Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Finance and Receiver General; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)
In the United Kingdom.
In the United Kingdom.
In 1925-the responsibility is set forth fully here-the responsibility remained with the Speaker and any changes that have been made since then do not remove that essential circumstance connected with the closure. In the United Kingdom no Speaker-and I again refer to Lord Ullswater -receives notes of communication from the members of the cabinet. He does not meet or communicate with them. As an inflexible policy-and it is of the essence of free debate in order to prevent anything in the nature of chaos within the House of Commons-he rules on the basis of rules, not with a consideration of the results that might flow from the rulings which he gives.
I say to you, sir-and I do so with deep feeling-that unless we maintain respect for parliament, democracy will wither and die. Parliament's supremacy demands the maintenance not only of the forms of parliamentary government but also of its soul. Without profound respect for the Chair the house would degenerate, in the heat of debate, into chaos and worse. What happened here on Friday, June 1, has but to be read in order to indicate how far removed from what parliament has a right to expect were the occurrences on that unforgettable morning.
On May 31, in accordance with the principles that are laid down by Viscount Ullswater, Your Honour decided that a serious question of privilege had been raised. You indicated the course to be followed by the hon. member for Nanaimo (Mr. Cameron). In a more or less incomplete manner you indicated that there were portions of the alleged statements that infringed the privileges of parliament and, indeed, your rights. One had only to look at the faces of Her Majesty's executive on the night of May 31 to realize how disturbed they were. The next morning, without giving the opposition a chance to speak, you, Mr. Speaker, peremptorily reversed, without argument, the decision you had made the night before, a course that was foreign to your usual course since assuming this high and honourable office as our first commoner. The Leader of the
House of Commons
Opposition (Mr. Drew) occupies a high position under our system of government. He rose in his place. There was nothing presumptuous in his words. As reported at page 4537 of Hansard he said this:
Are you prepared to hear any discussion on that, because-
Then we have Mr. Speaker's answer.
-we had proceeded with diseussion on this motion.
It is a matter of privilege. Whether it is privilege or not, it is my responsibility to decide.
That was a decision, sir, you had made the night before, leaving only the question of finding an opportunity when you could speak regarding these statements which made references derogatory to yourself. So it goes down the page and there is no opportunity given. The bells ring, the decision is final, irrevocable, unarguable. There cannot be any debate. Mr. Speaker says:
The bells are ringing and the members are being called in.
The Leader of the Opposition says, "Mrt Speaker", and he is met by suggestions that he be quiet, and other interruptions. Finally the appeal that you suggested is submitted to the house. Sir, time and the calm retrospect of several days cannot erase from the hearts of those the feeling that this indeed was something beyond expectation. It never occurred before. It has no precedent in British history since 1640. It is one of those things that must be retraced, otherwise the pathways of expediency on June 1 will in the future become the highways along which those who desire to circumvent parliament will be able to do so. That is the great danger of dangerous precedent. Your Honour knows that is one of the great dangers of bad decisions in courts of law. This, however, is more than a decision affecting the rights of individuals. The decision you made on June 1, sir, is one that in the years ahead will constitute an opportunity for evil men to prevent parliament from protecting its right of free speech. It will make members in this house, on whichever side they sit, tenants at the will of the government of the day.
I am going to conclude, sir. There is always an anticlimax when events such as those of yesterday take place. I say again, if what took place on June 1 is to stand, the rights of free men in parliament will be at the whim of the Speaker and our Canadian system will become, and indeed the occupant of the Chair will become, the pliant creature of a dominant majority. Majorities are no better than minorities. But, sir, minorities have it not in their power ta
House of Commons
alter the rules to meet the demands of expediency for them. Majorities dare not be permitted to have written into the Journals of the House of Commons a precedent that, for all time to come, will stand as an accusing finger to the practice of the democratic and parliamentary way of life.
Members have a right to know that the rules of the house will be observed and not be dependent upon the caprice of the majority. They have the right to know that the rules will not be reversed by the demands of expediency. They have a right to ask that the decisions of today shall not be reversed tomorrow by the presiding officer, whatever the consequences may be to the majority in this house. We have the right to demand that in the future frustrated ministers will think of the consequences to Mr. Speaker if at any time by overt demand or subtle compulsion they place him in a position where he must depart from what, on the basis of his wide experience, he had determined was the right course to follow. Sir, if the rules under which parliament operates, if the decisions of today in a deliberative, orderly assembly, are to be reversed tomorrow by the presiding officer who made an earlier decision, then we shall have chaos. If the accumulated usages and precedents of the past can be set aside when they are detrimental to the government of the day, then parliament will be placed where respect and dignity will be supplanted by disrespect and disorder.
It may be that we will have to consider a reform in the manner of the choice of Mr. Speaker in order to give him that detachment which British precedent and British ancient usages have assured for the Speaker. It will be difficult under our system to bring about anything of a similar nature to a permanent appointment such as is made in Great Britain because of the fact that there must be recognition in our country of the dual contribution of those of French and British origin. But certainly we dare not let the situation go unchallenged whereby a Speaker at any time can be permitted to be placed in a position where power and authority, whether directly or indirectly applied, can bring about such an event as happened here the other day. There is no other way in which this matter can be brought before the house except through the motion that was moved by the Leader of the Opposition. Is the Prime Minister not in a position now to give that leadership which will remove those pages, as it were, from the records of parliament? Charles I tore out two pages of the Journals. Let us not in 1956 have written into these Journals the denial of the usages of the past and the return to supreme authoritarianism
of a majority uncontrolled. This motion is designed to assure that in the future parliament will never again find itself trammelled by the desires of a powerful cabinet, thereby placing Mr. Speaker in a position undeniably difficult and destructive of that authority and prestige which, however much it had been built up, has been seriously diminished as the result of what took place.
I speak from the heart when I say this. What happened on June 1, Mr. Speaker, caused a resentment, a feeling of frustration in the hearts of hon. members, to see the usages of 300 years thrown out of the way for a pipe line. To me, parliament and the maintenance of its supremacy, its authority, its dignity, are above the fortunes of a pipe line.
Mr. Angus Maclnnis (Vancouver-Kingsway):
Mr. Speaker, it is about 50 years since I first began taking part in debates. I have always entered a debate gladly, only wanting the opportunity to get at my opponent. I wish that were so today, because I rise today to take part in this debate solely from a sense of duty. When I spoke here a little over a week ago I tried to point out to this house where we were drifting. I thought there was an opportunity to stop and take a look before we took the next step. The house did not stop. We proceeded with the measure that was before us, the pipe lines bill. The pipe lines bill has now passed. It passed through this house and I understand it has been passed by the other place, and in a few moments I suppose it will get royal assent.
We passed it, but what price have we paid for it. This, sir, is a part of the price, a motion made in this House of Commons to censure the Speaker, something that never happened and I suppose was never thought of before in a Canadian parliament. That is too great a price to pay for any bill that might come before this house. What are a few paltry million dollars, in comparison with the legacy that has been left us in forcing the measure through the House of Commons?
Until the regrettable events of the past few weeks I held Your Honour in the highest esteem. I think you, sir, must have known how high my esteem was. Since you took over your office in 1953 I felt increasingly that you had most, if not all, of the attributes that go to the making of a great Speaker. I felt that you, sir, could very well be the greatest Speaker that this parliament has had since the late Hon. Rodolphe Lemieux filled the high office that you now hold. It was not my pleasure to know the late Mr. Lemieux but I did know a man who knew him very well, the first leader of this party, the late
J. S. Woodsworth, and he never tired of singing his praises as a great man, a great Speaker, whom it was an honour to know and an honour to serve under, or perhaps I should say to serve with.
Will you excuse me, sir, if I mention some of the attributes which I think you have for the position you hold, or which at least I thought you had. You have a fine presence and, if you allow me to say so, a great charm of manner. You are equally fluent in both of the official languages of this house. You have industry, perhaps at times a little too much. In any case, you had sufficient industry to familiarize yourself with the rules of this house and I am satisfied sir, that you know the rules of this house better than any Speaker that has been here in my time. That, sir, was my position until the recent debate on the pipe line legislation began, and then my hopes began to fade until the proceedings of the house last Friday morning sent them crashing at my feet.
It is because of the proceedings of the house of last Friday morning that I believe the motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition last Monday has become a necessity and, because it has become a necessity, it has become my duty to support it.
Some statements that I made in the house at various times have been referred to in this debate and in the one before it, but I am afraid my statements were used to give an altogether different impression from what I intended to convey when I made them. When he spoke to the motion before us the Prime Minister referred to a statement I made in this house in discussing a matter on January 28, 1949. My remarks, quoted by the Prime Minister, may be found at page 41 of Hansard of 1949. At that time I used these words in supporting the motion that was then before the house:
Surely this is a question of orderly procedure in parliament, and whether we agree with it or not is a matter to be decided by the vote of parliament.
I certainly made that statement, and it was a proper one to make at that time; but if the Prime Minister meant when he quoted that statement that I should have supported the proceedings, if one can call them proceedings, that took place in the house last Friday, well, I am afraid he has not compared what was before the house on those two occasions.
Let me quickly point out what we were dealing with in 1949. The session opened just after the previous election and the Prime Minister moved, after giving due notice, mind you, due notice that is required by the
House of Commons
rules of this house, that after a certain date government business would take precedence over all other business.
I think the reason for the motion was that the government wanted to get on with the terms under which Newfoundland would enter confederation and everything was in order. It was so much in order, in fact, that after getting the views of the members of the house the Prime Minister himself suggested there be some changes made in the dates. Those changes were made and it was for that reason I said:
Surely this is a question of orderly procedure in parliament, and whether we agree with it or not is a matter to be decided by the vote of parliament.
These words appear at page 41 of Hansard for January 28, 1949. And then I went on to say:
I think every hon. member, I suppose at least every hon. member on this side of the house, regrets that the government has felt it necessary to postpone the debate on the speech from the throne, or rather to postpone it if it is not finished by the end of next week. That is a longer time than the government suggested at first, and that in itself is one of the hallmarks of democratic procedure. There has been a compromise between the two extremes. If the government did not get all they expected to get or wished to get in the first instance, the opposition got at least some of what it wanted.
Surely there is no comparison between that occasion and this one. I wish now to read from Hansard of June 1, 1956, from a statement made by Mr. Speaker:
Now, the house is master of its own rules and it is my right to submit a matter to the house. I intend at the moment to submit to the house that, in my view, the house should revert to the position where it was yesterday when I was brought back to the chair to receive the chairman's report at 5.15.
I deny, sir, that it is your right or the right of any Speaker to put matters before this house excepting the matters that are given to you by the house to put before the house. We cannot carry on business here if the Speaker of the house can come into the house at any time and say "I think we had better revert to some other order of business," or "I made a mistake and I think we should try to rectify that. Now let us go back to where we were yesterday or the day before yesterday or last week or the week before that." How in the world can the business of the house be carried on in that way?
And then the Speaker went on to say, as reported at page 4540 of Hansard for June 1, 1956:
I know what the hon. member says with respect to this motion is correct. I have indicated to the house I feel that the house should not suffer any prejudice for what I consider to be a serious mistake which I made yesterday. I say that the house is master of its own procedure. No one
House of Commons
should contradict that', everybody knows that that is so, and it is my right to submit a matter to the house and that is what I propose to do.
Sir, I could not disagree with you more definitely than when you make that statement. I have already said it is not your right to place matters before this house excepting such matters as are given you by the members of this house to place before it. I am afraid that is where some of our trouble stems from. For some reason or other you made the passage of business through this house your concern. I submit it is none of your concern; it is the concern of the government. Your concern is to hold the balance as between the rights of the opposition and the rights of the government as matters proceed.
May I refer for a moment to the question of closure. You know, there were some terribly amusing things said with regard to this closure-in regard to why it was brought about-at least they would have been funny if the matter were not so tragic. I think I heard the Minister of Finance, if my memory serves me right and if he contradicts me I will take it all back, say that closure was invoked when it was because I think it was the hon. member for Prince Albert (Mr. Diefenbaker) had said the opposition was going to oppose this bill with everything it had, or some words to that effect, and the hon. member for Assiniboia (Mr. Argue) had made a somewhat similar statement.
Well, boasting of that kind is a juvenile sort of thing and I do not hold with it; but, sir, it is not a reason for introducing closure. Closure invoked at that stage anticipated that something might happen in this house. We do not carry on the business of this house in anticipation of what may happen. We carry on the business of the house on the basis of what happens in the house. As I said the other day, that is where the initial mistake was made.
Hon. members opposite accused the opposition of criticizing the government's pipe-line bill. What in the world do you think the opposition was sent here for, to help the government? No, they were sent here to oppose and, if the opposition did not oppose, the government would also criticize them.
Let us suppose that instead of opposing the pipe-line bill the opposition had let it go through parliament without any opposition at all. What would government supporters be saying as they went around the country? Let us suppose this bill was passed unanimously-the opposition did not like it very well but then they had no alternative so they said they would let it go through. The government damns the opposition for
opposing it but it would also ridicule the opposition if they agreed with the government.
Now, the purpose of an opposition is to oppose. I think it was Sir Winston Churchill's father who said at one time that if the opposition ever found itself in a position where it had to approve of something that the government was doing it ought to do it with a kick rather than a pat.
There is a citation in Beauchesne's second edition-I imagine all hon. members have a copy of this book-and 1 wish hon. members opposite would read and study it. I read this citation in this house some years ago and I propose to read it again now. I am referring to citation 900 which appears at page 282. I believe it is from Hatsell's book on parliamentary procedure or something of that nature. The citation reads as follows:
So far the maxim is certainly true and founded on good sense that as it is always in the power of the majority by their numbers to stop any improper measures proposed on the part of their opponents, the only weapon by which the minority can defend themselves from similar attempts from those in power are the forms and rules and proceedings which have been found necessary from time to time and are become the standing orders of the house, by a strict adherence to which the weaker party can alone be protected from those irregularities and abuses which these forms were intended to check, and which the wantonness of power is but too often apt to suggest to large and successful majorities.
Could anything be truer than those last words I read, "large and successful majorities"? So large and so successful have the government majority been that they consider that nothing is to be allowed to stand in the way of what they want to do even if they have to tear to shreds the rules and procedures of this house in the doing.
I agree that in a certain sense parliament must always decide, but it must decide according to the rules. If the rules can be changed from day to day, from hour to hour and from week to week the minority has no protection whatsoever. If the position taken by the Speaker of this house is to prevail, it can lead to nothing else than that the majority in this house can at any time impose its will upon the house and the minority, and the opposition which was sent here by the electors of this country in the same way as the members of the government were sent may as well go home. We will have no business here, we will have no function to perform, there will be nothing for us to do. The government has taken it upon itself to rule by sheer force without regard to the rules and procedures which have come down to us through the years.
I am under no illusion as to what will happen to this motion when it comes before
the house for a vote. Undoubtedly it will be defeated, but that will not be the end of the issues which have been raised on it. I should like to say to the government that they may not always be here; the Liberal party may not always be where they are now. No matter how permanent things may look, change is the law of life.
We cannot have ministers coming into this house and introducing bills and giving notice of closure at the time of doing so. But that is the precedent which any minister can follow from now on. We have adopted that as the method to be followed in this house. From now on a minister can bring in a bill or a resolution preceding a bill and at the same time give notice of closure. Why? Because he has heard that the hon. member for-we could say any place you like-is going to oppose it, or that the opposition are going to oppose it. Because the opposition are going to do the thing they were sent here to do, the minister by closure will say that they will try to prevent them doing it. That is one of the things which will inevitably happen because of what has taken place here during the past few weeks.
As I said before, if something is not done, any Speaker at any future time can say, "I believe I made a mistake and you have to go back to where we were yesterday, or the day before, or the week before." Where will we be if we carry on business in that fashion? But that is the precedent we have made ourselves, and parliament is the creature of precedent. The decision taken today becomes a precedent for other decisions tomorrow.
I would say to the government, or whoever may be the government after the next election, or if there is not an election before the next session of parliament it should be done at the next session, that they should set up a committee on procedure to propose changes-they may not be very material ones and I do not think material ones are needed- in regard to these matters which have brought the Canadian parliament to the position it is in today, with the hope that it will never happen again. I say that that should be done at the next session of this house, if there is one before there is an election.
If there is an election before another session is called I will not be here and I may not be here at the next session even if there is no election. I would hate to see this parliament, where I have spent so many of my days, degenerate into a rabble where decisions were made where the Speaker, knowing what the decision would be, would
House of Commons
say, "Parliament will decide." That means only one thing, that the government will decide.
As I said when I rose to speak on this motion, I have never spoken with less relish when putting my views before an audience, call it that or whatever other word is suitable, but I felt that I had to make my position clear. When the motion is put I shall vote for it, not in any hope that it is going to carry or that it will do very much good. But we have to make our protest. I should like to suggest to those who will be here at the next session or to those who will be here when the next parliament assembles that they set right the wrongs which we have done to parliament during the last three weeks.
Mr. Gordon Churchill (Winnipeg South Centre):
Mr. Speaker, I should like to commence my remarks in this serious debate with a quotation from what was said by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada at the convocation ceremonies held at the University of Toronto a short while ago. The chief justice is reported to have said:
Unless we are ever vigilant of threats to our individual rights, the priceless heritage that is Canada's will be maimed and disfigured, if not destroyed.
I think remarks of that tenor have been said to graduating classes of universities down through the years until part and parcel of our heritage has been such references to the maintenance of our freedom. What is the priceless heritage about which Canadians are so concerned? It is the right of free speech, a free press, free elections, freedom of assembly, freedom to organize. These are the things that we mean and think of when we talk about our priceless heritage of freedom. Here in parliament we find that freedom is the central part of this system. As Ivor Jennings has pointed out, "so much of the history of freedom is part of the history of parliament that freedom and parliamentary government are often considered to be the same thing."
That is why we have reached the stage in our proceedings in parliament of putting forward and discussing a motion of censure, because we have felt that parliamentary government has been endangered and that in the endangering of our parliamentary government our very freedom has been endangered. The citadel of freedom has been assaulted from within right here in the House of Commons, and in the painful and tragic events of this week and on black Friday, the 1st of June, the attack from within on
House of Commons
parliament resulted in the humiliation of the Speaker and the humiliation of parliament itself.
It is one of the grave moments in Canadian history and, as with others who have spoken, it is with regret that I engage in a debate of this nature. I never expected that we would reach this stage in Canada when we would have to look closely at our parliamentary system to see whether or not it was sound. I always thought that it was so soundly based that nothing could shatter it. It has been pointed out that the origin of our troubles arose at 5.15 last Thursday. The Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) drew our attention to that the other day and indicated that at that moment I was the one who rose to my feet on a point of order and because of that the normal routine was upset.
May I point out very briefly that my point of order, dismissed after the interval of the supper hour by the Speaker as being academic and subsequently called an academic point by the Prime Minister, was nevertheless in my opinion then and now a matter of profound importance to the position of Speaker in this House of Commons. I seized the first opportunity I had in the course of the debate to bring to the attention of the Speaker the point of order, following the lines that he has told us are the essentials of a point of order. The Speaker's own words are that the function of a point of order is to bring to the attention of the Speaker a matter which he did not himself perceive.
I brought to the Speaker's attention a matter which he did not himself perceive at the time or had forgotten, and I thought I was performing a duty in endeavouring to replace in the Speaker's hand something that he had let slip to the chairman of the committee because I believe that here in the House of Commons it is the Speaker's interpretation of the rules that should be decisive and not the interpretation of the rules as determined by one or other of our chairmen of committees. However, it was dismissed as academic. The Prime Minister pointed out that I was persistent in asking for a vote on the Speaker's ruling. I admit I was persistent and under similar circumstances I would be persistent again because I thought I was being brushed aside. So much for that.
The date of the commencement of the disaster that befell parliament was not at 5.15 on last Thursday but on the 24th of May. It was on the 24th of May that w*e entered upon the slippery slope that led down to destruction because that was the day when, as some member of the press
gallery so aptly put it, closure by thumbscrew was applied. We had had earlier on the resolution stage the imposition of closure, which we resisted and disliked. On the second reading stage we had the imposition of closure, which we resisted. But in the committee stage when the first clause of the bill was brought before us closure by thumbscrew was applied, the right of speech was forbidden to members of parliament, and anger and dismay swept through the house.
It was on that occasion that the chairman of the committee made his ruling with regard to the interpretation of the word "consideration", a word never before interpreted by a Speaker in the House of Commons. There was no precedent for guidance. It was in consideration of these two matters that I subsequently brought to the Speaker's attention the point of order that I raised on the Thursday. But it was the imposition of closure that brought about all the sorry circumstances that succeeded.
I want to digress for a minute or two to discuss closure as it is applied in England because so many references have been made to the procedure there and the implication has been made that it is a normal course of procedure in England. That, sir, is not so. People who talk about closure being applied in England must first discuss and define such matters as the previous question, allocation of time and the guillotine before they can relate that to what happens here under our system of closure. But may I point out that on the 5th of June the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Pearson) said, as found at page 4743 of Hansard:
From 1945 to 1951, which was the period when the Socialist government was in power in the United Kingdom, the maximum time actually devoted to the consideration of any government money bill by the House of Commons during that period of six years was 21 hours and 25 minutes.
I presume he means that any bill which authorizes the use of public funds is a money bill. I would hope that you would keep in your mind that period from 1945 to 1951 and the maximum time the minister gave of 21 hours and 25 minutes for a money bill. If you will bear with me, I will direct your attention to the fact that in the British House of Commons in June of 1948-1 will give references, which were not given by the minister-as found in volume 451, column 2175 to column 2658 of British Hansard, a bill was discussed there called, appropriately enough, the gas bill. It had been introduced, discussed on second reading and was in the committee stage and the report stage on the 9th of June through to the early hours of the 10th of June in a continuous sitting of parliament. They have no recess for the supper hour. For 16
hours, just in that one stage, the committee stage and the report stage, the bill was discussed. That discussion in the House of Commons had been preceded by not1 days or weeks but months of sittings in a standing committee, including in that standing committee several all-night sittings. I ask if you relate that fact to the minister's statement that the longest time ever spent on a money bill in the House of Commons was 21 hours and 25 minutes-if you can relate those two statements- and can place any credence in the suggestion that the minister's statement is accurate. I will leave it to you to make your own choice.
Let me point out this further fact. The minister might have gone a step further and looked at the transport bill in 1952, volume 508, column 47, of the British Hansard-discussed on November 24, 1952. On that occasion the British system of closure that allocates time was imposed at the commencement of the committee sittings and the guillotine as they call it was introduced. It was introduced because of their experience with that gas bill in 1948. Under that system of closure they allowed seven days on the committee stage. That was, of course, preceded by the usual introduction and second reading events. Under that system they allowed seven days in the committee for a total of 45J to 49 hours. In our committee sittings we had five days under closure by thumbscrew for a total of 25 hours and the extra three that we got on the night of the voting. I am not excluding there any time that we may have spent on other matters. That guillotine motion introduced in England at the commencement of their committee sittings on the transport bill in 1952 was debated for almost seven hours, preceded by one division and concluded by four divisions. The Times wrote an article about it which you may find in the course of the debate. Anyone who wants to discover whether or not closure is accepted as the normal practice in England might very well read that debate of 1952. He will discover that it is abhorred by the British House of Commons. He will also discover that it is not anything like the type of closure that we had here.
The Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Pearson) in his remarks said this:
He was referring to England.
-Mr. Speaker, the home of parliamentary freedom, also understands the necessities of parliamentary government, the responsibilities and rights of the government as well as of the opposition.
Any study of the British Hansard indicates that fact. In an earlier debate I ran across the remarks of Lloyd George who, as you know, spent 50 years in the House of Commons in England. He said that there stood
House of Commons
out in his memory one event when he, along with six others, went into the opposition lobby and were outvoted by the tremendous majority of over 600 who went into the government lobby under the system that they have of voting. He said that vast majorities wither away and die. He said that he had lived to see the day when that vast majority had disappeared and he himself had come in on the government side.
Mr. Speaker, the root of the matter that we are discussing here is the independence of the Speaker. We have looked to the Speaker to be the guardian of our liberties. That volume of May that we have been discussing so frequently during the last two or three weeks is dedicated to the Speakers of the commonwealth who uphold in common the high tradition of parliament. It is that independence with which we are so much concerned. In the independence of the Speaker we believe we see the protection of the minority groups in parliament. Of course the man who set the greatest example in England was Mr. Speaker Onslow, in 1727. This shows the long tradition of the independence of the Speaker. Mr. Onslow was Speaker for 33 years. In Kenneth Mackenzie's book on "The English Parliament" you will find these words:
Onslow's show of independence at the outset of his career as Speaker did not belie his subsequent conduct. Throughout his 33 years' tenure of the Speakership he exhibited an unflinching attitude of independence towards the government, and he enforced the rules of procedure without respect of persons. 'The forms of proceedings', he held, 'as instituted by our ancestors, operated as a check and control on the action of ministers, and they were in many instances a shelter and a protection to the minority against the attempts of power'. Only by strict adherence to the rules of procedure could the minority be protected from those 'irregularities and abuses which these forms are intended to check, and which the wantonness of power is but too often apt to suggest to large and successful majorities'. Indeed, so great was Onslow's attachment to forms that Horace Walpole said that 'it often made him troublesome in matters of higher moment'. There could hardly be better testimony to Onslow's indifference to ministerial convenience.
That, I submit, represents the state of independence that we expect of the Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons. Why are we so much interested in that matter? Because, as I said earlier, this is the citadel of our freedom. We have a long tradition handed down from our ancestors. Sir Ivor Jennings in his book "The Queen's Government" speaks about the behaviour of the ordinary Englishman. The same thing may well be said about the ordinary Canadian. Sir Ivor Jennings said this:
He is not only a free man; he is truculently free. He is, perhaps, the most law-abiding citizen in the world, particularly when the law seems to him to be sensible; but no man is more ready
House of Commons
to take offence when the law is broken. He does not obey orders because they are given by some person in authority: He obeys orders when they are lawful orders issued by a person who has legal authority to issue them. John Hampden, gentleman of Buckinghamshire, is one of our national heroes; and Hampden has written his name into history because he refused to pay a tax of 20 shillings, imposed upon him by the sheriff in accordance with orders from the king. He was charged before the Exchequer Chamber in the Great Case of Shipmoney. Seven judges found against him and five in his favour; but later parliament reversed the verdict. The important point, though, was that Hampden refused to obey an order that he thought to be unlawful and thereby helped to establish a tradition.
I think that Canadians, equally with Englishmen, are truculently free. I think that some of the exasperation shown in this house last Friday was due to that fact. No man is more ready to take offence when the law is broken. Last Thursday and Friday, and on other occasions, we thought that the law- the rules of procedure of the House of Commons-was being broken. All of this occurrence here leads, in my opinion, to the necessity for a study of the parliamentary system. I think we have been taking things too much for granted. I think that our professors of history, our writers on political science and our teachers in the schools as well as members of parliament themselves and others must examine our parliamentary system much more closely. I think we are inclined to misunderstand the various operations of it. We fail to understand sometimes the party system. I would hope that members of the government, as well as those on the opposition side, would study and reflect upon Professor Jennings' two volumes, one called "Parliament" and the other "Cabinet Government", in which he sets out the basis of our system of parliamentary government.
He says with regard to the parties that come into the house;
The House of Commons is the oratorical battleground of those parties. The one supports and the other opposes the government. The one defends a policy and the other puts forward another. Any defect of administration, any weakness of principle or defect of practice, any blunder of politics, is soon brought to light and exhibited to the world.
The functions which Bagehot described are thus exercised through the competition of government and opposition. The "mind of the people" is expressed in different ways and through different forms because it is not and cannot be a single mind. Political education is real education because at least two points of view are always being put, and the elector has to choose between them. The other side has power to speak and therefore can and must be heard. The opposition demands that policies be formulated openly and consequences of policies revealed.
Parliament compels the government to defend itself by open and rational argument; but it also compels the opposition to state what is the alternative and, if that alternative be plausible, to attempt to carry it out. The majority does not override the minority roughshod, because the
habits of centuries have created a free people, disliking oppression even of minorities. Members of parliament, to quote Milton again, know the people of England to be a free people, and themselves the representatives of that freedom.
I think the function of the opposition in parliament is misunderstood. Looking back I find that four years ago I spoke in the House of Commons, although I had not been here very long. At that time some matter came up striking at the rights of members in this house and I entered into the debate. Here is what Ivor Jennings says, in his book "Cabinet Government,,>
on the importance of the opposition :
It is not untrue to say that the most important part of parliament is the opposition in the House of Commons. The function of parliament is not to govern but to criticize. Its criticism, too, is directed not so much towards a fundamental modification of the government's policy as towards the education of public opinion. The government's majority exists to support the government. The function of the opposition is to secure a majority against the government at the next general election and thus to replace the government. This does not imply that a government may not be defeated in the House of Commons. Nor does it imply that parliamentary criticism may not persuade the government to modify, or even to withdraw, its proposals. These qualifications are important; but they do not destroy the truth of the principle that the government governs and the opposition criticises. Failure to understand this simple principle is one of the causes of the failure of so many of the progeny of the mother of parliaments and of the suppression of parliamentary government by dictatorships.
Then, as a final quotation from Ivor Jennings, I have this one:
The tradition of parliament that "His Majesty's Opposition" shall not be oppressed is not a tradition merely; it rests on policy. Given free elections, an opposition that is not allowed to oppose in parliament is by that fact supplied with arguments for opposition in the country. If it can be asserted that the government fears criticism, it can be suggested with considerable force that there is ground for criticism. The opposition is given a forum in parliament because if it were not it would be given a convincing argument in the forum of the country.
Mr. Speaker, an understanding of parliament is essential. I hope that out of this trouble that has arisen here the people of Canada will give much closer attention than they have given during the last few years to an understanding of parliament. We are suffering from the war years. This is an aftermath of the war. During the war years we granted full power to the government, and that government has been reluctant to relinquish that full power. We have fallen into a state of complacency with regard to our system of government.
I am going to conclude, Mr. Speaker, with a quotation from Kenneth Mackenzie's book "The English Parliament". On the first page
there is a quotation from a broadcast delivered in February 1946 by Edward R. Murrow. This was just at the conclusion of the war. It says:
I doubt that the most important thing was Dunkirk or the Battle of Britain, El Alamein or Stalingrad. Not even the landings in Normandy or the great blows struck by British and American bombers. Historians may decide that any one of these events was decisive, but I am persuaded that the most important thing that happened in Britain was that this nation chose to win or lose this war under the established rules of parliamentary procedure. It feared Nazism, but did not choose to imitate it. The government was given dictatorial power, but it was used with restraint, and the House of Commons was ever vigilant.
I think that, sir, sums up the attitude that I have towards this great institution. During the last two or three weeks here I have wondered why so many men whom I have known in this house, men. who are so moderate in their day to day life, have become so aroused over the events that have occurred during that time. It struck me that when moderate men are aroused to such an intensity of feeling there must be something fundamentally wrong. I have seen other men less able to control their feelings quickly aroused over matters which were trifling. But when moderate men are moved to the very core of their being, then I say that forces are being unleashed in the country that are not subject to easy control. This is a serious situation in the history of our country when moderate men are moved as they were moved during the last two weeks.
We have passed through a period of Canadian history that will not be forgotten. I do not think the recent occurrences can be cured by this parliament. I think the wounds will not be healed except over a long passage of time. I think that it will take a great deal of effort to re-establish the authority of parliament as we used to understand it, and to re-establish the prestige and authority of the House of Commons. We will have great difficulty over the ensuing years in maintaining that thing that we prize so highly, our way of life.
We have been talking and fighting wars over this question of maintaining our way of life. We have said communism is wrong; nazism is wrong and Kaiser Wilhelm with his military dictatorship was wrong. We said, though we were not very eloquent about it perhaps as ordinary citizens, that we preferred the British way, the Canadian way. We were thinking surely, as young men in days gone by, of things like these which we accepted for granted, and we thought then we enjoyed in our own country freedom from any type of oppression. Nothing has shaken me more in the course of my life than the events of the last two weeks and the threat,
House of Commons
as I see it, to that freedom which has been the one thing that we have been working to preserve throughout the last two generations.
Mr. Alistair Stewart (Winnipeg North):
Mr. Speaker, there have been many members who, in the course of this debate, have said this is a tragedy. That is so, and in a personal way. Some French writer, whose name escapes me, said that tragedy lies not in the conflict of right with wrong but in the conflict of right with right. You, sir, believed that you were right; we believed that we were right, and that difference which divides us is not something superficial. It is a difference which digs deep into the vitals of this House of Commons.
We here are parliamentarians. That means we have concern, respect, and even veneration for this house. We have these things not only in our bones but in the marrow of our bones. I doubt whether there is any member in this house who cannot number amongst his ancestors some who died that free institutions such as this should prevail. Therefore anything which hurts them hurts these things we cherish most.
This is the focal point of our freedom. This house is the focal point of our democracy, that form of government about which it has been so often said, it is the most difficult that the wit of man has yet devised. We have been told that democracy is slow, cumbersome, lethargic, even venal and corrupt; yet what we ought never to forget is that these charges fade into nothingness beside this one fact.
Any member of this House of Commons has the right to bring to the floor of the house the plea of the humblest person in Canada for justice. There is the greatness of parliament. Anything which tarnishes that greatness hurts not only us but every individual in this country.
I say, this house is the focal point of our democracy. The Speaker, then, is the focal point of the House of Commons, and we have given him the authority, we have placed in his hands the dignity and the integrity of the House of Commons. In the past, sir, in this parliament we have been served well. I am not going to refer to the remarks which the hon. member for Vancouver-Kingsway (Mr. Maclnnis) made about Your Honour because largely I concur in them. You had raised the prestige of the Speakership; you were our Speaker. Some of us had known you for many years and through that time we had a great liking for you, in the chair and out of it. I had hoped that perhaps even
House of Commons
on the very periphery I might have been numbered amongst your friends. I had for you, as had others, a genuine respect even when I thought you were at times wrong. And now, what has happened to make us rise in our places and disown you?
Some little time ago the Prime Minister said that what had happened had been frustrating. He used that word on several occasions in the course of his remarks, and I well believe him; but, as the hon. member for Vaneouver-Kingsway pointed out this afternoon, it is our bounden duty, when we think the government is wrong, to frustrate it in every way possible within the rules of parliament, and we did so. But the remark of the Prime Minister was revealing in another way. He said he was frustrated. He showed by that remark, I suggest, that there was a gap in his political education; for I think [DOT]one of the best pieces of apprenticeship any man can serve before he takes his place in government is to be in the ranks of the [DOT]opposition.
I have been here for some 12 or 13 years. I have had my own ideas of the sort of legislation which ought to be on our statute books to improve the conditions of the people of this country, and for month after month and year after year I have been frustrated but always, sir, within the rules of parliament, always so that I could not say I was unjustly done by. Frustration is no excuse for what happened last week. The tragedy of it is, sir, that you are perhaps the unconscious victim of that frustration.
Some days ago, also during the course of this debate, I rose in my place because I was disturbed at what was happening. I believed there was a corrosion taking place in the foundations of the Speakership. Members of parliament on this side of the house were rising on points of order which may or may not have been legitimate. We thought they were, and I maintained then and I maintain now it was the duty of the Prime Minister or the leader of the house to combat those points of order if they thought they were wrong. Instead, we were met with silence; and you, sir, were placed in the almost intolerable position where, in our eyes, you were acting not only as counsel for the defence, but you were acting as the judge. Time and time again this happened while the government sat silent, and you were becoming more and more embroiled in what appeared almost like partisan politics. You were being used by the silence of the government, and now you are being sacrificed through the silence of the Prime Minister.
I believe, sir, that last week you made a serious mistake. You made a mistake which
is almost unforgivable because you impaired the rights of the opposition as we saw them. At best you were guilty of a lapse of judgment, and perhaps we can make the excuse for you, sir, who cannot speak, that you were under strain, under tension which at times must have been great; but a mistake was made. There was a motion in the possession of the house, and then it was removed by what I have already referred to as brute majority. The rules were changed in the middle, sir.
I believe you to have been wrong in doing that, but I believe the government were even more wrong, if they had any respect for parliament, in allowing your error to prevail. Certain members of the government must have discussed the situation on Thursday night or Friday morning. There was a way open to them-a legitimate, proper and honest way open to them-but silence was maintained and that silence was nothing but cold cruelty on the part of the Prime Minister, who in my judgment, lost in his own sense of frustration, sacrificed our Speaker in this House of Commons. Perhaps that may now be his manner of doing things, but I hope that is not so ever again in the future.
There were other things which happened, however, which make me believe this might be so. We had the situation of which you, Mr. Speaker, can know nothing because this happened in committee, where a minister of the crown moved that clause 1 be postponed-
Mr. Stewart (Winnipeg North):
-that further consideration of it be postponed, as the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar points out. That was wrong by the rules of this house. The Prime Minister must have known of this wrongdoing on the part of his colleague, yet apparently it was not only condoned but it was connived at. There is only one belief I have and it is this, that the Prime Minister had to violate the rules of this parliament because he could not govern with them; and, sir, you are in the tragic position where we believe that you did not carry out the rules fairly, equitably and justly. But the primary blame I still place upon the Prime Minister.
I am angry even yet, and I hope our anger will not diminish as days go by. I am angry at what has happened to this House of Commons. I am angry with the way the government has treated the position which you hold. I am dismayed, sir, at what you did, no matter what the reasons may be and no matter what the excuses may be. I am dismayed that these wretched precedents which have been established will go on the official
records of this house to guide some government in the future to commit the same sort of iniquity that was perpetrated upon us in the last week.
I regret, sir, that you for whom I have had this respect find yourself in the position in which you are today. I have tried to understand your position; I hope, sir, that you will try to understand our position and realize how intolerable it is.
There is going to be a vote in this house and that vote will be decided by cold numbers. But no matter how it is decided it is not going to help in any way the malaise which afflicts this House of Commons now. I know no cure for it unless there be this. I think there is only one solution in honour, and that is for the Prime Minister of Canada to go to the people of Canada and justify his debauchery of the House of Commons of Canada.
Mr. G. R. Pearkes (Esquimalt-Saanich):
Mr. Speaker, every hon. member who has risen in this debate has explained how distasteful the task he has been given is to him, yet I rise because I feel it is my duty to explain my own feelings in this regard.
I regret that a motion expressing the view that the recent actions of Mr. Speaker in improperly reversing his own decision without notice, in repeatedly refusing to allow members to address the house on occasions when it was their right to do so, and in subordinating the rights of the house to the will of the government has become necessary.
Yesterday the Prime Minister endeavoured to give the impression that there were many on this side of the house who did not feel that the motion was either necessary or warranted. I wonder where the Prime Minister has been during the past two or three weeks. I wonder where he has been mentally and in spirit, because physically he has been sitting in his seat listening to the debate and he has risen in his place to lead the vote of the government perhaps 15 or 16 times in appeals from the rulings of the Chair or in votes to sustain the ruling of the chairman of committee. Surely that in itself is an indication that there are many hon. members in this chamber who have doubted the correctness of the decisions which have been given by the Chair, and that in itself is an indication that there is a widespread feeling of non-confidence in the present occupants of the chair.
This afternoon we have listened to thoughtful and eloquent speeches given by hon. members on this side of the house who have been trained in the profession of law. In precise legal language they have pointed out to this chamber where errors and mistakes
House of Commons
have been made, where the traditions of long ago have been violated. I rise merely as a lay member, as one not trained in the law. I have never taken a very keen interest in the rules of procedure of this house, but I have been hurt and wounded to the quick during the past few weeks. I feel it is incumbent upon me to express my feelings in that respect.
I appreciate deeply the ordeal to which Mr. Speaker is now being subjected. It must be extremely difficult for the Speaker or his deputy to remain in the chair and hear charges levelled against him as member after member rises in his place and states that he has lost confidence in the Speaker. It is not entirely of the Speaker's making, although I do feel he has exposed himself by his actions to grave criticism. The traditions of the office of Speaker, as has been pointed out this afternoon, are very high, and the position the Speaker holds is a great one; for he not only presides over the proceedings of this house but he must protect the liberties and rights of parliament in debate.
You, sir, sit alone in your great chair, dressed in your robes, which contribute to your authority and your dignity. But those robes are something more than decorative aids to authority. They emphasize the loneliness, which has been referred to, and the impartiality of your office. We are not draped in gowns, but you are there distinct and alone and impartial. You have no direct communication with individual members of this house.
On great national occasions we gather in public places and in churches and we sing the national anthem and other hymns and songs suitable to those particular occasions. There is one anthem which I recall, the first line of which is, "What do I owe?" It refers in a rhetorical way to the many conditions of man. The first verse commences:
What do I owe to this dear land of ours?
Then follows the answer:
All of my best, my time, my thought, my powers.
Then the next verse asks a question and gives the answer:
What do I owe to those who follow on?
To build more sure the freedoms we have won.
Surely that is the role of every member of the House of Commons, and particularly it is the role of the Speaker of this house, to build more sure the freedoms we have won so that those of future generations who may follow us will benefit, not only from our endeavours but from the endeavours of our forefathers. But those freedoms cannot be built up and made more sure without
House of Commons
constant watch. Vigilance must be there all the time. In referring to the freedoms Kipling uses these words:
All we have of freedom, all we use or know
This our fathers bought for us long and long ago.
Ancient right, unnoticed as the breath we draw.
We are so apt to take these rights and treat them as though they do not really concern us. We take them for granted, and it is only on the rare occasions when those rights are challenged that we begin to notice. Rights were won for us centuries ago at Runnymede and in Westminster Hall. Cast your mind back to the 13th century when we had Magna Carta; then the petition of rights followed, the great remonstrance and the bill of rights. Those were all great endeavours by our forefathers to try to preserve the freedoms for the generations which would come. For centuries statesmen have been building on those rights in order that we may reap the benefit.
They were hard-won rights, sometimes in long debate, sometimes under great persecution and sometimes on the battlefield. It may be said that we cannot turn back the clock, that we cannot bring King John back to life, that Charles I was beheaded and cannot come back again. But I suggest that those were not merely men, they represented a state of mind which I regret to say still exists in this world, the state of mind of absolute power, the state of mind of the dictator. Unless we watch very carefully occasions will arise when we will have to protest against the encroachment of this state of mind which was represented by the actions of those dictators of long ago.
General Eisenhower made a very remarkable speech in the Guildhall of London at the close of the last war. These were his words in part:
To preserve his freedom of worship, his equality before the law, his liberty to speak and act as he sees fit, subject only to the provision that he trespass not upon the similar rights of others.
He said that the men of London would fight for those rights. He went on to say that the men of his home town in the United States would also fight for those rights and for that freedom. We know that the men of Canada have fought for those selfsame rights.
But the events of the last few days have shown that His Honour the Speaker and his deputies have not permitted equality before this chair. They have denied the liberty of members to speak when members had a perfect right to express their points of view. There has not been equality before the law by this chair. The liberty of speech has
been curtailed. Long years ago advice was given to a young man in these words:
My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.
Late Thursday evening and early Friday morning His Honour was enticed and His Honour gave consent. We will never know what sordid means were used to lure Mr. Speaker from his path of duty. The government honours its secrets and when it does to the extent that we have seen recently it becomes tyranny. On Friday last you suddenly reversed your decision and ruled a motion out of order. I shall not go into great detail about that unhappy event. I do not think it could be summed up better than in the words of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Drew) as found at page 4646 of Hansard of June 4:
One of the most serious aspects of this strange course was that when I-
The Leader of the Opposition.
-attempted, as did many other hon. members, to be heard in regard to this matter on a point of order the Speaker refused to hear a word from any member in regard to this completely strange device which had been employed or which was then under consideration. At the moment the Speaker called the vote without permitting any point of order to be raised or any discussion whatever on the proceedings which were taking place, at that moment confidence in the Speaker disappeared in the minds of many members of this house. Then, as though this were not enough in itself, as though this were not defilement of our rules sufficient for one day, the Speaker after the vote on that decision had been taken announced that he found he had made a mistake in the ruling he had made about 5.15 p.m. the day before and for that reason all subsequent proceedings should be declared a nullity. Mr. Speaker, there can be no precedent for any such course.
Your fault, Mr. Speaker, on that tragic day was one of weakness and lack of resolution. Far greater responsibility rests on those men who, by threats or promises, played upon your vanity and your ambitions. But the Prime Minister saw nothing wrong with this barefaced flouting of parliamentary rules and procedures. He could find no occasion when Your Honour had refused to hear any opposition member when, in the Prime Minister's opinion, he had a right to be heard. The Prime Minister could only recall that the rules of the house had been disregarded to the extent of what amounted to the prejudice of the government. Prejudice of the government! That seemed to be the all-important thing.
He refused to admit that the rules of parliament had been subordinated to the will of the government. The government supporters, according to the Prime Minister, had created no scene, made no manifestation. Only the opposition was to blame. All his geese were swans.
The Minister of Finance followed along the same line. As leader of the house he refused to accept any responsibility for what had taken place the week before. These were some of the words he used, and I quote from page 4683 of Hansard of June 4:
I am going to say something that is rather difficult for me to say under the circumstances. Both the Leader of the Opposition and the leader of the C.C.F. this afternoon said that all of us ought to regret what has happened, particularly what happened on Friday. I am going to agree with both of them.
Mark these words-
However, I hope that in expressing agreement in that sense I am not to be taken as having accepted any responsibility for it.
That from the leader of the house! No wonder Hansard records some members as saying, "Oh, oh", and an hon. member as saying, "Oh, you hypocrite". Others referred to his sanctimonious attitude. Then he went on to say:
A week ago Thursday night I did what no other member who has spoken in this debate has done. I rose in my place and appealed to the followers on this side of the house to remain in a condition which would not excite any feelings in this house, and from that day to this they have done so.
That was the man who only ten minutes before had done his best to provoke members on this side of the house and to agitate them by insulting them and using terms which no cabinet minister should stoop to use. Seven times, as recorded in the first two columns of his speech in Hansard, the Minister of Finance referred to this party in derogatory terms. "Tory party", he said, in a sneering tone; "Tory party", and he has the nerve to say that he had done nothing and none of his followers had done anything to excite the members of this party. Over 200 years ago the name "Tory" was given to the Conservatives in the United Kingdom. It was an insulting name drawn from a small band of Irish bandits. There were other names used for other parties in those days.
I have been here for some ten years. I realize that all parties have had a great history. The Conservative party has made a great contribution to the history of this country and to the history of democracy in other lands. The Liberal party has made a great contribution to the development of this country and the development of democracy in other lands. Those parties which have represented the socialist creed have made great contributions. But it ill behooves a minister of the crown to stand up and try to cast slurs upon other parties in this house. I may be wrong, but I cannot remember ever hearing any member on this side of the house
House of Commons
refer to the Liberal party by derogatory names, certainly not seven times in the first ten minutes of a speech.
That is only an indication, Mr. Speaker, of some of the things which have been going on. I said when I started that I felt I had been wounded. I have tried to analyse my thoughts during this unhappy period. My thoughts and feelings after the events of last week were very akin to my thoughts when I heard of the abdiction of Edward VIII. I remember so well that I was driving through western Ontario going to Windsor when the word came over the car radio. My friend who was driving had to stop the car because he felt so ill when the sad news was heard. A position which he had revered had been insulted. A man of whom he had thought much had been shown to be unworthy of the high office that he held.
Those were the feelings I have had during the past few weeks. The dignity of the office of Speaker of this house, an office which I was prepared to revere, had been shattered. Men I had regarded with some esteem I have now lost faith in. I do not know how you are going to restore the confidence as between government and opposition and as between members and the Chair in this parliament. This is an unhappy house. This will remain an unhappy house as long as this parliament is in existence. We can never live on the same terms of even casual friendship as we have lived in the past.
I think the Minister of Finance is bound at all times to smart under that brand which has been given him. I refer to the brand of hypocrite. He cannot remove that from the record. If he is human he will find it difficult to associate with those he may think have used that term to him, whether or not it was justified. I know I feel that it is almost impossible for me to associate on any level of friendship with some of those who have taken a leading part in this debate.
It is an unhappy situation. I am deeply sorry for Mr. Speaker and for his deputy, the chairman of committees. I believe that they have made mistakes. I think they have been put in this terrible situation by the actions of the government; and I hold as being mainly responsible for those actions, the Prime Minister and the leader of the house.
Hon. W. E. Harris (Minister of Finance):
Mr. Speaker, I do not propose to engage in quite as violent language as did the hon. member for Esquimalt-Saanich.
Perhaps you do not feel as keenly.
I am sorry if I do not appear to feel as keenly as my hon. friend. I really do.
House of Commons
I shall do my best at once to apologize to him if I offended him in any manner by referring to his party as the Tory party. It may well be that with his particular knowledge of the origin of the word and his desire not to be associated with the occasion on which the words were first used, he would feel that that was not the type of name that he would like to have attributed to his party. I assure him that I was aware, as was he, of the origin of the word. I also wish to assure him that in my part of the country-as will be borne out, I am sure, by looking at Hansard the hon. member for Dufferin-Simcoe refers to us as Grits and we refer to them as Tories.
These old names, Mr. Speaker, have a certain affection and a certain meaning, and I thought that long ago the Conservative party had not objected to the use of the word "Tory". If they do, I immediately apologize for having perhaps lapsed into the vernacular on which I have been brought up in Ontario politics and which I am sure will long outlive both the hon. member for Esquimalt-Saanich and myself. I think these words will be used for all time to come. But in retracting them, I do so sincerely and I shall do my best to avoid the use of the word, at least in the House of Commons, if it is the desire of his party that I should not use it.
He spoke very feelingly at one stage about some matters to which I think I ought to refer later, and I hope I shall be reminded of them.
As everyone has said, Mr. Speaker, this has been a very unusual and unprecedented motion and debate. The Prime Minister spoke at some length the day before yesterday and gave detailed reasons why Mr. Speaker was, in our opinion, entitled to and enjoyed the warmhearted support of a great many of us in this house. I doubt that I should try to add anything to what he said. But after all, in view of what the hon. member for Esquimalt-Saanich has said, I think I might possibly say a few words both with respect to the immediate problem that faced Mr. Speaker and as to some of the reasons advanced in a general sense by those who have already spoken on the other side.
May I point out that the hon. member for Nanaimo introduced a resolution with respect to privilege. May I also point out that he had raised a question of privilege on a prior occasion and that it would not be surprising that Mr. Speaker had had occasion to consider what was then before the house. May I also point out that when the Leader of the Opposition spoke to the motion proposed by the hon. member for Nanaimo, at the first opportunity when he inquired if there
was any point of order on this side, I raised a point of order as will be seen at page 4531 of Hansard. I raised the point of order in these words:
As I recall the situation, a short while ago Your Honour ruled that you must put the question which was submitted to you from the committee of the whole. From that ruling there was an appeal to the house and the house upheld your decision. That being the case I suggest to Your Honour that no intervening proceeding can occur, because you had in effect said that the interpretation of the rule was that you-
And I remember emphasizing those words.
-must then put the motion. If that is so, then I suggest that nothing can happen until-
At that point the hon. member for Dufferin-Simcoe interjected. Then Mr. Speaker rose to his feet and went on to say some words which I shall give in a moment, and I resumed my seat without having obtained from Mr. Speaker a ruling at that particular moment. But may I point out what Mr. Speaker said when he then rose to his feet. I think I can skip everything down to the final sentence at the bottom of page 4531, which begins as follows:
If hon. members care to debate this matter before I myself am heard on the subject, I am not going to object; I am just going to let them go right ahead, but at one stage of the proceedings I want to say that I will have to be heard.
Let me continue further. There were some intervening interjections, and ultimately the Leader of the Opposition continued the debate. Mr. Speaker once again interjected, as will be seen on page 4532 at the top of the second column. Then the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar interjected; then Mr. Speaker again, and I come finally to the bottom of the second column of page 4532 where I find these words by Mr. Speaker:
This is a matter on which perhaps I might give a ruling on a future occasion, but at this moment I would ask hon. members to consider that there is a very serious matter before this house, perhaps much more serious than one foresees at this moment in the midst of other proceedings.
In all fairness, read the whole paragraph; start at the beginning. The Prime Minister did this the other day too. It is shameful.
I have not the slightest intention of doing anything shameful, or of misleading anyone.
The Prime Minister did it the other day, too.
I shall go back to the first of the paragraph.
As regards the article by Mr. Eugene Forsey, in which he writes under the title "About Closure, the Speaker, and Rights of Parliament", there may be more paragraphs there which are incriminatory, but certainly not the whole of the article.
That makes it tremendously different.