May 14, 1970

PRIVILEGE

MR. NIELSEN-RIGHT OF MEMBERS TO LEASE OR BUY CROWN LANDS-REFERENCE TO COMMITTEE ON PRIVILEGES AND ELECTIONS

PC

Erik Nielsen

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Erik Nielsen (Yukon):

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege affecting myself as an individual member of the House and all hon. members. My question of privilege refers to the right of a member to discharge his responsibilities here, freely and without fear of reprisals and vengeful acts of those in power. My question of privilege involves the action of persons responsible to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

I had the opportunity to discuss the matter very briefly with the minister last evening, at which time he assured me that he was personally unaware of the circumstances which I disclosed to him. I must, of course, and willingly do so, accept the word of the minister that he had no personal knowledge of the events I am about to record. The minister must, however, accept full responsibility for the conduct and the acts of the employees of his department. It seems to me that any minister of the Crown is under an obligation to ensure that members of this House are not harassed in the performance of their duties.

The grounds upon which the particular question of privilege is based are these: Last fall, I made an application to purchase certain lands over which the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development has jurisdiction. In due course, after the application had been referred to the department here in Ottawa I was informed that my application to purchase these lands was being rejected because I was a member of the House of Commons. Specifically, the departmental ruling was that, since I was a member of the House of Commons, section 19, subsection 1, of the Senate and House of Commons Act was applicable and therefore I could not purchase the Crown lands in question. Subsection 1 of section 19 of the Senate and House of Commons Act reads as follows:

In every contract, agreement or commission to be made, entered into or accepted by any person with

the government of Canada, or any of the departments or officers of the government of Canada, there shall be inserted an express condition, that no member of the House of Commons shall be admitted to any share or part of such contract, agreement or commission, or to any benefit to arise therefrom.

I draw the attention of hon. members to the fact that no mention is made of any prohibition of a member of the House of Commons from giving the benefit to the Crown of the amount of the purchase price of lands sold to him. All the subsection does is to stipulate that a clause must be inserted in agreements by any person with the government, or departments or officers of the government, such clause stipulating that no member of the House of Commons is entitled to share in any part, commission or benefit to arise therefrom.

In my submission it is an excessive exercise of power and therefore an abuse of power for the minister or any of the employees of his department to purport to apply that subsection of the Senate and House of Commons Act so as to deny to a member of this House the right to purchase Crown lands in the same way as any other citizen of this country. Even if that submission is not accepted, surely it is wrong and an abuse of power for an employee of the department to act as prosecutor, judge and jury and executioner at one and the same time. Surely the forum to decide the matter of the interpretation of such provision of the Senate and House of Commons Act is this House itself, the other place or the courts, and not a civil servant purporting to act as a judge or even more.

How many members of this House, while they were members, have purchased Crown lands or have leased such lands? I daresay a good many. How many are purchasing homes which have been financed with moneys made available by this Parliament to Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation under the provisions of the National Housing Act? Does section 19(1) mean that we cannot, as members of the House of Commons, purchase Canada Savings Bonds under a contractual arrangement whereby payroll deductions are made? After all, the interest on such bonds is surely a benefit to the member. Does the section prohibit me from renting from the government a parking space at Department of

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. NIELSEN-RIGHT OF MEMBERS TO LEASE OR BUY CROWN LANDS-REFERENCE TO COMMITTEE ON PRIVILEGES AND ELECTIONS
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?

An hon. Member:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. NIELSEN-RIGHT OF MEMBERS TO LEASE OR BUY CROWN LANDS-REFERENCE TO COMMITTEE ON PRIVILEGES AND ELECTIONS
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PC

Erik Nielsen

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Nielsen:

-since I have held a lease of this land throughout those years. The hon.

IMr. Nielsen.]

member says "hear, hear". If he were to look in his own closet he might find something of a similar nature to complain about. It also follows that, should such an interpretation be correct, that I am here now unlawfully, then likewise, in my submission, so is every other member of this House who finds himself in circumstances similar to those in any of the examples which I have described.

A substantial investment has been incurred over the approximately 18 years during which I have been the lessee of the lands in question, the bulk of which has gone into the construction and improvement of a summer cottage. This will be entirely lost to me without any reimbursement whatsoever if my lease is not renewed and the minister is permitted to dispose of the land to any other person, which he would be free to do in the absence of the renewal of my lease. In my submission, Section 19(1) was never meant to have that kind of consequence, and the minister is invading the rights of the members of this House, and in particular of myself, should he or his officials persist in adhering to the interpretation which is being placed on Section 19(1).

Because of the fundamental importance and far-reaching effect on all members of the House of the matters which I have raised, I propose to ask the House to refer the same to the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections. What the minister's officials are inferentially asserting in their interpretation of Section 19(1) is that I have been sitting in this House unlawfully for 12 years. That is a matter which compels determination by the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections. Should the standing committee take the same view as to the interpretation of Section 19(1) as the minister's officials have taken, of course I would have to seek advice and seriously consider whether I would be obliged to resign my seat. I would accordingly move, Mr. Speaker-

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. NIELSEN-RIGHT OF MEMBERS TO LEASE OR BUY CROWN LANDS-REFERENCE TO COMMITTEE ON PRIVILEGES AND ELECTIONS
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IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

Order, please. The hon.

member cannot move his motion now. For the benefit of the Chair and the House, perhaps he might indicate what motion he would propose to the House if there should be a ruling that there is a prima facie case of privilege. It would be helpful if we were to know the motion which the hon. member intends to propose to the House.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. NIELSEN-RIGHT OF MEMBERS TO LEASE OR BUY CROWN LANDS-REFERENCE TO COMMITTEE ON PRIVILEGES AND ELECTIONS
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PC

Erik Nielsen

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Nielsen:

Yes, Mr. Speaker. If the Chair should rule that there is a prima facie case of

May 14, 1970

privilege, it would be my intention to move the following motion:

That the question of privilege this day raised by the honourable member for the Yukon as to the right of a member of the House of Commons to purchase or lease lands held in the name of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in the right of Canada without offending the provisions of the Senate and House of Commons Act be referred to the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections and, in particular, that there be referred to the said committee the circumstances raised by the honourable member for the Yukon surrounding the rejection of an application made by him to purchase such lands in the Yukon and the rejection of an application made by him for the renewal of lease number 1329, and that there be further referred to the said committee the question as to whether an employee and/or employees of the government of Canada in making and applying such decisions is acting within the scope of his responsibilities: and that the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development make no disposition of the lands affected by the said lease number 1329 until the report and recommendations of the said standing committee have been made to this House.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. NIELSEN-RIGHT OF MEMBERS TO LEASE OR BUY CROWN LANDS-REFERENCE TO COMMITTEE ON PRIVILEGES AND ELECTIONS
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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

Hon. Donald S. Macdonald (Rosedale):

Mr. Speaker, without accepting the suggestion that there has been deliberate harassment of the hon. gentleman, I think it would be very desirable if the House were in a position to make this reference to the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections. The provisions of the Senate and House of Commons Act have been quite difficult for a number of members in a number of contexts. I agree that on behalf of the hon. member for Yukon and on behalf of other hon. members who may be affected by the section that it would be very desirable to have some clarification of the questions of law involved and some indication of how this and similar types of situations can be handled in the future. I agree with the hon. gentleman that surely there could not have been any intention on the part of Parliament in passing this section that it should apply in this way.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. NIELSEN-RIGHT OF MEMBERS TO LEASE OR BUY CROWN LANDS-REFERENCE TO COMMITTEE ON PRIVILEGES AND ELECTIONS
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PC

Gerald William Baldwin (Official Opposition House Leader; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. G. W. Baldwin (Peace River):

Mr. Speaker, if there were unanimous consent to accept the motion, Your Honour would not have to decide whether there is a prima facie case of privilege and the matter could be disposed of in that way.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. NIELSEN-RIGHT OF MEMBERS TO LEASE OR BUY CROWN LANDS-REFERENCE TO COMMITTEE ON PRIVILEGES AND ELECTIONS
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IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

I suppose I would then have to rule that there is a prima facie case. In any event, it seems there is an analogy to the situation raised by the hon. member for York-Simcoe some months ago when by unanimous consent it was agreed by hon. members that the circumstances raised by the hon. member should be studied by the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections. It

Business of the House

seems that this situation is related very closely to the one considered previously by the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections. In view of the fact that there is unanimous agreement, the motion proposed by the hon. member is deemed to have been adopted. The matter will be referred to the committee.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. NIELSEN-RIGHT OF MEMBERS TO LEASE OR BUY CROWN LANDS-REFERENCE TO COMMITTEE ON PRIVILEGES AND ELECTIONS
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ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATIONS


Seventh and eighth reports of Standing Committee on Transport and Communications, in English and in French-Mr. H.-Pit Lessard (LaSalle). [Editor's Note: For text of above reports, see today's Votes and Proceedings.]


AGRICULTURE

CONCURRENCE IN SECOND REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE

LIB

Bruce Silas Beer

Liberal

Mr. Bruce S. Beer (Peel-Dufferin-Simcoe) moved

that the second report of the Standing Committee on Agriculture, presented to the House on Wednesday, May 6, 1970, be concurred in.

Topic:   AGRICULTURE
Subtopic:   CONCURRENCE IN SECOND REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE
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Motion agreed to.


BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

WITHDRAWAL OF BILL C-193 FROM STANDING COMMITTEE AND REFERRAL TO COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE

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):

Mr. Speaker, there have been further discussions about the work of the Standing Committee on Finance, Trade and Economic Affairs. I believe it will be found that there is general agreement that Bill C-193, to amend the Industrial Research and Development Incentives Act, which was referred by the House after second reading to the said committee, should be withdrawn from that committee and referred to a committee of the whole House. If I am right in my assumption that this would be generally acceptable, perhaps the following could be made an order of the House. I move:

That Bill C-193, to amend the Industrial Research and Development Incentives Act, be withdrawn from the Standing Committee on Finance, Trade and Economic Affairs and referred to a Committee of the Whole House.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   WITHDRAWAL OF BILL C-193 FROM STANDING COMMITTEE AND REFERRAL TO COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
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May 14, 1970