February 22, 1949

NEW MEMBER

LIB

James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

I have the honour to inform the house that the Clerk of the House has received from the Chief Electoral Officer a certificate of the election and return of the following member, viz:

Of Renaud Chapdelaine, Esquire, for the electoral district of Nicolet-Yamaska.

Topic:   NEW MEMBER
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RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION

SATELLITE STATES OF EASTERN EUROPE

LIB

Louis Stephen St-Laurent (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Right Hon. L. S. St. Laurent (Prime Minister):

Mr. Speaker, I should like at this time to answer the question asked me yesterday by the leader of the opposition (Mr. Drew) about religious persecutions in eastern Europe.

During the past few weeks, Mr. Speaker, this house and the country as a whole have watched with deepening concern what appears to be a systematic campaign of religious persecution in all the satellite states of eastern Europe, but particularly in Hungary where within a short space of time the heads of three branches of the Christian church, the Roman Catholic, the Calvinist and the Lutheran, have either been sentenced to severe punishment or driven into exile. More recent persecutions in Bulgaria seem to be following the same pattern.

The government of Canada has already indicated in the most positive terms and in language clear beyond all possibility of mistake, its abhorrence of this systematic persecution. In a statement on New Year's day I said that the increasingly brutal persecutions of religious. leaders in countries behind the iron curtain have shocked all civilized people. These views were reiterated and strengthened on February 2 by the Secretary of State for External Affairs. In the light of more recent developments, I now wish to reaffirm the position of the Canadian government.

Immediately after the arrest of Cardinal Mindszenty, Primate of Hungary, the Canadian government, as a signatory of the peace treaty, asked our diplomatic representatives

in a number of European capitals and Washington to secure all the available information and to report any steps that might be anticipated on the part of the governments to which they were accredited. Careful study was given also to official intelligence from other sources and to press reports.

This was followed, as the house will recall from the statement made on February 2 by the Secretary of the State of External Affairs, by a communication to the Hungarian government, through the Hungarian minister in Washington, protesting strongly against a policy of repression and religious persecution which appeared to destroy religious freedom in Hungary and appeared also to violate obligations to secure the enjoyment of human rights, including freedom of religious worship, to which Hungary was pledged under the treaty of peace of 1947.

In this message, particular reference was made to the arrest not only of Cardinal Mindszenty, but also of the senior bishop of the Lutheran church in Hungary, and to the flight into exile, under force of persecution, of the senior bishop of the Calvinist church in Hungary.

It seems clear from these incidents that all religious faiths were involved and that a general attack was being launched on the fundamental freedoms of human society. Fresh emphasis was given to the repressive character of these arrests by the conditions under which the trial of Cardinal Mindszenty was conducted. It can hardly be said that these proceedings bear any resemblance to what we understand by a "fair trial". From official sources in which we have confidence, we learn, for example, the following facts about the conduct of this case.

The trial which involved seven persons and four different charges, including capital charges, was concluded in three days. No witnesses were called for the defence. The counsel for the prosecution made no attempt to establish his case but confined himself for the most part to enlarging on the political fairness of the trial. The counsel for the defence put no case for the defence and did not contest easily refutable statements made by the counsel for the prosecution; and the material evidence consisted of statements taken outside the court before the trial. It may be added that no representatives of non-communist governments were permitted

Religious Persecution

to attend the trial. We are informed also that the representative of the government of Australia attempted to visit Budapest for this purpose, but though a visa was promised op six occasions, it was not forthcoming.

Meanwhile the government is continuing to seek the views of like-minded governments, signatory to the treaty, on the character and desirability of any further action that may be taken jointly or independently. It has been suggested, for example, that the treaty of peace be invoked. Unfortunately, the procedures which are immediately available under the treaty of peace all depend for their effectiveness on the co-operation of the soviet government. Since the U.S.S.R. not only supports but even encourages governments which it can influence in their hostility to religion, it is not likely to give the other signatories to the peace treaties much assistance in putting a halt to religious persecution in eastern Europe. It may be, however, that the signatories to the treaties, even without the support of the soviet union, could, through joint representation based on these provisions of these treaties, have some influence upon the governments which are responsible for these acts.

Provision is also made in the treaty for a procedure leading to the establishment of a commission of three to act in regard to any dispute arising out of the execution or interpretation of the treaty. The majority decision, of this commission would be binding on the parties to the dispute.

If this procedure were used, the obstruction of the U.S.S.R. to action under it could not become effective until efforts were made to give effect to the decisions of the commission.

A further possibility that has received some public notice is that the matter be referred to the United Nations; because it would seem obvious that the spirit of repression and persecution that pervades the events under review is clearly not in keeping with the charter of the United Nations or the declaration of human rights.

In any case it is the view of the government that a state which fails to carry out its treaty obligations in letter and spirit cannot expect to be supported in its application for admission to the United Nations; and indeed might expect formally to be condemned by the world organization.

But, Mr. Speaker, in examining these or any other suggestions that may be made, the government's course will be guided by considerations that are more significant than tactics or gestures. While giving the fullest expression to our profound abhorrence of religious persecution, however it may be disguised, we shall seek to take only such action

as appears to offer a reasonable prospect of promoting the principles in which we believe and at the same time of ameliorating the situation with which we are faced in the communist countries.

The events in Hungary have, as hon. members know, been followed by similar action on the part of the Bulgarian government. On February 10 that government issued its indictment of fifteen Protestant leaders in that country, charging them with espionage and other crimes.

The government has instructed the Canadian charge d'affaires in Prague to apply for visas to visit Hungary and Roumania in order that he may make inquiries on the spot and report to the government. Canada is not a signatory to the Bulgarian treaty, but, in any joint action that may be considered advisable, this country would find no difficulty in associating itself with such action. The principles of religious freedom and fundamental human rights are not confined to the articles of a peace treaty.

The clear and common sense conclusion, Mr. Speaker, is that the cases of each church, each bishop, or each group of religious leaders, are horrifying incidents in what appears to be a grand design, a calculated policy of persecution, aimed not perhaps at the immediate extermination of the Christian communions, but at their ultimate subjugation and servitude. By its nature and its dogma, Marxist communism must secure the total obedience of its subjects and cannot tolerate the free speculations of the human spirit and conscience.

A plain recital of a few only of the incidents in this process reveals the pattern of persecution which is swiftly being drawn over the unhappy Christians of these lands. We are already familiar with the fate in Hungary of leaders of three different churches; and I have mentioned the indictments on February 10 by the Bulgarian government of fifteen Protestant leaders in that country. It is noteworthy that while these clergymen, all members of the United Evangelical church in Bulgaria, were apparently arrested some months ago, no indictment was made until this late date.

In Poland some twenty-six priests have been detained and eight arrested for having read a pastoral letter from their bishop in which the anti-religious actions of government officials were severely criticized.

In Czechoslovakia towards the end of last year two members of the Greek Catholic church were tried for alleged espionage activities, and early this month a new campaign was started against the church.

In Roumania in December, 1948, the Roumanian Uniate church, a branch of the Roman Catholic church, was practically extinguished

by government decree and its property confiscated.

It cannot be expected, I am sorry to say, that the tale is ended. From the Baltic to the frontiers of Greece the ceaseless pressure to impose a total communist pattern goes forward. The middle way of life, the only way broad enough to contain in peace and tolerance all creeds and all faiths, is being steadily cast aside, and nowhere is this clearer than in the realm of religious belief. There is no quick or simple solution: the problem is too vast and too many-sided. Old in essence, it is here new in form, and it has the ruthlessness of new things.

The government will continue to use whatever means are available to support every effort to assert the principles of religious and political liberty and to restore their practice.

Topic:   RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION
Subtopic:   SATELLITE STATES OF EASTERN EUROPE
Sub-subtopic:   CARDINAL MINDSZENTY
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MOTION TO CHANGE HOURS OF EVENING SITTINGS TO 7.30-10.30 DURING DEBATE ON ADDRESS

CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

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

Mr. Stanley Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

Mr. Speaker, on the order for

motions, and as arranged yesterday by the house, by unanimous consent, I ask now that consideration be given to the proposal I made yesterday calling for evening sittings from 7.30 to 10.30 during the period of the debate on the address in reply to the speech from the throne.

Perhaps to keep the record clear I should point out that after I offered my amendment yesterday to the motion of the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent), the leader of the opposition (Mr. Drew) made what I regarded as a reasonable request, namely, that the amendment stand over until today. A few minutes later, on a question of privilege, I pointed out that it was not possible to permit the amendment to stand over without forcing the holding over of the main motion, thus preventing debate yesterday on the address. With that in mind I said this, as reported at page 720 of Hansard:

If the house will give its undertaking that we shall consider the matter tomorrow as a substantive motion, I am willing to withdraw the amendment. We can hardly let both the motion and the amendment stand over, because that would prevent the house from going on with the address today. If the house will give that assurance, I shall be glad to let this matter stand for consideration and decision by the house on a free vote at three o'clock tomorrow afternoon.

Not only was that offer made as a proper gesture, both to the leader of the opposition and to the Prime Minister, but the silence of the house at that point gave unanimous consent to the procedure suggested. Therefore I ask for consideration of that matter in the form of a substantive motion, moved by

House of Commons

myself and seconded by the hon. member for Mackenzie (Mr. Nicholson), as follows:

That, except on Wednesdays, Mr. Speaker shall leave the chair at six o'clock p.m. until seven-thirty, and shall adjourn the house at ten-thirty p.m., without question put, until consideration of the speech from the throne is disposed of.

That wording is precisely the wording I gave yesterday, with one exception. Where the words "said speech" appeared yesterday, I have put in the words "speech from the throne".

Topic:   MOTION TO CHANGE HOURS OF EVENING SITTINGS TO 7.30-10.30 DURING DEBATE ON ADDRESS
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LIB

Louis Stephen St-Laurent (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Right Hon. L. S. St. Laurent (Prime Minister):

Mr. Speaker, it was my understanding yesterday that it seemed to be the desire of the house to have this matter held over until today for consideration. I said yesterday that members of the government did not wish to express any views, but that they would have no objection to this experiment being made during the period of the debate on the address, if it seemed to be the desire of the house to make such an experiment.

Topic:   MOTION TO CHANGE HOURS OF EVENING SITTINGS TO 7.30-10.30 DURING DEBATE ON ADDRESS
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LIB

James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

I think it is my duty to call the attention of the house to the fact that normally this motion would be out of order, but I believe I have to take into consideration what happened yesterday and what has just been read by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre. I would call the attention of hon. members to standing order 12, paragraph 107, at page 53 of Beauchesne's Third Edition. It reads:

In all matters of doubt, the Speaker will consider attentively the opinion of members of experience, or sometimes, instead of expressing his opinion on either side, may ask instructions from the house or reserve his decision on the point in discussion, or suggest that the house may, if it think proper, dispense with the rule in a particular case. In doubtful cases, he will be largely guided by circumstances.

I believe I should put the question to the house. Is it the pleasure of the house that the hon. member have leave to present his motion?

Topic:   MOTION TO CHANGE HOURS OF EVENING SITTINGS TO 7.30-10.30 DURING DEBATE ON ADDRESS
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PC

Gordon Graydon

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Gordon Graydon (Peel):

Mr. Speaker,

before this motion is dealt with I wish to make one or two comments. Unfortunately I was unable to be here yesterday to take part in the debate, if one could call it a debate. This question of hours of sittings of the house is one which has engaged the attention of hon. members on all sides of the house for some considerable time.

Topic:   MOTION TO CHANGE HOURS OF EVENING SITTINGS TO 7.30-10.30 DURING DEBATE ON ADDRESS
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?

Some hon. Members:

Order.

Topic:   MOTION TO CHANGE HOURS OF EVENING SITTINGS TO 7.30-10.30 DURING DEBATE ON ADDRESS
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LIB

James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

I should first ask if hon.

members are willing to give the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre leave to present his motion. If leave is granted, the hon. member for Peel may then discuss the motion.

House of Commons

Is it the pleasure of the house that the hon. member have leave to present his motion?

Topic:   MOTION TO CHANGE HOURS OF EVENING SITTINGS TO 7.30-10.30 DURING DEBATE ON ADDRESS
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?

Some hon. Members:

No.

Topic:   MOTION TO CHANGE HOURS OF EVENING SITTINGS TO 7.30-10.30 DURING DEBATE ON ADDRESS
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?

Some hon. Members:

Yes.

Topic:   MOTION TO CHANGE HOURS OF EVENING SITTINGS TO 7.30-10.30 DURING DEBATE ON ADDRESS
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LIB

James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Those in favour will please

say yea.

Topic:   MOTION TO CHANGE HOURS OF EVENING SITTINGS TO 7.30-10.30 DURING DEBATE ON ADDRESS
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?

Some hon. Members:

Yea.

Topic:   MOTION TO CHANGE HOURS OF EVENING SITTINGS TO 7.30-10.30 DURING DEBATE ON ADDRESS
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LIB

James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Those opposed will please

say nay.

Topic:   MOTION TO CHANGE HOURS OF EVENING SITTINGS TO 7.30-10.30 DURING DEBATE ON ADDRESS
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?

Some hon. Members:

Nay.

Topic:   MOTION TO CHANGE HOURS OF EVENING SITTINGS TO 7.30-10.30 DURING DEBATE ON ADDRESS
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LIB

James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And leave having been granted:

Topic:   MOTION TO CHANGE HOURS OF EVENING SITTINGS TO 7.30-10.30 DURING DEBATE ON ADDRESS
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PC

Gordon Graydon

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Graydon:

As I was saying, many efforts have been made by members on all sides of the house to bring about some reform with respect to the time of house sittings. I think there is general agreement that some reform is desirable and that a decision in the matter must be made.

On June 25, 1947, I made a suggestion which I think had the support of many hon. members in all parts of the house. My suggestion was that we should sit continuously from one o'clock in the afternoon until seven o'clock at night. That suggestion was thrown out toward the end of the session so that we could deal with it and with other related problems at the next session. I think some twenty-seven different suggestions were made about changing the procedure and rules of the house.

As Your Honour knows, last year we set up a small but informal committee in an effort to iron out some of the difficulties which were bothering hon. members and which should be ironed out if there was to be unanimity as to the method of carrying on the business of the house. While some of us at that time were not in agreement with the original suggestion of seven to ten o'clock instead of eight to eleven, the view seemed to prevail that if we could not get something better, we might take that suggestion as it was.

Now the suggestion of the motion before us is seven-thirty to ten-thirty.

I am still of the opinion that this house should appoint a small committee, not to deal with all the ramifications of rules and house procedure, because again the discussions would go on until the end of the session, but to deal only with this question of house sittings. I hope that that will meet with the approval of the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre. It should not take more than a day or two. Let us do this in the proper way. The committee could then come back

to the House of Commons with something which would meet with general approval.

Certainly the present hours are too long. Hon. members cannot be expected to sit here year in and year out until eleven o'clock at night, when they start their work at nine in the morning. I think we would be regarded by the public as a sensible assembly if we changed the hours so that they would be more humane and tolerable to the average member. The committee could be set up at once, and perhaps before the end of this week we could arrive at some decision. It may be a decision for seven-thirty to ten-thirty, but I am not so sure that those hours meet with general approval. I suggest the immediate appointment of such a committee.

Topic:   MOTION TO CHANGE HOURS OF EVENING SITTINGS TO 7.30-10.30 DURING DEBATE ON ADDRESS
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February 22, 1949