June 26, 1956

LIB

Donald D. Carrick

Liberal

Mr. Carrick:

They say that the Leader of the Opposition or any person who conducts himself in that way is not a big enough man to be prime minister of Canada.

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PC

Gordon Minto Churchill

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Churchill:

That is a personal attack.

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LIB

Donald D. Carrick

Liberal

Mr. Carrick:

Furthermore, they are suggesting what is obvious to everybody. If it must be the policy of the official opposition to centre their attack upon individuals-

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?

An hon. Member:

That is what you are doing.

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LIB

Donald D. Carrick

Liberal

Mr. Carrick:

-and challenge the integrity of the members of the government, there must be an explanation. The explanation has been patent to everybody for the last twenty years. It is patent to them at the present time. The only reason they do it is that they have nothing else they can talk about to commend themselves to the voters and they mistakenly think that by making personal attacks on these people they are going to succeed in winning votes. I tell them they are gravely mistaken.

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?

An hon. Member:

Who is mudslinging now?

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LIB

Donald D. Carrick

Liberal

Mr. Carrick:

Mr. Speaker, nothing has been advanced by the Leader of the Opposition or by his supporter, the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell), to indicate that the government should dissolve the house at this time and call an election. We are enjoying a period of prosperity unprecedented in the history of Canada.

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CCF

Edward George McCullough

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

Mr. McCullough (Moose Mountain):

How

about agriculture?

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LIB

Donald D. Carrick

Liberal

Mr. Carrick:

The government has carried out the proceedings in connection with the pipe line bill, including closure, in a way that commends itself to every fair-minded person in this country.

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PC

Gordon Minto Churchill

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Churchill:

Nonsense.

[Mr. Carrick.)

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LIB

Donald D. Carrick

Liberal

Mr. Carrick:

The attacks that have been made upon the officials of this house, the Minister of Trade and Commerce, the government leader in the other place and the members of the other place are something that everybody in the country dislikes. I submit to you, sir, that it would be a catastrophe for the opposition if their request were granted at this time, but their request should not be granted for the reasons I have respectfully endeavoured to set before you.

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CCF

Frederick Samuel Zaplitny

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

Mr. F. S. Zaplilny (Dauphin):

Mr. Speaker, the motion we are now debating is one which asks the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) to give consideration to an early election. I think the hon. member who has just taken his seat perhaps provided the best reason why the motion should be carried. It was his contention that everything the government has done in recent months and, in fact, in recent years, has been perfect and that every person who occupies the government benches is a paragon of virtue and all their officials are beyond reproach. If these are his opinions and if they are shared by the hon. members who support the government, I would think that they would support this motion with great alacrity, go to the people and reap the benefit of all this virtue.

But it seems that they are very reluctant to capitalize upon this great, virtuous government that they support. As a matter of fact, we are in a sort of curious position as far as this motion is concerned. If those members who support the government vote against the motion they are in effect voting lack of confidence in their own party because if they have the confidence in the party they support which they express in the house then they would of course vote for the motion and get their case before the people as quickly as possible, but by voting against the motion they will be expressing lack of confidence in their own party, showing they are afraid to go to the people.

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LIB

James Allen (Jim) Byrne

Liberal

Mr. Byrne:

That is pretty muddled thinking.

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CCF

Frederick Samuel Zaplitny

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

Mr. Zaplitny:

Yesterday the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Gardiner) endeavoured to give some reasons why he did not think it would be a wise thing to go to the people at this time, and I believe he more or less inadvertently gave the clue to the reluctance of himself, the government and their supporters to go to the people at this time. He said in one part of his speech that in his opinion certain things that had been said by the opposition were not properly understood by the public, and then he said: "Just give them a few weeks and then we will see what the people will say." Apparently he feels there is something that he wants the public to forget because he wants to give them a few

weeks, or better still, a few months, and then go to the public. That indicates that the government is anxious that the people should forget certain things that have taken place. So far as the real issues are concerned, I propose today to give five reasons why I believe it would be proper and appropriate for this house to be dissolved and to go to the country at this time or in the nearest possible future.

The burden of the reply to this motion by the Liberal speakers so far has been the claim of prosperity. Again and again they have repeated that this country is experiencing the greatest prosperity in its history. Mr. Speaker, I think there is something a little bit rude-if I might use that word- about that kind of a boast made in this house. I should like to read to them a bit of scripture. I am sure they will not mind my doing so. I should like to refer them to the fortieth verse of the twenty-fifth chapter of St. Matthew, which reads as follows:

40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Why do I quote that passage of scripture? Because when they make these boasts about prosperity, they back up their arguments by pointing to the business world, to the increased dividends being paid by the huge corporations, and to the huge profits that are being reaped by the huge corporations in this country. To them that constitutes prosperity. But to me, Mr. Speaker, and, I am sure, to my colleagues in this party and to a great many people in this country, many of whom at present are in the class who may not be even supporters of this party but who are of a sympathetic nature politically speaking, prosperity does not mean huge profits or huge dividends to the shareholders of our corporations. Prosperity means the well-being and the welfare of every citizen in this country. As long as there is one citizen in this country who through no fault of his own or her own is suffering, we cannot claim that we have achieved prosperity in this country. There are many hundreds of thousands-yes, perhaps millions-in this country who are today not experiencing anything like the prosperity we heard talked about by members on the government side of this house.

Even a quick look at the statistics will indicate that the average income of the families in this country is a long way from being such that they are in the position in which they can buy even the essentials of life such as the food, clothing and shelter which they require. Then of course we have the whole sector of our economy which comes under the general description of agriculture. Members

26, 1956 5405

Request for Election and Senate Reform on both sides of the house but particularly members on the Liberal side of it have admitted from time to time that, whereas we have this so-called prosperity, our agricultural section of the country has not shared in that prosperity. As a matter of fact, in the last few years, it has been getting a smaller share of the national income than before. How can members supporting the government say that this country is experiencing prosperity when the most important basic industry in this country upon which our whole economy is based has been experiencing a severe recession in recent years? How can members of the government say that all is well, that there is no need for a reference to the people, and that this government should carry on in its merry way, when they know that that part of our population which is engaged in agriculture is now receiving the smallest share of the national income, in proportion to its numbers, that it has received since 1933 when we were at the depth of the depression? Those are facts and figures they must face.

That is why I say it is a little bit rude and boastful to be talking about this prosperity when there are thousands, hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions of people in this country who are not enjoying what is known as prosperity but who are struggling to make ends meet. There are many thousands who are living at a substandard level or a subsubsistence level in this country. You have only to contact the welfare societies across this country and the various organizations which are interested in the welfare of the people, and they will point out to you people living in poverty, in hunger, practically in starvation in our midst, while we talk about prosperity and the members supporting the government use that as an argument or a reason why they should not go to the people at this time. I therefore say that my first reason why this motion should carry and why a reference should be made to the public at this time is that this government has failed agriculture. It has failed agriculture in several ways. I will mention two in particular.

First of all, I want to associate myself with the remarks made by the hon. member for Bow River (Mr. Johnston) with regard to freight rates. Certainly the government has not protected the interests of agriculture by allowing freight rates to go hopscotching on their way year after year. Let me say this. The hon. member for Bow River has already drawn attention to the fact that one of the companies-that is the Canadian Pacific Railway Company-without taking into account profits which they get from their mining interests, hotels and other interests

Request for Election and Senate Reform but out of their transportation alone, accumulated a profit of $37J million.

It may be argued that the Canadian National Railways from time to time require money because they have a deficit. I want to make it perfectly clear that there is a great difference between giving assistance to the Canadian National Railways and giving assistance to the Canadian Pacific Railway. I do not think a flat increase across the board in freight rates is the right way in which to come to the assistance of the Canadian National Railways. Certainly the Canadian Pacific Railway does not require it. The Canadian National Railways is partly if not totally owned by the Canadian people. We have an interest in it. We have a stake in it. We rescued several bankrupt private companies and formed them into a national railway system. That railway system is there to serve the people of Canada. It was not intended or designed to be a profit-making organization. Certainly we are happy and glad to see a surplus if they can operate efficiently and revenues are buoyant enough. We are glad to see the Canadian National Railways make a surplus. But that is not the reason why the Canadian National Railways was established in this country. It was established to provide service.

You have only to look at the map of Canada, particularly one of western Canada, to see the reason why the Canadian National Railways has a financial struggle as compared with the Canadian Pacific Railway. Here is a railway that had to run branch lines or spur lines into the most uneconomic parts of the prairie west, when the west was opening up, in order to provide a service-often at a loss-so that people would not be left isolated in communities without service. They were put there to provide service whereas the C.P.R. would not touch it with a ten-rod pole. For that reason the C.N.R. have had to suffer deficits. Any time that the Canadian National Railway system can show that they require a grant of money from this parliament or some form of assistance in order to provide a greater service for the Canadian people, I for one would be glad to vote such assistance. To lump them together with the Canadian Pacific Railway, which is nothing but a purely commercial profit-making organization, and to say that because we have to give some assistance to the Canadian National Railways, we will raise the freight rates across the board and let this huge Canadian Pacific Railway system benefit also is going about the matter in the wrong way and doing it to the detriment of agriculture.

The government has also failed the farmer in a very important principle with regard

to agriculture. In the last three or four years- and as a matter of fact, more than that, but more recently it has been given greater emphasis among farm organizations-my colleagues and I in this house and others have been fighting for the principle of parity prices for agriculture. I have heard many members-and many candidates who have not become members-who were supporting the Liberal party, speaking on the public platforms in western Canada in agricultural communities, pledge themselves to the principle of parity prices for agricultural products. Now, some of those gentlemen sit in this house now but every time that issue has come up in the form of a motion they have solidly voted against it.

The farm organizations across this country are getting a little tired of being told one story by the Liberal members out in the country and then told a different story in the House of Commons. This is a principle which I believe should be adopted by this parliament. If the members who support the government are in doubt about it, then what better way of finding out what the public reaction is could there be than going back to the people? This is a very important time for agriculture to establish the principle of parity. We are at the crossroads now. If we have even a slight recession in our general economy, and it seems to be on its way,-it is already affecting the housing situation-we know that agriculture will be the first to suffer a decrease in its income because that has been the trend throughout the years. It was what happened in 1929 and again in 1952, 1953, 1955 and so on. This is the time when this parliament should establish a basis upon which a sound and prosperous agriculture in this country can function. The only principle upon which it can function as a sound and efficient industry is the principle of parity prices.

I give as my second reason why we should now make a reference to the public the fact that this government has failed to promote social security for the citizens of this country. When we see the readiness with which the government can toss about $80 million in this direction and $130 million in that direction, it saddens me to think that looking back over the record I find the last time this parliament increased old age pensions was in 1949. For seven years now, with the cost of living rising, with production increasing in this country, with the gross national product climbing, with Liberals running all over the country crying prosperity, the older people who pioneered and built up this country, who made the greatest contribution to the welfare of this country, have had to sit back for seven years

and beg the government time and again for a little increase in that pittance which they are getting in order that they may get a little share of this so-called prosperity, this great surplus they are crying about. There has not been a one cent increase for old age pensioners in the last seven years.

We come to family allowances, which is something that affects practically every family in the country one way or another, and nothing has been done since 1945. Here is this government which talks about prosperity, here is this government which feels it can shell out $130 million to a private company to establish a gas monopoly in Canada without batting an eye and even bulldozes it through parliament by gagging the members, but when it comes to the children of this country who are the greatest natural resource today and to the older people who have made the greatest contribution to this nation, they say no, we simply cannot afford it. The Minister of Finance (Mr. Harris), according to the newspapers, expects a surplus of about $250 million.

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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:

No, I did not say that.

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CCF

Frederick Samuel Zaplitny

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

Mr. Zaplitny:

I am quoting what appeared in the newspapers. I think $242 million was the figure and judging from the attitude of the minister I think it might go to $250 million. However, let us say it is $200 million. What is the government planning to do with that surplus? Are we going to be treated again to what is sometimes referred to as cyclical budgeting, and what I call cynical budgeting, by which they will dispose of some of this surplus in the form of tax reductions and other concessions? Should the government today not go back to the people and say, "This is your money; this $200 million surplus is $200 million more than we required for ordinary expenses. We have overtaxed you to the tune of $200 million; we have overcharged you for the administration of this country. This is your money and what do you want us to do with it?" That is the question that should be asked of the Canadian people. It is the people of the country who should decide what should be done. It should not be left to the treasury board or to the brain trust behind the Liberal party to calculate how many votes they can buy with that $200 million. This money belongs to the people who have overcontributed and they are the only ones who have a democratic right to decide.

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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:

What do you do when you have a deficit?

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CCF

Frederick Samuel Zaplitny

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

Mr. Zaplitny:

That is another reason why there should be a reference to the public at this time.

26, 1956 5407

Request for Election and Senate Reform

While I am talking about the question of social security let me add this. Our whole economic structure is such that from the financial point of view it is based on a foundation of sand. It is tricky and uncertain. Today we are talking about prosperity. Looking at the balance sheet of the business world we seem to be sitting on top of the world, but a slight difference in the stock exchange situation on Wall street or St. James street, or any other place where the financial world is really based, and we would find our whole economy begin to tumble like a house of cards. That is one reason why my colleagues and I have introduced this question of a sound basis for social security for all people in this country now, not only because it is the humanitarian and Christian thing to do but also because it is good business. It is the only thing which will save this kind of an economy from these booms and busts we have experienced in the past. So long as there is a steady flow of income into the hands of the people who need it most, who deserve it most and who will spend it most readily, then we have the soundest and the best insurance for the continuance of our economy.

We cannot measure the soundness of our economy by the number of our millionaires because they are few and they are not the main part of our economy. We have to measure the soundness of our economy by the citizens of this country who provide the goods and services, those who contribute so much to the welfare of this country, have a solid basis of social security upon which they can depend, then our economic future is sound. But if we leave it simply to a scramble for profits, leave it to those who are struggling to take advantage of the weaker ones, leave it to that method to carry on our economy, then we will have a repetition of the great depressions we have had before.

I give as my third reason why a reference should be made to the people at this time the fact that the government has failed to deal effectively with monopolies and combines in this country. One has only to read some of the reports of the investigators themselves of monopolies and combines in this country to realize how far behind anything the government has done heretofore is. They are behind the formation of monopolies and combines; they are merely scratching the surface. Once in a while we see in the newspapers that some huge monopoly or combine has been hauled into court and fined for breaking the Combines Investigation Act. We see that they are fined some $40,000 or $50,000 and some people looking at that think it is a rather stiff fine. If they look further behind that they find that the people who have been fined this $40,000 or $50,000, by

Request for Election and Senate Reform virtue of having broken the law and formed a combine, have been exploiting the people unfairly and have been making anywhere from three-quarters of a million dollars to a million dollars a year profit more than they should. All this $40,000 represents is a licence to break the law, and that is all this government has been doing up to now. This country is more under the control of monopolies and combines today than it ever was before in history. The government must take the responsibility for that because it is their primary responsibility to use the Combines Investigation Act.

I give as my fourth reason the fact that the Liberal majority has failed to protect the democratic procedures in this house-I say the Liberal majority instead of the government, because I think that all that needs to be said has been said with regard to the actions of the government in the recent debate in regard to the pipe line. But I want to remind the private members who support the government-because it is by their support and by virtue of their majority that the government exists-that they seem not to have realized the responsibility which rests upon their shoulders for what has happened. They have only to look at the newspapers, to look at the editorial comments in the last three or four weeks. Let them go to the newspaper files in the reading room; let them leaf through the pages of the newspapers and read some of the editorials and then stop and ask themselves who is responsible for the disregard of parliamentary procedure in this house. Primarily, of course, the government is behind it and the main responsibility rests upon those members supporting the government who, meekly and with a subservience that is hard to understand, allowed the government to use them as an instrument for bulldozing their bill through the house.

There is only one final judge in this matter. We could argue about it here for the next six months or the next year; we could say that the government was responsible for the disregard of parliamentary procedure and the breaking of rules in this house, and members of the government could claim that the opposition was responsible. I think there is only one judge in the long run, and that is the Canadian people. Go back to the people. After all, this parliament belongs to the people of Canada. Ask them the question, do they believe the government was justified in using the tactics they used, in using the high office of the Speaker of this house, in order to put through a measure which under ordinary rules of procedure they would have failed to put through. Let the people give them the

verdict. It is time that the people of Canada had an opportunity to pass upon what has happened here.

Then, as the fifth reason, I would give the one that was the chief reason, as I understood it, proposed by the Leader of the Opposition. He spoke about Senate reform. While he covered the subject rather comprehensively from the point of view of what is wrong with the other place, so far as I could see there was no specific proposal made as to what could be done about it. I think the people of Canada are getting a little tired of hearing about Senate reform. I can recall that one of the first things I heard in a political meeting in my life was about Senate reform, and that is quite a few years ago. It is more than 25 years ago. In 1919 the leader of the Liberal party at that time asserted, as part of his platform, Senate reform. We have been hearing about it and debating it in this house ever since, and nothing has been done about it. I think the people of Canada now have the right to state whether they want some finality on this question. The people of Canada feel that if this other place needs to be reformed certainly plenty of arguments have been brought forward to point that out. It is time that this house, if it has a responsibility in the matter, took some action instead of just talking about it for the next 25 years.

I am going to propose something which I think might be the solution. I believe that in conjunction with the federal election there should be a plebiscite, and the people themselves could have an opportunity to express their opinions directly on this question of Senate reform. I would prefer it that way, rather than making it a political issue, where one party would take a particular stand, opposed by another party, because I believe that this parliament, any part of this parliament whether it is this house or the other house, is so important to our whole democratic structure and to our constitution that any reform of our parliament should not be a political issue. I think it should be an issue placed squarely before the Canadian people themselves. Let them express their preference. I think a plebiscite would probably be the best way in which to do it. I would propose that a ballot be prepared at the time of the next general election and given to the public on which there could be four questions. If any one can suggest better questions or perhaps arrange them in a better way he is welcome to do it. I would start out by asking the question:

Do you prefer that:

(1) The Canadian Senate remain as presently constituted?

(2) The Canadian Senate be an elected assembly?

(3) The Canadian Senate be appointed by the provinces?

(4) The Canadian Senate be abolished?

I think that pretty well covers all of the proposals that I have heard in this house and outside as to what could be done to reform the other place. Obviously, if the majority of the people of Canada prefer to leave the Canadian Senate as it is constituted at the present time, then this house will have to honour it and we will know that nothing more needs to be done. If they choose one of the other three alternatives, then our duty will be clear, and it will take it out of the area of political discussion. It will not be a party issue. Members who are elected at the next election will feel that they have a mandate from the people of Canada, who are the sovereign body of this country, to take certain steps to make certain reforms in order that the other place will perform its function, if it is to exist. If the people of Canada feel that it no longer serves a useful purpose, then it will cease to exist and the question will be settled once and for all.

I have given these five reasons and I summarize them by saying this. I would suggest to the members supporting the government that they think very carefully before opposing this motion, because anyone who takes the stand in this house that this parliament should not be dissolved and an appeal made to the public of Canada for a new parliament is, in my opinion, taking the stand that the people of Canada should not be given the opportunity at this time to pass judgment on all those issues I have mentioned, plus the very unusual things that have happened within the last month.

No one will say, neither the government nor anyone in the opposition, that what has happened here within the last four or five weeks has been anything like normal in a Canadian parliament or in any democratic parliament. It has been something very unusual, and something which has disturbed the public mind to a great extent. I am not going to argue that all the people of Canada agree with what the opposition did. Neither will the Liberals, I think, seriously argue that all the people of Canada agree with what they did. There will be differences of opinion, but the fact is that the people of Canada today are perhaps more aware of the Canadian parliament than they ever were before, and it is a good thing. It is a good thing that the people of Canada are beginning to think in terms of this parliament, because it is their own instrument of democracy. What finer time could there be to appeal to

26, 1956 5409

Request for Election and Senate Reform. the public than when interest in this parliament as an institution is at its peak, at a peak which it might not reach again for many years? This, I think, would be an excellent time to appeal to the public, to place the issues squarely before them and ask for their verdict, and then this parliament would come back refreshed, renewed, feeling that it had a mandate to carry out the wishes of the Canadian public.

(Translation):

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PC

J.-Wilfrid Dufresne

Progressive Conservative

Mr. J. Wilfrid Dufresne (Quebec Wesi):

Mr. Speaker, the no-confidence motion now before the house and which was introduced by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Drew! could hardly have been brought forward at a better time. Public opinion is growing more and more alarmed at the unfortunate turn of events following upon recent happenings in this Canadian parliament.

Public opinion, forever alert, and at this time more wide-awake than ever, has been deeply moved-and still is-by the disastrous impact upon the future of our parliamentary system of the actions of a government whose sole object now appears clear. By any and every means, democratic or not, it intends to retain that power which it now feels slipping from its grasp. To this end it has resorted to sabotage, flagrant violation of our rules of procedure, abuse of the well disciplined numerical majority which it enjoys, and to any number of other actions which it would take too long to spell out at this time.

In this house, the official opposition represents a very important section of the Canadian people and it is its duty to exercise the right conferred upon it by popular consultation, conscientiously, strongly and firmly.

That right we are exercising today, convinced as we are that we speak for the majority of the Canadian people, who can no longer stand to see the party in power ill-use its prerogatives in order to prevent those sitting on this side of the house from fulfilling the mandate which they undertook to fulfil when they took their oath of office.

The Canadian people no longer have confidence in the democratically constituted authority and insist upon withdrawing, as soon as possible, the confidence which it had so generously bestowed.

Yesterday, Mr. Speaker, you ruled that we could not recall the events which occurred in the dark days of the passing, without proper discussion, of the pipeline bill. May I say, however, that the unusual, objectionable and

5410 HOUSE OF

Request for Election and Senate Reform dictatorial methods which were used on that occasion profoundly shocked all those who have any respect for our parliamentary institutions, in the defence of which so many Canadians have fallen, at the hands of those who sought to destroy them.

That sole reason is one which, in my opinion, justifies the public outcry which is being heard in all parts of our great country, for a general election which, I have no doubt, would condemn the undemocratic attitudes of this government.

By going to the country, we would also give the Canadian people an opportunity to express themselves on other very important issues to which the government failed to bring the promised solution.

The Leader of the Opposition has spoken about the reform of the Senate, which, in our view, has become a party to all the actions of the subservient majority the government commands in the House of Commons.

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LIB

Maurice Boisvert

Liberal

Mr. Boisvert:

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Quebec West (Mr. Dufresne) is violating the rules of this house. He is reading from a written speech. I have been watching him closely. He was very carefully following a written text and I saw how he manoeuvered a second page into view. Therefore I submit that the member for Quebec West should be called to order. He should do as we do on this side of the house and make his speech without reading it.

Topic:   SHIPPING
Subtopic:   SUPPLY SHIP "C. D. HOWE"-REPORT ON FIRE
Sub-subtopic:   REQUEST FOR ELECTION-SENATE REFORM
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June 26, 1956