November 9, 1964

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

STATEMENT ON LEGISLATION TO BE CONSIDERED

?

Maurice Bourget (Speaker of the Senate)

Mr. Speaker:

The right hon. leader-

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Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh.

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LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Right Hon. L. B. Pearson (Prime Minister):

The right hon. leader of the government wishes to make a short announcement.

In accord with the understanding reached at the party leaders' meeting this morning I wish to announce merely that after three separate discussions and in spite of our best efforts, we were unable to agree on a program or timetable of work for the rest of the session.

Speaking on behalf of the government I should inform the house, as I promised to do, that the government considers the following matters should be dealt with before Christmas, and I give them not necessarily in order of time priority. First, estimates; redistribution bill; report of the flag committee; the labour standards bill and the pensions bill.

The order of business proposed for this week has already, I think, been given to the house. Today, as the house knows, we will be dealing with the pensions resolution, and tomorrow and the rest of the week-on Wednesday the house will not be sitting- redistribution and estimates. It should be possible, I believe, to deal with the matters I have mentioned in a month or so. If we do better than that and there is additional time before Christmas, there are other measures on the order paper which could be brought forward. I also have to make the customary and necessary reservation that any program of work is always subject to change due to any emergency developing.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Right Hon. J. G. Diefenbalcer (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, there are one or two references I intend to make in reply to what the right hon. leader of the government has said represents the situation. We were together on three occasions, and I think it only proper that I should say at once that

in so far as the objective is concerned as set forth by him, regarding what might be done before Christmas, I think each and every one of the matters referred to is necessary, and there is no reason why redistribution, the pension bill and those matters to which he referred other than the flag should not receive immediate attention.

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Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

In so far as the flag question is concerned, I did not intend to go into that matter until I got the helping hand or the helping voice of some hon. gentlemen opposite. Certainly our attitude throughout was one of opposition to the three maple leaves.

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LIB

John Ross Matheson

Liberal

Mr. Matheson:

The royal badge.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

We took our stand. Those sitting opposite said we were wrong; then when the committee met the Liberal members all agreed that we were right.

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Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

We were unable to agree with the suggestion that we should apply to ourselves a self imposed closure, but my own feeling is this. In so far as the flag debate is concerned, this represents the views of my caucus, the caucus of the Conservative party.

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Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

I think quite a number wish to express themselves on this matter. That does not mean they will be repeating themselves more than once, but they have their views to express and they do not intend to have imposed on them anything in the nature of a closure, other than, of course, if the government chooses in its wisdom to bring about that measure; and we will come to that matter if it arises.

We do feel, however, that in order to expedite the business of the house Canadians as a whole would expect us in this house to vote on the question of whether there should be a plebiscite. A resolution was before the house; it was amended, and two subamendments were moved. One of the subamendments was dealt with on September 1. In so far as the subamendment that still stands is con-

9878 HOUSE OF

Business of the House

cerned, and the amendment, we would like these voted on. As far as the Conservative party is concerned, Her Majesty's loyal opposition-

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LIB

John Ross Matheson

Liberal

Mr. Matheson:

Not very loyal.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

-there would be no debate on that question at all. I do not know whether that interruption came from the putative father of confederation, but if it did all I can say is this; that it was he who said that the three maple leaves flag was in the tradition of the country and represented everything, and then he swallowed himself on it in committee.

In so far as our desire for a plebiscite is concerned, we do not want to debate the amendment or the subamendment, and to expedite matters I give the undertaking that if the government will give an opportunity for a vote on the amendment and subamendment we will vote on those amendments without any further discussion on our part. In so far as the resolution as it stands is concerned, we would then give our consent and approval to its immediate removal from the order paper. In other words, we want to give Canadians an opportunity of knowing what is the attitude of the House of Commons on the subject of the plebiscite, which according to a private television poll, a very large poll, has the support of 64 per cent of the Canadian people. I refer, of course, to Telepoll. We would then proceed with the recommendation of the committee and deal with it, not in a spirit of obstruction by any means-

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Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

It was not obstruction before, Mr. Speaker, because what we said turned out to be the view of all the Liberal members of the committee. I am sure that we, as all members of the house, will do our part to the end that these matters will be decided in time in a reasonable and fair manner, so that we may get on with the calling of the next session by the government.

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NDP

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

New Democratic Party

Mr. T. C. Douglas (Burnaby-Coquitlam):

Mr. Speaker, the members of this party regret that we have not been able to work out a satisfactory timetable for the business of the house for the balance of this session. However, I should like to stress two things which as far as this party is concerned are well known. We are desirous of accomplishing two things, and I place them in their order of importance.

First of all, we are desirous that a limited legislative program be completed before the end of this session. We would place as the essential items in that program the Canada pension plan, the labour standards act, the redistribution bill and the estimates. We think those matters ought to have top priority.

Second, we are interested in having the report of the flag committee disposed of. Indications are that there is very wide support in this house for that report, including support from members of all political parties in the house. I am told that at one time on a vote all 14 members of the committee voted in favour of a single maple leaf flag. However, it is not my intention to discuss the flag question at the moment but simply to say that we are quite anxious to see the flag question disposed of. But we are not prepared to pay as the price for disposing of the flag question the sidetracking of any of the legislative items which I have mentioned.

For that reason I do hope that the items which the Prime Minister read out are not necessarily to be taken in the order in which he read them. We would hope that redistribution, the labour code and the Canada pension plan can be disposed of before we deal with the report of the committee on the flag. I see no reason why we cannot dispose of all the items, including the flag question, but I do make a special appeal to the government not to allow the debate on the flag committee report to prevent us passing the other more vital and important items. I also hope that when the flag question comes up, even though we have not been able to agree on a limitation of time we will have the co-operation of the official opposition in disposing of it with the greatest possible dispatch.

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RA

Gilles Grégoire

Ralliement Créditiste

Mr. Gilles Gregoire (Lapointe):

Mr. Speaker, if every party in this house had shown good faith in determining the legislative program to be passed before the end of the session, we could have reached an understanding and settled the problems which face us at this moment.

After attending a meeting, I believe that it was especially good faith which was lacking on the part of the official opposition. Only a few items remain to be discussed before the end of the session. This year we have already beaten the record for the length of any session. We discussed the flag issue for more than 22 days, and it still seems to be the stumbling block. In my opinion, this is a

lesson for the Canadian people, because if the 265 members in this house cannot come to an agreement, how can we expect any agreement in Canada on the most important problems?

Mr. Speaker, I say that bad faith in some quarters prevented us from coming to an agreement and that will happen again in this house as well as throughout the country.

For instance, again today at noon following the very sensible statement made by the right hon. Prime Minister (Mr. Pearson), the leader of the official opposition (Mr. Diefen-baker) challenged the government with regard to the imposition of closure. Such a stand is an obvious proof of bad faith because the government has not talked about closure yet.

When the leader of the official opposition states that 30 members of his party want to talk on that matter, that means of course 15 hours of debate or roughly three sitting days.

I feel that things should be settled once and for all because the four other parties were ready to agree to the suggestion that the bills dealing with the pension plan and redistribution as well as the labour code be adopted first. If it had been possible to come to an agreement on the consideration of the estimates, we could have ended this session and passed all the items which have yet to be considered.

I believe that it would have been very easy to come to an agreement, and if we did not reach one I think that all those party leaders' meetings should stop as long as good faith is not the basis for discussion between the leaders of the political parties in this house.

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November 9, 1964