April 20, 1967

LIB

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

I must say I am not too clear on the other point raised by the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre, and if my impression is wrong perhaps he will correct me. I believe he suggested the motion is irregular inasmuch as there is no specific reference to those days on which the matter is to be considered-

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR TIME ALLOCATION RESPECTING DEFENCE ACT AMENDMENT
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PC

Gordon Minto Churchill

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Churchill:

No; with deference, Mr. Speaker, I think my second question was overlooked because of the diversionary tactics of the Minister of Public Works. What I should like a ruling on is this. I quite agree that proper notice has been given, and I am not arguing that point at all. The rule has been followed. What I am asking a ruling on is this. After notice has been given and has appeared in Votes and Proceedings, has it not been the custom of the house, a custom which should be observed, that the motion for presentation to the house should appear on the order paper so that everybody is informed rather than have this oral reference back to an item in Votes and Proceedings'!

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR TIME ALLOCATION RESPECTING DEFENCE ACT AMENDMENT
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LIB

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

I was under the impression I had covered this particular point. I believe it is more than a custom that is involved here; this notice is given by virtue of standing order 41. However, this provisional standing order was specifically exempted from the provisions of standing order 41.

[DOT] (2:50 p.m.)

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR TIME ALLOCATION RESPECTING DEFENCE ACT AMENDMENT
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LIB

George James McIlraith (Minister of Public Works; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Mcllraiih:

As I have indicated, the business committee has been entrusted by the house with trying to find a balance that would provide a timetable that would cover the two elements which must enter into the operations of the House of Commons if it is to perform the duty for which it is here. One of these elements is the opportunity for full and adequate discussion of proposals submitted by the government; the other is the taking of decisions upon proposals submitted by the government. The business committee having been unable to reach a unanimous agreement, it is now the responsibility of the government -as I have said, I think there is an obligation upon the government-to put before the house the amount of time the government thinks would be appropriate to provide adequately for the completion of the discussion of the measure, and to permit a decision to be taken on the measure consistent with the responsibilities of parliament.

Proposal for Time Allocation

I am not going to develop the argument further, because it must be apparent to hon. members on all sides that this measure has been very thoroughly discussed. Yesterday was the thirteenth day of debate on the committee of the whole stage of the bill; that is, the clause by clause discussion of the bill. Those 13 days of debate did not bring even clause 2 of the bill to a decision of the house, and it began to be readily apparent that the purpose of the official opposition was to inordinately delay this measure or to prevent a decision being taken.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR TIME ALLOCATION RESPECTING DEFENCE ACT AMENDMENT
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PC

Gordon Minto Churchill

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Churchill:

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The minister is imputing motives to the official opposition. He said it was evident that our purpose was simply to delay. Our purpose was to bring to the attention of this house, to the attention of the minister who has attended none of the debate during the last 13 days, and to the attention of the general public the weaknesses of this bill. Point after point was brought forward during the course of the debate, and new points entered into the argument during the last two days which have not been answered. The minister must withdraw his accusation.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR TIME ALLOCATION RESPECTING DEFENCE ACT AMENDMENT
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LIB

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

I hope the minister is not imputing motives. I think all members realize that nobody is trying to impute motives, and I am sure this is not what the minister is doing now.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR TIME ALLOCATION RESPECTING DEFENCE ACT AMENDMENT
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LIB

George James McIlraith (Minister of Public Works; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Mcllraiih:

If the sensitivities of the hon. member induce him to feel that I was imputing motives to him I would very happily withdraw the part of my remarks that caused him such offence.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR TIME ALLOCATION RESPECTING DEFENCE ACT AMENDMENT
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PC

Gordon Minto Churchill

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Churchill:

It was the general feeling over here, not only my feeling.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR TIME ALLOCATION RESPECTING DEFENCE ACT AMENDMENT
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LIB

George James McIlraith (Minister of Public Works; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Mcllraiih:

My remarks were not of such import as to cause him any offence. However, Mr. Speaker, the fact remains that the record of the discussion on this bill during the last 13 days is in cold print to be studied by all, not only by those who have been present to hear the debate. It is clear that a very long time indeed was being taken in the discussion of one clause of this bill. It seemed to the government in the exercise of its responsibility that such an inordinately long time was being taken to discuss this clause that it had a duty to give parliament the opportunity of deciding whether or not the House of Commons should take a decision on this bill. Under the British system-

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Proposal for Time Allocation

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR TIME ALLOCATION RESPECTING DEFENCE ACT AMENDMENT
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PC

Gordon Minto Churchill

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Churchill:

Would the minister answer a question at this point?

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR TIME ALLOCATION RESPECTING DEFENCE ACT AMENDMENT
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LIB

George James McIlraith (Minister of Public Works; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Mcllraiih:

Well, Mr. Speaker I should like to put at least part of my remarks before the house without interruption. At the conclusion of my remarks I will be happy to answer any questions the hon. member may have; indeed, sometimes I enjoy his questions. In any event the truth of the matter is that under the Canadian parliamentary system, based as it is on the British system, the government is given the responsibility of governing. That implies the right to have a decision taken by parliament, or in this instance by the House of Commons, on the proposals laid by it before the house. That right, of course, in controlled by the full right of discussion by the elected representatives of the people sent here to consider these proposals and to take decisions on them. Any other arrangement would be intolerable, for the separation of authority and responsibility is the first definition of tyranny. I respectfully suggest that an overextension of either right would lead to the development of anarchy. To find the correct balance between debate and decision must ever be the task of responsible conduct in the House of Commons.

We in this parliament have chosen the procedure under temporary standing order 15A, but we must, in choosing that responsibility, exercise it in a way that will be consistent with our concept of parliament and not permit an abuse to arise that is the first step toward tyranny.

Holding those views, believing that the stage has now come when this house must pass on the proposal for the allocation of time which we have submitted, I have made my motion providing for two further days of discussion in the committee of the whole house on the individual clauses of the bill and one day for the third reading stage of the bill. With those words, Mr. Speaker, I respectfully submit my motion for the consideration of this house and ask the house to pass on it in accordance with the views of individual members.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR TIME ALLOCATION RESPECTING DEFENCE ACT AMENDMENT
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PC

Gordon Minto Churchill

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Churchill:

May I now ask my question, Mr. Speaker. I would now ask the government house leader whether, in discussing the length of time spent on clause 2, he will disclose, first, there was the suggestion that clause 2 is the most important clause of the bill; second, on behalf of this party I proposed to him on Monday that we were prepared to pass all clauses of the bill except clauses 2

DEBATES April 20, 1967

and 6 which we asked to have deferred until the fall. Nevertheless, the rest of the bill would have been passed on Monday-

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR TIME ALLOCATION RESPECTING DEFENCE ACT AMENDMENT
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?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR TIME ALLOCATION RESPECTING DEFENCE ACT AMENDMENT
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PC

Gordon Minto Churchill

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Churchill:

-without further debate. In addition we were prepared to pass the bill on adult training, the report of the rules committee and interim supply by Friday of this week. That offer was rejected by the government.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR TIME ALLOCATION RESPECTING DEFENCE ACT AMENDMENT
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LIB

George James McIlraith (Minister of Public Works; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Mcllraith:

I shall be very happy to answer that rather lengthy question as fully as I can. In assessing the important clauses of the bill, undoubtedly clause 2 is very important, going to the root of the bill. Whether it is the most important of the 65 clauses I cannot say, but certainly it is a very important clause going to the very root of the bill.

I do not want to go into details of what was said by each person in the business committee because I have always taken the position that the confidentiality of house leaders' meetings or business committee meetings should not be broken, but I would be happy to confirm that a proposal was made by the hon. member, not that we pass the bill as he suggested in his question, but that we let clauses 2 and 6 stand and that we then call the other clauses of the bill and carry them in the committee of the whole stage, and that the whole bill then stand, with the result that there would be no legislative effect, no legislative result to what was done.

[DOT] (3:00 p.m.)

The whole bill would then stand over for four or five months-I think that was the term he used-or, anyway, until the fall of this year, without having been passed. In addition, if the proposal not to proceed further with the bill at this stage of the session was acceptable, they would agree to winding up the other business for this session of parliament, that is the manpower training bill, interim supply and the report of the rules committee. They would do this within three or four days, or in any event within a very short period of time.

That proposal was rejected after careful consideration-

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR TIME ALLOCATION RESPECTING DEFENCE ACT AMENDMENT
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?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR TIME ALLOCATION RESPECTING DEFENCE ACT AMENDMENT
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LIB

George James McIlraith (Minister of Public Works; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Mcllraith:

It did get careful consideration, and it was rejected for the following reasons. First, the bill would have been stopped completely. I should add that as part of the proposal the hon. member had agreed

April 20, 1987 COMMONS

on behalf of his party that in the new session, that is in the fall, the stages up to the committee stage of the bill would be dealt with without debate or vote.

These proposals were rejected for the following reasons. They would, in effect, amount to a complete stopping of the bill at this time. This would leave the Department of National Defence and the armed forces in a position of uncertainty.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR TIME ALLOCATION RESPECTING DEFENCE ACT AMENDMENT
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?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR TIME ALLOCATION RESPECTING DEFENCE ACT AMENDMENT
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LIB

George James McIlraith (Minister of Public Works; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Mcllrailh:

After careful consideration and examination it was felt this would lead to a material deterioration of morale in the department and armed forces.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR TIME ALLOCATION RESPECTING DEFENCE ACT AMENDMENT
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?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR TIME ALLOCATION RESPECTING DEFENCE ACT AMENDMENT
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April 20, 1967