February 4, 1963

LIB
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:

I want to make one point very clear and I hope the public of Canada will realize it and correct some of the erroneous editorials that appear.

Topic:   ALLEGED LACK OF LEADERSHIP, CONFUSION AND INDECISION
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?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh.

Topic:   ALLEGED LACK OF LEADERSHIP, CONFUSION AND INDECISION
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?

An hon. Member:

Like today's?

Topic:   ALLEGED LACK OF LEADERSHIP, CONFUSION AND INDECISION
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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 government does not control the length of a session of the House of Commons; it is controlled by the opposition. In the session of 1960-61 the opposition spent 60 days in discussing the main estimates.

Topic:   ALLEGED LACK OF LEADERSHIP, CONFUSION AND INDECISION
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?

Some hon. Members:

Shame.

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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:

In the session of 1953-54 when we were the official opposition, 30 days sufficed for a discussion of the estimates. That

Alleged Lack of Government Leadership is the difference between a responsible opposition and an irresponsible opposition.

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LIB

Hédard-J. Robichaud

Liberal

Mr. Robichaud:

In those days there were more responsible estimates.

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LIB

Leon David Crestohl

Liberal

Mr. Crestohl:

You will become a responsible opposition.

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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 responsibility of the House of Commons may be divided into three main sections. The first is the business that is set by the rules. I refer to the fixed debates, including the debate on the speech from the throne, the budget debate, the debate on supply motions and things of that nature set by the rules. We have no control at all over that business. If ten days are allowed by the rules for the speech from the throne, the opposition will use the ten days, unless it is very responsible and cuts the time short. The same thing is true with respect to the budget debate.

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LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

We did that.

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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 second main division is legislation. We bring forward the bills. They are discussed in the house. The third main division is the passing of the estimates or the voting of supply to Her Majesty. These are the three main divisions. Time is allotted among those three divisions. I suggest that there is no control whatsoever in the hands of the government with regard to the time spent on that business of the House of Commons unless, as was done by the Liberal government in 1956, freedom of speech was denied to the House of Commons by the imposition of closure. No one of the three parties in opposition is free from the need for some selfexamination with regard to obstructing the business of this house. I would suggest to the New Democratic party that they should look a second time at the 500 divorce bills which are sitting on the order paper. Because of obstruction not one single divorce measure was passed in the year 1962. That is not the government's fault. We bring the business before the house; the opposition determines-whether or not it shall be passed.

I suggest that the business of the house has been properly organized. Let me say to-the leader of the Social Credit party that when a bill is introduced into the house in the resolution stage, the resolution is passed, first reading is given and the bill is then distributed. You cannot immediately go ahead to a second reading unless there is unanimous-consent. Then you have second reading stage, followed by consideration in committee of the whole house, and you cannot immediately have third reading of the bill unless the house gives unanimous consent. Consequently you cannot start with a bill and keep going with it until you end it, because of these changes

3424 HOUSE OF

Alleged Lack of Government Leadership that must take place and the postponement of the measure from one day to another. This is done for a definite and good reason, namely so that everybody has an opportunity to study the legislation and so that it will not be rushed through the house with a lack of careful attention. Hence when the question is asked, "Why don't you start with a bill and keep going with it until it is finished?", my answer is that it just cannot be done. The situation is the same with regard to other matters. You Cannot have estimates on Monday and Tuesday without a motion to go into supply, unless there is unanimous consent to dispense with it. The rules set these things out. They impose a certain restriction on freedom of action in arranging the order of business. That is why the procedure is sometimes a little bit confusing to people who are new to this institution.

I suggest that the leader of the Social Credit party, in introducing his amendment, has failed to recognize the things that have been done in arranging the order of business of this house. When he suggests there has not been a positive program of follow-up action respecting many things passed in this parliament and earlier parliaments, I suggest that he is overlooking the five and a half year record of the best and most comprehensive legislation ever passed by any government in the history of the country. He is brushing to one side the whole agricultural program that has been put on the statute books and made effective over the years, cash advances for farm stored grain and the stabilization of prices of farm products. He is overlooking the Export Credits Insurance Act under which the amount of money available has been doubled and redoubled in size over the years, all done by legislation to stimulate our export trade. He is overlooking the program of winter works which has done more to afford employment in the wintertime than any program ever devised by any government.

He talks about not following up legislation. What about the vocational training program? Technical schools are being built right across the country to provide training facilities for our young people. He talks about not following up our program. What about the National Housing Act, the tremendous amendments made to that act and the enormous number of houses built year after year in this country? The list of valuable legislation placed on the statute books in the last five and a half years would take me a whole hour to recite and it would be so easy to point out how effective has been the positive action followed as a result of these statutes.

Give us a chance with the legislation this year. The Atlantic development board bill was passed just before Christmas after some

debate. The board has been set up. We are waiting to get the national economic development board in operation, but the house has seen fit to spend four days on that bill within the last two weeks. The national economic development board is one of the long range projects for the future. We are prepared to move ahead with it if we are given the opportunity.

So it goes down the line. The legislation that set up the national energy board is another example, and together with the declaration of a national oil policy has brought millions of dollars into this country. The shipping subsidy has stimulated shipyards throughout the country. All of these things are based on legislation. When the leader of the Social Credit party says "why do you not follow up your legislation with positive action" he has forgotten completely the change in the status of living of our old age pensioners, the change for the better with regard to our disability pensioners and those receiving war veterans allowances and the change for the better in our hospitals across the country.

All of these things are founded upon legislation passed by parliament. If parliament will get down to business and pass the legislation we have ready for it there will be further positive action. Last year the War Veterans Allowance Act was amended. There are 50,000 war veterans on farms across this country who are helped by this legislation. The Farm Credit Corporation was set up by legislation just a year or two ago and thousands of farmers are benefiting from it.

I suggest to the hon. member, who takes a very keen interest in the work of parliament, that he examine the legislation that was passed in those other years and the legislation before us now and he will find that positive action has resulted. This government has not been inactive. This government has been active. This government under great leadership has done more for Canada in five and a half years than any preceding government.

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LIB

Paul Theodore Hellyer

Liberal

Hon. Paul Hellyer (Trinity):

Mr. Speaker, for the last 40 minutes the leader of the house has been giving the house the business.

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An hon. Member:

Let us get it done.

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LIB

Paul Theodore Hellyer

Liberal

Mr. Hellyer:

If he was as good at giving us the business in advance as he is in giving it in arrears we could have our whole year's work done by now and be on our way home. I should like to make two points very clear. First of all, Mr. Speaker, it is the government, not the opposition, which has the responsibility of introducing the work of this House of Commons.

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PC

Michael Starr (Minister of Labour)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Slarr:

It is all introduced.

Alleged Lack of Government Leadership

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LIB

Paul Theodore Hellyer

Liberal

Mr. Hellyer:

It is the government that decides what business has priority.

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PC

George Harris Hees (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hees:

There is the book; look at it.

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An hon. Member:

Divorce bills.

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LIB

Paul Theodore Hellyer

Liberal

Mr. Hellyer:

The second point I should like to make clear is that the government can introduce a budget in the house any time it wants to do so and I hope it will do so before dissolution. It is not necessary to have completed the estimates for the previous year, as the Prime Minister (Mr. Diefenbaker) has tried to mislead the people of the country into believing.

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February 4, 1963