April 29, 1971

PRIVILEGE

MR. HOWARD (SKEENA)-RIGHT OF MEMBERS TO VISIT PENITENTIARIES

NDP

Frank Howard

New Democratic Party

Mr. Frank Howard (Skeena):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to rise on a question of privilege that affects the House and all members. By way of a preliminary perhaps I ought to say that yesterday the hon. member for Broadview, the hon. member for Moose Jaw, the hon. member for Timiskaming and I took the occasion to visit Millhaven penitentiary, which has received some publicity lately. When we arrived we were received with cordiality and friendliness by the warden and deputy warden, who were in no way hesitant about our right to visit the institution during reasonable hours of the day. Actually, I understand that there are some internal memos within the department on the matter which indicate that Members of Parliament may receive courtesies and opportunities not available to anybody else.

It has been a longstanding British tradition going back to long before Canada was founded and it has been a Canadian tradition as well that Members of Parliament, as the elected representatives of the public, should have the right to have access to those areas where the public invests its money in order to determine matters involving administration and also to assist in developing public policy relating to penitentiaries as a result of their understanding of the situation concerning penitentiaries. Thus they can assist in developing public policy. Such visits in the past have certainly brought about a greater appreciation of the desire and need to make changes in the penitentiary system.

After about three and a half or four hours in the institution and at a time when we were speaking with one of the inmates in Millhaven, there was an interruption by the warden who carried with him the following

message:

The minister has asked me through the Deputy Commissioner that the M.P.'s be asked to leave the institute right away. A legal opinion has been obtained that they have no statutory right to be in the institute. The minister's request is made because the whole matter is under review by a commission of inquiry and also because of a police investigation into a murder.

I assume that was the Solicitor General (Mr. Goyer). There was no indication that it was any other minister, and penitentiaries come under the jurisdiction of the Solicitor General.

The phrase in that message about a legal opinion having been obtained with regard to the statutory right of members to visit such institutions is in reality a subterfuge. In activities of this sort, and I hope the Solicitor General feels this way, we should not be concerned about legal opinions but about moral rights and obligations.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. HOWARD (SKEENA)-RIGHT OF MEMBERS TO VISIT PENITENTIARIES
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. HOWARD (SKEENA)-RIGHT OF MEMBERS TO VISIT PENITENTIARIES
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NDP

Frank Howard

New Democratic Party

Mr. Howard (Skeena):

Although this is not directly a part of the question of privilege, the reference in the message to the matter being under review by a commission of inquiry and about a police investigation into a murder is somewhat offensive in that it implies that we may have been intent upon impeding or in fact were impeding either of these inquiries. Such is not the case.

Members of Parliament are the elected representatives of the public. In that sense they have certain rights and privileges that are not available to other citizens. In the pursuit of their duties and obligations they have an obligation to visit areas where public money is being expended. There should be no consideration on the part of the cabinet of interference in the normal course of events with those examinations and studies, especially by one who has so little sensitivity to British and Canadian traditions in this field. It is the right of Parliament and Members of Parliament to review the administration of the cabinet. It is not a right of the cabinet to abrogate that review.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. HOWARD (SKEENA)-RIGHT OF MEMBERS TO VISIT PENITENTIARIES
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. HOWARD (SKEENA)-RIGHT OF MEMBERS TO VISIT PENITENTIARIES
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NDP

Frank Howard

New Democratic Party

Mr. Howard (Skeena):

It is not only a traditional right but at one time in our Canadian statutes it was in fact a statutory right. Prior to the session of 1960-61 the Penitentiary Act contained a provision in section 45 which read as follows:

The following persons may visit any penitentiary during business hours, that is to say-

Then it lists a number, including the Governor General of Canada and "any member of the Parliament of Canada".

When the Penitentiary Act was revised in 1960-61 the Hon. Davie Fulton was Minister of Justice and the right hon. member for Prince Albert (Mr. Diefenbaker) was Prime Minister. The point was raised about leaving out of the proposed new Penitentiary Act the provision containing the right of Members of Parliament to visit penitentiaries during business hours. We were assured by the then Minister of Justice that this action had the endorsement and approval of the then Prime Minister. He said that it was considered appropriate because of the legal construction of statute law not to have that provision carried forward into the new act but that it would be contained within the regulations and that there would not be any interference with that particular right. This has been the course followed by every warden of every penitentiary which has ever been visited since that time by any Member of Parliament; they have respected the

April 29, 1971

Penitentiaries

right of Members of Parliament to inquire into and visit these institutions in the course of their obligations.

I consider the action on the part of the Solicitor General-I am commenting on the basis of the information given to us by the warden; if that information is incorrect, then, of course, I am in error, but there is no reason to think so-to be highly affronting to the privileges of this House, highly affronting to the general public and an abrogation of a privilege which is basic in character. Parliament must always be very jealous of its rights, because the preservation of these rights is directly con-nec ed with its ability to carry out its duties and respon-sibili.ies. Particularly in areas such as penitentiaries where the general public is denied the right and the opportunity to visit and see what is happening, it is even more important in the public interest that the public should have knowledge about the administration of penitentiaries, both in terms of their proper administration and of influencing public policy. Every time Parliament loses a right it loses part of the freedom of this nation in the process.

Wi'hout going further into the matter, let me say I believe there is a prima facie question of privilege. If, in Your Honour's estimation, this is the case, I would move, seconded by the hon. member for Broadview (Mr. Gilbert):

That the matter of the right of Members of this House to visit penitentiaries under the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada during business hours be referred to the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. HOWARD (SKEENA)-RIGHT OF MEMBERS TO VISIT PENITENTIARIES
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. HOWARD (SKEENA)-RIGHT OF MEMBERS TO VISIT PENITENTIARIES
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IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

If there is to be no reply to the suggestion made by the hon. member for Skeena I am prepared to express an opinion on whether there is a prima facie case of privilege in the circumstances alluded to by the hon. member for Skeena. He has, of course, given the Chair the required notice and that has afforded the Chair an opportunity to reflect on the situation and to consider whether there is, indeed, a prima facie case of privilege involved.

The hon. member suggests that the refusal on the part of the government, or of a representative of the government, or of the Solicitor General to allow him access to a penitentiary constitutes a breach of the parliamentary privileges. The question to be determined is, whether included in the rights and privileges belonging to the House and to its members individually is a right or a privilege to visit certain institutions, including penitentiaries.

On a number of occasions I have defined what I consider to be parliamentary privilege. Privilege is that which sets hon. members apart from other citizens giving them rights which the public do not possess. I suggest we should be careful in construing any particular circumstance which might add to the privileges which have been recognized over the years and perhaps over the centuries as belonging to members of the House of Commons. In my view, parliamentary privilege does not go much beyond the right of free speech in the House of Commons and the right of a member to discharge his

duties in the House as a member of the House of Commons. It seems to me that the fact that the Penitentiary Act in the past, until 1961 I believe, did provide for a right on the part of members to make visits is an indication that if it were part of parliamentary privilege, it would not have been included in the statutes.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. HOWARD (SKEENA)-RIGHT OF MEMBERS TO VISIT PENITENTIARIES
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NDP

William Arnold Peters

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peters:

That is why it was taken out.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. HOWARD (SKEENA)-RIGHT OF MEMBERS TO VISIT PENITENTIARIES
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IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

The hon. member for Timiskaming suggests that this is why it was taken out, but there is nothing anywhere it seems to me which will indicate that is the reason for removing that provision.

I suggest to hon. members that if there is cause for complaint it ought to be in the form of a grievance against the minister or against the government. I would hesitate very much to suggest to hon. members that there is included as part of our special rights as members of this House the right to visit certain institutions, including penitentiaries. The hon. member says that this right does apply to penitentiaries but he has not said what other institutions might be covered by this suggested special right. I do not think that our special privileges should be deemed, construed and interpreted as including that particular right.

I recognize that there is a very special problem here. It seems to me that if there is not a question of privilege, as I am inclined to conclude, there is a problem which might very well be considered by the House in some other way or form, but it seems to me that the motion proposed by the hon. member is in the form of a substantive motion rather than a question of privilege. He has suggested that a very important problem, which has been brought to the fore by the fact that he and o'her of his colleagues in the House of Commons have been denied what they consider to be a traditional right, and the question should be investigated. It is my thought that the matter might be looked into not under the guise or cover of a question of privilege but perhaps by or as a result of a substantive motion.

I fully recognized the importance of the matter and the seriousness of the situation brought to the fore by the hon. member. I would hope it might be cleared up in one way or another, but it should not be dealt with through the agency of a question of privilege.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. HOWARD (SKEENA)-RIGHT OF MEMBERS TO VISIT PENITENTIARIES
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MR. LAPRISE-CORRECTION OF STATEMENT BY PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO SECRETARY OF STATE FOR EXTERNAL AFFAIRS

SC

Gérard Laprise

Social Credit

Mr. Gerard Laprise (Abiiibi):

Mr. Speaker, I am rising on a question of privilege to set the record straight concerning an erroneous and misleading statement made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Ouellet), before the Sherbrooke Optimist Club, last Monday, April 26, 1971, when he said, and I quote the newspaper La Tribune:

-the position of the Creditistes is most regrettable. He called the latter mean, miserly and heartless because they object to

April 29, 1971

Canada's allotting 0.5 per cent of its gross national product to ease the misery of the third world's 2 billion inhabitants.

Mr. Speaker, this statement which has been made by a public figure, is erroneous and misleading, since the members of the Ralliement creditiste did not object to assistance being given to underdeveloped countries, but they even requested the same privileges and considerations for our provincial and municipal governments.

I wanted to set the facts in their true light, Mr. Speaker.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. LAPRISE-CORRECTION OF STATEMENT BY PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO SECRETARY OF STATE FOR EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
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IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

The hon. member for Abitibi has given the Chair notice of the question he wanted to raise. As he is not moving a motion in the House, it may not be necessary for me to express an opinion as to the merits of the question of privilege raised by him.

Nevertheless I may perhaps refer the hon. member to Citalion No. 113 of Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms, Fourth Edition, which states as follows:

-a dispute arising between two members, as to allegations of facts, does not fulfil the conditions of parliamentary privilege.

And elsewhere, it says:

A question of privilege ought rarely to come up in Parliament.

I do not want to repeat my remarks with regard to the question of privilege raised by the hon. member for Skeena (Mr. Howard). What I said then applies, to a certain extent, to the circumstances mentioned by the hon. member. I have come to the conclusion that there is no prima facie case of privilege; therefore, no motion can be considered.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. LAPRISE-CORRECTION OF STATEMENT BY PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO SECRETARY OF STATE FOR EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
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ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

THE MINISTRY

LIB

Pierre Elliott Trudeau (Prime Minister)

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform the House that I have received a letter of resignation, as a member of the government, from the Hon. Eric Kierans, Minister of Communications, and that I have recommended to the Governor General that it be accepted.

The Acting Minister of Communications will be the Minister without Portfolio, the hon. member for Lon-gueuil (Mr. Cote).

Under Standing Order 41(2) I wish to table the correspondence exchanged between Mr. Kierans and myself.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   THE MINISTRY
Sub-subtopic:   TABLING OF LETTER OF RESIGNATION OF MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS
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EXTERNAL AFFAIRS

LIB

Mitchell William Sharp (Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Hon. Mitchell Sharp (Secretary of Slate for External Affairs):

Mr. Speaker, I have just returned from Europe, where I had the honour to accompany the Governor Gen-

Minister's Statement on Visit to Europe eral and Mrs. Michener on a series of official visits to the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. Queen Juliana and the Prince of the Netherlands, the King and Queen of Belgium and the Grand Duke and Duchess of Luxembourg received Their Excellencies with great kindness. These visits served to underline the closeness of the bonds of kinship and affection between Canada and the host countries, bonds forged by a shared history, strengthened by comradeship in two world wars and maintained by our alliance in NATO. His Excellency reminded his hosts in all three countries of the contribution made by so many Canadians of Benelux origin to the development of Canada and the friendship between our countries. He stressed the growing importance of trading relationships and scientific and cultural exchanges. I am sure I speak for us all when I thank the governments and people of the Benelux countries for the warm welcome given to the Governor General and Mrs. Michener wherever they went. Their Excellencies took advantage of their visits to The Netherlands and Belgium to join with their hosts in paying homage to the Canadian dead of two world wars by visits to Canadian cemeteries at Holten and in Flanders.

While in Europe, I had useful talks on a number of questions, including particularly the Common Market, with the Benelux governments, the Italian government, members of the European Economic Commission and the Secretary General of NATO. Our ambassadors to France and Germany joined me for a day of discussions in Brussels, enabling me to have some contact with all six countries of the European Economic Community.

The principal subject of all my talks was the current negotiation for the enlargement of the community. As the House is aware, the government, through meetings at the ministerial level, diplomatic representations and public speeches, has been making known over a period of many months Canadian concern about some of the effects of the anticipated enlargement of the Common Market. The government is not opposed to the broadening and deepening of the community; on the contrary, we see this development as an important contribution to greater stability and prosperity in Europe and the world. We have urged, however, that it is neither desirable nor necessary that this economic unification should take place at the expense of third countries like Canada. We have made concrete proposals to minimize the possible adverse effects of enlargement. In the same constructive spirit, we have urged the community to be open and outward-looking and non-discriminatory in its trading policies, and to do everything to avoid a trade confrontation with the United States costly to themselves, to us and the western world as a whole.

While in Europe, I re-emphasized these points, as did my colleague the Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce (Mr. Pepin) who, as the House knows, was in Bonn at the same time. I went a step further on this occasion and urged both the member governments and the commission of the EEC to give serious consideration to the establishment of procedures for regular consultation with Canada. Hon. members will readily understand that if and when enlargement is achieved relations between

April 29. 1971

Minister's Statement on Visit to Europe Canada and the other great trading entities-the European community, the United States and Japan-as well as among these entities themselves, will assume even greater significance for us and for them. It will be a different trading world.

I believe I am justified in saying that the Canadian concerns are fully understood in Europe and that the response has been positive, principally because our fundamental attitude to European unity has been constructive. We shall continue to press our case on every suitable occasion during the months ahead when crucial decisions are to be made.

While in Brussels, I signed, on behalf of Canada, an agreement for scientific and technological co-operation with Belgium. This agreement will facilitate and encourage expansion of scientific industrial and technological co-operation between our countries. The agreement illustrates how Canada is broadening the scope of its relations with Europe, one of our major policy objectives, as identified in the government's foreign policy review.

While in Rome, I was received in audience by the Pope. Our discussion ranged over the troubled areas of the world and concentrated upon the Middle East, which is one of His Holiness' gravest concerns. The Pope recalled with pleasure a visit he paid to Canada some 20 years ago, and the expression of his warm sentiments for this country brought to mind the thoughtful comment he made in 1969 when he said that the forces uniting Canadians seemed to him stronger than the forces that tend to divide us.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   STATEMENT BY MINISTER ON VISIT TO EUROPE
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PC

Heath Nelson Macquarrie

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Heath Macquarrie (Hillsborough):

Mr. Speaker, I must begin by welcoming back the minister. It has become my pleasant and frequent duty to welcome him back from very extensive and sometimes exotic tours abroad. This time he was in an exalted role in which he was an escort to vice-royalty, to dukes, duchesses, kings and grand duchesses. How many of us commoners have such a role cast upon us, to walk with kings and sup with queens.

I see in this morning's Globe and Mail that the minister is cast in the mantle of Sir Walter Raleigh. I would not presume to comment upon the courtier's function-I would not know it-but I must caution the minister to recall that Raleigh is not a very good model for a politician. That attendant knight had a political career which was something less than glorious. He spent much of his time forecasting discoveries, inventions and achievements which never came to pass. He pursued many goals which he never did attain. He was often away from home and, worst of all, ran afoul of the personage who held the political realm at bay and he spent many years in the Tower devoid of influence, power and freedom. I have no reference to the erstwhile Minister of Communications!

Of course this was a most important visit. I believe that the current pilgrimages to Europe are efforts by the government to overcome some of the ill effects of the government's own recent policies toward Europe. We have, I fear, given Europe a lower priority, and I am afraid we are being taken less seriously by Europe as a

result. In its preoccupation with other ventures the government appears almost to be taken by surprise at the tremendous developments now taking place in western Europe. It should not surprise anyone that Britain is interested in moving into the ECM. This is not something which took place yesterday. It was some months ago that the government in its contemporary wisdom decided to downgrade our NATO role and diminish our interest in the Commonwealth and especially in the senior member of the commonwealth, Britain, but now we are rudely awakened to the impact of a much larger and more closely integrated European community.

In the Committee on External Affairs and National Defence the other day we were told by a distinguished witness in the international field that the great danger facing Canada today was not that of being taken over but of being left out in light of the many important and massive trade relationships which are being built up. I wonder-and I express this with great concern and anxiety-if the Canadian economy is in any way prepared for the developments which will take place when the United Kingdom enters the European Common Market. The Canadian economy is in a very precarious position because not sufficient was done before. The minister is quite right when he says that in the future there will be a different trading world. Will it be a world for which Canada is prepared and in which Canada will play a prosperous and useful part? This is the essential question. Western Europe is still an area of vital concern and profound interest to this country and no flirtations with other deviations and developments of frills in foreign policy will ever blot out that fact.

I notice that the minister had an audience with His Holiness the Pope. I had that great honour a year ago. At that time too the Holy Father expressed his interest in the Middle East and his grave concern about the trouble in that part of the world. I read in the European press that the Holy Father expressed the hope that Canada might play a more important and more valuable role in the Middle East. I would say that the minister might well be urged to follow the advice and suggestion of His Holiness the Pope because we cannot, should not and dare not evade our responsibilities in the Middle East, that tense, troubled and explosive spot.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   STATEMENT BY MINISTER ON VISIT TO EUROPE
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April 29, 1971