May 25, 1961

PC

Daniel Roland Michener (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

I am sorry, but I cannot hear the hon. member who has the floor.

Topic:   COLUMBIA RIVER
Subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO LETTER FROM B.C. PREMIER
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LIB

George James McIlraith

Liberal

Mr. Mcllraiih:

After pointing out that the minister ascribed the request for the tabling of the letter and its printing in Hansard to the hon. member for Kootenay West, I was going on to point out that it was the hon. member for Laurier who made the request and I would ask the minister when he moved that hon. member's constituency to Kootenay West.

Topic:   COLUMBIA RIVER
Subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO LETTER FROM B.C. PREMIER
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PC

Daniel Roland Michener (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

Order. I think the supplementary should not be admitted as it arises out of some ancient error in Hansard.

Topic:   COLUMBIA RIVER
Subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO LETTER FROM B.C. PREMIER
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PC

Stuart A. Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Stuart Fleming (Okanagan-Revelsioke):

I should like to ask a supplementary question of the Minister of Justice. In view of the confusion that has developed in British Columbia because of press reports in recent days, did the Minister of Justice himself receive any communication from any member of the government of British Columbia prior to the signing of the treaty, indicating that the government of that province objected to that course?

Topic:   COLUMBIA RIVER
Subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO LETTER FROM B.C. PREMIER
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PC

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

Progressive Conservative

Hon. E. D. Fulton (Minister of Justice):

Mr. Speaker, I have received no communication at any time from any member of the government of British Columbia indicating any reservation whatsoever about the advisability of signing the Columbia river treaty last January, or about the merits of the treaty itself.

On January 9 I forwarded to Hon. Mr. Williston, minister of lands and forests for British Columbia and chairman of the British Columbia section of the Canada-British Columbia policy liaison committee on Columbia river development, a copy of the text of the treaty which had been unanimously recommended by the Canadian and American negotiators to their respective governments. This recommendation was signed by the deputy minister of lands of British Columbia as well as by myself.

In my covering letter to Mr. Williston I advised him that it was our intention to sign the treaty on January 16 and that under all the circumstances, including the participation and signature of Mr. Bassett, his deputy minister, we assumed that the British Columbia government was in accord with the terms of the treaty unless I heard from Mr. Williston to the contrary. Mr. Williston acknowledged receipt of the copy of the text of the treaty and of the Canadian negotiator's recommendation on January 12. No suggestion was then, or ever, made that the treaty should not be signed.

It was, of course, understood by both governments that in the interval between the signing and the ratification of the treaty by Canada certain agreements, including an agreement on the financing of the treaty projects, should be negotiated. It is obvious that if Premier Bennett had intended to communicate to the federal government-

Topic:   COLUMBIA RIVER
Subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO LETTER FROM B.C. PREMIER
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PC

Daniel Roland Michener (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

Order. The question of fact involved is the time of receipt of the communications that were exchanged. I think we are perhaps extending the matter into a debate on what transpired, and I suggest to the Minister of Justice that he terminate his

answer there unless he feels there is some further factual explanation that is needed.

Topic:   COLUMBIA RIVER
Subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO LETTER FROM B.C. PREMIER
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PC

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

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

Mr. Speaker, I should like to do so briefly, because I was asked whether I had ever had any communication with the government of British Columbia involving reservations with regard to the signing of the treaty, and I think I should conclude my answer simply by saying that it is obvious that we have not had any such representations. It is obvious that the letter from Mr. Bennett of January 13 to the Minister of Finance was not intended by Mr. Bennett at that time-

Topic:   COLUMBIA RIVER
Subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO LETTER FROM B.C. PREMIER
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LIB
PC

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

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

-on the basis of its contents, to raise any objection-

Topic:   COLUMBIA RIVER
Subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO LETTER FROM B.C. PREMIER
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LIB

George James McIlraith

Liberal

Mr. Mcllrailh:

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

Topic:   COLUMBIA RIVER
Subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO LETTER FROM B.C. PREMIER
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PC

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

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

-to the signing of the treaty but was concerned entirely with the collateral matter of the financing of the treaty project.

Topic:   COLUMBIA RIVER
Subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO LETTER FROM B.C. PREMIER
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LIB

George James McIlraith

Liberal

Mr. Mcllrailh:

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point or order. My point is that in the latter part of the minister's answer he went on to debate the position; because it is quite clear from the letter itself, which is now before the house-

Topic:   COLUMBIA RIVER
Subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO LETTER FROM B.C. PREMIER
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Order.

Topic:   COLUMBIA RIVER
Subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO LETTER FROM B.C. PREMIER
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LIB

George James McIlraith

Liberal

Mr. Mcllrailh:

-and which can be found at page 1652 of Hansard, reference to which has been made by the minister, that the position the minister is now taking is a debatable one and not the type of thing to be put forward in a factual statement.

Topic:   COLUMBIA RIVER
Subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO LETTER FROM B.C. PREMIER
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PC

Daniel Roland Michener (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

Order. I think there is a strong desire to debate this matter and that this is not the appropriate time. I suggest that the supplementary questions terminate and that we pass to the next order of business.

Topic:   COLUMBIA RIVER
Subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO LETTER FROM B.C. PREMIER
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LIB

Louis-Joseph-Lucien Cardin

Liberal

Mr. Lucien Cardin (Richelieu-Vercheres):

I should like to direct a supplementary question to the Prime Minister. Can he inform the house whether he had been made aware of the contents of the letter from the premier of British Columbia at the time Canada signed the treaty?

Topic:   COLUMBIA RIVER
Subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO LETTER FROM B.C. PREMIER
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PC

Daniel Roland Michener (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

Order. As I have just indicated, it seems to me that there has been ample opportunity to verify the facts by question and answer, at least as far as can be done at this stage of the day. Therefore I cannot admit any further supplementaries or answers on this matter.

Topic:   COLUMBIA RIVER
Subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO LETTER FROM B.C. PREMIER
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CCF

Murdo William Martin

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

Mr. Marlin (Essex Easl):

Mr. Speaker, may I suggest that in view of the fact that you asked the Minister of Justice to desist and he carried on-

Inquiries of the Ministry

Topic:   COLUMBIA RIVER
Subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO LETTER FROM B.C. PREMIER
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?

Some hon. Members:

Order.

Topic:   COLUMBIA RIVER
Subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO LETTER FROM B.C. PREMIER
Permalink
CCF

Murdo William Martin

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

Mr. Marlin (Essex Easl):

There we are again, Mr. Speaker.

Topic:   COLUMBIA RIVER
Subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO LETTER FROM B.C. PREMIER
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May 25, 1961