October 22, 1969

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

COMMITTEES OF THE HOUSE


Twenty-sixth report of Standing Committee on Finance, Trade and Economic Affairs-Mr. Gaston Clermont (Gatineau).



Fourth report of Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs-Mr. Francis.



Thirteenth and fourteenth report of Standing Committee on Transport and Communications, in French and English-Mr. H.-Pit Les-sard (LaSalle).



Third report of Special Committee on Statutory Instruments-Mr. MacGuigan. [Editor's Note: For text of above reports see today's Votes and Proceedings.]


COMPANY OF YOUNG CANADIANS


STATEMENT ON ACTIVITIES Hon. Gerard Pelletier (Secretary of State): Mr. Speaker, during the past two weeks there have been numerous allegations concerning some persons associated with the Company of Young Canadians. According to the act adopted by parliament in 1966, the basic objective of the Company of Young Canadians is to support, encourage and organize programs for social and economic community development in Canada through voluntary service. The Company may engage in community development work, in urban and rural areas in Canada, and it may organize programs designed primarily to widen the social and economic opportunities of Canadians. The result is that inevitably the Company of Young Canadians works with urban renewal, rural poverty, and other less privileged groups of society. Because of the nature of these activities, the government must expect to receive from time to time requests for investigation of alleged indiscretions committed by volunteer members of the Company of Young Canadians. The most recent requests have been disturbing. Allegations of criminal activities which are substantiated should be dealt with before the courts in the normal manner. However, usually responsible sources, without producing evidence, have alleged the utilization of the Company of Young Canadians to cover the furtherance of subversive activities. If these allegations are accurate, the Government stands ready to recommend to parliament necessary action, either by way of amendment to the act or establishment of a trusteeship to oversee the activities of the Company. If, on the other hand, these allegations are not substantiated, it will be necessary to reaffirm the good name of the Company of Young Canadians. This house unanimously established the Company of Young Canadians as an organization which is uniquely independent. Ten of the fifteen members of its governing council are elected by the volunteers. The Company is not an agency of the Crown or in any way subject to direction by the government or any minister. Parliament insisted upon this degree of independence. Therefore it would appear appropriate that any fundamental review of the Company's activities be undertaken by this house.



For the aforesaid reasons, Mr. Speaker, the government proposes that this whole matter be examined by a committee of the House. [DOT] (2:10 p.m.)


PC

Robert Lorne Stanfield (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, since I have suggested that at least a committee of the house should be established in order to inquire into the charges made, I must welcome the change

October 22, 1969

Company of Young Canadians in the government's attitude as expressed by the minister this afternoon.

Serious charges have been made. The original attitude of the minister seemed to be that a police inquiry and a government inquiry would be adequate. This seemed to me to be a most inadequate and unfortunate response to the serious charges made by persons in very responsible positions at the federal and other levels of government.

I want to make it clear that I certainly support the original aims and purposes of the Company of Young Canadians. It is important that parliament and the public receive answers in respect of some of the charges, and the only satisfactory method under the circumstances appears to be a public inquiry. I trust that the terms of reference of the committee will be broad enough to permit a full review of the Company's activities, thus ensuring that the house will be fully informed as to whether or not the Company and its members are conforming to the purpose for which it was established or whether, on the other hand, they are departing from these purposes.

It is natural, and I understand this, that a company established for the purpose of assisting the underprivileged is bound to create a certain amount of controversy. However if members of the Company have gone so far as to engage in activities designed to undermine municipal governments, as has been alleged, then of course that is a very different story.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I do welcome the change in the minister's attitude and I support the establishment of this committee.

Topic:   COMPANY OF YOUNG CANADIANS
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NDP

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

New Democratic Party

Mr. T. C. Douglas (Nanaimo-Cowichan-The Islands):

Mr. Speaker, the minister has intimated to the House that it is the government's intention to ask that a committee of this House investigate the Company of Young Canadians. If the purpose of appointing such a committee is to examine and evaluate the program which the Company of Young Canadians is endeavouring to implement then, of course, we would welcome this statement.

However, if one reads the minister's statement carefully, one cannot but gather the impression that the purpose of appointing the committee is to look into the fact that, and I quote the minister's own statement:

-usually responsible sources without producing evidence, have alleged the utilization of the Company of Young Canadians to cover the furtherance of subversive activities.

I suggest that if that is the purpose of appointing a committee, then we are setting a very dangerous precedent and embarking upon a path that could do irreparable damage. This parliament is not a court of law. This parliament ought not to be used for witch hunting. If there are individuals who have conducted themselves in a manner that is unbecoming to the role of the Company of Young Canadians, then they should be dealt with by turning over specific complaints about the individuals concerned to the executive director. If the executive director does not take disciplinary action then the director, who is appointed by order in council, can be dismissed by the government.

If there are members of the Company of Young Canadians who have been guilty of illegal acts, then of course it is in the courts of the country that they should be tried. But if a committee of this House is to be asked to investigate alleged utilization of the Company of Young Canadians in the furtherance of subversive activities, which the minister himself says have not been corroborated by any evidence, then I submit it is only a matter of time until other public agencies will be subjected to this kind of sweeping indictment. I submit that to indict an agency is a dangerous procedure. If there are specific complaints, the persons responsible should be named and disciplinary action should be taken. I hope this House is surely not prepared to emulate the sinister witch hunts which were set in motion in the United States by the late and unlamented Senator McCarthy.

All of us have had some concern about the effectiveness of the program of the Company of Young Canadians. Some of the projects that have been undertaken have been excellent; some have not been successful. Part of the responsibility for this lies with the government. This organization was set up as part of the window dressing for the war against poverty. The role of the Company of Young Canadians has never been clearly defined. It has never had either the personnel or adequate resources to do the job allocated to it. The permanent council was set up only at the beginning of this month. AH this time the Company has been operating with a provisional council.

Certainly, an examination of whether or not this organization is fulfilling any useful function is important. I submit that if we are going to investigate unsubstantiated charges that the organization is a front for subversive activities, there is a proper place for that to. be done and it is not in parliament.

October 22, 1969

Topic:   COMPANY OF YOUNG CANADIANS
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RA

Gilbert F. Rondeau

Ralliement Créditiste

Mr. Gilbert Rondeau (Shefford):

Mr. Speaker, following the remarks made by the Secretary of State (Mr. Pelletier) about the Company of Young Canadians, I must say that the conclusion he has arrived at is somewhat disappointing to us on this side of the house, because it does not follow the recommendations and wishes of the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the city of Montreal, who is an important figure, and who has made some very serious charges. Mr. Saulnier has asked the federal government to set up a royal commission of inquiry to clarify the whole matter, but the minister concerned has not seen fit to follow up this request made by the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the city of Montreal where the trouble occurred a few weeks ago, creating a very dramatic and serious situation.

Considering the circumstances, a committee of the house would, to my mind, be a tool in the hands of the federal government, a tool that it would use to minimize the importance of an investigation in such a serious and important matter.

For instance, the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the city of Montreal states that the Company of Young Canadians has become the tool of revolution, that it promotes revolution, disorder, dictatorship, resistance to the police and criminal activities such as the use of firearms or potassium cyanide.

Mr. Speaker, considering the circumstances, and since very serious charges have been made, parliament would be well advised to establish a royal commission, free from all control by the house, to investigate thoroughly the activities of the Company, and its finances in particular, in order to prove definitely that the charges are unfounded or to find the guilty parties.

[DOT] (2:20 p.m.)

As, for instance, we presently know of some newspapers which are encouraged by the Company of Young Canadians, it would be important to know where the money to finance such newspapers comes from, since they spread the idea of revolution and advocate subversion.

In view of the accusations made by the chairman of the Executive Committee of the city of Montreal, we think it would be preferable that a royal commission be established to

Company of Young Canadians inquire into every aspect of the matter, because a committee of the house might not have the powers needed to scrutinize the accounts of the Company of Young Canadians and determine what funds were spent each year-in the range of about $2 million-to support this Company.

There are good elements within this Company, and we should not only strive at uncovering the guilty ones, but rather at straightening up an attitude, a way of thinking and the procedures that have been used. I have here the August 1969 issue of Pouvoir Ouvrier, the workmen's newspaper in St. Jerome, in which the Company of Young Canadians published the following advertisement on page 2, and I quote:

Visit:

Livres et Periodiques Progressistes Ltee.

Marxist-Leninist and anti-imperialist literature, as well as revolutionary papers from around the world. "People, and people alone, are the generating power, the makers of history".

Mao Tse Tung

Such literature is spread around and we would set up a parliamentary committee, with extremely limited means, to change the policy the Company of Young Canadians has been following for some time.

No other solution was found except to refer the problem to a committee of the house. The committee would not have enough powers and would be too directly dependent on parliament. It would then be difficult to find those who are really responsible. The public wants explanations and a serious inquiry into this matter, because after all it has been financing the Company of Young Canadians until now.

It is our duty to ask for a judicial inquiry into this matter in order to meet the demands of the taxpayers and to punish the agitators. We must do justice to the good elements in the Company who have been affected by the bad publicity their association has received these last few weeks.

Topic:   COMPANY OF YOUNG CANADIANS
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CANADIAN COMMITTEE ON CORRECTIONS

TABLING OF REPORT

LIB

George James McIlraith (Solicitor General of Canada)

Liberal

Hon. G. J. Mcllraiih (Solicitor General):

Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the report of the Canadian Committee on Corrections.

October 22, 1969

Questions

Topic:   CANADIAN COMMITTEE ON CORRECTIONS
Subtopic:   TABLING OF REPORT
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PANARCTIC OILS LIMITED

TABLING OF ANNUAL REPORT

LIB

Russell Clayton Honey (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development)

Liberal

Mr. Russell C. Honey (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development):

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table the annual report of Panarctic Oils Limited for 1968.

Topic:   PANARCTIC OILS LIMITED
Subtopic:   TABLING OF ANNUAL REPORT
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QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER


(Questions answered orally are indicated by an asterisk.)


October 22, 1969