February 17, 1955

WELCOME TO LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION ON HIS RETURN FOLLOWING ILLNESS

LIB

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

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the applause in which we have all joined will express to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Drew) more eloquently than anything I can say how happy we are to see him back with us today and how gratified we are to see with our own eyes that this period of rest has restored him completely to his usual good health and his accustomed robust vigour.

On the first sitting day of this session of parliament I had the privilege of expressing, on behalf of all members of the house, our genuine feeling of sorrow that the hon. gentleman was prevented by illness from being with us at that time. Similarly today I think I express the feelings of all members of the house when I say that this is a happy occasion, and that we all rejoice that he was persuaded to take this necessary rest after the serious illness which overtook him some weeks ago.

We all realize the onerous nature of the responsibilities which fall upon the Leader of the Opposition under our parliamentary system. We all know of the hon. gentleman's strong sense of duty. We all realize that it must have been distressing to him to be obliged to be away from this house during that period. However, we all feel that he was wise in accepting the advice of his medical advisers. I can assure him that our respect for him has been increased by the way he carried out what was recommended as best to enable him to recover his usual good health and vigour in order to be able to discharge the duties of that high office.

It is not too frequently that we have the opportunity of expressing views that are genuinely unanimous in all quarters of the house, but this is one of those occasions. I can assure the hon. gentleman that we were gratified from time to time by the good news we heard of his progress toward complete recovery, and perhaps on no occasion more so than when the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Rowe) informed us on that

first sitting day that he had seen the hon. gentleman the previous day and could give us the assurance that the progress he was making was highly satisfactory. That was something that rejoiced us.

We are all now happy to see that the good wishes we asked Your Honour to convey to the hon. gentleman on that day have been fully realized, and to know that that period will probably be only a disagreeable memory. There may perhaps be some compensation in the fact that the hon. gentleman's illness gave us who feel honoured by his personal friendship the opportunity to express publicly our esteem for him and our admiration for the way in which he responds to his sense of duty to the public service.

Once again I can say, with the deep conviction that I am expressing the genuine feeling of every member of the house no matter where he sits, that we extend to the hon. gentleman our very best wishes and our hope, based upon what we see with our own eyes today, that he has fully recovered his health.

Topic:   WELCOME TO LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION ON HIS RETURN FOLLOWING ILLNESS
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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. M. J. Coldwell (Roselown-Biggar):

Mr. Speaker, although the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) has spoken for all members of the house, may I be pardoned for just adding a word because I did not do so when the hon. gentleman's absence through illness was first referred to. I want to say that we are extremely glad to see him here. No doubt we shall hear that he is as well as he looks. Some people might think the House of Commons has been a more comfortable place during his absence. I am inclined to think that it will be a much more lively place now that he is back again.

On behalf of those associated with me and, I know, all other members of the house, I certainly join in saying how glad we are to see him back. The Prime Minister expressed our sentiments so well that I think there is nothing more for me to say.

Topic:   WELCOME TO LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION ON HIS RETURN FOLLOWING ILLNESS
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SC

Ernest George Hansell

Social Credit

Mr. E. G. Hansell (Macleod):

Mr. Speaker, in the absence of the leader of this group, who happens to be indisposed today, I wish to add to the remarks of the Prime Minister and the leader of the C.C.F. the sentiments of the group which sits in this corner on the occasion of the return to this house of the Leader of the Opposition.

House of Commons

I think all members of parliament and individuals regard their responsibilities with some seriousness, but I have often thought the leaders of the various parties in the house have added responsibilities that sometimes must weigh quite heavily upon them. While very often we do not think alike, and we talk differently, and sometimes arguments in the house become pretty hot and heavy, yet when it is all boiled down I know that each and every one of us has a very high regard for his fellow members. On this occasion it gives us pleasure indeed to welcome back to the house the leader of the official opposition.

Topic:   WELCOME TO LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION ON HIS RETURN FOLLOWING ILLNESS
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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, in many ways this is the most momentous occasion I have experienced since I entered this house. The words of the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) and those uttered in support of what he said by the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell) and the hon. member for Macleod (Mr. Hansell) have touched me more than I can say. As the Prime Minister remarked, the occasions when unanimity can be expressed in the house are, under our democratic system, not so frequent. If I can assume that there is that measure of unanimity that has been indicated, certainly this is one of the happiest days of my life. I go so far as to say that I confidently feel that the sentiments that have been expressed in this way come from the hearts of members on both sides of the house.

From the time I was so unexpectedly taken out of circulation I have received consideration, kindness, messages of encouragement and those things that help to while away the rather lengthy hours in hospital not only from the members of my own party but from members in every part of the house. The letters I received will always be deeply impressed on my mind, because it was surprising to find the warmth of expression that came from so many where perhaps it might be least expected.

It was not only from members of the house that I received encouragement of this kind, but from people all over Canada. I received convincing evidence that those of us in the house who are performing public service to the best of our ability, no matter to what party we belong, are in the minds of the people of Canada, and that perhaps we are not so critically, regarded as sometimes may be thought. I received so many letters that I will always cherish, but I can hardly refrain from mentioning the fact that nearly every letter I received mentioned that not only the wishes but the prayers of those writing were with me.

I think one of the most deeply moving letters I received was from a boy of 11 whom

I have never met, but now that I have returned I intend to meet him. He wrote to me and said, "Dear Mr. Drew: I am writing to you because I also had meningitis. While I was in hospital my mother and father prayed for me and I know what prayers mean. I just want you to know that I am praying for you because I know how lonely it is in hospital." I need not tell you that when my wife read that letter to me in the hospital there were tears in our eyes. But that, I thought, was encouraging in more than a personal way because it did indicate exactly the extent to which so many people are concerned about the activities that we carry on here.

In expressing my appreciation to the members of the house it would be less than fitting if I did not express my very great appreciation to a friend of many long years, the Hon. Earl Rowe, who has carried on in my absence. Sometimes I do not obey orders very well. I am afraid my wife would be the first witness to that. But on this occasion I have done so, and actually until my return here he was the only member I saw because my instructions were to remove myself from political activities and the hurly-burly of the affairs that go on here. He performed the task-and I have naturally followed his performance in the daily press

with great ability, and with the devotion that for so many years he has shown to the public life of this country.

I know he would be the first to say that he would not wish to be singled out, because I recognize that, with him, I owe a very great debt of gratitude to the members of my party for the way in which they have carried on and assumed the burdens that my illness placed upon them. To all of them I am naturally deeply grateful, but to every one of you I wish to express my profound thanks for the kindness and courtesy you have shown. This is the first time during the numerous years I have served in municipal councils, a provincial legislature and here at Ottawa that I have been away for more than a few days, and I come back with a greater appreciation than ever before of what the House of Commons means and of what our associations in the House of Commons mean to every one of us.

May I say that the remarks made by the Prime Minister at the opening of the session and conveyed to me through you, Mr. Speaker, signalized that understanding that exists between all of us that under our system it is possible for us to respect the different

opinions we may hold about public affairs and retain warm personal friendships at the same time. There may be times when, ' jokingly or otherwise, some will say they would be glad to see me perhaps not quite so active as I have been, and remarks of that kind may be made quite naturally in the heat of debate on both sides of the house; but what the Prime Minister and other members have said today and what you have all conveyed in your many messages of sympathy and understanding is an expression of the great privilege we all have of serving in a parliament where there is freedom to disagree without any suggestion that we are imputing improper motives to those who hold different opinions from our own.

I cannot help but recall one letter in particular that I received from one of the ministers sitting opposite who, in wishing me good luck, said; "Do get back as soon as you can so you can lambaste us as vigorously as ever." Well, in case any of you might think the kindness that has been extended has muzzled me, I say this is one occasion on which I shall, without reservation, accept the advice that has been given from the other side.

May I, in expressing appreciation not only for the kindness and the advice, say with deep sincerity how grateful I am to the members of the press gallery for the consideration they have shown during the period that I have been away. It might not have been unnatural to have assumed very gloomy prospects for the outcome of my illness, but instead of that there has been kindness, consideration and a genuine expression of friendly good will which has helped very much in the very gratifying recovery that I have had from the illness from which I suffered. Perhaps just before I close these remarks I might say that I have had very convincing evidence of the excellence of our medical services here in Canada, and of the importance of these new and benign drugs that now mean so much to the health of all our people.

Again, Mr. Speaker, to you who extended on behalf of the members of the house the very generous resolution adopted here some time ago, and also to you personally as well as your wife for the flowers you were good enough to send to my wife and myself, and to every member in this house, may I simply say from the bottom of my heart, thank you every one.

Questions

Topic:   WELCOME TO LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION ON HIS RETURN FOLLOWING ILLNESS
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COMMITTEE ON ESTIMATES

CONCURRENCE IN FIRST REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE


Mr. W. A. Tucker (Rosihern) presented the first report of the special committee on estimates, and moved that the report be concurred in. Motion agreed to.


CANADA ELECTIONS ACT

AMENDMENT TO REDUCE VOTING AGE

CCF

Hazen Robert Argue

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

Mr. H. R. Argue (Assiniboia) moved

for leave to introduce Bill No. 126, to amend the Canada Elections Act (age of voters).

Motion agreed to and bill read the first time.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO REDUCE VOTING AGE
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QUESTIONS

INCOME TAX

PAYMENTS INTO UNION STRIKE

CCF

Mr. Knowles: (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

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

1. Have requests been received that trade union members be allowed to include payments into union strike funds in their trade union dues and thus be granted deductibility for such payments for income tax purposes?

2. If so, from whom?

3. Has consideration been given to such requests? If so, what is the result of such consideration?

4. Has consideration been given to allowing bona fide trade union members the right to deduct payments into strike funds as charitable donations for income tax purposes? If so, what is the result of such consideration?

Topic:   INCOME TAX
Subtopic:   PAYMENTS INTO UNION STRIKE
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L L

Mr. Benidickson: (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance)

Liberal Labour

1. No.

2, 3, and 4. Answered by No. 1.

Topic:   INCOME TAX
Subtopic:   PAYMENTS INTO UNION STRIKE
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SOCIAL SECURITY PAYMENTS, UNITED STATES

CCF

Mr. Knowles: (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

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

1. Has the federal government information as to rates of pension paid in the United States by the social security administration (a) to a retired worker 65 years of age or over; (b) to a retired worker and his wife both 65 years of age or over?

2. If so. what are such rates of.pension in relation to the average monthly income of the worker during his working years?

Topic:   SOCIAL SECURITY PAYMENTS, UNITED STATES
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?

Murdo William Martin

Mr. Marlin:

The hon. gentleman, in these questions, asks about matters not having to do with this government but with the government of another country. While I would be glad to co-operate in any way in giving the hon. gentleman the information sought, I do submit it is not proper to ask these questions in this way. Any questions having to do with the operations of a particular department of the government of Canada are proper, but these questions have nothing to do with this government or this country.

Mr. jSpeaker: Answered.

Questions

Topic:   SOCIAL SECURITY PAYMENTS, UNITED STATES
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CAMP GAGETOWN-HEATING

February 17, 1955