January 21, 1970

PRIVILEGE

MR. DINSDALE-LETTER RESPECTING NATIONAL PARKS TABLED BY MINISTER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS AND NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT

PC

Walter Gilbert Dinsdale

Progressive Conservative

Hon. W. G. Dinsdale (Brandon-Souris):

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege. Yesterday afternoon the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development tabled a letter bearing my signature. I was out of the House attending a meeting with the chairman of the Canadian Transport Commission, the Hon. Jack Pickersgill, in the company of the Premier of Manitoba, the Manitoba Minister of Industry and Commerce and the mayor of Brandon.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. DINSDALE-LETTER RESPECTING NATIONAL PARKS TABLED BY MINISTER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS AND NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT
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?

An hon. Member:

What a group!

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. DINSDALE-LETTER RESPECTING NATIONAL PARKS TABLED BY MINISTER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS AND NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT
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PC

Walter Gilbert Dinsdale

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Dinsdale:

The meeting was convened to discuss ways and means for continuing the present class one air service into western Manitoba which has been threatened by Transair's application to suspend the service. Because of the implications of the proposed change in regional air policy for continuing economic progress in western Manitoba, I think you will agree that the meeting had top priority. This, then, is the first opportunity I have had to deal with the minister's action.

The issue raised in the House yesterday brings into focus the whole question of leaseholds in western national parks. It is also closely tied in to the feeling of isolation and alienation that is growing to an alarming degree in western and northwestern Canada, as has been pointed out recently in press articles. The government has demonstrated a congenital incapacity to deal with the serious special problems in these important areas of Canada.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. DINSDALE-LETTER RESPECTING NATIONAL PARKS TABLED BY MINISTER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS AND NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT
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IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

Order, please. I have to interrupt the hon. gentleman immediately to remind him that he has the floor now under very special rules and the requirement at this time is that he should indicate how his privileges as a member of this House have been violated by the tabling of the letter to which

he alludes in the notice he has given me. If he will indicate in what way he thinks there has been a breach of privilege, then further action might be contemplated. Certainly this is not the time to discuss the general policy which is perhaps the background of the tabling of the letter yesterday by the minister.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. DINSDALE-LETTER RESPECTING NATIONAL PARKS TABLED BY MINISTER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS AND NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT
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PC

Walter Gilbert Dinsdale

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Dinsdale:

I accept your ruling, Mr. Speaker. I merely made that reference because the problem is peculiar to the west inasmuch as there are no national parks in Quebec and only minor ones in Ontario. In tabling the letter the minister implied that it endorsed a policy that the Liberal government has been pursuing in respect of western national parks since 1963.

My question of privilege revolves around two fundamental matters: first, the right of the minister to table a letter signed by another Privy Councillor without first seeking the customary permission from the author and, second, the ethics of using this kind of cheap politics to stir up further trouble in the west.

The letter, of course, in no way endorses what the minister is attempting to do in the western parks today. It merely outlines the orderly plan that was adopted in 1962 for the development of national parks in western Canada based on the principles of wise management and multi-use that emerged out of the Resources for Tomorrow Conference in 1961. It carefully preserves the right of perpetuity in the original leases.

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

Mr. Speaker, the letter was tabled. It is now the property of the House. It was tabled without my permission, and I do not think hon. members will have the opportunity of perusing it unless they make special efforts to do so.

The implication was left by the minister that it endorses his policy. I shall be as brief as I can on this fundamental point. It does not endorse that policy because the minister has arbitrarily cancelled perpetuity in original leases. The issue was taken to the Exchequer Court by the residents of the western parks and their position was upheld by that court. The minister has now referred the matter to

January 21, 1970

Privilege

the Supreme Court, hoping to get that decision reversed. It is because of these situations that there is a growing feeling of alienation.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, the same situation is involved in the question asked by the hon. member for Oxford with reference to the rental reassessments that are now taking place in the national parks. This, again, was a policy agreed to only after long consultation with the advisory councils and the people in the parks, and it has nothing to do with the current increases of up to 4,000 per cent.

On the strength of the points I have made, Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that I be allowed to table some documents, with the consent of the House, which put the record straight. I am sure all hon. members would want this to be done in light of the distortions arising from the discussion yesterday.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. DINSDALE-LETTER RESPECTING NATIONAL PARKS TABLED BY MINISTER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS AND NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. DINSDALE-LETTER RESPECTING NATIONAL PARKS TABLED BY MINISTER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS AND NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT
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IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

Order, please. As I indicated a moment ago, the hon. member got the floor on a question of privilege of which he had given the Chair due notice according to the Standing Orders. The observations of the hon. member were not followed by a motion so that in the ordinary way we cannot pursue the matter further. In any event, I have serious doubts whether there is an actual question of privilege.

The minister tabled the letter or document yesterday under the provisions of Standing Order 41(2) which gives a minister the right at any time to table a document or a paper. The hon. member suggested that the minister should perhaps have obtained his prior consent or permission. This is certainly not a requirement under the Standing Order and the Chair has to be guided by the Standing Orders.

I respectfully suggest to the hon. member that it would have been competent for any hon. member, under a motion for production of papers, to request the tabling of this and any other paper in the possession of the minister, under the terms of the Standing Orders. This is perhaps all obiter dicta because the hon. member has made his point. He has not followed his point by a formal motion which the Chair would have to put to the House. That would conclude my ruling on the question of privilege raised by the hon. member.

As a sequel to his observations he has suggested that additional papers might be tabled. The House is responsible for its own procedures. The House can accept the tabling of any documents whether it be by a minister or

by a private member on one side or other of the House. If that were the wish of the House I am sure that so far as the Chair is concerned there is no objection to the tabling of the documents to which the hon. member for Brandon-Souris has alluded. But that would not be in accordance with any of the Standing Orders of the House. Standing Order 41 to which I have referred, under which the minister has tabled the letter in question, provides as follows:

A Minister of the Crown, or a Parliamentary Secretary acting on behalf of a Minister, may, in his place in the House, state that he proposes to lay upon the Table of the House, any report or other paper dealing with a matter coming within the administrative responsibilities of the government-

That Standing Order does not appear to extend to a private member. If there is unanimous consent the papers can be received at the table. If there is not unanimous consent perhaps the hon. member would wish to seek another way of bringing them to the attention of the House. Is there unanimous consent?

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. DINSDALE-LETTER RESPECTING NATIONAL PARKS TABLED BY MINISTER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS AND NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT
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Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Macdonald (Rosedale):

No.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. DINSDALE-LETTER RESPECTING NATIONAL PARKS TABLED BY MINISTER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS AND NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT
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An hon. Member:

You wouldn't, Macdonald.

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Subtopic:   MR. DINSDALE-LETTER RESPECTING NATIONAL PARKS TABLED BY MINISTER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS AND NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT
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PC

Walter Gilbert Dinsdale

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Dinsdale:

For my own information, Mr. Speaker, do I take it from your decision that ministers have the right to table partial documentation that distorts the situation and misleads the House?

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. DINSDALE-LETTER RESPECTING NATIONAL PARKS TABLED BY MINISTER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS AND NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT
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Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh!

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. DINSDALE-LETTER RESPECTING NATIONAL PARKS TABLED BY MINISTER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS AND NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT
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IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

We should not get into debate on this matter. I do not make the rules. I took the trouble of reading all of the Standing Order and it gives the minister the right to table the document. If there is agreement by all hon. members that additional documents be tabled the Chair, as I said, has no objection, but my ruling is simply a reading of the Standing Order. I did not write it. The Standing Order is a rule of the House, and I can only bring it to the attention of hon. members. It is unfortunate if the Standing Order has the effect that the hon. member suggests and difficulties result, but I would not think I am in a position to rectify the situation as a procedural matter.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. DINSDALE-LETTER RESPECTING NATIONAL PARKS TABLED BY MINISTER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS AND NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT
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PC

Wallace Bickford (Wally) Nesbitt

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Nesbitt:

I rise on a question of privilege, Your Honour. This matter arose as a result of a question I directed to the minister yesterday. The minister requested permission to

January 21, 1970

table the document in question to clarify his answer and of course all members of the House, including myself, gave the minister permission. I should like to say, Mr. Speaker, that it is shocking that the President of the Privy Council has taken this attitude. It is very unfair.

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Subtopic:   MR. DINSDALE-LETTER RESPECTING NATIONAL PARKS TABLED BY MINISTER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS AND NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT
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ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATIONS


Third report of Standing Committee on Transport and Communications, in French and in English-Mr. Lessard (La Salle). [Editor's Note: Text of foregoing report appears in today's Votes and Proceedings.]


REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT

January 21, 1970