June 18, 1946

LIB

Walter Adam Tucker (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. W. A. TUCKER (Rosthern):

I wish to deal briefly with four or five points in regard to this proposal and the amendment thereto.

The first point, which I should like to see cleared up definitely, is the effect of the passing of this resolution as regards the future. We are asking the British parliament to enact, as section 51, subsection 1, "The number of members of the House of Commons shall be two hundred and fifty-five," and so on. I take, it that, since wTe are not proposing to repeal section 52, we are not binding ourselves for all time to a membership in this house of 255, and that section 52 will still be in force, that-

The number of members of the House of Commons may be from time to time increased by the parliament of Canada, provided the proportionate representation of the provinces prescribed by this act is not thereby disturbed.

The only difficulty about it is, as I see it, that this is a subsequent enactment and it is in such precise and definite terms that it may be that we are binding ourselves never to increase the representation in the future. That is an important matter. It may well be that if the industrial part of Canada grows rapidly the maritimes will very shortly reach the

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number-twenty-four-provided for as a minimum, at which time the quotient will be obtained by dividing the population of Canada, west of Quebec and including Quebec, by 230, and if in the meantime the industrial areas in Canada have increased heavily it would leave the prairies in danger of having their representation cut down drastically and without any such protection as has been, in my opinion quite properly, given to the maritimes.

Much has been said about the essential justice of representation by population. But our representative system is designed, its purpose is to give proper representation to the will of the people, so that that will shall find appropriate expression in governmental action and legislation. I submit that actually mathematical representation by population has not been accepted as the basis on which you set up your seats within the provinces, where you can take into account these other factors. Obviously it is much harder properly to represent in this house the wishes and hopes and feelings of a widely scattered agricultural population than to represent a compact urban group.

Another thing: each part of the country should have a fair representation as respects the right to have its views prevail. Urban centres have great organizations: boards of trade and the like, great newspapers, and other means of pressing their viewpoints, whereas agricultural areas have to rely almost entirely upon those whom they elect to their legislatures and to parliament. So it is not surprising that at the time of the last redistribution, when it fell to the provincial groups here in the Commons to establish constituencies within their boundaries according to what they thought right, they did not follow strictly the rule of representation by population. Take, for example, the three largest seats in Quebec. I find that their average unit of population is 89,871, whereas the three smallest seats in that province have about 23,000 each, or roughly one-quarter of the population of the three large city seats. Or take Ontario; the five largest seats have an average unit of representation of 95,614, and the five smallest seats have 21,491, so that the unit of representation in these latter is less than one-fourth of what it is in the larger seats. This indicates that when representation is placed upon a basis which is regarded as fair and just, agricultural areas are held to be entitled to smaller constituency populations than are required in the larger urban areas, so that these seats can be properly represented in this house. Every province, with the exception of the maritimes and the prairies, has large

urban centres, so that, by putting large numbers into those urban seats, they can give the rural population a reasonable representation. But we, at least in Saskatchewan, have not that safety valve, and if this particular resolution had not been introduced and we had been reduced in Saskatchewan to seventeen seats it would have meant that our rural constituencies would have been so large that it would have been difficult adequately and properly to represent them in this house. That is a problem which must receive the attention of parliament in the days ahead-how to give adequate and fair representation to a predominantly, an almost exclusively, agricultural province like Saskatchewan, in comparison with other agricultural communities in the rest of Canada.

In regard to what has been done in the maritimes, and their minimum, I do not think anything can be said against it. Theoretically, if you did not give them a minimum, you might come to the time when a province, one of the basic provinces of confederation, might be reduced to the point where it would not be represented at all in this house, which would obviously be a ridiculous state of affairs. A minimum representation must be provided in connection with such a province; the same situation must be kept in view and we must see to it that proper representation is given to an agricultural province.

Something has been said in this house, and it has been repeated more than once, to the effect that there was no justification for increasing the number of members in the House of Commons, because of the cost involved. If there is one way in which democracy can be strengthened in a country like ours, it is to see that the people are made to feel that they are adequately and properly spoken for in the parliament of their country; and if you have a unit so large that people do not feel that they know their members, or that their members are able to speak for them fully and properly, they are bound to lose faith to some extent in our representative democratic institutions. To suggest that we should allow the extra cost of a few thousand dollars to enter into the picture, and to prevail against the best interests of our representative institutions, is indeed strange.

I looked up the estimates for this year and I have found that there is provided for legislation, for the cost of running parliament and for other costs in connection with legislation, the sum of 83,486,000. I find that we are going to spend as a country, according to these estimates, the sum of $2,769,000,000. In other words, as a parliament we are going to spend, in the supervision of these expenditures and

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in the passing of laws for this great country, a little over one-tenth of one per cent of the money that we shall spend, about one-tenth of a cent for every dollar we spend. I ask myself this question: Can those who say that we cannot afford to have proper representation of the people in this house be really serious?

What price liberty and freedom? Well, that is one way in which we can ensure liberty and freedom, to have our representative institutions functioning properly; and if it is necessary to have more than 255 members, bearing in mind that in Great Britain the representation is something under 600 members in their House of Commons, then I say it should be done and the extra small amount should not enter into our consideration, since we are doing something to promote the welfare of our country and its democratic institutions.

One other matter which I wish to bring to the attention of the house is the argument that was raised on behalf of the Progressive Conservative party. They argue, I understand, that this proposal should not be carried into effect until there has been consultation with the provinces. I have read the debate carefully and I am not clear as to just how far they intend to go in that respect. Do they mean that if we cannot get the consent of the provinces to the proposed change we should do nothing; or do they mean that we should go through the form of consulting the provinces and, if they do not agree, we should go ahead anyway? I suggest that in justice to the people they should state definitely where they stand. They are. inviting the members of this house to vote for their motion that this proposal should not be carried into effect until the provinces have been consulted. They should state what they intend to do if one of the provinces should decide to stand on its alleged constitutional rights and say, "We will not agree to it." If they intend to allow the matter to drop there, after consulting the provinces, and to go no farther if one or more of the provinces say no, then what my hon. friends are doing is this. They are saying that nothing shall be done if the provinces disagree. Is that what they mean?

Do the Progressive Conservatives in this house suggest that a conference should be held at which Mr. Drew would represent the province of Ontario and that he would give up w'hat is his by alleged constitutional right, eight members more than the province is entitled to on the basis of population in this house?

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
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PC

Arthur Leroy Smith

Progressive Conservative

Mr. SMITH (Calgary West):

Certainly he would. It is the only fair thing to do.

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
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LIB

Walter Adam Tucker (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. TUCKER:

My hon. friend may think he can speak for Premier Drew-

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
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PC

Arthur Leroy Smith

Progressive Conservative

Mr. SMITH (Calgary West):

I can do it

better than you can.

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
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LIB

Walter Adam Tucker (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. TUCKER:

-but I am not sure that

he can. I do not think he expected Premier Drew to take the stand he did recently.

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
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PC

Arthur Leroy Smith

Progressive Conservative

Mr. SMITH (Calgary West):

Now let us stay in order. We can argue that at the proper time.

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
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LIB

Walter Adam Tucker (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. TUCKER:

No one can speak for

Mr. Drew in this house except Mr. Drew.

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
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PC

Arthur Leroy Smith

Progressive Conservative

Mr. SMITH (Calgary West):

And he is

not here.

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
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LIB

Walter Adam Tucker (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. TUCKER:

Have we the assurance of

the Progressive Conservative party that the provinces will agree to this resolution if it is referred to them? Is that what they mean? If so, their motion means nothing and it is simply window-dressing. If, on the other hand, they do not know, then they are putting themselves in the position where we may be bound to this admittedly unfair situation. That is the position of the Progressive Conservative party, and I say to the leader of the opposition (Mr. Bracken) that he owes it to the house and the country to say what the attitude of his party is. Suppose we consulted the provinces and the provinces did not agree. Would they say that Ontario should keep eight members to whom it was not entitled, Saskatchewan lose four, and Manitoba three? Let them speak out and say frankly to the people of the country what their attitude is.

The hon. member for Stanstead (Mr. Hackett) took a slightly different attitude. As I understood him, he took the view that under section 52 we could actually bring about the situation which we shall have after this resolution goes through the British parliament, that we could increase our membership to the numbers proposed, that subsection 4 would not apply because we are not decreasing the membership of any province except Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Subsection 4 would not protect Saskatchewan- and I presume the same is true of Manitoba -and we could bring about this situation that is proposed without an amendment of the constitution.

If it is within the power of this parliament to do this very thing, what becomes of the argument of the Progressive Conservative party that we should not ask for a constitutional amendment to make sure that we have the

[Mr. Tucker. 1

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right to do it. The hon. member for Stan-stead, in. an able address, argued that parliament could do this very thing. Very well, if it can, why should he vote that before it is done the provinces should be consulted. If his argument is sound, the only effect of the amendment is to clear up all doubts and difficulties. If parliament proceeded along the lines suggested by the hon. member for Stanstead, and by chance he was wrong and the courts so held, we might have in existence a parliament which the courts would say was set up on a wrong basis. What kind of confusion would that bring about? That is a possibility arising out of the argument of the hon. member for Stanstead. But if we have a constitutional amendment merely making it quite clear beyond doubt that we have a right to do this, if his argument is correct we shall have taken no rights away from the provinces because, according to the hon. member, we had the right to do this in this parliament. I marvel at the hon. members of the Progressive Conservative party. Here we have one of their outstanding members saying that we have a right to do this thing in this parliament; and we have other members of the party saying that before we do this, or before we make sure we have a right to do it, the provinces should be consulted and perhaps given the right to veto what the hon. member says parliament has a right to do without a constitutional amendment. To me that is a strange attitude to adopt, and I invite the leader of the opposition or someone speaking on behalf of the Progressive Conservative party to indicate exactly where they stand on this matter and why they seek to stultify this parliament by the stand for which they have argued.

Another matter I should like to deal with briefly is the importance of addressing ourselves at a very early day to the problem of setting up some means of changing our constitution within Canada without having to go to the British parliament for that purpose. We say and believe that we are an absolutely autonomous, self-governing nation, co-equal with the United Kingdom. Yet it is quite possible that certain situations may develop which may throw a doubt on that position in the minds of those who do not understand the position. We should bear that in mind, and try to act to prevent them from developing. It is possible, for example, that a party might be endorsed by the country having as one of its .planks the abolition of the senate. There you would have our self-governing nation electing a government having that as its policy and putting through this House of Commons, we will say, a resolution to abolish the other place. I take it that some of the provinces

would object. Then the British parliament would be asked to hear representations on behalf of the sovereign people of Canada, as expressed in their House of Commons, to do one thing, and they would have representations from some of the provinces not to do it. So that you would have the British parliament in the utterly impossible position of being forced to act as an arbiter between Canada as a country and parts of Canada as provinces. Again, you might have this situation develop, that this house and the other place would concur in a resolution asking for a change in the constitution, and one province might feel very strongly that this should; not be done. I take it that that province would have the right to make representations at Westminster, so that again you would have the parliament of another country being put in the position of having to act as an arbiter between one group of Canadians and another group.

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
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PC

Arthur Leroy Smith

Progressive Conservative

Mr. SMITH (Calgary West):

If the hon. member will permit one question, does not the privy council now do exactly the same thing he is talking about?

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
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LIB

Walter Adam Tucker (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. TUCKER:

What do you mean by the privy council?

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
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PC

Arthur Leroy Smith

Progressive Conservative

Mr. SMITH (Calgary West):

Do they not act as an arbiter between the dominion and the provinces? Is that not what they do all the time?

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
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LIB

Walter Adam Tucker (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. TUCKER:

As far as I am concerned, the sooner we do not have to resort to a court outside Canada to interpret our laws, our constitution or the rights of one Canadian as against another, the better pleased I shall be.

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
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?

Mr. M. J. COLD WELL@Rosetown-Biggar

You mean the sooner we cease doing it?

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
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LIB

Walter Adam Tucker (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. TUCKER:

The sooner we see to it that we do not have to refer matters for decision to the judicial committee of the privy council, a court outside Canada, the sooner we shall stop misleading other nations as to the essential sovereignty of the Canadian nation. To suggest as an argument why we should have to go to Westminster to have our constitution amended and perhaps, as a sovereign people, act as a suppliant before the parliament at Westminster as against a province which might be opposed to what we wanted to do, that the Canadian government has to go and argue before the judicial committee of the privy council, with the provinces arguing on the other side as to what our constitution means, I think is trying to prove that because you have one wrong you should have two. As far as I am concerned, the sooner Canada stands on her own feet; the sooner Canada has the right to amend her

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own constitution, the right to have her constitution and laws determined by courts within this country, the sooner the possibility of misunderstandings between Canada and other parts of the empire and between Canada and other nations will be done away with. There is no doubt in the world but that other nations looking at Canada, realizing that we have to go to Westminster to have our constitution changed and to have our laws interpreted by the judicial committee, would be almost bound to misunderstand the essential sovereignty of this nation, and the sooner that is changed, the better I think it will be for the United Kingdom' and for us.

That is all I wish to say about this redistribution measure. I compliment the Minister of Justice (Mr. St. Laurent) on having brought it in, because at any rate it restores the position under which we shall at least have the same representation, on the basis of our population, as other parts of Canada, which we would not have had on the old basis. I urge, however, that the minister as well as future students of this problem give consideration to the question posed by the difficulty of providing proper representation in this house of the great agricultural area of western Canada and by the present mode of amending our constitution.

The house having reverted to the order for motions:

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
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LABOUR CONDITIONS

LUMBER INDUSTRY-STRIKE IN BRITISH COLUMBIA


[DOT]-ANNOUNCEMENT OF GOVERNMENT ACTION


LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Hon. HUMPHREY MITCHELL (Minister of Labour):

I wish to announce government action to deal with the situation in British Columbia due to stoppage of work in plants engaged in the manufacture of wooden containers for use in the harvesting and marketing of fruits and vegetables. I now table copy of an order in council passed to-day, which provides:

1. For the appointment of Mr. Gordon Bell of the city of Vancouver as controller of such plants.

2. That the operators of establishments engaged in the operation of a sawmill or woodworking plant and in particular those normally engaged in the manufacture of wooden containers for use in the harvesting and marketing of fruits and vegetables or of a logging camp normally engaged in the supply

of logs for any such plant shall reopen the plants for business at twelve noon on June 19, 1946, which is to-morrow.

3. That employees formerly engaged in these plants return to work at twelve noon on June 19, 1946, at the wage rates which prevailed at the time of the work stoppage.

It has been arranged that the chief justice of British Columbia, Hon. G. McG. Sloan, shall act as an industrial disputes inquiry commissioner and negotiate with the bargaining representatives of the employees and the management of the plants with a view to settlement of the wage rates and other matters at present in dispute between them, on the understanding that whatever rates and conditions are agreed upon shall be effective from June 19, 1946. I shall not delay the house by reading the text of the order in council, but with permission of the house shall lay it on the table and ask that it be printed with my statement.

Topic:   LABOUR CONDITIONS
Subtopic:   LUMBER INDUSTRY-STRIKE IN BRITISH COLUMBIA
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Agreed.

Topic:   LABOUR CONDITIONS
Subtopic:   LUMBER INDUSTRY-STRIKE IN BRITISH COLUMBIA
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June 18, 1946