March 8, 1962

LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin

Liberal

Mr. Mariin (Essex East):

Yes. There we could, of course, discuss all the problems of the United Nations, and so on.

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
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Item agreed to. 629. Purchase and transportation to British Honduras of skim milk powder, canned pork and other supplies for the relief of victims of the hurricane disaster and to authorize reimbursement of the agricultural stabilization board in respect of the purchase of such skim milk powder and canned pork, $70,500.


LIB

John Ross Matheson

Liberal

Mr. Matheson:

Mr. Chairman, I am delighted to see this item of $70,500, part of which has been directed to skim milk powder. We know something of the circumstances of the disaster that affected particularly the city of Belize in British Honduras and we are very pleased that Canada can come to the rescue of these people, so many of whom suffered so grievously.

I am wondering if the minister could explain to us on this vote whether this is the type of thing that we now have handled through the food and agricultural organization on utilization of surpluses for economic and social development.

I was fortunate in being an observer at the second committee which met in New York on Friday morning, December 8 last, when there was a statement made by Mr. B. R. Sen from India, the director-general of that organization. His secretary, whom I had the pleasure of meeting, was Miss Jessica Campbell of Victoria. Mr. Sen, in his statement to that committee, said:

-that the world conscience could no longer tolerate restriction as the solution to the problem of surplus production in some countries when half of mankind remained underfed or poorly fed.

He said further:

-the resolution gave proof of the unanimous desire of all member nations to strengthen their co-operative effort to bring about a world order based on human dignity and progress.

Then he went on to a matter that I think asks for some clarification on this vote. Mr. Sen said this:

As regards the scope of operations-

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
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PC

Paul Raymond Martineau (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

The Chairman:

Order. I regret to interrupt the hon. member, but it is five o'clock and it is therefore my duty to leave the chair in order that the house may proceed to consideration of private members' business pursuant to section 3 of standing order 15.

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
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On the order: Second reading of Bill SD-1, an act for the relief of Madeleine Frangoise Hankowski-Mr. McCleave.


PC

Robert Jardine McCleave

Progressive Conservative

Mr. R. J. McCleave (Halifax):

Mr. Speaker, last Thursday I had hoped to be in a position today to make some statement. Unfortunately some factors have intervened, some of them unforeseen, and I would ask that the 102 divorce bills standing in my name today be stood.

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   PRIVATE BILLS
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PC

Daniel Roland Michener (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

Is it agreed that item Nos. 1 to 102 stand until the next day for private bills?

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   PRIVATE BILLS
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   PRIVATE BILLS
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HOUSE OF COMMONS ACT

AMENDMENT RESPECTING HOLDING OF BY-ELECTIONS

LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Hon. J. W. Pickersgill (Bonavisia-Twillin-gate) moved

the second reading of Bill No. C-20, to amend the House of Commons Act (election writs for by-elections).

He said: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill which is a very short one and which contains only one clause is to amend the House of Commons Act to provide that in the event of a vacancy occurring a writ shall be issued within 60 days of the receipt by the chief electoral officer of the warrant for the issue of a new writ instead of the present provision that it shall be issued within six months.

As Your Honour will recall, earlier this week the Prime Minister asked leave to revert to motions at six o'clock for the purpose of announcing that the writs had been issued for two by-elections to take place in two constituencies, Waterloo South in Ontario and Nicolet-Yamaska in Quebec, both of which have been vacant since long before the present session of parliament began and one of which was, of course, just coming up to the wire of the six-month provision.

It seems to me there is a lack in the law at the present time with respect to the holding of by-elections. I drew attention to the fact the other day, in response to the Prime Minister's announcement, that it was unfortunate and totally unnecessary that these two constituencies were going to be unrepresented for a whole session of parliament. Since parliament did not meet until January there

Private Bills

was no reason why these writs should not have been issued last September and the by-elections held in ample time to give the people of these constituencies an opportunity to be represented at this session of parliament.

The Prime Minister replied in a fashion which of course has become almost habitual with hon. members of the present government whenever it is suggested that they do any of the things they said they were going to do before they were returned to office. The Prime Minister used the phrase, "physician heal thyself". When hon. gentlemen opposite were appealing to the people to turn out the previous government and put themselves in its place they were not appealing for the purpose of doing precisely what the Liberal government was doing, but that is their invariable excuse for every sin of omission or commission of which they are guilty. They seem to feel, now they are in office, that everything that was done by their predecessors was perfect and all they have to do is follow that model and they will be perfect.

Topic:   HOUSE OF COMMONS ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING HOLDING OF BY-ELECTIONS
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NDP

William Arnold Peters

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peters:

That is not true, of course.

Topic:   HOUSE OF COMMONS ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING HOLDING OF BY-ELECTIONS
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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

The hon. member is quite right. There are a great many things which were done by the government of which I was a member which were not perfect-a great many things-but unlike hon. gentlemen opposite we are human enough and modest enough to admit that.

Topic:   HOUSE OF COMMONS ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING HOLDING OF BY-ELECTIONS
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh.

Topic:   HOUSE OF COMMONS ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING HOLDING OF BY-ELECTIONS
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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

It is true that in 1953 in the session before the general election and again in 1957 in the session before the general election there were two or three constituencies which went unrepresented for the whole of those sessions of parliament.

Topic:   HOUSE OF COMMONS ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING HOLDING OF BY-ELECTIONS
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?

An hon. Member:

York South was one.

Topic:   HOUSE OF COMMONS ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING HOLDING OF BY-ELECTIONS
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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

Yes, York South was one of them. I do not think the fact that that happened is any credit to the previous administration. It is a matter of history, however. If it was not a credit to the previous administration there are at least two circumstances that differ from the situation that has prevailed under the present government.

Those were the last sessions before a general election and the government of that day had made it very clear that there was going to be a general election. They did not seem to regard it as a cliff-hanging mystery which now seems to be an occupation to fill the idle hours of the Prime Minister. One would have thought that the Prime Minister of a great and important country like this would have more

Private Bills

important considerations to occupy his attention than trying to play tiddly-winks with the press and the public. But we are told by those pressmen who seem to enjoy the Prime Minister's confidence that that is his main preoccupation these days, trying to create mysteries about this matter. I appreciate, sir, that in saying that I am straying somewhat from the bill but I have been straying along paths that seem to be of great interest to many hon. members.

What I am saying is this. In the case of those particular vacancies which occurred in 1953 and in 1957 they were vacancies that occurred just before a general election, the last session before an election. I am not advancing this argument, but it might be argued that there may be some justification when one is really close to a general election for leaving the seats vacant. I do not think so myself but I am sure that argument would have been made at that time and perhaps I might even have made it myself in those circumstances. But looking back on it I do not think it is a proper thing. I do not think it ought to happen.

There was another difference. In the case of those vacancies the opposition of that day did not draw the vacancies, in most cases, to the attention of His Honour the Speaker. That is not very important either because the government had an equal responsibility; but I just note that members of the opposition of that day by and large did not draw attention to those vacancies whereas in the case of Waterloo South notice was given on September 8 last year.

This may not be the last session before a general election. There are some of us, sir, who have very considerable doubts about whether this will be the last session before an election. Under the constitution there is plenty of opportunity to have another session. There is no constitutional need to have an election before July 1, 1963, and if the Prime Minister shows the same capacity to reach conclusions about this subject as he does about many other subjects, there are many of us who would not be surprised if the election was brought about by the efflux of time as it was the last time we had a Tory administration and as it was in 1896 when a dying Tory administration was in office.

As I say, that could happen. This is not the first time there have been constituencies unrepresented in this parliament for an entire session. This government which went to the country on a plea of restoring the rights of parliament seems to ignore completely the very foundation of parliament, and that is the representation of the people. It should not be possible for a prime minister or a cabinet to

deprive the people of representation under the law. I am not accusing the government of doing anything unlawful. I say the law is imperfect and I am seeking to improve it and make it more perfect if I can convince hon. members that my bill should be supported. I say the law should not allow a prime minister or a cabinet, by failing to do something, to deprive taxpayers of representation in this house which taxes them, or to deprive citizens of representation in this house which makes laws governing them in a country which professes to be self-governing. It seems to me this is the very foundation of everything we stand for and support.

We know there are times when it is very inconvenient to everyone including the electors to have an election. I think it would not be feasible or reasonable, and that it might work unnecessary hardship to have a rigid provision that immediately a vacancy occurred the writ must issue the next day or in the shortest possible time. I have therefore not made any such suggestion. What I have suggested is that once notification is given of the vacancy a period of two months might elapse. I realize that this bill by itself will not correct the whole problem. In addition to this legislation, in order to make absolutely sure, that the by-elections will take place, there would also be required an amendment tc another statute in order to set a time limit beyond which the election itself could not be delayed. Even if the writ is issued two months after the notice of vacancy instead of six months afterward, though it might be scandalous it would not be illegal to set a by-election a whole year later.

Topic:   HOUSE OF COMMONS ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING HOLDING OF BY-ELECTIONS
Permalink
PC

James Aloysius McGrath

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McGrath:

As Joe did in Newfoundland.

Topic:   HOUSE OF COMMONS ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING HOLDING OF BY-ELECTIONS
Permalink
LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

The hon. member's intervention is singularly ill-timed because his leader and his friend in Newfoundland is complaining bitterly because the premier of Newfoundland has set a by-election too soon, not too late, and he has been doing so in the last few days.

Topic:   HOUSE OF COMMONS ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING HOLDING OF BY-ELECTIONS
Permalink
PC

James Aloysius McGrath

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McGrath:

Surely the hon. member will allow me to correct the record.

Topic:   HOUSE OF COMMONS ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT RESPECTING HOLDING OF BY-ELECTIONS
Permalink

March 8, 1962