September 11, 1945

PRIVILEGE-MR. COLDWELL REFUSAL OF ACCESS TO PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS BY CITIZENS SEEKING TO INTERVIEW MEMBERS

LIB

James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

The hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell) rose yesterday afternoon at three o'clock to refer to a matter affecting the privileges of parliament and of himself as a member of parliament. I informed the hon. member that I would confer with the Clerk of the house and the Sergeant-at-Arms and that I would give him an answer as soon as possible. I have received the following memorandum from the Clerk of the House of Commons:

With regard to the admission of labour delegates and other persons in the parliament building yesterday, I have inquired from the R.C.M.P. and the house's protective staff and I have the honour to report as follows:

As we expected a large crowd yesterday and only had four constables on duty, I asked Commissioner Wood to send in a few men to help our protective staff. It is well known that the R.C.M.P. is assigned to parliament hill but the interior of the building is under the control of the protective staffs of the Senate and House of Commons.

About eleven o'clock a.m. Messrs. Murdock and Morrow, representing the delegates, called at my office and asked if they could hold a meeting in the railway committee room. I explained to

Privilege-Mr. Coldwell

them that if a member of the house desired to meet them in any committee room 1 would instruct the Sergeant-at-Arms to make the necessary preparations for the meeting to be held. They said they desired to see certain members and 1 directed them to the main entrance where they would be helped to see these members. They did this and Constables Groulx and Gauthier, not acting as policemen but in the capacity of guides, went with them and four other delegates, including a lady, to Mr. Coldwell's room. The men left them in Mr. Coldwell's secretary's office and returned to the main entrance. Some of the other delegates who had remained downstairs insisted on seeing the leaders of the C.C.F. party but were told that the party was in caucus, and our staff never interfered with such meetings. Two delegates asked that their names be sent in to Mr. Maclnnis, which was immediately granted, and the hon. member for Vancouver East came out and saw them.

Hon. Mr. Douglas, Prime Minister of Saskatchewan, told me last night that he was not prevented from coming inside the building. When he arrived at the entrance he was asked who he was and after he had given his name he was immediately allowed to go in.

I am informed by the Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that, according to "reports he has received, none of his men stopped anybody from going inside the building.

As to the protective staff of the House of Commons, it had not been given any order by me or the Sergeant-at-Arms to keep anybody out of the building. There was some confusion when the crowd pushed in and dispersed all over the main corridor. In order to slow up this rush, the outside doors yvere closed, but not locked, for about half an hour.

It has been said in the press that "parliamentary police bar delegates from the house until members of parliament guaranteed their conduct inside." No such practice has ever existed in the parliament building. The reason why members have to be asked if they wan to see visitors is that they cannot be importuned when attending to their correspondence or other parliamentary duties. If they cannot be seen, the visitor may withdraw or sit in the corridor and wait until there is a sufficient number of visitors to be taken through the building by a guide.

You will realize, Mr. Speaker, that some precaution has to be taken in the parliament building, but our practice in this regard is very broad. The best evidence that no severity was shown yesterday is that apart from the three hundred delegates, six hundred and twenty-two other persons visited the building in addition to the five hundred who followed the debates from the galleries.

Arthur Beauchesne,

Clerk of the House of Commons.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE-MR. COLDWELL REFUSAL OF ACCESS TO PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS BY CITIZENS SEEKING TO INTERVIEW MEMBERS
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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. COLDWELL:

May I say a word, Mr. Speaker? I was not particularly inquiring into what took place within the building. I thought I made that quite clear yesterday. But I want to know by whose authority and instructions people were stopped from entering this building to see members of parliament, or were questioned prior to their entry into this build-47696-5

ing. I have no complaint regarding the protection that is given hon. members against interruption and so forth; but what I requested yesterday was an explanation of why people were prevented from entering the building. I may say that even members of the press gallery who have been in and out of this building for a long time were stopped and questioned as to their business before they entered this building yesterday morning. That is what I am interested in.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE-MR. COLDWELL REFUSAL OF ACCESS TO PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS BY CITIZENS SEEKING TO INTERVIEW MEMBERS
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PC

Karl Kenneth Homuth

Progressive Conservative

Mr. HOMUTH:

That might be an idea.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE-MR. COLDWELL REFUSAL OF ACCESS TO PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS BY CITIZENS SEEKING TO INTERVIEW MEMBERS
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LIB

James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I understand from the

report which I just read that nobody was prevented from coming in but some of the visitors who presented themselves at the door were asked for identification; therefore I consider the incident closed.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE-MR. COLDWELL REFUSAL OF ACCESS TO PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS BY CITIZENS SEEKING TO INTERVIEW MEMBERS
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LIB

Thomas Reid

Liberal

Mr. REID:

Then Douglas was not prevented; the statement was not true.

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PRIVILEGE-MR. HEON ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN THE NEWSPAPER


"le Canada" Mr. GEORGE© H. HEON (Argenteuil) (Translation): Mr. Speaker, I desire, subject of course to your kindness, to raise a question of privilege in accordance with paragraphs 140, 170 and 183 of Beauchesne's "Parliamentary Rules and Forms". It has been brought to my attention, this morning, that the newspaper Le Canada published on the first page of its issue of Friday, September 7, 1945, an article entitled "First changes noticed in the Commons". The article reads in part as follows: The only French-speaking members who sit on the opposition side are: Mr. Georges Heon, Conservative member for Argenteuil, who has been relegated by his party to the last seat of the last row occupied by the Conservatives, in the background of the house and next to the C.C.F. members. I regret to say, Mr. Speaker, that such a statement is untrue and that if the writer of those lines wanted to attempt an insinuation, the latter is malevolent; if he wanted to play a joke, it is in bad taste. No one but myself bears any responsibility in connection with the particular place where I sit in this house. I say that I occupy my present seat because I did request the distinguished clerk of this house to let me have it. The leader and all the hon. members of the Progressive Conservative party having shown me every courtesy and regard since my arrival in this house, I could, if I had so desired, use my right of seniority to occupy a seat farther in front.



Privilege-Mr. Heon



However, no person of intelligence and good faith should attach importance to the row where the seat of a member of this house may be. All of us are here in the same capacity.


?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order.

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LIB

James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I ask the hon. member to resume his seat. I think I have been generous enough toward the hon. member for Argenteuil (Mr. Heon). A question must always be quite brief and to the point. I permitted him to give explanations; he did so and I believe that is sufficient.

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IND

Georges-Henri Héon

Independent Progressive Conservative

Mr. HEON:

Mr. Speaker, will you permit me to ask the writer of the aforesaid article -I have not the honour to know him-to be so kind as to correct the impression he gave regarding me, because it is unfair.

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LIB

James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I repeat that this does not concern the House of Commons.

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IND

Georges-Henri Héon

Independent Progressive Conservative

Mr. HEON:

Very well, I shall soon take up the matter again.

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PROCEDURE IN QUESTIONS ON THE ORDERS OF THE DAY

LIB

James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I would like to draw the attention of hon. members to paragraph 297, page 121 of Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms, third edition.

A certain number of oral questions are permitted in practice by members, without notice, before the orders of the day are called; but these are merely allowed by courtesy in connection "with the business of the house or with very urgent and important matters of public concern. They are always brief, no debate being permitted, and the replies are as concise as possible. The minister interrogated may-reply at once or may direct that the usual notice be given (B. 315). Such questions are governed by the same rules of order as questions of which notice has been given. (M. 245, n.4.)

Hon. members will notice that the rules say that questions are allowed by courtesy in connection with the business of the house, or with very urgent and important matters of public concern. I would like to call for the cooperation of every member and ask them not to put oral questions when they are not very urgent. It would be preferable for the dispatch of business that questions be placed on the order paper.

Topic:   PROCEDURE IN QUESTIONS ON THE ORDERS OF THE DAY
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READING OF SPEECHES

LIB

James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

Before the orders of the day are called I wish to draw the attention of hon. members to a practice in debate which

is contrary to the rules of the house. I refer to the reading of speeches. Standing order No. 41 provides for decorum in debate. I would refer hon. members to Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms, third edition, page 102, paragraphs 238 and 239, which states:

Besides the prohibition contained in this standing order, it has been sanctioned by usage both in England and in Canada, that a member, while speaking must not (a) read from a written previously prepared speech.

This rule was adopted in 1927, but as long ago as April 19, 1886, a resolution was adopted by the house which I should like to read. It was as follows:

That the growing practice in the Canadian House of Commons of delivering speeches of great length, having the character of carefully and elaborately prepared written essays, and indulging in voluminous and often irrelevant extracts, is destructive of legitimate and pertinent debate upon public questions, is a waste of valuable time, unreasonably lengthens the sessions of parliament, threatens by increased bulk and cost to lead to the abolition of the official report of the debates, encourages a discursive and diffuse, rather than an incisive and concise style of public speaking, is a marked contrast to the practice in regard to debate that prevails in the British House of Commons, and tends to repel the public from a careful and intelligent consideration of the proceedings of parliament.

No doubt it is very comforting that the written word should be before a speaker while he is addressing the house, more especially in the case of a new member, and there are many new members in the house. However, it is my duty to call the attention of hon. members of the house to the practice of reading speeches. I believe a reference to the rule in this formal and general manner will forestall any objections from the house or from the Chair in the coming debates.

Topic:   PROCEDURE IN QUESTIONS ON THE ORDERS OF THE DAY
Subtopic:   READING OF SPEECHES
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September 11, 1945