On March 29, Le Soleil of Quebec reported as follows part of a speech I had made the previous day:
Every speech has been a funeral oration for the United Nations which was given a first class funeral. The member for Argenteuil talked at great length on national sovereignty. What is national sovereignty? It is a square wheel. It is incomprehensible that an intelligent lawyer like Mr. Heon should speak about national sovereignty as he has done.
Here is what I said, Mr. Speaker, as reported on page 2103 of Hansard:
I heard the member for Argenteuil (Mr. Heon) speak a little while ago. He talked about national sovereignty. Whoever thought of that? It is a square wheel; it is nonsense. I cannot understand such a brilliant lawyer using that expression. It shows how-I will not use the word "silly"-strange some people can be in their reasoning when they begin to talk on matters that they know nothing about.
I was referring, Mr. Speaker, to an erroneous report which had been made of a speech which I delivered on March 28 in reply to the hon. member for Argenteuil (Mr. Heon).
Subtopic: REFERENCE TO A NEWSPAPER ARTICLE
rise now, Mr. Speaker, on a special question of privilege by virtue of standing order 16 and standing order 41, which deal with the use of abusive language in reference to members of parliament. In Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms, second edition, there are several citations dealing with the privileges and immunities of members of parliament, and I would draw your attention to citations 151, 153 and 157. Citation 157 reads:
Interference with or reflections upon members have been resented as indignities to the house itself. May, 79.
Among the expressions that have been ruled to be unparliamentary in the British House of Commons is the adverb "cowardly". The adjective "coward" has the same meaning, and is just as objectionable. Let me refer you to the latest edition of Campion's Introduction to the Procedure of the House of Commons; I quote from page 71 as follows:
Attempts to threaten or intimidate members for their actions in the house have been declared to be breaches of privilege by the house, and offenders have been punished in numerous instances by reprimand or imprisonment. Libels on members have also been constantly punished, but they cannot be raised as breaches of privilege if they concern a member in any other respect than his conduct in the house.
Questions of privilege refer to the conduct of a member of parliament in the house in the fulfilment of his parliamentary duties. Paragraph 8 on page 194 refers to May, where is to be found a list of expressions to which exception has been taken at various times. I would refer also to Bourinot at page 361 and following. At page 363 it says that it is a breach of privilege to impute want of courage to a member of parliament. I also have the fourteenth edition of May, and I refer to pages 102, 103, 431, 432'and 441. At page 441 there is a paragraph entitled "the use of disorderly or unparliamentary words."
Having said that, Mr. Speaker, I now come to the question of privilege proper. I have been a member of parliament for nearly twenty-five years.
In my long career I have no knowledge of an anonymous letter being sent to any member of parliament by one of his colleagues. It may seem strange, but the envelope is a House of Commons envelope. It was mailed at the House of Commons post office, and is stamped with the House of Commons stamp, including the date, March 28. It is addressed to "G."-for George-F. " Poulio," M.P., "Temiscouta, H. of Commons." There is no frank. If there were a frank it would not be an anonymous letter.
This is the letter, which is on House of Commons paper. I think it was Shakespeare who said, "He jests at scars that never felt a wound." This letter is an insult to every member of the House of Commons, on account of the two letters "M.P." as the signature
at the bottom of it. I shall read the letter. I do not know who sent it to me. I have been on good terms with all my colleagues, but I consider that this letter is unique in my long experience as a member of parliament.
-and has the courage of his convictions should stay in the house and vote. You gave the impression of a coward who runs away in the face of danger. You are not a Liberal but a jackal, and we are ashamed of you I
Of course, Mr. Speaker, jackals feed on carrion, small animals and poultry. It is a sign of a certain degree of modesty on the part of the writer of the anonymous letter. I will send you, Mr. Speaker, the envelope and the letter as soon as the official reporters have copied it. I hope that Your Honour will investigate this incident, which is unique, and take whatever action Your Honour may deem to be necessary under the circumstances.
May I say to the hon. member for Temiscouata that I have noted his remarks, and, if it is deemed necessary, after due consideration, the whole constabulary force of the House of Commons will be put on the alert to find the guilty party.
The report of my remarks in Hansard tends to convey the impression that this opinion about Hitler was my own, which is absolutely incorrect. My interjection was based on a report in the Globe and Mail of November 1, 1935, having to do with an address made by Colonel George Drew at the Empire club, Toronto, on October 31 of that year. The report reads in part:
I do not suggest, and I do not believe, that Germany is hostile to the British empire. I know from conversations I had in Germany this summer that their foreign policy is directed towards establishing British friendship more than to any other objective.