December 16, 1974

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

EGG MARKETING


First report of Special Committee on Egg Marketing, in the two official languages.-Mr. Fox. [Editor's Note: For text of above report see today's Votes and Proceedings.]


PRIVILEGE

PC

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

Progressive Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, this is the second or third thrilling instalment of the question of privilege which has been raised before Your Honour in this House concerning comments made by the hon. member for Temiscamingue. I think it is good that this matter be settled and I may say at this point, Mr. Speaker, that I intend to move a motion at the conclusion of my remarks provided, of course, that Your Honour finds after discussion that there is a prima facie question of privilege.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE
Sub-subtopic:   MR. LA SALLE-REFERENCE TO REMARKS OF HON. MEMBER FOR TEMISCAMINGUE
Permalink
LIB

James Alexander Jerome (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Order, please. I hesitate to interrupt the hon. member. However, I think we are all aware that on Thursday evening the hon. member for Temiscamingue (Mr. Caouette) made certain remarks which are the subject of the general question with which the hon. member for Peace River (Mr. Baldwin) proposes to deal. Those remarks allegedly involved the hon. member for Joliette (Mr. La Salle) who raised the matter on Friday, and was supported in that by the hon. member for Peace River.

There can be no question in my mind that those two actions on Friday made it apparent that the matter should be dealt with at the first opportunity. The hon. member for Peace River was good enough to give me notice of his question of privilege. I am most anxious to deal with this problem, and I thank the hon. member for raising it because I think the House ought to give its attention to this. I notice, however, that the hon. member for Temiscamingue is not in his seat at the moment and I feel that we ought not to deal with it when the hon. member is not here. I wonder under the circumstances if it might not be simpler to agree to defer it until tomorrow.

Is that agreeable?

Some hon.. Members: Agreed.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE
Sub-subtopic:   MR. LA SALLE-REFERENCE TO REMARKS OF HON. MEMBER FOR TEMISCAMINGUE
Permalink

MANPOWER

PC

Elmer MacIntosh MacKay

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Elmer M. MacKay (Central Nova):

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a matter of urgent and pressing necessity pursuant to the provisions of Standing Order 43 relating to last week's announcement by the Minister of Manpower and Immigration (Mr. Andras) that an additional $4,914,100 has been allocated to the 1974-75 Local Initiatives Program. In view of the fact that LIP is a national program, designed to benefit Canadians in all parts of the nation and in view of the fact that three provinces in Canada, namely, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia have apparently been precluded from participating in the latest funding, I move, seconded by the hon. member for South Shore (Mr. Crouse):

That this House instructs the Minister of Manpower and Immigration to consider including the three provinces which have been arbitrarily excluded from these extra funds and to make additional funds available in proportionate amounts for selected areas of need in Nova Scotia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan; and that the minister should, at the first opportunity on motions or otherwise, provide the House and the country with the rationalization for leaving out three of Canada's provinces from a program which is national in scope, at a time when economic conditions are uniformly worse all across the nation.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   MANPOWER
Sub-subtopic:   LOCAL INITIATIVES PROGRAM-DENIAL OF ADDITIONAL FUNDS TO MANITOBA, SASKATCHEWAN AND NOVA SCOTIA- REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION UNDER S O. 43
Permalink
LIB

James Alexander Jerome (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Order, please. The House has heard the terms of the motion being proposed pursuant to Standing Order 43. The motion cannot be adopted without the unanimous consent of the House. Is there unanimous consent?

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   MANPOWER
Sub-subtopic:   LOCAL INITIATIVES PROGRAM-DENIAL OF ADDITIONAL FUNDS TO MANITOBA, SASKATCHEWAN AND NOVA SCOTIA- REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION UNDER S O. 43
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   MANPOWER
Sub-subtopic:   LOCAL INITIATIVES PROGRAM-DENIAL OF ADDITIONAL FUNDS TO MANITOBA, SASKATCHEWAN AND NOVA SCOTIA- REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION UNDER S O. 43
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

No.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   MANPOWER
Sub-subtopic:   LOCAL INITIATIVES PROGRAM-DENIAL OF ADDITIONAL FUNDS TO MANITOBA, SASKATCHEWAN AND NOVA SCOTIA- REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION UNDER S O. 43
Permalink
LIB

James Alexander Jerome (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

There not being unanimous consent, the motion cannot be debated at this time.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   MANPOWER
Sub-subtopic:   LOCAL INITIATIVES PROGRAM-DENIAL OF ADDITIONAL FUNDS TO MANITOBA, SASKATCHEWAN AND NOVA SCOTIA- REQUEST FOR UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO MOVE MOTION UNDER S O. 43
Permalink

TABLING OF FOURTH REPORT OF CLERK OF PETITIONS- RULING BY MR. SPEAKER ON READING OF REPORT

LIB

John (Moody) Roberts

Liberal

Mr. John Roberts (St. Paul's):

Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday, December 11 when the fourth report of the Clerk of Petitions was presented Your Honour indicated some doubts or concern about whether a request which I presented to have a petition read was one you could accept. As a result of your invitation for some contribution on this issue I have done some research on precedents and I think I now know more about petitions than I really want to know. You indicated concern about the language of the petition and mentioned twice in your remarks that a petition should not have in it any reflection upon a decision taken by this House, the government, or by other

December 16, 1974

Petition

bodies. Your Honour also wondered whether it was advisable to include in the petition comments or reflections upon decisions already taken by the government. You suggested that might be a bit of a departure.

The word "reflects" is ambiguous and might be taken to mean "refers to", or "alludes to". If one uses the word "reflects" in that sense, it is clear that in the past there have been reflections on or referrals to previous government decisions on legislation which has been passed.

Mr. Speaker Lamoureux decided to refer a petition to committee on December 11, 1970. That petition clearly dealt with legislation which had been passed by the House of Commons, namely, the Cape Breton Development Corporation Act, and with decisions taken by other authorities under the framework of that legislation. Therefore if the word "reflects" is taken to mean "a referral", there is precedent for accepting the petition which I have presented to the House.

The word "reflects" may also carry with it the connotation of "critical" or "hostile to a decision of the government or of the House of Commons." That leads to this question: What are the limitations on language which can be presented in a petition? Let me refer to Standing Order 67(4) which reads:

Members presenting petitions shall be answerable that they do not contain impertinent or improper matter.

That is the standard against which one must judge whether something is presented in a critical or a hostile way.

I take it that Your Honour is objecting to the phrase or language saying that the petitioners as Canadians view with dismay the absence of resolve of the government of Canada, and, secondly, that they believe Canada's abstention at the United Nations "cannot be justified". I take it that is the language to which Your Honour objects. I think you may feel that the word "justified" is being used in a moral sense. I understand that the petitioners believe that it cannot be justified in a logical sense. In either case I suggest that the language "view with dismay" and "cannot be justified" hardly constitutes impertinent or improper matter. If it did, members of the opposition would be impertinent and improper every day in this House.

A further elaboration on the language required in a petition is found in citation 333 of Beauchesne which says in part:

The language of a petition should be respectful and temperate and free from disrespect to the Sovereign,...

This is certainly the case in the petition I presented. I continue:

... or offensive imputation upon the character and conduct of parliament, or the courts of justice, or other tribunal, or constituted authority.

The words which I have read out in the petition certainly contain no imputation on the character or conduct of Parliament or the government. Criticizing an action does not carry with it an imputation on the character, good faith, goodwill, integrity and honesty of the decision which has been taken.

It may be that the matter which most concerns Your Honour is the decision of Mr. Speaker Lamoureux of June 7, 1972, when he found unacceptable the petition presented by the hon. member for Greenwood (Mr. Brewin). I contend that that decision is to be clearly distinguished from the situation with which you are being asked to deal now. It is clear, from Votes and Proceedings of that day, that Mr. Speaker Lamoureux had two other grounds not related to the language of the petition for rejecting the acceptability of the petition. He said, first, that it was his understanding that there is an avenue open to the petitioner which has not been referred to; in other words, there was a means of redress which he had not utilized and on that ground alone the petition would have failed. That is not the case in the petition I have presented. Mr. Speaker Lamoureux indicated also that:

Included in the substance of the purported petition are statements which, in my opinion, are charges of a very strong character against a minister and a senior departmental official.

In other words, they are allegations of a strong nature to do with their individual conduct.

A subsequent paragraph of the decision reads in part:

... I wonder if honourable members would not agree that if allegations contained in a document were allowed to be inserted into our records, another possible injustice would not be created.

I think he was referring to the idea that people whose character had been attacked in the petition would not have an opportunity to reply to that attack. Again, quite clearly the petition which I presented makes no such imputations of conduct or character of members of the House of Commons nor the government nor on individuals. It does not impugn motives. It does not charge lack of good faith or question integrity. It seems to be fairly clear that the precedents do not enjoin the rejection of this request that the petition be read.

There are one or two other points I wish to make, although I apologize for trespassing on the time of the House with this matter. It seems clear that the petititon meets the required form of petitions. It rests with the Clerk of Petitions. It is of course possible for members of parliament to see it. They have a right to see it and to go to the Clerk and have access to it.

I suggest that the reading of the petition by the Clerk of the House or the printing of it in Votes and Proceedings is simply the question of accessibility and convenience for the members. It is a little bit like the process of giving first reading to a piece of legislation so that members are able to regard it and look at it.

I suspect Your Honour is concerned about the possible disruption of the House if this tactic were used frequently by members to introduce matters which concern them. I would suggest the control of that kind of procedure is in the good sense of the members themselves. Of course, any single member could deny consent to have such a petition read or printed in Votes and Proceedings. In any case, the same objection might be made to rules 26 and 43 of the Standing Orders. Would Your Honour on that ground rule those motions out of order ab initio. I suggest if there is a problem with the conduct of the House business responding to the presentation of petitions, it should be discussed by the procedure committee.

December 16, 1974

There is one further comment I wish to make, although I believe the arguments I presented are convincing. We are discussing here not basically a question of procedure of the House, but a question of the rights of citizens of Canada, the right to present to the House of Commons through the method of petition, properly worded, a concern which is shared by citizens of this country. It is a hallowed and time honoured right of the citizens of this country. We should accept that the citizens of the country are not necessarily trained lawyers nor trained parliamentarians and that we as a House should be forebearing and generous in our interpretation of the words which they present to us.

I hope every member of this House will feel that when

2,000 citizens have gone through the rather time-consuming and awkward process of presenting views on which they feel strongly to the House of Commons in parliament assembled, that members would wish to know what are those views.

With the admiration, loyalty and respect I have for the Chair, I will of course accept whatever ruling you present on this issue. However, I confess I will be very saddened if through your decision today you restrict, more narrowly than precedent enjoins, upon the right of the citizens of Canada to make their views known to members of the House of Commons in parliament assembled on matters which they feel strongly.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   TABLING OF FOURTH REPORT OF CLERK OF PETITIONS- RULING BY MR. SPEAKER ON READING OF REPORT
Permalink
LIB

Herbert Eser (Herb) Gray

Liberal

Hon. Herb Gray (Windsor West):

Mr. Speaker, I wish to speak very briefly in support of the argument that the petition is acceptable under our rules and the precedents in that regard. I submit there is nothing in the petition which would not be acceptable if expressed in the House of Commons by members of parliament. When members speak in this House, they are speaking on behalf of the Canadian people. I submit a petition should not be rejected through interpreting the precedents in question as meaning that Canadians cannot use the same language when they petition the House of Commons as their own elected members can use when they speak in that House of Commons. I submit this petition should be accepted. To reject it on the basis of the language in it would mean that the ancient right of citizens to petition parliament would be limited. This is because we would be limited to interpreting this right according to the more limited and restrictive standards of hundreds of years ago rather than current standards acceptable to the House and to the country generally. I therefore submit that the petition be received.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   TABLING OF FOURTH REPORT OF CLERK OF PETITIONS- RULING BY MR. SPEAKER ON READING OF REPORT
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   TABLING OF FOURTH REPORT OF CLERK OF PETITIONS- RULING BY MR. SPEAKER ON READING OF REPORT
Permalink
LIB

James Alexander Jerome (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Order. If there are no other hon. members who wish to continue this interesting discussion, I would remind the House, with respect to the able and experienced members who have made contributions, that the question before us, is, of course, not one of the acceptability of the petition. The petition in its written form has been accepted; there is no restriction with respect to that form which applies to acceptance by the Clerk of the House and, in turn, by the Clerk of Petitions. Any petition which the citizens of this country wish to place before the

Petition

House of Commons can be so placed in writing as long as it is presented in a form acceptable under the provisions. No restriction is placed on petitioners or petitions in that regard.

The question is whether we ought to carry that process one step further and allow the petition to be read. It is the right of a member presenting a petition to ask that the petition be read. However, before taking that further step I must express some concern about the contents of any petition which is proposed to be read, since in that case not only does a petition need to be in the proper form but, in addition, it should refrain from expressing an opinion with regard to the House or the government or the positions taken by members of the House, but, rather, that it should seek a redress of grievances. Petitions which have been accepted previously have sought to redress what might have been a legitimate grievance. I was curious to know whether or not it was appropriate to go further, having in mind the very terms to which the hon. member referred, one of which in particular caused me concern- the one which expressed dismay at absence of resolve on the part of the government in respect to an issue and followed by saying that the government's abstention on this issue cannot be justified.

Citation 331 of Beauchesne, the second paragraph, reads as follows:

The House of Commons is a representative institution. It only considers questions submitted by its elected members. The ordinary citizen has no right to appear personally before the House of Commons.

The hon. member for Windsor West (Mr. Gray) said the language ought not to be objected to because it would be in order if it were used by an elected member of the House. But with the greatest respect to that honourable and experienced member, that is precisely the point. This is a representative institution, and the elected representatives are the ones who should carry into this chamber opinions or reflections on the performance of the government, not messages from outside brought here in some other guise. A petition which seeks to place before the House the opinions of people who are not responsible, elected members ought to be viewed in accordance with a strict interpretation.

On further examination of the precedents I would draw the attention of hon. members to the ruling to which I referred earlier, that of the previous Speaker, Mr. Lamou-reux, in June, 1972. Examining a similar petition, he went over the same ground and clearly came to the same conclusion. He said on that occasion:

In the light of what I have read and stated I wonder whether hon. members would not agree that if the allegations contained in the document were allowed to be inserted in our record, another injustice would be created.

I submit, therefore, that the Chair ought to take the very strictest view. A petition can be received here so long as it has been certified by the Clerk of Petitions to be in order as to form; there is no restriction upon that. However, to carry it further than that and to have the Clerk of the House read it gives it some force which, I submit, ought to require us to examine it and to see to it that it is free from opinion and representations which, if they are going to be made in this House, ought to be made by an

December 16, 1974

Member's Salaries

elected member, not through people who sign, in an anonymous sort of way, a petition.

I therefore submit, with the greatest respect, that I should put a very strict interpretation upon this petition and find that the words that have already been referred to do cast a reflection and express an opinion upon a stand taken by the government. I submit that this ought not to be done by way of petition but ought to be done during the course of debate by elected members of this House.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   TABLING OF FOURTH REPORT OF CLERK OF PETITIONS- RULING BY MR. SPEAKER ON READING OF REPORT
Permalink

ELECTORAL BOUNDARIES READJUSTMENT ACT

MEASURE TO PROVIDE FOR CONSULTATION WITH MEMBER BEFORE REPORT PUBLISHED

SC

André-Gilles Fortin

Social Credit

Mr. Andre Fortin (Lotbiniere) moved

for leave to introduce Bill C-369, intituled: "An Act to amend the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act".

Topic:   ELECTORAL BOUNDARIES READJUSTMENT ACT
Subtopic:   MEASURE TO PROVIDE FOR CONSULTATION WITH MEMBER BEFORE REPORT PUBLISHED
Permalink

December 16, 1974