February 1, 1958

CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles

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

Mr. Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

Do

not point that Diefenbaker finger at me.

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

Will the hon. gentleman

permit my question now?

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PC

John Borden Hamilton (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hamilton (York West):

Just let me finish with the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre, if it is possible to finish with the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre. X should like to tell him that I admire his reputation and his ability to talk on the rules; I admire his ability to debate in this house. However, I want to say that there are at least 112 members on this side who would like to take part just as often as the hon. member, but I ask you, Mr. Chairman, what a shambles the House of Commons would be if there were 265 Stanley Knowles.

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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles

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

Mr. Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

Mr. Chairman, perhaps I, too, should keep my eye on that door in case a certain person comes in. May I say that it has been a source of amazement to discover the number of members of the Conservative party who could completely miss the issue. This has happened today on the part of the Acting Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, the Minister of Finance-

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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

Everybody is out of step but Stanley.

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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles

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

Mr. Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

-and the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. I suppose it is true also of all those who have been doing the applauding from the back benches. There is no question about the desirability of the object for which this money has been obtained. There is no question but that the government followed to the letter^ what is required in the statute, namely that a document be tabled showing a list of governor general's warrants that had been passed. But all previous governments have done that, too.

In this parliament, Mr. Chairman, we are governed not only by the letter of the law, but we are governed by tradition and practices. According to the tradition and practice of this parliament, in addition to the information to be conveyed by means of laying a document on the table, there has been included in subsequent supplementary estimates an appropriate estimate covering the amount passed by the governor general's warrants. It is that that has not been done this time. It is that that is different; it is that that is changed. It is that that has taken us around the corner. It is that that is the whole issue today. All my hon. friends opposite needed to do if they did not want this long debate, which is now longer than the minister thought it would be, was to admit that perhaps the practice of the decades of our history was correct and that they should get back on the track by doing it as it has been done before.

I am not going to take any further time by arguing, in more than a sentence or two, with these repeated assertions that I should have raised this matter earlier. If a wrong is a wrong, Mr. Chairman, a person should raise it as soon as he is aware of it. It was not until yesterday, on the basis of the facts that I obtained, that I was aware of it. This is the first opportunity I have had since then to raise the matter. Then, there is this utterly silly talk about our not being willing to challenge this government. Surely, the hon. member opposite knows that we in this corner have moved several want of confidence motions this session. We have voted for every one of those want of confidence motions we have moved. We have voted also for want of confidence motions moved by some other members of the house. Indeed, the only one for which we did not vote was that one on January 20, which suggested that the Liberals would be better than the Conservatives. This was a silly amendment. We did not vote for it because it was our belief that that decision should be made by the people of Canada. We are glad that chance is going to come soon.

After my hon. friends opposite refused to come to grips with the point and kept wandering off on these irrelevant talks, the Minister of Finance was pulled to his feet by the question the Leader of the Opposition put to him. He made a lengthy speech, in which he did not even refer to the straightforward question that the Leader of the Opposition put to him. The Leader of the Opposition asked the government across the way if they would give an undertaking that, after the forthcoming election, they would see to it that any future governor general's warrants would be made not only the subject of a report laid on the table of the house but the subject of supplementary estimates so that parliament could deal with them. The Minister of Finance did not answer the question, did not respond to the challenge. He did not even refer to it. I submit, Mr. Chairman, that that issue, like some others that have been evaded in recent days, is one to which the people of Canada have a right to have an answer.

I may say that my leader, the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar, is absent from the house today because he has gone to the maritime provinces to fulfil an engagement he made some weeks ago to address meetings of the Canadian Club in Charlottetown and in Halifax. He took this afternoon's train for Montreal to go down to the maritime provinces. Last night, however, I had a discussion with him after I had assembled my material on this issue. He shared to the full my concern over what has happened. I telephoned him at two o'clock today just before he caught the train to go to Charlottetown. I told him that at last we had succeeded in raising this issue this morning-just before lunch-in the light of the information I obtained yesterday.

We do not usually talk about these private discussions, but since my leader is away I feel I should. I do so in the light of what the Leader of the Opposition said earlier today. My leader urged me at two o'clock today to do my best this afternoon to get out of the government the kind of commitment the Leader of the Opposition asked for earlier today, a commitment that during the election period coming up there would not be the use of governor general's warrants without those warrants being made the subject of estimates that could be voted upon by parliament when we reassemble after the election. So, Mr. Chairman, having failed, along with the Leader of the Opposition to get a commitment out of the Minister of Finance, I want to say, as deputy leader of this party and on behalf of my leader as well as all my colleagues, if this party is returned to power after the next election any governor general's warrants that have to be used, will be laid before parliament for parliament to have an opportunity to pass

Supply-Citizenship and Immigration upon them. If it should so happen that, as a result of the next election, we are still on the opposition side of the house, we will do our best to persuade whatever government is then in power to follow that course.

We will use as a method of persuasion the weapons that are open to members of the opposition. No chiding from the other side about not being willing to move motions will change our course of action. My hon. friends can talk all they want to about our not moving a motion on this matter. They know that we do not want to upset the passing of this money. They know what would happen if we did so. If we moved any kind of amendment they and I know what they would do. They would go around the country saying that those people in the opposition were inhumane; that they did not want to spend this money to pay for the expenses of this program of assistance to the Hungarian refugees. They are not going to catch us in that trick of dishonesty, no matter how much they may chide us for not doing so.

As for talking about other ways that are open to us, may I say that they need not lecture us on the vehicles that are open to the opposition in this parliament. We know them. But when they tell us that the method of getting at that order in council is a proper vehicle, may I remind them that the only thing we could do would be to put down a private member's motion-and there are not any on the order paper; they are not allowed six weeks after the debate on the address is over-criticizing the passing of that order in council. If such a motion were passed, it would mean that the order in council should not have been passed. Nobody in this house today has said that that order in council should not have been passed. Nobody has complained about spending that money by governor general's warrant. What we are complaining about is that that money has not subsequently been made the subject of a supplementary estimate brought before the house so that we can have the opportunity not of defeating it but of passing it.

My hon. friends opposite can indulge in all of these irrelevancies, if they wish to do so. This is a clear-cut issue which they have created. I confess that I did not have all the facts on which to reach a conclusion as to the rightness or wrongness of it the day before yesterday. But once I had those full facts and was aware of the wrongness of what is being done, 1 made the decision, in consultation with my colleagues, that it would be raised as vigorously and as strongly as possible at the first opportunity. That is what we have done. We have raised this matter here today on the very first opportunity that it could be done.

4196 HOUSE OF COMMONS

Supply-Citizenship and Immigration

I hope hon. members opposite will realize that they have made a mistake; that they have tried to take us around the corner so far as parliamentary history is concerned. I may tell them that some of us will see to it that the people of Canada are reminded during the next few weeks that these are the people who not only fought for the rights of parliament but who said that amongst those rights should be the control of parliament over the purse. That was their line when they were in opposition. That was their line when they were on the hustings in 1957. But they have taken the reverse of that position now that they are in parliament. It is time they were put to the test. By that I mean not just the test of this House of Commons but the test of the people of Canada.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

The question under discussion this afternoon has brought up matters which are of great importance not only to the estimates that are being considered at the moment but to the position which an institution of this kind holds among the democratic countries of the world. It is rather important that the occasion is brought about by the fact that it was necessary to find additional money in order to bring people to this country from a country which has suffered from the fact that its people did not have the benefits of democratic government. The money about which we are talking is money which the incoming government thought it would be necessary to vote for the purpose of taking care of additional numbers of Hungarian people who thought this was a good country to which to come because of the experiences we have had in the type of government which has been ours.

I should like to say at the beginning that the basis of all the freedom which we have in this country and which the people in Britain had before us is resting squarely upon the issue which we have been discussing this afternoon, as well as an additional one. The two principles which the common people of Great Britain in the earlier years fought to obtain were first, the right to pass legislation, and second, the right to vote money; that is the right to tax people and the right to vote money as a result of the fact that people had been taxed. That fight takes us back through the whole history with which every school boy and school girl in this country are familiar. That history brings up the most important charters and pieces of legislation that were ever placed upon the statute books. It begins with Magna Carta and it comes through the Declaration of Rights in the day of the struggles that took place during the Stuart period in British history. Then it is associated until the Bill of Rights which was the final act in order to prove

once and for all that the beheading of a king settled something, a matter which was referred to a few moments ago by the Leader of the Opposition. All of these documents which are a part of our history are back of the discussions which we have been having today and the real reason for having certain precedents followed when providing the executive with the people's money.

I want to say to members of this house, some of whom perhaps do not know it, that my experience was similar to that of the hon. member for Peace River. On two different occasions in my political life I have been the treasurer of a province. I have therefore had something to do with votes of this kind and know what is required in connection with them. For that reason I should like to say that the very nature of the house that we have at this time is such that it does not make it easy to carry on the constitution as we have it. Certain things happened early in this session which are of importance in relation to our constitution, but have not been referred to except incidentally in connection with this discussion. It was said by an hon. member a few moments ago that very early in this session,-as a matter of fact in the debate on the address in reply to the speech from the throne-I had occasion to address ideas to this house. They were based upon the very matter that we are now discussing. I have been surprised, as a matter of fact, at the length of time that we have been here- something over three months-before we get right down to discussing the important matters relating to the method under which the government came into being. It brings us back to the fact that at the time we had our election on June 10, which has been referred to over and over again, the people of this country did not make a decision in favour of the government that is sitting on the government benches today. The people of this country gave a majority, in so far as votes were concerned, very much in favour of the party that is sitting as the official opposition as against the Conservative party.

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?

An hon. Member:

They will not do so next

time.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

I realize, of course, that that is not the basis on which the decision is really made to form a government, the people elected to this house a larger group of Conservatives than they did of Liberals. That brought up the question as to who was going to form a government to carry on during a period when there was not a majority in this house in favour of any party. I realize that, under our constitution, no party has a right to form a government. It is not parties that have the right to form a government. It is

Supply-Citizenship and Immigration

the individual in the house who can command a majority and only the individual in the house who can command a majority. It does not matter whether he heads any party or whether he does not. Under our institutions of government, parties are formed only for the purpose of making it possible to have a government that can carry on for four or five years or, in other words, so that we can have a stable government. The people did not make a decision that made that result possible on June 10.

So there had to be some consideration given to it and some discussion of the matter. In spite of some of the things that have been said since that time, I want to say now -and I do not think anyone will ever be able to contradict what I am about to say and base that contradiction on constitutional arguments-that there is only one way in which a Governor General can act, and that is on the advice of his prime minister. I want to say further that if the prime minister of the day had said "Well, we are going to carry on for a while"-the Governor General would have accepted that, but that was not said, and there are certain reasons why it was not said.

The leader of the C.C.F. party on the day after the election-on the 11th day of June-said very distinctly to all the people of this country, over the air and through the press, that he was prepared to support a government that would be formed by the leader of the Conservative party. The leader of the Social Credit group took a similar position, although there was a difference in their respective positions. The leader of the C.C.F. party said in effect that the only person he would support as prime minister in this house was the leader of the Conservative party,-or if he did not say that definitely, he certainly left that inference. The leader of the Social Credit group however made it very clear that which ever party undertook to form a government they would give them the chance to show their wares in this house before that group voted want of confidence.

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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

But there was a difference between the position taken by the C.C.F. and Social Credit, and after both of these parties had made these statements, the leader of the second largest group in the house, the prime minister, made a statement to the press and over the air in which he indicated that if the leader of the Conservative party was prepared to take charge of the government, his party would be prepared to give the necessary support in order to do the things that were essential to be done as a result

of what had happened during the election campaign. The leader of the Conservative party became Prime Minister on that understanding.

We came into the house on that understanding. On the basis I have outlined, of course, the Governor General called upon the leader of the Conservative party to form the government, but, if on the first occasion when we had come into the house-as has been suggested by the Minister of Finance this afternoon-we had voted the government out of office, and the three groups voting together could have done so-

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?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh!

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

If we had joined together, as has been suggested we should have done, and voted them out of office, I do not think the people of this country would have thought that we in the three groups had carried out an undertaking which had been given under the unusual circumstances which existed following that election.

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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

So we did carry along throughout the period down to the present day. It has been said, and in fact it was said by the deputy leader of the C.C.F. a few moments ago, that on all but one occasion they had voted for the want of confidence motions. I want to say to him that if every one of the groups in this house, other than the government party, had followed the same course which his party has followed we would have all broken the confidence which we tried to give to the people of this country when we told them we were going to assist the government to carry on for a reasonable length of time. However, we did go on with our undertaking, right through, and my hon. friends opposite like to speak of the motion made a week ago Monday as a silly motion. The deputy leader of the C.C.F. party apparently agrees with them.

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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles

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

Mr. Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

I do.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

However, I want to say to my hon. friends opposite that there is a possibility that that motion was-

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?

An hon. Member:

Silly.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner

Liberal

Mr. Gardiner:

-the only kind which could have been moved whether or not it was put in the exact language.

It is the governor who would have to make a decision if we had voted against the party now in power. He would have to decide whether there was a leader in the house who could form a government which would command a majority and if so he would have to

Supply-Citizenship and Immigration decide whether there was a leader who could command a majority and the party now forming the government could have been replaced without an election. The person who had shown he could command a majority-

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IND

Henri Courtemanche (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Independent Progressive Conservative

The Chairman:

Order.

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February 1, 1958