May 25, 1956

?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

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PC
LIB

William Alfred Robinson (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

Order.

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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

-in the light of what you said earlier, if you do not hear my question of privilege you have misled the committee and every member of it. You said here earlier this morning that you would hear the members of the house on the question whether members could be heard on a question of privilege raised by another. Now you are making a decision and allowing no one to be heard. You will not even allow a member the right of raising a question of privilege.

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LIB

William Alfred Robinson (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

I have asked the hon. member to resume his seat. He has not done so. Does the hon. member wish me to report the occurrence?

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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

Mr. Chairman, if you wish to deny me my right as a member of the house and refuse to hear a question of privilege, you will take your own blind course, I assume. I assert my right as the right not only of myself but of every other member of the house.

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LIB

William Alfred Robinson (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

Order. I shall stand here until there is absolute silence. It is impossible to conduct the business of parliament in this way. The hon. gentleman rose while I was on my feet-

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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

We are agreed on that, and the responsibility rests with you.

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LIB

William Alfred Robinson (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

I have asked the hon. member to resume his seat and he has refused to do so. I must, therefore, report the matter to the house.

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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

I rise on a question of privilege. Will you hear me on a question of privilege?

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LIB

William Alfred Robinson (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

I leave the chair to report the matter to the house.

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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

Mr. Chairman, on a question of privilege; will you read the report to the committee before you make it.

Northern Ontario Pipe Line Corporation

Mr. Speaker resumed the chair, and the chairman of the committee made the following report:

Mr. Speaker, in committee of the whole when it was considering clause 3 of Bill No. 298, an act to establish the Northern Ontario Pipe Line Crown Corporation, I was addressing the committee when Mr. Fleming rose on a question of privilege. I stated that a question of privilege could not be raised while I was addressing the committee and directed Mr. Fleming to resume his seat. This, Mr. Fleming refused to do.

Mr. Speaker put the question as follows:

Mr. Robinson (Simcoe East) of the committee of the whole reports that when it was considering clause 3 of Bill No. 298, an act to establish the Northern Ontario Pipe Line Crown Corporation, the chairman was addressing the committee when Mr. Fleming rose on a question of privilege. The chairman stated that a question of privilege could not be raised while he was addressing the committee and directed Mr. Fleming to resume his seat. This, Mr. Fleming refused to do.

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Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

Mr. Speaker, may I be heard? I submit to you, sir, that that report is not a true and accurate report of the proceedings in committee. These are the facts, sir. A point of order was under discussion. The discussion had commenced last night on a point that was raised by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre, and I followed this morning on the point of order, supporting it. When I rose the chairman of the committee said that he, at some point, wished to hear argument as to whether he, as chairman, should hear more than the member raising or introducing the point of order. He did say, however, when I undertook to discuss that subject, that he did not wish the discussion at that point, but that he would reserve that as a separate point for later discussion. I proceeded then to discuss the original point and the second point has not yet been raised.

After I was heard in part, I may say that the chairman ruled that my time was up in committee about ten minutes to one although I had not quite completed, then he heard the Minister of Finance (Mr. Harris) on the same point of order. After the noon adjournment the committee resumed at 2.30 and the floor was given to the Minister of Finance to complete his observations and representations on the point of order. He was heard to the end, and then the chairman of the committee rose and stated that he was about to make his ruling. I rose and indicated that I wished to complete briefly some remarks on the point of order. Now, if he had given me an opportunity, Mr. Speaker, I would have said that another member of my own party who was going to make a submission on the same point of order had decided to withhold those remarks and let me complete my remarks instead of having

4342 HOUSE OF

Northern Ontario Pipe Line Corporation a second speaker from my party on that point. I was not permitted even to say that.

At that point the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) rose on a question of privilege. Will you bear in mind, Mr. Speaker, that the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre was at that point heard on a question of privilege. The chairman of the committee had already said he was on his feet and was about to give his decision on the point of order, but even then, even having risen to his feet with that declared purpose, he heard the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre on a question of privilege. I said I wished then to be heard on a question of privilege. My question of privilege was similar to his, but I was entitled, I think, to state it. The chairman of the committee did not hear me.

Then, the hon. member to my right, my colleague the hon. member for Greenwood (Mr. Macdonnell), rose to his feet and said he wished to address the chair on a question of privilege. Still the chairman of the committee was on his feet and still purporting to make his ruling on a question of order, and without having heard all the discussion on that point, but he said, if you please, that he would hear the hon. member for Greenwood on his question of privilege. I then asked that I be heard on a question of privilege. I had already tried several times, even before, to be heard on a question of privilege, and although the chairman of the committee had heard the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre on a question of privilege and although he said he was going to hear my colleague the hon. member for Greenwood on a question of privilege, he refused to hear me on a question of privilege. I asserted, Mr. Speaker, my right to be heard on a question of privilege and not be debarred by a decision of the chair from being heard on an important question of privilege on an issue that is as important as any that will ever come before the Canadian House of Commons.

When others enjoy that right-it is not a privilege, it is a right to be heard on a question of privilege-under the same circumstances and while the same chairman was on his feet and engaged in delivering his decision on the same point of order, by what right does he accord to some members of the house the right to rise on a question of privilege and deny it to me? Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I stood my ground.

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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

And I did so, Mr. Speaker, without departing one inch from the respect which, in the 11 years I have been in this house, I have always given to the Chair.

But there comes a time when a higher duty is owed, and it is a duty to parliament itself, to the long centuries of tradition of parliamentary freedom. And, sir, the right that I assert here today I assert not for myself alone. I assert it for all members of this House of Commons, not just today, but in days to come, to stand up against discriminatory decisions, in fact, abuse of the rules of this house and denial to members of their clear and proper and constitutional rights to discharge their responsibilities to those who sent them here, the responsibilities to all Canadians, their responsibilities not only today but to generations yet unborn, and I abide by the consequences.

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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. Speaker, because my name has been mentioned by the previous speaker, may I speak to the matter? I do not press it; I leave it in Your Honour's hands. Since I have your consent, I may say that the reason I feel I should say a few words is that the hon. member for Eglinton has indicated that his point of privilege arose partly because 1 had been permitted to speak to a point of privilege at the same juncture in the proceedings of the committee. I feel, Mr. Speaker, that I should make it clear why I felt I had a point of privilege and in doing so I think I shall make it clear to Your Honour that underlying this whole incident is a very serious misunderstanding.

My point of privilege was that during the debate on a point of order which I had raised on the motion of the Minister of Trade and Commerce another point of order had been raised, namely, as to whether or not members had the right to speak to points of order. I listened very carefully to the chairman of the committee and I understood him to say- we have to wait until we get Hansard to see what was actually said-that two points of order could not be dealt with at the same time; that the one would have to be disposed of first, namely, my point of order against the minister's motion, and that the other point of order as to whether or not speaking on a point of order was a matter of right would be dealt with later. My point of privilege was that because I understood from the chairman that the question of the right of members to speak on a point of order would be dealt with later therefore I refrained from speaking to it at that time, am prepared to give the benefit of the doubt to the chairman in putting it this way, but I am sure there was a misunderstanding.

The chairman asserts that he did not intend to give the impression that I got from his words, but I certainly got that impression and I am positive that I am not alone. It is out of that misunderstanding that this whole question has arisen and because of

that I think consideration has to be given to the position in which the hon. member for Eglinton has been placed. I pointed out in my question of privilege when we were in committee of the whole that in fact the chairman was doing what he said could not be done; that he was ruling on two points of order at the same time. He was attempting to rule on my point of order against the minister's motion and, in fact, by closing off discussion he was ruling on the point of order about members speaking to points of order, even though he had not permitted discussion on that second point of order. I say again, Mr. Speaker, that I am thoroughly satisfied that the chairman gave us the impression that we would be permitted to have that discussion later.

What the house does with the hon. member for Eglinton for having defied the chairman is up to the house, but it does seem to me that cognizance will have to be taken of the whole situation. I think, to put it in the best parliamentary words that I can, there was a serious misunderstanding between the chairman and the committee.

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Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Finance and Receiver General; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

May I just say a few words, and in general agree with the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre, though not entirely. My understanding was that the chairman decided, or was about to decide, that he had heard sufficient advice from the committee with respect to the particular point of order raised by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre. Now, it is true that at that point- I think I am reading the mind of the hon. member for Eglinton-he desired to argue, as had the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre, that in doing so; that is, in refusing to hear further advice from the house in committee, he was in fact making a decision that he was not obliged to hear every hon. member who rose in the committee to offer him advice. On the other hand, I distinctly heard the chairman of the committee say that he was not called upon to make academic decisions, and I took it from that he felt at that time that he was not in fact ruling on the point of order that had been originally raised as to whether or not he had been obliged to accept advice from any hon. member.

Now, in the course of that he did read- and this may have added somewhat to the confusion which exists, if there is any at all- an extract from a textbook which indicated- and I am only going to paraphrase the words that he used-he hears members giving him advice at his pleasure. However, I do not think that can be taken as his decision, and I am sure that he did not make a decision that in fact he would or would not accept advice from any member. As a matter of fact, when 67509-275

25, 1956 4343

Northern Ontario Pipe Line Corporation he used the word "academic" I took it for granted that at a later stage of these proceedings that point would be raised and that he would probably rule on it in due course.

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

But he closed off the discussion on that point.

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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Finance and Receiver General; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

I beg your pardon. It is true, however, that if he were to continue, as I understood him to be about to do, and no doubt the hon. member for Eglinton understood, he would in fact at that point have rendered his decision on the point of order, having heard the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre, the hon. member for Eglinton and myself. Now, if that were taken, as I say, by the hon. member for Eglinton as a decision by him on the point of order that he did not have to accept advice from every one of the 264 members, I suppose there may be some point in the explanation offered by the hon. member for Eglinton. Nevertheless, I would have assumed, as I said, that a later decision would have been made on that point of order at a later time, and that should not be taken as barring that future decision.

However, may I say this, Mr. Speaker, with all respect to everyone who has spoken in this debate and on this particular point, that parliament after all is a body in which the officers have to be respected. As the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar said the other day, he thought that the chairman erred in some respects. I think he may have been addressing yourself. Every one of us realizes that we do err from time to time, but one thing we must not have happen, if we can possibly avoid it, is that the authority of both Mr. Speaker and the chairman of the committee should be defied in other than the normal method of appealing to the committee or to the house as a whole.

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May 25, 1956