February 28, 1949

PRIVILEGE

REFERENCE TO REPORTED STATEMENT OF MR. DREW AT MCGILL UNIVERSITY

LIB

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

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of personal privilege affecting my position as leader of the government in this house.

The question of privilege arises out of a statement the leader of the opposition (Mr. Drew) is reported in this morning's Montreal Gazette to have made at McGill university on Saturday afternoon. The statement, which is in very sweeping terms, refers to certain measures the government is seeking to introduce in this house, measures which the leader of the opposition has not yet seen but which nevertheless he condemns unseen.

There are two sentences in the reported statement which cannot be allowed to pass without an immediate challenge. They are as follows:

Make no mistake about it: we are fighting for personal and economic freedom here in Canada today.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   REFERENCE TO REPORTED STATEMENT OF MR. DREW AT MCGILL UNIVERSITY
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Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   REFERENCE TO REPORTED STATEMENT OF MR. DREW AT MCGILL UNIVERSITY
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Jean-Paul Stephen St-Laurent

Mr. SI. Laurent:

It is edifying to hear this applause.

We are in a very real danger of losing that fight to the bureaucrats who accept the basic philosophy of Karl Marx no matter what political name they may adopt.

By bureaucrats the public is apt to understand the senior members of the public service and to regard that statement as an indiscriminate attack upon them. It will also no doubt be regarded as an attack on the government which is responsible-and alone responsible-for the measures brought before this house. That aspect of the matter, however, is one about which I make no complaint, because we are prepared and able to defend the government at all times, no matter what charges are leveled against us. But if the leader of the opposition has proof that deputy ministers or any other senior civil servants "accept the basic philosophy of Karl Marx", let him name the individuals and produce his proofs.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   REFERENCE TO REPORTED STATEMENT OF MR. DREW AT MCGILL UNIVERSITY
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Some hon. Members:

Order.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   REFERENCE TO REPORTED STATEMENT OF MR. DREW AT MCGILL UNIVERSITY
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Some hon. Members:

A political speech!

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   REFERENCE TO REPORTED STATEMENT OF MR. DREW AT MCGILL UNIVERSITY
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PC

Gordon Graydon

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Graydon:

What is the question of privilege?

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   REFERENCE TO REPORTED STATEMENT OF MR. DREW AT MCGILL UNIVERSITY
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Jean-Paul Stephen St-Laurent

Mr. Si. Laurent:

My privilege is to be advised by reliable public servants; and if the leader of the opposition has any information which would discredit any of the senior public servants who advise the government it is my privilege, the privilege of parliament and the privilege of my country to have him name them and offer his proof.

Those of us who know our conscientious and hardworking public servants are apt to regard as absurd any such general charge. But the general public do not and cannot know the members of the public service as we do. I feel I would be failing in my duty if I did not publicly repudiate as irresponsible and unwarranted such an attack on a group of people who, by our constitutional practice, are not in a position to defend themselves unless charged individually and specifically.

In the long run I do not think our people will be much impressed by sweeping and irresponsible statements which are not backed up by the slightest bit of evidence. That is not the Canadian tradition of justice and fair play.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   REFERENCE TO REPORTED STATEMENT OF MR. DREW AT MCGILL UNIVERSITY
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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. George A. Drew (Leader of the Opposition):

The Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) has invited an answer to his political speech, and I accept that invitation. If he had taken the trouble to read the speech, even as reported in the limited space given it in the press, he would have seen that I was referring to the appointment of controllers, priority officials and people who are not his senior civil servants but who under these acts have powers equal to any powers conferred by any authoritarian state in the world today.

Since the Prime Minister has challenged my remarks as ridiculous, I accept the challenge and say that the last man in Canada who should challenge me in regard to the abuse of power is the Prime Minister himself. I have not forgotten that, as Minister of Justice, the present Prime Minister laid charges against public men that had no relation to the law. He had neither the courage to proceed nor the decency to apologize.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   REFERENCE TO REPORTED STATEMENT OF MR. DREW AT MCGILL UNIVERSITY
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LIB

James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Order. The Prime Minister raised a question of privilege and the leader of the opposition may reply, but I would ask

950 HOUSE OF

Privilege-Mr. St. Laurent him to be kind enough to confine his remarks to the question of privilege.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   REFERENCE TO REPORTED STATEMENT OF MR. DREW AT MCGILL UNIVERSITY
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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

I am very happy to do so. The Prime Minister has prepared a statement-it is in the hands of all the representatives of the press. It creates an impression that bears no relation to any careful reading of the speech I made on Saturday. He has challenged the evidence of the abuse of powers.

I say that no man in Canada has abused power more than the present Prime Minister.

I have a particular reason for remembering that he it was who, as minister of justice, laid a charge against a man then in public office and, I repeat, he had neither the courage to proceed nor the decency to withdraw or apologize for that charge. Then, in order that his position might not be exposed, he used the power of censorship under his department to prevent the publication of a letter which would have shown indecent and improper use of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police by his department while he was the minister of justice.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   REFERENCE TO REPORTED STATEMENT OF MR. DREW AT MCGILL UNIVERSITY
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Jean-Paul Stephen St-Laurent

Mr. SI. Laurent:

The leader of the opposition charges that this is politics, Mr. Speaker. If it is politics to ensure the proper administration of the affairs of the country, then I admit his assertion. I make no apology for defending here the good repute of the senior servants of Canada.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   REFERENCE TO REPORTED STATEMENT OF MR. DREW AT MCGILL UNIVERSITY
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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

What is the question of privilege?

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   REFERENCE TO REPORTED STATEMENT OF MR. DREW AT MCGILL UNIVERSITY
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LIB

James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Order.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   REFERENCE TO REPORTED STATEMENT OF MR. DREW AT MCGILL UNIVERSITY
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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. St. Laurent:

He cannot take it, but I can.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   REFERENCE TO REPORTED STATEMENT OF MR. DREW AT MCGILL UNIVERSITY
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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. Abbott:

This reminds me of Acadia university.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   REFERENCE TO REPORTED STATEMENT OF MR. DREW AT MCGILL UNIVERSITY
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LIB

Stuart Sinclair Garson (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

Or Carleton county.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   REFERENCE TO REPORTED STATEMENT OF MR. DREW AT MCGILL UNIVERSITY
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LIB

James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

I would ask hon. members to keep order. The Prime Minister has raised a question of privilege, and the leader of the opposition has answered. I was quite generous about that. He challenged the Prime Minister, and I believe it is only fair that the Prime Minister be permitted to answer the accusation.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   REFERENCE TO REPORTED STATEMENT OF MR. DREW AT MCGILL UNIVERSITY
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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. St. Laurent:

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to see that the leader of the opposition does not venture to name any public servant, or to bring any charges against anyone. As to the charges he makes against me, I make no complaint whatever; I am prepared to meet them at any time and at all times. If the leader of the opposition thinks he can convince the Canadian public that there is a vestige of truth in what he has stated here this afternoon, he is welcome to the opportunity of doing so.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   REFERENCE TO REPORTED STATEMENT OF MR. DREW AT MCGILL UNIVERSITY
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February 28, 1949