May 25, 1956

PC
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:

The government tries just as much as it can to obey the rules of this house. At this point, sir, may I say that I think Your Honour has been seized with the explanations made by the hon. member for Eglinton, the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre and myself. If it would appear that the first two are correct and that the chairman was about to rule on the point of order raised in the first instance by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre, I can suggest that the hon. member for Eglinton would not have been debarred from subsequently raising the other point, though I must say that it was hard to decide whether he was actually going to speak to the point raised by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre or not. Nevertheless, sir, I have

Northern Ontario Pipe Line Corporation given such information to Your Honour as I could. I feel, as a matter of fact, that the chairman was going forward to make just the one ruling and not a second one and that the academic question he referred to could have been decided at a later date.

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Mr, Drew:

Mr. Speaker, I do not think there should be any confusion added to this by the statements that have been made by the Minister of Finance (Mr. Harris). The point at issue is perfectly clear. The hon. member for Eglinton (Mr. Fleming) rose on a question of privilege. The issue before you is not whether there was further debate on a point of order. The question is whether it is appropriate that the chairman should indicate his willingness to hear other hon. members on a question of privilege and deny that right to the hon. member for Eglinton. That is the point at issue and it should not be obscured. The Minister of Finance has said that officers have to be respected. May I say that officers also must deserve respect.

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Some hon. Members:

Shame.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

I have stated a basic proposition that is fundamental to the whole procedure of parliament and it is appropriate that it be brought to your attention that an indication had clearly been given that two hon. members were to be accorded the right to speak on a question of privilege while that right was denied to the hon. member for Eglinton. That is the one issue before you on this occasion.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Drew) says that the issue before me is whether or not the hon. member for Eglinton had the right to rise in committee of the whole on a question of privilege. I think the Leader of the Opposition, by inadvertence I am sure, does not grasp exactly what is the reason for my having resumed the chair.

I cannot review what has happened in committee of the whole. I am not here called upon to make a ruling; I am here merely to put to the house the report that has been received from the chairman of the committee of the whole. On two earlier occasions when I thought that particular phase of my duties was misunderstood I did quote citation 428 of Beauchesne's third edition. I did that last evening. Citation 428 reads:

In case of an appeal to the house, it is the duty of the Chairman to leave the chair immediately and report in writing the point of order which he has decided. The Speaker must then submit the matter to the determination of the house in the language reported to him and put the question. "That the decision of the Chairman be confirmed." No discussion is allowed on the appeal.

Then I added a reference of Mr. Speaker Lemieux which appears at pages 3984 and

3985 of Hansard, volume IV, of 1926. That ruling is to this effect; Mr. Speaker Lemieux said:

The question is not debatable and the Speaker is bound to accept the memorandum prepared by the Chairman of the committee. I shall read it again for the information of the house-[DOT]

And at that moment the then leader of the opposition, Mr. Arthur Meighen, rose to a point of order and said:

The statement was never submitted to the committee before being submitted to the chair. Surely it is not the rule of this house that whatever the Chairman says is the point of order is really the point of order under review either by the committee or the house. The point of order was as clear as day. The Chairman stated it before the committee clearly, and he puts it in a different way to Mr. Speaker. That was the first I knew of it. He should have put it to the committee.

Mr. Speaker Lemieux said:

I think I am bound to accept the statement of the Chairman.

Mr. Meighen replied:

Then appeals are useless.

Mr. Speaker Lemieux said:

The point of order is stated by the party who is to report it to the house, or when appeals are taken from the ruling of the chair, the Chairman states his point. The Chairman stated his point in this way:-

And then he goes on to read the report. Mr. Meighen intervened again. He said:

I speak with some diffidence, because it is some time since there was a precedent, but, I think it is the duty of the Speaker to decide a point of order.

Mr. Lapointe joined in the discussion and said:

Section 183 of Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms reads:

"In case of an appeal to the house, it is the duty of the Chairman-"

This is probably taken from the second edition which is the same as citation 428 of Beauchesne's third edition. Mr. Lapointe concluded:

I submit that even my right hon. friend the Leader of the Opposition should be amenable to the rules of the house.

Mr. Speaker Lemieux then said:

Might I respectfully call the attention of the right hon. gentleman to what May says under rule 14: "Note that the appeal from the Chairman's decision is to the house and not to the Speaker."

Then he put the question and the question was decided in the affirmative. I cite this just to point out to hon. members that whatever happens in committee of the whole, if it is an appeal from a ruling by the Chairman, that appeal is not to the Speaker but rather it is to the house. I resumed the chair merely for the purpose of taking the report and submitting it to the house which must

decide one way or the other itself, a right provided by the rules of the house.

As far as the question of disorder is concerned, it is provided by standing order 59, paragraph 4, that:

The chairman shall maintain order in the committees of the whole house, deciding all questions of order subject to an appeal to the house; but disorder in a committee can only be censured by the house, on receiving a report thereof.

Now, it is to the latter part of this citation that the report apparently addresses itself. The report I have received is that "the chairman was addressing the committee when the hon. member for Eglinton rose on a question of privilege. The chairman stated that the question of privilege could not be raised while he was addressing the committee and directed the hon. member for Eglinton to resume his seat. This the hon. member refused to do."

To follow the procedure which obtains under our rules and practice with respect to a report of this kind, it is to allow the hon. member who is mentioned in the report to rise and explain. The hon. member for Eglinton was given that right. He stood up a moment ago and we heard him. Following that the practice is to the effect that the hon. member concerned in the report is to withdraw while the house decides what it is going to do about the report. Now, the hon. gentleman remained with us and I think we were all happy to see him with us. And the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles), because he had been mentioned in the remarks made by the hon. member for Eglinton, explained further what the position was and so did the Minister of Finance. The Leader of the Opposition spoke too, but it was to indicate to me that what was before me was to decide whether or not the hon. member for Eglinton had a right to be heard on the question of privilege.

I think I have explained as fully as I can that it is not my duty at the moment to decide on that point. I have nothing to do with whatever has taken place in committee of the whole. All that I have to deal with is the report I have received and my duty consists merely of presenting that report to the house and this is what I have done. The matter is now entirely in the hands of the house and not in mine.

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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:

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An hon. Member:

And with respect to the rights of parliament to speak.

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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:

Those rights of parliament, as I have said, may very well be interpreted only by the presiding officers, and when they make an interpretation it is, I think, a duty of parliament to uphold them until a later time when another incident may occur. In these circumstances there appears to be, as I understand it from a very brief reading of the precedents, a reference of the matter to a committee; there seems to be a case of the suspension of the hon. member, if the house so determines, for the remainder of the sitting or at whatever length the house might decide.

I presume, sir, that the former, that is the question of the reference to a committee, has to do with a reference more inclined to his own personal interest perhaps of matters such as have been raised on other occasions. If that is so, and if this house is to indicate its support of the presiding officers in their decisions, the only possible motion which can be made is one of suspension. It is with the greatest regret that I am obliged to make that motion. I therefore move:

That the hon. member for Eglinton (Mr. Fleming) be suspended from the service of the house for the remainder of this day's sitting.

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Some hon. Members:

Shame.

4346 HOUSE OF

Northern Ontario Pipe Line Corporation

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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulion:

I move an amendment to the motion of the Minister of Finance:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after "That" and substituting therefor the following:

"this house record its support of the hon. member for Eglinton in his assertion of the historic and inalienable right of hon. members to rise and speak on a question of privilege in committee of the whole."

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

The Minister of Finance has moved a motion to the effect that the hon. member for Eglinton be suspended from the service of this house for the remainder of the present sitting. The hon. member for Kamloops rose and moved an amendment. I am informed that the motion to suspend the member is not debatable.

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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 rise on a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

I shall hear the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre on the point of order, but before he speaks I would tell him that I have just been informed that it is not debatable by virtue of standing order 32.

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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, at this point I shall confine myself solely to the question as to whether the motion of the Minister of Finance is debatable. If I establish my point with regard to its debatability I shall speak to the motion later, but I shall restrict myself at this time to the point of order as to whether or not this motion is debatable. I too, during the time we have had since this incident started to arise, have been reading the citations and standing orders that would seem to apply and I also sent to the library and got Hansard for July 31, 1944, when the former member for Parkdale was reported and suspended from the service of the house for the balance of that day. If Your Honour wishes the page, it is 5683 of Hansard for July 31, 1944.

Your Honour relies for your statement that the motion is not debatable on standing order 32. May I point out, however, that there does not seem to be any standing order that spells out the procedure in connection with the naming of a member. I realize that this is not what is technically called the naming of a member, but from standing order 34 (2) it is fairly clear that it is, with respect to something that happened in the committee of the whole, the same thing as would be applied in the house itself. Standing order 34 (2) reads:

Mr. Speaker or the chairman, after having called the attention of the house, or of the committee, to the conduct of a member who persists in irrelevance, or repetition, may direct him to discontinue his speech, and if then the member still continues to speak, Mr. Speaker shall name him, or, if in committee, the chairman shall report him to the house.

Then there is another standing order calling for a report by the chairman to the house of any alleged misconduct. The reason I read standing order 34 (2) is that, so far as I can find, that is the only place in our standing orders where the word "naming" appears. Now, if one looks at Beauchesne's third edition-

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

May I say this, so that we understand each other? I do not think that in this instance the member concerned had to be named. He was not named. He disregarded the authority of the chair in committee, and whenever that is considered to be disorder and when there is disorder in committee according to standing order 59 (4), a report must be made. Since at that moment when I resumed the chair I merely had to read the report of the chairman to the house, I have no power to name anyone, but the house has it within its power to censure, in whatever form it sees fit, the member who is mentioned in the report of the chairman. As a result of that I take it that the Minister of Finance, as leader of the house, has moved the motion that is now before me. The hon. member will be good enough to address himself to the question whether or not this motion of suspension is debatable.

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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, we are on common ground and in complete agreement that this is not naming because the incident took place in committee of the whole rather than in the house itself. But when we start to search the standing orders to find what course we will follow in a case such as this I think Your Honour will agree that we have to look at all of the standing orders that seem to apply. You are right in directing our attention to standing order 59(4) which says:

The chairman shall maintain order in the committees of the whole house, deciding all questions of order subject to an appeal to the house; but disorder in a committee can only be censured by the house, on receiving a report thereof.

Now, whether it is naming, which this is not, or whether it is a case of the house dealing with the report that has come from the committee, the question arises, how does the house deal with it? There are citations in Beauchesne, limited in number, but nevertheless there are some that can give us guidance. The only standing order which seems to me to have application is standing order No. 30 which reads as follows:

If anything shall come in question touching the conduct of any member, or his election, or his right to hold his seat-

I make it quite clear that I am reading the whole standing order although those last two phrases do not apply.

-he may make a statement and shall withdraw during the time the matter is in debate.

I also draw your attention to citation 229 which is based on that standing order although, of course, it refers to it as standing order 36, which was the number of standing order 30 in the former rules. Citation 229 reads as follows:

Note that under standing order 36, the member shall withdraw during the time a matter touching his conduct is in debate.

I point out, therefore, Mr. Speaker, that both standing order 30, or 36 as it used to be, and citation 229 of Beauchesne, third edition, indicate that a matter of this kind is dealt with by a debate. Surely if it is dealt with in debate, or by debate, that involves a debate. Your Honour may say that you are stymied by standing order 32 because it does not include in the provisions from (a) to (1) thereof a reference to a motion of this kind. I do not think it is a matter of surprise that a motion of this kind is not included there because it does not come up very often. I do not think it has occurred since the occasion when Dr. Bruce was put out of the house on July 31, 1944. But please note that subparagraph (m) of paragraph 1 of standing order 32 says:

(m) such other motion, made upon routine proceedings,-

I am prepared to admit that Your Honour may try to rely on that phrase, that this is not being made on routine proceedings, but the question might be asked how have we got anything if we have not in effect reverted to routine proceedings?

-as may be required for the observance of the proprieties of the house, the maintenance of its authority, the appointment or conduct of its officers, the management of its business, the arrangements of its proceedings, the correctness of its records, the fixing of its sitting days or the times of its meeting or adjournment.

I am sure it is quite clear from what the Minister of Finance said that his motion was made in his view-I am not arguing its merits now-under the general provisions of the maintenance of the authority of the house. Because it comes in there, the maintenance of the authority of the house, and that, I emphasize, is under the section that spells out debatable motions, it seems to me it is clear that it is debatable. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, to summarize, apart from the fact that the motion putting Dr. Bruce out was debated briefly on July 31, 1944, I would say that there are these three references: Standing order 30, which says that this is something that is dealt with in debate; citation

Northern Ontario Pipe Line Corporation 229 of Beauchesne, third edition, which refers to the matter being in debate, and third, there is the provision in standing order 32 (1) (m) which says that motions dealing with the maintenance of the authority of the house are debatable.

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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

On the point of order, Mr. Speaker, I have some additional citations with respect to the debatability of the motion. I would refer you first to Beauchesne, third edition, citation 191, page 82. I had better read the full citation. It is as follows:

It is the practice in the House of Commons to bring up a question of privilege after prayers, and before the house has taken up the orders of the day. Only in very aggravated cases, requiring the immediate interposition of the house, will any business be suddenly interrupted. May says, page 241, twelfth edition, that "the proceedings of the house may be interrupted at any moment, save during the process of a division, by a motion based on a matter of privilege"-

Perhaps I might pause there to say that is exactly what was happening in committee.

-"when a matter has recently arisen which directly concerns the privileges of the house, and in that case the house will entertain the motion forthwith." Bourinot, page 303, quotes an ancient authority as saying: "Whether any question is or is not before the house, and even in the midst of another discussion, if a member should rise to complain of a breach of privileges of the house, they have always instantly heard him."

Then there is one further three line sentence in that citation which does not seem to have any bearing on this particular matter. If you turn to Bourinot, page 305, you will see the following authoritative statement:

The Canadian House of Commons, in its desire to deal promptly with all questions affecting its members, has generally waived the strict rules which govern matters of privilege, properly speaking, and given every possible facility for inquiry thereon.

May I pause there to say that it seems to me impossible to have an adequate inquiry without adequate discussion and debate. Continuing the citation:

When a member proposes to make a motion touching another member-

That is certainly what has happened in this case. The Minister of Finance has made a motion touching the member for Eglinton. -it is frequently found convenient that he should state his intentions in his place, and then give notice that he will move it when motions are called in due order on a subsequent day.

Again interrupting the reading, I may say that it is made clear elsewhere that the house may take it under consideration immediately and therefore it is not necessary to give notice. Therefore I make no criticism on that ground although I think it might be argued that it would be more appropriate to do so. However, we seem to be seized of this matter at once, but I point out that the

Northern Ontario Pipe Line Corporation fact that you give notice would to my mind, at any rate, indicate that the purpose of giving notice is so that members can be adequately prepared to debate the matter. Now then, after the question of whether or not debate is allowed on such a matter, page 306 of Bourinot is absolutely in point, and it reads as follows:

When a debate on a question of privilege has been adjourned until a future day-

I would ask Your Honour to pay particular regard to this passage on page 306.

When a debate on a question of privilege has been adjourned until a future day, priority will still be given to it. This was done in the case of Louis Riel, mentioned in a previous page, and there are numerous precedents in the English and Canadian Journals illustrating the same point.

So that Bourinot is direct authority for the proposition that such a question is debatable because debate may be adjourned and, sir, if it is debatable then, of course, it is susceptible to amendment. It would, of course, be utterly improper, I think, in view of the importance of the matter and the desire to protect all matters touching upon the conduct and position of members, to dispose of such a question without a debate and without an opportunity to assert the contrary view which I have sought to do in the amendment that I have moved to the motion.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

The two hon. members who have spoken on the point of order that has been raised have, I believe, confused a question of privilege which is raised as such by one complaining of a breach of privilege and concluding with a motion or by one making an attack against an hon. member and concluding by a motion which may be dealt with, because it is privilege, immediately or may be appointed for debate and disposal at another time, at which time an amendment may be moved or the matter may be referred to the committee on privileges and elections. The hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre has quoted standing order 30 as having a bearing on the situation as it presents itself at the moment. Standing order 30 reads as follows:

30. If anything shall come in question touching the conduct of any member, or his election, or his right to hold his seat, he may make a statement and shall withdraw during the time the matter is in debate.

This is a standing order which is germane to the two standing orders, namely standing order 79 and standing order 80, which used to be under the one heading before the house sent the matter of controverted elections to the courts. They were under the title "Independence of Parliament". They affected the case where in a debate, while a debate is going on, an attack is made on a member. I think it

happened here in the last parliament and the next day the said member came to the house and made a speech and then withdrew. As a matter of fact I think it happened twice during the last parliament that standing order 30 was applied. But at this moment we are not in a debate and a member has not been attacked as to his conduct or his right to hold his seat or in anything pertaining to his election. What has happened is a question of disorder which arose in committee. It is the matter of disregarding the authority of the Chair. That is the offence which has been reported by the chairman of committees. That report has been read to the house and the house has it within its power- because it may regulate its own proceedings and punish its own offenders-to decide what it will do. The hon. member for Eglinton had the right to explain, as in the case of Mr. Bruce who had been involved in a similar matter of misconduct. At page 5682 of Hansard of July 31, 1944 we find the following:

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Mr. Bradette, chairman of the committee of the whole, reports that in committee of the whole Mr. Bruce, hon. member for Park-dale, during an address directed to the Prime Minister and the committee, stated that Bill No. 161, an act to provide for family allowances, introduced by the government, was a bribe to the people of Canada. Mr. Bruce was asked by the chairman to withdraw the word "bribe" which he had used. Mr. Bruce refused to withdraw that expression and appealed to the house from the chairman's ruling.

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May 25, 1956