February 12, 1959

COMMITTEES OF THE HOUSE


First report of standing committee on miscellaneous private bills-Mr. McCleave. First report of standing committee on mines, forests and waters-Mr. Murphy. First and second reports of standing committee on estimates-Mr. Smith (Calgary South). First report of standing committee on banking and commerce-Mr. Cathers.


EXTERNAL AFFAIRS


Mr. H. O. White (Middlesex East) presented the first report of the standing committee on external affairs and moved that the report be concurred in.


LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Official Opposition House Leader; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Hon. Lionel Chevrier (Laurier):

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I could ask the house leader to allow this motion to stand over until the motion which my hon. friend has the intention of moving is brought before the house. I ask this as a matter of courtesy.

Topic:   COMMITTEES OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE IN FIRST REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE
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PC

Daniel Roland Michener (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

Does the hon. member agree to allow this motion to stand?

Topic:   COMMITTEES OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE IN FIRST REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE
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PC

George Stanley White (Government Whip in the Senate)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. While:

Yes, Mr. Speaker.

Motion stands.

Topic:   COMMITTEES OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE IN FIRST REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE
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CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY

BRITISH COLUMBIA FERRY SERVICE-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 26

PC

Albert DeBurgo McPhillips

Progressive Conservative

Mr. A. D. McPhillips (Vicloria, B.C.):

Mr. Speaker, at the conclusion of the routine business I beg leave to move the adjournment of the house for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely:

That the cessation of steamship services on the 26th instant from Vancouver on the mainland of Canada to Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia, a service that has existed since the admission of British Columbia into confederation, will constitute a calamity in national transportation, endanger the safety of the naval base at Esquimalt, the Pacific drydock and the safety of persons, property and commerce now existing.

Topic:   CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY
Subtopic:   BRITISH COLUMBIA FERRY SERVICE-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 26
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PC

Daniel Roland Michener (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

The urgent matter of public importance which the hon. member for Victoria, British Columbia, raises and for which he asks leave to move the adjournment of

66968-9-GOJ

the house to discuss has been mentioned earlier. As I recall the reply of the Minister of Transport (Mr. Hees), it was to the effect that he could find no responsibility, legal or constitutional, resting on the federal government to maintain the service in question. With that answer in mind and the possibility of debate that has existed, my first thought about this motion is that it would scarcely qualify, but I do not wish to decide too hastily. If any hon. member could give me some assistance as to the urgency of debating this matter today, having regard to the fact that there was opportunity to discuss almost any subject matter last Monday and Tuesday, after this issue arose, I would appreciate it. I think it unlikely that I can accept the motion, but I am withholding my judgment for the moment at least.

Topic:   CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY
Subtopic:   BRITISH COLUMBIA FERRY SERVICE-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 26
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CCF

Harold Edward Winch

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

Mr. Harold E. Winch (Vancouver East):

Mr. Speaker, I would like to add one word on your request for assistance as to whether or not this is a motion of urgency. I would submit, sir, that it most certainly is one of urgency, because the declaration of Canadian Pacific Steamships is that service between the cities of Vancouver, Victoria and Seattle is to end on the 25th day of this month, and that notice is being given to lay off 200 employees.

I know that you, sir, do not come from British Columbia, but I also know that you are interested in every part of our country. I can assure you that the maintenance of a steamship service between Vancouver and Victoria is of the utmost importance and significance to the province of British Columbia. It is something which has been in effect for a great many years and although there may-I only say "may", sir

be a question of the legal or constitutional responsibility of the federal government, it is and has always been accepted as a part of the transportation system of Canada, and there was an undertaking under the terms of British Columbia coming into confederation that there would be maintained a complete system of transportation.

Topic:   CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY
Subtopic:   BRITISH COLUMBIA FERRY SERVICE-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 26
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PC

Daniel Roland Michener (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

If I may interrupt the hon. member, I am not disagreeing that this is an urgent matter but I need to be persuaded that we should interrupt other proceedings now to debate this matter. I admit that it is an urgent matter, particularly to those people concerned locally, but the urgency of debate is the problem I have to deal with

British Columbia Ferry Service because here we have private members' day and bills to be debated in their regular order, and I am asked to suspend that order and allow discussion on this matter, not to arrive at any conclusion but just for the purpose of having a debate. I really do not know that I should do that.

Topic:   CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY
Subtopic:   BRITISH COLUMBIA FERRY SERVICE-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 26
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PC

Howard Charles Green (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):

Mr. Speaker, if I may say a word, there is no doubt that the question which has been raised is of great concern to people on the west coast, and naturally no one is more concerned over it than I am as a member from the city of Vancouver. However, in view of the fact that the service is not under the jurisdiction of the federal government or of the board of transport commissioners and really is just the same as a service from A to B anywhere in Canada, I suggest that surely it is not in order to adjourn the house to discuss the question of whether or not that service should be suspended. If it can be done in this case, thenit can be done in the case of any other service by ship between any two ports in Canada. For this reason, Your Honour, I submit that the motion should not be

accepted.

Hon. L. B. Pearson (Leader of the

Opposition): Mr. Speaker, the house will remember that the other day I brought this matter up on the orders of the day and asked the government a question concerning it. At that time the Minister of Transport indicated in his reply that it was not a matter of urgency, in the sense that an alternative service was being provided by which people in Victoria could take a bus to Nanaimo and cross from Nanaimo to Vancouver. But surely, Mr. Speaker, not only is it a matter of urgency

and all the information I have received in the last few days would indicate that it is-but it is also one a discussion of which at this particular time might help to prevent the interruption of this service on February 25.

The minister says this is just an ordinary matter in the sense that it is a dispute about the service from point A to point B, but I suggest it is more than that. I suggest that not only might a discussion of the matter at this time and the stand taken by the government prevent interruption of the service, but there is also the question of whether or not there is a legal obligation on the government to prevent the service being interrupted. That matter has been raised and we have not yet had an authoritative opinion. Therefore I suggest that not only is the question one of urgency but it is one that might be assisted by a discussion

at this time so the service will not be interrupted on February 25.

Topic:   CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY
Subtopic:   BRITISH COLUMBIA FERRY SERVICE-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 26
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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Prime Minister)

Progressive Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, ordinarily I do not intervene in matters such as this, but in accordance with my responsibility as Prime Minister it is necessary for me on occasion to place before Your Honour the situation as it is. Speaking for the moment of the argument of the Leader of the Opposition that there is a legal responsibility, and I am not for a moment accepting it or entering into any controversy in that connection, then recourse to the courts is the proper course to follow by way of an application for a writ of mandamus. If there is a legal responsibility that is the course to follow. The Minister of Transport says there is neither constitutional nor legal responsibility. Certainly there is no administrative responsibility. I would refer Your Honour to Beauchesne, 4th edition, paragraph 100, which reads as follows:

The definite matter of urgent public importance for the discussion of which a member may ask leave to move the adjournment of the house under standing order 26 must involve the administrative responsibility of the government.

The hon. gentleman is properly exercised over the situation, as are other members from the coast, and I am not indicating in any way that he has not raised a very serious matter. Citation 100 in Beauchesne's fourth edition makes it very clear that administrative responsibility on the part of the government would be the only circumstance under which a motion such as this could be entertained. Whatever the legal situation may be, there is no administrative responsibility. Though I fully realize and understand the point of view of the hon. gentleman, the rules would not permit adjournment for this purpose.

Topic:   CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY
Subtopic:   BRITISH COLUMBIA FERRY SERVICE-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 26
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CCF

Harold Edward Winch

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

Mr. Winch:

You intervened when there was a strike there.

Topic:   CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY
Subtopic:   BRITISH COLUMBIA FERRY SERVICE-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 26
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LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

In order to keep the record straight may I refer to page 805 of Hansard for February 9, where the Minister of Transport was dealing with this matter of legal and constitutional responsibility. He said he would not wish his statement to be taken as final and categorical, but he expressed a tentative opinion. Perhaps the Minister of Justice, who comes from British Columbia, would be able to give us more than a tentative opinion on this matter.

Topic:   CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY
Subtopic:   BRITISH COLUMBIA FERRY SERVICE-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 26
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PC

George Harris Hees (Minister of Transport)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. George H. Hees (Minister of Transpori):

We have still been unable to find any responsibility whatever for this matter.

Topic:   CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY
Subtopic:   BRITISH COLUMBIA FERRY SERVICE-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 26
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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Official Opposition House Leader; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Hon. Lionel Chevrier (Laurier):

I just want to intervene for one moment in answer to what has been said by the Prime Minister.

He has read from Beauchesne, dealing with the urgency of debate, the point upon which you have asked for assistance. He has urged that in order for the house to adjourn its normal proceedings to deal with a matter of urgent public importance the matter must involve the administrative responsibility of the government; that is what Beauchesne says in his fourth edition.

I say that the British North America Act, clearly and in formal language, places the responsibility for navigation and shipping with the federal government. If the responsibility for navigation and shipping lies with the federal government, then there is a responsibility on the government, unless that responsibility is delegated otherwise. There is a responsibility under the British North America Act, but the minister has stated yesterday and again today that there is no legal responsibility. While I accept the minister's statement because of his person, I do not accept the legal implication of the responsible minister's statement. After all, he is giving a legal opinion. I think the house should be allowed to debate this from an urgency standpoint to ascertain whether or not there is this legal liability, and let the Minister of Justice tell us what the position is from the point of view of any agreement that might have been made between the federal government and British Columbia in so far as the service is concerned.

I say, therefore, that until these two points have been determined it would seem to me that there is urgency of debate, and the motion should be allowed.

Topic:   CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY
Subtopic:   BRITISH COLUMBIA FERRY SERVICE-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 26
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CCF

Frank Howard

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

Mr. Frank Howard (Skeena):

I realize this is a question of attempting to determine the urgency of debate. Before we embark upon that, I would submit that-

Topic:   CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY
Subtopic:   BRITISH COLUMBIA FERRY SERVICE-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 26
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February 12, 1959