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?".
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?"
Subtopic: LIONEL JOBIN