June 24, 1959

CCF

William Arnold Peters (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

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

Mr. Peters:

Two.

Topic:   * DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Permalink
PC

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

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

Perhaps my hon. friend is talking about the statutory item, which technically is not before the committee.

Topic:   * DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Permalink
CCF

William Arnold Peters (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

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

Mr. Peters:

No.

Topic:   * DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Permalink
PC

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

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

I can say that I am informed that, in the discussions with treasury board, treasury board say they are prepared to authorize only the level comparable to that being paid by provinces. From time to time there are adjustments, depending on the adjustments that may be made in the level of provincial compensation.

Topic:   * DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Permalink

Item agreed to. At one o'clock the committee took recess.



AFTER RECESS The committee resumed at 2.30 p.m.


ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE


Headquarters administration and national police services- 362. Operation and maintenance, $6,270,114.


LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

Mr. Chairman, I intend to discuss one aspect and one aspect only of the administration of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and that is the matter of the refusal of the minister or of the government [DOT]-and I intend to say something about which it was in the course of my remarks-to reinforce the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Newfoundland when the attorney general of that province requested this government to do so on March 11 last. I realize that anyone speaking on this subject under the rules of the committee is under certain disabilities, and I am going to make every effort to be strictly relevant to the rules. I recognize, as I said in another context last night, that the question of the meaning of this contract and the contractual obligations thereunder are before the courts. While I have my own opinion as to what that means, I recognize it would not be proper to debate that question in this place when it is being concurrently considered in another place and is therefore sub judice. I also intend to avoid any discussion of the situation in Newfoundland that made the attorney general of the

province in his wisdom ask for these reinforcements, because it seems to me it would be wholly improper for us in this chamber under our federal system of government, to be debating matters which are within provincial jurisdiction. I certainly do not intend in this opening statement of mine, to enter into that at all, and I hope that other hon. members intend to follow the rules of this house in the same way.

In order to give the background of what I want to say I would like to ask members of the committee to cast their minds back to March 11 last when something not quite unprecedented but I think very unusual in the experience of most of us in this house happened. I have been in Ottawa a rather close observer of parliament since the year 1937 and the session of 1938, and it has almost invariably been the rule for the minister of justice, no matter who occupied that office, when questions were asked about the administration of justice within a province to point out that that matter was a purely provincial one and to give no further answer. I think that what the Minister of Justice did on March 11 at 2.30 in the afternoon was right. Here was a situation that did, not directly but indirectly, affect the members of this house, and the minister gave what I regard as a wholly admirable, just and fair statement of the situation with respect to the mounted police as it was up until that time. It was a statement every word of which I agree with, a statement which I consider wholly admirable and proper, and I want to emphasize that very strongly.

I will not read the whole statement into the record, but I would like to emphasize one or two points which the minister made with regard to this matter. At page 1825 of Hansard for March 11 he said:

The fact that there is a strike, however, does not relieve the police of their responsibilities in this field-

The minister had just referred to law enforcement in the preceding paragraph; and if the minister feels I am not reading enough, I am sure he will tell me.

-but on the contrary imposes upon them extra duties of taking precautions-

And I emphasize the words "extra duties".

-to see that the tension and bad feelings engendered are not in fact allowed to result in general lawlessness and violence. They must-

And I emphasize that word too.

-protect the public-and this includes those involved in the dispute-against the possibility of excesses arising out of the tense situation.

In addition, under strike conditions there arises the further obligation of enforcing section 366 of the Criminal Code, which deals specifically with picketing and makes it unlawful for anyone engaged in picketing to use violence or threats of violence

to any person, or intimidation, or to indulge in disorders. In particular, section 366 makes it unlawful to block or obstruct the highways.

The following paragraph I would also like to read:

It will thus be seen that under strike conditions the police are bound to be called upon from time to time-

Bound to be called upon from time to time.

-to perform special duties such, for instance, as to make sure roads are kept open for traffic. Under normal conditions the necessity for such action does not arise, but under strike conditions it is a specific duty they have to perform.

Then on the following page, page 1826, in the first column, the second paragraph-the minister had given some account of what happened, which I do not think is necessary for me to enter-the minister said:

As I have stated, the actions of the police in this very difficult situation have been entirely preventive.

I emphasize again "entirely preventive". This is the minister in charge of the force speaking. Perhaps I should say the minister responsible for the force.

Their actions have been limited to enforcing the provisions of the Criminal Code against assault, damage to property, acts of violence, obstruction of roads and other similar provisions.

Furthermore, the position of the police as I have described it has been outlined by responsible police officers to the union officials concerned, by whom it has been accepted. In addition the police have been at pains, in all cases where picket lines have been established or where men have gathered on the roads, to explain to them the limits imposed upon their activities by the Criminal Code.

This is the minister giving his account of the way in which the Royal Canadian Mounted Police conducted themselves in central Newfoundland, and as I said before I think the minister gave an entirely accurate statement of what happened.

Then he said a little further on:

Since there have been a number of accusations made against the police which have arisen in the main out of three major incidents, I should give here a factual account of what actually took place on those occasions, because the facts demonstrate most clearly that the police have only acted when the provisions of the Criminal Code have been violated.

The only other paragraph I want to read is the concluding paragraph of the minister's statement in which he said:

I am satisfied from my investigation that there is no foundation for any suggestion that the police have permitted themselves to be used as strikebreakers. I am also satisfied that they have acted strictly within the limits of their duties in connection with the enforcement of the criminal law as these duties are multiplied under the circumstances of a strike. Indeed, it is apparent that the approximately 150 police involved have done a thoroughly

Supply-Justice

creditable job in their efforts to preserve the peace over a long period under most trying and difficult circumstances.

But there is every reason to believe that when the minister made that statement he must have been aware, or, at least, he should have been aware, of the fact that every possible physical provision had been made for the reinforcement of the force in central Newfoundland and that no doubt had been expressed to anyone that these reinforcements would be sent if requested. I emphasize that point because of what happened afterwards. We know that before that evening was over- and I am speaking here from recollection- it was announced on the ten o'clock news that the reinforcements were not being sent. I should not say it was announced; it was stated in the news. I do not know the exact sequence of events because I have no responsibility for doing anything but listen and try to find out what the facts were.

But we do know from what has subsequently been brought before us in this house and told us by the minister that some time before the end of that day the attorney general communicated with the minister about what had happened and, not receiving satisfaction from the minister, he then communicated with the premier of the province who in turn communicated with the Prime Minister in a telegram which I have asked the Prime Minister more than once to put on the record. I regret to say that this has never been done until now. The telegram

Supply-Justice

dated March 11, 1959 is addressed to the Right Hon. John G. Diefenbaker and reads:

The Attorney General of Newfoundland informs me that the Minister of Justice of Canada has cancelled temporarily the dispatch of 50 additional officers of the R.C.M.P. for duty in the present emergency in central Newfoundland. Newfoundland has a solemn contract with your government couched in terms identical with the contracts signed by Canada with seven other provinces. Under this solemn contract Canada upon request of the provincial attorney general covenants to provide additional R.C.M.P. officers to deal with emergency conditions such as presently exist in central Newfoundland. The R.C.M.P. in Newfoundland informed our attorney general that at least 50 additional men were needed at once and the commissioner in Ottawa was so informed. He agreed to supply the men and so informed us. An aircraft was chartered by the R.C.M.P. to bring the men to Newfoundland to arrive at 9.30 tonight. This disposes of the question of the availability of the men. We are astonished to learn that their departure has been stopped for a cabinet meeting in Ottawa notwithstanding the fact that the contract gives the Canadian attorney general the right to refuse additional men in an emergency only if they are not available. The commissioner has already made them available so that this is no reason. I now ask you to supply us with the additional R.C.M.P. men to enable us to maintain law and order in this emergency according to the contract that exists between us. If you cannot or will not do so will you undertake to have the government of Canada take over the task of maintaining law and order in central Newfoundland. If you will not give us the police to do it as the contract requires you to do then will you take on the responsibility yourselves of maintaining law and order in this emergency.

We were also informed that no immediate reply was sent by the Prime Minister to that message. I say that in my experience the fact that no reply was sent to that message was an almost unprecedented act by a Prime Minister of Canada, and I am not going to waste my time or the time of the committee by characterizing the way that I and practically everyone in Newfoundland felt about it. But I may say the Prime Minister's predecessor would not have treated the premier of any province in the way the premier of Newfoundland was treated in this particular situation by the Prime Minister of Canada.

Topic:   ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Oh.

Topic:   ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE
Permalink
LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

I had experience for over 20 years as a close associate of two prime ministers, one of whom had a very bitter controversy, as everyone knows, with one of the provincial premiers, and never once in that time did Mr. Mackenzie King fail in ordinary courtesy to that premier.

Topic:   ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE
Permalink
?

An hon. Member:

Not a five cent piece.

Topic:   ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Not another nickel.

Topic:   ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE
Permalink
PC

Joseph Pierre Albert Sévigny (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

The Chairman:

I regret to interrupt hon. members but I must remind the committee

that the hon. member for Bonavista-Twil-lingate has the floor. There are far too many speakers at the present moment.

Topic:   ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE
Permalink
LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

I may say that the following morning the newspapers contained the story that these police reinforcements had not been sent to Newfoundland. One of my friends, commenting to me about this situation where there was an emergency, where action was required and where action was not taken and where we were told that the government had not been able to make up its mind, said: this is not like a government; this is like a school girl who cannot make up her mind whether or not to accept a date.

On March 12 I asked the Minister of Justice several questions in the house as reported on page 1864 of Hansard, and I want to remind the committee of those questions. I asked the hon. gentleman:

I wonder if I could ask the Minister of Justice if, as reported in the press, he stopped the transfer to Newfoundland of additional members of the R.C.M.P. requested by the attorney general of the province under section 13 of the intergovernmental agreement; and if so, on what grounds?

And the answer was:

Mr. Speaker, the answer to the hon. member's question is that the authority of the attorney general of Canada is required before any reinforcements are sent to any province, and the authority has not yet been given.

I do not want to read all this. I would just as soon merely read the minister's answers. The minister's answer to my second question was:

The matter is still under consideration,-

People's lives were in danger, and the matter was still under consideration. The minister went on:

-and I am not able to answer the hon. gentleman's question at this time.

I then asked whether the men had been assembled, and the Speaker suggested I was seeking to engage in a debate. I raised a point of order and was permitted to ask a further question to which I got from the minister a reply. The courteous reply I got from the minister was:

The Minister of Justice requires no lecture from the hon. gentleman as to solemn obligations. The matter is under consideration, as I have already stated.

I then asked the minister whether he had received any communication from the attorney general of the province and he said:

Yes, Mr. Speaker, I have, and I was in communication with him last night.

Then I asked the Prime Minister whether he had received a communication from the premier and the reply I received from the

Prime Minister I think ought to go on the record. The Prime Minister's reply was:

Mr. Speaker, the close relationship between the government of Newfoundland and the hon. gentleman would no doubt provide an answer to his question.

It seems to me that that, too, is a sample of a the kind of arrogant attitude that we get from this government at all times when serious matters are under consideration, and I leave it to speak for itself. But what went on? From Wednesday until the following Monday this crisis went on and this government could not make up its mind; I say "this government", I say this minister could not make up his mind because it was the minister who had the duty to make up his mind. I say that it should not have taken the minister five days before he had the fortitude to come to grips with that matter.

Topic:   ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE
Permalink
LIB
LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

The fortitude to come to

grips with it, and I have no admiration and I do not think the country has for this shrinking violet approach. I think the public were not impressed by the minister fiddling about with this matter and mincing up to it and then backing away from it in a most extraordinary manner.

Topic:   ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE
Permalink
PC

Gordon Knapman Fraser

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fraser:

We had a Liberal government for 22 years and they were mincing and fiddling.

Topic:   ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE
Permalink
LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

And his failure to do what, his lack of fortitude to do what as a member of the government accepting his responsibility he should have done.

Topic:   ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE
Permalink
PC

June 24, 1959