May 8, 1953


The house resumed, from Tuesday, May 5, consideration of the motion of Mr. Knowles for the second reading of Bill No. 365, to amend the Regulations Act. Mr. Stanley Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre): Mr. Speaker, as I indicated when this bill was given first reading, and as I started out to indicate on Tuesday of this week, the purpose of this bill is to abolish the right which the government now has to pass secret orders in council. I think it should be made clear again that this right to withhold orders in council from publication, although it has been used in relation to an order in council passed under the Emergency Powers Act, is to be found in the Regulations Act. The Regulations Act was enacted in 1950 and it includes section 9, subsection 2, which reads as follows: The governor In council may by regulation exempt any regulation or class of regulations from the operation of section three, section four, subsection one of section six, and section seven, but every regulation made under this subsection shall be published in English and in French in the Canada Gazette within thirty days after it is made and shall be laid before parliament within fifteen days after it is published in the Canada Gazette or, if parliament is not then in session, within fifteen days after the commencement of the next ensuing session thereof. The effect of that subsection is that if the governor in council has passed an order in council which it desires to withhold from publication or in other words which it desires to keep secret, it carries out that wish to keep that order in council secret by passing another regulation exempting the previous order in council from publication. That exempting regulation has to be made public, but all it contains is the number and the date of the order in council which has been kept secret. There is one other reference in the Regulations Act by way of a cross-reference to section 9, subsection 2, which would have to be dealt with in any bill seeking to abolish this right; but the main requirement, in order to get rid of the right to pass secret orders in council, is that section 9, subsection 2, of the Regulations Act be repealed. When this matter was before parliament in 1950 there was very little discussion on it. There were a few questions when the Prime Minister was putting the bill through on June 12, 1950, but in the main it would be only fair to say that the house did not realize the full import of that legislation, and let it go through giving the government the right to withhold orders in council from publication. As I say, that right is in the Regulations Act; therefore it refers to orders in council passed under any other statute that is in operation. There is only one order in council which has been kept secret. It is the one passed on July 4, 1951, under the provisions of the Emergency Powers Act. But it would be possible under section 9, subsection 2, of the Regulations Act for an order in council passed under any other statute to be kept secret. For example, suppose there was a report under the combines act which the government desired to keep secret. At the present time the Combines Investigation Act requires the publishing of reports under that act within a certain time limit. But if it is possible under the Combines Investigation Act to pass an order in council that a certain report does not need to be published, then that order in council could, by virtue of section 9, subsection 2, of the Regulations Act, be kept secret. Therefore we could have the performance repeated that we had in 1949 of a document like the flour milling report being kept secret, only this time it could be regularized because of this right to pass secret orders in council. I feel, Mr. Speaker, that parliament made a mistake in 1950 when it passed this provision, and I think parliament's view that it was a mistake has been demonstrated by the opposition to secret orders in council which has been voiced in this parliament on many occasions since that time. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that parliament should now withdraw the right it gave to the government in 1950 to keep orders in council secret. There are many other aspects of order in council government which we do not like and against which we register protests from time to time. We had an instance not so long ago when the Emergency Powers Act was used to pass an order in council despite the fact that parliament was right here in session. Our views on that matter were expressed. This does not deal with that. We voted against the extension of the Emergency Powers Act, but we were beaten on that. 68108-317J Regulations Act This question as to whether or not the government should still have the right to keep orders in council secret has not been before us yet this session. In fact it has not been before us since it was enacted in 1950. In my view the least this parliament should do before the end of this session is to pass this measure and take away this right to keep orders in council secret. If parliament is to do that, there is one little problem that faces us, namely the question of the one secret order in council that is now in existence, the one which was passed on July 4, 1951. It seems to me that parliament is in no position to decide whether or not that was a proper subject for a secret order in council, because we know nothing about it. That being the case, it appears that parliament would simply have to take the position that any bill such as mine should not affect any order in council or any regulation now in effect. My bill does that by two sections, section 3 and section 6, which provide that nothing in this bill shall affect any regulation made before the coming into force of this act. In other words, this bill would be in effect from now on. I do not wish what I have just said to be interpreted as being any approval on my behalf of secret orders in council at any time, not even the one that is in existence. But since we do not know the facts about that one we cannot pass judgment upon it. But it does seem to me that the whole principle of secret orders in council, particularly in peacetime, is completely contrary to democratic processes, and that parliament should give effect to its opposition to this practice by passing this bill before this session ends. I should like to speak longer, but in view of the limited time that is left for private members' bills obviously I had better not take any longer. The bill itself is drafted in what might appear to be a complicated manner because of the cross-references in the Regulations Act itself. But the main section of Bill No. 365, which is now before the house, is section 2 which reads: Subsection (2) of section 9 of the said act is repealed. In other words, that would remove from the Regulations Act the right to keep orders in council secret, and I believe that it is the sense of this House' of Commons. I think we have had evidence that there is some concern about this order in council business even on the government side of the house, and I think it is the sense of this House of Commons that it is a job that we should do before this session ends. As we go into the



Regulations Act period of a general election we should not leave this government, of all governments, with the right not only to govern by order in council, but to pass secret orders in council. Therefore I urge the house to support this bill.


PC

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Howard C. Green (Vancouver-Quadra):

I should like to say just a very few words in support of this measure. We had extensive discussions at an earlier stage of the session with regard to order in council government, and I believe the time has long since passed when this power to legislate by secret orders in council should be done away with. They are entirely contrary to the whole Canadian background, in fact to the background of any truly democratic country, and they smack altogether too much of dictatorship.

Here we have the opportunity for a government to pass an order in council which orders Canadians to do or to refrain from doing some act. Then that order in council can be declared to be secret by means of passing a second order in council, and the people have no way whatever of knowing what the law is and whether or not they are contravening any law. It is fundamental that people in Canada must be able to find out what the laws are. As a matter of fact, the great majority of the people should be behind the laws if they are to be effective. How can that possibly be done when the law is made by an order in council which is kept secret?

I am firmly convinced that this power is just a case of the government being spoiled by the powers it had during the war. It is another example of a power-mad government. I quite agree with the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre that the time has come when this power should be taken away from this government and any future government.

Topic:   REGULATIONS ACT
Subtopic:   REPEAL OP SECRECY PROVISION RESPECTING ORDERS IN COUNCIL
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LIB

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

Liberal

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

One cannot help but feel that the hon. gentleman who introduced this bill has misconceived the whole purpose of the sections of the Regulations Act which he is proposing to amend. He seems to think of them entirely in terms of what he refers to as secret orders in council. But I am sure if he will cast his mind back to the time when the Regulations Act was introduced in May, 1950, he will recall that before that time there had been a good deal of urging-I will not say agitation-upon the part of members of the opposition for an amendment by which the large mass of federal legislative orders in council might be published in the Canada Gazette in an orderly manner, in a manner

which would enable the citizens affected by them to refer to the Gazette in about as convenient a way as they would refer to the statutes of Canada, in order to see how they would be affected by these legislative orders in council.

The hon. member will recall that on that occasion the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) reviewed the arrangements which had preceded the Regulations Act which, as he pointed out were, in one sense, of a rather experimental character, in that we were attempting to find at that stage how these arrangements would work, before we introduced a bill to have the procedure enacted by statute. The Prime Minister at that time, after reviewing the previous arrangements at some length, said as reported at page 3040 of Hansard for May 31, 1950:

We feel that the time has now come when we can bring to parliament something that should be practical and workable, and which may not have to be varied too frequently or too soon. This does provide unequivocally for the compulsory publication and tabling of all instruments made under the delegated legislative powers; that is the sole purpose of this measure. Although largely based on the statutory orders and regulations order, 1947, this bill will further clarify and extend the procedure, in order to ensure that it covers the whole field of delegated legislation.

Now, what was the central idea?

Topic:   REGULATIONS ACT
Subtopic:   REPEAL OP SECRECY PROVISION RESPECTING ORDERS IN COUNCIL
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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

I think the minister will agree that that statement was qualified by the Prime Minister later in that same session.

Topic:   REGULATIONS ACT
Subtopic:   REPEAL OP SECRECY PROVISION RESPECTING ORDERS IN COUNCIL
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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

I shall come to that. I shall cover the point my hon. friend has in mind.

What was the central idea of this measure? It was, as I apprehend it, to make provision for the publication in the Canada Gazette of all of those legislative orders in council which were of general public interest, and at the same time provide, as it does provide, that the Canada Gazette, for the purposes of those who wished to refer to it to find out what these legislation orders in council in the general public interest were, would not be cluttered up with a lot of other orders in council which either were not of general interest, or the publication of which was provided for by some other means such, for example, as under the Canada Grain Act, where the department is required, under the terms of its own statute, to publish all orders that are in force every year, and distribute them among those people who might have an interest in the operations of the Canada Grain Act.

The purpose of this Regulations Act was also that the Canada Gazette would not be cluttered up with orders passed under the Department of Defence Production Act which would be addressed, we will say, to a single manufacturer in respect of a single order or

contract he was carrying out directing him to do such and such a thing within a certain period of time.

To that end it was provided in the section my hon. friend from Winnipeg North Centre now wishes to amend, namely section 9 (2) that-

The governor in council may by regulation exempt-

And I would ask hon. members to follow these words.

-any regulation or class of regulations from the operation of section three, section four, subsection one of section six, and section seven, but every regulation made under this subsection shall be published in English and in French in the Canada Gazette within thirty days after it is made and shall be laid before parliament within fifteen days after it is published in the Canada Gazette or, if parliament is not then in session, within fifteen days after the commencement of the next ensuing session thereof.

To listen to the hon. member's remarks this afternoon one would think that the only order in council to which section 9(2) refers is this secret order in council. Actually it has a very wide reference to a very large number of other classes of orders in council.

I can remember that at the time the drafting of this measure was being undertaken in the Department of Justice, there was a very extensive examination of the procedure followed in other countries, in order to achieve the purpose of the legislation, which was to provide in a compendious form in the Canada, Gazette, for the public of Canada, all of the orders in council of a legislative nature, by themselves, and that they should not be cluttered up with administrative orders, routine orders, and orders which are of a special interest, let us say, to the grain trade and the like.

We, as we thought, went to an enormous amount of trouble to try to produce in the statute a means by which the objective,which I have just stated, could be achieved in a way that was accommodating to the citizen who wished to know what the order in council now was, in order that he mightobserve it; and also in a way in whichthose who might be charged with a breach of the order in council could, when so

charged, be protected adequately in their defence.

Therefore it was provided in section 6 (3)- and this is one of the other sections with which my hon. friend is dealing-that:

(3) No regulation is invalid by reason only that it was not published in the Canada Gazette, but no person shall be convicted for an offence consisting of a contravention of any regulation that was not published in the Canada Gazette unless-

And this covers the point made by the hon. member for Vancouver-Quadra.

Regulations Act

(a) the regulation was, pursuant to section nine, exempted from the operation of subsection one, or the regulation expressly provides that it shall operate according to its terms prior to publication in the Canada Gazette, and

(b) it is proved that at the date of the alleged contravention reasonable steps had been taken for the purpose of bringing the purport of the regulation to the notice of the public, or the persons likely to be affected by it, or of the person charged.

So no person in Canada could be convicted under any of these orders in council which had not been published unless it was proved that at the date of an alleged contravention the purport of the order in council had reasonably been brought to his attention.

Now, the Regulations Act contemplated that, in relation for example to an order made under the Department of Defence Production Act and served on a manufacturer to the effect, say, that his work was to be stepped up within 30 days, no one else would be interested. The service of the order would be the publication, so far as the manufacturer was concerned; and nobody else would be interested in the order. And it would not be in the manufacturer's interests at all that this order, addressed to him, should be published perhaps for the benefit of all his competitors.

I think perhaps, Mr. Speaker, I had better ask that it be called six o'clock. May I adjourn the debate?

Topic:   REGULATIONS ACT
Subtopic:   REPEAL OP SECRECY PROVISION RESPECTING ORDERS IN COUNCIL
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LIB

Elie Beauregard (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

I can call it six o'clock without the necessity of the hon. member adjourning the debate.

Topic:   REGULATIONS ACT
Subtopic:   REPEAL OP SECRECY PROVISION RESPECTING ORDERS IN COUNCIL
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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Garson:

As long as I am sure that I do not lose my place.

Topic:   REGULATIONS ACT
Subtopic:   REPEAL OP SECRECY PROVISION RESPECTING ORDERS IN COUNCIL
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?

Donald MacInnis

Mr. Maclnnis:

You will get it next Friday.

Topic:   REGULATIONS ACT
Subtopic:   REPEAL OP SECRECY PROVISION RESPECTING ORDERS IN COUNCIL
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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

Next Tuesday.

Topic:   REGULATIONS ACT
Subtopic:   REPEAL OP SECRECY PROVISION RESPECTING ORDERS IN COUNCIL
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LIB

Elie Beauregard (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

I am calling it six o'clock.

At eight o'clock the house will resume the business which was interrupted at five o'clock

At six o'clock the house took recess.

Topic:   REGULATIONS ACT
Subtopic:   REPEAL OP SECRECY PROVISION RESPECTING ORDERS IN COUNCIL
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AFTER RECESS The committee resumed at eight o'clock. SUPPLY The house in committee of supply, Mr. Beaudoin in the chair.


DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL HEALTH AND WELFARE


266. Health insurance studies and administration of the general health grants, $86,694.


CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

Mr. Chairman, item 266 is the annual vote for health insurance studies. Associated with it is the provision for the

Supply-Health and Welfare administration of the general health grants. I shall reserve any further remarks that I have to make on the health grants until we get to item 267 where they can, I think, be just as appropriately made.

Right now I would like to say a few words about the first part of item 266, namely health insurance studies. The first question on my mind is this: How long do these studies have to be carried on before we get action on health insurance? Another speaker here this afternoon expressed the fact that there was some confusion in his mind about what health insurance is. I am sure there is no confusion in the mind of the minister or in the minds of those who are working on this question in his department. He and they know that for many years it has been said that the aim of the government, the aim of the Liberal party, is eventually to establish health insurance in Canada.

Mr. King in May, 1948, when he first announced the health grants program, said that one of its purposes was to lay the foundation for health insurance. When some of us have asked for health insurance, namely for a financial arrangement to enable people to pay for hospital and medical care, the reply on some occasions has been that there is no use having a health insurance program until there are sufficient facilities, until hospitals are built and so on. There is no point, say the opponents of health insurance, in enabling people to demand and pay for health care unless that care is there for them.

Well, that argument may have had some validity in 1948-1 do not think it had even then-but certainly it has far less validity now in view of the government's own claim to have made so much headway in connection with the building of hospitals. As a matter of fact, a week ago today the minister boasted of the fact that the target for hospital beds set in 1948 had been surpassed. Well, as I say, Mr. Chairman, it is the clear understanding of those in the department that health insurance is the aim of the health grants program. The aim of that program is to establish sufficient facilities so that it will then be possible to provide health insurance, to make it possible for the people to procure the services that are available. _ _

I indicated this afternoon that this is spelled out in the last available report of the Department of National Health and Welfare, the report for the year ending March 31, 1952. On page 13 we are given half a page about the purposes of the national health program. Those purposes are listed as four basic aims, and the fourth and last of the basic aims is: "to lay sound foundations for health insurance".

tMr. Knowles.]

Now, under this item of health insurance studies the matter has been studied across the years. The benefits of those studies, to some extent at any rate, have been made available to members of parliament in a number of documents giving the results of research on health insurance plans of other countries. However, I find in this same annual report for the year ending March 31, 1952, that there is another reference to health insurance studies over on page 47. There is about half a page there on work done 'on health insurance studies. The last sentence reads:

Meanwhile, work on tabulation of the sickness survey and of the provincial health survey reports is expected to provide extremely valuable information-

Note this:

-for the long term planning of health insurance in Canada.

Well, Mr. Chairman, those words were certainly well chosen so far as this government is concerned, "the long term planning of health insurance in Canada". That term started in 1919 and it is already the length of 34 years. I would like to know how much longer it is going to go on; how many more years we will have studies, how many more years we will have long-term planning, before-

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL HEALTH AND WELFARE
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LIB

Louis-René Beaudoin (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but I have listened to his speech intently. I also have his speech of May 1 before me, and I have been consulting pages 4691 to 4698 of Hansard, and I find that the general structure of what he has been saying so far is the same.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL HEALTH AND WELFARE
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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. Martin:

The same speech.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL HEALTH AND WELFARE
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LIB

Louis-René Beaudoin (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

It is substantially the same speech. I notice at one point, where he gives the history of the subject as treated by the government or the Liberal party, that he said that he had a file of documents referring to the studies that were made on health insurance. Perhaps he is giving the house different quotations at this time, but the other day he did give the story of the statements regarding health insurance which were made by Mr. King and the Liberal party generally. But the point is this. The hon. member will realize that when we have a general discussion on the administration item, that general discussion is to embrace all the activities of the department. At that time the hon. member availed himself of the opportunity of making a general speech. He not only referred to health insurance; I believe he will admit that in that speech, which appears in Hansard on pages 4691 to

4698, he devoted a large amount of time to the particular problem of health insurance. This afternoon, when we were still discussing the general item, the hon. member attempted to make another general speech, and that of course was not in order.

If by practice we are to have a general discussion on the first item, each member should reserve only one period of 40 minutes for himself; otherwise what would be the point in having three, four or five 40-minute speeches and never considering the details of the items? I know there was some sort of agreement that the hon. member would speak on health insurance at this time, but I would ask him not to give us again all the details of the past history of this measure as he did in his earlier speech.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL HEALTH AND WELFARE
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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

Mr. Chairman, you will find me most co-operative. I could not be otherwise after you have paid me the compliment of informing me that you have looked over my speech of a week ago. I am highly honoured over that fact, and I shall show appreciation for it by not repeating that speech now. In fact what I have to say at this time will take just a moment or two. I agree that there is considerable merit in what you say, Mr. Chairman, that having had the privilege of making a full-dress speech on the first item, we should not make a full-dress speech again on the individual items.

Perhaps I have been a little long in my preamble. What I am doing is working up to a couple of questions I want to put to the minister under this item for health insurance studies. I am not surprised that you, sir, and the house generally find it a bit tedious to listen to the long history, as you put it, of health insurance studies. That is my complaint. It is too long a history. It is a 34-year history.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL HEALTH AND WELFARE
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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Fournier (Hull):

The hon. member is just repeating what he said the other day.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL HEALTH AND WELFARE
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May 8, 1953