January 31, 1951

DUPLESSIS BRIDGE

INTERRUPTION OF COMMUNICATIONS BY COLLAPSE OF BRIDGE AT THREE RIVERS

PC

Léon Balcer

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Leon Balcer (Three Rivers):

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege to direct the attention of the house to a tragedy which occurred this morning at Three Rivers through the collapse of the highway bridge. Communications have been disrupted, and I should like to know if it is possible for the Department of National Defence to provide for the temporary use of a Bailey bridge to serve the area.

Topic:   DUPLESSIS BRIDGE
Subtopic:   INTERRUPTION OF COMMUNICATIONS BY COLLAPSE OF BRIDGE AT THREE RIVERS
Permalink
LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Hon. Brooke Claxion (Minister of National Defence):

Mr. Speaker, I heard only a few minutes ago of this most regrettable tragedy. There has been no inquiry from the government of the province as to what aid we could render. My recollection of this bridge is that the river is too deep and too wide to permit the use of a Bailey bridge. However, I shall be glad to look into the matter and see what can be done.

Topic:   DUPLESSIS BRIDGE
Subtopic:   INTERRUPTION OF COMMUNICATIONS BY COLLAPSE OF BRIDGE AT THREE RIVERS
Permalink

BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT

AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION

?

Right Hon. L. S.@

Mr. Speaker, I should like to lay on the table copies of correspondence exchanged between the Minister of Justice (Mr. Garson) on my behalf and the premiers of the several provinces with respect to suggestions for constitutional amendments.

(For text of correspondence, see pages 43 to 47.)

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION
Sub-subtopic:   CORRE- SPONDENCE WITH PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENTS
Permalink

REPORTS AND PAPERS

LIB

James Joseph McCann (Minister of National Revenue)

Liberal

Hon. J. J. McCann (Minister of National Revenue):

Mr. Speaker, I wish to table the report of the Department of National Revenue for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1950; also the report of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1950.

So far as export petroleum and pulpwood regulations are concerned, none having been promulgated since the last return was made, no report will be made regarding this item.

Topic:   REPORTS AND PAPERS
Permalink

EXTERNAL AFFAIRS

LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I should like to lay on the table copies, in English and in French, of a report entitled "Documents on the Korean Crisis." This report will supplement the material contained in the report "Canada and the Korean Crisis," which I tabled on September 1, 1950.

Topic:   REPORTS AND PAPERS
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   SUPPLEMENT TO REPORT OF DEPARTMENT ON "CANADA AND THE KOREAN CRISIS"
Permalink

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

EXTERNAL AFFAIRS, DEFENCE, COST OF LIVING AND INFLATION ARRANGEMENTS FOR DEBATE


On the orders of the day:


PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. George A. Drew (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to

direct a question to the Prime Minister. I wrote a letter to him which I know he has not had very much time to consider; I was informed that he was out of the office at the time of its arrival. In that letter I suggested that in view of the present situation the desirability should be considered of setting aside days for debates on the three major items that will obviously be before this house, and that the report on external affairs should be made immediately, with an opportunity to debate that as one subject, followed by national defence, and, after that, the cost of living and inflation.

Is the Prime Minister in a position to say whether he will comply with this suggestion? I believe it would provide the most orderly way of proceeding with the discussion, which may be unrelated to reality if we have no facts upon which to base our comments.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS, DEFENCE, COST OF LIVING AND INFLATION ARRANGEMENTS FOR DEBATE
Permalink
LIB

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

Liberal

Right Hon. L. S. St. Laurent (Prime Minister):

I received just as I was coming

into the house, because up to that time I was engaged elsewhere, the letter referred to by the leader of the opposition, and 1 have just had time to look at it. I must confess that I was taken by surprise, because I had gathered from what took place yesterday that we would be following the traditional procedure; that after the mover and the seconder of the address had spoken today the leader of the opposition might wish to ask for an adjournment in order that he might speak to the address on Thursday

Business of the House

Traditionally the procedure would have been for me to reply and then for the other leaders to speak. We had intended to ask the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Pearson) to take part in the debate immediately after that, and make a statement about the present international situation as he views it. We had also expected that at an early time the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Claxton) might make a statement enlarging on what is set forth in the speech from the throne about defence preparations, and that there would also be an opportunity at an early day for a member of the government to make a statement about economic controls that may have to be contemplated. There would be an opportunity for those three subjects to be discussed in appropriate sequence in the debate on the address.

To my knowledge we have not followed the practice of the parliament at Westminster of setting aside a day for debating any particular subject. Without the introduction of a special motion or resolution, I should be at some loss to find an appropriate standing order under which these subjects might become debatable matters. On the other hand, in the debate on the speech from the throne all three can be fully considered, because they are all referred to therein. My understanding is that the adoption of the address at the parliament of Westminster is regarded almost as a formality and takes place practically without debate.

If it were the desire of the house to adopt the address at once, we could immediately move to set up the committee of supply. I would not want to give a formal opinion, but I would imagine that there might be an opportunity then for debating these three subjects in proper sequence. But I must confess that I have not had any opportunity of considering this matter with my colleagues. I trusted, and still trust, that it might be convenient to follow the traditional order. If the various leaders made their speeches on the address tomorrow I would undertake that the Secretary of State for External Affairs would follow on Friday with as complete a statement of the situation, as he views it, as it is within his province to make, and that very soon after that the Minister of National Defence would be prepared to enlarge upon the statements about defence preparations contained in the speech from the throne.

Of course it might make for dispatch if we adopted the speech from the throne right away and found another appropriate method to deal with the other matters, but I would not like to ask hon. members to forgo *heir right to discuss matters of public concern which they think it is necessary to

tMr. St. Laurent.]

bring before parliament in its opening days, unless that seemed to be almost the unanimous feeling of the house. If we followed the procedure suggested yesterday I would hope that we would get before the house, beginning on Friday with external affairs and perhaps following on Monday with national defence, full statements from the ministers concerned with respect to the policies of the government announced in such general terms in the speech from the throne.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS, DEFENCE, COST OF LIVING AND INFLATION ARRANGEMENTS FOR DEBATE
Permalink
PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Since the Prime Minister has indicated that he has received such short notice of this matter, and since admittedly this procedure has not been adopted before, for the purpose of seeking further consideration I should like to make a point with respect to what he has said. If we adopted the procedure followed at Westminster of naming a day for discussion of these major subjects, consideration of the speech from the throne could then proceed with all members possessed of the information essential to effective debate. If the usual course is followed it is obvious that those members who have already spoken will not then be able to take part in any such debate as might be arranged to deal with a particular subject. In the government and in the other parties there are certain members who deal particularly with certain subjects and they might lose the opportunity to deal with those particular subjects.

This matter can stand, but I would again urge consideration of the subject by the Prime Minister. As he has already pointed out, the speech from the throne is in very general terms, and I suggest that the very general terms in which we received the information make it extremely difficult at this time to discuss three of the most vital subjects which this house will be called upon to deal with, or in fact that it has ever been called upon to deal with. I am not suggesting this as a practice always to be followed in the future. I am not suggesting it as a practice that would in any way limit the opportunity of any member to deal with those subjects that arise in the debate on the speech from the throne. I am suggesting, however, that we are in a most unusual and critical period and that it would be extremely helpful, from the point of view of orderly debate and the attainment of that approximation to unanimity with regard to those matters on which we can agree, which will certainly be forthcoming, to have the essential information on these vital subjects before we proceed with the general debate.

I leave that suggestion with the Prime Minister. If it commends itself to him and his colleagues we can follow another course tomorrow. In view of the fact that the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Pearson) is here, I should think that the house

would undoubtedly accept a motion to proceed with a subject of that kind if it were presented by the government.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS, DEFENCE, COST OF LIVING AND INFLATION ARRANGEMENTS FOR DEBATE
Permalink
CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. M. J. Coldwell (Roseiown-Biggar):

Mr. Speaker, I think considerable confusion has been caused in the past by intervention of other business in the course of the debate on the address in reply to the speech from the throne. I do not think it has facilitated the business of the house at all. Last year, I remember, there was considerable criticism on this side of the house-I think from all parties-because of the manner in which the traditional procedure was changed. I have great sympathy with what the leader of the opposition (Mr. Drew) has said regarding these problems. Nevertheless I believe that the debate on the address in reply to the speech from the throne is the first, and indeed the main, opportunity for private members to express to the government what they, and through them their constituents, are thinking about the problems that have arisen.

While we should make every effort to shorten the debate as much as we possibly can-and it is a very difficult thing to do- nevertheless by continuing the debate we would facilitate the business of the house, the government would understand the views of private members and of the people of the country, and in the end we would be further ahead if we disposed of the address first and then took up these vital problems in the order that has been mentioned.

There is one other method that could be adopted by members of the opposition or members on the government side of the house if they so desired, if they felt these matters were of sufficient interest to justify a statement from the minister concerned. Amendments could be moved from time to time. It has been my experience in the past that when we have interrupted the debate on the address to do something else we have not facilitated the business of the house-indeed I think we have rather delayed it.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS, DEFENCE, COST OF LIVING AND INFLATION ARRANGEMENTS FOR DEBATE
Permalink

On the orders of the day:


January 31, 1951