January 10, 1973

PRIVILEGE

MR. REILLY-DISTRIBUTION OF SPEECH FROM THE THRONE PRIOR TO DELIVERY

PC

Peter Reilly

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Peter Reilly (Ottawa West):

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a matter affecting the privileges of the members of this House and of very great importance to Canadians. Last Friday I rose on a question of privilege concerning the advance publication of the Speech from the Throne. I rise on essentially the same matter today but with the addition of some new information which I believe will be of interest to members of the House. I should like to refer to the Toronto Star of Friday, January 5, and read from a column by Jack McArthur, financial editor of that paper and one of the most effective financial critics in this country, in which he says the following:

Investors and investment officials have a multi-million dollar reason today to be deeply disturbed by yesterday's Speech from the Throne in Ottawa.

Their misgivings will have less to do with the content of the speech-by tradition, a general statement of government intentions-than with how it was released and what had been happening in the stock market in the two sessions prior to the address.

Unlike a budget address, the throne speech is usually felt to have little potential for shaking stock prices. The secrecy which surrounds its release is not as intense as when a budget is coming.

That was all too obvious yesterday. Many people knew of its contents several hours before it was delivered. And this time it did have meaning for the market.

Words like "disgraceful" or "scandalous" may be too strong. But nasty phrases are appropriate.

The fact is that before the speech, during Toronto Stock Exchange trading on Wednesday and Thursday, oil and natural gas stocks were battered lower. Analysts said it was because of a rumour that the throne speech somehow would indicate unfriendliness toward exports of Arctic natural gas to the U.S., or toward the building of a $6 billion gas pipeline from the Mackenzie delta in the far northwest.

These are big ticket concerns. They involve some of the biggest tickets Canadians have ever seen. Hundreds of millions of dollars are already being spent to find northern gas reserves which can only be developed soon if gas is sold to the Americans.

There had been a recent drumming of criticism of large resource development in itself; of selling non-renewable resources to the not-so-well-loved Americans; of environmental and social damage which may go with northern development.

The Liberals found themselves running a minority government. Would they try to sidestep these controversies by stalling? It suddenly dawned on Bay Street early this week that this was possible, and that it might be indicated in the throne speech.

This made oil and natural gas stocks look less attractive to some investors. They bailed out, knocking down prices in chunks which shaved many hundreds of millions of dollars from the total value of affected shares.

By late morning yesterday, the stocks of companies like Imperial Oil, Shell Canada and Gulf Canada were disaster areas.

And then began a brisk comeback. Losses were sharply reduced in afternoon trading.

Something else happened about mid-day yesterday. Information on what was in the throne speech began to pour into newspaper offices across the country.

It was arriving by wire with the admonition that it could not be publicized before its release, expected to be around 3.30 p.m. That happens to be the time the Toronto market closes.

Given this indication of relatively slack security, and given that markets were open, it is inevitable that some of the more alert people in the investment community and elsewhere would have known something of the speech's contents before the market closed; that is, before the official release time.

And it was precisely in this period that some petroleum stocks were rising strongly after their earlier collapse.

We may ask these questions:

-were some people buying the stocks because they had discovered, or felt they had discovered, that the speech contained no terrible news about gas, oil and pipelines?

-if so, were they buying from investors who had no pre-knowledge of the throne speech? Were those uninformed investors victimized by a situation-

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. REILLY-DISTRIBUTION OF SPEECH FROM THE THRONE PRIOR TO DELIVERY
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NONE

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

No affiliation

Mr. Speaker:

Order, please. I have to interrupt the hon. member and I would ask him to kindly resume his seat. I have doubts as to the procedure being followed by the hon. member. I think he knows, or should know, that the rules do not allow him to make a speech of substance at this time. He should indicate briefly what his question of privilege is. I do not think it is quite in order, and it is certainly not in accordance with the practices of the House, for a member to come before the House and read a long newspaper article or editorial to support the proposed question of privilege.

I am not saying that the matter is one that should not be considered seriously, but I suggest to the hon. member that there are certain limits within which he must stay according to the practices of the House. I would invite him to indicate as soon as possible what the question of privilege is so that the Chair may be given the opportunity to rule as required by the Standing Orders.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. REILLY-DISTRIBUTION OF SPEECH FROM THE THRONE PRIOR TO DELIVERY
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PC

Peter Reilly

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Reilly:

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will try to be as brief as I can. The question of privilege is, on the one hand, much the same as I indicated last week. It was, in my opinion, an affront to members of this House and to the dignity of this chamber to release the Speech from the Throne so far in advance. Second, it was a breach of privilege and an affront to the Governor General to have the contents of his speech on the street, as it were, before the man even began to read it. Third, Mr. Speaker, this procedure could have bilked investors out of their savings.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. REILLY-DISTRIBUTION OF SPEECH FROM THE THRONE PRIOR TO DELIVERY
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?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh!

136

January 10, 1973

Oral Questions

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. REILLY-DISTRIBUTION OF SPEECH FROM THE THRONE PRIOR TO DELIVERY
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PC

Peter Reilly

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Reilly:

I have been called a joker for raising this issue, but this farceur, seconded by the hon. member for Peace River (Mr. Baldwin), moves that the subject matter of my question of privilege be referred to the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. REILLY-DISTRIBUTION OF SPEECH FROM THE THRONE PRIOR TO DELIVERY
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NONE

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

No affiliation

Mr. Speaker:

The hon. member has indicated that this is substantially, or essentially, to use his word, the same matter as he raised last Friday. Since I received notice of the motion from the hon. member, I had thought that this might provide an opportunity for the Chair, for my own benefit and the benefit of hon. members generally, to review the practice relating to parliamentary privilege. Perhaps this is not the occasion and I should wait for another opportunity to do so.

I really feel that the hon. member raised this matter last Friday. There was a ruling made upon it at that time. He now brings it before the House a second time. In fact, I think it was raised a second time in the debate yesterday by the hon. member, so he now comes before the House a third time and tries to revive the matter by way of a question of privilege.

The hon. member knows that, essentially, parliamentary privilege is raised in the House for the purpose of asking that a debate take place giving priority to a specific motion; in other words, the matter is so important that it should take precedence over other business that the House is supposed to consider on a certain day. The proposition pf the hon. member in this instance is that we should debate the motion he has proposed and then it would be up to the House to determine whether the matter should be referred to a committee as he suggests, seconded by the hon. member for Peace River.

My ruling is that the matter was considered last Friday and a ruling was made then. I suggest to the hon. member that it is not sufficient to come back to the House and say new evidence has been unearthed, so that he may raise the matter a second or perhaps a third time by way of privilege. I have made a ruling, and I do not consider that the motion should be put to the House for debate at the present time.

Having said all this, I certainly do not suggest that this is not an important matter. I do consider that it is a very important matter and one which ought to be of interest to hon. members. But that type of question can indeed be discussed in many ways in the House, either in the Speech from the Throne debate or by way of private member's motion. I repeat that it can be considered by the House and debated by hon. members in so many ways other than a question of privilege which would take priority over all other business of the House in this sitting.

I am not ruling that it is not an important matter, that it is not of interest to hon. members, but simply that it should not be debated at this time by way of a question of parliamentary privilege.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. REILLY-DISTRIBUTION OF SPEECH FROM THE THRONE PRIOR TO DELIVERY
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MR. BEAUDOIN-PROTESTS RESPECTING CALENDAR PUBLISHED BY POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT

SC

Léonel Beaudoin

Social Credit

Mr. Leonel Beaudoin (Richmond):

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege concerning a personal attack on the feelings of the French Canadian members and the entire population, especially in Quebec as a result of the publication of a nice red calendar of which I recently received a copy from the Post Office Department.

Mr. Speaker, I bitterly note that St. Valentine, St. Patrick, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Dominion Day, Thanksgiving Day and Remembrance Day are indicated, even Hallow'een. But the feast-day of French Canadians recognized by the House a few years ago and which is always observed on June 24, that is St. John the Baptist, does not appear thereon.

Mr. Speaker, I raise a question of privilege because my rights as a French Canadian and Member of Parliament are slighted by this unfortunate omission of the Post Office Department, and I move, seconded by the hon. member for Bellechasse (Mr. Lambert):

That the said calendar of the Post Office Department ceases to be circulated and a new calendar be printed so as to take into account these representations in order to truly respect all cultural groups in Canada.

Topic:   MR. BEAUDOIN-PROTESTS RESPECTING CALENDAR PUBLISHED BY POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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NONE

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

No affiliation

Mr. Speaker:

With the greatest respect, I suggest to the hon. member for Richmond that his motion is one of substance much more than a question of privilege. He suggests that his privileges as a Member of Parliament have been slighted in the circumstances that he refers to. I cannot accept this claim. Other prerogatives or privileges of the hon. member may perhaps have been slighted, but I do not feel that the said motion can be submitted to the House under the Standing Order concerning breaches of parliamentary privileges.

I suggest to the hon. member, somewhat like I did to the hon. member for Ottawa West (Mr. Reilly) a moment ago, that even if this question is of interest to all members of the House, it could be considered under other circum-stancer rather than by way of a question of privilege.

Topic:   MR. BEAUDOIN-PROTESTS RESPECTING CALENDAR PUBLISHED BY POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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ORAL QUESTION PERIOD

OIL PRICE INCREASES-POSITION OF GOVERNMENT-NATIONAL ENERGY POLICY

PC

Robert Lorne Stanfield (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Robert L. Stanfield (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to address a question to the appropriate minister whether it be the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs or the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources. In view of the increase in oil prices announced by a couple of companies and in view of the significance of these increases for the national economy

January 10, 1973

and the people of the country, has either minister been in touch with the companies concerned and can either minister report to the House on any such conversations or any proposals the government intends to make?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   OIL PRICE INCREASES-POSITION OF GOVERNMENT-NATIONAL ENERGY POLICY
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LIB

Donald Stovel Macdonald (Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Hon. Donald S. Macdonald (Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources):

Mr. Speaker, I can report that another of the major companies has indicated that it will follow the increases. As far as the eastern market is concerned, the indication from the companies is that the cost reflects the increase in the international price of oil of about 20 cents. In western Canada the cost not only reflects the competitive value of oil but also the cost increase in refinery operations. On that basis we are accepting that these increases will hold.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   OIL PRICE INCREASES-POSITION OF GOVERNMENT-NATIONAL ENERGY POLICY
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PC

Robert Lorne Stanfield (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Stanfield:

Mr. Speaker, I did not hear the end of the minister's reply. Did he say that the government is accepting this explanation?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   OIL PRICE INCREASES-POSITION OF GOVERNMENT-NATIONAL ENERGY POLICY
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LIB

Donald Stovel Macdonald (Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. Macdonald (Rosedale):

Mr. Speaker, we are accepting the fact that costs have increased in the refinery operations and that in due course these costs will have to be reflected in the price of the product.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   OIL PRICE INCREASES-POSITION OF GOVERNMENT-NATIONAL ENERGY POLICY
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PC

Robert Lorne Stanfield (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Stanfield:

May I ask the minister when he is going to announce his national energy policy so that others outside the government and the Canadian people generally can have a context in which to assess this type of price increase? I ask this question particularly because my recollection is that he promised the announcement of such policy by the end of 1971 and again by June, 1972.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   OIL PRICE INCREASES-POSITION OF GOVERNMENT-NATIONAL ENERGY POLICY
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LIB

Donald Stovel Macdonald (Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. Macdonald (Rosedale):

Mr. Speaker, I would remind the hon. gentleman that I became minister in January, 1972-

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   OIL PRICE INCREASES-POSITION OF GOVERNMENT-NATIONAL ENERGY POLICY
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?

An hon. Member:

We know it, don't we?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   OIL PRICE INCREASES-POSITION OF GOVERNMENT-NATIONAL ENERGY POLICY
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January 10, 1973