October 25, 1967

QUESTION OF PRIVILEGE

MR. MONGRAIN-CRITICISM BY BANK PRESIDENT OF FEDERAL FINANCIAL POLICY

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Mr. J.-A. Mongrain@Trois-Rivieres

Mr. Speaker, in accordance with the standing order, I gave you notice this morning of my intention, at the opening of this sitting, to raise a question of privilege affecting parliament in general. So that my question of privilege may be well understood, I should like to quote two excerpts from the Globe and Mail of October 18 last as follows-

A strongly worded criticism of government monetary and fiscal policy by Neil J. McKinnon, chairman of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, was delivered yesterday to an international conference of the Financial Executive Institute.

Later, Mr. McKinnon is quoted verbatim and I quote:

It is not too much to say that government deficit spending, combined with a permissive monetary policy that allows continuous inflation really involve a massive swindle-a swindle perpetrated on the great majority of the populace who are least able to protect themselves against the consequences.

[DOT] (2:40 p.m.)

I have clippings from several newspapers. I shall simply quote one sentence from he Devoir of the same day to place on the record a French translation of this text which I deem objectionable and defamatory to parliament in general. It is translated as follows in Le Devoir:

-en fait, une gigantesque duperie, duperie com-mise contre la majeure partie de la population.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I say that if the government can be accused of such flagrant dishonesty, this intimates that the entire membership of the house is accessory to this dishonesy, that they have not protested at the

proper time. That is where I claim there is a breach of the privileges of all members who are entitled to their good reputation and to see that their integrity is not lightly attacked. If I may be allowed, Mr. Speaker, I shall attempt by a few brief remarks, to prove my point.

First-

Topic:   QUESTION OF PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. MONGRAIN-CRITICISM BY BANK PRESIDENT OF FEDERAL FINANCIAL POLICY
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LIB

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Order. I invite the hon. member to state as quickly as possible the question of privilege of which he gave me notice. I have had the opportunity to study it and I shall be in a position to make a ruling very quickly. I ask the hon. member to co-operate by stating his question of privilege as briefly as possible.

Topic:   QUESTION OF PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. MONGRAIN-CRITICISM BY BANK PRESIDENT OF FEDERAL FINANCIAL POLICY
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IND

Joseph-Alfred Mongrain

Independent

Mr. Mongrain:

Mr. Speaker, I shall try to exercise restraint and I promise you that it will not take me very long, but I feel that this is a matter which involves the honour of all hon. members. Therefore I think that it is worth taking two or three minutes to state my argument.

I say that the seriousness of that accusation of dishonesty, swindle, by the government is due, first of all, to the high position held by the person who made it. Coming from a mere nobody, I would suggest that we forget about it, but it was made by the president of a bank who usually does not talk through his hat, who prepares his statements or has them prepared by qualified people and who reads them carefully. Therefore, he did not overlook the word. I say further that the words he chose are of a very great consequence, since in the Oxford dictionary, I read this:

The Oxford dictionary defines swindle as:

An act of swindling: a fradulent transaction or scheme; a cheat, fraud, imposition.

The Larousse dictionary gives as synonyms of "duperie":

escroquerie, fourberie, supercherie, tromperie.

It is unquestionably a serious charge. Moreover, the formal character of the occasion, since he was speaking before an outside

October 25, 1967

Question of Privilege

organisation-namely the International Institute of Finance Officers-makes the charge even more serious and casts even greater doubts upon the integrity of all members of parliament, who would be accused of collusion in such an odious action. The possible repercussions of the whole thing must be kept in mind.

Mr. Speaker, if the government is guilty of such a vile action, it no longer deserves the confidence of the house and I cannot imagine any member who would still be willing to put his trust in it. If not, then Mr. MacKinnon should agree to explain or correct his statement which may have gone beyond his thoughts. And that is why I move, seconded by Mr. Latulippe, that:

The committee on finance, trade and economic affairs, or any other committee empowered to deal with the matter, should meet as soon as possible to summon Mr. Neil J. MacKinnon, president of the Imperial Bank of Commerce, and to enjoin him to justify and specify the charges he made against the government and indirectly against parliament as a whole in a speech delivered at an international conference of the Financial Executives Institute when he said:

And here I quote him verbatim.

Mr. Speaker, I am sending you copies in French and in English of those two documents and I repeat that, in my opinion, this is a serious attack against the integrity and honesty of parliament as a whole which finds itself accused of complicity in a deliberately fraudulent action, which would not be so otherwise, since there is talk of swindle and trickery.

Topic:   QUESTION OF PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. MONGRAIN-CRITICISM BY BANK PRESIDENT OF FEDERAL FINANCIAL POLICY
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LIB

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Order. I do not think that the hon. member's grievance-and I insist on the word "grievance"-is acceptable as a question of privilege. The hon. member is well aware of the provisions of section 110 of Beauchesne's fourth edition, which I quote:

Any libel reflecting upon any member of the house for or relating to his service therein was a high violation of the rights and privileges of the house. But to constitute a breach of privilege, a libel upon a member must concern his character or conduct in his capacity as a member and the conduct or language on which the libel is based must be actions performed or words uttered in the actual transaction of the business of the house.

The remarks complained of by the hon. member relate more particularly to the government, in my opinion, than to the personal conduct of members in the transaction of their business and in their responsibilities in the house. For that reason, I do not think that this question is acceptable and that the motion presented by the member for Trois-Rivieres can be accepted.

Topic:   QUESTION OF PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. MONGRAIN-CRITICISM BY BANK PRESIDENT OF FEDERAL FINANCIAL POLICY
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IND

Joseph-Alfred Mongrain

Independent

Mr. Mongrain:

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. May I add a word?

I find it a little strange that when the integrity and honesty of all the hon. members are concerned-

Topic:   QUESTION OF PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. MONGRAIN-CRITICISM BY BANK PRESIDENT OF FEDERAL FINANCIAL POLICY
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LIB

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker;

Order. The hon. member cannot discuss a ruling of the Chair on a point of order.

Topic:   QUESTION OF PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. MONGRAIN-CRITICISM BY BANK PRESIDENT OF FEDERAL FINANCIAL POLICY
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MR. CHOQUETTE-FRENCH CANADIAN REPRESENTATION IN PARLIAMENTARY PRESS GALLERY

LIB

Auguste Choquette

Liberal

Mr. Auguste Choqueiie (Lolbiniere):

Mr. Speaker, I rose on a question of privilege in order to point out that the French staff in the press gallery is numerically deficient.

There are only two French speaking reporters out of a total of more than 20, which affects the privileges of the members of this house in the following way. All too often, newspaper reports of speeches made in French in the house are based on a translation which is not always faithful as to the basic content of the speech.

The purpose of my question of privilege is to urge the authorities concerned to correct a hardly acceptable anomaly and to increase the French services of the Canadian Press.

Topic:   MR. CHOQUETTE-FRENCH CANADIAN REPRESENTATION IN PARLIAMENTARY PRESS GALLERY
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LIB

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Order. There is obviously no question of privilege there. The hon. member recognizes it himself, I am sure, since he did not see fit to follow up his intervention with a motion. May I remind him of the provisions of citation 113 of Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms, fourth edition:

Members often raise so-called "questions of privilege" on matters which should be dealt with as personal explanations or corrections, either in the debates or the proceedings of the house. A question of privilege ought rarely to come up in parliament.

Topic:   MR. CHOQUETTE-FRENCH CANADIAN REPRESENTATION IN PARLIAMENTARY PRESS GALLERY
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PRESENCE IN GALLERY OF DELEGATION OF POLISH PARLIAMENTARIANS

LIB

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

May I bring to the attention of hon. members the presence in the Speaker's gallery of a very distinguished delegation of Polish parliamentarians. For the last week these distinguished colleagues have been our guests in Canada while visiting various parts of the country. It is my hope, and I am sure the hope of all members of the house, that our visiting colleagues will have received in Canada the same warm hospitality which

October 25, 1967

was extended to our own delegation when it journeyed to Poland last year.

Topic:   PRESENCE IN GALLERY OF DELEGATION OF POLISH PARLIAMENTARIANS
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Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   PRESENCE IN GALLERY OF DELEGATION OF POLISH PARLIAMENTARIANS
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LIB

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

I thank the head of the delegation, Mr. Wycech, a high dignitary of the Seym, for his visit to the parliament of Canada, and I wish him and his colleagues a happy return to Poland.

Topic:   PRESENCE IN GALLERY OF DELEGATION OF POLISH PARLIAMENTARIANS
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Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   PRESENCE IN GALLERY OF DELEGATION OF POLISH PARLIAMENTARIANS
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TABLING OF INTERNATIONAL GRAINS AGREEMENT

LIB

Robert Henry Winters (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Hon. Robert Winters (Minister of Trade and Commerce):

Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table in French and English texts of the international grains arrangement, 1967, concluded in Rome on August 18, 1967. It is the intention to place this arrangement before parliament at the appropriate time for approval.

Topic:   TABLING OF INTERNATIONAL GRAINS AGREEMENT
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LIB

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Does the hon. minister have leave to table the document?

Topic:   TABLING OF INTERNATIONAL GRAINS AGREEMENT
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Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   TABLING OF INTERNATIONAL GRAINS AGREEMENT
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October 25, 1967