April 2, 1969

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

COMMITTEES OF THE HOUSE


Third report of standing committee on justice and legal affairs-Mr. Andre Ouellet (Papineau). Fifteenth report of Standing Committee on Finance, Trade and Economic Affairs, in French and in English-Mr. Gaston Clermont (Gatineau). [Editor's Note: The text of the foregoing reports appears in today's Votes and Proceedings.]


EASTER RECESS

ADJOURNMENT APRIL 2 TO APRIL 14-FAILURE TO MAKE STATEMENT ON NATO-REQUEST FOR HOUSING REPORT

LIB

Donald Stovel Macdonald (President of the Privy Council; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Hon. Donald S. Macdonald (President of the Privy Council) moved:

Topic:   EASTER RECESS
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IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

Is if the pleasure of the house to adopt the said motion?

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NDP

David Lewis (Parliamentary Leader of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Mr. David Lewis (York South):

Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that the motion to adjourn today for the Easter recess is a sensible one, but I rise on behalf of my colleagues and myself to protest as vigorously as I can against the fact that the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) has not carried out a hope which all

of us had, namely that before the house adjourned for the recess he would inform parliament as to the decisions of the government on some aspects of the foreign policy and defence review, particularly with respect to Canada's role in NATO.

The Prime Minister has emphasized on a number of occasions that this decision of the government had to be made and had to be announced at least before if not on the day of the meeting of the Council of NATO in Washington, which I think will be on April 10. Since we have not got any statement today it obviously means that the announcement about the policy will be made during the parliamentary recess. I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that this is another example of the cavalier way in which the Prime Minister and his colleagues are treating the House of Commons and parliament.

This is where so important a matter as an announcement of the decision on the policy of Canada's role in NATO ought to be made, so that representatives of other parties in the house may have an opportunity to express their views about the policy on which the government has decided.

1 fully appreciate, and I think every other member of the house does, that it is a matter of great importance and that the cabinet had to have time to consider it. But let me remind you, sir, and other members of the house and the people of Canada that this blessed review of foreign and defence policies has gone on for months and that there have been discussions and conferences and arguments for God knows how long.

Last December 4, as recorded at page 3485 of Hansard, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Stanfield) asked some questions on this matter, to which the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Sharp) replied. During one of his replies he said:

After the review is completed the intention is to publish a white paper, which would then of course be open for debate.

We have had no white paper. We have had no indication as to what the government policy is. We are all to recess for Easter without hearing that policy, and that policy will be announced outside parliament by the Prime Minister, in front of the television cameras or

April 2, 1969

Request jor Statement on NATO elsewhere. Mr. Speaker, I cannot condemn strongly enough this cavalier treatment of parliament. We might as well all be home and listen to the Prime Minister announce his policies over the television screen, if this is the way he and his government are going to act.

[DOT] (2:10 p.m.)

We have had not only this review by the government and by agencies of the government but we have had a parliamentary committee which has met for months, which has taken evidence in Canada, which spent two weeks travelling through Europe, and which made a report. It so happens that I do not agree with the majority report, but the committee did make a report to this government. All these reviews inside and outside parliament have taken place and the Prime Minister is not yet ready to make that statement to the house. It may be that the division in the cabinet is so catastrophic that the Prime Minister, with all his intelligence and skill, is unable to solve the problem inside his cabinet. That is his blessed problem. There is no reason this parliament should be treated in this way. If the Prime Minister should make an announcement about the government's NATO policy tomorrow, as may well be the case, or on Friday or Saturday as will certainly be the case, then I say I do not believe the Prime Minister does not know the policy today. I say the only reason he is not making the statement today is that he has no respect for the House of Commons and for parliament and wishes to make the statement outside.

After all these discussions and all these meetings in and outside cabinet, no one can tell me that even this government has been unable to reach a decision on what its policy is, or that even this Prime Minister has been unable to heal the rift in his cabinet about which newspapermen have been writing. I believe that Canada's defence policy is of extreme importance to our country at the present time. Involved in it is not only the attitude of the government toward NATO, but also other areas such as NORAD, our policy in respect of foreign aid and all the other things that are involved in our foreign policy. After these months of promises and negotiations this parliament ought to hear it.

I hesitate, if I may use the expression with your permission, Mr. Speaker, to be a stinker-or let me put it more accurately, to be so much of a stinker that even I would recognize it; but if I were that way I would be very

much inclined to ask that the house defeat this motion, except that this is Wednesday and the day after tomorrow is Good Friday. Members of the house have a right to have time to get home to meet their families and the people in their constituencies. After all, I do not believe it would be sensible, fair or reasonable to oppose this motion.

However, I do rise to protest in the strongest possible language the Prime Minister's behaviour in refusing to let us have the government's policy on NATO at least after months and months of promises that this would be done prior to April 10 and if at all possible prior to the adjournment of the House for the Easter recess. There is no reason this should not have been possible, except for his cavalier attitude toward the House of Commons.

Topic:   EASTER RECESS
Subtopic:   ADJOURNMENT APRIL 2 TO APRIL 14-FAILURE TO MAKE STATEMENT ON NATO-REQUEST FOR HOUSING REPORT
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LIB

Pierre Elliott Trudeau (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Right Hon. P. E. Trudeau (Prime Minister):

Mr. Speaker, I think I can be very brief. I wish to assure the house and the hon. member who has described himself as a stinker, that my attitude is not one of being cavalier toward the House of Commons. If we had an announcement to make today on NATO policy obviously I would be prepared and delighted to make it today. The discussions we have been having on the NATO issue have been going on in various cabinet meetings. We could not make the decision after the weekend of March 15-16, which was the first date set for the weekend meetings of cabinet to review our whole policy, because the parliamentary committee did not bring in its report until I believe a week ago today. That is the reason the latest input into our study and review had to be taken into account; that is why we could not meet the early deadline we set for ourselves, but which we had not announced publicly.

We had hoped that within a week of our meeting on the 15th and 16th we would be able to announce our policy so as to be in time for the Easter adjournment. At the legitimate demand of the house we postponed these weekend meetings to accommodate the parliamentary committee, in order that we could study its report, which we did over this past weekend. Cabinet is in discussion now and has another meeting tomorrow. I hope after that meeting to be in a position to make an announcement. If the hon. member wants to stay around I will be delighted to have him present when I make the announcement. I have no particular desire to make this announcement exclusively for my friends in the press gallery; I would prefer to make it to

April 2, 1969

the house. If hon. members of the house want to stay around tomorrow, I am sure we could accommodate them.

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Subtopic:   ADJOURNMENT APRIL 2 TO APRIL 14-FAILURE TO MAKE STATEMENT ON NATO-REQUEST FOR HOUSING REPORT
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

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Subtopic:   ADJOURNMENT APRIL 2 TO APRIL 14-FAILURE TO MAKE STATEMENT ON NATO-REQUEST FOR HOUSING REPORT
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LIB

Pierre Elliott Trudeau (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Mr. Trudeau:

We will not be rushed, pushed or bullied into making an announcement before we are ready for it.

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Subtopic:   ADJOURNMENT APRIL 2 TO APRIL 14-FAILURE TO MAKE STATEMENT ON NATO-REQUEST FOR HOUSING REPORT
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

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Subtopic:   ADJOURNMENT APRIL 2 TO APRIL 14-FAILURE TO MAKE STATEMENT ON NATO-REQUEST FOR HOUSING REPORT
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LIB

Pierre Elliott Trudeau (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Mr. Trudeau:

Our commitment was to prepare a white paper and to permit the house to debate our foreign policy and defence review. This is still our commitment. The deadline to have this ready by April 10 is not of our making. We should prefer to have this matter considered by the house in a debate on the entire white paper. It is more difficult, and not easier, for us to have to make a decision on NATO before we have made a decision on other aspects of our foreign policy and defence policy. Since we are faced by a deadline, which was set by our international obligations, we have done our best to meet it. We have done so in all due haste, but without undue rush. We will continue our meetings until we are in a position to make the announcement. This may be tomorrow; it may be the day after, or it may be after Easter. We shall have to make some announcement before the 10tn and I will be perfectly happy to have the hon. stinker invited to the press conference.

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Subtopic:   ADJOURNMENT APRIL 2 TO APRIL 14-FAILURE TO MAKE STATEMENT ON NATO-REQUEST FOR HOUSING REPORT
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NDP

David Lewis (Parliamentary Leader of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Lewis:

Mr. Speaker, may I ask-

Topic:   EASTER RECESS
Subtopic:   ADJOURNMENT APRIL 2 TO APRIL 14-FAILURE TO MAKE STATEMENT ON NATO-REQUEST FOR HOUSING REPORT
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IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

Does the hon. member wish to ask a question?

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Subtopic:   ADJOURNMENT APRIL 2 TO APRIL 14-FAILURE TO MAKE STATEMENT ON NATO-REQUEST FOR HOUSING REPORT
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NDP

David Lewis (Parliamentary Leader of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Lewis:

Yes, Mr. Speaker. May I ask the Right Hon. Stinker a question.

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Subtopic:   ADJOURNMENT APRIL 2 TO APRIL 14-FAILURE TO MAKE STATEMENT ON NATO-REQUEST FOR HOUSING REPORT
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?

Some hon. Members:

Order, order.

Topic:   EASTER RECESS
Subtopic:   ADJOURNMENT APRIL 2 TO APRIL 14-FAILURE TO MAKE STATEMENT ON NATO-REQUEST FOR HOUSING REPORT
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NDP

David Lewis (Parliamentary Leader of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Lewis:

May I ask him whether, if the house sat tomorrow, we could have a direct undertaking that he would make a statement on NATO policy tomorrow.

Topic:   EASTER RECESS
Subtopic:   ADJOURNMENT APRIL 2 TO APRIL 14-FAILURE TO MAKE STATEMENT ON NATO-REQUEST FOR HOUSING REPORT
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LIB

Pierre Elliott Trudeau (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Mr. Trudeau:

Mr. Speaker, I would reply as I replied yesterday to a similar question, that I will do my best to make an announcement tomorrow, but I cannot guarantee it.

Topic:   EASTER RECESS
Subtopic:   ADJOURNMENT APRIL 2 TO APRIL 14-FAILURE TO MAKE STATEMENT ON NATO-REQUEST FOR HOUSING REPORT
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PC

Robert Lorne Stanfield (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Robert L. Stanfield (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, I do not rise to lecture the Prime Minister on his use of language. I do not think the hon. member from the N.D.P. referred to him as a stinker.

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April 2, 1969