May 8, 1974

MR. BREWIN-FAILURE OF PRESIDENT OF CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCY TO PRODUCE TO COMMITTEE REPORT ON ADMINISTRATION

NDP

Francis Andrew Brewin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Andrew Brewin (Greenwood):

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege which affects all members of the House. The Standing Committee on External Affairs and National Defence had before it a witness, Mr. Paul Gerin-Lajoie, who is the president of CIDA. During the hearings of the committee he was requested, by a motion moved by the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe (Mr. Wagner), to produce a report of Price Waterhouse, an accounting firm, dealing with the administration of CIDA which is a government agency supported by parliament. It was unanimously resolved by the committee on an amended motion that he should produce to the steering committee of that standing committee a copy of this report so that the steering committee could examine it to see whether it was relevant and important to the committee in advising the House about the affairs of CIDA. The president said he would comply with the wishes of the committee.

Subsequently, a letter was received by the chairman, the hon. member for Lafontaine (Mr. Lachance), from which I should like to quote just one paragraph:

I thought it advisable to bring this matter to the attention of the Honourable Mitchell Sharp, Secretary of State for External Affairs, through whom CIDA reports to Parliament. The minister informed me it would be preferable if the request for this document was made directly in the House of Commons.

Later the committee met and by a vote determined to ask that the report be produced by one o'clock today. The chairman, the hon. member for Lafontaine, has informed me that the report has not been produced.

I think this raises a very grave question of the privileges of the House.

Topic:   MR. BREWIN-FAILURE OF PRESIDENT OF CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCY TO PRODUCE TO COMMITTEE REPORT ON ADMINISTRATION
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   MR. BREWIN-FAILURE OF PRESIDENT OF CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCY TO PRODUCE TO COMMITTEE REPORT ON ADMINISTRATION
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NDP

Francis Andrew Brewin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Brewin:

Mr. Speaker, you will be entirely familiar with the provisions of section 8 of Standing Order 65 which provides as follows:

Standing committees shall be severally empowered to examine and enquire into all such matters as may be referred to them by the House, and, to report from time to time and-

I ask the House to note these words:

-except when the House otherwise orders, to send for persons, papers and records-

This clearly gives committees of the House the right to have documents before them. The particular document does not touch on security. No question of privilege was

raised. There has simply been an edict by the Secretary of State for External Affairs that the committee is not to see this document pertaining to this important public agency.

Topic:   MR. BREWIN-FAILURE OF PRESIDENT OF CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCY TO PRODUCE TO COMMITTEE REPORT ON ADMINISTRATION
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?

Some hon. Members:

Shame!

Topic:   MR. BREWIN-FAILURE OF PRESIDENT OF CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCY TO PRODUCE TO COMMITTEE REPORT ON ADMINISTRATION
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NDP

Francis Andrew Brewin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Brewin:

The basic principle involved in my question of privilege is whether or not committees of the House are to function without a veto from a minister of the government. That is the basic principle. It is highly important to the functioning of the committees of the House that we should not have this sort of ministerial intervention.

Topic:   MR. BREWIN-FAILURE OF PRESIDENT OF CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCY TO PRODUCE TO COMMITTEE REPORT ON ADMINISTRATION
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   MR. BREWIN-FAILURE OF PRESIDENT OF CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCY TO PRODUCE TO COMMITTEE REPORT ON ADMINISTRATION
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NDP

Francis Andrew Brewin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Brewin:

This intervention by the Secretary of State for External Affairs is a challenge to the privileges of the House. I ask you to rule, Mr. Speaker, that there is a prima facie case of privilege. If you do so rule, I shall move that this matter be referred to the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections.

Topic:   MR. BREWIN-FAILURE OF PRESIDENT OF CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCY TO PRODUCE TO COMMITTEE REPORT ON ADMINISTRATION
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NONE

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

No affiliation

Mr. Speaker:

The hon. member for Greenwood has raised a question of privilege in relation to the non-production of a certain document in the Standing Committee on External Affairs and National Defence. He has indicated that if the Chair were to find that there is a prima facie case of privilege he would move a motion suggesting that this matter be referred to the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections.

The Chair has in the past, on many occasions and based on many precedents, suggested that it might be very unwise for the House to decide that proceedings in one committee be investigated by another committee. I am sure that the hon. member would want to bear that in mind. The hon. member also suggested that there is a motion which should be put. I wonder whether it would be the wish of hon. members that we spend the afternoon debating this motion which, as a debate on a motion of privilege, might go on for some days.

I have had a few moments to look into the situation, and in a preliminary way there would appear to be at least three questions involved in the matter raised by the hon. member for Greenwood. The first is whether it is procedurally acceptable to raise in the House under the heading of privilege a proceeding in a standing committee. I suggest that this can be done only when such proceeding is presented to the House by means of a report accompanied, if necessary, by the relevant evidence. In my view, it is not possible to initiate a debate in the House on the evidence alone of a committee unless there is before the House a formal report. I mean by this that the report must state the specific question and be brought to the House by means of a specific motion to concur.

Second, there is at least implied in the question of privilege the matter of the conduct of a witness before a

May 8, 1974

Report of Committees

committee. Again it seems to me, and I believe that precedent will support my view, that the conduct of a witness can be considered by the House only on receiving a report thereon from a committee and the consideration, as I said a moment ago, of a motion to concur in the report with the required 48 hours notice.

Finally, there is the question of the extent of the power of a committee to send for papers. Hon. members are aware, of course, of the Standing Order to which the hon. member has referred and of the practice of the House. Hon. members know that a committee has the power to send for persons, papers and records. The fundamental question is whether a committee, without reference and submission to the House, has the authority to exercise that power in every case.

The hon. member for Greenwood (Mr. Brewin), in his question of privilege, suggests that the House should study immediately the problem posed by the refusal of CIDA's president to produce a certain document to the committee.

Can the committee, on its own, without reporting officially to the House, take any coercive steps against the witness? Can the committee, on its own authority, conclude in judgment: Down with Gerin-Lajoie? The Chair will have to think about it seriously.

For the moment, I think it would be the sense of the House that, rather than embark on an extended debate on the question of privilege raised by the hon. member for Greenwood, the Chair should be given an opportunity to reflect on the matter, taking into account the representations of the hon. member and the precedents, and then give a ruling later, perhaps tomorrow.

Topic:   MR. BREWIN-FAILURE OF PRESIDENT OF CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCY TO PRODUCE TO COMMITTEE REPORT ON ADMINISTRATION
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ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

COMMITTEES OF THE HOUSE


First report, in both official languages, of Standing Committee on External Affairs and National Defence.- Mr. Lachance.


LIB

Albert Béchard

Liberal

Mr. Bechard:

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

_ Mr. Speaker: Order. The hon. member for Bonaventure-Iles-de-la-Madeleine on a point of order.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   COMMITTEES OF THE HOUSE
Sub-subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS AND NATIONAL DEFENCE
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LIB

Albert Béchard

Liberal

Mr. Bechard:

Mr. Speaker, we did not hear the chairman of the committee as our electronic device was not working.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   COMMITTEES OF THE HOUSE
Sub-subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS AND NATIONAL DEFENCE
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NONE

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

No affiliation

Mr. Speaker:

The hon. member for Lafontaine may want to repeat the motion he made a moment ago when no one heard him.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   COMMITTEES OF THE HOUSE
Sub-subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS AND NATIONAL DEFENCE
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LIB

Georges-C. Lachance

Liberal

Mr. Lachance:

Yes, Mr. Speaker, provided the green light of the microphone lights up.

First report, in both official languages, of Standing Committee on External Affairs and National Defence- Mr. Lachance.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   COMMITTEES OF THE HOUSE
Sub-subtopic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS AND NATIONAL DEFENCE
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HEALTH, WELFARE AND SOCIAL AFFAIRS


Fourth report, in both official languages, of Standing Committee on Health, Welfare and Social Affairs-Mr. Isabelle. [Editor's Note: For texts of above reports, see today's Votes and Proceedings.]


UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE

PC

Lincoln MacCauley Alexander

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Lincoln M. Alexander (Hamilton West):

Mr. Speaker, I rise under the provisions of Standing Order 43 to seek the unanimous consent of the House to move a motion of urgent and pressing necessity. It is based on the fact that some 29,000 people, about 60 per cent of the claimants in the Metro Toronto area, as well as some 1,500 claimants in the Ottawa area and 472 in Hamilton, did not pick up their cheques which were available at emergency offices set up during the postal strike, all of which seriously questions the effectiveness and intent of the Unemployment Insurance Act as presently drafted to deal with possible abuse and misuse.

I move, seconded by the hon. member for St. John's East (Mr. McGrath):

That this House instruct the Minister of Manpower and Immigration forthwith to give reasons in detail why he has not instituted a full inquiry under the Inquiries Act calling for an attendance at all the said emergency offices in order to investigate all circumstances surrounding the non-acquisition of benefit cheques by claimants, with specific instructions to report back outlining conclusions and recommendations, and further to give reason why no inquiry under the said act has been instituted in order to determine:

(a) whether fears about abuse and misuse under the Unemployment Insurance Act are justified;

(b) whether there are disincentives to work built into the present Unemployment Insurance Act and, if so, what can be done to remove or reduce them;

(c) whether the Unemployment Insurance Act is an insurance plan in reality, a welfare plan, or a combination of both to which contributions are simply a new kind of tax;

(d) the relationship between high unemployment insurance benefits, high job vacancy rates and high unemployment.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
Sub-subtopic:   FAILURE OF BENEFICIARIES TO PICK UP CHEQUES AT EMERGENCY CENTRES DURING POSTAL STRIKE-REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION
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May 8, 1974