Mr. John M. Reid (Parliamentary Secretary to President of the Privy Council):
Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure to be able to congratulate you on your successful re-election not only to the House of Commons but also to the Speakership of this House. This is the third parliament in which you will have been the Speaker. I think this has created a rather valuable precedent in our affairs, in that we have now made a series of decisions with respect to you, Sir, which have led, perhaps, to the creation of a permanent Speaker in the House of Commons. Your attainment of the office is well deserved because with your sense of humour and abilities you are able to break up tense moments in the House with a word of humour, thus making Members of Parliament who have never been particularly cognizant of the authority of the Chair, they being carried away in the battles of the moment, aware that they should pay more attention to the rules than otherwise might be the case.
The Address-Mr. Reid
At the same time I would like to comment on the election of Mr. Deputy Speaker. I think it is high time that the practice of sharing high positions in the House of Commons between parties was adopted and continued. I hope that in succeeding parliaments this precedent that we have begun will be continued. I think that the person who now holds the position of Deputy Speaker has been particularly well chosen.
Further, Mr. Speaker, I would be remiss if I did not congratulate the Deputy Chairman of Committees and the Assistant Deputy Chairman of Committees, both of whom served well in the last House of Commons, on their re-election to those positions.
This brings me to an important point which has to do with the committee system as it will operate in this House of Commons in which there is no majority. It has been the practice since the committee system was revamped under the government of the late Lester B. Pearson that, with the exception of the Public Accounts Committee, chairmen of committees have been drawn from the party with the largest numbers in the House. It was always my feeling that this was an undesirable precedent, because the role of a chairman of a committee is analogous to that of yours, Sir, in the House of Commons, in that the committees are microcosms of the House of Commons with the parties represented on them in proportion to their strength in the House. The role the chairman of a committee ought to play should be that of Mr. Speaker in the House of Commons. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, it seems that, given the standings in the House of Commons, we have an opportunity to try to revise the way in which chairmen have been selected.
The suggestion I would put forward is that Mr. Speaker, in conjunction with either the whips of the various parties or the House leaders, should develop a panel of chairmen from both sides of the House, including all groups in the House of Commons, who would serve as chairmen of these committees. I think this would be a valuable precedent. It would give experience to a variety of members in the functions of the House of Commons; it would provide a valuable training ground for individual members to learn the rules and to train for important positions such as the role you now play, Mr. Speaker, the role of Mr. Deputy Speaker, Chairman of Committees and Deputy Chairman of Committees. I think that this kind of precedent could only strengthen the House of Commons particularly at a time when the role of the Chair and the role of the chairmen of committees are going to be of particular importance to the smooth functioning of the House. I think it would also be a happy advance toward building on the precedent which has led, I would hope, to the continuing development of a permanent Speakership of the House of Commons and the bipartisanship of the office of Speaker of the House of Commons with the inclusion of Mr. Deputy Speaker.
Recently the redistribution commission for Ontario made a series of recommendations regarding that province. The riding I represent, Kenora-Rainy River, is one of the largest in Canada. Unfortunately, under the recommendation of the boundary commission that riding would expand by approximately one-third even though, if one
looks at the population figures for northern and northwestern Ontario, it would be possible to have the same number of seats available instead of the present recommendations under which we will now lose two seats, one for northern Ontario and one for northwestern Ontario. It seems to me, Mr. Speaker, that the rural ridings in Canada, not only of northern and northwestern Ontario but all across Canada, are too large.
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY