December 15, 1951

NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY

PRIVILEGE, MR. DREW-CANADA'S CONTRIBUTION TO EUROPEAN DEFENCE REFERENCE TO PRESS REPORT

PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, on a question of privilege I would recall the fact that, on two previous occasions, I have directed questions to the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) in regard to any obligations that may have been established under NATO, and on a still earlier occasion I called the attention of the house to press reports from Europe in which the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Claxton) had made certain statements as to plans that had been settled in regard to construction that was to take place in Europe. I pointed out at that time that this raised the question of long-term policy which had not been placed before, let alone been settled by, the house in any way. In response to the questions I have asked, the house was informed by the Prime Minister as recently as the day before yesterday that these undertakings have not been settled.

This morning, over the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation news reports and also in today's press I have heard and seen the reports of the building that is to take place to house the 27th brigade in Germany. The report to which I refer is not put forward as a speculative report in any way but is a positive statement that the camps that will be built for the Canadians in the Soest area in Germany are expected to surpass even the excellent barracks the 27th brigade now has in the Hanover area, 100 miles to the northeast.

In the radio broadcast I heard the expression that our men would be living "the life of Riley" as they would be the finest barracks that had been built. Then the report went on to say as follows, and I am now quoting from the Canadian Press dispatch which reports this as information coming from Soest in Germany:

The new camps are expected to scatter the brigade over a fairly large area just as its units are now scattered over a fifty-mile area around Hanover. For reasons of economy the scattering may be modified but tentative plans are for seven

self-contained camps made up of hundreds of one-storey buildings of concrete, cement and stucco which will be built by Germans under Canadian direction.

It will be recalled that at the time the earlier press reports referred to this subject it was stated that buildings of this kind were going to be built by Germans at a cost of several million dollars, although the exact number of millions was not determined. I pointed out at that time that this could not be regarded simply as a statement affecting the construction of accommodation for the 27th brigade alone, but that it did establish a policy which would of necessity be related to possible commitments on a much more extended scale, and that a matter of this kind is something certainly which should be placed before the members of this house, particularly when they are in session. In any event, there is another question that arises, and that is, how buildings of this kind are to be determined. The statement appearing today in the press, and being given wide coverage by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, makes positive and very definite statements as to the way this is to be done, and particularly that it is to be done by German workmen under Canadian direction, and in relation to plans that have been settled on, on a very extensive scale.

I raise this question of privilege, Mr. Speaker, because I do believe that if this has been settled, particularly after the information we received before that there perhaps was some misunderstanding of the statement made by the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Claxton), we should know two things: First of all, is this part of some arrangement under NATO, and, if so, what arrangements have been made with NATO? Second, what exactly are the arrangements under which Canada is going to employ German workmen to erect these buildings, and is this just some indication of a broader policy which may relate to any other forces being sent overseas?

Topic:   NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY
Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE, MR. DREW-CANADA'S CONTRIBUTION TO EUROPEAN DEFENCE REFERENCE TO PRESS REPORT
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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, before the Prime Minister replies I wonder if I might say just a word. I hope that the leader of the opposition will not take offence at this. Likewise, I hope that the Minister of Fisheries (Mr. Mayhew) will not take offence if I indicate that this is similar to the situation that we had yesterday. I hope that when we come back here for the next session we will have the matter clarified as to the rights of the leader of the opposition

North Atlantic Treaty

and ministers to make statements, called privilege or what have you, as compared with the rights that apply to ordinary members. It seems to me that far too often questions are asked on privilege-

Topic:   NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY
Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE, MR. DREW-CANADA'S CONTRIBUTION TO EUROPEAN DEFENCE REFERENCE TO PRESS REPORT
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY
Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE, MR. DREW-CANADA'S CONTRIBUTION TO EUROPEAN DEFENCE REFERENCE TO PRESS REPORT
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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

Government members are applauding. But I may tell them that mistakes are made on the government side, too. Far too often ministers on the government side bring up matters that should be dealt with on the orders of the day, but raise them on questions of privilege. Far too often statements which ministens make on the orders of *the day or on motions should be made in debate. As Your Honour knows, this is a matter that was the subject of some discussion in Your Honour's committee on procedure.

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Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE, MR. DREW-CANADA'S CONTRIBUTION TO EUROPEAN DEFENCE REFERENCE TO PRESS REPORT
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PC

Gordon Graydon

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Graydon:

It does not appear in the report.

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Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE, MR. DREW-CANADA'S CONTRIBUTION TO EUROPEAN DEFENCE REFERENCE TO PRESS REPORT
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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

But it was discussed in committee, and the hon. member for Peel knows it. I am surprised that the hon. member for Peel, who objected to the Minister of Fisheries making a provocative statement on motions yesterday, did not object to his own leader making his statement at this time today. I say, quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, I am not casting a reflection solely on the leader of the opposition. This is something that is done from the front benches on both sides of the house. It would be unfair not to permit the government a reply this morning, and I do not object to a reply being made, but I do hope that at the next session Your Honour will watch this matter in the way in which the house would like to have it watched.

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Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE, MR. DREW-CANADA'S CONTRIBUTION TO EUROPEAN DEFENCE REFERENCE TO PRESS REPORT
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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Since the hon. member who has just spoken has-well, I really think, substituted himself for Your Honour on this occasion-

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PC

Gordon Graydon

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Graydon:

Again.

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Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE, MR. DREW-CANADA'S CONTRIBUTION TO EUROPEAN DEFENCE REFERENCE TO PRESS REPORT
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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

-I do feel that I should make some comment in relation to the suggestion he has made that there is some impropriety in the proceeding that has been adopted. I would point out that the procedure I have adopted is in no way incorrect, and it is not similar to the procedure which was discussed yesterday. The procedure which was discussed yesterday was one relating to a particular statement within the house. I am referring to the privileges of the members of this house. I am referring to a fundamental privilege, and that is whether statements of policy and announcements of decisions by the government should be made in the first place before parliament knows anything about them, and in the second place are to be made without informing parliament when parliament is sitting.

As to the question of privilege, I submit, Mr. Speaker, this is the proper place, and I am seeking no special concessions as leader of the opposition. I am simply raising a question in regard to the rights of the members of this house, and may I say to those who applauded the suggestion that such questions should not be raised, that I would hope hon. members here would seek wider opportunities for parliament to exercise its authority rather than seeking to diminish it, as some of them would appear to wish.

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Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE, MR. DREW-CANADA'S CONTRIBUTION TO EUROPEAN DEFENCE REFERENCE TO PRESS REPORT
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LIB

Elie Beauregard (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Probably it is just as well that the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre has brought this matter to my attention. However, hon. members will recall that during the present session no opportunity has been given to hon. members to raise grievances. We have not gone into committee of supply or committee of ways and means, and for that reason I have allowed considerable latitude both when motions are called and also on the orders of the day. I am sure it would please very few members if I endeavoured to carry out the rules of the house strictly when hon. members have not an opportunity to raise grievances.

The hon. member referred to an incident which took place yesterday. At that time, when the Minister of Fisheries was making a statement, the hon. member for Peel rose and objected to the statement being made. I think he was quite within his rights in so rising. I, in my very limited wisdom, thought that the statement was almost completed, and it might be just as well if it was completed, but I did point out afterwards that I was giving an opportunity to the hon. member for St. John's West (Mr. Browne) to make a reply.

I agree very largely with what the hon. member for Peel said, and I stated yesterday that statements from government benches should not be provocative or argumentative; they should be factual statements only. However, we are getting near the end of the session. I do not intend to be any more strict throughout the remaining days of this session than I have been, but I hope that next session we shall be able to carry on the proceedings of the house more in accordance with the rules, but in a manner which will enable me to interpret the rules so that every hon. member will have an opportunity to express his views.

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Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE, MR. DREW-CANADA'S CONTRIBUTION TO EUROPEAN DEFENCE REFERENCE TO PRESS REPORT
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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. Pouliot:

Mr. Speaker, if I may be permitted, I was not surprised, but I had some regret, when I heard you mention your limited wisdom. In fact your wisdom is equal to your humility.

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LIB

Elie Beauregard (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Thank you indeed. Perhaps we can now have an answer to the question which was raised by the leader of the opposition.

Topic:   NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY
Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE, MR. DREW-CANADA'S CONTRIBUTION TO EUROPEAN DEFENCE REFERENCE TO PRESS REPORT
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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 have listened to what the leader of the opposition has said. I did not listen to the radio this morning and I did not see the dispatch to which he has referred; but I can assure him and the house that though we all knew when the brigade was going to Europe that it would have to be housed, the question as to how that was going to be done has not been discussed by the government so far, and there is no justification whatsoever for this report to which the leader of the opposition has referred.

Whenever the government does come to a conclusion with respect to this matter it will be announced here, and the house will be asked in the usual way to make provision for carrying out the recommendation the government may have to make. No policy has been decided upon by the government in that respect, and this matter as to whether and where and how new barracks may have to be built has not yet been determined. The barracks that are at present occupied are barracks which had been allotted to the United Kingdom forces, and that have been placed provisionally at the disposal of the Canadian brigade.

Now, what will ultimately be done about it has not yet been determined, and there is nothing so far that the government could announce in that respect. I am sorry it frequently happens there are assertions made over the radio and in the press that are not founded upon information properly obtained. I do not know where they get this. It may be summarizing rumours which are being talked about in public. But this matter has not come before the government. There has been no decision made about it; and when there is, it will be communicated to parliament as it should be.

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Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE, MR. DREW-CANADA'S CONTRIBUTION TO EUROPEAN DEFENCE REFERENCE TO PRESS REPORT
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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

I welcome the assurance by the Prime Minister because, as I explained, this was given in such factual detail that it raised the question as to whether some decision had been reached. But I would offer a suggestion in relation to the matter, which the Prime Minister has very clearly indicated is important, that if the practice of making anonymous statements by officials of the Department of National Defence were discontinued, some of this confusion might be avoided.

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Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE, MR. DREW-CANADA'S CONTRIBUTION TO EUROPEAN DEFENCE REFERENCE TO PRESS REPORT
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LIB

Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Hon. Brooke Claxton (Minister of National Defence):

I must rise to answer that. I have in the Department of National Defence and in the three armed forces in Canada, the

North Atlantic Treaty

navy, the army and .the air force, as good a group of public servants, devoted to the cause of Canada, as there ever has been serving this country.

There is no practice of making anonymous statements. Everyone knows that every statement issued by the Department of National Defence is issued over my name, if it contains a statement of policy; and otherwise they are issued as statements by National Defence headquarters or by the service concerned. There are no other statements. The suggestion the leader of the opposition (Mr. Drew) makes in this connection is just as far afield as anything could be.

How can we be responsible for a newspaper report which apparently emanated from Germany and which, so far as one can see, is based upon speculation-because the location of the proposed camp in Germany has not been finally decided upon. There is no decision as to the type of construction. There is no decision as to the arrangements under which the land would be made available. There is no decision as to the manner in which the costs would be met. AH these are matters which have to be worked out-

Everyone knows, as the Prime Minister has said, that our troops have to be housed. They have to winter over there. They cannot live out in this weather. But the arrangements under which this is to be done have still to be decided upon, both with regard to the three occupying powers, the German government and the NATO organization.

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RADIO BROADCASTING

THIRD AND FINAL REPORT


Mr. W. A. Robinson (Simcoe East) presented the third and final report of the special committee on radio broadcasting.


December 15, 1951