October 23, 1957

CERTIFICATE OF JUDGMENT VOIDING ELECTION IN YUKON CONSTITUENCY

PC

Daniel Roland Michener (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

I have the honour to inform the house that I have received from Hon. Mr. Justice J. E. Gibben of the territorial court of the Yukon and Hon. Mr. J. O. Wilson, of the supreme court of British Columbia, the two judges selected for the trial of an election petition pursuant to the Dominion Controverted Elections Act, a certificate of judgment in the matter of the election in the electoral district of Yukon, held June 10, 1957, declaring such election void. It is as follows. Shall I dispense?

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?

Some hon. Members:

Dispense.

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PC

Daniel Roland Michener (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

This document will be tabled and printed in the Votes and Proceedings. It is the judgment in the electoral hearing. Is it agreed that I dispense?

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Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

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PC

Daniel Roland Michener (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

I should also inform the house that the learned judges have stated that it was not possible to complete the notes of evidence so they could accompany the reasons for judgment, but they have advised that the typewritten evidence will be forwarded with the minimum of delay.

I have also the honour to inform the house that in conformity with section 69 of the Dominion Controverted Elections Act, chapter 87, revised statutes, 1952, I have issued my warrant to the chief electoral officer to make out a new writ of election for the said electoral district.

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STATEMENT BY MINISTER ON RECENT CONFERENCES

PC

Donald Methuen Fleming (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Donald M. Fleming (Minister of Finance):

Mr. Speaker, on October 15 the hon. member for Essex East (Mr. Martin) asked me certain questions pertaining to matters arising out of recent trade conferences, and I indicated at that time that I should be glad to make a statement, if it were the wish of the house, on the subject of the trade proposals and the various recent trade conferences. The following day the

hon. member pursued his question further and asked if I would include in the statement reference to the conference at Washington. Similar questions were asked by the hon. member for Richelieu-Vercheres (Mr. Cardin).

I should like to bring that statement to the house now; and as the conferences were three in number, somewhat different in character and circumstances, and all of some importance, the reports I am about to make are not as short as I should have wished they might be. The first of these

conferences-

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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin

Liberal

Mr. Martin (Essex East):

Mr. Speaker, will my hon. friend permit an interruption? Would he not think it would be more convenient if the statement could be made under circumstances which would permit interrogations?

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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

Mr. Speaker, there will be ample opportunity for the submission of questions on the statement on the orders of the day, in accordance with the practice of the house. I shall be glad to deal with them.

The first of these conferences was the conference of commonwealth finance ministers held at Mont Tremblant. That conference was proposed by the Prime Minister when he attended the conference of prime ministers at London last June. It has been the practice for the commonwealth finance ministers each year to hold a meeting following the annual meeting of the governors of the international bank and the international monetary fund at Washington. Those meetings have normally been held at Washington. On this occasion our Prime Minister proposed that the conference should be held in Canada, and that invitation was accepted.

The conference was attended by all the finance ministers of the commonwealth with the exception of New Zealand, which was represented by its minister for external affairs. The Canadian representation consisted of my colleague, the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Churchill), and myself, and we were supported by a very strong team of Canadian officials drawn from the departments of finance, trade and commerce and external affairs.

The preparation for the conference was intensive. It continued throughout the entire summer.

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The selection of Mont Tremblant as the venue of the conference was indeed a happy one, and the circumstances there contributed very greatly to the creation of a friendly atmosphere which was conducive to understanding and to agreement.

The agenda of that conference consisted of three topics. The first concerned matters in relation to the pound sterling and problems of exchange in relation to sterling. The second topic concerned the proposed European free trade area or the European economic integration, as it is called.

These two topics were discussed at the sessions of the conference on the Saturday. On the Monday and Tuesday the conference devoted its consideration to the Canadian proposals for enlarging trade within the commonwealth and improving economic relations among the countries of the commonwealth. As hon. members are aware, the conference achieved agreement, and the extent of the agreement and the enthusiasm with which that agreement was hailed by the ministerial representatives of the commonwealth countries are alike testimony to the success of the conference. It is a pleasure indeed to assure the house that as the result of the unanimous decision that was taken at that Mont Tremblant conference, a full dress commonwealth trade and economic conference will be held some time next year. The place has not been finally decided. The date has not been finally decided. The Canadian government has extended to the governments of the other countries of the commonwealth an invitation to hold the conference in Canada. In due course we expect a final answer to that invitation.

I draw the attention of hon. members to the fact that a great deal of preparation, as was recognized by the ministers of finance, will be required for such a conference, and plans have been made and are proceeding for a conference of officials, drawn from the various countries, to be held at a time and place yet to be agreed upon. The officials will have the responsibility at such a meeting for shaping the agenda for the conference and arranging plans.

I wish, in concluding my remarks on the Mont Tremblant conference, to say that in the closing meeting of the conference, which was public, minister after minister testified to his belief that the conference had achieved significant results and had done something worthy in strengthening commonwealth consciousness and fellow feeling. By leave of the house, Mr. Speaker, I now table the communique that was issued at the close of the conference by the ministers there present.

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PC

Daniel Roland Michener (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

Is it the pleasure of the house that this document be tabled?

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Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

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Donald Methuen Fleming (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

I turn now to the second

subject, which concerns bilateral discussions between Canada and the United Kingdom. Prior to the Mont Tremblant conference we had received information from the Chancellor of the Exchequer that it was the wish of the United Kingdom ministers who were attending the conference to come to Ottawa at the conclusion of the Mont Tremblant conference for a discussion of matters of mutual interest. We had no indication of the particular matters they proposed to discuss with us when that suggestion was made to us. We, of course, said the Canadian ministers concerned would be more than pleased to make themselves available to meet with their counterparts in the British government in any discussions. I stress the fact that there was no indication of an agenda, and that there was no suggestion of a formal conference. I think that fact needs to be clearly understood.

On the Saturday, during the progress of the first day's sittings of the Mont Tremblant conference, a news story appeared in the Montreal Daily Star, and copies of that newspaper became available during the afternoon recess at Mont Tremblant. That news story purported to refer to the intention of the United Kingdom ministers to propose the establishment of a free trade area between the United Kingdom and Canada. I had been designated by the conference as its chairman and also as the individual to give to the press each day statements on such matters as were discussed at the conference. The house will realize, of course, that the proceedings of the conference were closed.

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LIB
PC

Donald Methuen Fleming (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

A meeting was arranged with the press that evening for that purpose. In the course of the meeting questions were asked concerning the proposal that had been reported in the news report to which I have just referred. The Chancellor of the Exchequer and I were both present and took part in the conference. In reply to those questions the Chancellor of the Exchequer outlined a proposal which he indicated he intended to submit to the Canadian government when he came on to Ottawa the following week at the conclusion of the Mont Tremblant conference. It was a proposal, as he indicated in reply to various questions, for the establishment of a free trade area between the two countries, and to achieve it on a progressive basis over a period of years.

It was obviously a very far-reaching proposal. In the course of that conference I was invited to state the attitude of the Canadian government with respect to that proposal. Obviously it would have been improper of me to do such a thing under the circumstances. The proposal had not yet been submitted. Obviously it had never been before the Canadian government. I was just listening in the course of Mr. Thorneycroft's answers to the questions put to him at the conference as to the features of the proposal as he unfolded them at that time, and I declined- and I think quite properly so-to make any comment on that proposal except to say that I thought it would be realized that it would involve formidable difficulties in any consideration that might be given to it by the Canadian government. However, until the proposal had been set forth and submitted, I indicated that I could not undertake to make any comments on it.

That, Mr. Speaker, was the end of that matter so far as the Mont Tremblant conference was concerned. That matter was never discussed at the Mont Tremblant conference. It never had any place whatever in the proceedings of the conference. Indeed, it would not have been permissible to introduce it. In that conference we were engaged in a discussion of commonwealth trade and the Canadian proposal for the holding of a commonwealth trade and economic conference. I may say to the house that no bilateral arrangements were discussed in the course of the conference proceedings.

I hope, Mr. Speaker, that what I have said will leave no room for doubt, and that there will be an end to such confusion as has been evidenced on this subject.

At the conclusion of the Mont Tremblant conference two of the British ministers, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Thorney-croft, and the president of the board of trade, Sir David Eccles, came on to Ottawa. In the course of two or three days of meetings here the United Kingdom ministers submitted a proposal in relation to the establishment of a free trade area between Canada and the United Kingdom to be brought about over a period which, we were told, might be in the neighbourhood of, say, 12 to 15 years.

I wish here to say one word by way of clarification of a matter which has been referred to more than once in this connection. That is the matter which the Prime Minister mentioned on his return to Ottawa from the conference of prime ministers last summer, when at the airport he pointed out in reply to questions put to him that the diversion from the United States to the United Kingdom of 15 per cent of the purchases which

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Canadians are now making in the United States would redress a trade situation which I think must and does give a great many Canadians serious concern.

This concern is based upon two principal considerations, the first being the extent to which the Canadian trading eggs are being laid in one basket, in other words the extent to which Canadian external trade is-

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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

I rise on a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I recognize that this is one of those difficult problems with which Your Honour will have to deal, namely the latitude to be allowed to ministers in making statements on the order for motions. You will find in the records of this house plenty of discussions on this point in which my hon. friends opposite have taken part. It does seem to me that the house is willing to accept the practice that ministers be permitted, either on motions or on orders of the day, to make announcements, statements of ministerial changes or explanations of government policy having the character of an announcement or being of an urgent nature. This is shown by the fact that the house was generous today in not objecting to what the Minister of Finance asked for at the start. But with all respect it does seem to me he is now really indulging in debate. He has not announced anything new. He has commented on things that have been said about statements made by the Prime Minister and, with respect, I think Your Honour should consider whether this is the time to make a statement like this.

I am not quarrelling very much as to the difference between making statements on motions and on orders of the day. That difference is not great. If a statement is made on motions we can ask questions on orders of the day, but I think it has been ruled in the past that it is better to make such statements on orders of the day so that members can ask questions right away. I question, however, whether this statement should be made on either orders of the day or on motions. It is not an announcement of government policy; it is a matter of debate, and I think the minister should have waited his turn to take part in the debate on the address. That is still in progress, and I think it is not in order for the Minister of Finance to make such a statement at this time.

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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin

Liberal

Hon. Paul Martin (Essex East):

Mr. Speaker, when I intervened at the opening of my hon. friend's statement today I asked if he could not make his statement under circumstances which would permit interrogation. I had in mind precisely the point now raised by the

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hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles). Under the rules of this house I would submit to you, Mr. Speaker, with great respect, that this kind of statement at this particular juncture and under these circumstances is not in order. My hon. friend can take the time of the house in respect to this very important matter, even today, during the debate which is now formally before the house. That would afford other speakers on this side and elsewhere an opportunity to make speeches in reply.

A more preferable arrangement, I strongly suggest to the Minister of Finance, would be, for instance, when we are discussing, let us say, international affairs along the lines indicated by the Prime Minister himself the other day, when I assume we would be in committee and would have the opportunity of putting to the Minister of Finance questions arising out of the very important matter about which he is seeking now to make so inadequate a statement.

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PC

Daniel Roland Michener (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

I appreciate what hon. members have drawn to my attention, and perhaps I shpuld say a word before any further steps are taken along this course. As I understand it, what was done in the last two parliaments, at least when there was an important statement to be made by a minister, was for that statement to be made either at this time or on the orders of the day. Then the Leader of the Opposition and the leaders of the other two opposition parties were given an opportunity to make a brief comment or to ask a question about the statement in order that it might not simply be a unilateral statement, if it was an extended statement such as this.

I had that practice in mind when I allowed the matter to proceed, thinking that it might be satisfactory to the house if, when the Minister of Finance had finished, the leaders of the opposition parties were to do that.

Of course there is no question before the house, and we cannot carry on a general or an extended debate; we are under the limitation restricting comments and replies in that way. Since we have gone this far, and I trust that the minister's statement is practically finished, I suggest we might follow the course I had in mind, and that the house will consider it a satisfactory way of dealing with this matter.

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Donald Methuen Fleming (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

Mr. Speaker, I do not think I should make any comment except to say that there are many precedents which can be pointed out, and that I had prepared the statement at the request of the hon. member for Essex East.

Mr. Speaker, I was mentioning the background of the matters discussed in the informal discussions here in Ottawa. The basis of

what the Prime Minister said on the occasion I mentioned, having regard to the deficit in our trade with the United States, was to seek a diversion from the United States to the United Kingdom of purchases that Canada is now making from the United States. It was not part of that proposal to divert to the United Kingdom purchases by Canadians of Canadian products. The proposal of the United Kingdom ministers therefore introduced quite a new dimension into the considerations which had arisen out of the Prime Minister's reference.

In these several days of discussion here in Ottawa many matters pertaining to the trade interests of the two countries were discussed. The proceedings were very informal in character; the discussions were frank and friendly. The discussions were necessarily of a preliminary character because, for instance, the United Kingdom ministers were not authorized to discuss the question of imports of Canadian agricultural products into the United Kingdom.

It was agreed in the light of the discussion, and of the circumstances, that it was important to achieve the holding of the commonwealth trade conference next year, and as the proposal of the United Kingdom was of a long-range nature, which neither required nor was expected to be given immediate consideration by the Canadian government, or even consideration prior to the commonwealth trade and economic conference, that the matter should rest there in the form in which it was referred to later in the communique which was issued.

As to the proposals advanced by the Canadian government, I mention this only briefly to indicate that we propose to seek, wherever possible, to transfer government purchases that are now being made in the United States to the United Kingdom on terms that are fair to all concerned; to enlarge as soon as may be the amounts of goods purchased that tourists may bring back with them following visits to the United Kingdom.

Then in the third place-and this, in the view of the government, is one of very considerable importance, sir-we propose to send to the United Kingdom next month the most important trade mission which Canada has ever sent abroad. It will be a large trade mission; it will be a mission sponsored by the Canadian government, and it will include leading representatives of business, industry, labour, agriculture and other primary production from all areas of Canada.

In leaving that subject, sir, may I table the communique or agreed statement that

*was issued by the ministers of the two governments, the United Kingdom and Canada, at the conclusion of the Canada-United Kingdom talks on October 4.

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PC

Daniel Roland Michener (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

Is it agreed that this communique be tabled?

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October 23, 1957