May 6, 1946

PC

John Bracken (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. JOHN BRACKEN (Leader of the Opposition):

Speaking for this party I may say we shall be glad to support the motion of the Prime Minister.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   PRECEDENCE OF GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION AND GOVERNMENT ORDERS ON AND AFTER MAY 8
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?

Thomas Miller Bell

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

We decided last week that we would support a similar motion, but I should like to add this word, that we did that before last Friday evening. Between eight and nine o'clock last Friday evening I think we all felt that the time of the house was not being occupied in the manner in which it should be. I make this mild protest in that regard, but we are anxious to facilitate the business of the house.

Mr. SOLON E. LOW (Peace River): The house surely has the support of this group in facilitating the business. Having in mind, as the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar has, the way in which private members' hours have degenerated until they are practically useless, I suggest we support the motion.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   PRECEDENCE OF GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION AND GOVERNMENT ORDERS ON AND AFTER MAY 8
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LIB

James Sinclair

Liberal

Mr. JAMES SINCLAIR (Vancouver North):

I am the first private member to rise to speak on this motion. The Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition are certainly not back-benchers; neither is the leader of the C.C.F., nor the leader of the Social Credit party. .

It is not easy for a government supporter to oppose a government measure, and it is especially difficult when the measure is personally sponsored by the Prime Minister. 1 should like to be regarded, however, not as a private member differing from his leader, but rather as a private member differing at the moment from government policy.

The standing orders set aside Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays for the first four weeks of the session as private members' days. During the war we gave up that right because government business came first. In the first session after the war we gave up the right completely; and in this session, of the first four Thursdays the first three were devoted to the speech from the throne, which after all wTas government business. It is quite true that a private member had wide latitude in speaking on the address, but as government business had priority with the consent of the house, it left us only one Thursday for the

Business of the House-Precedence

discussion of private members' business. Shortly afterwards the Prime Minister put a motion on the order paper asking that Wednesday be given up. When the motion came before the house on April 9, the word "Wednesday" was changed to "Monday"; therefore we lost a full day instead of a half day, and once again the members of the house all agreed that government business should have priority. Now we are asked to give up our last effective afternoon, because one hour on Tuesdays and Fridays for private members' bills is not the same as two and a half hours on Wednesday. The argument used, of course, is first of all that government business should have priority. In that we have shown a fair measure of agreement, because we have given our Mondays to government business. The second argument used by the Prime Minister is that there are other opportunities to bring forward the matters we wish to discuss, namely, on going into supply, on the budget, and on the estimates.

Of course the house will note that I am concerned because my resolution will be the first one to be cut off. If I speak on that subject on the budget or on going into supply I shall make my comments on behalf of the three municipalities in my riding which are concerned in the matter referred to in the resolution. The next speaker may speak, and probably will, on some aspect remote from that, and there is no obligation on the minister, either in supply or on the budget, to answer anything I have said.

If I wait for the estimates I can wait until the Ottawa grant of 1100,000' in lieu of taxes comes up for discussion; but that will probably be on some steamy, sultry night late next August or early September, when the desire of the house is not to listen to debate but to push the estimates through in order to get home. On the other hand if we do have an afternoon to discuss what to my mind is important-even more important now that the dominion-provincial conference has been temporarily adjourned-the financial relations between the dominion and the municipalities, and certainly the municipalities are the hardest pressed of any of the governments in Canada at the moment, then not only can I state my case on behalf of the hard pressed municipalities of Vancouver North, but other parties can state their case and the government must make a reply. This is public business; it is not just a private member's business.

I wish to give one other illustration of the need of private members' day. Several hon. members have said to us: "Why do you British Columbia members not present a concerted story on the Japanese problem in-

stead of sniping away at the citizenship bill, the labour estimates, and the army estimates?" One of the reasons, of course, is that we lack this opportunity. The other night the hon. member' for Comox-Alberni (Mr. Gibson) and myself presented an amendment which was ruled out of order, and one of the ministers sitting near me at the time said: "If you

want to deal with that you should have brought in a private bill." Judging from the way things are going, if we had brought in a private bill it would never have seen thfe light of day.

My resolution was put on the order paper on the third or fourth day of the session. If a resolution which is put on the order paper on the third or fourth day of the session is never discussed in the house,, obviously a private bill introduced this week would also fail to be discussed here. The opportunity for logical and coherent discussion of a public measure which is not on the government's program, but is brought forward by a private member, is more important to the government private member than to the opposition. As a matter of fact I envy my colleagues from British Columbia, the young member for Kamloops (Mr. Fulton) and others, in the opportunity they have to speak on government measures. The government speaks particularly on government measures, and we who are in the background must either praise or damn. If we praise too much, we may be called sycophants; if we damn too much we are called rebels; if we do both we may be called inconsistent. Generally we keep silent,

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   PRECEDENCE OF GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION AND GOVERNMENT ORDERS ON AND AFTER MAY 8
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PC

Karl Kenneth Homuth

Progressive Conservative

Mr. HOMUTH:

Come over here.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   PRECEDENCE OF GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION AND GOVERNMENT ORDERS ON AND AFTER MAY 8
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LIB

James Sinclair

Liberal

Mr. SINCLAIR (Vancouver North):

I am happy where I am. If the government needs more time, as a private member I am prepared to give it to them, but not on Wednesday afternoon. I am quite willing to sit on Wednesday evening and give them three hours instead of two and a half. As a matter of fact the western members are willing to sit on Saturday mornings, because we have to stay here anyway.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   PRECEDENCE OF GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION AND GOVERNMENT ORDERS ON AND AFTER MAY 8
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SC

Ernest George Hansell

Social Credit

Mr. E. G. HANSELL (Macleod):

Since the Prime Minister has indicated that the reason he has introduced this motion is to give members an opportunity to discuss the matter, may I just take one moment? I am willing to vote in favour of the motion, but I do not like the idea at any time of doing away with private members' day, because I believe if this parliament is to be effective it must function as a democratic parliament, with members sitting here representing their people and not their party.

Business of the House-Precedence

It is stated also that this motion is made so that we may get on with the business of the house. What are we doing if we are not getting on with the business of the house? Surely that is what we are doing all the time. We have these private members' days, but under our present parliamentary procedure what do they amount to? They amount to just nothing, except to allow the private member to let off steam and enable him to go back and tell his constituents, "See, that is what I said." May I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, and through you to hon. members of this house, that it does not amount to a row of pins what a member says here on private members' days, and that goes for all of us; it goes for myself too. Unless there is some revision of our parliamentary procedure by which a private member can present a matter and then have it voted upon, we shall not have a truly democratic parliament. What we require is to have a vote on private members, resolutions and action taken as the result of the vote.

My own impression is that to-day parliament is subservient to the government. In a real democratic parliament the government should be subservient to parliament. But in the ultimate results here, that is not so. I object to a party parliament; I want a real democratic parliament. I believe that the private members' days should be democratically conducted, that decisions should be made on the matters brought before the house and the government told, by those decisions, what the people want.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   PRECEDENCE OF GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION AND GOVERNMENT ORDERS ON AND AFTER MAY 8
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PC

James Arthur Ross

Progressive Conservative

Mr. J. A. ROSS (Souris):

As a back-bencher of the official opposition let me say that I agree with the member for Vancouver North (Mr. Sinclair) when he says that members from distant points would be willing to sit here on Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings if necessary to expedite the business of the house.

Despite the fact that I have a resolution on the order paper closely following his, I have also to agree with the hon. member for Macleod (Mr. Hansell), who has just taken his seat, that private members' days as they are conducted here are scarcely worth while. When I first came into the house I certainly was concerned over losing private members' days but with all due respect to the hon. member for Provencher (Mr. Jutras) who raised an objecion this afternoon-and I will exempt him because he expressed himself

on many occasions when private members' resolutions were being discussed in the house I have seen a scurrying about to round up members to speak on a certain resolution.

As pointed out by the hon. member for Macleod, if we conducted these private members' days efficiently we might accomplish something, but as it is they do not accomplish much, and I should be quite willing to forgo them until we have a more democratic procedure so that we can get on with the essential business of the country.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   PRECEDENCE OF GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION AND GOVERNMENT ORDERS ON AND AFTER MAY 8
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IND

Herbert Wilfred Herridge

Independent C.C.F.

Mr. H. W. HERRIDGE (Kootenay West):

I rise briefly to support the opposition presented to this resolution by the hon. member for Vancouver North (Mr. Sinclair). I do not quite agree that private members' days are useless. At the present time it is the only opportunity that the back-benchers have to hear both sides of any current issue discussed, and I am sure that up to the present the debates on private members' days have been of advantage to the members and informative to the public at large. That is my experience from listening to the debates themselves and from communications I have received from constituents.

There is no necessity to repeat the arguments presented by the hon. member for Vancouver North, but I think that we can still retain private members' days and sit on Wednesday evenings, which I think a good many members would be willing to do; and as my hon. friend has said, the western members would be willing I think to sit also on Saturday morning. If we did that, and some hon. members would curtail to some extent their excessive language, I am sure that we should make progress.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   PRECEDENCE OF GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION AND GOVERNMENT ORDERS ON AND AFTER MAY 8
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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:

Mr. Speaker, I do not wish to run the risk defeating my own motion when it is on the point of being accepted by all political parties, but I should like to say to my hon. friend the member for Vancouver North (Mr. Sinclair), who has said that his resolution would be the first to be slaughtered, that there are two resolutions ahead of his on the order paper and if the house took up either of them I am afraid that would mean on each the whole afternoon would be taken up. However, I can sympathize with my hon. friend in his wish to present the subject of his resolution to the house and have it discussed, but I believe there will be other opportunities in the session for him to develop further what he has in mind.

May I say a word to my hon. friend the hon. member for Macleod, the outstanding democrat who spoke of giving a chance to everyone to launch an attack on the government, that I have just given him that

Loan to United Kingdom

opportunity, go he can hardly say that I have tried to take away any right of speech from him this afternoon.

Speaking of democratic government, unless I am entirely mistaken about what is being alleged as to government at Westminster having become more democratic of late, I would point out that during and since the war the government at Westminster has taken away private members' days altogether in order that headway may be made with government business. We have not gone that far. We have allowed several days as private members' days but I would be the last to say that the government at Westminster is not a democratic government.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   PRECEDENCE OF GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION AND GOVERNMENT ORDERS ON AND AFTER MAY 8
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Motion agreed to.


HOUSING

EVICTIONS ON MAY 31 FROM LONDON BLOCK, SASKATOON


On the orders of the day:


CCF

Robert Ross (Roy) Knight

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

Mr. R. R. KNIGHT (Saskatoon City):

I wish to direct a question to the Minister of Public Works. He is not in his seat at the moment, but perhaps the question will be conveyed to him. Is it the intention of the minister to evict, on May 31, some sixteen families from the London block in Saskatoon? If so, is the government prepared to take responsibility for finding shelter for these families at that time? The building is being used by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Topic:   HOUSING
Subtopic:   EVICTIONS ON MAY 31 FROM LONDON BLOCK, SASKATOON
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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:

Stand as a notice.

Topic:   HOUSING
Subtopic:   EVICTIONS ON MAY 31 FROM LONDON BLOCK, SASKATOON
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INDIAN AFFAIRS

FIRE ON ASSINIBOINE INDIAN RESERVE NO. 76


On the orders of the day: Mr. E. B. McIvAY (Weyburn): I should like to direct a question to the Minister of Mines and Resources, of which I have given him notice. What steps have been taken by the Indian Affairs branch to provide homes and a livelihood for the Indians left destitute by the recent disastrous fire which swept through the Assiniboine Indian reserve No. 76 in Saskatchewan?


LIB

James Allison Glen (Minister of Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Hon. J. A. GLEN (Minister of Mines and Resources):

The damages incurred by the fire a week ago are being thoroughly investigated by officers of the Indian Affairs branch. When the report of the investigation is received at Ottawa I can assure the hon.

member that the necessary steps will be taken to rebuild or repair the property destroyed or damaged and to alleviate any suffering among the Indians affected by the fire.

Topic:   INDIAN AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   FIRE ON ASSINIBOINE INDIAN RESERVE NO. 76
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LOAN TO UNITED KINGDOM

May 6, 1946