March 12, 1976

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE

LIB

James Alexander Jerome (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Order, please. Proceedings under Standing Order 43. Before we proceed with the oral question period, may I say that hon. members probably are aware that I have received a notification from the Minister of Justice of his intention and desire to table a letter that I think has been referred to previously. In addition, in respect thereto I have received notices of intention by three ministers to raise a question of privilege. In all four instances there is an indication, with the letter that has come to the Chair, that because of the importance of the subject matter it would likely be in the best interests of relevant proceedings that these events take place prior to the question period. Of course, that would set aside the procedure which we have followed since last Easter.

May I first, therefore, indicate that I think it would be the desire of the House to accommodate that point of view in order to make for a more relevant question period. It would seem that the question period, if it were concerned with these events, would become somewhat of an anti-climax.

Therefore may I ask, before considering that request, whether or not the House gives its unanimous consent to allow the tabling of the document by the Minister of Justice and the proposed questions of privilege by these three ministers.

May I say to the House, before asking the House for its consent, however, that rather than attempt to follow each proposed question of privilege with a discussion by the House in respect of the question of privilege on its merits, it would seem to me that a more orderly procedure would be to Jake all three statements in respect of the notices of privilege given by the ministers, and then the Chair would have to decide, in order to accommodate the opposition in respect of the right it might ordinarily enjoy in those circumstances, either on a question of privilege or whatever content may develop, whether the Chair ought to extend its discretion at least in a question period which would run until, in my opinion, the matter had been thoroughly explored.

[DOT] (mo)

Possibly, depending upon the content of the declarations made by the minister in respect of the proposed questions of privilege, all the declarations might be followed by a statement by one spokesman for each party. But that is a

decision which will have to be made only after the House has heard the content of the statements. If the House is agreed on that general procedure, may I ask that hon. members give their unanimous consent to proceeding in that manner. Is that agreed?

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
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Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
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ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE

LIB

Stanley Ronald Basford (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Hon. Ron Basford (Minister of Justice):

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to the unanimous consent just given, I wish to seek leave of the House to table, in both official languages, a letter from me to the Chief Justice of the Superior Court of the province of Quebec dated March 4, 1976, and the reply from the Chief Justice of the Superior Court to me in its original form, dated March 10. I will make available, if I may table in the same motion in a few moments, two additional texts of the same letter, one in the English language and one in the French language in that the original letter of the Chief Justice is in both languages. I would ask that these two letters be appended to today's Hansard, if that is the wish of the House.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
Sub-subtopic:   TABLING OF REPORT OF CHIEF JUSTICE DESCHENES AND STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS
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?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
Sub-subtopic:   TABLING OF REPORT OF CHIEF JUSTICE DESCHENES AND STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS
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LIB

James Alexander Jerome (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Before recognizing one of the ministers, may I ask whether copies of the correspondence have been made available to opposition parties.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
Sub-subtopic:   TABLING OF REPORT OF CHIEF JUSTICE DESCHENES AND STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS
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PC

Charles Joseph Clark (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Clark:

Just now, Mr. Speaker.

[Editor's Note: For correspondence referred to, see Appendices "A" and "B".]

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
Sub-subtopic:   TABLING OF REPORT OF CHIEF JUSTICE DESCHENES AND STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS
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LIB

Joseph Jacques Jean Chrétien (President of the Treasury Board)

Liberal

Hon. Jean Chretien (President of the Treasury Board):

Mr. Speaker, I first want to tell the House that this morning the Globe and Mail published an article containing an apology.

The Globe and Mail regrets any embarrassment caused to Mr. Chretien by publication of the allegations made by Mr. Justice Mackay.

I thank the Globe and Mail for publishing that retraction.

Mr. Speaker, last week I tabled in the House a letter I sent to the right hon. Prime Minister in which I established the facts. Later the House also allowed me to table a letter from Mr. Justice Mackay in which he withdrew his previous statements. This morning I would like to complete the record by reading to the House a letter I am

March 12, 1976

Administration of Justice

sending immediately to Mr. Justice Aronovitch, which reads as follows:

Dear Mr. Justice Aronovitch:

Needless to say, I was very upset when I heard last week of the allegations to be published in the Globe and Mail that I had once interfered improperly in a case before you.

I am writing to express my appreciation to you for having acted quickly last week. As you know, once the facts were made known, the allegations about me were withdrawn by Mr. Justice Mackay.

When I called you originally, I did so as a member of parliament on behalf of the unemployed of my constituency. In your report to Chief Justice Deschenes of the Superior Court of the province of Quebec, you recognize this fact, and I am pleased that you "did not consider it to be interference or intervention calling for formal protest". On the other hand, you did not consider my call to be "proper practice"; and therefore I regret any embarrassment this episode might have caused you.

Sincerely yours,

Jean Chretien.

I did explain myself in the House last Wednesday. If I annoyed Mr. Justice Aronovitch, I am sorry. As the member of parliament for the riding of Saint-Maurice who was confronted with a very difficult situation, and because I acted in good faith, I am sorry if I annoyed Mr. Aronovitch, but I did that for the purpose I explained to the House.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
Sub-subtopic:   TABLING OF REPORT OF CHIEF JUSTICE DESCHENES AND STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS
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Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
Sub-subtopic:   TABLING OF REPORT OF CHIEF JUSTICE DESCHENES AND STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS
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LIB

Marc Lalonde (Minister responsible for the Status of Women; Minister of Amateur Sport; Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Hon. Marc Lalonde (Minister of National Health and Welfare):

Mr. Speaker, I have read Mr. Justice Mackay's report to Chief Justice Deschenes on the circumstances of my visit to him, on March 8, 1970. I should like to make one or two observations.

First, I did not tell the judge that a telegram had been received by the Prime Minister from Prime Minister Williams, but that the Department of External Affairs had received a telegram from the Canadian High Commissioner, on Friday, March 6, transmitting a request from Prime Minister Williams that he be informed when the verdict could be expected. The Prime Minister of Trinidad stated that he made this request in view of his grave concern that riots and bloodshed would break out at that time.

Second, during my visit to Mr. Justice Mackay, I repeated to him the information available to us about the situation in Trinidad. I informed him of the request by Prime Minister Williams. In the course of our conversation, I also indicated to him that our High Commissioner had reported that the Governor General of Trinidad had called him to his office to inform him that he was most seriously worried about the situation. The Governor General of Trinidad expressed the hope that tempers would have time to cool down before the verdict.

Third my visit followed urgent representations made to the Prime Minister's Office by the Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs, late on Friday, March 6, informing us of those facts and requesting our assistance in order to determine the time at which the trial would be concluded. The Prime Minister was then on an official visit in the Arctic and was in the region of Igloolik and Spence Bay.

Fourth, my visit had no other purpose than to determine the approximate time when a verdict would be rendered

and I deeply regret that Mr. Justice Mackay may have interpreted my visit as aiming to delay the conclusion of the trial. I wish to state, without any reservation, that such was not my intention.

Fifth, I sincerely regret any embarrassment I may have caused Mr. Justice Mackay.

Sixth, I am grateful to Mr. Justice Mackay for stating his view that my visit "was clearly inspired by (a) great concern for the nation's interests and not by personal reasons".

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
Sub-subtopic:   TABLING OF REPORT OF CHIEF JUSTICE DESCHENES AND STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS
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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 Public Works):

Mr. Speaker-

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
Sub-subtopic:   TABLING OF REPORT OF CHIEF JUSTICE DESCHENES AND STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
Sub-subtopic:   TABLING OF REPORT OF CHIEF JUSTICE DESCHENES AND STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS
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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Drury:

-I stated in the House on March 3 that in the matter of my communicating with the Associate Chief Justice of the Superior Court in Montreal I did not attempt to influence the decision. I have read the report by the Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Quebec to the Minister of Justice, and in particular Mr. Justice Hugess-en's account of this event. I was pleased to note that the Associate Chief Justice expressed the view that he did not think I, and I quote, "was attempting to influence his judgment."

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
Sub-subtopic:   TABLING OF REPORT OF CHIEF JUSTICE DESCHENES AND STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
Sub-subtopic:   TABLING OF REPORT OF CHIEF JUSTICE DESCHENES AND STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS
Permalink
LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. Drury:

I have long respected and endeavoured to the best of my ability to protect the independence of the judiciary, and with the remarks of the Chief Justice on the necessity of this I am also in full agreement. I very much regret taking the action which I did and which the Associate Chief Justice has characterized as improper, and for this I sincerely and deeply apologize to all those affected.

I have, accordingly, tendered to the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) my resignation from the ministry.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
Sub-subtopic:   TABLING OF REPORT OF CHIEF JUSTICE DESCHENES AND STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS
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LIB

James Alexander Jerome (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Having indicated earlier that some decision would have to be made as to whether opposition comments should be made before the question period begins, I might first of all say that in order to keep things in an orderly proceeding, three notices of privilege were received by the Chair and the three ministers involved, or hon. members involved, who gave the Chair notice of the intention to raise a question of privilege have done so.

It would have to be without any further discussion that the Chair ought to find that there is no prima facie question of privilege that ought to be put, under that heading, to a decision of the House. However, I think it might be appropriate that each of the opposition parties be now given an opportunity to make a brief comment on those three questions of privilege before we proceed. The hon. Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Clark).

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
Sub-subtopic:   TABLING OF REPORT OF CHIEF JUSTICE DESCHENES AND STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS
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PC

Charles Joseph Clark (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Joe Clark (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, my comments in response to the three questions of privilege just raised will be brief. I want to begin by making it clear that as far as members of my party are concerned, we believe that the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Drury) has

March 12, 1976

taken an honourable course in offering his resignation from the cabinet. I think there can be no cause in this House or anywhere else in the country for any pleasure at that decision. I think all of us recognize that the action he has taken is entirely consistent with the very high standard of public service and dedication to public service which have marked his distinguished career in Canada through the years.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
Sub-subtopic:   TABLING OF REPORT OF CHIEF JUSTICE DESCHENES AND STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
Sub-subtopic:   TABLING OF REPORT OF CHIEF JUSTICE DESCHENES AND STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS
Permalink

March 12, 1976