Mr. Frank Howard (Skeena):
Mr. Speaker, I have a question of privilege involving the duties and responsibilities of the Minister of Justice (Mr. Chevrier) and what I think is a violation of the responsibilities which he has. Section 3 of the Canadian Bill of Rights reads as follows:
The Minister of Justice shall-[DOT]
So it is not discretionary; he must do this.
-in accordance with such regulations as may be prescribed by the governor in council, examine every proposed regulation submitted in draft form to the Clerk of the Privy Council pursuant to the Regulations Act and every bill introduced in or presented to the House of Commons, in order to ascertain whether any of the provisions thereof are inconsistent with the purposes and provisions of this part and he shall report any such inconsistency to the House of Commons at the first convenient opportunity.
Then there are regulations pursuant to that section which merely set out more intricate machinery as to how this should be done; it involves a certificate to be signed by the deputy minister, and so on, but I do not think that is germane to this point at the moment.
On June 7 of this year, more than six months ago, I introduced in this house Bill No. C-71. The bill was introduced and given first reading, and so far-and I checked this with the office of the Clerk of the House of Commons this morning at about twenty or twenty five minutes after nine o'clock-that bill has not been returned from the Department of Justice with any indication on it that it has been examined.
During the last session, in fact on February 1, I raised a similar question of privilege and founded upon it a motion, which is to be found at page 3329 of Hansard for February 1 last, that the standing committee on privileges and elections be authorized and instructed to inquire into and study the responsibilities attendant upon the Minister of Justice by virtue of section 3 of the Canadian Bill of Rights and whether those responsibilities were properly carried out with respect to Bill C-14, an act respecting Indians. No decision
was taken on that motion. The matter was taken under advisement and the house prorogued, or parliament was dissolved, before an opportunity was accorded the Speaker to rule on it.
There are some interesting comments with respect to that question of privilege reported at page 3330 of Hansard. For example, the hon. member for Laurier (Mr. Chevrier) said:
Mr. Speaker, this appears to us to be a matter of pretty serious import-
Then there is an interjection by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Pearson), who said:
A breach of the law; that is all.
Then the hon. member for Laurier continued:
-more particularly because of the fact that the bill has been held up from October 1 until now, and my suggestion to you, sir, is that this matter be taken under advisement.
Then there is the following comment by the then hon. member for Essex East (Mr. Martin):
Particularly because of the violation of the act by the Minister of Justice.
Precisely the same situation as this arose with respect to Bill No. C-71, and this is even worse because it is a longer period of time, more than six and a half months.
Subtopic: MR. HOWARD RESPONSIBILITY OF JUSTICE MINISTER UNDER BILL OF RIGHTS