May 18, 1965

SUPPLEMENTARY ESTIMATES, 1965-66


A message from the Deputy Governor General transmitting supplementary estimates for the financial year ending March 31, 1966, was presented by Hon. G. J. Mcllraith (President of the Privy Council), read by Mr. Speaker to the House and referred to the Committee of Supply. s (2:40 p.m.)


PRIVILEGE

ME. MACINNIS-SAFETY CONDITIONS AT HALIFAX AIRPORT

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Malcolm MacInnis

Mr. Donald Maclnnis (Cape Breton South):

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege. My question of privilege arises from questions asked in this House on Wednesday, May 12, and answered by the Minister of Transport (Mr. Pickersgill), concerning air traffic safety conditions at the Halifax International Airport, a statement over the week end in reference to this matter by Mr. R. W. Goodwin, Director of Civil Aviation for Canada, and a statement by Mr. G. R. McGregor, President of Air Canada, on the same matter.

On Tuesday, May 11 the Halifax Mail Star made certain assertions about safety conditions at the Halifax International Airport. On Wednesday, May 12 the Minister of Transport was questioned by the hon. Member for Queens (Mr. MacLean) and by myself. In answer to these questions the Minister said in part:

I may say that to the best of my knowledge there is no hazard; that is according to the best information I have been able to secure from those in whom I have confidence. It will be understood, of course, that I have no technical competence myself in this field, but the trusted officers of the Department are of the opinion that there is no hazard of the kind described in the Halifax Mail Star of last night.

Later, in answer to the hon. Member for Queens, the Minister said in part:

I think I will not take the time of the House to deal with the matter, because the whole thing is set out very clearly in an excellent story in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, of this morning.

The Minister, of course, was giving to the House the information he obtained from his

"trusted officials". That information was to the effect that no hazard existed. It becomes clear, however, from statements published over the week end in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald. that the Minister misled the House. I invite the attention of the House to an article in Saturday's Halifax Chronicle-Herald, two paragraphs of which read as follows:

Canada's civil aviation director, R. W. Goodwin, has ordered his department to initiate a crash program to train air traffic controllers in use of the new precision radar at Halifax International Airport. He has also ordered quick action to eliminate any existing snags in the idle $500,000 radar installation.

Mr. Goodwin, in a telephone call from Ottawa yesterday, confirmed that the first reports pub-blished in the Mail Star were correct on "many points" in their disclosures of conditions at Halifax airport.

Mr. Goodwin's statement shows that the Minister misinformed the House when he assured the House last Wednesday that no hazard exists of the kind originally described in the Mail Star. The same article in Saturday's Chronicle-Herald states as follows:

Meanwhile, in St. John's, Newfoundland, according to a report from the Canadian Press, Air Canada President G. R. McGregor said that the reports of a near collision in the air and of the two blind spots in radar coverage were "pure fabrication".

Mr. McGregor, who did not know that Mr. Goodwin had confirmed the reports, said that the near collision story "probably originated with a disgruntled Department of Transport employee".

My question of privilege is this, that the Minister of Transport on May 12 was misled by his own officials and gave inaccurate information to the House, on the assurances he had received from "trusted officials", on a serious matter involving the safety of human lives. The Minister of Transport should assure the House that some action is being taken in respect of those officials who victimized him and the House in this way, and the President of Air Canada should be dismissed for attempting to mislead the public by a public statement which the Director of Civil Aviation has shown to be false.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   ME. MACINNIS-SAFETY CONDITIONS AT HALIFAX AIRPORT
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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Hon. J. W. Pickersgill (Minister of Transport):

Mr. Speaker, since the hon. gentleman has been allowed to engage in what is clearly a debate on an alleged question of privilege, I assume that I might be permitted to reply. In reply I would say-

13SS

May 18, 1965

Question of Privilege

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   ME. MACINNIS-SAFETY CONDITIONS AT HALIFAX AIRPORT
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Malcolm MacInnis

Mr. Maclnnis:

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   ME. MACINNIS-SAFETY CONDITIONS AT HALIFAX AIRPORT
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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

I did not interrupt the hon. gentleman, so surely-

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   ME. MACINNIS-SAFETY CONDITIONS AT HALIFAX AIRPORT
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Malcolm MacInnis

Mr. Maclnnis:

Mr. Speaker, a point of order.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   ME. MACINNIS-SAFETY CONDITIONS AT HALIFAX AIRPORT
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Maurice Bourget (Speaker of the Senate)

Mr. Speaker:

Order, please. I really think I have heard enough to decide that in my opinion this is not per se a question of privilege, but is more in the nature of a complaint, or the argument that somebody made a statement with which the hon. Member does not agree, and that somebody else replied.

Under the rules of the House statements made by Members have to be accepted by other Members. If they are found to be not acceptable, then the hon. Member concerned can make a motion. But I do not see any particular question of privilege here, although I do think that perhaps the hon. Member for Cape Breton South (Mr. Maclnnis) was right in bringing to the attention of the House a matter concerning the safety and security of people who use airplanes. However, as I say, I do not see any real question of privilege, and in the circumstances I do not think we should indulge in a long argument.

I realize the position of the Minister. If he made statements I am sure he made them after due consultation with his officials. I am also sure-at least I would hope-that those officials made them in good faith as well. Therefore in the circumstances I do not think anything is to be gained by pursuing the matter, unless the Minister wishes to make a statement on motions, for example.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   ME. MACINNIS-SAFETY CONDITIONS AT HALIFAX AIRPORT
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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

Mr. Speaker, without disputing the merits of anything you said, which I accept at once, I think perhaps I have a question of privilege here because the hon. Member said I misled the House. I think I can read one paragraph and one paragraph only from a statement handed to me by Mr. Goodwin himself on Friday subsequent to the article quoted by the hon. gentleman, which incidentally, if I understood the quotation correctly, did not in any place confirm the Mail Star's report that there was any danger to safety. What Mr. Goodwin said was that the radar, which is a new kind of installation that is going to improve the performance at the Halifax airport and speed up the landings, was not yet in full operation, and that is perfectly correct. But in the final paragraph of his statement which he gave to

me he says this, and for the guidance of the House I have it in my hand:

I can assure you that there is no lack of safety provisions for air traffic at Halifax and that our equipment, personnel and procedures are in keeping with the highest Canadian and international standards.

In the light of that, and so far as the alleged collision is concerned, it seems to me that no one in the Department of Transport has any evidence whatever to suggest that there was any such possible or potential collision, and I am quite sure that anyone who knows Mr. McGregor's long record and the wonderful record of Air Canada for safety will be quite sure that Mr. McGregor would not have denied a story of this sort if he had had any evidence whatever that there was anything in it.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   ME. MACINNIS-SAFETY CONDITIONS AT HALIFAX AIRPORT
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Malcolm MacInnis

Mr. Maclnnis:

A supplementary question, Mr. Speaker.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   ME. MACINNIS-SAFETY CONDITIONS AT HALIFAX AIRPORT
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Maurice Bourget (Speaker of the Senate)

Mr. Speaker:

No. If the hon. Member has a real complaint to make he must make a motion in the proper way, but it does seem to me that this question has been aired sufficiently. It was important to air it on the ground of national safety and the security of those using aircraft, but I suggest we leave it there.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   ME. MACINNIS-SAFETY CONDITIONS AT HALIFAX AIRPORT
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NORTHERN AFFAIRS

PROVISION FOR ESTABLISHMENT OF ALASKA-YUKON HIGHWAY AUTHORITY

SC

Robert Norman Thompson

Social Credit

Mr. R. N. Thompson (Red Deer) moved

for leave to introduce Bill No. C-106, to provide for the establishment of the Alaska-Yukon Highway Authority (Alaska Highway).

Topic:   NORTHERN AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ESTABLISHMENT OF ALASKA-YUKON HIGHWAY AUTHORITY
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?

Some hon. Members:

Explain.

Topic:   NORTHERN AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ESTABLISHMENT OF ALASKA-YUKON HIGHWAY AUTHORITY
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SC

Robert Norman Thompson

Social Credit

Mr. Thompson:

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this Bill is to establish an authority charged with the responsibility of the construction, relocation and maintenance of the Alaska-Yukon Highway. For a number of years there has been much discussion in Canada and in the United States about the necessity of completing this wartime emergency road which connects the United States through Alberta, B.C. and the Yukon to Alaska. Not much progress has been made as a result of these discussions and planning; therefore, Mr. Speaker, this has been proposed as a modern approach and as a means of handling a very complex subject. It is one which has been used in recent years in several countries, and it provides an integrated approach between Governments facilitating direct liaison between

May 18, 1965 COMMONS DEBATES 1397

these various Governments. It also allows for local participation and decentralized financing which would be necessary on a shared basis. Perhaps most important, Mr. Speaker, in the event of United States financial participation this Bill would eliminate the need for formal treaties between the United States and Canada, even as it provides an integrated approach among federal, provincial and territorial Governments.

Motion agreed to and Bill read the first time.

Topic:   NORTHERN AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ESTABLISHMENT OF ALASKA-YUKON HIGHWAY AUTHORITY
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URANIUM

STATEMENT BY PRIME MINISTER RESPECTING SALE TO FRANCE

May 18, 1965