September 9, 1950

CANADIAN MARITIME COMMISSION

REQUEST FOR PRINTED COPIES OF ANNUAL REPORT


On the orders of the day:


PC

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Howard C. Green (Vancouver-Quadra):

May I ask the Minister of Transport whether printed copies of the annual report of the Canadian maritime commission are available? Earlier in the week he tabled a typewritten report, but I believe it is of sufficient importance to have a distribution made of printed copies at the earliest possible moment.

Topic:   CANADIAN MARITIME COMMISSION
Subtopic:   REQUEST FOR PRINTED COPIES OF ANNUAL REPORT
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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Hon. Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport):

The printed reports are not available yet. I hope they will be available by next week, when they will be delivered to hon. members.

Topic:   CANADIAN MARITIME COMMISSION
Subtopic:   REQUEST FOR PRINTED COPIES OF ANNUAL REPORT
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ESSENTIAL MATERIALS (DEFENCE) ACT PROVISION FOR CONTROL AND REGULATION OF PRODUCTION, DISTRIBUTION AND USE OF ESSENTIAL MATERIALS AND SERVICES

LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Right Hon. C. D. Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce) moved

the second reading of Bill No. 5, respecting materials and services essential for the purposes of defence and national security.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. J. G. Diefenbaker (Lake Centre):

Mr. Speaker, having regard to the hours this house now sits, it becomes most difficult to consider properly and debate effectively the matters of bewildering complexity now coming before us. A bill is produced at 10.51; parliament meet at 11.00, which of course makes it impossible to discuss the bill in an intelligent way. Yesterday we had an explanation by the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe), but the bill itself, amplifying his views expressed at that time, has been before us for only a very few hours. Having regard to its importance, and indeed to the importance of many of these measures, if parliament is properly to discharge its functions and members of parliament are not to be mere rubber stamps to certify what the cabinet wants done, more time should be given for deliberation and consideration. But, a majority in parliament has spoken, and we must proceed in accordance with the dictates of that majority. In discussing this bill,

Essential Materials (Defence) Act however, in view of the fact that such discussion must be in general terms I feel that some latitude might be given, since these are new and novel sections which in their purport and result will effect tremendous changes in our economy.

I have asked on previous occasions during the last few days what is the over-all plan of the government. Is it to be manpower? Is it to be industrial production? Is it to be the expansion and development of our resources? Or is it to be all three? What are our responsibilities under the Atlantic pact and under the United Nations charter? Invariably the answer given in parliament has been that as yet there is no decision oi determination concerning those matters. But, Mr. Speaker, from time to time statements emanate from Ottawa, from so-called unofficial but authoritative sources, unnamed or incognito; and these sources invariably indicate the attitude of the government by way of anticipation. About August 19 an unofficial but authoritative report from Ottawa suggested that Canada's role in building up North Atlantic defences may be to concentrate on the production of equipment for the European members of the pact. In its issue of that date the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix says we may be pretty sure-

-that the report is true. For it fits into the mosaic of official statements and conferences of the past few weeks, including the meetings of the council of North Atlantic deputies in London and the joint industrial mobilization committee in Ottawa.

Then the editorial had this to say:

Against the striking force which Russia has available, western Europe has twelve divisions at most, and less than 6,000 aircraft.

Again quoting from the London Economist:

Apart from the American lead in the manufacture of atomic bombs, a weapon whose effect upon the strategic course of a war with Russia is quite unknown, the west is as inferior in front line strength in relation to Russia as it was in 1939 in relation to Germany.

The same editorial goes on to indicate that in the mobilization of this country for total defence and the discharge of our responsibilities under various pacts, what will be accentuated will be the priorities necessary to assure the production of the instruments of defence and of war. At this time I feel that Canadians as a whole-and though this has been said before I believe it bears repetition- in the interests of survival are prepared to sacrifice greatly in material ways; but they are asking that in this mobilization, of which this measure is a part, there be the strictest economy in the matter of government spending on public buildings and so on. Indeed, one of the finest discussions on the subject of what should be done was by Bernard M.

510 HOUSE OF

Essential Materials (Defence) Act Baruch in a speech delivered before the senate banking and currency committee at Washington last July. He first pointed out our danger, and said:

All of us-in this country and abroad-would have had to live at the point of a gun.

That is, had the United Nations not acted.

America has taken its stand against aggression and international blackmail. Whatever the cost, I feel sure the American people will see it through- provided they are told what is expected of them and why.

Then he went on to point out some of the things that must be done, and said:

No more effective move to achieve economy in government can be taken than to stop inflation- now. At a time like this, all postponable government expenditures should be eliminated. Each day that prices rise the real value of every dollar appropriated by congress shrinks. More billions will have to be voted to buy the same things, the national debt will mount needlessly.

Inflation is the Pied Piper that draws to their destruction the people supporting it or permitting it. Mr. Baruch concludes by making his suggestions, which are so applicable here in part-the organizing of all-out mobilization; the elimination of profiteering. How necessary that is today! I repeat what I have said on previous occasions, that the Combines Investigation Act should be used against those who, at a time like this or at any other time, would take advantage of the people of this country to the detriment of the nation as a whole.

Mr. Baruch then refers to the postponing of less essential expenses. A reading of the public accounts would show-and I could deal with this matter at length-that unnecessary expenditures in connection with travelling and other allowances must be eliminated. The promise to do those things next year does not meet the demand of the day.

Finally, he says that we should strengthen the United Nations by co-ordinating our efforts with it in common defence of peace. There should be speedier assistance in the rearming of those nations which are ready to resist aggression.

In general that represents the situation with which we are faced today. I know, sir, that in the interests of what is called efficient government-I would put that word "efficient" in italics-parliament is often bypassed. During the last ten days I believe parliament has shown that it is effective, that it is efficient, that it is willing to act if given the opportunity to act and the leadership requiring action. As I read this bill, my mind goes back to the transitional powers acts beginning in 1945 and continuing until 1949. Tremendous powers, under order in council, were placed in the hands of the government.

No one says that they are dictators at heart, but the power to dictate, when it is an unlimited power uncontrolled by a vigilant parliament, is an invitation to ask for greater powers.

Only a few months ago the Minister of Trade and Commerce asked for powers to enable him to control in large measure the production and requirements for defence purposes. Now we come to a further bill, and in its request for unlimited powers it goes further than any other legislation that has ever been brought before this house. It starts off with a noble manifesto as a preamble, but without the usual declaration of an emergency which is necessary if the courts are to declare the right of parliament to invade provincial rights. But you see, Mr. Speaker, the government could not declare an emergency in this preamble. So far all its legislation has been predicated on the assumption that there is not an emergency now. It is only after we wait for ten months or longer that the situation may worsen so as to amount to an emergency. The leisurely way in which the government intended to call parliament together, until the strike took place, indicates that it did not regard the situation as emergent.

We come now to the powers. If you will allow me, Mr. Speaker, I shall refer in general to the sections with a view to founding the argument I intend to place before the house.

According to the bill, "defence purposes" means the purposes of ensuring the availability and use of essential materials and services to meet the requirements of the defence forces of Canada and to ensure national security. "Essential materials" means such materials and substances as are designated from time to time by the governor in council under section 3 as being essential for defence purposes. Section 3 says:

The governor in council may from time to time

(a) designate as essential materials such materials or substances as in his opinion are essential for defence purposes:

(b) designate as essential services the carrying on of such commercial activities, ... as in his opinion are essential for the adequate production, storage or distribution of essential materials . . .

The power contained in that section is an absolute power-the power to control production, storage and distribution of any commodity that the government in its wisdom decides to bring within the ambit of this bill. In our opinion, sir, that is- too wide a power. It conveys as well the meaning that the agricultural production, of this country, such as wheat for instance, may be declared an essential material for defence purposes. Once that has been done, the minister has

uncontrolled power to require any person who produces, processes, deals in or has in his possession or control any essential materials, to sell or dispose of them at whatever price the minister may declare. Now, that places in the hands of.a minister of the crown power and control which, unless they are surrounded by clauses that will define them, are too great.

We are prepared, and the nation is prepared, to grant powers to the government to act. But surely that power should be defined in far from the general terms that are set out in section 4 of the bill. The general terms require a person who supplies any materials, produces or processes it, to do what he is directed to do by the minister who prescribes the circumstances and terms. Finally, as though those powers were not sufficient, the minister is empowered to do such further things in regard to production, supply, and distribution of essential materials or essential services as may be authorized by order or regulation of the governor in council.

This indeed constitutes a complete control by the government of all the natural resources of the nation, with one minister of the crown having the absolute power to determine when, where, at what price, and under what circumstances the materials which have been designated as defence materials shall be disposed of. That is a tremendous power, and we believe it should be restricted; it should not be unlimited. Some will say to me: In days of stress and difficulty, must we not be prepared to give up parliamentary rights? In reply I say: Yes, in the nature of things parliament and the people as a whole must place many of these democratic powers in the hands of the executive, as a pawn, as it were, for security. But, as has been said in the British House of Commons, parliament must see to it that absolute power shall not be placed in the hands of any one person.

Through the years the power of the cabinet has grown, and this has been particularly so since 1914. We have had two wars in a generation. The cabinet today is more powerful than it was during the days of Walpole. Many of the prerogatives and privileges of parliament have been abdicated, either intentionally or unconsciously, through the years, until today parliament too often is in the position described by Professor Dawson, in his work "Democratic Government in Canada", in these words:

The House of Commons would thus seem to have degenerated into little more than a ratifying body for cabinet proposals, a representative chamber which the cabinet uses as a convenient screen to hide its exercise of supreme political authority. The

Essential Materials (Defence) Act

cabinet has apparently ceased to be responsible to the Commons; the Commons has to all intents and purposes become responsible to the cabinet.

While this is an oversimplification and an exaggeration of the actual condition, it contains a substantial amount of truth.

These are not my words; they are the words of an outstanding professor of political economy.

I mention another outstanding professor who on more than one occasion in this house has been quoted as an authority. I refer to Professor Lower, of Queen's university. Indeed, on one occasion the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) quoted from him to answer an argument that I advanced. In a memorandum submitted to the special committee on human rights and fundamental freedoms on June 6, Professor Lower said this:

The all-powerful modern executive: I have suggested above that we have arrived at a point where the executive has become exceedingly powerful and in some respects irresponsible. Many people might wish to challenge this point of view, but there is no space here to debate it at length. However, my view is that under modem parliamentary conditions, the executive, that is to say the cabinet, represents such an extreme concentration of power that it is able for most of the time to impose its will not only upon the individual member, but on parliament as a whole. Moreover the executive is so removed from the average voter that the idea of responsible government becomes considerably watered down. It has been said, and, I think, well said, that what we have under our system of government in Canada is the election every five years of something resembling a dictatorship.

Fortunately for us in Canada, the dictators whom we elect do not have many qualities that normally come with dictators; therein lies our liberty.

Then he says this:

The man in office invariably wants more power; he always wants a sharp sword to cut through the difficulties of the moment, and it is only human nature that he should do so. It is often difficult to advance good reasons against some measure which will result in an increase of efficiency. But those who are accustomed to view such measures in social and historical terms know very well that efficiency can easily be the death of liberty.

By granting the powers asked for in this bill, parliament will be abdicating to the minister and to the government complete power over production and distribution of everything produced in this country that is necessary for defence. Such powers should be examined.

Such powers should be carefully delineated; for over the years we have seen the use of power in our country in such a way as to be detrimental, on occasion, to the rights of the individual and to this country.

Realizing that we have a responsibility to make sure that those in authority may act in an emergency, we feel that instead of provision being made for power which is wide, uncontrolled and untrammelled, there should be reasonable restrictions to its use, or at least

Essential Materials (Defence) Act to its abuse. The only control that we shall have will be that every order or regulation made by the governor in council under sections 3, 4 or 10-

-shall be published forthwith in the Canada Gazette and shall be laid before parliament within ten days after publication thereof, if parliament is then in session, or, if parliament is not then in session, within ten days after the commencement of the next ensuing session thereof.

There should be some provision under which an opportunity would be provided in the House of Commons for a motion, to be considered at any time after parliament opens, for reconsideration of any powers used under this act. In other words, as the matter stands today, all that we have will be knowledge. What we shall not have in the House of Commons is the power to say that the rights we have thus granted have in fact been abused.

The minister was not even satisfied with having such widespread powers. He went even further in this bill. Regulations of course are made by departmental officials and, in general, are approved by order in council. But in order to get around the necessity of regulations being made, there is here a provision that again extends to the minister too great powers. Section 4, subsection 2, reads as follows:

Subject to the regulations, if any, the minister may by order, as he deems necessary for the purposes of this act, . . .

In other words, if there are regulations, he will be controlled by them, but if there are no regulations, he can simply act by his own order, regardless of any other consideration than his whim and his authority.

All of us want to make sure that there shall be a maximum of power to act in an emergency. All of us on this side of the house have contended that there is in fact an emergency. But what we ask is that in this abdication by parliament of its powers and its control, the authority of the minister and of the governor in council shall be circumscribed to the extent that parliament shall know the commodities as to which it is intended to use this power. After the experience of the last few years I do not think that the farmers of the prairie provinces will want to see any parliament place in the hands of the government the power to sell their wheat at whatever price may be determined by the minister. We are empowering the minister to designate any commodity-and it could be wheat-to determine its price, to determine how it shall be produced, and where, and in what amount. Wheat and other foodstuffs are necessities of

war and of defence and could be brought under this act.

We feel that we have the right to ask what commodities the minister has in mind, instead of giving him blanket power to control all the industrial and agricultural production of our country-and he will do it without the right of parliament to do anything about it; all that parliament will be able to do is to learn the effects of that action after the implementation of the powers has been carried out. It may learn what has been done, but there is no provision, as there is in the British legislation, giving hon. members the right to move a motion for the purpose of withdrawing or diminishing the exercise of the minister's power in respect of any commodity. For these reasons, without going into further detail, and in order to show our realization of the need of powers but not uncontrolled powers, I move, seconded by the leader of the opposition (Mr. Drew):

That Bill No. 5 be not now read a second time but that it be resolved that while this house is ready and anxious to adopt all appropriate measures which will prevent economic hardship and disorder on a national scale and provide for the necessary regulation of the production, distribution and use of materials and services for defence purposes, it regrets the circumstances connected with the introduction and prosecution of this measure, namely, that the government has failed to name and declare the national emergency upon which it seeks to base authority for this bill and has not specified the materials and services which are to be subject to the provisions of the bill.

By the authority given in this bill there is an invasion of the authority vested in the provinces under our constitution. Full consideration should have been given by the dominion-provincial conference to the question of the granting of some of these powers, with a view to arriving at that unity and co-operation which will assure that our defence shall indeed be the best available. We have a bill, without any declaration of an emergency, constituting in large measure the control of property and civil rights which come under the jurisdiction of the provinces, and at the same time failing to designate or circumscribe, or at least to delineate, the extent of the power being granted.

In the opinion of the official opposition, necessary as measures are, inflation proceeds apace; the cost of living mounts every day; the flames of inflation are being extended by borrowing and by unnecessary government expenditures. While these things are happening, what the government proposes to do is simply this. It will provide some few controls on credit, and finally under this legislation place in the hands of the minister arbitrary, uncontrolled and unusual powers to do whatever he deems to be necessary.

It empowers him to direct the price of farm products, to provide for their disposal and to provide for the control of industrial production. With all these powers, no provision is made for the necessary manpower to put into actual execution the high-sounding declaration of the preamble.

I therefore move the motion that I have placed before you, Mr. Speaker, hoping that the government, while seeking emergency powers at this time, will not ask parliament to give up all its authority in favour of the cabinet, and more particularly in favour of a minister, but that parliament will assure that while it is prepared to waive many of its traditions and rights in the interests of our survival, as we see it, parliament must remain the custodian of the people's rights. If can only remain so if in the legislation it passes it provides for controls over those who would control, to the end that the supremacy of parliament may be maintained.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Hon. Stuart S. Garson (Minister of Justice):

In rising to take part in this debate, which I had not intended to do until we had the great privilege of listening to the speech which has just been concluded by the hon. member for Lake Centre (Mr. Diefenbaker), I desire first of all to congratulate him upon the imposing edifice of argument he has erected before our eyes this afternoon. If I may be permitted to say so, I have never heard the hon. member in better form. The architectural beauty of the edifice is great; it is a very imposing one. The only fault that can be found with it is that in his preoccupation with the edifice itself he has not taken sufficient pains to construct a firm foundation for it, because he based his argument upon certain statements of fact and certain points of law, every one of which, if I may say so, is completely inaccurate.

To begin with, the hon. member said that the request for unlimited powers which is contained m this legislation goes further than anything in any act ever before passed by this house. In my remarks today I want to confine myself entirely to the legal aspect of this matter; I shall not deal with any of the substantial reasons for the passage of this bill, which were so convincingly delineated by my colleague, the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe). But, in so far as this legal question is concerned, I think it may be agreed that this government, acting under powers sought and obtained by the government of Sir Robert Borden in 1915, and under the War Measures Act-under powers immensely wider than those contained in the present measure-has conducted the affairs of this country in a way which has proven fairly acceptable to the people of Canada, and in 69262-33

Essential Materials (Defence) Act a way which has not destroyed the power of parliament. And although we have listened, as we all have had to listen from time to time, to the interminable arguments about the alleged abuse of powers under the War Measures Act, arguments advanced by hon. members of the opposition, and by none more volubly then by the hon. member himself, we seem not to have abridged in any way the powers of parliament.

My hon. friend suggests that parliament, by reason of the passage of this measure, would not have the power to question the orders passed by the government under it. Surely that is one of the weakest foundations of his argument. He must know that at a subsequent meeting of parliament, if there are any orders which this government have passed pursuant to these or the much broader powers under the War Measures Act, parliament can, by introducing an amendment to the address in reply to the speech from the throne, put out of office the government that has abused the powers delegated. My hon. friend must know that; it is the A B C of our constitutional practice-and, as my colleague the Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. Martin) now reminds me, the same opportunity is available on the budget debate, and it is available on other occasions as well.

For the hon. member to get up and make the proposition, which I should have thought any grade ten schoolboy would have known better than to make, that parliament, having delegated powers, could not supervise by its control over the executive the exercise of those powers, seems to me to be a weak and unreasonable foundation upon which to build the imposing set of accusations he has brought against the government this afternoon.

My hon. friend says that these are very great powers, far more than have ever been granted by parliament on any previous occasion. During two world wars the government of those days-by orders in council wholly, and not by a statute directed specifically toward a certain subject matter or a certain problem as we have here today- created a great body of law which imposed control of every sort and description over-the whole of our economy.

They did it under a statute passed by parliament in 1914, at the instance of the Conservative government of Sir Robert Borden, and couched in language in which I think no statute could be wider in its terms.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

You are speaking of the War Measures Act?

Essential Materials (Dejence) Act

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

Yes. And this is what the relevant section of the War Measures Act says:

The governor in council-

I would ask my hon. friend to listen to these words, which apparently he overlooked entirely, in view of the argument he made-

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

No, no.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

It says:

The governor in council may do and authorize such acts and things, and make from time to time such orders and regulations as-

As to what? -essential materials? Currency and credits? No. Much more than these subject matters.

-as he may by reason of the existence of real or apprehended war, invasion or insurrection, deem necessary or advisable for the security, defence, peace, order and welfare of Canada.

Under the War Measures Act the governor in council may order as he pleases, as he deems necessary. But my hon. friend has made his argument in relation to a bill in which we provide-I shall read this relevant section as one of the sections he did not read, -the section which states the purpose of the present bill:

4. (1) The governor in council may do and authorize such acts and things and make from time to time such orders and regulations as he deems necessary-

Period? No.

-for the purposes of this act to control and regulate the production, processing, distribution, acquisition, disposition or use of essential materials or the supply or use of essential services.

In other words, the powers taken by the government under this measure, or proposed to be taken by the government, are not completely unlimited, as they were under the War Measures Act. On the contrary they are confined solely to essential materials.

If I understood him correctly, my hon. friend would have us believe that because "essential materials" is defined to mean-

-such materials and substances as are designated from time to time by the governor in council under section 3 as being essential for defence purposes-

-the government can arbitrarily and irresponsibly designate any kind of material as essential material. Now, my hon. friend must know, if he has any appreciation of responsible government under the British system-

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

That is what we are trying to preserve-responsible government.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

-that the governor in council, under powers of this sort, has to carry on these powers with some sense of responsibility. If my hon. friend has any doubt

IMr. Diefenbaker.]

whether this government carried out those duties with a sense of responsibility, then he has only to go back to the long record over the years in which, with infinitely wider powers, we showed such a sense of responsibility that the people of Canada a year ago last June gave some indication that they did not regard our actions as those of a government seeking to demolish the rights of parliament.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

What a pitiful performance!

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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. Abbott:

I have seen some worse recently.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

You are quite right; we heard you.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

Well, I don't think we should complain about my hon. friend the leader of the opposition. After all, we are very grateful to him as one of the biggest assets the Liberal party has in this country.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Politics all the time!

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September 9, 1950