The hon. member for Essex East has asked leave to move the adjournment of the house under standing order 26 for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely the alarming increase in unemployment and the decrease in total employment that occurred in Canada between December and January, as reported in today's release issued by the dominion bureau of statistics.
The question that has to be decided by the Chair-the only question the Chair has to decide-is the question of the urgency of debate. The importance of this matter to the country or to parliament is not what I have to consider, but rather the opportunities there are to discuss the subject matter and whether this is the type of suddenly arising urgent matter which would warrant an interruption of the ordinary routine of business so that it might be discussed.
If I had serious doubts about the question of urgency I would be glad to hear the hon. member for Essex East and other hon. members, but it seems to me that in line with decisions I have made previously on this general question, particularly at a time when the debate on the address in reply to the speech from the throne had not been concluded, it would be very difficult to make out a case of urgency for any matter of this kind.
I recall that during the last session while the throne speech debate was in progress, reference was made to the question of unemployment. In fact it was the subject of continuous discussion in parliament throughout
the whole session. I think as long as unemployment exists in substantial proportions it will be a subject of discussion in this parliament.
In support of what I have said I offer the following citations. The first is from Beau-chesne's fourth edition, at page 90, citation 100, paragraph 3:
"Urgency" within this rule does not apply to the matter itself, but it means "urgency of debate", when the ordinary opportunities provided by the rules of the house do not permit the subject to be brought on early enough and public interest demands that discussion take place immediately.
On page 91 there is reference to the type of discussion for which the rule might be invoked which I think is worth repeating to the house. I begin on page 91 about half way down the page. The quotation refers to a motion to discuss the neglect of the government to take measures for the relief of agricultural depression. This is what is said by the learned author:
What I think was contemplated, was an occurrence of some sudden emergency, either in home or in foreign affairs. But I do not think it was contemplated-if the house will allow me to state my views-that a question of very wide scope, which would demand legislation to deal with it in any effective manner, should be the subject of discussion on a motion for the adjournment of the house, because, if that was so, we might have repeated motions made by the opposition of the day, not so much in the direction of censuring the government for action which had been taken or not taken, for bringing to notice some grievance demanding instant remedy, as in the direction of wishing to introduce legislation on some particular subject. That is not the purpose of the standing order of 1882, and would, I think, cut at the root of the order."
The only factor which I can see in the hon. member's request which denotes a change of state is that the latest figures of total employment and unemployment are different from those of the preceding period. They suggest a change in trend or proportions the details of which have not been mentioned by the hon. member. But accepting that there is a substantial change as indicated by the figures, then it seems to me the whole subject is one which has already been discussed this session in part in some of the debates, and for which there will be opportunity for discussion as soon as the throne speech debate is resumed.
Therefore my disposition is to rule out this motion as not being within the rule, basically on the ground that the test of urgency of debate has not been satisfied but aso on the
ground which I stated previously, that relating to the breadth and character of the problem.
Sub-subtopic: MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 26