June 12, 1951

VETERANS AFFAIRS

BURNT OUT PENSIONERS


On the orders of the day:


CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

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

Mr. Stanley Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

Mr. Speaker, will the Minister of Veterans Affairs inform the house whether legislative or any other necessary steps will be taken to make sure that burnt-out pensioners over seventy years of age, when they receive the universal old age pension, do not lose the burnt-out pension or the treatment or hospitalization benefits they now enjoy?

Topic:   VETERANS AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   BURNT OUT PENSIONERS
Sub-subtopic:   EFFECT OF APPLICATION OF OLD AGE PENSION
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LIB

Hugues Lapointe (Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Hon. Hugues Lapointe (Minister of Veterans Affairs):

Mr. Speaker, if my hon. friend will permit, I shall take his question as notice and look into the matter. I would rather read his question in Hansard before making a statement.

Topic:   VETERANS AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   BURNT OUT PENSIONERS
Sub-subtopic:   EFFECT OF APPLICATION OF OLD AGE PENSION
Permalink
CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

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

Mr. Knowles:

That is satisfactory.

Topic:   VETERANS AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   BURNT OUT PENSIONERS
Sub-subtopic:   EFFECT OF APPLICATION OF OLD AGE PENSION
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POST OFFICE ACT

MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE, CODIFY AND AMEND EXISTING LEGISLATION

LIB

Édouard-Gabriel Rinfret (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Hon. Edouard Rinfret (Postmaster General) moved

the third reading of Bill No. 322, respecting the Canada post office.

Topic:   POST OFFICE ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE, CODIFY AND AMEND EXISTING LEGISLATION
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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I propose to move, seconded by the member for Peel (Mr. Graydon):

That this bill be not now read a third time, but that it be referred back to the committee of the whole for the purpose of reconsidering section 11 thereof.

I shall make my comments after the motion is read.

Topic:   POST OFFICE ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE, CODIFY AND AMEND EXISTING LEGISLATION
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LIB

Elie Beauregard (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

The hon. member may make his comments now.

Topic:   POST OFFICE ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE, CODIFY AND AMEND EXISTING LEGISLATION
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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

I am presenting this motion in the hope that it will receive the same measure of consideration as was extended to other contentions that were put forward. The amendments introduced yesterday at the instance of the Postmaster General did relieve to some extent the postal charges on newspapers with a circulation of 10,000 or more. As I indicated at that time, it is not

possible to say how satisfactory or otherwise this provision will be until there is an opportunity of examining its effect on newspapers that come within that category. In any event, the government has clearly indicated that this is as far as it is prepared to go. For that reason I am not directing my comments to that, although the purpose of this further consideration does embrace the possibility that these reductions will not be adequate.

I repeat what I said yesterday, that this is not a case of subsidizing newspapers. The provision for special postal rates for newspapers is primarily for the purpose of making newspapers available to those who cannot satisfactorily obtain them by other means. It is possible for persons living in urban communities to have newspapers delivered to their doon, or to buy them on the street corners or in stores. In those areas where there are fast trunk highways, trucking has largely taken the place of postal delivery. Trucks carry newspapers for hundreds of miles, and they are then delivered in precisely the same way in the smaller urban communities as they are in the larger urban communities, that is, from door to door, through stores, or from street corners. The postal service is a facility extended to those who do not happen to live in areas in which these opportunities are ordinarily available, and it should be regarded in that light. The proposed postal rates on the large urban dailies were reduced to some extent by the amendment put forward' yesterday by the Postmaster General and moved by one of the other member; that reduction to some extent relieved the situation. I will not extend my comments on that point but, as I said yesterday, I do not believe the reductions are adequate.

What I am particularly dealing with now is the fact that nothing has been done to relieve the situation in which the smaller newspapers, with a circulation of less than ten thousand, now find themselves. The statement has been made by highly responsible representatives of those smaller newspapers that these rates may put them out of business. That may or may not be an overstatement of the case. In any event, there have been indications of great concern right across the country about the effect of these increased rates on the smaller newspapers, which, it must be remembered, have not

Post Office Act

available to them the advertising resources which are available to the larger newspapers.

I believe that further consideration should be given to section 11 with regard' to the rates on the large urban dailies. I particularly think that further consideration should be given to the rates for postal delivery of those smaller newspapers for which no relief was afforded by the amendment introduced yesterday. It must be remembered that in many of the cases where mail service is the only way in which people can obtain these papers, the only papers immediately available to them are the smaller newspapers. The smaller newspapers form a vitally important part of our whole democratic process. In many cases they say that, under these rates, they will be compelled to stop delivery of their papers. Whether the Postmaster General agrees with that assertion or not, I submit that before this bill becomes law their contention should at least be heard. Such a hearing would not mean an extended delay of the consideration of this bill. It simply would mean that the bill would go back for further consideration of section 11, and that, with the indication already given by the government that they are prepared to give some consideration to this problem, those who represent the newspapers of Canada-both the large urban dailies and the smaller dailies as well as the weeklies-may have an opportunity to present their case before this matter is finally disposed of and these rates become irrevocable.

Topic:   POST OFFICE ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE, CODIFY AND AMEND EXISTING LEGISLATION
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PC

James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. J. M. Macdonnell (Greenwood):

Mr. Speaker, I wish to add a word or two to what was said yesterday with regard to the setting up of a board of review under section 7 of the act. The question was raised, I think, by the hon. member for York South (Mr. Noseworthy), having been presented to the minister by the Toronto board of trade. I wish to refer briefly to the answer which the minister gave, to suggest that I think the situation is not satisfactory, and to express the hope that the minister may reconsider the decision which has been given.

As to the appointment of a special board of review, I need not detain the house by reminding hon. members what an important matter to any business enterprise or to anyone else is the use of the mails, and what a serious thing it can be if the use of them is refused, particularly in such a way as to draw attention to the fact that a business enterprise is under suspicion.

With regard to the appointment of a board, the minister's answer, as reported at page 3921 of Hansard, was as follows:

Any independent board that might be nominated . . . would, I suppose, be a board like the railway board or the air transport board . . .

I must admit that if something of the kind were to be done, it would be like taking a steam hammer to crack a nut, because we do not want to have permanent boards set up to deal with matters which may seldom arise. I do not think that is at all a complete answer. If the minister wishes to give effect to the suggestion which was made, I think that it could easily enough be done.

As to the question of appeal, the minister brushed that aside lightly. He said, as reported at page 3921 of Hansard:

The brief of the board of trade of the city of Toronto also mentions the question of an appeal; but it was not felt that the discretion should be taken away from the Postmaster General. I realize that it is quite a heavy responsibility, but I think it is one that a minister of the crown should be ready to accept.

It may be pleasant for us to know that the ministers of the crown are ready to accept responsibility, but sometimes we may think that they are ready to accept a little bit too much. I wish to point out that in the one case where, I understand-perhaps in some informal way-a board of review was set up, the members of the board were the chief executive officer of the department-that is, of the Post Office Department-the law officer of the department, and the director of administration. Without any disrespect to these gentlemen, and indeed without any disrespect to the minister, I wish to point out that such an appeal is really no appeal at all, and that we are just playing with words if we are asking members of the minister's department to review the action of the minister. It is not fair to the minister; it is not fair to the members of the department; it is not fair to anyone, and it does not make sense. I therefore venture to put this point forward and to suggest that, if no reconsideration can be given at the moment, at any rate the matter be kept before the minister for future consideration.

Topic:   POST OFFICE ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE, CODIFY AND AMEND EXISTING LEGISLATION
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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Donald M. Fleming (Eglinton):

Mr. Speaker, I should like briefly to support as strongly as I can what has just been said by the hon. member for Greenwood (Mr. Macdonnell). I think that his protest has point given to it by what happened last year on several occasions. I am not going to go over the long story of those occasions on which strong complaint was made about denying the

use of the mails to certain persons. The matter was discussed in this house last year.

The appointment of a committee may be some advance on the present state of affairs, but, Mr. Speaker, it is not a sufficient advance. If the committee is simply to be a departmental committee, no matter how conscientious or how capable the officials may be, it is still a departmental committee; and I do not see how the policy of the department could fail to have an influence on the minds of the members of such a committee.

If the minister is adamant in insisting that the committee take the form indicated in the bill, then I submit to him that the very least that ought to be done to mitigate the rigours of a provision of that kind is to provide an appeal to the courts, as has been suggested by the hon. member for Greenwood, and as has been proposed in the extremely intelligent brief submitted to the minister by the Toronto board of trade. After all, what reasonable objection can there be to allowing an appeal to persons who suffer this grave disability of being denied the use of the mails? Remember that this power in the hands of the minister, even under a committee, could be used with damaging effect on anyone's business and reputation. What possible objection can there be in a situation of that kind to allowing an aggrieved individual to go to the courts by way of appeal from the decision of the committee? For the life of me, Mr. Speaker, I cannot see why this objection should be taken by the minister and by the government to allowing any person to go to the courts in appeal against what he contended is an arbitrary and unjustified use of these broad powers conferred by the bill in cases of this kind.

I urge upon the minister that, before it is too late, provision should be made in this bill at least to allow an individual against whom this extremely wide power has been exercised to take his case to the courts by way of appeal.

Topic:   POST OFFICE ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE, CODIFY AND AMEND EXISTING LEGISLATION
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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

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

Mr. Speaker, I see no very useful purpose in referring this bill back to the committee of the whole on third reading for reconsideration of the clause dealing with newspapers generally. Most of us have some sympathy with the position in which the rural and small papers find themselves at this time; but we must not overlook the fact that in reality the newspapers of Canada-and the principal beneficiaries are the large newspapers of Canada-will soon be getting an annual subsidy of something in excess of $10 million.

As I understand it, the deficit last year on this particular business was $12 million. In

Post Office Act

other words, what the country has been doing is subsidizing newspapers, large and small, to the extent of some $12 million a year. Again let me repeat that when a short time ago this house voted $65 million as a compensatory adjustment to the farmers of western Canada for a period of five years, as my hon. friend points out, or $13 million a year, as it were, these newspapers were critical of the compensation granted to the grain growers of Canada. And here we are proposing to subsidize these newspapers to the extent of $10 million a year for a long period of time. We are simply substituting $10 million for $12 million a year. Consequently I think they have no legitimate complaint against what this house is doing at the present time.

Let me point out to hon. members that unfortunately while most of us are anxious to preserve a free press, the press is becoming less free all the time, because even many of the weekly rural newspapers are being bought up by powerful interests in this country. I need only to refer to the Thomson chain in this province which is buying up weekly newspapers and controlling them in the interests of, we will say, private profits rather than the dissemination of news and discussion of views. To my mind one of the great dangers in our democratic countries is the control by a few small groups of individuals of newspapers and news services with a mass circulation in the areas which they serve. That, I say, is a danger to our democratic institutions. If some people want to use the newspapers today as monopolistic news gathering and news disseminating services, then I do not think this parliament should subsidize to the extent we are subsidizing at the present time. Consequently, Mr. Speaker, in view of what the house is doing, namely, granting to them today by this bill a subsidy of something like $10.190,000 a year instead of $12 million which we have been paying for a long time, the house is being very generous indeed, particularly with the large daily newspapers. The bill also contains provisions designed to ease the burden of postage on the local small weeklies across the country. Consequently I think no good purpose can be served by referring this back to the committee for review.

Topic:   POST OFFICE ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE, CODIFY AND AMEND EXISTING LEGISLATION
Permalink
LIB

Elie Beauregard (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Is the house ready for the question? Is it the pleasure of the house to adopt the amendment?

Topic:   POST OFFICE ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE, CODIFY AND AMEND EXISTING LEGISLATION
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?

Some hon. Members:

No.

Topic:   POST OFFICE ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE, CODIFY AND AMEND EXISTING LEGISLATION
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LIB

Elie Beauregard (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Those in favour of the amendment will please say yea.

Topic:   POST OFFICE ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE, CODIFY AND AMEND EXISTING LEGISLATION
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?

Some hon. Members:

Yea.

Post Office Act

Topic:   POST OFFICE ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE, CODIFY AND AMEND EXISTING LEGISLATION
Permalink
LIB

Elie Beauregard (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Those opposed will say nay.

Topic:   POST OFFICE ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO CONSOLIDATE, CODIFY AND AMEND EXISTING LEGISLATION
Permalink

June 12, 1951