December 11, 1962

?

Donald MacInnis

Mr. Maclnnis:

Once again, it is not our intention to try and hold up the committee, but earlier today the minister indicated to us that it was most desirable this board be not shackled by government control or direction. He indicated that he hoped it would have a certain degree of autonomy and be able to act on its own. In so far as this clause is concerned, we are very anxious that the board be given the power to make sure the people of the Atlantic provinces and the people of Canada in general know what they are studying, what they have decided and what they have recommended.

I suggest that this situation is not completely covered by the usual type of annual report we get from these boards and to which reference is made in clause 19 of this bill. We should like to suggest, therefore, that every report and every conclusive recommendation of this board be made public so that the people will know what the board is doing, how quickly they are making progress and the type of thing they are presenting to the government. I therefore move that clause 9 be amended my adding thereto the following new subsection to be called subsection (3):

(3) The minister shall lay before parliament within fifteen days after the receipt thereof every report and recommendation submitted by the board to him or, in parliament is not then sitting, on any of the first fifteen days next thereafter that parliament is sitting.

Topic:   ATLANTIC DEVELOPMENT BOARD
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR DEFINITION OF DUTIES, APPOINTMENT OF MEMBERS, ETC.
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PC

Gordon Campbell Chown (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

The Chairman:

At the outset, the hon. member for Cape Breton South referred to clause 19, and without ruling on the admissibility of this amendment I wonder if it would not have more application as an amendment to clause 19 rather than to this particular clause. Perhaps the hon. member would help the Chair by giving me his comments in that regard. We can then consider the admissibility of the amendment itself.

Topic:   ATLANTIC DEVELOPMENT BOARD
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR DEFINITION OF DUTIES, APPOINTMENT OF MEMBERS, ETC.
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?

Donald MacInnis

Mr. Maclnnis:

Very briefly, I may say clause 19 deals with the typical annual report that is made by any board or organization operating under the jurisdiction of the parliament of Canada. In this particular clause 9 we are dealing with the objects and powers of the board, and within the scope of those

powers we are most concerned that the minister be given the opportunity he indicated he is anxious to obtain, that is a certain degree of independence, a certain degree of autonomy for this board. If the minister is as anxious for concrete action on the part of this board as he has indicated so far to the house, if he is in fact so desirous that they be independent, then surely he would have no objection to this board making public the recommendations that they want this government to act upon. I believe it is in the interests of the people of this area that the government be not permitted to put the responsibility for economic difficulties in the Atlantic provinces on some board. In other words, we are suggesting that this should not be another continuing permanent royal commission but rather an active board that has, in fact, some autonomy and that is prepared to report to the people on their findings. If this amendment were accepted, we would have a much more responsible board and perhaps a much more active government.

Topic:   ATLANTIC DEVELOPMENT BOARD
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR DEFINITION OF DUTIES, APPOINTMENT OF MEMBERS, ETC.
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PC

Robert Gordon Lee Fairweather

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fairwealher:

Obviously you are most perceptive, Mr. Chairman. I do not see what the few remarks made by the hon. member for Cape Breton South had to do with your question about relevancy. Surely clause 19 is the clause, if any amendment is to be accepted relating to reporting. It should come later in the bill. Personally, I think this amendment is quite inappropriate and out of order.

If we are discussing, however, the merits of the amendment, it seems to me that the hon. member for Cape Breton South is unduly suspicious. Clause 19 provides for a statement relating to the activities of the board for the fiscal year and how the statement is to be laid before parliament. It seems to me this provision is quite adequate and the public interest will be best served by sticking to the clause now before us.

Topic:   ATLANTIC DEVELOPMENT BOARD
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR DEFINITION OF DUTIES, APPOINTMENT OF MEMBERS, ETC.
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NDP

Reid Scott

New Democratic Party

Mr. Scott:

Mr. Chairman, speaking to the issue you have raised as to the relevant portion of the bill where the amendment should be introduced, I would with respect suggest that if you read paragraphs (c) and (d) of clause 9 it is made quite clear under these provisions that there will be a continuing number of reports given to the minister by the board on particular measures and projects, and on any other matters that the board considers important, and that throughout the years there will be quite a number of reports submitted from time to time. These do not in any way envisage the annual report, which is covered by clause 19 of the bill.

Keeping all that in view, then surely this is the only place in the bill where the hon. member for Cape Breton South can move an

Atlantic Development Board amendment of this kind so that these reports that are submitted to the minister will be made available to the public and to the House of Commons, where they can be reviewed and discussed. If the amendment is not relevant here, then I do not know on what portion of the bill it could be relevant. We are not particularly interested in having the annual report made available, but we are interested in all the reports which will be made from time to time by the board, in order that parliament and the people of Canada can see them. It seems to me this is obviously the place for an amendment of this kind.

Topic:   ATLANTIC DEVELOPMENT BOARD
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR DEFINITION OF DUTIES, APPOINTMENT OF MEMBERS, ETC.
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PC

Thomas Miller Bell (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Bell (Saint John-Alberi):

I am not sure, Mr. Chairman, whether you have ruled the amendment in order or not on this clause, but I have a point I wish to make regarding the amendment, whether it is moved on clause 9 or not, and it concerns the simple rule of confidentiality. I feel that to a certain degree the recommendations of this board should be considered as confidential. If the recommendations are to be of any use they must be frank, and for them to be reported in a full manner, as suggested by the amendment, would destroy their full value. I suggest that this is a serious argument against the amendment, whether it be in order on this clause or on a later clause.

Topic:   ATLANTIC DEVELOPMENT BOARD
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR DEFINITION OF DUTIES, APPOINTMENT OF MEMBERS, ETC.
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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

Is Your Honour still

troubled by whether the amendment is in order or not?

Topic:   ATLANTIC DEVELOPMENT BOARD
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR DEFINITION OF DUTIES, APPOINTMENT OF MEMBERS, ETC.
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PC

Gordon Campbell Chown (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

The Chairman:

I am quite prepared to hear additional argument.

Topic:   ATLANTIC DEVELOPMENT BOARD
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR DEFINITION OF DUTIES, APPOINTMENT OF MEMBERS, ETC.
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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

It appears to me that what the hon. gentleman is seeking to do is entirely different from what is sought in clause 19, which is the normal type of clause put into these bills providing for an annual report to parliament. The hon. gentleman is seeking to do exactly what is done by "Neddy" in the United Kingdom, and in many other cases, to have the reports on these economic proposals made public. It is an entirely different thing; and unless the government takes the view that what it is seeking to do is to get a group of confidential advisors to itself, of whose work the public will have no knowledge, then there can be little objection to the amendment. But if the government says that is the principle of the bill, then that is not exactly what most of us thought it was.

It seems to me that, unless it can be shown that this is contrary to the principle of the bill, then there is no difficulty in saying these particular reports should be made public. However, I would make a suggestion, if I might, to the hon. member for Cape Breton South. I think that the government would

Atlantic Development Board have a pretty good case for objecting to making the reports public under paragraph (c). It seems to me that if this board is going to be a really useful board then the government ought to be able to ask the board for confidential advice and be able to keep that confidential when the minister himself initiates the query. It also seems to me that if the hon. member could modify his amendment so as to have the reports made public only under the provisions of paragraphs (a) and (b)-paragraph (a) is the one which states "prepare on a systematic and comprehensive basis," and that is a matter of public interest, while paragraph (b) is the one which states "keep under constant review appropriate methods of furthering the sound economic development of the Atlantic region"-then it would be a good thing to have public debate about reports made under those two paragraphs.

The same thing appears true about paragraph (d) which concerns something that is initiated by the board. But as one who has experience of government I do think that if the board is to be useful the minister should also be able to get confidential advice from it under the provisions of paragraph (c). If the hon. gentleman would be prepared to modify his amendment in that sense, it might be acceptable even to the government, because I am sure the government wants this board to be useful to the public as well as to the government. I can easily see why it would not want the reports made public under paragraph (c), where it is considering whether it should initiate a particular project and wanted confidential advice. I think it would be in the public interest for the government to have that confidential advice, and I respectfully offer this suggestion to the hon. member and to the minister.

Topic:   ATLANTIC DEVELOPMENT BOARD
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR DEFINITION OF DUTIES, APPOINTMENT OF MEMBERS, ETC.
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PC

Hugh John Flemming (Minister of National Revenue; Minister of Forestry)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Flemming (Vicioria-Carleton):

I am

quite prepared to accept the general proposition in this particular instance that, in spite of the political tenor of his remarks, the hon. member for Cape Breton South was anxious to have this additional information and could see no particular reason why it should not be made general information and be of benefit to the board in its activities. However, I want to direct his attention to the fact that I have reason to believe that this matter was quite carefully discussed and the decision arrived at was that in this competitive day and age, and with the competition that exists today not only between industries but between countries, that if a company in a certain business was considering the establishment of a plant it would be somewhat restrained and would possibly

[Mr. Pickersgill.l

make an adverse decision with respect to locating in a certain district if it were of the opinion that the board's reports and recommendations were going to be made public knowledge within 15 days. I think that is a very important point.

Many hon. members have risen to their feet to make comments from day to day on this bill, and they have expressed some misgivings that the board would be hampered in its activity. I agree there is always a danger in that, and I consider that this amendment would definitely be detrimental to the success which might accompany the efforts of the board to secure new industries for this region. It is on that basis, and on no other, that I tell the hon. member for Cape Breton South I have great hesitation in accepting his amendment in its present form.

There is also the question of the feasibility of industry. Whether it is feasible to establish an industry in a certain locality depends on a variety of factors, and if those factors are to be made public so that competitors can hear of them, that would bring about a degree of restraint and perhaps even a definite refusal to consider the establishment of industry in that particular locality. I offer that comment with the greatest amount of conviction possible on a broad basis, and having in mind the interests of the success of the board. I feel the amendment would not be helpful; in fact it would be quite the opposite.

Topic:   ATLANTIC DEVELOPMENT BOARD
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR DEFINITION OF DUTIES, APPOINTMENT OF MEMBERS, ETC.
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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

Would the minister permit me to ask him a question? Would he think that would apply to paragraph (a)? I am very much impressed by what the minister has just said with respect to paragraph (b), and I have already accepted his contention with respect to paragraph (c); but concerning paragraph (aj which deals with the "comprehensive basis" it seems to me it might be a very useful thing to have those assessments made public. So that it does not deal with the location; it is the general assessment of the area from time to time. It seems to me it would accomplish what the minister and I and the hon. member for Cape Breton South, and indeed every member of the house, would like to see; that is, more attention given by everyone to the broad factors relating to the development of the region. If that could be done, Mr. Chairman, it might perhaps be a compromise.

Topic:   ATLANTIC DEVELOPMENT BOARD
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR DEFINITION OF DUTIES, APPOINTMENT OF MEMBERS, ETC.
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PC

Gordon Minto Churchill (Minister of Veterans Affairs; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Churchill:

Mr. Chairman, before the minister replies on that question and while he is giving consideration to the problem may I say that I appreciate the suggestion of the hon. member from Bonavista-Twillingate that some of this information would be of great

value to the general public. Of course it would. But surely it is within the competence of the board to determine that, and if it is doing the work which we expect of it, and I am sure it will, it will want to make public various factors concerning the projects, development or prospects in the Atlantic provinces.

This is my thought at this time. It is hardly necessary to write into an act that it shall be mandatory for a board to publish the assessment of the factors it may take into account during the course of its investigation. If this becomes a practice we would be asking all government boards, under compulsion, to make public a great number of matters which may not necessarily be required at the time. I would think it could better be left to the discretion of the board and then, if that is not satisfactory, there is the time honoured method in parliament of asking the minister of the department to give the information to parliament.

Topic:   ATLANTIC DEVELOPMENT BOARD
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR DEFINITION OF DUTIES, APPOINTMENT OF MEMBERS, ETC.
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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin

Liberal

Mr. Martin (Essex East):

We would be told it is a privileged document.

Topic:   ATLANTIC DEVELOPMENT BOARD
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR DEFINITION OF DUTIES, APPOINTMENT OF MEMBERS, ETC.
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PC

Gordon Minto Churchill (Minister of Veterans Affairs; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Churchill:

There is opportunity to question the minister on these matters during the passage of estimates, and there is always the method of a motion for the production of papers.

Topic:   ATLANTIC DEVELOPMENT BOARD
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR DEFINITION OF DUTIES, APPOINTMENT OF MEMBERS, ETC.
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?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh.

Topic:   ATLANTIC DEVELOPMENT BOARD
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR DEFINITION OF DUTIES, APPOINTMENT OF MEMBERS, ETC.
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PC

Gordon Minto Churchill (Minister of Veterans Affairs; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Churchill:

The hon. member for Bona-vista-Twillingate gave the house the information a year or so ago as to how to get that dealt with by way of debate, and it was on his instruction that we wrote into the rules a method to deal with debate on a motion for the production of papers. Therefore, Mr. Chairman, all these methods are available without actually writing into an act instructions to a board to publish something other than what is normally published, an annual report to be laid before parliament and the financial statement. That to my way of thinking is satisfactory, without this addition.

Topic:   ATLANTIC DEVELOPMENT BOARD
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR DEFINITION OF DUTIES, APPOINTMENT OF MEMBERS, ETC.
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LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

Mr. Chairman, the minister's argument is that discretion should be left to the board as to whether to make public its reports. I take it that is his argument. Further, he argues that it would be unwise to compel a board to make public its reports and surveys. I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me that this particular clause removes from the board any discretion in respect of making public its reports, because the clause reads:

The objects of the board are to inquire into and report to the minister-

The board is not authorized to report to anybody but the minister. If that is the case,

Atlantic Development Board Mr. Chairman, surely it has no discretion as to whether it can make public its reports, because it can only report to the minister and the only person who would have any discretion as to whether the reports should be made public would be the minister.

Amendment (Mr. Maclnnis) negatived: Yeas, 6; nays, 108.

Topic:   ATLANTIC DEVELOPMENT BOARD
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR DEFINITION OF DUTIES, APPOINTMENT OF MEMBERS, ETC.
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PC

Gordon Campbell Chown (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

The Chairman:

I declare the amendment lost. Shall clause 9 carry?

Topic:   ATLANTIC DEVELOPMENT BOARD
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR DEFINITION OF DUTIES, APPOINTMENT OF MEMBERS, ETC.
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PC

Thomas Miller Bell (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Bell (Saint John-Albert):

Mr. Chairman-

Topic:   ATLANTIC DEVELOPMENT BOARD
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR DEFINITION OF DUTIES, APPOINTMENT OF MEMBERS, ETC.
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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin

Liberal

Mr. Marlin (Essex East):

Mr. Chairman-

Topic:   ATLANTIC DEVELOPMENT BOARD
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR DEFINITION OF DUTIES, APPOINTMENT OF MEMBERS, ETC.
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December 11, 1962