March 15, 1956

PRIVILEGE

MR. FULTON ELIZABETH FAY SPALDING REFERENCE TO ANSWER OF MINISTER OF CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION

PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. E. D. Fulton (Kamloops):

Yesterday, I asked the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration a question which is reported on page 2125 of Hansard as follows:

May I ask the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration a question arising out of the answer he gave to a starred question a few minutes ago? Has the minister just recently issued instructions for the removal of this lady from Canada-where I might say she is now legally married and a resident-under section 7 of the Immigration Act. which would have the effect of circumventing the decision of the court?

To which the minister replied:

The answer, sir, is no. If the hon. gentleman has any information about the alleged marriage of the woman in question I would be glad to have it.

To which I suggested he refer to the departmental counsel. Sir, the minister said no, he had not issued instructions. I hold in my hand a copy of a letter which reproduces a letter from the legal adviser to the Department of Citizenship and Immigration, dated March 8, which reads in part as follows. After advising the solicitor of the lady in question of certain developments in the case, it contains this paragraph:

The minister has now directed that action be taken for Miss Spalding's removal under the provisions of subsections (4) and (5) of section 7 of the Immigration Act.

So that, sir, the information contained in a letter from the departmental legal counsel to the effect that the minister has issued those instructions is directly at variance with the answer given by the minister yesterday when I asked him whether he had issued those instructions, and he said the answer was no.

My question of privilege is this, sir: In view of the fact that we in this house are required to rely upon statements of ministers made with respect to matters under their jurisdiction, this house is entitled to an explanation as to whether the minister was in possession of the facts or not; and if so, why he gave the answer that he did. If he was not in possession of the facts, how is it that action is being taken by his department 67509-136i

under his name, or under an order of the minister without his knowledge?

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Subtopic:   MR. FULTON ELIZABETH FAY SPALDING REFERENCE TO ANSWER OF MINISTER OF CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION
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LIB

Louis-René Beaudoin (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

I will allow the minister to answer the question, but before he does may I be allowed to inform the hon. member for Kamloops that his point is not one of privilege.

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Subtopic:   MR. FULTON ELIZABETH FAY SPALDING REFERENCE TO ANSWER OF MINISTER OF CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION
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?

Some hon. Members:

It is.

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Subtopic:   MR. FULTON ELIZABETH FAY SPALDING REFERENCE TO ANSWER OF MINISTER OF CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION
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LIB

Louis-René Beaudoin (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

No, it is not. It is one which may be further clarified before the orders of the day, but if the hon. member looks at citation 307 he will find that it reads as follows:

A minister may decline to answer a question without stating the reason for his refusal, and insistence on an answer is out of order, no debate being allowed. A refusal to answer cannot be raised as a question of privilege, nor is it regular to comment upon such refusal. A member can put a question, but has no right to insist upon an answer.

Further to that I will comment that both here and in the United Kingdom a minister is at liberty to answer what he pleases and to refuse to answer if he pleases, and the matter can be pursued in a different way in a debate which may arise later, perhaps on the estimates of the department of the minister, but not as a question of privilege.

I will further refer the hon. member to citation 137 of Beauchesne which says:

When the orders of the day are called-

-not at the opening of the sittings, as the hon. member does now, but-

When the orders of the day are called by the Speaker and before they are read by the clerk assistant, it is the practice sanctioned by usage but not by any positive rule for members to make personal explanations or ask questions of the government-

And I pass over a few lines-

... in respect to delay in obtaining returns or to the incompleteness of certain returns brought down under the order of the house.

I would say that complaint about the incompleteness or inexactitude of an answer could be dealt with when the orders of the day are called but not as a distinct question of privilege. The question raised today is in the same class as that which was raised yesterday by the hon. member for Eglinton (Mr. Fleming) and I think we must make a distinction here that instead of rising on a distinct question of privilege for the purpose the hon. member has put forward, it should be done when the orders of the day are called.

Immigration

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Liberal

Hon. J. W. Picltersgill (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration):

I feel there

can be no question whatsoever, Mr. Speaker, that I have a question of privilege. The hon. member has suggested that the answer I gave yesterday to his question was not accurate and I should like to explain to the house precisely what did happen in this case.

At the time the reasons for judgment were given in the Brent case I consulted the legal adviser of the department and, after consultation with him, came to the conclusion that there would be no point whatsoever in proceeding with the appeal to the Supreme Court in the Spalding case. I asked at that time, "What should be done next?" because die decision of the court of appeal of British Columbia quashed an order for deportation but left this woman in the country without any status of any kind either as a visitor or as an immigrant. That situation could not be allowed to continue indefinitely.

As hon. members know, unlike the hon. member who asked the question, I am not a member of the learned profession of which he is a member and I have to get legal advice. After some consideration of possible courses, I suggested to the legal adviser tha! we give consideration to the possibility ot the minister acting under section 7 of the Immigration Act. If the hon. gentleman will look at section 7 he will see that it would be impossible for anyone to act under that section except the minister himself so there would be no possibility of anyone else in the department doing anything unless the minister

acted.

In order to make a complete disclosure I have to say this, and I am sorry to have to do so, but it appears that the legal adviser, being very busy, asked one of the junior officers in his office to advise the agent of the crown in Vancouver. Somehow or other a misunderstanding arose about this matter and this junior officer wrote a letter saying that the minister had directed that action should be taken, when all the minister had done was to direct that consideration be given to the possibility of action under this section. And that, sir, is the whole and complete story.

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Subtopic:   MR. FULTON ELIZABETH FAY SPALDING REFERENCE TO ANSWER OF MINISTER OF CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION
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LIB

Louis-René Beaudoin (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

In order to complete the

point I was trying to make a moment ago, I would also refer hon. members to citations 191 and 192 of Beauchesne's third edition, and especially to citation 192, which says in the third paragraph:

A dispute arising between two honourable members as to allegations of facts hardly fulfils the conditions of a privilege question-

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Subtopic:   MR. FULTON ELIZABETH FAY SPALDING REFERENCE TO ANSWER OF MINISTER OF CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION
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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

Mr. Speaker, on the point of order which you yourself have raised-not to IMr. Speaker.]

pursue the question of privilege to which the hon. minister has now replied, but surely on the point of order-I raised it as a question of privilege, not because I was complaining that I had not received an answer, which I know is not a question of privilege under the rules, or because the answer was not complete, which is similarly not a question of privilege, but because the answer conveyed to the house information which according to the letter I now have in my hand is completely at variance with the facts which are within the knowledge of the minister. The minister has now explained that the letter from his departmental legal adviser does not correctly convey the decision which he had reached, so I think my question of privilege has been met.

But because the point of order is important, I submit that to raise a question of privilege as to the complete inaccuracy and misleading effect of an answer is valid. It is a question of privilege as distinct from raising a complaint that an answer had not been given or was not complete and I would hope that you would appreciate that distinction. I raise the point of order now only because it seems to me important not to let the matter pass by.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. FULTON ELIZABETH FAY SPALDING REFERENCE TO ANSWER OF MINISTER OF CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION
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LIB

Louis-René Beaudoin (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

I was seized of the point

raised by the hon. member in which he complained, not of having an incomplete answer but of having what he considered to be a wrong answer. Is not that the point?

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Subtopic:   MR. FULTON ELIZABETH FAY SPALDING REFERENCE TO ANSWER OF MINISTER OF CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION
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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

The answer was directly at variance with the facts-

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Subtopic:   MR. FULTON ELIZABETH FAY SPALDING REFERENCE TO ANSWER OF MINISTER OF CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION
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LIB

Louis-René Beaudoin (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

I perceive that the-

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Subtopic:   MR. FULTON ELIZABETH FAY SPALDING REFERENCE TO ANSWER OF MINISTER OF CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION
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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

-on a subject peculiarly within the knowledge of the minister. We are told that the house has to rely upon ministerial statements and therefore it seems to me that it is a matter of privilege affecting the rights of hon. members of the house when such an answer is given under the circumstances which appear here.

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LIB

Louis-René Beaudoin (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

That is exactly the point. The hon. member contends that the reply given by the minister is at variance with the facts as he knows them and he immediately rose on a question of privilege and asked for an explanation. But that is not the type of question of privilege which is allowed at this moment at the beginning of the session immediately after prayers. I referred the hon. member to citations 191 and 192. The third paragraph of citation 192 reads:

A dispute arising between two honourable members as to allegations of facts hardly fulfils the conditions of a privilege question-

I think that hits the point raised by the hon. member right on the head.

On the orders of the day:

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Subtopic:   MR. FULTON ELIZABETH FAY SPALDING REFERENCE TO ANSWER OF MINISTER OF CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION
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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

Mr. Speaker, I think I am in order at this time to point out that yesterday the hon. member for Kamloops (Mr. Fulton) asserted that if I wanted to find out about the alleged marriage of this Spalding woman I might ask the departmental counsel. I have asked the departmental counsel and he has never heard about any such marriage.

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Subtopic:   MR. FULTON ELIZABETH FAY SPALDING REFERENCE TO ANSWER OF MINISTER OF CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION
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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

Mr. Speaker, the minister

raises a question of privilege but I hope he has the information that his department retained counsel in Vancouver who lost the case in the supreme court and in the appeal court. They have been in touch with the solicitors for this lady and, as I am informed, are in possession of the facts. It was in that sense that I referred to the departmental counsel, the same counsel who wrote the letters to which I referred earlier today.

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Subtopic:   MR. FULTON ELIZABETH FAY SPALDING REFERENCE TO ANSWER OF MINISTER OF CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION
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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

May I say, also on a question of privilege, that if the lady's solicitors did not provide material information to the department that was of interest to her case, I think perhaps she ought to get some new solicitors.

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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

Or the government should get a new minister.

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Subtopic:   MR. FULTON ELIZABETH FAY SPALDING REFERENCE TO ANSWER OF MINISTER OF CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION
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LIB

Louis-René Beaudoin (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Order. May I rise on a question of privilege? I think that hon. members should remind themselves that a question of privilege is one that ought rarely to come up in parliament. It is depreciating what is meant by a question of privilege if, under the guise of a question of privilege, there occurs a debate at this juncture of our proceedings. I think that hon. members could pursue the point when the estimates of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration are before the house.

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Subtopic:   MR. FULTON ELIZABETH FAY SPALDING REFERENCE TO ANSWER OF MINISTER OF CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION
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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

Is a slur, not only on the name of the lady but on her solicitors, to be allowed *-an entirely unwarranted slur? I submit that that sort of thing should not be allowed to happen. When the minister is guilty of that soft of conduct, it calls for a reply under the rules. The fact of the matter is that the marriage took place after the application was made-

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Subtopic:   MR. FULTON ELIZABETH FAY SPALDING REFERENCE TO ANSWER OF MINISTER OF CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION
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March 15, 1956