April 17, 1962

PC

John George Diefenbaker (Prime Minister)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

Mr. Speaker, I am sure anything I have said up till now will not be debatable. When I look at the summary of the business of the house as of April 17, the 63rd day, I find that 25 days have been utilized on supplementary estimates, 2 days

Legislative Program

on the main estimates, 8 days on the speech from the throne and 2 days on a supply motion, with only 25 days being utilized for legislation.

I summarize what I was endeavouring to say to my hon. friends opposite before the interruptions by saying that there has been no real effort to deal with parliament's essential business. We have had it on the order paper, but there has been only a pretence of dealing with it. Therefore, the only course open for the government is for me, as first minister, to go to His Excellency the Governor General, request an early dissolution-

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Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Prime Minister)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

-and invite the people to choose a new House of Commons.

Parliament will be asked, however, before we terminate to deal with the following measures; first, the resolution on redistribution, so that the bill may be brought before the house. The hon. member for Bonavista-Twillingate, on April 10, stated in effect that the measure to set up a redistribution commission, under all the circumstances, should be left over to the next parliament. It was, of course, not possible to bring it in earlier because if the commission had been set up it would not have been able to operate for the reason that the census is not yet complete.

The second measure that will come before the house today, I hope, is the ratification of the international wheat agreement. The third will be the Customs Act, and the fourth the appropriation bill. Then finally tomorrow, in the event that we proceed to complete the items in question, an application will be made for interim supply for a period of five months. If these matters are completed by tomorrow afternoon then the house, in the regular way, may adjourn, and later in the week I shall see the Governor General. We had also hoped to be able to come back to a consideration of the budget.

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Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Prime Minister)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

Hon. gentlemen may

laugh, but the Leader of the Opposition will have every opportunity to deliver the speech he would have delivered when we come to consideration of the appropriation bill. The opposition frequently suggested an election, but at all times said that a proper accounting beforehand should be given, and that accounting has now been given.

There is one measure dealing with the other place which I had hoped to have passed, but it would take a very considerable period of time in the House of Commons and also in the other place. This issue, naturally, can be one of those that will be dealt with by the people during the course

of the coming election. It is obvious that if we tried to complete the legislative program we would have months ahead, and I think it has generally been agreed by hon. members that the people expect an early election.

There is one matter to which I should like to make reference and that has to do with a problem with which I have not dealt on previous occasions, namely divorce. I realize there are strong feelings on this subject, but I would hope that those who have expended their money in order to get then-bills before the house, those bills having been passed by the other place following examination, might well expect that their measures would be brought before this house and passed. Therefore, sir, without going into any details or becoming in any way provocative, tomorrow night, or if it becomes necessary on Thursday, this house will, as I said a moment ago, be adjourned.

So far as sitting Thursday is concerned, I find that while the hon. member for Laurier asked me the other day if I realized that it was a holy day, I find that I think it was 1953, when the hon. member was a member of the government of prime minister St. Laurent, the house did sit on the Thursday before Good Friday.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I shall recommend to His Excellency the dissolution of this house and the holding of the election on June 18.

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Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

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LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Hon. L. B. Pearson (Leader of the Opposition):

We on this side, Mr. Speaker, are delighted that the Prime Minister at long last has put an end to the contrived uncertainty surrounding the date of the election. We are delighted that the Prime Minister has once again changed his mind and has moved the date forward from September 12 to June 18.

The Prime Minister has given as the reason for this the obstruction that the government has encountered from the opposition in the discharge of its duties. The Prime Minister, in effect, has said that it was impossible for a government with 207 members in this house to get through its legislative program unless the opposition gave up the exercise of its cherished rights-

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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming (Eglinion):

Of obstruction.

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LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

-in carrying out its duties. The Prime Minister, being a student of both history and music, will recall the words of the queen in Gilbert and Sullivan's "Iolanthe", speaking about a prime minister of that time in the nineteenth century. The queen, speaking through music, had this to say:

Every bill and every measure That may gratify his pleasure,

Though your fury it arouses,

Shall be passed by both your houses.

The Prime Minister and his colleagues, however, were not sufficiently strong to prevent us from doing our duty in this house.

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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming (Eglinlon):

Deliberate obstruction.

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LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

The Prime Minister has now agreed, and we are delighted to get the announcement, that the election should be held at the earliest possible date. The country will be glad to get this announcement; not perhaps as glad as the official opposition, but it is high time this announcement were made. The country will in due course declare its verdict on the record of this government.

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Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

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Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh.

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NDP

Herbert Wilfred Herridge

New Democratic Party

Mr. H. W. Herridge (Kootenay West):

Mr. Speaker, the members of this party are extremely glad that the Prime Minister has at last terminated the state of uncertainty that has existed in this house and in the country for some months. We are also confident that this announcement will be welcomed by the Canadian people. As the leader of a party in this house-

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An hon. Member:

Acting leader.

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NDP

Herbert Wilfred Herridge

New Democratic Party

Mr. Herridge:

-which has an unblemished record-

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PC

John Andrew W. Drysdale

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drysdale:

You have not done anything.

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NDP

Herbert Wilfred Herridge

New Democratic Party

Mr. Herridge:

-we look forward to the verdict of the Canadian people on election day.

On the orders of the day:

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PC

Louis Fortin

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Louis Fortin (Montmagny-L'Islet):

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the house leader. Would the house leader make sure that a few seats, possibly four or five, are reserved to the left of the Speaker so that just in case a few Liberal members are returned after the next election they may be assured of space in this house?

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LIB

April 17, 1962