May 19, 1966

LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

Mr. Speaker, if I might say a word-

Topic:   NEWFOUNDLAND
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADDITIONAL FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE UNDER TERM 29
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LIB

Maurice Rinfret (Deputy Whip of the Liberal Party; Chief Government Whip's assistant; Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rinfret):

May I

remind hon. members that if the minister speaks now he will close the debate.

Topic:   NEWFOUNDLAND
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADDITIONAL FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE UNDER TERM 29
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LIB

Chesley William Carter

Liberal

Mr. C. W. Carter (Burin-Burgeo):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to say one word in reply to my hon. friends from Villeneuve and Lapointe. I should like to remind them that

May 19. 1966

Newfoundland Terms of Union there would not be any Quebec had it not been for the Newfoundland soldiers who came there and raised the siege of Quebec, thus saving Quebec to become a part of Canada.

Topic:   NEWFOUNDLAND
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADDITIONAL FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE UNDER TERM 29
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RA

Gilles Grégoire

Ralliement Créditiste

Mr. Gregoire:

Mr. Speaker, in this connection, I would say that Canada would have fallen into the hands of the United States, had it not been for French Canadians who, in 1812, under the orders of Commander De Salaberry, turned back the American army; in fact Canada itself would not exist, but would simply be another American state.

Topic:   NEWFOUNDLAND
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADDITIONAL FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE UNDER TERM 29
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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I think we all agree that Canada would not exist if we were not all here and the country was not all here, and I hope it is going to remain that way.

I must say that I find it hard to take very seriously the arguments of the hon. member for Villeneuve because he was here as a member of parliament in 1949 when Newfoundland became a part of Canada. There were three recorded votes that I have looked at in the Journals of the House of Commons for that period and I find that the hon. gentleman was not present to vote on any one of those three occasions.

Topic:   NEWFOUNDLAND
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADDITIONAL FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE UNDER TERM 29
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PC

Gordon Minto Churchill

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Churchill:

I would not have accused you on such flimsy grounds.

[DOT] (3:40 p.m.)

Topic:   NEWFOUNDLAND
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADDITIONAL FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE UNDER TERM 29
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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

I seem to be misleading the house now in my references to north and south. I certainly had no intention of misleading the house. I do not think this bill offends in any way the doctrine of parliament sovereignty. It is my view, and I believe it will be the view of the people of Newfoundland, that if this house decides by an overwhelming voice that this is a good bill this will be all the safeguard they will need from their fellow Canadians.

Topic:   NEWFOUNDLAND
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADDITIONAL FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE UNDER TERM 29
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PC

Robert Jardine McCleave

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McCleave:

Mr. Speaker, since I am apparently prevented from making the speech I intended to make because the minister spoke without any warning, I should like now to speak on a point of order and direct a question to the minister. I am sure his answer will satisfy my question. Is it the government's intention to undertake a periodic review of the amount of money set out in the legislation, perhaps every second year, because of inflationary and other factors, rather than having the amount continue on an indefinite basis?

Topic:   NEWFOUNDLAND
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADDITIONAL FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE UNDER TERM 29
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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

Perhaps I could answer that question when we are considering the bill in committee.

Topic:   NEWFOUNDLAND
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADDITIONAL FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE UNDER TERM 29
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RA

Gilles Grégoire

Ralliement Créditiste

Mr. Gregoire:

I rise on a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Minister of Transport (Mr. Pickersgill) knows the rules well enough to understand that he cannot make comments about a vote. That is what he is now doing, although he has been a member of this house for a long time. He should know the rules.

[English1

Topic:   NEWFOUNDLAND
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADDITIONAL FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE UNDER TERM 29
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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. gentleman is mistaken. One cannot comment on a vote taken at this session, but this was in the parliament of 1949. I am not commenting on it; I am merely recording the fact, and I do not intend to say anything further in respect of it. I would not have raised the matter at all had it not been for the fact that the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre (Mr. Churchill) suggested I may have misled the house. I wish to apologize if I-

Topic:   NEWFOUNDLAND
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADDITIONAL FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE UNDER TERM 29
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NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader; Whip of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles:

You had better apologize to the member for Winnipeg South Centre. It was the member for Winnipeg North Centre.

Topic:   NEWFOUNDLAND
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADDITIONAL FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE UNDER TERM 29
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RA

Gilles Grégoire

Ralliement Créditiste

Mr. Gregoire:

Could you call for the yeas and nays, Mr. Speaker?

Topic:   NEWFOUNDLAND
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADDITIONAL FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE UNDER TERM 29
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LIB

Maurice Rinfret (Deputy Whip of the Liberal Party; Chief Government Whip's assistant; Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Rinfrel):

All those in favour of the said motion please say yea. And all those opposed please say nay. In my opinion the yeas have it.

Topic:   NEWFOUNDLAND
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADDITIONAL FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE UNDER TERM 29
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?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh.

Topic:   NEWFOUNDLAND
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADDITIONAL FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE UNDER TERM 29
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LIB

Maurice Rinfret (Deputy Whip of the Liberal Party; Chief Government Whip's assistant; Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

Mr. Rinfret:

Call in the members.

Topic:   NEWFOUNDLAND
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADDITIONAL FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE UNDER TERM 29
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LIB

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

I declare the motion carried.

Bill read the second time and the house went into committee thereon, Mr. Rinfret in the chair.

On clause 2-Annual payment to Newfoundland by way of additional financial assistance.

[DOT] (4:10 p.m.)

Topic:   NEWFOUNDLAND
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADDITIONAL FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE UNDER TERM 29
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PC

John Angus MacLean

Progressive Conservative

Mr. MacLean (Queens):

Mr. Chairman, I believe the minister was going to answer a question that was asked by the hon. member for Halifax and I have a similar question with regard to the effect of clause 2. What effect does clause 2 have over and above any powers that were contained in clause 3 of the other act which is being repealed? I would specifically ask what significance, if any, has the inclusion of the words "on behalf of the government of Canada"? I noticed that this expression did not appear in the corresponding paragraph.

Second, I suppose the purpose of passing this bill is to include these words:

-until otherwise provided by any agreement in that behalf hereafter entered into between the government of Canada and the government of Newfoundland-

That is the only addition I see; otherwise the bill is redundant, at least in my judgment.

I also want the assurance of the minister that the existence of this bill with its provision of the amount of $8 million will not in any way prejudice the position of Newfoundland with regard to negotiations or federal-provincial conferences dealing with grants of a general nature, such as equalization grants to equalize the level of services in the various provinces of Canada, and that it will never be said on behalf of the government of Canada that in the case of Newfoundland equalization is already provided in this legislation.

May 19, 1966

Newfoundland Terms of Union

Regardless of whether or not under this bill negotiations may be entered into, any negotiations with the province of Newfoundland in connection with the equalization of grants must not be prejudiced by this legislation when the amount specified has depreciated in value so that it does not meet the purpose contemplated in term 29.

Topic:   NEWFOUNDLAND
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADDITIONAL FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE UNDER TERM 29
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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

Mr. Chairman, the hon. gentleman has put several questions. The hon. member for Halifax also put a question which is closely related, I think, to some of the matters raised by the hon. member for Queens.

The position taken by the federal government and the position, if I understand it correctly, of the government of Newfoundland is that the McNair award under term 29 should be assimilated to the constitutional subsidies provided to other provinces in the original act of confederation, as amended from time to time, and to the subsidies provided in the terms of union with the other provinces which subsequently came into confederation. The award should not be confused with tax-sharing or equalization.

It is true that the monetary award of $8 million was incorporated as part of the taxsharing legislation of the previous government, and from the monetary standpoint this bill will make no difference. What it does is to make provision of this kind permanent unless at some time the parliament of Canada decides to repeal this act. In other words, it puts the matter in a different position.

It is true, as the hon. member for Carleton suggested, that we might have proposed an address to the British parliament and asked them to incorporate this provision in the British North America Act. If the government of Newfoundland had felt very strongly about it, then perhaps that would have been a course which might have commended itself to the whole of parliament. That was done, of course, with the original terms of union and it was done with the terms of union of most of the other provinces.

However, the government of Newfoundland indicated that they would accept the good faith of the parliament of Canada. They agreed that, if it was done in this way, no parliament would ever change it unless there was agreement between the then government of Newfoundland and the government of Canada that it should be changed. I think it is fair to say that they have taken the view which the present federal government takes

and which the leader of the government took when he was on the other side of the house and has taken consistently, namely, that this should be done as part of the terms of union and done on the same kind of basis as the other parts of the terms of union, as completion of the constitutional subsidy of Newfoundland.

In many ways, Mr. Chairman, this course is very comparable to something with which the hon. member for Victoria-Carleton is very familiar, namely, the awards of the White commission which were made in the thirties and which were not incorporated as an amendment to the British North America Act but were made a statute of this parliament. Those sums have been paid to the three maritime provinces annually ever since.

I am sure that any proposition that these subsidies be taken away unilaterally by this parliament would be defeated by this parliament. I am sure the hon. member for Victoria-Carleton would agree with that view. Therefore it is felt by us, and after the vote we have just had I am more reassured, that this act will adequately complete confederation.

If the McNair commission had seen fit to recommend that this amount be revised from time to time according to some formula to take account of changing factors, then, since most Newfoundlanders would feel that it would probably be revised upwards or not at all, they would have been very happy. There was not too much satisfaction expressed in Newfoundland when the award was first made. But the McNair commission did not recommend that course; they recommended a fixed sum.

I think it is fair to say that the present course will be regarded in Newfoundland as just and, beyond that, that the people of Newfoundland and the government of Newfoundland will be prepared to accept the same principles as apply to other provinces in the fields of equalization and tax-sharing. No doubt they will fight this as hard as the governments of the other provinces fought, and no one knows better than the hon. member for Victoria-Carleton how hard they can fight. They expect to get treated just as well as any other Canadian with regard to taxsharing and equalization. But they do not want the two matters confused. This amount they regard as their constitutional right.

Tax-sharing is part of the arrangement which ever since 1947 we have habitually revised every five years and with regard to

May 19, 1966 COMMONS

which the Minister ol Finance and the provincial governments are even now in the process of negotiating revision. I do not think there is any danger, once the bill has passed and become part of the law of Canada, of the two matters being confused at all.

Topic:   NEWFOUNDLAND
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADDITIONAL FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE UNDER TERM 29
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Clause agreed to. Clause 3 agreed to. Clause 1 agreed to. Title agreed to. Bill reported, read the third time and passed.


May 19, 1966