January 26, 1960

LIB

Hervé J. Michaud

Liberal

Mr. Michaud:

Mr. Speaker, my attention has just been drawn to the fact that one point I made during my speech in this house yesterday has been misunderstood in a dispatch by the Canadian Press. I know this was not intentional, but I should like to make it clear. In the course of my remarks yesterday, as reported on page 310 of Hansard, I said:

The desperate situation of those fishermen already referred to a moment ago was the result of being unable to land in the dark due to the absence of lights, both in the channel approaching their wharf or mooring, and on the wharf itself.

The Address-Mr. Howard

I was not at that, time referring to those fishermen who had lost their lives but to those fishermen on the fringe of the disaster area in my own constituency of Kent, who, though they were saved, had to wait until morning to land.

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CCF

Frank Howard

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

Mr. Frank Howard (Slieena):

Mr. Speaker, in starting off my participation in this debate I would like to express my appreciation at hearing the points of view of the hon. member for York-Humber (Miss Aitken) who has just resumed her seat, because she touched upon two or three subjects that I am also interested in.

I do not think it would be wise, or correct in accordance with the rules, for me to discuss one of the points she made, because I have as a notice of motion on the order paper a bill dealing with the question of trading stamps, and perhaps that will be the appropriate time to make my views known on that particular subject.

I was also interested in her comments regarding the People's Republic of China and what she experienced while visiting there a short time ago. While I appreciate very much that the government there probably operates in a rather ruthless fashion, certainly ruthless compared with our standards and appreciation of the way governments should operate and our hopes of the way governments throughout the world should operate, nevertheless I feel it is most necessary that we should extend diplomatic recognition to that nation.

Arguments about this being the forerunner to increasing trade are not very valid arguments. Probably the most important reason why we and other nations should recognize the fact that that government is in effective control on the mainland of China revolves around the questions of war or peace, external affairs, trade economics and broad important questions of that nature. Certainly if China has the ability to progress as it apparently has within the last ten years within its own borders, and it continues in this way, it will not be many years hence, probably five to ten, before China will be a nuclear power too. With the technical assistance which that nation is apparently receiving from the Soviet union, this process may be speeded up.

The impact that a country of 650 million people could have upon the world and upon the question of war or peace is most important, and China, if it continues under the same type of government as it has at the moment-and there is every indication this will be so-will drive her way to diplomatic

recognition. I am afraid that, unfortunately, by the time she does we shall have delayed too long before granting that recognition to her; not recognition of the type of government or of the economic system under which China lives, but recognition of the fact of China's existence. That is the important question on which we should base our decisions as far as recognition or non-recognition of China is concerned.

Though she is not in her seat at the moment, I should like to express my pleasure on listening to the maiden speech of the hon. member for Grenville-Dundas (Mrs. Casselman) and say through you, Mr. Speaker, to her that her clarity of expression and speaking ability are surpassed only by her attractiveness.

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?

Some hon. Members:

Oh.

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CCF

Frank Howard

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

Mr. Howard:

When someone mentions the truth I hear a murmur of protest arising throughout the house.

One of the most important things mentioned in the speech from the throne, and one of the most acceptable as far as I myself am concerned, in the statement that the Indians in Canada will be given the right to vote in federal elections. As hon. members know, this has been a subject in which I have been interested for some time. It is most welcome, but I think the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration (Mrs. Fairclough) should take the first opportunity of giving a clear and definite indication that this right to vote which is to be given to our Indian population in no way infringes upon or affects treaty rights, other aboriginal rights, fiscal exemptions and so on. I think the minister should make this clear, either during the present debate, if she should take part in it, or in a public statement, or at the very latest on the second reading of the relevant bill.

I know, and the minister knows, that this proposal does not affect treaty rights; that the right to vote does not affect the privileges I have mentioned, but judging from reports in the press about their response to the mention of voting rights in the speech from the throne there are many Indians in Canada who are reluctant, because of misunderstanding or lack of understanding, to accept the right to vote in federal elections. I am sure, therefore, that the minister will undertake to make it crystal clear to our native Indian peoples that there are no strings attached to this particular proposal.

There has been a good deal of discussion in the newspapers about the possibility of a so-called free vote in this house on a particular bill standing in the name of the hon. member for York-Scarborough (Mr. McGee) and this

The Address-Mr. Howard question has been discussed, of course, in a recent television program. But concerning this question of a free vote, or an indication that there will be a free vote, let me remind hon. members of something which I said last session, something which I think needs reiterating because it could make the functioning of parliament more effective and enable the individual private member to play a more useful part in its proceedings.

What I have in mind could, moreover, allow for a better indication to the cabinet of the views of parliament on particular pieces of legislation. It is my opinion that public bills which stand in the names of individual private members should all be allowed to go to a vote. At present it is easy for a government, if it dislikes the ideas put forward in a bill standing in the name of a private member, to avoid embarrassment by arranging for the bill to be talked out without allowing it to come to a vote. This, naturally, is frustrating to the individual member who has the bill in his hand. I hope the hon. member for York-Scarborough will not feel such frustration, because I am aware of the interest he has in the bill he is sponsoring.

I hope sincerely that his bill does come to a vote because, as I said, I believe all bills in the names of private members should be allowed to come to a vote, and that the government should show more courage than it has shown in the past by letting such bills proceed, even if it dislikes them, and allowing them to be voted down or accepted. Certainly, all the brains in the house are not concentrated in the cabinet, though I am not suggesting that they are concentrated in any other quarter of the chamber, either. I do think, however, that the government should draw on the ideas of all hon. members. If the ideas which are put forward by those members are good in essence then I think the government should indicate that it is willing to accept them and allow them to go to a vote. Of course, it may well be necessary to amend or revise them during the committee stage, but that could easily be done.

I am of the opinion that government legislation should also be allowed to proceed to a free vote and that the government should not stand or fall on whether or not its legislation is acceptable to the two parties. It should not indicate that each government bill which is introduced involved a vote of confidence. That has the tendency to continue the system of cabinet control over parliament and leads to the party system having too much control over individual members of parliament.

I wonder if I may call it six o'clock?

At six o'clock the house took recess.

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COMMONS AFTER RECESS


The house resumed at 8 p.m.


CCF

Frank Howard

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

Mr. Howard:

Mr. Speaker, when the house rose for the dinner adjournment I was indicating that not only should the government undertake to allow free votes on the various public bills that are now in the names of the private members, but it should also undertake to allow free votes on its own legislation. I may say I think the government too often indicates that a bill introduced by one of its cabinet ministers must be endorsed by the house or it is taken as want of confidence and the government must resign forthwith. The application of this principle of government means merely that the government backbenchers feel reluctant to express themselves, as they might like to, if they are opposed to any particular legislation; and it certainly means that they are unlikely to vote against the government legislation itself. If this system of dealing with legislation were changed and there was an expression of individuality on the part of the private members, not only on the government side of the house but on the opposition side as well, it would allow for a truer reflection of the opinion of the house on government proposed legislation.

There certainly appears to me to be a sufficient number of opportunities during the session to express want of confidence in the government by use of motions and amendments without including in that want of confidence attitude government legislation also. We are debating one of the motions now which traditionally is considered to be, if there are any amendments to it, an expression of want of confidence in the government. The budget debate is another time when this takes place, as well as the various supply motions which are presented to the house.

There was some reference-I do not know whether it was in the speech from the throne or the speech from the chief-to the establishment of additional committees. Unfortunately, while we all looked with pleasure upon the indication by this government that it was going to expand the use of committees and was going to give its government majority particularly some things to do to keep it busy, I am afraid we discovered that the operation of those committees had been seriously hampered. Unfortunately members of them have to operate on a scatter gun basis, directing questions to the departmental officials from the deputy minister down in a rather haphazard way which does not allow for too much of a check and a balance against the operations of the government, or the operations of a minister or his department.

What should occur is that provision should be made for the attachment of research staffs to various committees which function in order that the members of those committees can be provided with some pretty comprehensive and interpretive material into the operations either of a government department, if that is what the committee is considering, or legislation, if that is what a particular committee is dealing with. This, too, would assist in drawing upon the individual members as individuals, drawing upon their intelligence and their understanding, and it would certainly assist them to act more effectively as a check against indiscriminate action on the part of the government or on the part of a minister. It may well be that the government in office does not want these sorts of checks and balances against their actions. They may want to carry on in the same field with the same power they have assumed and developed over the years.

When it comes to the question of research facilities, there is no question in anybody's mind, I am sure, that those parties who are in opposition are seriously hampered in this regard also. The duties and functions of the opposition party and the members in that party are to be critical of government policy, to propose alternatives to it where they think it is in error, and generally to act again as a check within parliament on governmental or ministerial actions. Not only opposition members but government backbenchers also are outweighed in whatever attempts they would like to make in this critical approach to government activities. The government not only has the authority and control over parliament but it also has the entire services of the civil service to draw upon; whereas the individual private member has only his own abilities and his own time to use to function properly as he should as an individual member.

I am sure that if the government would undertake to provide research facilities or staff out of the government treasury to opposition parties it would permit a greater and a better contribution to be made to our parliamentary and governmental affairs in this country. Perhaps, likewise, the government does not want this sort of check against its activity. It wants to run things as it has done for so many years. When I use the term "government" I am not confining it to the present government in office; this was equally true of the Liberals when they were in office.

There has been a fair amount of discussion by members who have participated in this debate regarding the pros and cons of our economic system. There are those like the young lady from York-Humber who spoke

The Address-Mr. Howard earlier in this debate this afternoon who belong to the government party who appear to be in support of our present capitalist system. They make use of all sorts of arguments to defend it and say that it is the greatest thing that ever occurred, and that it should continue to function as it has in the past. But there are pretty serious indictments against the present system with regard to unemployment, collapses in the business world, over-production, difficulties in distribution of the production, financial difficulties, and so on. There is a tendency within the operation of the business world, within our so-called free enterprise or capitalist system, among others, toward either monopoly or price fixing.

A cursory reference to the reports of the restrictive trade practices commission, or the cases that have arisen out of those reports and the prosecutions resulting therefrom, would indicate that the price fixing arrangements over the past few years have affected practically every single person in Canada. Farm fencing, matches, rubber goods, footwear, sugar, fine paper, and a host of commodities that are produced have been produced and sold on price fixing arrangements. Practically every person in society has been suckered, shall we say, into paying exorbitantly high prices by the present capitalist system. The ones who most stoutly defend the present system are naturally the business interests and the businessmen themselves, yet unfortunately they are doing the greatest damage to the system that they themselves espouse. They are doing all they can either to pull it down around their ears or to invite governmental or parliamentary interference in their operations.

Probably one of the most recent and most widely publicized instances of this sort of price fixing treachery against society is in the field of pharmaceuticals involving the drug manufacturing industry. I had occasion to make some reference to this matter on the last day of the last session. Unfortunately our discussion then was confined to the estimates of the Department of National Health and Welfare and you, Mr. Speaker, as will others, will appreciate that it did not fit properly within the jurisdiction of the Department of National Health and Welfare. None the less, I had occasion to raise it and did so then.

In recent months this problem has been given even wider prominence by the activities of the so-called Kefauver committee in the United States which has been investigating the pharmaceutical industry and is now concerning itself in its hearings with that section of the industry having to do with

The Address-Mr. Howard tranquilizers. The thought has been expressed that the committee is not holding bona fide hearings but that it represents a sort of election campaign for Senator Kef-auver. Offhand I do not know whether he is up for election in the coming senatorial elections. Although I understand the opposite is the case I hope sincerely that the idea that this is an election campaign has not seeped into the work of our combines investigation branch which is conducting a research project at the present time into the field of antibiotics and tranquilizers.

The highest cost drugs are those which we generally refer to as wonder drugs or antibiotics. If the material submitted before the Kefauver committee can be relied on, apparently Canada pays the highest price for drugs of any country in the world, including the United States. The average cost of a prescription has increased by over 100 per cent between 1949 and 1958 and everyone will see, comparing this increase with the increase in the cost of living, that it is an exorbitant rise over that period of time.

During the last session and during the last recess I had occasion to make reference to the fact that approximately 30 per cent of the prescriptions issued by doctors are not filled because of the high cost of drugs. I was taken to task for this. It was said that it was not so, that there had not been such a survey and that I was misled. Just a month ago I had occasion to read the Canadian Medical Association Journal, volume 81, December 1, 1959. I am sure no one will dispute that the Canadian Medical Association Journal is the most authoritative and accepted publication so far as the medical field in Canada is concerned. If I was misled then ^ the British Columbia pharmaceutical association has been misled also. On page 958 of the Journal there is reference to the number of prescriptions which are given to patients and not filled. If I may have the indulgence of the house I should like to read a sentence or two from that page so that what I say will be correct and not misinterpreted.

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PC

Reginald Percy Vivian

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Vivian:

Mr. Speaker, may I ask the hon. member from where he is reading? I should like the specific reference.

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PC

Gordon Knapman Fraser

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fraser:

What is the name of the book and of the reference?

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PC
CCF
PC

Daniel Roland Michener (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

The hon. member is asking for the reference from which the hon. member wishes to read.

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CCF

Frank Howard

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

Mr. Howard:

I thought I gave it rather clearly. It is the Canadian Medical Association Journal, volume 81, December 1, 1959, page 958.

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?

An hon. Member:

You had better tell him the line.

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CCF

Frank Howard

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

Mr. Howard:

It is the seventh paragraph in the lefthand column.

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PC
CCF

Frank Howard

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

Mr. Howard:

Reading from here and so

that my hon. friend, who I understand is a doctor-

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PC
CCF

Frank Howard

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

Mr. Howard:

Many of our understandings are correct as time has proven time and again. Because the hon. gentleman has raised this question I feel I am obliged to read the entire paragraph, Mr. Speaker, which I did not intend to do.

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PC

January 26, 1960