February 25, 1966

LIB

Guy Favreau (President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. Favreau:

Mr. Speaker, I hope the hon. member will not mind if I speak in my own language; it is always easier to express oneself.

Mr. Speaker, I discussed the matter with the director of investigation and research, who is now looking into the matter to determine whether or not an investigation is necessary in the circumstances.

Topic:   INVESTIGATION UNDER COMBINES ACT INTO PRICE INCREASE
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METHOD OF ANNOUNCING FINAL PAYMENTS BY WHEAT BOARD


On the orders of the day:


SC

Horace Andrew (Bud) Olson

Social Credit

Mr. H. A. Olson (Medicine Hat):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to direct a question to the Minister of Finance. My question involves the rights and privileges of the members of this house. I should like to ask the minister why he chose this method of informing the Canadian people with respect to payments made by the wheat board-

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LIB

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Order, please. I suggest to the hon. member that this is not the type of question that can be asked of the Minister of Finance. It seems to me that questions have to be asked of a minister, in this particular instance the Minister of Finance, in his capacity as minister. The question the hon. member is asking does not relate to the minister's functions in that particular capacity.

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SC

Horace Andrew (Bud) Olson

Social Credit

Mr. Olson:

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker; the Prime Minister has stated in this house a number of times that the Minister of Finance is responsible to parliament for the Canadian Wheat Board, and members ought to have the right to ask this type of question involving that responsibility.

February 25, 1968 COMMONS

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LIB

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Order, please. Certainly the hon. member has that right, but he is asking a question about the method of tabling documents, and that is not a question which can be accepted at this time.

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PC

Francis Alvin George Hamilton

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Alvin Hamilton (Qu'Appelle):

I rise on the same point of order, Mr. Speaker. Some weeks ago in this house I asked a question of the Prime Minister on the same subject, pointing out that the Minister of Finance had on three occasions up to that time ignored the traditional rights of this house. I asked the Prime Minister whether this was the policy of the government. The words of the Prime Minister were that he would leave this question to you as Speaker.

I suggest that now is the time for Your Honour to take this matter under advisement and give us a ruling on this question, which affects the fundamental right of members of this house to hear reports concerning an agency of the government in the only way we can receive these reports, through the minister. We are not being afforded that right. I would ask on this point of order that the Prime Minister's statement that this question be left in Your Honour's hands be considered, and that Your Honour give us a ruling on this type of procedure.

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PC

Eldon Mattison Woolliams

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Eldon M. Woolliams (Bow River):

Further on the point of order, Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Assiniboia (Mr. Watson) yesterday asked whether the minister would be setting out the rates applicable to grain in the second payment of the wheat board. The wheat board is under the jurisdiction of the Minister of Finance for the first time. Surely the Minister of Finance, who has jurisdiction over the wheat board, should answer the question asked by the hon. member for Assiniboia.

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LIB

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Order. May I suggest to the hon. member that the Minister of Finance has not been asked a question. A point of order or a question of privilege or a grievance has been raised by the hon. member for Medicine Hat, but he did not ask a question.

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PC

Eldon Mattison Woolliams

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Woolliams:

Then may I put a question to the minister, Mr. Speaker. Would the minister disclose to the house what is the price of grain in the second payment by the wheat board, as appears in the material which the minister tried to file this morning?

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LIB

Mitchell William Sharp (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. Sharp:

Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to do so. I thought it would have helped the house if it had accepted my tabling the documents.

DEBATES 1781

Inquiries of the Ministry

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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

There would have been no argument; that is what you wanted.

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LIB

Mitchell William Sharp (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. Sharp:

The list of prices is several pages long. The statement made by the wheat board today is a public document. The wheat board is competent to issue its own statements in connection with its own operations.

I thought it would help the house if we abandoned this procedure of my getting up and announcing what the wheat board has said.

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NDP

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

New Democratic Party

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

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, is the minister now saying that he is not going to answer the question put by the hon. member for Bow River? Instead of making an announcement is he going to leave the members of the house to wait until the newspapers come out in order to see what announcement has been made by the wheat board? Surely this is a completely improper procedure for a minister to adopt. It seems to me that the rules of the house are perfectly clear in this respect.

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LIB

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Order, please.

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NDP

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

New Democratic Party

Mr. Douglas:

Such a statement should be made in the house.

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PC

Lawrence E. Watson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Lawrence Watson (Assiniboia):

On a

point of privilege, Mr. Speaker, yesterday I asked the minister when he would be disclosing the final payments, and as reported at page 1708 of Hansard he said:

Mr. Speaker, the order in council is being approved today and the announcement will be made tomorrow.

So far as procedure is concerned, I have in my hand the announcement that the Minister of Trade and Commerce made a year ago. It is a three page document which was disclosed to the house on motions. I can see no reason for denying the house the privilege of learning right now what is the final wheat payment. One sentence in the statement made last year is as follows, as reported at page 11870 of Hansard for March 2, 1965:

Never before has so much wheat been handled and moved and sold so quickly and at such high prices.

I suspect that today the farmers have been denied these high prices, and that the minister is afraid to disclose this information.

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LIB

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Order, please. The hon. member for Medicine Hat.

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SC

Horace Andrew (Bud) Olson

Social Credit

Mr. Olson:

Mr. Speaker, may I rephrase my question then and ask the Minister of Finance what are the prices, and whether they are comparable with last year's.

February 25, 1966

Inquiries of the Ministry

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February 25, 1966