March 21, 1949

PC

Alan Cockeram

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Cockeram:

A slot machine.

Topic:   TRANSITIONAL MEASURES ACT. 1947 CONTINUATION OF CERTAIN ORDERS AND REGULATIONS
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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

Slot machine is right. There is a great multitude of slot machines turning out the law, and this parliament is being asked to become a mere rubber stamp to give parliamentary authority to all kinds of order in council and regulation procedure.

We are told of amendments, but how on earth are we going to amend the orders in council when they do not appear before us in the text of this bill or in any statute of this parliament?

I am not going to go into the subject of surplus powers at any great length, but the twelve orders we are being asked to continue are just filled with powers that cannot by any possible stretch of the imagination be said to be necessary. Let any member of the government stand up and try to defend the necessity for the continuance of some of these orders in council. I will not go over the ground covered by the hon. member for Calgary West (Mr. Smith), but I just ask in passing if any hon. member of this house will stand up in his place and say, having regard to what may be suggested by hon. members opposite to be a national emergency, that it is essential in order to meet that national emergency that the priorities officer shall have power to prohibit the making of or dealing in construction materials, because that is what order in council P.C. 1609 says. It provides that the priorities officer shall have power to prohibit as well as to control and regulate the making of or dealing in construction materials. That is not an isolated

case; that is an example, and examples of the same kind can be multiplied by the score in these orders, containing as they do surplus and unnecessary powers that cannot be justified by the existence of anything that has been said at any time in this debate in relation to the alleged national emergency.

By continuing these powers in their present form this bill projects forward for another year the vice of delegation of power, the continuation of irresponsibility. Surely this House of Commons, Mr. Speaker, is not going to turn its back upon its clear responsibility in the matter.

It would be interesting to hear from the Minister of Justice (Mr. Garson) what he, as premier of one of the provinces, had to say in 1945 when Bill 15 first came to the attention of the provincial premiers. Did he say, "Oh, you can trust this government with all power. Let us go right ahead. The war is over, but we will trust this government." Did he say that? If that was the position he took as a provincial premier in the fall of 1945 when the premiers of the provinces were meeting in conference in Ottawa, I would invite the Minister of Justice to stand up and say that he approved that bill. If, on the other hand, like the premiers of the other provinces, in obedience to their responsibility to the constitution, and to the people of their provinces, he stood up and protested, as did the premiers of the other provinces, against this highhanded, arbitrary usurpation of the powers of parliament and of the provinces, and joined them in protest, I think the house would like to know, because the house would like to have the opportunity of testing the glowing words that fell from the lips of the hon. gentleman tonight in relation to the stand he took with reference to that iniquitous Bill 15.

Would it not be comforting at least if the house and the people of the country had some assurance that the government was taking energetic measures to eliminate and to cure the conditions which constitute the national emergency that has been referred to? Would it not be comforting to know that they have some objective for meeting the critical national emergency that exists as to housing, and which justifies and makes necessary a proper measure of rent control today? Would that not have been of some comfort to the house in continuing these broad powers? Would it not have been of some comfort to the house on the other branch of the argument of the Minister of Justice? You will remember he said he supported his argument as to the national emergency on two grounds, first the housing emergency, which everybody on this side of the house knows more about than the government, and secondly, inflation? Would it not have been comforting if the

Transitional Measures Act minister had been able to tell us that the government was doing something to cure inflation, that this inflationary spiral, with which apparently they have been powerless to cope in recent years, was going to be cured by sensible government measures, and that the people of the country were going to be given an opportunity to meet the rising spiral of inflation, the rising cost of living, by reductions in income tax, by reductions in the burden of indirect taxes, all those consumer taxes that have weighed so oppressively upon the backs of the Canadian people?

My time is almost up, but before I conclude my remarks I wish to put forward an amendment which will give the house the opportunity that the government has not seen fit to give it, namely, to proceed with regard to this subject of rent control, and the other subject matters referred to in these twelve orders, by a proper legislative method. Therefore I move, seconded by the hon. member for Peel (Mr. Graydon):

That the said bill be not now read the second time but that the subject matter thereof be referred to the standing committee on banking and commerce with instructions that they have power to recommend a specific measure relating to rent control, and other specific measures relating respectively to other matters provided for in the said bill.

This amendment will give the house an opportunity to break down the measure. It will go to a committee; it will not now be read a second time. It will go to the banking and commerce committee, and the committee will have the opportunity of breaking down the subject matters that are dealt with today in the twelve orders in council. The committee will be able to bring in a proper specific measure with respect to rent control, a proper specific measure with regard to each of the other several matters dealt with in the twelve orders in council that are now under debate. That, Mr. Speaker, is a healthy and sensible procedure. It is the procedure that was followed in the house in 1946 when the government brought in a measure of a similar nature. It is true there was only one order in council involved, but it was a measure-

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?

Some hon. Members:

Time.

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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

My time is not up. It was a measure to extend the life of an order in council, and the house decided it would not proceed by that method, that it would insist that a bill in proper legislative form be brought in, and therefore the house referred the government measure before second reading to the special committee on veterans affairs. That is the procedure that I offer the house in this amendment-a sensible, legislative and responsible method of dealing with the question. *

1744 HOUSE OF COMMONS

Transitional Measures Act

Let it not be said that there is not time to deal with it. The banking and commerce committee can be called together to meet at once. If it be said that there is not now time to deal with the matter adequately, if the government has left the banking and commerce committee too little time to deal with it properly, then we are quite prepared to have a short interim extension to give the banking and commerce committee time to do what this government has not given parliament time to do, to deal with this matter in a responsible way.

On motion of Mr. Graydon the debate was adjourned.

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PC

Gordon Graydon

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Graydon:

May I respectfully suggest that the amendment should be read?

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Some hon. Members:

The house is adjourning.

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LIB

William Henry Golding (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Golding):

The

amendment can be dealt with tomorrow.

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BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. St. Laurent:

Do hon. members wish to know what the business is for tomorrow? I was waiting for an inquiry to be made. Tomorrow we shall make an attempt at eleven o'clock to dispose in committee of the Foreign Exchange Control Act. If and when that is disposed of we will endeavour to give comfort to those hon. members who have been asking for it by disposing of the amendment made to the motion for second reading of this bill. As already announced, at seven-thirty the Minister of Finance intends to introduce his budget resolutions.

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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

And then we will return to whatever business was being considered prior to that time?

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Jean-Paul Stephen St-Laurent

Mr. Si. Laurent:

Yes.

At ten-thirty the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to the order of the house passed on March 14, 1949.

Tuesday, March 22. 1949

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March 21, 1949