January 26, 1953

PRIVILEGE

MR. DREW REFERENCE TO C.B.C. BROADCAST "CAPITAL REPORT"

PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise to state a question of privilege affecting every hon. member of this house. It is in connection with a C.B.C. broadcast yesterday from Ottawa called "Capital Report". I have in my hand a copy of the text submitted to the station by Mr. Michael Barkway and I shall read the portion which I am making the subject of privilege. I think what I have to put forward constitutes one of the most astonishing breaches of the privileges, rights and responsibilities of the members of this house which can have come to the attention of any hon. member. I propose to read part of page 1 and page 2 of the text used yesterday by Mr. Barkway in the broadcast on a national network from Ottawa. After referring to what he described as the domestic drama of the Currie report, he went on to say:

As a drama critic, I think one's bound to say that act II wasn't up to the standard of excitement of act I. For one thing the sub-plot took up a disproportionate amount of attention. This is the mystery-now being cleared up-of how the C.C.F. party got its hands on an earlier draft of the report which Mr. Currie had neither approved nor signed. The first half of the answer is that the copy was stolen from a print shop in Montreal; and the man accused of stealing it is now in custody awaiting trial. How it got from the thief to Mr. Coldwell-who is certainly honest-we still don't know. But I suppose part of the scene of act III will be laid in a courtroom in Montreal, where some more of the story will come out.

The other part of act II which has now concluded was laid in parliament. I remember remarking on this program six weeks ago that Mr. Currie's description of the Petawawa horses on the pay roll was "more picturesque than precise". It turns out, in fact, to have been so imprecise as to have been false. It was taken, apparently, from the police records and the records of the Petawawa trials and in the process of condensation into one sentence it was wholly distorted. A cub reporter who had done the same thing would have lost his job.

You may think this was just by the way. But these inaccuracies in the Currie report-the horses and the false accusation that the C.N.R. let its tracks be stolen-I think they had a good deal to do with the major theme of the recent parliamentary debates. And that was whether the Currie report should be referred to the defence expenditures committee, or whether instead Mr. Currie

should be invited to extend his inquiries into the rest of the Department of National Defence. The government wanted to send the report to the commons committee for a fuller examination. The government majority-inevitably-voted to do that, and the committee has been set up. This wasn't what the opposition wanted. They say-and they're right-that the committee has a majority of Liberal members; and it's a foregone conclusion that its report will be as favourable to the government as the loyal Liberal majority can make it.

No doubt this is perfectly true. But the committee's report won't matter so much as the evidence which the committee hears-particularly from Mr. Currie himself. The inaccuracies of the original report-which are after all purely incidental-won't matter much if Mr. Currie has a mass of further detail to back up his charges of the "general breakdown in administration". But if he hasn't more detail than he gives in his report, then the government will be in a better position to claim that this is a bit of a storm in a teacup.

The most serious breach of the privileges, rights and responsibilities of members, Mr. Speaker, is the bald statement by this man who purports to be an accurate reporter-

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. DREW REFERENCE TO C.B.C. BROADCAST "CAPITAL REPORT"
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An hon. Member:

He is.

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Subtopic:   MR. DREW REFERENCE TO C.B.C. BROADCAST "CAPITAL REPORT"
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An hon. Member:

Too accurate.

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Subtopic:   MR. DREW REFERENCE TO C.B.C. BROADCAST "CAPITAL REPORT"
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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

-that, had it not been for these demonstrated inaccuracies in the Currie report, then it is likely that the inquiry might have occupied a wider field. Then let us see some of the positive statements made by this man who enjoys the privileges of the House of Commons, under the privileges extended by Your Honour in the usual way to the highly respected members of the press gallery.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. DREW REFERENCE TO C.B.C. BROADCAST "CAPITAL REPORT"
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Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh.

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Subtopic:   MR. DREW REFERENCE TO C.B.C. BROADCAST "CAPITAL REPORT"
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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Mr. Speaker, the laughter that greeted that comment indicated a lack of appreciation on the one hand of the significance of a statement of this kind by a man who has the special advantage of hearing all of the debates, under the privileges extended to members of the press gallery in the house; and, on the other hand, that laughter indicated that some of the hon. members who made that interjection in that way obviously disregard the fact that such a statement as this might reflect upon those hon. members of press gallery whose reputation is of the very highest. I think it is our concern in this house to maintain responsibility for members of the press gallery who are part of the general proceedings of this house.

Privilege-Mr. Drew

Now, first of all, may I point to the fact that we have here the bald and emphatic statement, without any reservation, that the Currie report turns out in fact to have been so imprecise as to have been false. Mr. Speaker, I would have hoped that some member of the government would have risen to deal with a statement of that kind with regard to a man they had chosen, and whom they describe, as the most highly qualified man in the Dominion of Canada for the task allotted to him. Nevertheless, whether that might be regarded as the duty of the government or not, the fact remains, as very well might be pointed out, that such a statement is in itself wholly removed from the truth. No such finding has been made; and no such finding could be made.

May I also point out that we have this statement not only going out from this reporter but going out from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, which is guided by the policy laid down by the government, as stated by the minister responsible for that department.

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Subtopic:   MR. DREW REFERENCE TO C.B.C. BROADCAST "CAPITAL REPORT"
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LIB

Elie Beauregard (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

I have not interrupted the hon. Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Drew), but I am following him closely to determine the question of privilege on which he has risen. A criticism of the government at this time is not a question of privilege. May I suggest that he should state his question of privilege.

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Subtopic:   MR. DREW REFERENCE TO C.B.C. BROADCAST "CAPITAL REPORT"
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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Mr. Speaker, I am submitting this to Your Honour: to consider on the

one hand what disposition you feel should be made of these facts, having regard to Your Honour's responsibility for the privileges within this house; and, on the other hand, I am placing before the government facts which they must immediately take into consideration, having regard to their responsibility for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation-because there is another point which I think is extremely important in this statement, and it is the question of contempt of court.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. DREW REFERENCE TO C.B.C. BROADCAST "CAPITAL REPORT"
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Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh.

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Subtopic:   MR. DREW REFERENCE TO C.B.C. BROADCAST "CAPITAL REPORT"
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LIB

Elie Beauregard (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Order, I hardly think this is the time to place that question before the government. On a question of privilege all that can be considered is the breach of the privileges of the house in so far as they concern the house generally or some members of the house.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Well, Mr. Speaker, I pointed out that this statement, carried to the people of Canada by the government-owned broadcasting system-by a man who enjoys

the privileges of the press gallery-stated as a fact certain things which are before members of this house for consideration in committee. This man, over the government-owned system, is taking it upon himself to pass judgment in regard to something that is before hon. members of this house for decision. That is certainly an infringement of the right and duties of members of this house.

Moreover, this man has taken it on himself to flagrantly stand in contempt of court, and the government must have some concern about that, in view of the fact that it initiated these proceedings and also in view of the responsibility it accepts for the policies of the C.B.C.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the facts are before you. This report that I have read to you from Mr. Barkway's text contains one demonstrable misstatement after another. In no single case are those misstatements clearer than in these two statements. There is a reference to non-existent horses-

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LIB

Elie Beauregard (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Order.

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Subtopic:   MR. DREW REFERENCE TO C.B.C. BROADCAST "CAPITAL REPORT"
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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

and the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) has stated that they existed.

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LIB

Elie Beauregard (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

I cannot allow a debate on that question at the present time. I hope that the Leader of the Opposition will not press that point now.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Mr. Speaker, I will not press that point but I will refer every hon. member to the statement of the Prime Minister which shows that they did exist. I would also point out that in this statement Mr. Barkway refers to the false accusation that the C.N.R. allowed its tracks to be stolen. No such accusation was made.

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LIB

Elie Beauregard (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Clearly that does not come within the questions of privilege which an hon. member is allowed to state as a question of privilege at this time. We are now getting into a debate on whether the facts stated by the member of the press gallery are correct or incorrect.

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Subtopic:   MR. DREW REFERENCE TO C.B.C. BROADCAST "CAPITAL REPORT"
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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Mr. Speaker, I will close my comments with this statement in reference to what I have put before you. The statements in this text are before you for consideration. I ask you to consider them in relation to the report, in relation to the statement made by the government in this house, and in relation to the fact that a committee has been set up to discuss this very subject. Also, I place this matter before the government in view of the fact that it has stated its responsibility for the policy of the C.B.C. I submit that the government should act in relation to contempt

of court by the C.B.C. as well as this broadcaster-because if propaganda of this kind is going out while matters of this kind are before this house it destroys the whole effect of committees in this house.

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Subtopic:   MR. DREW REFERENCE TO C.B.C. BROADCAST "CAPITAL 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, the hon. gentleman has stated that he has placed these facts before you and that he wishes to have you appreciate them. I do not think I need to make any comment whatsoever.

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Subtopic:   MR. DREW REFERENCE TO C.B.C. BROADCAST "CAPITAL REPORT"
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January 26, 1953