December 12, 1945

WAR EXPENDITURES COMMITTEE


On the orders of the day:


CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

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

May I follow the question asked by the leader of the opposition with a supplementary question. The War Expenditures committee has met very seldom and has not proceeded very far with its inquiry into public expenditures and the activities of the War Assets Corporation. Is it the intention of the government that the committee shall die, or is it to be continued during the recess? I understand that that would have to be done by the issue of a royal commission, but I am not sure.

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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):

I cannot say of my own knowledge, but I am informed that the committee intends to recommend that it be permitted to sit again next session. If that recommendation is made by the committee it will be carefully considered by the government.

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MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE IN SECOND REPORT OP STANDING COMMITTEE


On the orders of the day:


PC

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. H. C. GREEN (Vancouver South):

May I direct a question to the Prime Minister? There has been a motion standing on the order paper for several weeks having to do with one of the earlier reports received from the committee on external affairs. Could the Prime Minister say whether an opportunity will be given to conclude that debate? It will take a very short time and it is, I think, of great importance to the future successful functioning of the committee.

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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):

I should think an opportunity ought to be given, but I imagine it will be the part of prudence to reserve the opportunity until towards the latter part of the session.

The house in committee of supply, Mr. Macdonald (Brantford City) in the chair.

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DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE


91. Departmental administration, $170,499.


PC

Arthur Leroy Smith

Progressive Conservative

Mr. SMITH (Calgary West):

I wish to call to the attention of the minister a situation which exists, I think, peculiarly in

Alberta and which I think should be remedied, certainly not later than the next session. Out there, still being under the Northwest Territories Act, on a charge of murder the defence is allowed but six challenges. The crown on the other hand have six challenges and-I forget the number-it is thirty or forty "stand asides", at least that is the expression which has come to be used. The net position is just this, that if a man is charged with murder and a jury is being selected he can object to only six people, while the crown on the other hand is able to eliminate about fifty. Now it may be said that both have an equal number of challenges, but as the minister well knows, a "stand aside" is equivalent to a challenge so far as the person on the panel acting on that jury is concerned. I have had personal experience of this within the last six weeks or twelve months. In the case of a man charged with murder I used my six challenges, and then the crown simply went ahead and selected those jurors that they sought. I am not suggesting that there was anything wrong in what crown counsel did; he is an able man and a close personal friend; but I do say that that is a situation which in my judgment is simply crying for a remedy. I do not think that any member of the committee, knowing the seriousness of the crime with which such a man is charged, would wish to put him at any disadvantage whatever. The whole scheme of our administration of justice is that every consideration should be given to an accused person.

It may be that this is something in respect of which the provincial government should be consulted, although I do not think so. It is something over which they have no jurisdiction. I know they would expect to be consulted with respect to numbers of jurors and things of that kind, but I can think of no reason why they should expect to be consulted with respect to the number of challenges. In short, I am asking that we be put in just the same position as the other provinces and come under the criminal code with respect to challenges and selection of jurors in general.

Hon. L. S. ST. LAURENT (Minister of Justice): I can assure the hon. member of my full sympathy with the object he has in view in the remarks he has made this morning. I give him the further assurance that his suggestion will be carefully .considered, and if it is found that it is something we can do at once it will be attended to. If it should be felt that the attorney general of his province should be consulted, we will do that.

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PC
LIB

Thomas Reid

Liberal

Mr. REID:

Some short time ago the

Minister of Justice made a statement regarding penitentiaries, to the effect that when a riot or disturbance took place in a penitentiary the request had been made to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation not to broadcast the information throughout the country. Anyone who has had to do with penitentiaries or has made visits to them realizes that in the various penitentiaries there are radios; these men are listening to what is going on, and the report of a disturbance or riot in one penitentiary does affect or might affect others. But it was reported in the press the other day that, the new appointee to the head of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation had said: Despite what the Minister of Justice or the department has requested, we will broadcast any riot that takes place throughout the country. I know there is a tendency to set up bureaucratic bodies and say to parliament: Hands off; no political interference. That is [DOT]all right, but to my w'ay of thinking there is a new danger arising in this country, of setting up dictators in charge of boards and bureaux who are defying the very will of the people. Here is the first that has arisen, and I am asking the Minister of Justice to take note of the statement of the chairman of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, who says in effect that whether it is in the public interest or not, he as chairman will broadcast these things, and the Minister of Justice can go to the dickens. It is time this parliament, which is the voice of the people, resolved that this new dictatorship should not be allowed to go much farther than it has gone.

Mr. ST. LAURENT: I think the hon.

member is under a misapprehension as to this new dictatorship." Mr. Dunton was appointed chairman of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and he communicated with me the other day to inform me that at a meeting of the governors a resolution had been passed to the effect that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation could not refrain from broadcasting all news which was available to the newspapers and to the other broadcasting corporations. The resolution of the governors has been received, and there has been no opportunity as yet to give it consideration. But I should not like the impression to go out that this is a one-man decision of the new chairman of the board; and I can assure the hon. member that the resolution of the board of governors will be given careful consideration.

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PC

John Ritchie MacNicol

Progressive Conservative

Mr. MacNIOOL:

With reference to the

reclamation of prisoners sent to penitentiaries in Canada, a year ago I had an experience with a young man who had been committed to one of these institutions. I will not say which one, because that is neither here nor there; they are all in the same boat as far as that is concerned. Before being sent to prison he had worked in a butcher shop, and his mother was anxious that he should learn something more about butchering while in the penitentiary. I wrote to the warden conveying that request to him. Later I read an article in one of the publications put out in Toronto -I believe it was Hush. At any rate, it was one of those publications that do some good. I do not know how Hush got hold of the information, but there was an article about this young man not having been given an opportunity to learn the butchering trade in the penitentiary. That was the first I had heard about his having been turned down.

I remember well some years ago the minister's predecessor, the Hon. Ernest Lapointe, brought in a bill, and he said that without penitentiary reform he could not remain minister of justice. He said the situation was intolerable. Following that speech I myself went over to England to study prison reform, particularly with reference to the Borstal system. I studied the system as it existed in the prison near Leeds. I believe it was at Leeds that the Borstal system was organized. I learned that the system had done fine work. I should like to find out what programme we have for prison reform or for the reclaiming of prisoners in our penitentiaries. I am not one of those who believe that prisoners should be released indiscriminately. Possibly there are some who cannot be reclaimed, but I believe that there are many who can. What is the department doing along the Borstal line or in any other direction looking to the reclaiming of prisoners?

Mr. ST. LAURENT: Apparently, in spite of the fact that the hon. member is a constant attendant at debates in the house, he must have nodded when the amendment to the Penitentiaries Act was being debated and when it was passed in this house a couple of weeks ago. On that occasion the matter was gone into fully-

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PC

John Ritchie MacNicol

Progressive Conservative

Mr. MacNICOL:

I remember that.

Mr. ST. LAURENT: -and an amendment to the Penitentiaries Act was put through to enable the government to appoint at once one commissioner to do the preparatory work of implementing as far as possible the Archam-bault. report under the jurisdiction of the

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federal parliament. I said then that it was hoped there might be an opportunity during the dominion-provincial conference to discuss carrying it even farther than could be done under the jurisdiction the dominion now has over penitentiaries.

With respect to the case the hon. member mentions, I am sorry I am not a reader of Hush, and I do not know anything about it. But even under the present set-up it is the aim of wardens to see that training as effective and appropriate as possible is provided for those who are interned under their charge. I should be glad if the hon. member would give me the particulars in the case he mentions, because it would appear from what he says that something has gone wrong. I should like to have the case investigated and brought to the attention not only of the warden of the penitentiary in question but of the wardens of all penitentiaries in order to make them more careful in applying the policy, namely, of doing the best we can in the way of training and rehabilitation for convicted persons.

I hope that ere long there will have been selected a competent person to take on the job of going as far as possible with the implementing of the recommendations of the Archambault commission. It was not possible to do that during the war because of the shortage both of material and of man-power, but we have now reached the point where I hope both competent man-power and building material required for the purpose of carrying out these very commendable recommendations will be available.

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PC

John Ritchie MacNicol

Progressive Conservative

Mr. MacNICOL:

Do these recommendations envisage some such programme as the Borstal system?

Mr. ST. LAURENT: The Borstal system could not properly be installed by the federal government, with the limited jurisdiction it has over penitentiaries. One of the purposes in trying to get a proper person as chairman of the commission is to have someone who will visit the attorneys general and discuss the situation in each of the provinces with a view to having all the governments do, in that direction, that which will be of benefit to the Canadian public by more effective rehabilitation programmes in dealing with persons who happen to fall by the wayside.

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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. FLEMING:

The matter I wish to

refer to arises out of the observations of the hon. member for New Westminster. There is another side to the question he has raised. He complains of some display of dictatorship on the part of the general manager of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation with

regard to the broadcasting of information relating to riots and other troubles in the penitentiaries. The other aspect of the matter is this. Although this sort of news has been appearing in the press regularly, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, through its facilities, arranges with the Canadian Press to carry that kind of news along with other news, apparently some directive was issued by the Department of Justice to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation instructing them to discontinue broadcasts of the kind1. I would respectfully invite the Minister of Justice to state what form of directive or instruction was issued by his department to the broadcasting corporation in connection with the discontinuance of broadcasts of news of that sort. I should like later to make a comment on it, but that information is due the house and the Canadian people because there has been some misunderstanding and a good many questions are being asked by the public as to the circumstances under which such directive or instruction was issued by the Department of Justice, to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Mr. ST. LAURENT: No directive or instruction was issued by the department to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. It so happened that when the matter arose I took it up with the manager of the corporation. For the reasons that I put before him I obtained his compliance with a request that he ask the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to refrain from broadcasting that kind of news at the hours when the news broadcasts are allowed to be received in the penitentiaries. There was no directive; there were no instructions; there is no ground for alarm. It was a request that was made, and at the time they considered that the reasons for it were sufficient to justify the granting of the request. The board of governors have come to a different conclusion and the matter has not been further discussed.

When the request was made the staffs of the penitentiaries were as much restricted as it had been possible to make them because we had given leave of absence to large numbers of guards and others who wished to enlist in the armed forces. At that time I felt that it was a reasonable request to make, and the then manager of the broadcasting corporation felt that it was a reasonable request to accede to. The matter was mentioned here the other day when we were discussing the penitentiaries bill. It immediately raised a hue and cry and a storm of protest about the censorship that was to be exercised over the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The governors in

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solemn session passed a resolution that they would not submit to that. That resolution has been received and has not yet been considered. That is the whole story so far.

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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. FLEMING:

Would the minister

indicate what the policy of the department is likely to be now in view of the stand taken by the board of governors of the broadcasting corporation? I am not pressing this in any carping way, but since the matter has implications that may be more far-reaching than one is inclined to realize the committee might properly ask the minister for some indication of policy in the matter. It is indicated that the board of governors of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation have asserted their right to continue these broadcasts notwithstanding the request from the minister. What policy does the minister propose to follow with reference to this matter and similar broadcasts of information?

Mr. ST. LAURENT: The minister and the department propose to do their best to maintain order in the penitentiaries. The minister and the department know from experience that when news of trouble in one penitentiary penetrates into another it is disturbing. Now, as to what measures we shall have to adopt to prevent that cause of disturbance, no decision has yet been reached. It may be that we shall have to have some kind of filtering or monitoring system to prevent news that would be the cause of disturbances in the penitentiaries from getting in there. The simplest way seemed to be to prevent it from going on the air, but apparently there is strong objection to that method being adopted. Wre are certainly going to try to find some method of preventing that cause of disturbance in the penitentiaries.

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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. FLEMING:

I do not want to pursue the matter further, but I hope that some method can be worked out by the Department of Justice for doing what is necessary to preserve proper discipline within the penitentiaries without its becoming necesary to ask the broadcasting corporation to refrain from putting over the air waves information that is circulating freely in the press. I do not agree with the view expressed by the hon. member for New Westminster that it is evidence of dictatorship on the part of the C.B.C. when they assert the right to put over the air waves information that is published freely in the press. I rather think that in a situation of this kind the board of governors are to be commended for their determination to see that the same freedom exists on the air waves as exists in the press in the matter of the

distribution of news. It is not evidence of dictatorship on the part of the C.B.C.; it is evidence that the C.B.C. appreciates its full responsibility to the public, regardless of whatever request may be received from the government. I think it is evidence of independent judgment in these matters on the part of the C.B.C. andi an unwillingness to yield meekly to a request from a minister of the crown. It is highly important that in the broadcasting of news that the freedom of the C.B.C. be preserved, just as we want the freedom of the press to be preserved in regard to the printing of news.

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LIB

Thomas Reid

Liberal

Mr. REID:

In answer to the hon. member (Mr. Fleming) may I say my chief reason for bringing the matter before the committee at this time was not to show that the C.B.C. or the manager was not attending to any directive or not paying attention to any directive, because I know that that body has been set up as a body independent of parliament. What I was objecting to was the request itself and what lay behind it. If the governors of the C.B.C. would investigate and speak to the wardens of the penitentiaries they would find out the truth. The warden in New Westminster told me that every time the news of a disturbance in a penitentiary comes over the air he has to put on extra guards. He can sense the feeling of the convicts and has to take extra precautions against trouble that may arise because that news has come over the radio. If the C.B.C. had looked into that matter and made an inquiry they might have taken this stand. While the minister has no right to give any direction to us and no right to expect that we will take it, the matter is worthy of attention.

When I mentioned the word "dictatorship," what I had in mind, and what I was objecting to, was this. I do not know whether the hon. member is aware of what we have been up against. We have many boards to-day, and when we think we have a real injustice and go to them they say: "We do not care about that; parliament has set us up as an independent bod}'." When we go to the minister and mention these things he says: "Do not speak to me; I have nothing at all to do with that; parliament has set up that particular body"; and so we are drifting and losing our democracy and freedom. There are hundreds of other instances of the kind. I shall have something to say about the C.B.C. and what they are doing when we come to the appropriate item.

I just want to draw the attention of the committee to the fact that in this country we are drifting away from democracy and

Supply-Justice

losing our freedom. The members who represent the people are being ruthlessly shoved to one side by members of these boards.

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December 12, 1945