October 19, 1973

PRIVILEGE

MR, ROCHE-OPPORTUNITY FOR MEMBERS TO ATTEND TRI-LEVEL GOVERNMENT CONFERENCE-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION

PC

Douglas Roche

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Douglas Roche (Edmonton-Strathcona):

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege affecting all members of parliament.

Two days ago I asked the Minister of State for Urban Affairs if members of parliament could be accredited as observers at the national tri-level intergovernmental meeting to be held in Edmonton next week. This meeting is to be open to the press but closed to observers. The minister replied that observers could not attend because "there is just not sufficient room available."

Yesterday, I moved a motion that the government direct the planning secretariat to permit one member of each of the four parties in the House of Commons to be accredited as an official observer. This motion was blocked by the government supporters.

Following this action, I consulted with the management of the Macdonald Hotel in Edmonton, where the meeting is to be held, and I was informed that the extended Tonquin Room holds 1,100 people theatre-style or, for a dinner setting, 800 persons. The suggestion that four members of parliament could not be fitted into a room of such dimensions is ludicrous and underscores why I am raising this question of privilege.

The meeting next week will be the second national tri-level conference. It will deal with the super-problem of urbanization, considering such issues as management of growth, land use, housing, transportation and finance. These are problems that parliament as a whole has a responsibility to solve, not just the government. It is vital, and within our rights, for members of parliament to have first-hand information on the various points of view presented by all governments. If members of parliament are forced to rely on press reports we may get a picture that is incomplete, to say the least.

For example, the Western Economic Opportunities Conference in Calgary last July was open to observers. It is a good thing it was, for the day after the Calgary conference I was able to come back to the House and report to all members my impressions and evaluation of the conference which were quite at variance with the slick, co-operative image of the federal government conveyed by the communications media. That speech is reported on page 6054 of Hansard. If members of parliament had not had direct access to the western conference, we would not have known the full story.

Of course, the government does not want opposition members of parliament around when they are doing business. The record of this government has been one of continual downgrading and diminishment of the role of the member.

Some non. Members: Order!

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR, ROCHE-OPPORTUNITY FOR MEMBERS TO ATTEND TRI-LEVEL GOVERNMENT CONFERENCE-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION
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PC

Douglas Roche

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Roche:

The case I am presenting to Your Honour today-

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR, ROCHE-OPPORTUNITY FOR MEMBERS TO ATTEND TRI-LEVEL GOVERNMENT CONFERENCE-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION
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NONE

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

No affiliation

Mr. Speaker:

Order, please. The hon. member should indicate as soon as possible the nature of his question of privilege. The hon. member did give me notice of his intention to raise this matter by way of a question of privilege and I had serious doubts whether it was. I think hon. members who claim to have a question of privilege should indicate to the Chair as quickly as possible the nature of that question so as to give the Chair an opportunity to make a ruling. The hon. member might wish to conclude his remarks as soon as possible.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR, ROCHE-OPPORTUNITY FOR MEMBERS TO ATTEND TRI-LEVEL GOVERNMENT CONFERENCE-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION
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PC

Robert Lorne Stanfield (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Stanfield:

Mr. Speaker, with your indulgence, I might be of some help in this situation. I received a letter from the Minister of State for Urban Affairs (Mr. Bas-ford), delivered to me last evening, which I have not had an opportunity to convey to the hon. member who is raising this question of privilege. The contents of that letter might be of interest to him.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR, ROCHE-OPPORTUNITY FOR MEMBERS TO ATTEND TRI-LEVEL GOVERNMENT CONFERENCE-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION
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LIB

Allan Joseph MacEachen (President of the Privy Council; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. MacEachen:

Mr. Speaker, I want to make two points. The first point, which has been referred to by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Stanfield), is that the Minister of State for Urban Affairs (Mr. Basford), after consulting with the co-chairmen of the tri-level conference has extended an invitation to each of the parties to provide observers to this tri-level conference. So, as the Leader of the Opposition has stated, the member who has raised this question of privilege has not been fully informed of events.

The second point I want to make is that I take very strong exception to the growing practice of members making straight political speeches and attacks on the government under the guise of a question of privilege.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR, ROCHE-OPPORTUNITY FOR MEMBERS TO ATTEND TRI-LEVEL GOVERNMENT CONFERENCE-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR, ROCHE-OPPORTUNITY FOR MEMBERS TO ATTEND TRI-LEVEL GOVERNMENT CONFERENCE-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION
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?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh!

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR, ROCHE-OPPORTUNITY FOR MEMBERS TO ATTEND TRI-LEVEL GOVERNMENT CONFERENCE-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION
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PC

Robert Gordon Lee Fairweather

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fairweather:

The nobodies have become somebodies and you do not like it.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR, ROCHE-OPPORTUNITY FOR MEMBERS TO ATTEND TRI-LEVEL GOVERNMENT CONFERENCE-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION
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LIB

Allan Joseph MacEachen (President of the Privy Council; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. MacEachen:

If this practice is to continue, if members of the opposition are allowed on questions of privilege to make political speeches, we shall demand the opportunity to reply on each and every occasion.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR, ROCHE-OPPORTUNITY FOR MEMBERS TO ATTEND TRI-LEVEL GOVERNMENT CONFERENCE-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

October 19, 1973

Visit by Prime Minister to China

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR, ROCHE-OPPORTUNITY FOR MEMBERS TO ATTEND TRI-LEVEL GOVERNMENT CONFERENCE-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION
Permalink
PC

Thomas Miller Bell (Official Opposition House Leader; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Bell:

I have two points to make. First, if it had not been for the initiative of the hon. member for Edmonton-Strathcona, nothing would have been done.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR, ROCHE-OPPORTUNITY FOR MEMBERS TO ATTEND TRI-LEVEL GOVERNMENT CONFERENCE-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR, ROCHE-OPPORTUNITY FOR MEMBERS TO ATTEND TRI-LEVEL GOVERNMENT CONFERENCE-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION
Permalink
PC

Thomas Miller Bell (Official Opposition House Leader; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Bell:

I think he deserves a great deal of credit for getting up in the House and making democratic representation at this meeting possible. Second, the House leader can tell us when we are supposed to bring up these matters of justifiable complaint and we will comply if we are out of order in the opinion of the Chair.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR, ROCHE-OPPORTUNITY FOR MEMBERS TO ATTEND TRI-LEVEL GOVERNMENT CONFERENCE-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION
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ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

HEALTH, WELFARE AND SOCIAL AFFAIRS


Fifth report of Standing Committee on Health, Welfare and Social Affairs-Mr. Railton. [Editor's Note: For text of above report, see today's Votes and Proceedings.]


EXTERNAL AFFAIRS

LIB

Pierre Elliott Trudeau (Prime Minister)

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I should like to report to hon. members on my visit to China which, as the House knows, concluded just a few hours ago.

The invitation to me to visit the People's Republic of China was first extended by Premier Chou En-lai in 1971 and was renewed again several months ago.

We left Canada with high expectations. I am able to say, Mr. Speaker, that the willingness of the Chinese government to accept our point of view and to engage with us in activities of benefit for the people of Canada more than met those expectations. The high degree of interest of the Chinese government in Canada and the willingness of that government to work toward the maintenance and strengthening of friendly relations with Canada were made evident by the amount of time they, the Chinese leaders, were willing to devote to me and to my party. Chairman Mao Tse-tung extended to me the courtesy of a long conversation. Premier Chou En-lai met with me for many hours of formal discussions over the course of several days and chatted with me at even greater length in informal circumstances on a number of occasions.

One of the main objectives of any visit by a head of government, whether a Canadian travelling abroad, or a prime minister coming here, is to ensure that each country understands the policies of the other and the circumstances which give rise to those policies. It is seldom possible to come to agreement on the wisdom or the effectiveness of all policies, nor would one expect that this

could be the case in a world in which the vagaries of history, the realities of geography, and the variations of social systems lend distinctive directions and points of view to governmental policies. What I found most heartening, however, in my discussions with the Chinese leaders, was their understanding of, and sympathy for, Canada's foreign policy. In particular I was not subjected to any demands that future Canadian relations with China would depend for their warmth on our attitudes toward any other country. I stated in Peking, both in the privacy of conversation with the Premier and on public occasions, that Canadian foreign policy seeks to avoid tension, to strengthen the institutions of international cooperation and to assist the economic development of the newly independent countries. I said as well that, in my belief, the true measurement of national greatness was found not in military might or in political hegemony but in the willingness of a country to recognize the importance of individual welfare, human dignity and a sense of personal accomplishment and fulfilment.

Many of the issues which were discussed with the Chinese leaders, and in the several committees of officials that were established during the course of the visit, reflected these beliefs and the desire of Canada to expand its international trade.

[ Translation]

Mr. Speaker, Premier Chou and I signed a formal trade agreement which will serve as a framework for the development of trade between Canada and China for the next three years. I should like to table now, in both official languages, copies of this agreement.

Hon. members will find that this agreement established a joint trade committee which will meet annually. The Canadian suggestion that the committee address itself immediately to the areas of transportation, forestry and agriculture, was accepted by the Chinese. Agreement was reached as well that detailed discussions be initiated quickly in the fields of aluminum and wood pulp. We also agreed that further discussions take place soon with respect to potash, sulphur and nickel. The Canadian side was heartened by the obvious Chinese interest in increasing the purchase of Canadian manufactured goods and contemplating the purchase from Canada of complete plants. Throughout our discussions in this area, emphasis was lent by both sides of the mutual benefit to be gained from long-term commercial agreements.

Satisfying as were the discussions on trade and commercial relations, I was moved most by the several understandings reached in the areas of medicine and human relations. Hon. members will be familiar with the important work done last spring in China by a joint governmental and professional medical mission to China led by Dr. Gustave Gingras, the then President of the Canadian Medical Association. That mission recognized the immense benefits that could be realized in health care services in Canada if more were known about several areas of Chinese medical techniques. The hope was subsequently expressed by the two major medical bodies in Canada that the Canadian government attempt to encourage the Chinese to engage in co-operative activities with Canadian doctors to these ends.

October 19, 1973

I am delighted in the progress that we were able to make in this respect during my visit, which provides for teams of Canadian and Chinese physicians visiting one another's countries to study advanced techniques in each place. The field of interest chosen by Canadian doctors in this first phase is that of acupuncture analgesia. I am informed that if this technique proves as successful in the Canadian social environment as has been the case in China, its contributions in the elimination of anaesthetic complications, in the reduction of costs associated with surgery, and in the extension of surgery to elderly and high-risk patients now denied treatment, will rank it as one of the major contributions to Canadian medicine.

I am particularly appreciative of the willingness of Premier Chou to agree to my request that facilities be instituted which will lead to the reunion of families. Just as I regarded this question of reunification as one of the most important of the subjects in which I engaged Premier Kosygin in discussion-and which has since led to the exit from the Soviet Union of several hundreds of persons to join relatives in Canada-so I emphasized to Premier Chou the importance with which Canadians as a whole viewed this aspect of Canadian-Chinese relations.

I have instructed Canadian officials to waste no time in the implementation of this new understanding which permits Canadian immigration officers to proceed to China to process applicants for entry to Canada. An officer of the Department of Manpower and Immigration is already on his way from Ottawa to Peking.

Understandings were reached in other fields as well: cultural and sports exchanges, for one, consular arrangements for another, and science and technology for still another. The latter was made possible by the extensive work done in advance of my arrival by the Minister of State for Science and Technology.

My visit to China, Mr. Speaker, leaves me without any doubt of the wisdom of the decision of the Canadian government to reverse the longstanding policy of ignoring the People's Republic of China.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Sub-subtopic:   REPORT BY PRIME MINISTER ON HIS VISIT TO CHINA
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October 19, 1973