Righi Hon. J. G. Diefenbaker (Prime Minister):
Mr. Speaker, with leave of the house, and I hope leave will be granted, I should like to bring up the question of what date might be set aside for discussion of the question of capital punishment. There were two bills before the house, one introduced by the hon. member for York-Scarborough and the other by the hon. member for Vancouver East. After we had discussed the matter for a couple of days the question arose whether or not a further opportunity would be given to the house to discuss this very important measure, and also the problem in general of the infliction of capital punishment. On a number of occasions since questions have been asked as to when that date would be, I made it perfectly clear that we on this side of the house would be most anxious to have the fullest possible discussion of this question which is of such paramount importance.
My recollection is that the last occasion on which the matter was mentioned was July 18. There may have been later occasions but at the moment they do not come to mind. At that time the Leader of the Opposition asked this question, as found on page 6410 of Hansard:
Has the government any plans for the resumption of the discussion of capital punishment?
To which my reply was:
As the hon. gentleman knows, plans were made some weeks ago and were made known to the house. As soon as the legislative program and the estimates have achieved that degree of completion which I believe is necessary, then with the co-operation to which the hon. member for Laurier referred, I am sure that a day will be set aside for that purpose.
The Leader of the Opposition then added these words:
What degree of completion does the Prime Minister consider necessary so that we may resume the discussion?
To which I replied:
The order paper is a pretty good indication, together with the estimates still outstanding.
The hon. member for Assiniboia then added some comments in this regard but more particularly directed to the question of consideration of extending the vote to those 18 years old. I wish to give hon. members the opportunity to express themselves with regard to resumption of the debate on capital punishment. Any day that would suit hon. members would be acceptable to the government.
We have now arrived at that point where, if hon. members in various parts of the house desire to debate this subject, it will be done. To that end I ask not only for the views of the Leader of the Opposition but also for those of the two hon. members to whom I have already alluded, whom I feel sure the house would want to hear, as they have taken a particular interest in this matter and have respectively introduced bills in this regard.
Subtopic: STATEMENT ON RESUMPTION OP DEBATE ON CAPITAL PUNISHMENT