Mr. Chairman, it seems to me that my hon. friend intends to put on the record all the evidence which was wholly or partly given before the divorce committee of the other place.
May I point out to my hon. colleagues that in these precincts some of the page boys are barely 13 years old. When I look at the record of our discussions last week, more particularly on page 3087, I wonder if these youngsters could not do better than to hear us speak of adultery, cohabitation or concubinage.
Perhaps it would be a good idea to ask the youngest among them to leave the room, or to replace them by older pages. I am convinced that should the parents hear our debates, we might meet with some difficulties in our future recruiting of page boys.
It seems to me that my suggestion is in order. Let my hon. friends put into the record whatever evidence they please, but not in the presence of the youngest boys.
Mr. Chairman, on the same point of order, I must say that we have been sitting for some time and every Tuesday night, between five and six, we hear exactly the same remarks. For this reason, I am supporting my friend, the hon. member for Rimouski (Mr. Legare), in what he just said.
The questions were asked. The hearings took place. The evidence was heard in the divorce committee of the Senate. Those bills are now sent back to this house where they are re-sifted and warmed up, one after the other. And what do we get out of it? As a matter of fact most of the bills I looked into concerned cases of adultery-
Order. I understood that the hon. member rose to support the remarks made in the same spirit by the hon. member for Rimouski. If he wants to drift away from them, I shall not be able to allow further comments from the hon. member as I have already recognized the hon. member for Timiskaming (Mr. Peters).
I would therefore ask the hon. member to limit his remarks to what the hon. member for Rimouski said.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Anyway, I apologize for perhaps having gone beyond the point made by the hon. member for Rimouski.
To sum it up, as far as the young page boys are concerned, regarding debates on divorce, where there is question of adultery, of someone having slept here or there, I think it is more interesting for us than for the page boys.
Really, in supporting my hon. friend from Rimouski, I wonder if some way might be found to prevent a constant repetition of those words in this house, which would save the Canadian people much time and money for, after all, there may be some divorce bills which could be granted without the lengthy discussion of warmed over evidence which there is no need for us to hear, as it has been previously submitted to the proper authorities.
Mr. Chairman, I shall be very brief. As one of the members of the house with lingering Victorian tendencies, I was very pleased to hear the hon. member opposite support the suggestion which had been made previously in this debate by my colleague the hon. member for Timiskaming, that the younger members of the page staff should be asked to leave during this discussion. It is most unfortunate in a sense that these discussions have to take place and this evidence has to be read, and so on, but my colleagues are doing this with the intention of improving the procedures with respect to divorce in Canada. I do urge, Mr. Chairman, that you give consideration to the suggestion made by the hon. member with respect to the page boys.
Mr. Chairman, the hon. member for Drummond-Arthabaska in his remarks a moment ago mentioned that we were taking up the time of the house discussing these matters, and he asked us where it was going to end and what we were hoping to achieve. I take that to be in the nature of a question directed to us and I should like to answer it. Since the commencement of the session we have always spoken very reluctantly on these matters and would be very happy to have the entire proceedings removed from this chamber so that we would not have to deal with them. But we have taken the position that if we are going to be made to deal with divorces, then we intend to do a thorough job. We are most reluctant to participate in these matters. We wish they were not here. We would be glad to have them transferred to a competent jurisdiction when the government sees fit so to do.
Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member but I think he is trying to create a debate between himself and the hon. member for Drummond-Arthabaska. Also, in his remarks I think he is ranging very far from the principle of the bill the committee is now studying.
May I ask the hon. member who has just resumed his seat a question? Can he inform the committee whether any progress has been made by the representatives of the four parties who are attempting to reach some satisfactory decision about this matter?
I do not want to become involved in that interlude at this stage, though if the rules would permit it I would certainly like to. All I can do is suggest that the hon. member who raised the question should ask the hon. member for Laurier who it was who scuttled the negotiations which took place.
One of the witnesses who appeared before the committee in the other place to give evidence was a grocer. 1 say that by way of repetition only to bring all his evidence into one place so that we may be able to follow more clearly what is going on. As I said at the outset of the remarks I made when I first spoke this session with respect to these divorce
bills-and this will be of particular interest, I think, to the hon. member for Drummond-Arthabaska and others-I do not like taking part in these particular debates on these particular bills. I do not want to. I would just as soon not have to do so. I would just as soon we did not have continually, twice a week, to deal with these questions here and recite at length excerpts from the evidence given before the other place. However, as long as we have to deal with this bill which is before us, and others, we feel it is our responsibility to do so in as much detail as is necessary to get across the point of view we hold. I wish other hon. members would participate to the same extent. Perhaps in that way we could bring pressure to bear on the authorities responsible for dealing with these matters. (Translation):
I am prevented by your ruling, Mr. Chairman, from replying to that interesting question. I had a worth while, interesting argument to make, one which represents my views about the members of the other place and whether they study anything with assiduity or not. In any event, Mr. Zchilter, a grocer, gives evidence by recognizing and identifying a picture of the respondent. He gives his name. Then follows a series of questions and answers:
Q. Who is this man? A. Ignaz.
Q. Ignaz who? A. Ignaz Bagry.
Q. Where does he live? A. Next door to us, upstairs, I don't know the house number.
Q. How long has he been living there, to your knowledge?
A. Oh, six, seven years.
Q. Do you know his trade or occupation. A. A tailor.
Q. Do you know whether he is married or not?
A. Well, at that time he was supposed to be married.
Q. Do you know the person? Do you see her in this room?
A. This woman here.
Those questions were asked by Mr. Masse. Now the chairman asks a few questions.
Q. You are pointing to the corespondent. It is not the petitioner. A. I never seen her (indicating the petitioner).
Q. You never saw the petitioner before? A. No.
So here we find the grocer, who has lived next door to this couple, indicating that they have been together as man and wife for six or seven years. He had some inkling that they were not married as may be gathered from
his answer to the question when he said "supposed to be married". Mr. Masse asks:
Q. Have you seen Mr. Bagry and the woman that you thought was his wife many times during, those seven years? A. All the time.
Witness again indicates that here is a so-called common law marital ielationship which has existed for a period of seven years. Perhaps that would be sufficient to meet the test of the other place, which is adultery, because adultery as far as this case and others are concerned is solely an occasion of sexual intercourse having taken place. Proof of the act itself is seldom given. What is required is just a set of circumstances which would lead a reasonable person to assume that such an act had taken place. Presumably the senators had come to the conclusion in their own minds after a couple had lived together for seven years representing themselves as man and wife the test of adultery had been met. However, they went further.
Before I pursue the matter, because now the evidence goes into the question of children being involved, I wonder if I might have your indulgence to count the house, Mr. Chairman, in order to decide whether there is a quorum to allow us to proceed.
That is two above par, 20 being the quorum. Of course, while reading the evidence here I cannot count at the same time. Perhaps one of these days people will be so disinterested that there will be less than that number present.
The next exchange which is of interest to the committee is as follows:
By Mr. Masse:
Q. Are there any children living that house? A. One girl.
Q. How old is she? A. Five or six; I don't know.
One would have assumed that this would be reason for eliciting additional evidence to show that this child was the child of the respondent and the corespondent, because they had lived together as man and wife for seven years. We shall go on to see whether this particular point is covered, and used as additional proof that adultery had taken place during the seven year period. But the chairman interposes to ask this:
Q. Are you going to prove June 13 through this witness?
To which Mr. Masse replies:
No, I have another witness.
This seems to indicate that the chairman is concerned overmuch about whether adultery
took place on the night of June 13. Otherwise he would not have interrupted at a point where evidence was being given about a child five or six years of age living in the same house and whether or not this child had been born to the respondent and the corespondent who, according to the evidence, were living together as man and wife. The chairman goes on to ask whether the witness knows that Mr. Bagry had lived in the city of Montreal for the last six or seven years and gets the answer: "Oh, yes, naturally". I wonder if the chairman was there when the earlier evidence was given or, if he was there, whether he was paying much attention to it. He goes on to ask: "And he is still there now?" Witness replies, yes. Then one of the senators asked:
Did you ever visit him in his rooms?
Q. You never went up there?
By the Chairman:
Q. I suppose he buys groceries from you?
A. Yes, but they take it themselves up. I may have been up once a long time ago at the beginning.
In so far as any knowledge on the part of this grocer is concerned with regard to adultery having taken place, he has not the foggiest idea. All he knows is that there is a couple living next door "upstairs some place" who take groceries upstairs. He has no knowledge of beds and the other accoutrements which go along with married life. He may have had some knowledge about the child, whether or not he thought her to be the child of this couple, but he gives no evidence about that. As far as the grocer is concerned we can completely discount his evidence as to adultery, unless we take it that he knew them together in the area for some seven years as one selling groceries to them. He said that they perhaps represented themselves as man and wife.
I suggest that this is what the committee in the other place did, and this is what was particularly in the mind of the chairman and the other members of the committee: they had convinced themselves early enough in the proceedings before that committee that there was a so-called common law relationship, and that was good enough for them. They were merely trying to get some little bit of information to prove adultery. That is why they persisted in inquiring about the night of June 13. We now find two witnesses have appeared, neither one of whom knows anything about the night of June 13 and the allegation that adultery was committed there. In each case when he was asked the lawyer representing the petitioner said: "No,
I am not going to prove this by either of these two witnesses; I have another witness coming".