May 30, 1960

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

MORNING SITTINGS ON AND AFTER JUNE 1

PC

John George Diefenbaker (Prime Minister)

Progressive Conservative

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

That commencing on Wednesday, June 1, and on every sitting day thereafter until the end of this session, the hours of sitting shall be as follows:

Monday: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; 2.30 to 6 p.m.; and 3 to 10 p.m.

Tuesday: 11 a.m. to 1 pun.; 2.30 to 6 p.m. and 8 to 10 p.m.

Wednesday: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and 2.30 to 6 p.m.

Thursday: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; 2.30 to 6 p.m. and 8 to 10 p.m.

Friday: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and 2.30 to 6 p.m. and that the provisions of standing order 2 (1) and 6 (3) be suspended in relation thereto.

He said: Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a reference to the motion. With the leave of the house I would ask that my hon. friend the Secretary of State for External Affairs move to amend the motion in its present form deleting the words "and 6 (3)" from the second last line. The application will be made later on unless it is now accepted.

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PC

Daniel Roland Michener (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

By leave of the house I expect that the motion could be moved with those words deleted. Is it agreed?

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?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

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PC

Daniel Roland Michener (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

The motion will be taken as moved with the deletion of the words "and 6 (3)".

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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Prime Minister)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

Mr. Speaker, I do not intend to do more at this time than introduce the motion and make one or two very short observations. I will endeavour to cover the matters that may be raised during the course of the debate on the motion when I have the opportunity to reply at the conclusion of the debate.

I would point out that last year a motion like this was introduced on the 92nd day of the session. Today is the 91st day of this session. While the uncompleted portion of the legislative program and the various items remaining to be dealt with by the house was, I think, somewhat longer last year than this, I might point out that last year prorogation took place on July 18.

I express the hope that we shall be able so to order the progress of the debate on the

various items referred to in the speech from the throne that we shall be able to cover them with expedition without in any way sacrificing the fullest debate. By that I do not mean in any way to direct or to hamper the fullest debate. I anticipate that by about the first week of July we should be able to conclude the business of this session.

There are some who speak of delaying actions which have taken place. I do not take any stand in that regard. I simply point out that when the progress of business in this house is compared with that in the mother of parliaments it is often forgotten that under their rules the time for debate on the speech from the throne, the budget and the like generally runs from two to three days; whereas under our rules the speech from the throne requires 12 days, including the opening day and the day devoted to the mover and the seconder. The budget debate requires eight days. Then we have private members' Mondays, of which we have had six. They are provided for under the rules. There are private members' Thursdays, of which we have had three.

Then we have a procedure which is not followed in the British house to the same extent, and certainly not to the degree provided for by our rules. We have six supply motions of two days each. Up to the present date we have had five of those supply motions. In other words, under the rules as they are, regardless of whether or not we agree that they should be as they are, so far this session we have had 39 days which have been taken up as a result of the rules which exist at the moment.

Then on supplementary estimates a longer time has been taken. Usually those estimates in general have been pretty well covered in the previous session. This year, however, 10 days have been devoted to supplementary estimates and three days to interim supply. On the other hand, the other measures that have been before the house have taken, generally speaking, one to two days with the exception of the resolution and bill on the Trans-Canada Highway Act, which took four days, and the resolution and bill on the Federal-Provincial Tax-Sharing Arrangements Act, which took eight days.

I am not making any criticism of the fact that the debate on that resolution and bill took eight days, but I do not think there would be many who would deny that at the

Business of the House

end of two days almost everything that could have been said had been said.

However, that is what parliament is for, and I am not raising any objection. When I said a few moments ago that I hoped we could so order arrangements for the rest of the session as to finish by the time I indicated, what I had in mind was that we adopt a kind of voluntary sacrifice of opportunity in not carrying on debates beyond that limit within which every possible argument has been advanced. However, even on the basis of the record to date I still believe it will be possible, with the co-operation of hon. members in all parts of the house, to bring about prorogation early in July.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Hon. Lionel Chevrier (Laurier):

Mr. Speaker, we on this side of the house have listened with interest to the remarks made by the Prime Minister on the motion to have the house sit in the mornings and begin a drive to bring the session to an end. In that respect I should like to say that we will co-operate to the fullest extent to the end that the session may be brought to a conclusion early in July if that is possible or, if not, we will come back for a fall session if it is the wish of the house.

There are some things that must be kept in mind. In the first place, we feel very strongly that certain matters must be debated at greater length than others. The Prime Minister has brought to the attention of the house a number of matters that have taken some time, and having sat on the other side of the house as he does now I realize, of course, the position in which the government finds itself. I can well remember how former prime ministers have sometimes taken the exact position which the present Prime Minister is taking now, but with very little cooperation from the opposition in those days. At that time the opposition felt that certain items of legislation should be discussed at greater length.

There is one thing I wish to bring to the attention of the Prime Minister in this regard. While it is true that we have taken 91 days to discuss certain matters, including 39 days in the discussion of the matters he mentioned earlier, 10 days for supplementary estimates, 3 days for interim supply, 4 days, I believe he said, for the Trans-Canada Highway Act and 8 days for the discussion of university grants, I should like to draw to his attention the fact that in the discussion of a number of these pieces of legislation there were more speakers from the government side of the house than from the opposition and the C.C.F. put together. I have reference now to the debate on university grants, where

we were met not only speaker for speaker but in some instances by a proportion of two or three to one.

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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming (Eglinton):

Oh, no; just

speaker for speaker.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

I am not complaining at all about that situation, but I am saying to the Prime Minister that unquestionably there is no doubt that if there has been any delay in a number of these cases it is not our fault. I might also refer to the agricultural estimates, which we were almost ready to put through the other evening, but speaker after speaker on the other side of the house rose and held up those estimates.

There are one or two other things I should like to draw to the attention of the house. We do not have before us yet a complete list of the items of legislation that have to be dealt with, but if effect is to be given to the speech from the throne we do know there are a number of items of legislation and, of course, the vast majority of the estimates which must be disposed of. There is, of course, the bill of rights which will require some considerable discussion, and if it is the intention to proceed with that bill at this session I hope the government will see fit to send it to a committee of the house.

Then there is the very important revision of the Civil Service Act, which I am sure is of tremendous importance to all of us. I am wondering whether any consideration has been given by the government to the introduction of this bill, giving it first reading and referring it to a committee so it might be studied, as was done with other measures during the past two sessions. I think that is a matter which might well be considered.

There is, too, the matter of capital punishment which was to have been debated further, and upon which there was to have been a free vote by all members of parliament. Within the last two weeks no indication has been given of what action is to be taken in that respect, so that debate has been left hanging, if I might use an expression.

I cannot resist drawing to the attention of the Prime Minister three matters that are on the order paper today. First there is his own motion for these sittings, and on the opposite page there are two motions to set up committees, one concerning the committee on agriculture and colonization-

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PC

Douglas Scott Harkness (Minister of Agriculture)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

No, it has been set up.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

-or to refer to the committee on agriculture and colonization certain matters concerning the prices of farm

machinery. The other motion is tor the establishment of a select committee on broadcasting. It seems to me that at least the second matter, if not both matters, could have been brought forward a long time ago. We on this side of the house have been asking for the establishment of the broadcasting committee, and to establish it when we are going to sit in the morning and when, in some cases, it will be very difficult for the committee to sit while the house is sitting, seems to me to be placing great difficulty in the way of the work of this committee.

I know the Prime Minister is extremely anxious to give the committees of the house work so that his members, and all the members of the house, can be kept actively engaged. The setting up of this very important committee now gives some indication of the fact, in the first place, that it will not be possible, if we are to complete our work by the first week of July, to deal effectively with the important matters which should be referred to that committee. In so far as the price of farm machinery is concerned, I do not know why it was not possible to refer that matter to the committee earlier.

I could perhaps say there are some matters which, in our opinion, could be disposed of rather quickly and on which long debates would certainly not be necessary. I will not take the time of the house by mentioning them now. I have given some indication of them to the house leader. There are others, on the other hand, where lengthier debates will be necessary and a greater length of time will be taken up in the consideration of what we believe are important matters.

In the light of all this I want to conclude by saying that we will co-operate to the fullest extent. We feel that we should take the time which in our opinion is essential to dispose of some of the matters which are already on the order paper, and some other matters which although not on the order paper have been mentioned in the speech from the throne.

Perphaps I could make this request of the Prime Minister. In the light of what I have said and what others may say, might it not be advisable to give effect to this motion on Monday June 6 rather than on Wednesday, June 1? However, if the Prime Minister feels that it should remain as it is, we on this side of the house will support it.

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CCF

Harold Edward Winch

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

Mr. Harold E. Winch (Vancouver East):

Mr. Speaker, we in this corner of the house have listened with a great deal of interest to the statement made by the Prime Minister and that by the spokesman for the official

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opposition. It is quite obvious that, as far as the government is concerned-and now with the agreement of the official opposition- everything will be done to get rid of parliament as soon as possible.

Once again, Mr. Speaker, as is customary at a certain point in every session, we have the Prime Minister introducing a motion such as the one we have before us this afternoon, to the effect that starting on Wednesday and henceforth, Monday through Friday, the House of Commons shall meet at eleven o'clock in the morning.

I expected something different from the present Prime Minister, Mr. Speaker. He has had a unique experience. Today he is the Prime Minister of Canada. It is not so long ago that for a short time he was leader of the opposition. For many years prior to that time he was a private member. He therefore knows perhaps better than anyone else in the House of Commons the responsibilities, the work and the strain involved in being a private member, leader of the opposition and Prime Minister. Yet with that knowledge and experience he introduces today this motion we have before us.

We in this group in this corner of the house want to say that the motion is absolutely unfair and unrealistic. It is designed to do something that I never thought the present Prime Minister would ever do, namely to bring about a situation in support of cabinet government and not of House of Commons government.

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?

Some hon. Members:

Sit down.

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PC

Daniel Roland Michener (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

Order.

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CCF

Harold Edward Winch

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

Mr. Winch:

That, Mr. Speaker, is the point to which I am coming. There are too many members in this House of Commons who want to go home instead of staying here to do the job for which they were elected. Not one of us was ever compelled to accept a nomination. We accepted that responsibility knowing that we live in a democracy and that, should we be elected, 265 men and women of Canada are given the power and authority by 17,500,000 people in Canada to endorse laws, rescind laws, amend laws, impose taxation and spend the taxpayers' money. When we accept nomination and are elected, there is no question in our minds as to whether we have to sit in Ottawa for two months, five months, eight months or a year. Then why is it that in the most responsible jobs, the greatest honour that a man or woman can have, we are expected to try to see how fast we can get out because we do not like the heat or the humidity of summer in parliament? Why is it that when there is such a fight by the trade unions for respectable hours

Business of the House of work, those who have the greatest responsibility in Canada-those who make the law, amend the law, impose taxation and spend the money-should be told every year, I think it is after 90 days, or 91 days, "You will have to speed up"?

Through you, Mr. Speaker, I want to say this to the Prime Minister. The right hon. gentleman knows that a private member of the House of Commons has responsibility to his constituents; he has to conduct correspondence; he has research work to carry on; he has speeches to prepare, and in addition he has committee work. At the present time- the same day this motion is being moved by the Prime Minister

there are 11 standing committees of the House of Commons which have not yet completed their work or submitted their final reports. These committees have to meet. In addition there is the special committee on defence expenditure. Notice has been given regarding the committee which is to consider the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. We understand there is to be a committee on the bill of rights. We know the Minister of Justice intends that after second reading the important legislation on the Combines Investigation Act will go to the banking and commerce committee.

However, we are to meet at 11 a.m. When do the special committees or the standing committees meet? They meet from 9.30 until 11, or when the house is meeting.

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?

An hon. Member:

So what?

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CCF

Harold Edward Winch

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

Mr. Winch:

I want to say to some hon. members, because I know where that interruption came from, that if they got up and came here as early as I do they would not be rushed half as often as they are.

There are 11 committees which have not yet reported. There are two or three, perhaps four, special committees. If this house is to meet at eleven on Monday through Friday, then I ask you, Mr. Speaker, how does an ordinary member take care of his work on a constituency basis? How does he find time to attend to grievances, attend committees and attend the House of Commons at the same time? There is only one thing a member can do on that basis-

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?

An hon. Member:

That is, shut up.

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CCF

Harold Edward Winch

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

Mr. Winch:

That is exactly what they want us to do, shut up.

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May 30, 1960