Hon. LIONEL CHEVRIER (Minister of Transport):
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege. On Friday evening the hon. member for Simcoe North (Mr. Ferguson) attempted in committee of the whole to raise a question of privilege with regard to the inscription on the large bell of a carillon being installed at Niagara Falls by the Niagara Falls bridge commission. The hon. member for Peel (Mr. Graydon) referred, and the press has also referred, to the statement that three ministers of the crown were involved.
1 was one of the ministers concerned, and I have no apology to make for what I have done. The inscription on the bell came to the attention of the federal government as a result of an application by the secretary of the Niagara Falls bridge commission for remission of customs duty on the bells, which were cast in England. The inscription is headed with the name "Churchill" in capitals. The name is followed by a verse which I shall not read. Then come the words:
To God's glory and in grateful memory of our nation's leaders, Winston Spencer Churchill and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Hon, members will note the expression "our nation's leaders". Remember that this bell is being installed on the international boundary' between Canada and the United States, not between Britain and the United States. The purpose of the inscription at once becomes obvious. It is clearly intended as an affront
to the Prime Minister of Canada (Mr. Mackenzie King). Surely it is equally an affront to Canada to suggest that our country has to seek its leaders outside its own boundaries.
I did what I believe any other real Canadian would have done in the circumstances. Together with my colleagues from Ontario we drew the attention of two of the Canadian members of the bridge commission to the impropriety' of such an inscription in Canada. The members of the commission in question were Mr. A. J. Haines, the chairman, and Mr. Ross Harstone. I have here a statement from the chairman of the commission as to what followed. Mr. Haines' statement reads:
Mr. Harstone and I were both extremely indignant on learning of the inscription which had been placed on the great bell of the carillon. The inscription in question had been placed there apparently on the sole responsibility of Mr. T. B. McQueston, who, at the time the bells were ordered, was chairman of the commission. The inscription had never been submitted to, much less approved by, the other commissioners.
Our first action was to seek technical advice as to the possibility of removing the inscription without harming the tone of the bell. We learned that this would be possible. I then called a meeting of the commission which was held on Wednesday, June 11, at which it was decided to have all the names removed from the inscription, so that the inscription would read, "To God's glory and in grateful memory of our nation's leaders."
In making this change, no disrespect to anyone is intended and none is involved. Indeed the purpose is to remove disrespect.
Mr. McQueston's statement regarding the technical difficulties and cost of removing th_ names is completely inaccurate. It is surely most unbecoming in one who acted arbitrarily, and without the authority of his colleagues on the commission, in placing the inscription on the bell, to misrepresent the action of the majority of the commission when they are seeking to repair his error.
It will be clear from this statement by Mr. Haines that no pressure was required from federal ministers or anyone else. Once the members of the commission knew the facts, the majority, both of Americans and Canadians, were eager to remove this affront to the Prime Minister of Canada, as well as to other leaders in Canada's war effort, and to Canada as a nation.
Subtopic: INSTALLATION' AT INTERNATIONAL BOUNDARY- QUESTION OF INSCRIPTION ON LARGE BELL