December 2, 1957

FOOTBALL

CONGRATULATIONS TO HAMILTON

CCF

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

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

Mr. Stanley Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

Mr. Speaker, may I be permitted to offer wholehearted congratulations to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on winning the Grey cup? I was there rooting for the other side, but Hamilton won; there is no doubt about that. As for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, we are still very proud of them. In football, as in elections, there is always the next one. Watch out for it.

Topic:   FOOTBALL
Subtopic:   CONGRATULATIONS TO HAMILTON
Sub-subtopic:   TIGER-CATS ON WINNING GREY CUP
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BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE


MOTION TO EXTEND HOURS OF SITTING_______


STATEMENT AS TO FURTHER LEGISLATION

PC

Howard Charles Green (Minister of Defence Production; Minister of Public Works; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Howard C. Green (Minister of Public Works) moved:

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LIB

Louis Stephen St-Laurent (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Right Hon. L. S. St. Laurent (Leader of ihe Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, I had hoped, and I know the hope is shared by many on this side of the house, that the Prime Minister would be informing us about the additional legislation that is to be brought before parliament during this session before we had to deal with the motion extending the time for the consideration of that business. If it would be convenient for the Prime Minister to give us that information, we would be obliged to him.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Prime Minister)

Progressive Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, the other day the Leader of the Opposition asked what additional items of legislation, over and above those already on the order paper, the government hoped would be introduced and considered at this session. The additional items which we have in mind are as follows: An amendment changing the basis for contributions in 96698-109J

respect of unemployment assistance; a bill to authorize a loan to the government of New Brunswick for the Beechwood development and also in that connection, provided an agreement is arrived at between the government of Saskatchewan and the dominion government, the necessary legislation respecting the South Saskatchewan dam and irrigation project.

At the very earliest opportunity I intend to move a motion respecting the rule on closure. There will be a bill dealing with the power program in the Atlantic provinces and also, following negotiation and I hope before the session concludes, the necessary bill to provide adjustment grants to the Atlantic provinces. There are one or two taxation measures which will receive attention and an amendment to the Indian Act to prevent the possibility of Indians who are resident on reservations and were so resident prior to a certain date having their names removed from the band rolls. In the same connection, provided there is time, there will be an amendment to the citizenship act to remove the discrimination that now exists as between natural born and naturalized citizens in connection with the loss of citizenship.

Then there is a very important bill which we realize cannot be considered in full at this time. Indeed, I doubt whether we will have time for any consideration, but the matter has been given very considerable attention. I refer to the new estate tax act. That bill will contain many sections and I feel, with a view to giving members of the house and interested persons across the country an opportunity to give the fullest study to the various sections, that we should go no further than to give the bill first reading. This would enable consideration to be given between the present session and an ensuing session, and as a result of any representations made during the interval further changes might be made in connection with the suggested amendments or changes to the existing law.

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LIB

Daniel (Dan) McIvor

Liberal

Mr. Daniel Mclvor (Fort William):

I should like to ask a supplementary question. Is there any consideration or legislation intended to increase the pensions of retired civil servants?

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LIB
PC

John George Diefenbaker (Prime Minister)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

I have already stated on a previous occasion that the matter is receiving most careful consideration. There are many details that require to be ironed out

Business of the House

and anomalies that will be created which have made necessary the most careful study of the matter, and as soon as we are in a position to present the legislation covering that matter, parliament of course will have the matter brought before it.

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LIB

Daniel (Dan) McIvor

Liberal

Mr. Mclvor:

Thank you; we are expecting it.

Mr. Stanley Knowles (Winnipeg North

Centre): I should like to ask a question concerning one item in the list the Prime Minister just gave us. He referred to certain measures having to do with taxation. Would those measures be in lieu of a budget or would they be measures that would grow out of a budget? Would he be more specific about what he had in mind when he made that reference?

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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Prime Minister)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

In looking over the

records of parliament throughout the years, I find there have been several occasions, and in particular when second sessions have taken place in the same year, when no budget has been introduced. This was the case in the second session of 1873; in the second session of 1919; in the second session of 1930, which was the first session under the new government. Then it will be recalled also that in December, 1947, there was no budget but there were extensive fiscal changes. Mr. Abbott made the announcement and named special tariff increases, and in implementing them he simply made a motion on going into committee of ways and means.

In so far as changes in the income taxes are concerned, those changes could be made by notice; and in my opinion the few changes that will be made, having regard to the shortage of time available and the fact that this is the second session this year and in the main to the fact that consideration is to be given to the estimates prepared and advanced by the former government, we feel that a formal budget is not necessary at this time.

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LIB

Louis Stephen St-Laurent (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. Si. Laurent (Quebec East):

Mr. Speaker, the members of this party, as we have stated from the beginning of the session, are anxious to co-operate to have the house deal with the business that requires to be dealt with at this time, and we will make no objection to this extension of the hours and even the days of sittings. However, we express the hope that good use will be made of the additional time.

We wish to mention particularly, as I mentioned on Friday, the anxiety of the Canadian public to have brought down at the earliest possible moment the legislation dealing with the fixation of floor prices for agricultural products. We hope that legislation will be brought in at an early date so

it may get the consideration which a matter of that importance deserves under the conditions which exist at the present time.

This subject of taxation is another matter about which there is uncertainty in the public mind which I think is rather detrimental to the economy. Rumours that have circulated in the press have created a situation which has been regarded by some as justification for ceasing production of such things as motor cars which are not being purchased at this time. In view of the possibility of there being a change in the excise tax on motor cars that would make a substantial difference in the price a purchaser would pay, we can all realize that he would be inclined to wait and see whether or not there is going to be that kind of reduction. I would suggest that the government give earnest consideration to removing that uncertainty as early as possible.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Diefenbaker) said there would be one or two acts making changes in taxation. I think everyone remembers what was said during the election campaign, and everyone remembers that in the speech from the throne there was a statement that there would be submitted to us for approval changes in certain taxing statutes. There have also been frequent assertions that the promises made during the election campaign would be implemented. I think hon. gentlemen opposite should feel rather complimented that the public should expect that those promises are going to be implemented and should be acting in a manner which shows that they are waiting to see just how far these changes are going to make it more attractive to indulge in certain purchases.

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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):

Mr. Speaker, in view of the tremendous amount of work that is yet to be completed in this session of parliament, we are not going to oppose the suggestion that the hours of sitting be extended. We are here to do a job, and we are prepared to sit whatever hours are necessary.

There is one comment about the hours of sitting that I wish to make before I make the comments which I originally rose to give to the house. That comment is this. A rather unusual situation has developed in the proposing of morning sittings, in that this motion proposes morning sittings for Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays but not for Mondays and Tuesdays. The reason for that situation is quite clear. This motion has come much earlier than usually happens in a session, and Mondays and Tuesdays are still available either for private

members' resolutions on Mondays or for supply motions on both Mondays and Tuesdays. There is therefore no advantage to the government in asking us to sit Monday and Tuesday mornings so long as we are dealing with matters which are taken up mainly by private members of the house.

I would suggest to the house leader that if this session continues-as it may well do, in view of the tremendous amount of business yet to be done-to the point where the government wishes to ask us to sit Monday and Tuesday mornings as well, when that time comes consideration might be given to leaving Wednesday mornings clear. I think the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Green) will agree that across the years it has been the practice to leave Wednesday mornings clear for caucuses and other meetings which have to be held. I do not make this request at the moment because we still have Monday and Tuesday mornings clear for these purposes, but I do make that request if the other situation to which I have referred should arise.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the other comment I wish to make is that it seems to me the government should realize that this session is not just, as government spokesmen are so often wont to say, a session for the purpose of cleaning up items left over from the session that met here from January to April for this year. That is an excuse used by the government quite frequently for putting the pressure on us to speed up so far as the consideration of the estimates are concerned.

I think it should be pointed out that the main estimates which are before this house were presented to this session of parliament by the present government. The present government may say that it was the former government which prepared them, but it is the present government which laid them before parliament and it is the present government which is spending the money. Therefore as long as the present government has to take the responsibility for this money this present parliament has the right to discuss those estimates which the government has told us, time and time again, we must rush through and get out of the way so we can get on with legislation.

I find there is also a popular notion abroad -and I might say quite frankly that some of the new members have expressed this notion to me when we chat out in the halls and in the cafeteria-that we are duplicating, so far as estimates are concerned, discussions we had in the last session of parliament. I have checked the records very carefully, and I find that in the January to April session we spent about four days on the estimates of the Post Office Department. We completed those estimates and they are not now before us.

Business of the House

Other than that, the only time we spent on main estimates between January and April of this year consisted of ten minutes on February 22, which we spent on the estimates of the Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources, and one hour on March 7 which we spent on the main estimates of that same department. We spent no other time in the whole of last session on the main estimates which were introduced in the last session and which have been reintroduced in this session.

Some hon. members may have it in their minds that we spent time in the committee of supply on agriculture and one or two other departments. That is true, but that was in relation to supplementary estimates for the year before last. I have checked this very carefully and other members can do the same, but I put it again in this very simple statement: that apart from the post office estimates which were completed and are out of the way, the only time in the whole of last session spent on the main estimates which are now before this parliament was one hour and ten minutes spent on the estimates of the Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources.

Let no one say that we are duplicating discussion; let no one say that these estimates should be rushed through. Indeed the Prime Minister is the last person who can say that, because on April 11 of last year, in the last week of the old session, he complained, and I shared his complaint, that no opportunity had been given for a critical examination of the estimates.

The Progressive Conservatives, in opposition as they were then, demanded from the former government an assurance when interim supply bills were put through that we would still have our full rights to discuss the main estimates as fully and as completely as we wished.

The government may say that no one is curtailing our rights but I submit, Mr. Speaker, that every time a minister says we should put the estimates through so we can get along with the legislation, every time there is an appeal for co-operation, an attempt is being made to put these things through without that critical examination which the Prime Minister suggested was so important when he spoke from the other side of the house last April.

Mr. Speaker, I should like also to point out by way of opposition to this demand to rush things through that the way things are now going we are likely to go through two sessions of parliament, the one that started in January and ended in April and this one which started in October and will end heaven

Business of the House

knows when, without having had debates on the motion to go into supply on the number of days which the rules entitle us to have in one session.

This is another point concerning which there are some popular misapprehensions. Only today one hon. member told me that we had spent plenty of time on supply motions last session. No, we did not. The Conservatives complained about that, too. We had only one full dress two-day debate on a supply motion in the last session. An amendment was moved to that motion by the then leader of the opposition with regard to the national development policy of the Conservative party. We had that one two-day debate, at the end of which six departments were put into supply.

There were complaints by Conservatives last session that more of these debates were not permitted. As a result of those complaints, during what was the last week of the last session the former government arranged for a one-day supply debate at the end of which no departments were put into supply. It was simply a day's debate as a vehicle to make it possible for the then leader of the opposition to move his amendment having to do with parity prices. Even if you count that day, which was rather perfunctory, we had only three days in the last session for debates on the motion that Mr. Speaker leave the chair for the house to go into committee of supply.

As far as this session is concerned, the matter has been subject to some negotiations through the usual channels. I indicated on Friday at six o'clock that I was a little disturbed over the way certain things which I thought had been agreed to had been upset. We were, for example, to have had a supply motion tomorrow. I am not going to debate that just now, for despite the fact that agreements seem to have been forgotten, we are still prepared to negotiate. But I doubt whether, in fact, at the end of this session we shall come out with more than seven or eight days of debate on the motion that Mr. Speaker do leave the chair for the house to go into committee of supply. If it is seven, plus three of last session, that will only be ten days in two parliamentary sessions. The rule book provides for at least six debates in each session, each of two days, which makes a total of 24 days for two sessions, or twelve days for one session.

I submit, Mr. Speaker, that our rights are being curtailed. I say to the government across the way that we have no objection to the suggestion that we work longer hours and try to get along with the business before parliament. But I remind the government

that one of the reasons they are where they are is that the people of Canada became apprehensive about the way in which the Liberal government was pushing parliament around and denying parliament as a whole and private members in particular some of their basic rights. What is being done is not at all like what was done during the pipeline debate, but it is not a long step from pushing parliament around in little ways to doing it in bigger ways.

I admit that the government has done a number of things this session which show respect for parliament. I suggest-I plead-[DOT] that there should not be this attempt to tell parliament that it must not spend time discussing the estimates. Second, an attempt to curtail the right to debate motions that Mr. Speaker leave the chair is an attempt to curtail the rights of private members themselves. These things are part of the rights of parliament, and we are just as entitled to them under a Conservative administration as we felt we were under a Liberal administration.

I point out also, Mr. Speaker, that a number of committees will now be sitting. The external affairs committee has already had one meeting; it is to meet on Tuesday, and has arranged a number of meetings through the next few weeks. The house leader announced on Friday evening at six o'clock that a number of measures would be referred to standing committees of the house. Everyone who has been here before knows how difficult it becomes to do the business of the house and the business of committees when they are meeting concurrently. Let us not have added to that any difficulties so far as arranging the business of the house is concerned.

I say to the house leader, despite the difficulties we have had recently over agreements that have been made, that we are still prepared to negotiate so far as the business of the house is concerned, provided that we can come to agreements and stick to those agreements. But if agreements are to be set aside we shall have no option but to fall back on the rules of the house with regard to supply debates being for two days, with regard to the number of departments that can be put in, and so on.

One other word, Mr. Speaker. A couple of years ago, or was it more, we had a committee on procedure. Everyone knows what went on in that committee. Everyone knows that one of the desires of Mr. Harris, who on that committee, was to cut the number of days for estimates down to 20 per session. The Conservatives would not agree to it; we would not agree to it either.

I ask the Conservatives to remember that. They should not try now to cut two sessions of parliament down to fewer than 20 days for considering estimates that amount to a total of over $5 billion.

I said, Mr. Speaker, that was one other word. There is still another. I am deeply concerned about what the Prime Minister said a few moments ago as to his belief that taxation changes can be made without going through the requirements of our rules so far as the presentation of a budget is concerned. I noted that he had to go back a long way in history to find some examples. Some of them were quite ancient. One was in 1930, when Mr. Bennett came to power. I think some of the things that Mr. Bennett did should be forgotten.

The other example was that of 1947 when Mr. Abbott imposed taxation by radio. I could hardly believe my ears when I heard the Prime Minister quoting that as an example. Those of us who were here will remember the vehemence with which the Conservatives of that day criticized the course taken by Mr. Abbott in proposing tax changes by radio. The present Prime Minister, the present Minister of Finance (Mr. Fleming) and the hon. member for Greenwood (Mr. Macdonnell) were strong in their denunciation of that practice, and so were we.

As a matter of fact it was in connection with that matter, when it was debated later on, that we were able on one occasion in committee of ways and means to defeat the government by a vote on the opposition side that was larger than the vote on the then government side. To complete the story, that result was set aside by an appeal from the ruling made by Mr. Golding, who was then chairman of the committee of ways and means. I recall this, Mr. Speaker, just to remind the Conservatives what they thought when they were in opposition about budgetary changes being made by means of an announcement, and then being put through the house in a way different from what is called for by the rules.

May I tell the Prime Minister that there has been a change in the rules since then. We now have standing order No. 58 which is in different terms from the standing order having to do with the budget prior to 1955. It seems to me that under a proper reading of standing order No. 58, if any budget presentation is being made on proposals for changes in taxation measures, the requirements of standing order 58 will have to obtain. The motion will have to be debatable, and if that is the case it is debatable for a period not exceeding eight days.

Business of the House

Now, I submit that it is possible for us to negotiate the matter of the number of days, provided there is respect for the rules; but if the government is going to say that the rule does not apply, then of course, any basis for negotiation is out the window.

We are concerned about this situation. We think what the country needs today and is entitled to have is not just bills providing for expenditures, bills providing for taxation changes, but a financial statement, an accounting as to where we stand in our national finances. We contend that the government is doing all the things that the present ministers condemned when they were on this side of the house, if it tries to make taxation changes without obeying the rules and having a budget debate, and without making a budget presentation through the Minister of Finance, and hence without letting the house know where the country stands so far as its finances are concerned.

These are procedural matters, Mr. Speaker; these are technical matters. When you talk about private members' days, when you talk about supply motions, when you talk about ways and means, the man on the street doesn't understand them the way the man on the street understood what was happening in the pipe-line debate. And yet, despite all that, I suggest that it is in these things that are wrapped up in the maintenance of the rules and the traditions of parliament that our liberty and democracy are at stake. I hope this government now in power, which so recently was talking about the rules, the traditions and the supremacy of parliament, will not forget those speeches either by pushing parliament around in terms of its business or by denying parliament its right to a budget presentation and its right to debate that presentation if taxation changes are to be proposed.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, as I indicated at the outset, I say we are not opposed to the suggestion that we be asked to sit extra hours to get the business of the house completed in some reasonable time. But let us face the fact that we have before us this session, as I said, estimates amounting to $5 billion. We think they should be given the critical examination that the Prime Minister called for on April 11 this year. Also we have before us a long list of important legislative items, including what amounts to a budget. Parliament should not be rushed. Parliament should be given its opportunity to deal with these matters in the proper parliamentary way.

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SC

Solon Earl Low

Social Credit

Mr. Solon E. Low (Peace River):

Mr. Speaker, if with not everything the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre said,

Business of the House

with certainly the great bulk of it, I find myself in complete agreement. He has summed up the situation very well indeed. I do hope the government will take into careful consideration what he has said.

I do not intend to repeat the arguments used by the hon. member, except to say this. I think it would have been better if the government had planned to bring in a budget this session. I still think it would be proper and in the interests of the country to bring in a budget. I am firmly convinced that in many parts of our country business remains unsettled very largely because it does not know what the government's financial proposal is to be, and it will remain unsettled until such time as a budget has been brought in and business is given assurance. For these reasons, amongst others, I do hope the government will yet find it possible to bring in a budget and let the members of parliament get their teeth into it.

I am quite sure I can say on behalf of my colleagues here that we are prepared to do everything we possibly can to help the government get the business of this session completed. We are prepared to sit longer hours to get the job done, if that is necessary. We have not wasted too much time. I am quite sure on other occasions there has been a shocking waste of time. I think-and I speak about this parliament, not just the government-this parliament thus far has done a remarkably large amount of work, has got through more work than any parliament I have seen in a good many years.

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

Because there is a responsible opposition.

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SC

Solon Earl Low

Social Credit

Mr. Low:

Mr. Speaker, when we say we are prepared to go along with the government's proposal to sit longer hours, we do not want them to lose sight of the fact that by this time there ought to be some target date toward which we are aiming for the completion of the work of the session. No target date has yet been set or even suggested. I noticed a statement which shocked me in today's Montreal Gazette under the heading, "Current Session Will Run Into '58." It is a Canadian Press dispatch and reads in part as follows:

. . . informants said today that interparty consultations have come up with this schedule:

1. An adjournment on Saturday, December 21, until Friday, December 27.

2. A very brief New Year break, with the M.P.'s just taking off January 1 and going back to work the next day.

3. Finishing up the sitting before the Liberals start the convention to choose a successor to Right Hon. Louis St. Laurent.

I want it definitely known, Mr. Speaker, that there was no interparty consultation to

that extent with our group, and if a suggestion of that kind had been placed before us we would not have agreed to it by any means. Apparently the government now expects to complete the 26 pieces of legislation that are either on the order paper or were mentioned by the Prime Minister today plus the estimates of the 16 departments that have not been touched, and in addition we are entitled to three supply motions and two private members' days between now and Christmas. It is just utterly fantastic to think we can do justice to that amount of work in the limited time between now and Christmas. If it is fantastic to think we can get through that amount of work between now and Christmas, surely we ought to set some target date beyond Christmas in the new year toward which we can work.

I think the fault of the motion that has been moved by the Minister of Public Works is that it does not mention any target date or suggest to the house when the government would like to get through. Because I feel the motion is lacking in that regard I move that it be amended by adding the following:

provided that the house shall prorogue or adjourn on or before December 21, and shall not reconvene before January 6, 1958.

That motion is seconded by my colleague the hon. member for Acadia (Mr. Quelch). I move it for this reason. I think members are entitled to a decent Christmas holiday, and we are not sitting in this parliament for the convenience of eastern members only. If we are going to have a decent Christmas holiday and not skip over the business, I think it should be understood that we will work here as hard as we can until December 21, will take a Christmas holiday from then until January 6, come back at that time and take up the work where we left off and do justice to every piece of legislation that is brought before us, and give members ample opportunity to debate as long as they wish the motions to go into supply and private members' resolutions.

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PC

Howard Charles Green (Minister of Defence Production; Minister of Public Works; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Green:

Mr. Speaker-

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December 2, 1957