March 25, 1975

PRIVILEGE

MR. BAKER (GRENVILLE-CARLETON)-METHOD OF DEALING WITH SECURITY PROGRAMS IN ESTIMATES

PC

Walter David Baker (Deputy House Leader of the Official Opposition; Progressive Conservative Party Deputy House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Walter Baker (Grenville-Carleton):

Mr. Speaker, last night in the Standing Committee on Miscellaneous Estimates an exchange took place between the Minister of State for Science and Technology (Mr. Drury) and some hon. members which has implications for the rights and responsibilities of all hon. members. When the minister was questioned about the communications branch of the National Research Council, he told the committee that this agency, which has security responsibilities, had been transferred to the Department of National Defence. When asked what changes in the estimates this necessitated, the minister said:

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. BAKER (GRENVILLE-CARLETON)-METHOD OF DEALING WITH SECURITY PROGRAMS IN ESTIMATES
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LIB

Charles Mills (Bud) Drury (Minister of Public Works; Minister of State for Science and Technology)

Liberal

Mr. Drury:

Under what particular item it appears in the Department of National Defence I do not know.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. BAKER (GRENVILLE-CARLETON)-METHOD OF DEALING WITH SECURITY PROGRAMS IN ESTIMATES
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PC

Henry Perrin Beatty

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Beatty:

Could I ask you where the change is this year? Where was it last year in the estimates? What vote was it?

MR. Drury: I would hope it would have appeared in a number of votes.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. BAKER (GRENVILLE-CARLETON)-METHOD OF DEALING WITH SECURITY PROGRAMS IN ESTIMATES
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PC

Henry Perrin Beatty

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Beatty:

You would hope that it would have appeared in a number of votes?

MR Drury: As is customary in security matters.

This was later elaborated upon as follows:

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. BAKER (GRENVILLE-CARLETON)-METHOD OF DEALING WITH SECURITY PROGRAMS IN ESTIMATES
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LIB

Charles Mills (Bud) Drury (Minister of Public Works; Minister of State for Science and Technology)

Liberal

Mr. Drury:

I would not like to convey the impression that the estimates are inaccurate; that the estimates are dishonest. What I was merely endeavouring to say is that the estimates, the appropriations made for security purposes within the government are recorded in the estimates in a way which would make it difficult for somebody who is hostile or antagonistic to Canada to-

MR Clark (Rocky Mountain): Such as the opposition.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. BAKER (GRENVILLE-CARLETON)-METHOD OF DEALING WITH SECURITY PROGRAMS IN ESTIMATES
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LIB

Charles Mills (Bud) Drury (Minister of Public Works; Minister of State for Science and Technology)

Liberal

Mr. Drury:

He said that, not me... who are hostile to Canada, through an analysis of the estimates to get some notion of the size, shape and perhaps even the activities of our counter-subversive forces.

Mr. Speaker, the manner in which the government has chosen to deal with secret information is offensive to a democratic system based on the approval of the spending program by an elected assembly. It is insulting to suggest that the choice in a parliamentary system is either to deny and hide the existence of security activities, on the one hand, or to run the risk of exposing totally material which ought to be classified in the national interest. There is a middle ground which is compatible with the parliamentary control of expenditure. The present method is contrary to the Constitution and to the government's own description of the purposes of the estimates. Section 54 of the British North America Act states that the Governor General recommends expenditures to the House for specific purposes. This provision is repeated in Standing Order 62(1) of this House which states:

This House shall not adopt or pass any vote, resolution, address or bill for the appropriation of any part of the public revenue, or of any tax or impost, to any purpose that has not been first recommended to the House by a message from the Governor General in the session in which such vote, resolution, address or bill is proposed.

Standing Order 63 is germane to the point, and says in part:

-it is the undoubted right of the House to direct, limit, and appoint in all such bills, the ends, purposes, considerations, conditions, limitations and qualifications of such grants, which are not alterable by the

Senate.

The emphasis is on the right of the House to approve the details of expenditure. These Standing Orders are further developed by Beauchesne, citations 244(3) and 246(3) which stress that amendments to change financial recommendations of the Crown can only be made after further recommendations by the Crown setting out a new proposal. When the government presents its estimates it states categorically that their purpose is to provide to the House the necessary information on which to make a judgment. In the preface to the estimates for 1975-76, paragraph No. 1, we find this statement:

The proposals with respect to voted items are conveyed formally in these estimates in the wording and amount of the votes which, when included in appropriation acts, become the governing conditions under which the expenditures may be made.

Paragraph 4 continues, in describing reasons for changes in the form of estimates:

The decision of the Government of Canada to adopt a system of budgeting by programs, a "planning, programming, budgeting system", with its emphasis on defining program objectives and showing the full costs for each program, was also a determining factor.

In view of the attitude of the Minister of Science and Technology, these two descriptions are untrue and the assurances they are meant to convey to members of parliament are misleading and deceptive.

I have not raised this question of privilege today, and the matter was not pursued by my colleagues on the miscellaneous estimates committee because we believe that the state has no right to be extremely careful in its release of information considered prejudicial to the security of the state. Quite the contrary: members of this party concerned about freedom of information, such as the hon. member for Peace River (Mr. Baldwin), have repeatedly stressed that this is a valid criterion. However, the position which has been taken by the minister represents an unhealthy extreme. Members are to find out about security organizations by accident and then be denied any opportunity to ask questions about the scope and purpose of such activities or the amount of money to be spent on them.

While it would be comforting to be able to accept assurances that everything being done in the name of security and secrecy is fit and proper, recent history is crowded

March 25, 1975

Privilege-Mr. W. Baker

with instances of the abuse of security organizations in countries where these organizations were completely shielded from investigation by democratically elected representatives of the people. My proposition with respect to this is that too much security and secrecy brings its own dangers.

I believe, Mr. Speaker, that this practice referred to by the minister rejects the very procedural foundation upon which approval of estimates is based and prevents members of parliament from fulfilling their responsibilities. For this reason, if you find that I have a prima facie question of privilege I would move, seconded by the hon. member for Rocky Mountain (Mr. Clark):

That the practice of hiding security program estimates amongst unrelated headings be referred to the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections, and that the committee be empowered to recommend a more suitable procedure for presenting and dealing with estimates relating to national security.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. BAKER (GRENVILLE-CARLETON)-METHOD OF DEALING WITH SECURITY PROGRAMS IN ESTIMATES
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LIB

Charles Mills (Bud) Drury (Minister of Public Works; Minister of State for Science and Technology)

Liberal

Hon. C. M. Drury (Minister of State for Science and Technology):

Mr. Speaker, as I am the one who has given rise to this question of privilege, perhaps I might say a word on it. Without question, what the hon. gentleman read in the way of citations and instructions governing the preparation and presentation of estimates was entirely factual and covers generally the fullest and most complete disclosure to a responsible parliament that we can contrive. Indeed, in so far as I have been responsible for the preparation and presentation of estimates, that has been the objective I have sought to achieve. However, matters of national security are somewhat different and the problem is not peculiar to Canada; indeed, this is the universal dilemma of the nation state.

In order for a national security program to be effective, it must be prepared to counter undercover, hidden, clandestine operations of other people, such as the intelligent services which operate against the interests of the national state, or against the interest of Canada. The counter-intelligence movement, or the security apparatus which is countering interests whjch are inimical to Canada, or countering interests which are pursuing purposes which are inimical to Canada, must, in order to be effective, itself be under cover and not known to an enemy. To take a popular analogy, this is a bit like engaging in a poker game in which one man discloses his hand by putting it on the table and the other keeps his hidden and then proceeds to bet.

This, however, presents those in a democracy with a serious dilemma, namely, how to have an effective counter-subversive organization which, in order to be effective, must not be publicly known and the operational details of which should not be disclosed to persons against whom it is operating.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. BAKER (GRENVILLE-CARLETON)-METHOD OF DEALING WITH SECURITY PROGRAMS IN ESTIMATES
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PC

Charles Joseph Clark

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Clark (Rocky Mountain):

And the details of which must not be scrutinized by parliament.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. BAKER (GRENVILLE-CARLETON)-METHOD OF DEALING WITH SECURITY PROGRAMS IN ESTIMATES
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LIB

Charles Mills (Bud) Drury (Minister of Public Works; Minister of State for Science and Technology)

Liberal

Mr. Drury:

I point out to hon. members that the security apparatus of Canada is not directed against Canada; it is directed against those outside Canada whose interests may at times be inimical to our own.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. BAKER (GRENVILLE-CARLETON)-METHOD OF DEALING WITH SECURITY PROGRAMS IN ESTIMATES
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NDP

William Arnold Peters

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peters:

That is exactly what Hoover said about the CIA.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. BAKER (GRENVILLE-CARLETON)-METHOD OF DEALING WITH SECURITY PROGRAMS IN ESTIMATES
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LIB

Charles Mills (Bud) Drury (Minister of Public Works; Minister of State for Science and Technology)

Liberal

Mr. Drury:

In order to secure funds for these operations, we must and should seek the approval of parliament. The matter must, therefore, be included in the estimates. The problem, from the administrative point of view, is how-

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. BAKER (GRENVILLE-CARLETON)-METHOD OF DEALING WITH SECURITY PROGRAMS IN ESTIMATES
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PC

Charles Joseph Clark

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Clark (Rocky Mountain):

To hide it.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. BAKER (GRENVILLE-CARLETON)-METHOD OF DEALING WITH SECURITY PROGRAMS IN ESTIMATES
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LIB

Charles Mills (Bud) Drury (Minister of Public Works; Minister of State for Science and Technology)

Liberal

Mr. Drury:

-to seek this parliamentary approval without disclosing in a comprehensible and clear way precisely what is being done, and how. In order to achieve this purpose, an endeavour is made not to include in the estimates, as normally is the case with other programs, a discrete heading showing the entire amount of effort, or the entire number of people and the entire organization and purposes involved in counter-subversive operations: these are not put under one heading as by doing so we would serve the cause to which the organization is opposed. To do so would serve them admirably but it would not help Canadians and our parliamentarians.

To get over this dilemma, when members of the House or the House collectively have felt in the past they must know either the global arrangements or the details of the program, we have, on matters involving national security arrangements, informed parliament in camera rather than on a public basis. Members who participate in such in-camera sessions are under the obligation not to use the information they acquire in a public sense, that is, not to use the information they acquire in public ways or in connection with any other program.

I suggest this with some deference, but if it is the view of the House that it is important at this juncture to have information and a briefing on the security arrangements, I would be quite prepared to recommend to my colleague the House leader that arrangements be made for an in-camera session, on the understanding that those who participate in it accept the responsibility for treating in confidence the information they gather in respect of this national problem. They would be obligated not to disclose this in a way which would harm the interests of Canada.

I think this procedure has always been open. I feel strongly that it would not be in the interests of Canada to tip our hand, so to speak, in a public way merely to satisfy curiosity or the demands of those who would write interesting and perhaps exciting articles.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. BAKER (GRENVILLE-CARLETON)-METHOD OF DEALING WITH SECURITY PROGRAMS IN ESTIMATES
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

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Subtopic:   MR. BAKER (GRENVILLE-CARLETON)-METHOD OF DEALING WITH SECURITY PROGRAMS IN ESTIMATES
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NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Stanley Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

Mr. Speaker, I wish to say only a few words on this matter. I noted with interest the reference made by the Minister of State for Science and Technology (Mr. Drury) to in-camera sessions. The last in-camera session of this House of Commons that I can remember took place in 1944. Therefore, we are talking about something that does not happen under normal conditions.

The other point I want to make is this. It is open to the government, certainly under the Regulations Act and maybe in other ways, to provide that certain matters be kept secret. I suggest that it is one thing for the government to act under that authority if it feels justified in doing so. However, it is quite a different matter to distrib-

March 25, 1975

ute expenditure items through a number of estimates, in effect to distort the picture that is being given to parliament of how money is being spent.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. BAKER (GRENVILLE-CARLETON)-METHOD OF DEALING WITH SECURITY PROGRAMS IN ESTIMATES
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?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. BAKER (GRENVILLE-CARLETON)-METHOD OF DEALING WITH SECURITY PROGRAMS IN ESTIMATES
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NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

I gather it is that practice about which the hon. member for Grenville-Carleton (Mr. Baker) is complaining. I believe the complaint is well taken. If the government wants to keep certain information secret, it should do it legally under the appropriate act; it should not distort the estimates it places before parliament.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. BAKER (GRENVILLE-CARLETON)-METHOD OF DEALING WITH SECURITY PROGRAMS IN ESTIMATES
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PC

Walter David Baker (Deputy House Leader of the Official Opposition; Progressive Conservative Party Deputy House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Baker (Grenville-Carleton):

Mr. Speaker, in view of the offer that has been made by the minister, I ask that my question of privilege be stood at this time, and perhaps we can discuss the matter further.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. BAKER (GRENVILLE-CARLETON)-METHOD OF DEALING WITH SECURITY PROGRAMS IN ESTIMATES
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March 25, 1975