November 17, 1949

SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. Blackmore:

Here we are again with all the silly laughs. People who, to save their lives, cannot tell you what to do about the problems of the world can ha-ha like a lot of cackling hens at the mention of something

which might contain the solution. Until we change our attitude toward these new things there is not the hope for us that there should be. I suggest to the minister that he and his department become entirely proficient in the theory of state-created money and how to use it to solve the problems, national and international, that surround us today.

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LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

Mr. Speaker-

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LIB

Elie Beauregard (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

I must inform the house that if the minister speaks now he will close the debate.

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LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Hon. L. B. Pearson (Secretary of Stale for External Affairs):

The debate I am now closing has been, as I think all hon. members will agree, illuminating, constructive and helpful, and also conducted on a very high level of non-partisanship. During the debate some generous things have been said about the department over which I have the honour to preside at present, and about myself. So far as I am concerned, though I am a comparatively new member of the house, I am very fortunate in the friends that I have here, and I thank them for what they were good enough to say about my work.

I am fortunate also in the fact that the external policy of Canada, in its principles and objectives, to the extent that any policy can be in a parliamentary system of government is non-partisan in character; and of course I am the beneficiary of that happy circumstance. I think it makes my job, at least so far as parliament is concerned, much easier than that of any of my colleagues.

As far as the department is concerned I should like to echo the good things which have been said about it. I agree also with the hon. member for Peel (Mr. Graydon) when he remarked that we should not get too complacent, that, if we have accomplished anything, we should cultivate the healing virtue of humility. I agree also that in the growth of our international activities through the department we should not make the mistake, as the hon. member for Peel put it, of trying to keep up with the "international Joneses". I can assure him, if assurance is needed, that we do not do that; in our department we merely try to keep up with our international responsibilities. That, I think, is as far as the Department of External Affairs should ever want to go. In that sense we have expanded in recent years. The hon. member for Peel referred to our "mushroom growth". That is true, in the sense that we have grown quickly. We now have thirty-three diplomatic missions in other countries; but I would point out that there are more than forty diplomatic missions in this country, so I do not think we have expanded beyond our responsibilities. The hon. member

for Peel also suggested that we must not run wild on expenses, and I quite agree. We are trying to run our department on a businesslike basis, and at the present time are making changes in our organization that we hope will make it more efficient, more businesslike, and of greater service to the people of our country. If we ever had any temptation to run wild on expenses, the appearance of our representatives before the committee on external affairs would always be a salutary check in that regard, to say nothing about our own Department of Finance and the treasury board.

In addition to the question of growth the hon. member for Peel also mentioned the question of recruitment, the type of people we are getting in the department. Well, we have tried to recruit our officers from all groups in Canada. It may be that at the present time we have not as many representatives of certain occupations as we should have, but I would point out to him, and to other hon. members, that we take young men into our department after competitive examinations. Whether they come from agricultural colleges or arts colleges or any other kind of colleges, we do not mind. We do not examine into their background in that sense. We have been fortunate, I think, in the type of men we have been able to secure, and I should like to pay tribute to them. Of course in the development of a young service it takes time for the young men to reach the top positions, so it is true that at the present time some of our missions are headed not by career men but by men we have brought in from outside, very often at considerable sacrifice to themselves.

In what I thought was a very constructive speech this morning the hon. member for Eglinton (Mr. Fleming) expressed the hope that we would recognize our career men by giving them top posts in the service. We do that. Of our present missions, sixteen are headed by career men who have risen through the ranks in the Department of External Affairs and four by men who have joined our department from other branches of the public service. It may be of some interest to hon. members if, as an example of our desire to recruit our officers from all parts of Canada, I say that of the twenty-four most senior posts in our service, ten are filled by men whose mother tongue is French. We try to build up our service not only as representative but as bilingual.

During the course of his remarks the hon. member for Peel mentioned the representation of other parties on Canadian delegations at international conferences. He has himself been a very effective representative of

External Affairs

Canada at more than one such conference. I agree that we should do what we can to keep our foreign policy as much as possible on a non-partisan basis; but under a parliamentary system of responsible government, in our actual representation at international conferences it is not easy to reconcile that kind of government with the inclusion of representatives from opposition parties. The difficulty, of course, is that full membership on delegations by representatives of other parties might limit their complete freedom of action, by placing them in a position where they would have to share responsibility for decisions taken. I am not sure, however, that we cannot accomplish the purpose we have in mind by attaching representatives of other parties to our Canadian delegations, on suitable occasions, as parliamentary advisers. We have done that in the past, and it has worked out quite well. Possibly in the future it may be well to try it again.

Insofar as the growth of our external service is concerned, and some reference has been made to that by various speakers, I should like to mention that during the last year the number of people in our department at home and abroad has increased only from 1,213 to 1,248. We are doing our best to keep our numbers and our expenses within limits.

During this debate the member for Peel (Mr. Graydon) as well as other members have mentioned the desirability of providing the people of Canada with all possible information as to our external policy-what we are doing and why we are doing it. I agree with them entirely as to the importance of this responsibility. In a democracy foreign policy must be based on intelligent public opinion. Public opinion will not be intelligent unless it is informed. It will not be informed if the government does not take the people into its confidence in this field to the greatest possible extent.

I noted in his statement-I hope I am not doing him an injustice-a feeling that we were not doing as much as we should in this regard. To support that feeling the hon. member made reference to an article by a prominent newspaperman which was critical of the information activities of this department. I agree that not very long ago it may well have been that the information activities of our department and our facilities for informing the people of Canada on external affairs were not as extensive as they should have been. I would however inform the house, Mr. Speaker, that it was not very long ago that we wound up the Canadian

External Affairs

information service and initiated the establishment of an information division in the Department of External Affairs. It was inadequate for the job it was supposed to do, not in quality but certainly in quantity. We cut down to the very bone, so we were not able to do all the things we would have liked to have done. We are building up on that foundation and have reached a point, I think, where we are doing a better job than we were a few years ago.

I would not plead guilty-I am not suggesting any charge has been levelled-to the charge that we have defaulted in this obligation to keep the people informed as to what the government is doing in the field of external affairs. I have in my hand a report of the documents that are issued by the department in an effort to inform those who are interested in what we are doing. The annual report of the Department of External Affairs is now a comprehensive document. The annual report of the United Nations' activities is also a comprehensive and useful document outlining government policy. In addition to that the department has commenced the publication of a monthly bulletin on external affairs which includes articles, memoranda and other information explaining the policy of the government in this field. I have no doubt some hon. members have had an opportunity of reading that bulletin. In the recent issues we have attempted to explain not only what we have been doing but why we have done it.

That is one thing, but it is quite another thing, Mr. Speaker, to indulge in what I may call house-top diplomacy. There is a danger in prematurely making public the difficult, delicate and confidential negotiations between our government and other governments. I believe a good example of how that sort of thing should be conducted can be found in the negotiations leading up to the signing of the Atlantic pact. Long before that important pact was signed the government took various steps, through public statements of one kind or another, to inform the people of this country of the purposes and principles of government policy in respect to this matter. This was done while the discussions were under way in Washington. As I see it, however, it was neither necessary nor desirable to keep the public informed on the day-to-day details of those negotiations. There has to be a certain flexibility in these matters, and that flexibility would be lost if the press knew every detail of the negotiations every day.

Quite often one has to take a position in the morning which may have to be abandoned the next day. As I have said before, it is difficult to abandon a headline, and anything

that is made public in the morning becomes a headline in the afternoon. The type of diplomacy, if I may put it this way, of publicity for the principles and objectives, publicity for the policies in broad outline without making public the confidential details of the negotiations, seems to me to be best designed to reconcile the efficient conduct of diplomatic business with the desirability, indeed the necessity of the people knowing what is happening when it is happening. I hope that in the future the Department of External Affairs will be able to discharge that responsibility to the public and to parliament.

There have been a good many questions raised in this debate, Mr. Speaker, and it is my duty to do my best to answer them. If I may, I shall answer them more or less in the order in which they were submitted. An extremely important matter was touched upon by the member for Peel and the leader of the opposition in their references to the use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes in this country. It was suggested that possibly the industries of this country were not being given the same facilities, the same information or the same assistance by the government in regard to atomic energy as the industries in the United States. That is an understandable preoccupation, but I can set it at rest because I am in a position to state that there is no agreement or understanding between the Canadian and United States governments which limits the information available to Canadian industry to any greater extent than it is limited in the case of United States' industry.

It is true that we do consult with the United States and United Kingdom governments on the release of information, and discuss with them the maximum extent to which information can be made available in the three countries consistent with joint security. The necessity for secrecy which was mentioned in the statement made the other day by the president of the research council, Dr. Mackenzie, to which reference was made by the member for Peel, arises of course from the fact that the material of atomic energy is the same whether it is used for peaceful or warlike purposes. Naturally, that factor has to be taken into account by all governments in their release of information to industrial concerns, but the secrecy requirements in this regard are the same in all three countries. While it is true that the United States has turned over to private industry the operation of certain of its atomic energy plants which are operated on a commercial scale, the information gained from the operation of these plants is no more widely disseminated to industry in the United States than it is to industry in Canada. The

Canadian government has already called industry together to point out the commercial uses of radioisotopes that are now available from Chalk River. It has offered to train men from industry in the use of such isotopes and for a period of one year has offered to supply radioisotopes to industry without cost. Several Canadian industrial firms are already taking advantage of this offer.

During the debate a good deal of attention has been devoted to questions which concern the Far East and the Pacific. We have had some interesting statements devoted to that part of the world. I was particularly interested in listening to the statement of the hon. member for Lambton-Kent (Mr. MacKenzie), with whom I was once associated in UNRRA activities. I can assure those members who have expressed some concern at our alleged lack of interest in Pacific problems as compared with our absorbing interest in north Atlantic and European problems-and I am thinking more particularly of the hon. member for Vancouver-Quadra (Mr. Green) - that there is on the part of the government no such lack of interest in the Pacific.

In his remarks the hon. member for Vancouver-Quadra and, I think, another member as well, referred to certain talks that the press had reported as having recently been held in Canberra. They both expressed some interest in the fact that Canada had not been represented at those talks.

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PC

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Green:

I mentioned Singapore.

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LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

There was one reference to recent talks in Canberra. The Singapore talks took place some months ago. The Canberra talks to which the hon. member made reference took place only a few days ago. The reason we were not at those talks is, of course, that we were not invited to them. That statement is not as drastic as it may sound because our information is that the talks were informal ones arranged in Canberra by the Australian minister for external affairs with the New Zealand deputy minister of external affairs and an under secretary from the United Kingdom foreign office in charge of Far Eastern affairs who happened to be in Canberra at that time. No formal conference of any kind as far as we know took place.

The hon. member for Vancouver-Quadra also asked the government whether they proposed to take part in the conference of commonwealth external affairs ministers which has been called to meet in Colombo, Ceylon, in January. I had already intended to speak on this matter because it was only today that it was agreed among the governments concerned that publicity could be given to it. I am in a position to tell the house that we

External Affairs

have received from the prime minister of Ceylon an invitation to attend the conference in question.

It will be recalled that about a year ago, in the report of the meeting of prime ministers in London, reference was made to the desirability of having meetings of commonwealth ministers of external affairs from time to time when the situation seemed to warrant such meetings. The government of Ceylon has called this meeting, and the government of Canada is, of course, happy to accept the invitation to participate in it; it is particularly happy because of the fact that the meeting will be held in the newest of the independent nations that make up our commonwealth. We are particularly glad that this meeting will take place in an Asian dominion and that in that sense it will reflect the importance of the new Asiatic members of the commonwealth.

The government will be represented by a minister. It has been suggested that that minister should be the Secretary of State for External Affairs. But that particular minister has been away a good deal in the last two or three months; and although there is nothing he would like better than to spend the month of January amidst the balmy breezes of Colombo, I am not quite certain at this time who will be the representative of the government. I may not be allowed to go.

The conference in question, as I understand it, will deal with external affairs of general interest to the commonwealth and will not confine its activities to Pacific or Far Eastern questions. Nevertheless, a Canadian representative at this meeting will be willing and anxious to participate in that part of the agenda because we appreciate the importance of Pacific questions, especially at this time.

The hon. member for Peel (Mr. Graydon) said that the puzzled and confusing Chinese picture should be unveiled. It may be that we shall be in a slightly better position to unveil that picture after the conversations that we shall be having in Colombo. I can assure him, Mr. Speaker, although I do not think the assurance is necessary, that it is a puzzled and confusing picture, and it is difficult indeed to unveil it at the present moment so that any recognizable features appear. In my statement yesterday I attempted to underline some of the principles that governed our policy in regard to that part of the world, and I do not know that I can go much further at this time than I went yesterday. I should like to mention one thing, though, because reference was made to it in

External Affairs

this debate. I can assure the house that no pressure of any kind from any quarter has been brought to bear on the Canadian government to recognize or not to recognize the communist government of China.

Reference has been made to the possibility of a Pacific pact to parallel the Atlantic pact, and I was asked if I could express the policy of the government in this respect. I can only say, as I believe has been said already, that it is not possible to draw an exact parallel between the two situations. The countries of the north Atlantic were ready for a security pact. All the countries concerned, with the possible exception of one-and reference has been made to that this afternoon-were all anxious to join such a pact and there was no difference of opinion in regard to the principles of such a pact. But that is certainly not the situation in the Pacific at the present time. Those countries which are at least as concerned as we are in Pacific matters-and I am thinking of Australia, India and the United States-have all stated, through their responsible representatives, that it would be premature at this time to attempt to negotiate a Pacific pact. That being the case, I think we would be making a mistake if we tried to press ahead with this matter at this moment.

Questions were also asked as to our policy in regard to Japanese political developments and trade with China. With regard to the former, as I said yesterday, I think that the governments concerned should press ahead with the Japanese peace pact and that all of us, individually and collectively, should do all that we can to strengthen the building up in Japan of a democratic government that will be a centre of peace and stability in that area. But there are times when I feel-and I have attempted to express this opinion before-that we should be careful to recall that it was not so long ago when the menace from Japan seemed almost as terrible as the menace from other quarters in the Far East seems at the present time. And we should not lose sight of what might be an ultimate danger because of the immediate danger that is ahead of us. Therefore when we are encouraging the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Japan let us make sure that we are helping to build up a democratic peace-loving Japan.

As far as trade with China is concerned, Mr. Speaker, there is no argument on that score. Nothing can be more important to Canada than building up trade with the Far East, including China; but one essential element in the development of trade with the areas over which the writ of the communist

government now runs is to establish some kind of contact with that government. So naturally the promotion of trade is part of the problem of our relationship with the communist government in China, and the two cannot be separated.

In some of the statements that have been made in this debate, Mr. Speaker, reference has been made to the European situation and certain questions have been asked of me in that regard. Some of these speeches have filled the gaps in my own statement of yesterday morning, and have added, I think, very materially to the information of the house with respect to European problems. The hon. member for Peel (Mr. Graydon) said that in my statement it would have been helpful if I had said more about the situation in western Germany and western Europe. I agree it would have been helpful if I could have said more. Although I spoke for quite a long time, I admit, Mr. Speaker-and in fact I stated at the beginning-that there were serious omissions in my statement. I did not say very much about western Germany or indeed about western Europe. I did say, however, and I should like to repeat it, that we welcome the establishment of a federal democratic government in western Germany. We hope that it will soon be able to extend its jurisdiction over a united Germany. The development that has taken place already has a bearing, of course, on the German peace conference. It looks now as if the possibility of holding a peace conference for the whole of Germany is more remote than it was a year ago. This is of course due to the split in Germany itself, and the difficulties at the present time of establishing a modus vivendi with the Russians which would make possible the healing of that division. Meanwhile we have the western federal state of Germany which has become a going concern. We are recognizing that development by planning to establish very shortly a mission to represent Canada at the capital of the state, which is Bonn, We will for that purpose be appointing, as head of our mission to Bonn, the official who is now the head of our military mission in Berlin. This change in the situation in Germany will make it possible to reduce the mission in Berlin to the status of one or two officers.

Reference was made also by certain speakers to the position in regard to the German and Austrian peace treaties. I have mentioned the German peace treaty. So far as the Austrian peace treaty is concerned it looked a few weeks ago as if substantial progress had been made and that an Austrian peace treaty might soon be worked out by

the four great powers. But there are still difficulties in the way, and these difficulties seem to revolve around the impossibility of the U.S.S.R. on the one hand and the other three states on the other hand getting together over the difficult question of reparations.

A more important point, I think, was mentioned by the leader of the opposition (Mr. Drew) this afternoon, and was touched on by other hon. members in other statements, when I was asked to clear up the question of our commitments under the North Atlantic pact. I stated in my remarks yesterday that we did have such commitments, and I repeat that statement now. However, it was pointed out this afternoon that my colleague, the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Claxton), in a statement in this house the other day had said that we had no commitments under the North Atlantic treaty. There might, therefore, seem to be some contradiction in these two statements; but I submit, Mr. Speaker, that there is no such contradiction. When the Minister of National Defence was speaking in the debate to which reference has been made it was quite clear, at least to my mind after reading his statement, that he was referring to the military aid commitments which result from the implementation of the treaty. That seems to me to be clear from a reading of the paragraph in question. If I am in order, Mr. Speaker, I should like to repeat what the Minister of National Defence said at that time. He said, as reported at page 1698 of Hansard:

It is perfectly clear that we have no commitments whatever under the North Atlantic treaty. The organization under the treaty has just been set up. The regional groups have been organized and the appropriate officers and representatives of the various governments concerned are considering what should be the various strategical plans and requirements.

This is expressly dealt with in paragraph 12 of the statement I gave, in which I said:

It is still too early to spell out the consequences of the pact in terms of men and dollars."

What I was referring to when I said we had commitments was the political commitment which we undertook in signing this pact and that commitment, of course, stands and is accepted not only by the government but I think by all hon. members. That political commitment is to come to the help of any member of the alliance if that member is the victim of aggression. We accept that commitment. It is a commitment for the defence of Canada, by coming to the help of our partners in the alliance if those partners should be attacked. That is a political commitment which we undertake. How that commitment shall be worked out, though, is another matter.

External Affairs

Yesterday when the hon, member for Peel was speaking he mentioned the fact that no details had been given the house or the country in regard to that particular commitment. But I would point out to him and to the house, Mr. Speaker, that it took us nearly a year to work out the political commitment which I have mentioned, and we have only just begun to work out the plans which constitute a military commitment under the treaty. We have signed the treaty; we have laid the basis of the organizations required under the treaty. There remains to be worked out the contributions which each government shall make in carrying out these political pledges, these contributions to be effective once the aggression has taken place and is recognized as such by the members of the alliance, including Canada. This development of the treaty has just begun, and it will take some time to work it out. Therefore it will not be possible to know exactly what are our military undertakings and our military commitments until that development is completed. I think that if it is clearly understood, Mr. Speaker, that I was talking about the ultimate political commitment in the treaty and the Minister of National Defence was talking about the military undertakings which we may have to take in order to discharge our political commitment, it will be clear that there is no contradiction in the two statements.

Many references, Mr. Speaker, were made during the debate to the United Nations and our policy in regard to the United Nations. I would merely like to repeat in that regard that our adherence to this organization remains the cornerstone of our external policy.

We are having difficult times at Lake Success. It is not easy to make the United Nations the effective organization for peace we all hoped it would be. One evidence of these difficulties is that we have had to work out regional arrangements not outside of, but supplementary to the United Nations. Nevertheless I would like to emphasize again that these regional arrangements, whether they be political such as the North Atlantic pact or whether they are financial, along the lines of the talks we have had to have with our friends from the United Kingdom and the United States, or of whatever nature they may be-these regional arrangements remain secondary and supplementary to our adherence to our world organization which we hope will some day make all such limited arrangements unnecessary.

That is not possible today. The reason is, of course, as I need hardly repeat, the split

External Affairs

in the world between west and east, which reflects itself in practically every undertaking of the United Nations. So long as that split remains it is absurd to think, and we would be only deceiving ourselves if we did think, that the United Nations as a universal organization can discharge the function of preserving peace which it was set up to discharge and which some day we hope it will discharge. But before that can be done we have to bridge the gap between the communist east and the democratic west. Though that problem at the present time seems almost insuperable, we must keep working toward its solution.

This afternoon the leader of the opposition (Mr. Drew) said that the best hope for that solution was by somehow getting to the people of the communist countries. If we could pierce the iron curtain and get to the hearts and souls of the people behind it I am sure, just as he was sure, that we would find they are as peace-loving as the rest of us. If we could sweep away that mistrust and hatred that has been caused by the tyrannical masters of the Russian people, if we could sweep that away and get our own message across to those people, then that split would be healed and we would have a world organization which would be universal indeed; which would do the job it was designed to do at San Francisco, and which some day it will do.

Reference has also been made in this debate by more than one speaker to the prestige Canada now has in the councils of the world. I think it is true that we have such prestige. If we do have it, then it is due to the exertions, to the intelligence and to the sacrifices of the Canadian people. It is upon this that our prestige has been built; especially on the achievements and sacrifices of the Canadian people in time of war. Those of us who have particular jobs to do which take us into the world of international affairs can add a little to or detract a little from that prestige. But it has a deeper foundation than the work of any individual, of any government or of any party; the foundation of our prestige is in the character, the hearts and the achievements of our Canadian people. And that is why, Mr. Speaker, I am so encouraged by the debate we have had in the last two days on external affairs. I believe in this debate we have had a fine reflection of the feelings of the people, and their constructive approach to these questions of external affairs.

It has been made abundantly clear in the debate that the objectives we have in mind are shared by all of us. We have the same

objective. We are all striving to get to the same goal-at times probably by different routes-and that goal is the establishment in this world by international action of conditions in which every man, every woman and every child in any country of the world can live out his life in stability and security and peace.

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Motion agreed to.


EXTERNAL AFFAIRS

MOTION TO PERMIT COMMITTEE TO SIT WHILE HOUSE IS SITTING

LIB

Joseph-Arthur Bradette

Liberal

Mr. J. A. Bradeile (Cochrane) moved:

That the special committee on external affairs be empowered to sit while the house is sitting.

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PC

Gordon Graydon

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Graydon:

May I take the opportunity when this motion is being put to inquire from the chairman of the committee on external affairs when he expects the committee to sit tomorrow?

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LIB

Joseph-Arthur Bradette

Liberal

Mr. Bradeite:

I do not believe it will be possible for it to sit tomorrow, in view of previous engagements made by several members. But I expect the first sitting will be next Tuesday morning.

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Motion agreed to.


BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

LIB

Alphonse Fournier (Minister of Public Works; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Fournier (Hull):

Tomorrow we will go into committee of supply and take up the estimates of national defence, secretary of state, veterans affairs and justice.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
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PC

Gordon Graydon

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Graydon:

Is it the intention of the Secretary of State for External Affairs to be here next week?

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
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LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

Mr. Speaker, I am afraid it will be impassible for me to be here next week, because of my duties at Lake Success. I regret that it is not possible to hold a meeting of the committee on external affairs tomorrow.

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PC
LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

I would be very glad to attend a meeting tomorrow, or to attend a meeting on Saturday.

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PC

Gordon Graydon

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Graydon:

I changed my arrangements so as to be here tomorrow, because I expected there would be at least two meetings of the committee tomorrow. I would like to see the decision reversed, if it can be done without inconvenience to others. We should have the minister here and, since he can be here tomorrow, surely there is no reason why we cannot hold a couple of good meetings of the committee.

Mr. Cold well: I would join in that with the hon. member lor Peel. When the announcement was made by the Chairman that the committee was not going to meet tomorrow I thought that the Secretary of State for External Affairs had been called away. However, if he is to be here tomorrow every effort should be made to call the committee together some time tomorrow, even if it is late in the day. If it is difficult to get notice of the committee in the morning, we should try to meet some time in the day.

Business of the House

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November 17, 1949