May 8, 1953

SC

Ernest George Hansell

Social Credit

Mr. Hansell:

Mr. Chairman, I am happy in one way to follow my hon. friend from Saskatoon and support him in his argument in respect of the manner in which this bill went through the committee, and in his protest in respect of the way these bills are dealt with in this house instead of in a separate court. On the other hand, I am rather unhappy to have to get up here and talk about such divorce bills as come before us. However, we are on the private bills committee, and our parliamentary procedure, such as it is, makes us duty-bound to attend and do what we can when we once submit to our names being placed on committee.

Mr. Chairman, while this bill was in the process of discussion in the committee, and when the peculiar incident took place of being recalled to reconsider our decision, I told the committee that I did not think I could permit the bill to go through in the manner in which it was being handled without having something to say in the house. The particular reason I rise on this occasion is to protest the action of those in the committee, some of them in particular, in attempting to reverse the decision that had previously been made.

My hon. friend from Saskatoon has told the story. I am just going to tell the story again in perhaps, if I may say so, a little more picturesque way. The committee was called together in the morning-pardon me, I have got it wrong. I think the bill was presented to us at the evening session, but it does not make any difference. We discussed the bill. The chairman of the committee called section 1-, section 2, and so on. Then he came to the part "Shall the preamble carry?".

Private Bill-Divorce

That, as we all know, of course, is the crux of the whole bill. If the preamble is rejected, that is tantamount to killing the bill. However, just as the chairman called "Shall the preamble carry?" the bells calling us to this chamber began to ring. We looked at one another and said, "There are the bells; we will have to go. If we do not deal with the preamble we will have to come back again and deal with it later." The cry went up from the members: "Let us have the vote now. Let us have the vote now." Let me say that cry came from some of those who demanded that the thing be reconsidered later. They said: "Oh, yes; let us have the vote now". So the chairman said: "Shall we take the vote?" and "All right; those in favour of the preamble raise your hands". Well, some raised their hands. "Those opposed put up your hands". And what happened? The preamble was defeated, to the surprise of some of those who had said: "Let us take the vote now". So of course the chairman said, "Well, that fixes it" or "That is the end of it" or a phrase of that kind. We did not even stop to listen carefully to the phrase which the chairman used. The bells were ringing and a vote was to be taken so everybody scampered out, and that was the end of that.

Well, to our surprise in the mail we got our usual little notice calling the private bills committee together with the comment on the top: "To consider the Jobin case". I said to myself: "Why, we considered that before. That is all done. That bill was killed in the committee". So we went back and the chairman asked the clerk to read the minutes of the meeting, which he did; and the chairman began to indicate that he had failed to use- and this is it-the little phrase "Shall I report the bill?"

That was all; he had failed to say that. The fact of the matter is that the bells were ringing and he said, "That is the end of that; that killed the bill." Well, someone rose and said we must consider whether the chairman is to report the bill and "I therefore move that we reopen the preamble." Here was the same committee sitting on another day with a slight change in personnel because there were more members attending the meeting that day than there were previously when the vote was taken. My hon. friend says there were twice as many.

What does that represent to you, Mr. Chairman? It is obvious that some members got together and said, "My, that bill should go through." Some members said it had been killed, so they scratched some hair out and said, "What are we going to do about this? We have to get this thing through." Someone

grasped on that very slim thread of technicality in that the chairman had not said, "Shall I report the bill?" It was then decided to call the committee together so he could say, "Shall I report the bill?"

Topic:   PRIVATE BILL
Subtopic:   LIONEL JOBIN
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LIB

Howard Waldemar Winkler

Liberal

Mr. Winkler:

On a question of privilege, Mr. Chairman, I would ask the hon. member who is speaking if he means, by the words he has just used, that I called the meeting together in order that this bill would be put through in the manner he has just outlined?

Topic:   PRIVATE BILL
Subtopic:   LIONEL JOBIN
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SC

Ernest George Hansell

Social Credit

Mr. Hansell:

I say that the committee was called back, and as I understand it that was done because the chairman had not, at the time, said, "Shall I report the bill?"

Topic:   PRIVATE BILL
Subtopic:   LIONEL JOBIN
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LIB
SC

Ernest George Hansell

Social Credit

Mr. Hansell:

All right. Then I asked this simple question, and it must be obvious to everyone-I asked it in the committee-supposing that preamble had passed the previous day and the decision was in favour of the bill but the chairman had not said, "Shall I report the bill?" do you suppose we would have been called back?

Topic:   PRIVATE BILL
Subtopic:   LIONEL JOBIN
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?

An hon. Member:

No.

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Subtopic:   LIONEL JOBIN
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LIB
SC

Ernest George Hansell

Social Credit

Mr. Hansell:

My own impression is that that thing escaped the chairman's mind altogether. I am not blaming the chairman. I would do the same thing. The bill had been killed, and what did it matter whether or not he used the phrase, "Shall I report the bill?" It is a matter of form. I am saying that it did not occur to him. I have no doubt that he was urged by someone else to call the committee back not in order that he might repeat the phrase but in order that the decision might be reversed.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILL
Subtopic:   LIONEL JOBIN
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LIB
PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

Will the hon. member allow a question? I have been following the hon. member closely, and will he say whether or not that procedure has ever been followed before?

Topic:   PRIVATE BILL
Subtopic:   LIONEL JOBIN
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SC

Ernest George Hansell

Social Credit

Mr. Hansell:

I indicated that I did not think it had. The hon. member for Halton rose

Topic:   PRIVATE BILL
Subtopic:   LIONEL JOBIN
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LIB

Howard Waldemar Winkler

Liberal

Mr. Winkler:

On a question of privilege, Mr. Chairman, I believe the hon. member is again stating that the meeting was called for the purpose of permitting this procedure which he has fully described. I must explain, because the hon. member has repeated it twice, that the meeting was called because the clerk of the committee had reminded me that the technicalities had not been complied with. It was not only because the question "Shall I report the bill?" had not been

put. There were still further things that had to be put, which did not come up because the decision of the committee was reversed.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILL
Subtopic:   LIONEL JOBIN
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SC

Ernest George Hansell

Social Credit

Mr. Hansell:

The chairman of the committee has explained his position, and that is all right. Whether or not he called the committee together in order to regularize the procedure, I am not debating that. That is what he did. But in reality the committee was called together to reverse the decision. The hon. member for Lake Centre asks if this procedure had been followed before. I say that, to my knowledge, that has never happened before' in the private bills committee. The hon. member for Halton rose in the committee and said that he had been chairman of many parliamentary committees, and they often reversed a previous decision on a clause or something of that kind. Perhaps that is so, particularly if they reversed the decision on the same day. But when a bill has been killed in a committee and the committee adjourned because a vote was being taken here, and then was not recalled, it is understood that the end of the bill has been reached and a decision made. This procedure of recalling a committee and reconsidering the preamble of a bill which had already been turned down has never happened before to my knowledge.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILL
Subtopic:   LIONEL JOBIN
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LIB
SC

Ernest George Hansell

Social Credit

Mr. Hansell:

It did happen this time, Mr. Chairman. There is no question in the world in my mind-I do not want to cast reflections-but that someone was instrumental in getting the committee recalled with the one purpose in mind of changing the decision.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILL
Subtopic:   LIONEL JOBIN
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LIB

Howard Waldemar Winkler

Liberal

Mr. Winkler:

On a question of privilege, Mr. Chairman, I believe the hon. member is again imputing motives to me which certainly never existed.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILL
Subtopic:   LIONEL JOBIN
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SC

Ernest George Hansell

Social Credit

Mr. Hansell:

I am not imputing motives to the chairman of the committee. I do not like to impute motives to anybody.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILL
Subtopic:   LIONEL JOBIN
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LIB

Howard Waldemar Winkler

Liberal

Mr. Winkler:

But you said "somebody", and who else is there?

Topic:   PRIVATE BILL
Subtopic:   LIONEL JOBIN
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SC

Ernest George Hansell

Social Credit

Mr. Hansell:

Someone was motivated to do it, and I do not care who it was. If my hon. friends want the bill to pass, they ought not to keep interrupting. I am not going to oppose the bill so far as its passing is concerned. I do want to put this on the record, because if I am going to act on committees and do my duty on committees, I do not want anyone to come along behind the scenes and, by pulling a lot of wires, reverse decisions that have been made. That is laying it right on the line.

Let me say this. There might be some real reason why a thing of this sort should 68108-317

Private Bill-Divorce

be done if it were the reversal of some government policy, but this is a private bill. The government is not going to stand or fall upon some individual getting a divorce. I say once again that if we are to conduct the business of this house in committee as we should, then these things must not happen or they are going to destroy our faith in one another, our faith in committees and our faith in the work going on in this house. I vigorously protest the action that was taken in respect to this bill. I did so in committee and I raise my voice in protest now.

I have said enough. I think the chairman is a fine fellow. I think he conducts the business of the committee very well. I am not even saying the chairman made a mistake. If he made a mistake, he should not have called our attention to it. Nobody would have known. Nobody would have gone to him and said, "You made a mistake." He did not need to confess that he made an error. He did not make an error. I say that with all honesty of purpose in this discussion, and with some conviction.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILL
Subtopic:   LIONEL JOBIN
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LIB

André Gauthier

Liberal

Mr. Gauthier (Porineuf):

I wish to say just a few words on this bill. First of all, being a Catholic, I do not accept any dissolution of marriage vows. I would accept an annulment given by the proper authorities of my church, but nothing else. In the second place, I was not a member of this committee; but if there were members from the province of Quebec on this committee, they certainly did not vote for the annulment of the marriage vows. According to the constitution, divorce bills must be dealt with by the federal authority. Of course our civil code in Quebec does not admit dissolution or annulment of marriage. Those who were in this committee on divorce, if they participated in the voting, voted for the dissolution of the civil contract, not of the marriage in itself.

The hon. member for Saskatoon took notice of the fact that members from the province of Quebec were in this committee. What I wanted to tell him was that we do not believe in the annulment of marriage vows. If those members voted, they voted for the dissolution of the civil contract and nothing else. As to the second clause of the bill, it says that this man has the right to remarry. We cannot accept that clause of the bill.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILL
Subtopic:   LIONEL JOBIN
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May 8, 1953