June 17, 1970

PRIVILEGE

MR. BALDWIN-NEW UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE PROGRAM-PUBLISHING OF DETAILS BY PRESS PRIOR TO STATEMENT IN HOUSE

PC

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

Progressive Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege in respect of which I have given Your Honour notice. It relates to the extent to which a report which is to be given today by the Minister of Labour and/or accompanying material were made available to or obtained by the press some time before the minister was due to make the statement today.

To begin with, Mr. Speaker, may I say that the information I have is that the publication and also radio reports took place at a time that would indicate that this material must have been in the hands of the people who used it either last night or early this morning. We have here another instance of the extent to which matters which should be withheld until they are made public in the House are made available to outside sources.

Mr. Speaker, not in anticipation of this event but because of the gravity of the situation I read what was said yesterday in respect of the question of the pre-publication of documents and material which should be withheld until the time of presentation in the House. I have read what Your Honour said and what was said by others. I was the first person to raise the question last Friday in connection with the matter of the LeDain report.

I submit that what has happened today places a completely different picture on the situation. This is a repetition, and the situation has become so serious that Your Honour, this House and all of us must take the most careful note of what has happened and is happening as well as the effect it is having on this institution. Are Parliament and this House to be only a peg for the purpose of our being regaled by the public relations' competition of ministers and other people? Mr. Speaker, I do not like to think so. I do not like to think it is just a matter of competing political personalities, squabbling, shoving 22478-29$

and squealing like pigs in a trough for a position of advantage. I think this is a place for grave and deliberate debate dealing with the affairs of the people of Canada.

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

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. BALDWIN-NEW UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE PROGRAM-PUBLISHING OF DETAILS BY PRESS PRIOR TO STATEMENT IN HOUSE
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Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
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PC

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

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Baldwin:

It may well be that the people of Canada think differently. I do not believe so. I think they rely on this place as a forum for proper intervention between the government and the people. God knows, there has been a rapid enough deterioration of the parliamentary process during the course of the last little while. Therefore this situation should be faced in the most serious way. I think this practice has to stop and I hope we are all agreed on that. I hope the government agrees that it has to stop.

Your Honour made a decision yesterday with which I am in agreement. 1 feel that there must be some way to deal with this situation. I am not in a position now to attach any blame to the minister. The motion I propose to move, if accepted, will give him the opportunity he should have to appear before a committee and make a statement indicating what in his view did take place. But I say that this practice must come to a stop.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. BALDWIN-NEW UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE PROGRAM-PUBLISHING OF DETAILS BY PRESS PRIOR TO STATEMENT IN HOUSE
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. BALDWIN-NEW UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE PROGRAM-PUBLISHING OF DETAILS BY PRESS PRIOR TO STATEMENT IN HOUSE
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PC

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

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Baldwin:

I therefore move, seconded by the hon. member for Saint John-Lancaster (Mr. Bell):

That the question of the manner and nature in which the report and accompanying material of the Minister of Labour in connection with unemployment insurance was obtained by or made available for the media prior to a statement of the minister in the House be referred to the Committee on Procedure and Organization and that the committee do make an interim report on this on or before June 26, 1970.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. BALDWIN-NEW UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE PROGRAM-PUBLISHING OF DETAILS BY PRESS PRIOR TO STATEMENT IN HOUSE
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LIB

Bryce Stuart Mackasey (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Hon. Bryce Mackasey (Minisier of Labour):

Mr. Speaker, I listened with a great deal of attention to the hon. member for Peace River and I share his views to a large degree. As Minister of Labour I could say with accuracy that the source of the information which was printed in the Toronto Star early edition today did not come from me, did not come from my personal staff, nor did it come from

8212 COMMONS

New Unemployment Insurance Program any official or member of the Unemployment Insurance Commission. But like the hon. member for Peace River I have been a member of this House for eight years, first as a backbencher, then as a Parliamentary Secretary and recently as minister, and like the hon. member and others in this House I have a great degree of affection and respect for the traditional rights of the House of Commons.

I may be considered a traditionalist or a conservative in my view that the House of Commons has been downgraded all too frequently. I know that one of the rules of the House is that the word of an hon. gentleman is accepted without question. But this is can only remain valid if ministers and other members of the House are honest, frank and open.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. BALDWIN-NEW UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE PROGRAM-PUBLISHING OF DETAILS BY PRESS PRIOR TO STATEMENT IN HOUSE
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. BALDWIN-NEW UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE PROGRAM-PUBLISHING OF DETAILS BY PRESS PRIOR TO STATEMENT IN HOUSE
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LIB

Bryce Stuart Mackasey (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. Mackasey:

So it is tempting simply to say that as a result of investigations I have made I have found that the source of information to which the hon. gentleman quite properly takes objection did not come from my office, did not come from myself in person, and did not come from anyone associated with the Unemployment Insurance Commission, and I would then have the full right to expect that to be accepted. But since I believe that to be objective and consistent we should be frank and open, I think the House is entitled to an explanation as to how this information came to appear in the Toronto Star.

I think it has been customary when tabling white papers, which are a medium of communication of the government, to place an embargo on the Press Gallery and to take them into full and absolute confidence before the fact. This is not a new procedure. This is a procedure that has been in effect since time immemorial, and it is one that the Press Gallery as well as Members of Parliament respect, or should respect.

On this particular occasion, Mr. Speaker, two members representing the electronic medium contacted my department yesterday to find out whether they should pre-empt time this evening, after the fact of tabling the report, if this white paper was deemed to be of sufficient interest to the Canadian public. I felt that this was something that only they could determine. So they were invited to the Department of Labour and made acquainted with some of the highlights, under the same

DEBATES June 17, 1970

type of embargo that was placed on members of the Press Gallery this morning.

One of the two people thus privileged respected that embargo. The other presumably honourable gentleman presumed to take these two pamphlets and give them to a reporter of the Toronto Star. So I think the question of privilege is one that members of the Press Gallery should want to raise amongst themselves-

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. BALDWIN-NEW UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE PROGRAM-PUBLISHING OF DETAILS BY PRESS PRIOR TO STATEMENT IN HOUSE
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. BALDWIN-NEW UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE PROGRAM-PUBLISHING OF DETAILS BY PRESS PRIOR TO STATEMENT IN HOUSE
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LIB

Bryce Stuart Mackasey (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. Mackasey:

-because, Mr. Speaker, we have a good press gallery collectively. They depend on their relationship with Members of Parliament, and to a great degree we depend on their integrity. If there is to be a breakdown in that communication because of a lack of integrity on either side, that happy relationship will come to an end.

All I can do is apologize to the House for this unhappy occurrence, this unexpected and certainly unpredictable leak.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. BALDWIN-NEW UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE PROGRAM-PUBLISHING OF DETAILS BY PRESS PRIOR TO STATEMENT IN HOUSE
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. BALDWIN-NEW UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE PROGRAM-PUBLISHING OF DETAILS BY PRESS PRIOR TO STATEMENT IN HOUSE
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PC

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

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Baldwin:

Mr. Speaker, in light of what the minister has said about the situation, I would not be unwilling to withdraw my motion.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. BALDWIN-NEW UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE PROGRAM-PUBLISHING OF DETAILS BY PRESS PRIOR TO STATEMENT IN HOUSE
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. BALDWIN-NEW UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE PROGRAM-PUBLISHING OF DETAILS BY PRESS PRIOR TO STATEMENT IN HOUSE
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PC

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

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Baldwin:

I believe I have done my duty as I have seen it. The terms of the general motion which was before the House, moved by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre, may well permit the standing committee to conduct that full and impartial inquiry which is so essential and in light of which I made the remarks that I did.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. BALDWIN-NEW UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE PROGRAM-PUBLISHING OF DETAILS BY PRESS PRIOR TO STATEMENT IN HOUSE
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IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

The Chair is grateful to the hon. member for Peace River in that I am not now placed in the position where I have to make a difficult ruling. I would suggest to hon. members, in view of the fact that a motion which is very close to this one is before the Committee on Procedure and Organization, that perhaps that committee would take it upon itself to look into both situations brought to the attention of the House yesterday and today.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. BALDWIN-NEW UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE PROGRAM-PUBLISHING OF DETAILS BY PRESS PRIOR TO STATEMENT IN HOUSE
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MR. KORCHINSKI-OPPORTUNITY TO PARTICIPATE IN DISCUSSION IN AGRICULTURAL COMMITTEE

PC

Stanley James Korchinski

Progressive Conservative

Mr. S. J. Korchinski (Mackenzie):

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege which I believe affects all Members of Parlia-

June 17, 1970

ment. It arises out of the fact that I was denied, as a member of the Standing Committee on Agriculture, during consideration of Bill C-196 in a clause by clause study, by the vice-chairman of the agricultural committee who was in the chair at the time, an opportunity to participate in a discussion on a clause of the bill to which an amendment had been proposed, despite repeated requests by me directed to the Chair for recognition.

The incident arose during last night's sitting of the committee on Agriculture. An amendment had been proposed by the hon. member for Crowfoot (Mr. Horner). In fairness to the chairman I should say that I was granted one opportunity to comment on the amendment, after the opening remarks by the mover of the amendment.

Subsequently the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Olson) presented his rebuttal to the amendment, at which time certain arguments were presented which I felt should have been corrected. I requested recognition from the Chair and patiently awaited my turn for recognition. However, after points of order had been raised during which I participated, at the conclusion of my contribution to the points of order I requested that I be heard at the appropriate time on the amendment to the pertinent clause which was under discussion. The present committee system and the reporting of the proceedings do not permit me to produce the report of the proceedings, which would attest to the fact that I verbally requested recognition before the amendment was put, because the report is not yet printed.

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

Under the previous system where the entire membership of the House participated in clause by clause discussions it may not have been necessary for a member to rise on several occasions to present arguments for or against a particular clause of a bill because other members had an opportunity to contribute and often covered the point. You will agree with me, Mr. Speaker, that this practice was allowed and that on no occasion was a member denied the right to speak, and only when all arguments had been assessed was the question put.

Topic:   MR. KORCHINSKI-OPPORTUNITY TO PARTICIPATE IN DISCUSSION IN AGRICULTURAL COMMITTEE
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Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   MR. KORCHINSKI-OPPORTUNITY TO PARTICIPATE IN DISCUSSION IN AGRICULTURAL COMMITTEE
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June 17, 1970