March 15, 1950

PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Mr. Speaker, there is this resolution before the house; and the conduct of many hon. members this afternoon is a perfectly clear and vivid demonstration of the fact that unless there are some members supporting the government who are prepared to vote according to their opinions, and not according to what they are told in the study groups, there can only be a remedy to this situation by the use of this chamber as a forum through which hon. members on this side of the house can speak to the people of Canada about the danger in which our parliamentary system now lies.

This government did suppress the facts last year. What resulted is important only from the point of view of arithmetic, because it is past. But what is important is the fact that any government would hide the truth without apology to parliament or to the people, and still suggest that they kept nothing from the people of Canada. This government not only hid the combines report, this government hid the facts upon which the people could have formed an opinion. This government now seeks to hide the facts; this government is not prepared to open up some of the departments to the examination that would place before parliament and the people of Canada information which is in its possession, and which we have the right to know, to examine and to discuss, and upon that discussion to decide.

This motion is clearly a statement of principles that are in issue, and I still hope- perhaps it is a forlorn hope-that in addition to those who have indicated their support of this motion there will be others on the government side who will follow the honoured tradition and show-

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?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Yes, the laughter, Mr. Speaker, with which that is greeted is merely an evidence that we have here rubber stamps that are not prepared to exert their opinion.

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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, I am not going to make a long speech. We have had a speech this afternoon, much of which was amusing, some parts of which were rather insulting. After all, I do not know that there was very much accomplished here this afternoon that will tend to the betterment of the conditions of the Canadian people.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Not unless this is a free parliament.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. St. Laurent:

The hon. gentleman has spoken about there being no other opportunity but this forum to speak to the Canadian people. Well, if all the speeches that come from the other house are like that of this afternoon-

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Are you going to have Senate reform?

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. St. Laurent:

From the other side of the house, are like that of this afternoon, I think the hon. member who has just taken his seat will have to contemplate the possibility of the Liberal party being a very long time in office.

As to the suggestion that there has been delay, I am not complaining. I am leaving it to the public to assess the value of what has been done here today since three o'clock in the improvement of the conditions of the Canadian people. I am not complaining but I am going to state that up to the present time there have been 82 speeches on the address in reply to the speech from the throne. The official opposition is made up of 40 members. Twenty-one speeches, including that of this afternoon, have been made by them. Fortunately, they were not all the same as the one we heard this afternoon. Of the 13 members of the C.C.F. party, 11 have taken part in this debate. Of the 10 members of the Social Credit party, 8 have taken part in this debate, and of the 190 members who support the government, 40 have participated in the debate.

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PC

Arza Clair Casselman (Chief Opposition Whip; Whip of the Progressive Conservative Party)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Casselman:

Forty-one now.

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Mr. SI Laurent@

Forty-one with the speech I am making. That is the situation. I think there have been a good many of those speeches more concerned with partisan political warfare than with actual realizations for the benefit of the Canadian people. But that will be judged by the Canadian people themselves.

There are only two or three things to which I should like to draw attention. The hon. member spoke about twisting and quibbling. I am not going to use any adjectives to qualify the remark I wish to make; but I invite hon. members to compare what the leader of the opposition (Mr. Drew) said last evening,

as reported at page 764 of Hansard, the last paragraph on the first column, with the way he tried to assert this afternoon that he had justification in a newspaper report for what he had asserted there.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

I certainly had.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. St. Laurent:

Just make the comparison, and you will see what he was trying to justify was his assertion that the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Claxton) had said on one occasion that we had a higher percentage of jets than any country in the world. To justify that he referred to a report of the Canadian Press in which the minister is supposed to have said that 80 per cent of the appropriations voted for the air force was devoted to jet planes. That, in the hon. member's opinion, justifies the assertion he made last night.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Mr. Speaker,-

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Some hon. Members:

Sit down.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

I rise to a question of privilege. The Prime Minister is reading from page 764. He knows perfectly well that I said on that occasion, and repeated the statement, "You said that our plans called for the highest number of jets of any country in the world," -"the highest percentage of jets in any country in the world."

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. St. Laurent:

I leave it to the judgment of those who will make the comparison to see where there is any twisting or quibbling.

The hon. member has said that when he was acting in another capacity, and I was acting prime minister, he had written asking that the dominion-provincial conference be reconvened. Well, I may have been unfair in my appraisal of what the hon. member then wanted. I felt that what he wanted was an occasion for partisan, political warfare. It possibly was unfair to him

but you heard his speech this afternoon.

This time the dominion-provincial confer-. ence is being reconvened, and the position the hon. member then occupied is occupied by someone else who is reported in the Windsor Daily Star of yesterday to have made the following statement about the proposal to set up a committee to inquire into old age security which was so severely criticized this afternoon:

He sympathized with the position of the teachers but the problem extended to clergymen, railway-men, civil servants and those living on annuities, he said.

"That is one of the reasons I would like to see the abolition of the means test," the premier said.

He said he thought it would not be long before the means test was removed, and that he thought a House of Commons committee, such as requested recently by Hon. Paul Martin, Minister of Health and Welfare, was a good system of dealing with pension problems.

The Address-Mr. St. Laurent

That seems to have been the statement of someone who wished to promote accomplishments rather than attempt to score in partisan, political warfare.

Then, with respect to the suggestion of labour projects being instituted at this time to deal with an abnormal, seasonal unemployment situation, the hon. member has suggested that there were hydroelectric power projects, and that there were drainage and irrigation projects. If I am not mistaken, those are matters which are of provincial responsibility and concern. It was my privilege to say on February 20 that if there were residual problems in the provinces or municipalities, the initiative with respect to them should be taken by those who had the constitutional jurisdiction to deal with them.

I am not going to attempt to make any tubthumping speech. I am going to leave it to the house to judge on the statements which were made-even only on those made here this afternoon-as to whether or not the amendment submitted by the leader of the opposition should be accepted by the house.

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SC

Solon Earl Low

Social Credit

Mr. Solon E. Low (Peace River):

Mr. Speaker, in the normal course of events during this debate the group I represent would move an amendment. However, after the amendment was moved by the leader of the official opposition (Mr. Drew) a subamendment was moved by the leader of the C.C.F. party, and under the rules of this house we were prevented from moving a second subamendment. For that reason, if we wish to express here our precise point of view with respect to the motion for the address in reply to the speech from the throne, it is necessary for us to wait until the subamendment has been disposed of and then move another subamendment, or wait until the two amendments have been voted upon and then move a straight amendment to the motion.

I rise today for the purpose of moving a subamendment. It is our desire to place before the members of this house the specific point of view we hold with regard to the situation now existing in Canada. It is not for any purpose of delay at all. We are not going to be long in what we have to say in support of what I am going to move.

On other occasions during the past week when we have come to six o'clock or eleven o'clock Your Honour has permitted other speakers to adjourn the debate. Because I feel that what I have to say is most important and therefore should not be cut up, as it would be if I had to go on now, I would ask you to permit me to adjourn the debate.

On motion of Mr. Low the debate was adjourned. [DOT]

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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) moved

the adjournment of the house.

He said: Tomorrow we will continue this debate. If it is concluded we will take up the motion in the name of the Minister of National Health and Welfare for the setting up of a committee on old age security. If that motion is adopted we will take up the resolution in the name of the Minister of Trade and Commerce concerning the introduction of amendments to the Research Council Act.

Motion agreed to and the house adjourned at 5.55 p.m.

Thursday, March 16, 1950

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March 15, 1950