June 14, 1972

LIB

Gérard Pelletier (Secretary of State of Canada)

Liberal

Hon. Gerard Pelletier (Secretary of State):

Mr. Speaker, this is obviously a matter that does not fall within the purview of my department, but of the government as a whole.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUTH PROGRAM-POSSIBILITY OF FURTHER FUNDING
Permalink
PC

David Samuel Horne MacDonald

Progressive Conservative

Mr. MacDonald (Egmont):

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, the question was directly with regard to the special program known as Opportunities for Youth for which the minister does have responsibility. Perhaps he did not fully understand my question. It was with regard to possible potential further funding in view of the very high rate of youth unemployment.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUTH PROGRAM-POSSIBILITY OF FURTHER FUNDING
Permalink
LIB

Gérard Pelletier (Secretary of State of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Pelletier:

Mr. Speaker, that is what I said, that potential higher funding is in the hands of the government, not of the Secretary of State.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUTH PROGRAM-POSSIBILITY OF FURTHER FUNDING
Permalink
IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

Orders of the day.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUTH PROGRAM-POSSIBILITY OF FURTHER FUNDING
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PC

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

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Baldwin:

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. At considerable personal self-sacrifice I have had consultations with the other House leaders and it has been suggested that we might cut down the length of speeches on the supply motion today to 20 minutes each for the mover of the motion and the first speaker on the government side and 15 minutes for all other speeches. I think there is a general disposition to accept that. It might add to the quality of the debate and provide more opportunities for hon. members.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUTH PROGRAM-POSSIBILITY OF FURTHER FUNDING
Permalink
NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader; Whip of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

Yes, Mr. Speaker, we agree.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUTH PROGRAM-POSSIBILITY OF FURTHER FUNDING
Permalink
SC

Joseph Adrien Henri Lambert

Social Credit

Mr. Lambert (Bellechasse):

Mr. Speaker, we all agree. [English]

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUTH PROGRAM-POSSIBILITY OF FURTHER FUNDING
Permalink
IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

Is this agreed?

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUTH PROGRAM-POSSIBILITY OF FURTHER FUNDING
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUTH PROGRAM-POSSIBILITY OF FURTHER FUNDING
Permalink
IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

As there is unanimous agreement it will be so ordered.

June 14, 1972

Information on Government Business

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUTH PROGRAM-POSSIBILITY OF FURTHER FUNDING
Permalink

GOVERNMENT ORDERS

BUSINESS OF SUPPLY

PC

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

Progressive Conservative

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

This House, conscious of the failure of the Government to keep the Canadian people and Parliament adequately informed, urges that steps be taken by legislation and otherwise to provide clear rules for freedom of information with regard to public business.

He said: Mr. Speaker, because of the lack of time I shall deprive myself of the opportunity of giving by chapter and verse the many situations where the government has failed to provide to members of this House the information to which they are entitled. The lacklustre and sorry performance today of hon. gentlemen opposite, from the chief offender down, gives undoubted corroboration to the motion I have put before the House.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY S.O. 58-ALLEGED FAILURE OF GOVERNMENT TO PROVIDE ADEQUATE INFORMATION WITH REGARD TO PUBLIC BUSINESS
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY S.O. 58-ALLEGED FAILURE OF GOVERNMENT TO PROVIDE ADEQUATE INFORMATION WITH REGARD TO PUBLIC BUSINESS
Permalink
PC

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

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Baldwin:

Mr. Speaker, if one looks at the written questions, one will find that a large percentage of them are questions which have been on the order paper for more than two months. If one looks at the requests for production of documents, one will find that many of them have been on the order paper for three months or more. If one listens to the questions asked by hon. members in the opposition and hears the alleged answers given by hon. members in the cabinet, the most objective, independent and impartial observer must conclude that there is a great need for this motion.

Today, Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Wellington (Mr. Hales) placed before the Secretary of State (Mr. Pelletier) an oral question with a preamble which I think illustrated my point. In the preamble, the hon. member stated that somebody in the department had followed the instructions given to him. Following a request that the name of the program co-ordinator for an Opportunities for Youth program be made available the hon. member was told, and the House must accept this, that instructions were given by a very high source that such information was not to be given to a member of this House, acting either for himself or the people of his constituency. This is the kind of performance, Mr. Speaker, which makes it essential to put this motion.

In addition, I have in my hand a copy of an Order in Council dated May 4,1972 which reads as follows:

His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, pursuant to section 34 of the Broadcasting Act, is pleased hereby to appoint Mr. Laurent Augustin Picard to be President of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, to hold office during good behaviour for a term of seven years, effective August 1, 1972, and to fix his salary at the rate set out in the schedule hereto.

The schedule is attached and provides for an annual salary of $60,000 but in front of that Order in Council there appears the following statement:

The Specific Salary of any person named in the attached Order in

Council is Confidential information. It must not be divulged to unauthorized personnel. Please attach a copy of this notice to any duplicate which you may make of the Order in Council.

Is this the kind of freedom of information we are going to have in this country, under which mundane matters such as the salary of an official of a public corporation is to be considered an official secret, bound by the provisions of the Official Secrets Act? We have come to a sorry pass in this democratic country if not only members of this House but the public who pay the taxes from which is derived the salary of the President of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation or the head of any public body, are not allowed this information. This is a pretty sad state of affairs and it is something which must be examined.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY S.O. 58-ALLEGED FAILURE OF GOVERNMENT TO PROVIDE ADEQUATE INFORMATION WITH REGARD TO PUBLIC BUSINESS
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY S.O. 58-ALLEGED FAILURE OF GOVERNMENT TO PROVIDE ADEQUATE INFORMATION WITH REGARD TO PUBLIC BUSINESS
Permalink
PC

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

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Baldwin:

Mr. Speaker, the very fact that I found it necessary to put this motion is proof that need exists; the very fact that the public is unable to secure the information it wants; the very fact that hundreds of written questions are not answered or are not answered adequately; the very fact that oral questions are not answered adequately or properly or are stone-walled by a minister's answer, these examples are all proof that something must be done. The performance of the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) and members of his cabinet with regard to providing information to the public is shoddy and discreditable. Accepting this assumption, what I seek to do by this motion, and by steps I have taken on behalf of this party in the past, is to reverse the existing process.

Today, anyone seeking information from the government must go, hat in hand, saying "Please, kind sirs, will you provide these facts to us?" If the government thinks it is right to do so it will say "Yes, you are good boys and we will let you have this particular fact or produce this particular document for you." What I seek, Mr. Speaker, is to reverse that process and show that there is and must be at all times an obligation upon the government to furnish to the people of Canada, to the media, to members of this House and the other place, information which they request as well as documents.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY S.O. 58-ALLEGED FAILURE OF GOVERNMENT TO PROVIDE ADEQUATE INFORMATION WITH REGARD TO PUBLIC BUSINESS
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY S.O. 58-ALLEGED FAILURE OF GOVERNMENT TO PROVIDE ADEQUATE INFORMATION WITH REGARD TO PUBLIC BUSINESS
Permalink
PC

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

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Baldwin:

I will be the first to admit that there must be exceptions to this. Obviously, in cases involving such things as national security where the statutes provide that certain information or documents shall be exempt-and a government always has this remedy, to pass a statute to exempt information-or where an investigation with regard to a criminal offence is taking place or in income tax matters, I readily accept the proposition that these should be exempt. Having said that, Mr. Speaker, I contend that there is still ample room for an act on the statute books of this country to provide for the right of the public to information concerning public business.

Two years ago I proposed a private members public bill. I put it back on the order paper this session in order to question members of the government, from the Prime Minister to the Minister of Finance (Mr. Turner) and the Minister of Justice (Mr. Lang) with regard to a bill of this kind. The bill is simple. Clause 3 reads as follows:

June 14, 1972

Any Canadian, or any person not being a Canadian who resides in Canada, may apply to the government for a record made in the course of public business and the government shall, within a reasonable time thereafter, provide a copy of such record to any person who so applies or make such record available for inspection by him.

The bill provides for exceptions and there is a further provision that if the document is not made available a member of the public could apply to a court for an order that the document be furnished. On a hearing, it would be competent for the government to plead that such a document fell within the exceptions. I am not taking the position that these details are things which are absolutely essential. Any bill which may be passed must conform strictly to this general principle but, of course, there is room for change. Before this debate is concluded I should like to hear from some member on the government side that they are prepared to consider that a measure of this kind or a white paper or the subject matter, should be referred to a committee for consideration.

As I said, I simply propose to change the burden of proof. Responsibility must fall on the government to justify its refusal to furnish any information or document. Surely all members can accept this. Important people in various organizations have accepted this proposition.

I noticed the following statement which appeared in Volume 1 of the Report of the Task Force on Government Information:

There were two other conclusions or, rather, principles that were basic to our thinking, and we suggest them as the very cornerstone of a new policy on information. They are that, the Government has an obligation to provide full, objective and timely information; and that the citizens have a right to such information.

Do any hon. members opposite disagree with that proposition? If so, before the debate ends I hope they will stand up and say so.

I have before me an excerpt from something a distinguished Canadian wrote in 1964. In part, it reads:

Democratic progress requires the ready availability of true and complete information. In this way people can objectively evaluate their government's policies. To act otherwise is to give way to despotic secrecy-

I am sorry the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) was not listening. He was closely involved with the writing of those words. Would he like me to repeat them?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY S.O. 58-ALLEGED FAILURE OF GOVERNMENT TO PROVIDE ADEQUATE INFORMATION WITH REGARD TO PUBLIC BUSINESS
Permalink
LIB

Pierre Elliott Trudeau (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Mr. Trudeau:

Yes, read that again.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY S.O. 58-ALLEGED FAILURE OF GOVERNMENT TO PROVIDE ADEQUATE INFORMATION WITH REGARD TO PUBLIC BUSINESS
Permalink

June 14, 1972