December 29, 1951

POSTAL SERVICE

PRIVILEGE, MR. DREW DELAY IN MAIL DELIVERY

PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege affecting both the privileges and the responsibilities of the members of this house. It is something which I think should be raised today, in view of the fact that we have reason I think to expect that we are within some measurable distance of the termination of this session.

This morning I received a postal package addressed to me at the House of Commons, and very clearly addressed and very properly packaged, which was postmarked "Vancouver, December IV." I recognize, and perhaps it will be understood by hon. members that I have as much reason as anyone in this house to recognize, the immensely heavy responsibilities of the postal department at this time of the year. I cannot however recall any Christmas or any time when there have been so many complaints from every part of the country in regard to the delay in the delivery of mail. This is something that affects the business of this house, that affects the business of this country. It has wide ramifications. I will simply give one personal experience which illustrates what happens in cases of this kind. I wrote a letter to a friend who was critically ill in a Toronto hospital. He died five days later. The letter had not been delivered and it was therefore returned to me. That merely serves to underline the possibilities that arise, from both the personal and the business point of view, where delays of that kind occur.

I can understand delays of one, two and three days perhaps, just because of the immense accumulation of mail; but surely between here and Toronto and here and Montreal it is not consistent with the place that the postal services have come to occupy in our whole economic and social structure that within these short distances there should be delays of a whole week and more in the delivery of letters. And most certainly no congestion can explain the delay of twelve days in the delivery of first-class mail or packaged mail from Vancouver to here.

I recognize-and as I say, I have reason to recognize perhaps as much as anyone here, next to the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) and the members of the cabinet- what the real accumulation of mail is at this time of year, but I do think that with all this heavy pressure the Postmaster General (Mr. Rinfret) should assure us that, in the light of the experience of this year, adequate steps will be taken to ensure that next year, or on any intervening occasion when there is heavy pressure on the mail services, adequate provisions will be made for delivery within a reasonable time in relation to the circumstances.

I point out that not only may personal messages and very important personal communications be delayed, with very unhappy consequences in certain cases, but also that the business of this house is related to the delivery of the mail and that important business organizations all over this country depend upon some reasonable promptness of delivery. I am sure that none of this delay is the responsibility of the men themselves who deliver the mail. There is no more loyal and hard-working organization in this country. I am satisfied, however, that something has happened to affect the whole organization, because delays of this kind have become too frequent, not only in these recent weeks but for months past. This, calls for some reassurance to the house.

Topic:   POSTAL SERVICE
Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE, MR. DREW DELAY IN MAIL DELIVERY
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LIB

Joseph-Arthur Bradette

Liberal

Mr. Bradette:

This is good!

Topic:   POSTAL SERVICE
Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE, MR. DREW DELAY IN MAIL DELIVERY
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LIB

Édouard-Gabriel Rinfret (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Hon. Edouard Rinfret (Postmaster General):

Mr. Speaker, the leader of the opposition did not give me notice of his intention of raising this question. He did not bring to my attention the reference he has made to the mail he received.

Topic:   POSTAL SERVICE
Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE, MR. DREW DELAY IN MAIL DELIVERY
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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

I only received it half an hour ago.

Topic:   POSTAL SERVICE
Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE, MR. DREW DELAY IN MAIL DELIVERY
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LIB

Édouard-Gabriel Rinfret (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. Rinfret:

But I wish to point out to the house that in all our advertising we gave notice to the public that we could not accept in the mail any first-class mail for delivery in time for Christmas if it was put in the mail after December 17.

Topic:   POSTAL SERVICE
Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE, MR. DREW DELAY IN MAIL DELIVERY
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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Mr. Speaker, I do not want to interrupt, but I insist that the record be correct. This was not put in the mail after1

2512 HOUSE OF

Ministerial Statements

December 17. It was put in the mail in sufficient time to bear the Vancouver postmark of December 17.

Topic:   POSTAL SERVICE
Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE, MR. DREW DELAY IN MAIL DELIVERY
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LIB

Édouard-Gabriel Rinfret (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. Rinfret:

I must reiterate my statement as to the advertising that was put in the papers. When we put that advertising in the papers we did not anticipate that there would be the large flow of mail that there has been this year-much more, in fact, than in any previous year. Nor did we anticipate that there would be the worst series of snowstorms we have had in many decades. All the delivery systems and distribution systems in all cities have been disrupted. We have tried in all ways imaginable to make deliveries, and made as many as four or five deliveries on the day before Christmas so that all things would arrive in time for Christmas.

Then, we employed more than 25,000 additional helpers for sorting and for letter carrying duties. And, sir, I do not think there is anything possible we could have done more than we have done.

Topic:   POSTAL SERVICE
Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE, MR. DREW DELAY IN MAIL DELIVERY
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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. Pouliot:

At last, Mr. Speaker, I agree entirely with the leader of the opposition (Mr. Drew) and with the Postmaster General (Mr. Rinfret), too. I thank the leader of the opposition because he has supplied the government with the strongest possible argument for the construction of a new government building at the earliest possible date at Riviere du Loup.

Topic:   POSTAL SERVICE
Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE, MR. DREW DELAY IN MAIL DELIVERY
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COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT

PRIVILEGE, MR. GARSON CORRECTION OP STATE- MENTS IN DEBATE ON PRICE FIXING

LIB

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

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise to a question of privilege.

I should like to say that I referred in the house on Thursday last and again yesterday to a complaint under section 498A of the Criminal Code. I made this reference for the purpose of illustrating the use to which the section could be put, and the facts I gave were from my recollection of an informal conversation with the commissioner of the Combines Investigation Act in which he gave me general information about pending cases. Speaking from my recollection of this conversation, I indicated that the matter had been closed on the basis of no offence having been established. Since the house rose last night I checked with the commissioner and found that I was incorrect in stating that the case is closed. The complaint is still under investigation, and I wish to correct the record in that respect. I do not think I should say more since the case is still under inquiry.

And then, while I am on my feet, I think I should make reference to the fact that in

[Mr. Drew.!

response to a question by the hon. member for Kamloops (Mr. Fulton) I stated that the case to which I have just referred was the only case in which section 498A of the Criminal Code had been invoked. However, the commissioner sent to my office a note indicating that in the recent glass prosecution in Ontario a charge under section 498A was referred to the grand jury, and that although the grand jury brought in a true bill and the parties pleaded guilty to the main charge under section 498, the grand jury did not think that the evidence submitted to it warranted their bringing in a bill on the charge under section 498A.

Topic:   COMBINES INVESTIGATION ACT
Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE, MR. GARSON CORRECTION OP STATE- MENTS IN DEBATE ON PRICE FIXING
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RIGHT HON. WINSTON CHURCHILL DETAILS OF VISIT TO CANADA IN JANUARY

LIB

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

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, in view of the fact

that government notices of motion come before the orders of the day will be called, and that on one of those government notices of motion there may be considerable debate, perhaps I might be permitted at this time to refer to the forthcoming visit to Canada of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

I have been in communication with Mr. Churchill from time to time about his proposed visit to Canada and the United States, and the dates were finally settled only late yesterday. They have already been announced in London. I hope that the further information that has come over the radio about the terrible storms along the coasts of England, and the delay occasioned to the Queen Mary will not require a change in the schedule that had been arranged for Mr. Churchill's visit. I might say there has been no information so far of any change being required.

As I indicated some time ago, Mr. Churchill did not wish to make more than one major speech while in Canada. It was suggested some time ago that the speech should be made at a state dinner in Ottawa, and should be broadcast. Mr. Churchill has accepted that suggestion.

The date which has now been fixed is Monday, January 14, and it is the intention of the government to have invitations sent to all members of both houses of parliament, including of course the lady members, although the dinner would otherwise be a dinner for men only, since Mr. Churchill is not being accompanied by Mrs. Churchill on this occasion.

Topic:   RIGHT HON. WINSTON CHURCHILL DETAILS OF VISIT TO CANADA IN JANUARY
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BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

LIB

Elie Beauregard (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Before proceeding with

government notices of motion, does the house wish me to call the order for questions?

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Yes, I think they should be called.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
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LIB

Elie Beauregard (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Then, with the consent of the house, I shall do so.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Permalink
LIB

Alphonse Fournier (Minister of Public Works; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Fournier (Hull):

Agreed.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
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December 29, 1951