May 12, 1958

HOUSE OF COMMONS DEBATES

OFFICIAL REPORT


!)ouse of Commons deflates



Speaker: The Honourable Roland Michener


FIRST SESSION-TWENTY-FOURTH PARLIAMENT


The twenty-third parliament having been prorogued on the first day of February, 1958, and dissolved by proclamation on the same day, and writs having been issued and returned, a new parliament was summoned to meet for the dispatch of business on Monday, May 12, 1958, and did accordingly meet on that day. Monday, May 12, 1958 This being the day on which parliament is convoked by proclamation of His Excellency the Governor General for the dispatch of business, and the members of the house being assembled: Leon J. Raymond, Esquire, O.B.E., the Clerk of the House, read to the house a letter from the secretary to the Governor General informing him that the Honourable Patrick Kerwin, Chief Justice of Canada, in his capacity as Deputy Governor General, would proceed to the Senate chamber to open the first session of the twenty-fourth parliament of Canada on Monday, the twelfth of May, at eleven o'clock. A message was delivered by Major C. R. Lamoureux, Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod, as follows: Members of the House of Commons: The Honourable the Deputy Governor General desires the immediate attendance of honourable members in the chamber of the honourable the Senate. Accordingly, the house went up to the Senate chamber, when the Speaker of the Senate said: Honourable Members of the Senate, and Members of the House of Commons: I have it in command to let you know that His Excellency the Governor General does not see fit to declare the causes of his summoning the present parliament of Canada until the Speaker of the House of Commons shall have been chosen according to law, but this afternoon, at the hour of three o'clock, His Excellency will declare the causes of calling this parliament. And the house being returned to the Commons chamber:


ELECTION OF SPEAKER

MR. ROLAND MICHENER, MEMBER FOR THE ELECTORAL DISTRICT OF ST. PAUL'S

PC

John George Diefenbaker (Prime Minister)

Progressive Conservative

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

Mr. Raymond, in the light of the experience of the last few minutes, all hon. members realize that the traditional and constitutional requirement for the formal setting up as an operating body of the House of Commons demands the appointment of a Speaker. The choice of a Speaker is one of those responsibilities which more than anything else conduces to the regularity of our proceedings, to the assurance that the assembly shall be orderly in its operation, and above all that the prerogative rights and privileges of members of the commons shall be scrupulously maintained and preserved. Whoever is chosen Speaker will have much to do with determining the order of the proceedings of the house, the assurance that they are businesslike and efficient; and also, as I said a moment ago, he will determine whether the rights of minorities shall be preserved, without which parliament, under our traditions, cannot attain its responsibilities.

There are certain requirements that through the years have been referred to as necessary in the person of the member amongst us who is chosen to be the first commoner. One is that he shall be absolutely impartial; that is a fundamental requisite without which the discharge of his responsibilities would not be in keeping with the extent of those responsibilities. Whenever a government has a large majority it is more than ever important that he who is chosen shall, in every particular,

Election of Speaker

divest himself from his normal party affiliations and thereby practise an impartial, even a judicial rule. He must be the servant of no party. His responsibility is to be the servant of the whole house. To that end he must have a calm and equitable temperament, and from the experience of the past, a superabundance of patience. He must be firm. He must have a good presence and a good voice; and something that we all need in public life, a reasonable degree of humour, with an adequate knowledge of the practices and procedures of the house.

The hon. gentleman whose name I shall propose has demonstrated that he has that knowledge, as well as the experience that comes from having sat as a private member of the House of Commons and also in the legislature of the province of Ontario. The choice of a Speaker is not the right or prerogative of the government, although in our country since confederation the motion that is invariably made for the appointment of the Speaker has been at all times made by the prime minister of the day.

I think I should say a word with regard to the question of a permanent Speaker. This is a subject that recurs from time to time. At Westminster, the source of our parliamentary traditions, our usages and practices, the Speaker once elected is honoured by being re-elected to the chair at the beginning of each new parliament. But there is a difference between their procedure in that regard and ours. We have, in the light of the duality of our citizenship, provided in general for succession as between the two major races. I have nothing to say on this occasion with regard to the question of a permanent Speaker; that is a matter for future parliaments to determine in the light of the circumstances that develop through the crucible of history.

This is the second occasion on which I have moved the election of a Speaker, and the motion I make concerns the same candidate whose name I placed before you last year.

Topic:   ELECTION OF SPEAKER
Subtopic:   MR. ROLAND MICHENER, MEMBER FOR THE ELECTORAL DISTRICT OF ST. PAUL'S
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   ELECTION OF SPEAKER
Subtopic:   MR. ROLAND MICHENER, MEMBER FOR THE ELECTORAL DISTRICT OF ST. PAUL'S
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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Prime Minister)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

Mr. Raymond, the response that has been given this suggestion indicates the generous support that his name will receive, by reason of the experience which those of us who sat in the last parliament had during his tenure of office. Some may say that this is a departure from the established practice. I may remind you that in three parliaments in the twenties one of the great custodians of that office, Hon. Ro-dolphe Lemieux, was appointed Speaker. He

was appointed first following the general election of 1921. His name was placed in nomination by the then prime minister, Mr. King. He was appointed again in the short session after the election of 1925, and finally in the new session that began following the election in 1926. During all those three sessions Mr. Lemieux acted as Speaker of the House of Commons. In the Senate, Hon. Hewitt Bostock remained Speaker during the same period of time.

Our rights, our traditions, our liberties and our ceremonies which we inherit from the past are in the custody of the Speaker of the House of Commons, and something more, the future of parliamentary government. All these things are embodied in the person of the Speaker. I think I can sum it up in this way: he is one of us, he is part of us, but he is apart from us. I believe that, if elected, the hon. member for St. Paul's, Mr. Roland Michener, will preside over the deliberations of this house in the tradition of the most illustrious of his predecessors who have occupied the most exalted position that it is possible for the House of Commons to confer.

I am most happy, therefore, to place in nomination, and I now so move-I am happy because this motion will be joined in by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Pearson):

That Roland Michener, Esquire, member for the electoral district of St. Paul's, do take the chair of this house as Speaker of this twenty-fourth parliament of Canada.

Topic:   ELECTION OF SPEAKER
Subtopic:   MR. ROLAND MICHENER, MEMBER FOR THE ELECTORAL DISTRICT OF ST. PAUL'S
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LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Hon. L. B. Pearson (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Raymond, I hope the Prime Minister will not draw any wrong conclusions as to my subsequent behaviour in this house if I tell him that my first words-and I am speaking not only on behalf of myself but on behalf of the official opposition-must be in hearty and complete agreement with what he has just said. I am indeed happy to second the nomination of Mr. Michener, the member for St. Paul's, to be our Speaker.

The Speaker is not only the servant but the first member of the commons. He is the protector of its rights and its privileges. He is the arbiter of our parliamentary problems and the composer of our procedural difficulties. As has so often been said in this house, it is an office with an old and fine tradition which we have inherited-as we have inherited so many good things-from the mother of parliaments at Westminster. As the Prime Minister has said, it is a position that requires tact, firmness, a sense of proportion and perhaps also a sense of humour. Above all, it requires fairness. The hon. member for St. Paul's has already shown, Mr. Raymond, that he possesses these qualities in an exemplary degree. Some of us

have already benefited from them when he presided over our deliberations in the last short parliament.

The office is also important, because the Speaker of the House of Commons can do much to promote in the country respect for the House of Commons and for parliamentary institutions at a time when this is very necessary. We know also that Mr. Michener is eminently qualified for this wider service.

There is another reason why I am happy to second this proposal, and it is purely personal. Even if the hon. member for St. Paul's did not have such outstanding qualifications of personality and experience for this position, I would still be happy to see him as our Speaker because of our old and close friendship, which I value and cherish. Indeed there is about him only one thing which I have never been quite able to understand. I refer to his party affiliation, which, however, I am sure he will agree, has never interfered with our mutual regard and esteem. As Speaker this particular weakness, which perhaps he inherited, will never be noticed because of the impartial position to which I feel certain this House of Commons is now going to elect him.

Therefore, Mr. Raymond, I have the greatest pleasure, on my own behalf and on behalf of the party which I have the honour to lead in this house, to second the nomination of the hon. member for St. Paul's as our Speaker.

Topic:   ELECTION OF SPEAKER
Subtopic:   MR. ROLAND MICHENER, MEMBER FOR THE ELECTORAL DISTRICT OF ST. PAUL'S
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CCF

Hazen Robert Argue

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

Mr. Hazen Argue (Assiniboia):

Mr. Raymond, on behalf of myself and the C.C.F. group it is a pleasure for me to associate myself and my party with the words of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in proposing the name of Mr. Roland Michener, the hon. member for St. Paul's, as Speaker of this house. To the majority of members of this parliament Mr. Michener is relatively new. Many of us, however, have known him for a number of years. We have been associated with him in the opposition. I can look now at the government benches and say that it is by association in the opposition that we get to know each other best. We got to know Mr. Michener when we were in the opposition. We came to admire his sterling qualities. In the short parliament recently ended we found that Mr. Michener as Speaker was impartial, fair, courteous, firm and honest in all his decisions. The government knows, as do members of the opposition, that the ruling of Mr. Speaker was not always favourable to the point of order put forward by those on the government side of the house, any more than it was at all times 57071-3-1J

Election of Speaker

favourable to the point of order advanced by those on the opposition side of the house.

The Prime Minister has dealt with the precedent of alternating between an English speaking Speaker and a French speaking Speaker. In the light of all the precedents, and in the light of the short last parliament, I think the name of Mr. Michener was the best one that could have been advanced at this time. However, I feel that alternating between an English speaking Speaker in one parliament and a French speaking Speaker in a subsequent parliament is a good normal procedure. That does not, in my opinion, detract in any way from the excellent arguments that can be advanced in favour of naming a permanent Speaker. So long as we do not have a permanent Speaker, I think such alternation is ordinarily wise to follow. But in this instance, because the last parliament was so short we feel that in every respect the name of Mr. Michener was the one that should have been proposed.

It has been said by others, better than I am able to do it, that one of the important functions of the Speaker is to rule fairly on all points of order, no matter by whom they may be advanced. In the last parliament we were all a group of minorities. Confronted with a group of minorities Mr. Michener did an excellent job. In this parliament I think he will be tried even more severely than he was in the last parliament. I realize that in the last parliament we all had our thoughts, at least some of the time, on the possibility of an imminent election. But in this parliament we have a government party that has the largest majority that any government or any party has had in the Canadian House of Commons. I know the Speaker will use his office to protect the traditional rights of minorities in this house. In exercising that traditional role he will do great service to Canada, I suggest, in this parliament in protecting the rights of all members, no matter where they may sit.

It is an extreme pleasure on behalf of the C.C.F. group to associate ourselves with the motion proposing the name of Roland Michener as Speaker of this house.

The Clerk of ihe House declared the motion

carried in the affirmative, nemine contradic-ente, and Roland Michener, Esquire, member for the electoral district of St. Paul's, duly elected to the chair of the house.

Mr. Michener was conducted from his seat in the house to the Speaker's chair by Right Hon. J. G. Diefenbaker and Hon. L. B. Pearson.

Election of Speaker

Topic:   ELECTION OF SPEAKER
Subtopic:   MR. ROLAND MICHENER, MEMBER FOR THE ELECTORAL DISTRICT OF ST. PAUL'S
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PC

Daniel Roland Michener (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

Hon. members of the House of Commons, I beg to return my humble acknowledgments for the great honour you have been pleased to confer upon me in electing me as your Speaker. These traditional words used by my predecessors in the chair are no mere formality. They express the deep appreciation which I have for your confidence, particularly as it has been given a second time within the short space of seven months.

I thank the right hon. Prime Minister for the generous, yes, even embarrassing words in which he proposed my name, and also the Leader of the Opposition and the leader of the C.C.F. party for their gracious endorsation.

We are a House of Commons very different from the last; but although there have been greater changes than usual among the hon. members and in the proportions of the parties, the principles of parliamentary procedure and the fine traditions of the house remain intact. It will be my aim and my duty as the servant of the house, and with your approval, to uphold these principles and traditions, securing to each hon. member the right to express his opinions within the limits necessary to preserve decorum; protecting the recognized privileges of hon. members, of minorities and of the house itself; facilitating the transaction of public business in an orderly manner and with due economy of time and, above all, seeking to be fair and impartial in such decisions as you entrust to me.

If these are also your objectives, as I think they are, I ask for your patience and cooperation in approaching them. Success will not be unrelated to your moods-and these have been known to change between Monday and Friday-and also to your will, which is the final arbiter in all matters in the House of Commons.

(Translation):

My dear colleagues, allow me to thank you for this expression of confidence and to say that it will always be a pleasure for me to hear hon. members speak in the beautiful tongue of Bossuet, Racine or Corneille, for which I have always had the greatest admiration, even though I cannot express myself perfectly in that language.

Be assured that you may, at all times, count on my impartial enforcement of the standing orders of the house, which, in then-basic provisions, have been handed down to us, by custom and tradition, from the Anglo-Norman monarchy of which all of us in Canada are the proud inheritors.

(Text):

Topic:   ELECTION OF SPEAKER
Subtopic:   MR. ROLAND MICHENER, MEMBER FOR THE ELECTORAL DISTRICT OF ST. PAUL'S
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SITTING SUSPENDED

PC

John George Diefenbaker (Prime Minister)

Progressive Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, without making a formal motion at this time might I suggest the suspension of the sitting until three o'clock this afternoon.

At 11.50 a.m. the sitting was suspended until 3 p.m. this day.

Topic:   SITTING SUSPENDED
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SITTING RESUMED


The house resumed at three o'clock.


OPENING OF THE SESSION


Mr. Speaker read a communication from the Governor General's secretary announcing that His Excellency the Governor General would proceed to the Senate chamber at three o'clock on this day, for the purpose of formally opening the session of the dominion parliament. A message was delivered by Major C. R. Lamoureux, Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod, as follows: Mr. Speaker, His Excellency the Governor General desires the immediate attendance of this honourable house in the chamber of the honourable the Senate. Accordingly, Mr. Speaker with the house went up to the Senate. Then Hon. Roland Michener, Speaker of the House of Commons, said: May it please Your Excellency: The House of Commons have elected me their Speaker, though I am but little able to fulfil the important duties thus assigned to me. If in the performance of those duties I should at any time fall into error, I pray that the fault may be imputed to me, and not to the Commons, whose servant I am, and who, through me, the better to enable them to discharge their duty to their Queen and country, humbly claim all their undoubted rights and privileges, especially that they may have freedom of speech in their debates, access to Your Excellency's person at all seasonable times, and that their proceedings may receive from Your Excellency the most favourable construction. The Honourable the Speaker of the Senate, addressing the Honourable the Speaker of the House of Commons, then said: Mr. Speaker, I am commanded by His Excellency the Governor General to declare to you that he freely confides in the duty and attachment of the House of Commons to Her Majesty's person and government, and not doubting that their proceedings will be conducted with wisdom, temper and prudence, he grants and upon all occasions will recognize and allow their constitutional privileges. I am commanded also to assure you that the Commons shall have ready access to His Excellency upon all seasonable occasions, and that their proceedings, as well as your words and actions, will constantly receive from him the most favourable construction. Then His Excellency the Governor General was pleased to open parliament by a speech from the throne. And the house being returned to the Commons chamber:


May 12, 1958