November 27, 1957

PRIVILEGE

MR. JOHNSON (KINDERSLEY) REFERENCE TO REPORT IN SASKATOON "STAR-PHOENIX"

CCF

Willis Merwyn (Merv) Johnson

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

Mr. W. M. Johnson (Kindersley):

I rise, Mr. Speaker, on a question of privilege, which action I delayed until the Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources had returned to the house from the recent dominion-provincial conference.

It is reported in the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix of November 19, 1957, that the Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources, when speaking to a Conservative nominating convention in Moose Jaw and referring to the cash advance proposal, said:

C.C.F. members oppose the move as useless, although it was supported by farm organizations.

My question of privilege is based on this false statement. The minister must know full well that every member of the C.C.F. party, far from opposing the legislation, voted for it. On the other hand, six members of the Liberal party opposed the measure by voting against the cash advance proposal. The C.C.F. members in supporting the proposal made it quite clear, as have the farm organizations, that cash advances, as a welcome first step, will not solve the problem of the cost-price squeeze facing western farmers, but that further comprehensive legislation is required.

I noticed in the same paper the minister's complaint of inadequacy of news reports on western members, and it would appear to me that this inadequacy is not being resolved by the distortion of facts by the minister. I am sure the minister will want to take the first opportunity of correcting the statement he has made and of giving an apology to the members of this group who have been misrepresented.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. JOHNSON (KINDERSLEY) REFERENCE TO REPORT IN SASKATOON "STAR-PHOENIX"
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PC

Francis Alvin George Hamilton (Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Alvin Hamilton (Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources):

I have no hesitation at all in supporting the question of privilege on the part of the hon. member for Kindersley. What I said, but what was not quoted in the press, was that one member of the C.C.F. had opposed this proposal, and

I used his own words. I made no mention at all in that speech of the C.C.F. in general opposing cash advances.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. JOHNSON (KINDERSLEY) REFERENCE TO REPORT IN SASKATOON "STAR-PHOENIX"
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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. Coldwell:

Might I ask who was the

one member concerned, because I have no recollection of this.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. JOHNSON (KINDERSLEY) REFERENCE TO REPORT IN SASKATOON "STAR-PHOENIX"
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PC

Francis Alvin George Hamilton (Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hamilton (Qu'Appelle):

I said one member, in his remarks in this house, had described it as useless.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. JOHNSON (KINDERSLEY) REFERENCE TO REPORT IN SASKATOON "STAR-PHOENIX"
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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. Coldwell:

Well, who was that? I have no recollection.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. JOHNSON (KINDERSLEY) REFERENCE TO REPORT IN SASKATOON "STAR-PHOENIX"
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?

An hon. Member:

He does not know.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. JOHNSON (KINDERSLEY) REFERENCE TO REPORT IN SASKATOON "STAR-PHOENIX"
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DOMINION-PROVINCIAL CONFERENCE STATEMENT ON PROCEEDINGS BY PRIME MINISTER

PC

John George Diefenbaker (Prime Minister)

Progressive Conservative

Right Hon. J. G. Diefenbaker (Prime Minister):

Mr. Speaker, I have a statement to make concerning the dominion-provincial conference, and also I should like to table for the information of the house two copies of the communique as well as several copies of the report of the proceedings in English. A French translation thereof will be available shortly. In tabling copies of the preliminary verbatim report of the public proceedings of the dominion-provincial conference, I should like to make clear that the verbatim reports tabled herewith are those furnished to the conference immediately following the session, and have still to be corrected by the speakers themselves before they are issued in final, printed form, which will be distributed to each hon. member of the house in due course. The report speaks for itself in detail, and all I will do is give a general summary of the substance of the agreed communique.

In my letters to the provincial premiers of September 16 and October 31, which have been printed as appendices to Hansard, I indicated to the provinces the nature and purpose of the conference that we proposed. I think the accounts of the proceedings indicate clearly that the conference in fact carried out these intentions.

As I made clear in my opening statement to the conference, it was convened in order to seek the ideas and proposals of the provincial governments and to explain the general views of the dominion government. This government did not place any rigid formulas

1556 HOUSE OF COMMONS

Inquiries of the Ministry before the meeting for approval, nor did it adopt any take it or leave it attitude. It endeavoured to learn the up to date views of the provincial representatives.

I will not endeavour to recapitulate here the points of substance I made in my opening statement to the conference. Printed copies of that statement will be in the hands of hon. members in due course.

The agreed communique of the conference indicates that sufficient progress was made on certain items to permit action to be taken on them. In particular, the government is proposing to bring before parliament at this session an amendment to the Unemployment Assistance Act to remove the so-called threshold provision, under which the dominion treasury makes no contribution toward the cost of the eligible cases upon relief roles until they exceed .45 per cent of the provincial population. A suitable measure will be drafted and placed before the house in due course to carry out this policy, which should make it easier for a number of the provinces to make suitable arrangements to assist their municipalities in carrying this burden of assistance to persons in need. It is proposed to make this change effective at the beginning of 1958.

In my statement to the conference I said that the present government was inclined to recommend to parliament a change in the Hospital Insurance and Diagnostic Services Act to remove the clause providing that the payments to provinces under that act shall commence only when six provinces, containing at least half the population of Canada, have entered into agreements under it and have their own related acts in force. In place of that we would substitute a more definite date for commencement of the plan.

We found no provinces expressing any strong views against this change, and consequently I would now like to announce our intention of proceeding with it when opportunity offers. Consideration will have to be given as to what particular time will be selected and as to whether other changes in the legislation will be desirable.

I am sure all members of the house will welcome the announcement in the communique that:

It was generally agreed that the over-all economic position of the Atlantic provinces is now such as to justify some special grants in aid to the governments of those provinces from the federal government.

This is the most important immediate result of our meeting this week. The dominion government will now proceed to consider in detail what it should propose in order to implement this general policy.

The conference was invited to review the present tax sharing arrangements, and possible changes suggested by some of the provinces in the tax sharing arrangements act were discussed. As I made clear in my opening statement, the dominion government did not put forward any suggestions in this field, and it was understood that no endeavour would be made to reach definite conclusions on it at the meeting this week. Further consideration will be given by the government to this general subject in the light of the statements made during the public sessions by the provincial premiers, and also the subsequent discussion that took place in committee.

The discussions were generally held in a harmonious spirit, and I would like to pay my tribute personally at this time to the manner in which the provincial representatives came to the meeting to discuss in a most constructive manner questions of interest to all the provinces and to the nation as a whole. At the conclusion of the meeting the representatives of the provinces expressed their satisfaction at being able to put their views before the conference, both in open session and in committee. A subsequent meeting as soon as possible in the new year will be held in accordance with the proposals made by this government in calling the conference.

Topic:   DOMINION-PROVINCIAL CONFERENCE STATEMENT ON PROCEEDINGS BY PRIME MINISTER
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LIB

Jean Lesage

Liberal

Hon. Jean Lesage (Monlmagny-LTslei):

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has mentioned that a good measure of agreement has been reached on certain matters. Might I ask if the premier of Quebec has acquiesced to the signing of an agreement regarding unemployment assistance; and second, if the premier of Quebec has signified his intention to establish a hospital insurance plan in that province?

Topic:   DOMINION-PROVINCIAL CONFERENCE STATEMENT ON PROCEEDINGS BY PRIME MINISTER
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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Prime Minister)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

Mr. Speaker, any representations made by the premier of Quebec in the open session are available in the records. Any arguments or considerations that were advanced on behalf of any of the provincial prime ministers or by any of their representatives in committee of course are not open and available.

Topic:   DOMINION-PROVINCIAL CONFERENCE STATEMENT ON PROCEEDINGS BY PRIME MINISTER
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LIB

Jean Lesage

Liberal

Mr. Lesage:

A supplementary question, Mr. Speaker. The Prime Minister was the one who mentioned that a good measure of agreement had been reached-

Topic:   DOMINION-PROVINCIAL CONFERENCE STATEMENT ON PROCEEDINGS BY PRIME MINISTER
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LIB

Pierre Gauthier (Chief Opposition Whip; Whip of the Liberal Party)

Liberal

Mr. Gauthier (Portneuf):

Yes.

Topic:   DOMINION-PROVINCIAL CONFERENCE STATEMENT ON PROCEEDINGS BY PRIME MINISTER
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LIB

Jean Lesage

Liberal

Mr. Lesage:

-on definite matters, and those two matters were mentioned. It seems to me that members of the house are entitled to know-

Topic:   DOMINION-PROVINCIAL CONFERENCE STATEMENT ON PROCEEDINGS BY PRIME MINISTER
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?

Some hon. Members:

Question.

Topic:   DOMINION-PROVINCIAL CONFERENCE STATEMENT ON PROCEEDINGS BY PRIME MINISTER
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LIB

Jean Lesage

Liberal

Mr. Lesage:

-if the province of Quebec participated in that measure of agreement that was reached.

Topic:   DOMINION-PROVINCIAL CONFERENCE STATEMENT ON PROCEEDINGS BY PRIME MINISTER
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?

An hon. Member:

It was in camera.

Topic:   DOMINION-PROVINCIAL CONFERENCE STATEMENT ON PROCEEDINGS BY PRIME MINISTER
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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Prime Minister)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

Mr. Speaker, I simply pointed out the facts, and I am sure the premier of Quebec will be able to express himself, if he chooses to, so that my hon. friend will understand what was said by him during the progress of the in camera sittings.

Topic:   DOMINION-PROVINCIAL CONFERENCE STATEMENT ON PROCEEDINGS BY PRIME MINISTER
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?

Some hon. Members:

That is not an answer.

Topic:   DOMINION-PROVINCIAL CONFERENCE STATEMENT ON PROCEEDINGS BY PRIME MINISTER
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November 27, 1957