September 21, 1971

PRIVILEGE

MR. GLEAVE-POSTPONEMENT OF DEBATE ON AGRICULTURAL STABILIZATION BILL IN LIGHT OF MEETING SOUGHT BY PRAIRIE PROVINCE GOVERNMENTS

NDP

Alfred Pullen Gleave (N.D.P. Caucus Chair)

New Democratic Party

Mr. A. P. Gleave (Saskatoon-Biggar):

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege of which I have given notice. My question of privilege arises out of news reports last night and this morning that representatives of the three prairie governments will seek a meeting with the federal government in respect of Bill C-244. In view of this, surely it is unfair to the House to ask members to proceed with Bill C-244 until after such meetings have been held. I therefore address my question of privilege to the government House leader in the hope that he will schedule some other legislation for today.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. GLEAVE-POSTPONEMENT OF DEBATE ON AGRICULTURAL STABILIZATION BILL IN LIGHT OF MEETING SOUGHT BY PRAIRIE PROVINCE GOVERNMENTS
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IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

My understanding is that questions of privilege are normally addressed to the House generally and to the Chair. This one comes before us in a novel way. I am sure the hon. member will agree with me that this is not a question of privilege in the traditional terms; it is rather a submission which he is making at this time to the government by way of a question of privilege. I do not think I should rule further on the matter.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. GLEAVE-POSTPONEMENT OF DEBATE ON AGRICULTURAL STABILIZATION BILL IN LIGHT OF MEETING SOUGHT BY PRAIRIE PROVINCE GOVERNMENTS
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WITHHOLDING BY GOVERNMENT OF PAYMENTS UNDER TEMPORARY WHEAT RESERVES ACT-SUGGESTED CONSIDERATION OF MOTION TO ESTABLISH IMPEACHMENT COMMITTEE

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 point of order to ask Your Honour to consider arguments as to why there should be put before the House a motion for the establishment of an impeachment committee. This motion is couched generally in the terms of motion No. 48 which appeared on the order paper for Monday, September 20. There are some changes in it so I shall read it as it is only a few lines. My right or the right of any member to put such a motion forms the subject of my point of order. The proposed motion reads as follows: That a special committee of five members having the power of a standing committee under Standing Order 65(8) be appointed to examine and inquire into the continuing refusal by government ministers to bring about the payment as required under the Temporary Wheat Reserves Act, Chapter 2, 1956 Statutes of Canada, of such sums as are lawfully payable to the Canadian Wheat Board for the benefit of certain Canadian wheat farmers and to draft and recommend the form of articles of impeachment for this misdemeanour.

When I first filed my private members' motion I asked, in the form of a letter to the government House leader (Mr. MacEachen), whether the government, because of the importance of this issue related as it was to the business of the House, would see fit to accelerate the bringing forward of that motion under terms of an agreement which would limit the time for debate but would provide for the question to be put at the end. The House leader refused that request, as of course is his privilege, and this with other reasons accounts for my bringing forward the proposed motion now.

The question then is for me to place before the Chair sufficient facts and precedents to warrant the request I have made that the motion in the terms indicated above be put to the House after receiving due debate. The facts, of course, will be limited to those which I think should be made known to the Chair and will be submitted not to argue the merits of the motion in terms of trying to persuade hon. members to accept it-I hope that will come later-but merely to convince the Chair that this is a motion of substance which needs to be put and, of course, that the precedents and practices of the House warrant the Chair in entertaining the motion and, by putting it, placing it in the custody of the House. What in fact is in issue is the right of myself or of any other member to bring forward a substantive motion of this kind and have it put to the House. The gist of the facts is not really in issue, but I think the Chair is entitled to have at least some knowledge of the facts so it may be understood that there is in fact a prima facie case, in the same way that a person who has been charged must first go through a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is enough evidence to warrant him being committed for trial.

Most of the facts have been well ventilated. There is an act called the Temporary Wheat Reserves Act which places a mandatory burden upon the government and, in particular, upon the Minister of Finance to make certain payments to the Wheat Board, which in turn are used to defray expenses of the board and thus indirectly benefit the farmers who have their net receipts from the Wheat Board as a result of the sale of wheat increased to that extent. The government has admitted, by returns filed in the House which are a matter of record, that moneys are owing for one crop year and for part of another. The act provides that the moneys are to be paid on a monthly basis. Various members of the government have repeated unequivocally that they do not intend to make these payments. I would add in this regard that if the action of the Minister of Finance, who under the act is charged with responsibility, is, as I assume it to be, the collective action of the government and the cabinet, then they are all tainted with the same misdemeanour and this would be in

September 21, 1971

Withholding of Grain Payments

effect a collective agreement to break the law, a form of conspiracy.

Topic:   WITHHOLDING BY GOVERNMENT OF PAYMENTS UNDER TEMPORARY WHEAT RESERVES ACT-SUGGESTED CONSIDERATION OF MOTION TO ESTABLISH IMPEACHMENT COMMITTEE
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   WITHHOLDING BY GOVERNMENT OF PAYMENTS UNDER TEMPORARY WHEAT RESERVES ACT-SUGGESTED CONSIDERATION OF MOTION TO ESTABLISH IMPEACHMENT COMMITTEE
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PC

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

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Baldwin:

The core of the defence is that the government has indicated that there is other legislation which will have the effect of repealing the Temporary Wheat Reserves Act and, this being the case, they have merely ignored the requests which have been made that the funds should be distributed. In short, Mr. Speaker, has democracy come to this, that the government need only signify its intent to legislate for that intent to be accepted as holy writ? I suggest that intent is part of the issue to be considered here. For that reason I find that the offence of the government has been aggravated by facts which have just been brought to my attention recently.

I have before me the final volume of the Revised Statutes of Canada, 1970, it being the volume which contains the indices and which I only read two or three days ago. It has been in our possession for only a few days. The Revised Statutes of Canada, 1970, were brought into effect pursuant to a statute of this Parliament in 1965 which placed upon the Minister of Justice, under sections 2 and 4, the responsibility for examining the Revised Statutes of 1952 and placing in the form of the Revised Statutes of 1970 those statutes of 1952 which have not been either repealed or consolidated. I find, on looking at page 57 of this last volume, that chapter 2 of the Statutes of Canada, 1956, which is the Temporary Wheat Reserves Act, has set against it in the appropriate column the letters "Om.". On examining the page containing the glossary of terms, the letters "Om." are stated to, mean, "omitted and repealed by revision". This statute, in spite of what the government says, is still alive and well. It has not been repealed. Yet the Minister of Justice and his colleagues and those who were on the committee charged with the responsibility of preparing the Revised Statutes of Canada, 1970, have taken it upon themselves to repeal the Temporary Wheat Reserves Act while it is still in existence and part of the law of this land.

Topic:   WITHHOLDING BY GOVERNMENT OF PAYMENTS UNDER TEMPORARY WHEAT RESERVES ACT-SUGGESTED CONSIDERATION OF MOTION TO ESTABLISH IMPEACHMENT COMMITTEE
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?

Some hon. Members:

Shame!

Topic:   WITHHOLDING BY GOVERNMENT OF PAYMENTS UNDER TEMPORARY WHEAT RESERVES ACT-SUGGESTED CONSIDERATION OF MOTION TO ESTABLISH IMPEACHMENT COMMITTEE
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PC

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

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Baldwin:

I think that shows intent better than anything else that could be said. In this issue intent must be part of the facts which I must establish in order to make a prima facie case.

Topic:   WITHHOLDING BY GOVERNMENT OF PAYMENTS UNDER TEMPORARY WHEAT RESERVES ACT-SUGGESTED CONSIDERATION OF MOTION TO ESTABLISH IMPEACHMENT COMMITTEE
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PC

Robert Lorne Stanfield (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Stanfield:

Impeachment is too good for them.

Topic:   WITHHOLDING BY GOVERNMENT OF PAYMENTS UNDER TEMPORARY WHEAT RESERVES ACT-SUGGESTED CONSIDERATION OF MOTION TO ESTABLISH IMPEACHMENT COMMITTEE
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PC

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

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Baldwin:

The government has seen fit to bring the agricultural stabilization bill back before the House today, unless they yield to the request made by the hon. member for Saskatoon-Biggar a short time ago. I suggest to the House and to Your Honour in particular that, taking into account the facts and the decision you have to make, it does not constitute any real change in the situation to bring back Bill C-244 for discussion. I think this action is merely a tacit admission of guilt on the part of the government.

Topic:   WITHHOLDING BY GOVERNMENT OF PAYMENTS UNDER TEMPORARY WHEAT RESERVES ACT-SUGGESTED CONSIDERATION OF MOTION TO ESTABLISH IMPEACHMENT COMMITTEE
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   WITHHOLDING BY GOVERNMENT OF PAYMENTS UNDER TEMPORARY WHEAT RESERVES ACT-SUGGESTED CONSIDERATION OF MOTION TO ESTABLISH IMPEACHMENT COMMITTEE
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PC

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

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Baldwin:

Mr. Speaker, as a member of the profession to which I and other members have the honour to

belong, Your Honour will know and admit that the law speaks ever, speaks continuously. From the minute of the day when a statute comes into effect the law speaks every month, every day, every hour and every minute. Even as I pause for a few seconds, the government has breached the law of this land because it has failed to carry out the terms of a statute of this country.

The purpose of an impeachment in the modern sense, as I will endeavour to convince Your Honour, is not to punish as in the older types of impeachment cases. It is a means of declaring that certain people holding high offices are not fit to hold those offices. Even if Bill C-244 is brought back for debate there will be every reason to debate the number of amendments which are before the House at reasonable length. But even if that bill should pass, with or without amendments, that still will not purge the contempt that the government has shown because for a period of much more than a year it has failed to obey a law which is in existence. If the bill is passed there will be a detriment to the farmers because they will not receive the benefits under the Temporary Wheat Reserves Act which they would have received. Its passage also cannot alter the fact that for a significant period of time members of this government, as I hope to suggest to Your Honour, have been in contempt by their failure to observe the law of this country.

Topic:   WITHHOLDING BY GOVERNMENT OF PAYMENTS UNDER TEMPORARY WHEAT RESERVES ACT-SUGGESTED CONSIDERATION OF MOTION TO ESTABLISH IMPEACHMENT COMMITTEE
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   WITHHOLDING BY GOVERNMENT OF PAYMENTS UNDER TEMPORARY WHEAT RESERVES ACT-SUGGESTED CONSIDERATION OF MOTION TO ESTABLISH IMPEACHMENT COMMITTEE
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PC

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

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Baldwin:

Passage of Bill C-244 will not constitute a retroactive pardon. I might point out in passing the famous case of impeachment of the Earl of March who, a great many years ago, was impeached, found guilty and beheaded. The next year Parliament found it had made a mistake, repealed its act of impeachment and pardoned the Earl of March. Unfortunately this did not place his head back on his shoulders. Passage of Bill C-244 will not constitute a retroactive pardon for these improper actions on the part of the government.

There are a number of volumes dealing with the question of impeachment. The book by Mr. Alex Simpson deals fully with impeachments in the United Kingdom and the United States. It cites a number of instances where impeachment proceedings were taken. To show the resemblance to the present situation, I will cite cases where impeachments were in fact taken and brought into the House of Commons and House of Lords. Lord Treasurer Middlesex was impeached on a number of articles, one of them being that he refused to pay the merchants importing sugar the impost paid on importation, contrary to direction given by His Majesty's letters patent. In other words, refusal to pay moneys lawfully appropriated for a specific purpose constituted a valid ground for impeachment. In the case of Lord Melville, which I will deal with later, it was a valid reason for impeachment that money was paid for certain public services before the act authorizing the payments had in fact been passed.

There are other interesting cases. The only other one to which I will refer is the case of a man called Benyon. This may be of interest to people who are connected with, but not in, the House. It is a valid reason for impeachment to falsely and maliciously give out and utter divers, bold, arrogant, false and scandalous statements in derogation and in contempt of the privileges of Parliament.

September 21, 1971

Topic:   WITHHOLDING BY GOVERNMENT OF PAYMENTS UNDER TEMPORARY WHEAT RESERVES ACT-SUGGESTED CONSIDERATION OF MOTION TO ESTABLISH IMPEACHMENT COMMITTEE
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PC

George Harris Hees

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hees:

That's our boys.

Topic:   WITHHOLDING BY GOVERNMENT OF PAYMENTS UNDER TEMPORARY WHEAT RESERVES ACT-SUGGESTED CONSIDERATION OF MOTION TO ESTABLISH IMPEACHMENT COMMITTEE
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PC

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

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Baldwin:

The power of this House to proceed by way of impeachment is embodied in the British North America Act, in statutes of this Parliament and in the Standing Orders of the House. The preamble to the British North America Act provided that Canada shall have a constitution similar in principle to that of the United Kingdom. Section 18, as amended by the Imperial Act of 1875, provided that the privileges, immunities and powers of the Senate and House of Commons are as defined by act of the Parliament of Canada but are not to exceed those of the Commons House of Parliament of the United Kingdom. Section 4(a) of the Senate and House of Commons Act, pursuant to that constitutional provision, states that the privileges, immunities and powers of the Senate and House of Commons are those of the United Kingdom Commons of 1867. Standing Order 1 of this House states that, in all unprovided cases, the usages and customs of the United Kingdom House of Commons apply as applicable.

I have here a very ancient volume, The Rules of the House of Commons as of 1912. The first Standing Order, which is worded somewhat differently, says:

In all cases not provided for hereinafter or by sessional or other orders, the rules, usages and forms of proceeding of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in force on the first day of July, 1867, shall be followed.

I believe I am correct in saying that this House and this Parliament have done nothing to remove from the members of the House the right to proceed by way of impeachment. It is a right which did exist, which has not been taken away and one which, modified by the circumstances and conditions of today, is a right and a privilege of this House to be exercised when circumstances warrant. The concept behind this power is the right of Parliament to control and punish the use, misuse and abuse of power by persons to whom Parliament has entrusted political or administrative authority. The procedural remedy used to enforce this control is the power to impeach.

Over the centuries the power of impeachment has been refined by statute and in some cases rendered dormant by the provision of alternative remedies. Dormant it may be, but it has not been extinguished. I have here the most recent parliamentary dictionary, Abraham and Hawtley. It contains a definition of impeachment on page 113. I shall not take time to read it. I simply say it is placed before people involved and interested in parliamentary matters, and nowhere does it suggest that this particular right has been extinguished. In fact, illustrations are given of cases in 1816 and 1848 where motions were moved revolving around a question of impeachment.

I draw to your attention, Mr. Speaker, the fact that as recently as 1959, according to a volume of the memoirs of Harold Macmillan-I think it is in the third volume-a debate took place in the House of Commons in 1959 relating to a request by motion that the House approve the Anglo-Egyptian financial settlement following the Suez Canal crisis and the Leader of the Opposition, Hugh Gait-skell-I think this appears on page 641-made a very interesting speech. It was a good debate and at the close

Withholding of Grain Payments

of the proceedings the Leader of the Opposition called for the impeachment of the Prime Minister.

Topic:   WITHHOLDING BY GOVERNMENT OF PAYMENTS UNDER TEMPORARY WHEAT RESERVES ACT-SUGGESTED CONSIDERATION OF MOTION TO ESTABLISH IMPEACHMENT COMMITTEE
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?

Some hon. Members:

Shame!

Topic:   WITHHOLDING BY GOVERNMENT OF PAYMENTS UNDER TEMPORARY WHEAT RESERVES ACT-SUGGESTED CONSIDERATION OF MOTION TO ESTABLISH IMPEACHMENT COMMITTEE
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PC

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

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Baldwin:

I mention this to Your Honour so you will realize that even within so short a period as 12 years ago consideration was given by the United Kingdom House to impeachment as a valid means of punishing those who occupy high places.

In the United Kingdom there have been certain alternatives to the use of impeachment. By their Standing Order 9, which is the equivalent of our Standing Order 26, after debate upon an urgent and pressing matter the Commons could find that there was a prima facie case against a high official of abuse of his power and a select committee would be appointed to inquire into the matter. Because this proved susceptible to political expediency, the United Kingdom passed the Tribunal of Inquiry Act of 1921 which provides that where there is a matter of urgent and pressing importance there can be a resolution of both Houses for the appointment of a committee. We have no equivalent procedure. In any event, it was not a procedure to extinguish the remedy of impeachment but was an alternative or additional power which could be exercised.

In Canada this House has never had that alternative. Standing Order 26 operates in a vacuum. There is debate on the motion to adjourn to discuss an urgent and pressing matter, but there is no provision, under the interpretation that has been given by our Speakers, to conclude with a motion to appoint a select committee to investigate, make findings and recommendations. I think there is no question that that is what is accepted. Under these conditions, I submit to Your Honour that the onus is upon those who would argue the contrary to convince Your Honour and the House that there is not still present in the House, as there ought to be, the right to make a motion to impeach. To those who suggest otherwise, who suggest that the right is no longer valid, I point out that all of the rules, cases and statutes to which I have referred suggest that this is a right imported into Canada and into this House of Commons, and until extinguished by specific act it is a right which in extraordinary cases should and can be exercised.

Why is it that this right has not been used in recent years either here or in the United Kingdom? I think the answer is very simple.

Topic:   WITHHOLDING BY GOVERNMENT OF PAYMENTS UNDER TEMPORARY WHEAT RESERVES ACT-SUGGESTED CONSIDERATION OF MOTION TO ESTABLISH IMPEACHMENT COMMITTEE
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September 21, 1971