George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)
Hon. George A. Drew (Leader of ihe Opposition):
Mr. Speaker, I rise in connection with a matter of privilege affecting myself and every other hon. member of this house. Yesterday I introduced a motion seeking an adjournment of the house to debate a question of urgent public importance, namely the negotiations which we thought were then being conducted between the government of Canada and the government of Poland in connection with wheat transactions. We have made it perfectly clear that what we were doing was seeking a discussion of procedure by which our money is handed out for deals of this kind. I am not going to extend the argument with respect to trade with communist countries. As I made clear yesterday, the matter has nothing to do with trade with communist countries as such but is rather a transaction by which the Canadian taxpayer is called upon to put up money to support these deals. When this matter was raised Your Honour took the motion into consideration and ruled that the matter should not be dealt with.
The grounds on which you made the ruling were grounds that have a bearing on the question of the privileges of every one of us if we believe we are entitled to accurate information in this house and to knowledge of the subjects that we are discussing passed on to us at appropriate times by the members of the government. As found in Hansard for yesterday at page 5682, Your Honour, in explaining reasons why you questioned at first the propriety of proceeding with the motion and why you subsequently ruled that it should not be proceeded with, had this to say: .
As I recall it a question was asked Friday and the reply was given by the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) that this matter is still pending.
That was the transaction with Poland with regard to the sale of some 9 million to 10 million bushels of wheat. Your Honour continued:
The information given by the Prime Minister Friday was to the effect that the negotiations in
respect of this matter were not completely terminated. Therefore the matter referred to in the motion could not be a definite one. I have Hansard here for Friday, July 1, 1955, and I find that at page 5557 the Prime Minister is reported as saying:
"I know that the negotiations have been proceeding, Mr. Speaker, in what we consider to be a satisfactory manner, but I have not been informed that they have been concluded. The negotiations did deal with a large quantity of wheat, and did deal with the Insurance by the Export Credits Insurance Corporation of a substantial portion of the price to be paid within twelve months, I understand."
Then Your Honour continued:
Apparently that is the situation with respect to this transaction . . .
Subtopic: MR. DREW-REFERENCE TO PROCEEDINGS IN HOUSE OF COMMONS ON JULY 5