hope that in this parliament, one which is quite different in its make-up from parliaments we have had since I have been here in the last ten years, Mr. Speaker will always remember that the fortunes of the government must not take precedence over the rights of individual members, or other parties in the house. I am sure that the nominee for this very high office, one who is to be the first Commoner of Canada, will remember this during his tenure of office; so that when the time comes for him to lay down his cares of office we may regard him with the same esteem and respect as we did the Speaker of the house who retired from that position at the end of the last parliament.

Mr. SOLON E. LOW (Peace River): Doctor Beauchesne, speaking for the minority group in this section of the house, I wish to associate myself with other hon. members who have spoken in supporting the nomination of the hon. member for St. Mary (Mr. Fauteux) to this high and important office.

I have not had the pleasure of knowing Doctor Fauteux prior to this morning and therefore I am not able to speak with any authority or any knowledge about his background or his ancestry, but having had ten years' experience in the provincial legislature I have had impressed upon me the importance of his office and have gained some knowledge of the onerous duties which devolve upon him.

I sympathize with him in the duties that he will have to perform, and I hope that sympathy will be carried into action by myself and all who are with me in this organization to give him full support in seeing to it that the best traditions of this house are observed. I trust, Doctor Beauchesne, that the new Speaker-I am anticipating his election-will also keep in mind the best traditions of true democracy and watch over and observe and preserve the rights of the minorities in this chamber as well as those of the majority.

I wish to assure the Speaker-elect that we will at all times give him every support in the carrying out of the heavy duties that will devolve upon him and I assure him, and the other members of this house, that we will always stand ready to observe the rules and to do that which will assist in the carrying out of the business of this house with dispatch. I take great pleasure in supporting the nomination of the hon. member for St. Mary.

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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 had not

anticipated that it would be either necessary or desirable to say any word in reply to the remarks that might be made by the different speakers at this time, but my hon. friend the leader of the opposition (Mr. Bracken) has taken me to task for having intimated to the public in advance of this morning's sitting the name of the person it was intended to nominate as Speaker of the house. My hon. friend has said that that was not the correct practice to follow and he has taken exception to it. May I say to my hon. friend that if he will look through the records of this parliament from the days of confederation up to the present time he will find that the practice I have adopted has been the one that has been followed by all previous prime ministers. Far from limiting or restricting in any way the privileges of the members of the house in making their own choice, the action taken, which has permitted them to know in advance the name of the individual whose name is likely to be placed in nomination, gives to all hon. members an opportunity which otherwise they would not have until the last moment, namely, to decide in their own minds some time in advance whether the choice of the government is one they wish to approve or oppose. Hon. members would have resented it very strongly if I had changed that practice and had given to them and to others no intimation in advance as to the one whom the government had in mind to nominate for the position of Speaker. I wish to make it clear that, far from being censured for departing

e

Election oj Speaker

from the practice, I should be commended by my hon. friend for following established and most desirable precedent.

There is one other point to which my hon. friend has drawn attention, namely, the desirability of not permitting the selection of a Speaker to alternate between one whose mother tongue is English and one whose mother tongue is French. May I say to him that the longer he remains a member of this house and the more he desires to command its confidence, the more ready he will be to see that so far as the English speaking and French speaking members are concerned-

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PC

John Bracken (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. BRACKEN:

I want to correct that.

M. MACKENZIE KING: May I say to my hon. friend that, if I misunderstood him, I am prepared to withdraw.

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PC

John Bracken (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. BRACKEN:

I commended that practice.

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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:

Did my hon. friend not say that the practice he would like to see followed was to have one Speaker continue?

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PC
LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I understood that such was his first comment.

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PC

John Bracken (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. BRACKEN:

I commended the

practice of the house in alternating between an English speaking Speaker and a Speaker using the other language.

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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 must say

that I thought my hon. friend's first comment was that the British practice of having one Speaker from parliament to parliament was the practice which should be followed.

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PC
LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

If I misunderstood my hon. friend, I of course am only too ready and too happy to apologize to him. I do wish to make it abundantly clear that every hon. member in this house has the same privilege as has any member of the government in the making of nominations.

The Clerk of the House declared the motion carried in the affirmative, nemine contradicente, and Hon. Gaspard Fauteux, member for the electoral district of St. Mary, duly elected to the chair of the house.

Hon. Mr. Fauteux was conducted from his seat in the house to the Speaker's chair by Right Hon. W. L. Mackenzie King and Hon. L. S. St. Laurent.

Mr. SPEAKER-ELECT said: Madam and gentlemen of the House of Commons, I must thank you from the bottom of my heart for the testimonial of good will that you have just conferred upon me so generously.

Being conscious of my unfitness for this high office, I find great comfort in your sympathy and generosity. I hope that with your cooperation as well as your enlightened advice and counsel I shall prove myself deserving of your trust in presiding over the proceedings of the House of Commons with justice and in upholding British parliamentary traditions.

Again, madam and fellow members of the House of Commons, thanks from the bottom of my heart.

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SUSPENSION OF SITTING


LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Mr. Speaker, I suggest that the sitting be suspended until three o'clock this afternoon.

At 12 noon the sitting was suspended until 3 p.m. this day.

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September 6, 1945