May 19, 1942 (19th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Joseph Sasseville Roy


Mr. J. S. ROY (Gaspe):

On a question of privilege, in his answer to an interpolation of the hon. member for Temiscouata (Mr. Pouliot) yesterday in respect of my request for a secret sitting, the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) said this-I quote from Hansard at page 2500:
The reply made to the hon. member for Gaspe last week was that he should give the information which he had to the minister of the department concerned, and if the minister thought the information to be of a kind which rendered a secret sitting advisable it would be so arranged by the government. I am advised that the information conveyed to the minister, in his opinion and the opinion of the cabinet -I can speak for the cabinet because I was present at the discussion-does not warrant the calling of a secret sitting.
As to my hon. friend's suggestion that we should have secret sessions at stated times, I think the public would be inclined to take the view that so far as sittings can be open they should be open, and that the government should resort to secret sittings only where there appears to be the strongest of reasons.
What I said in my statement of last Friday was this-I quote from Hansard at page 2470:
In view of the close proximity of the coast where enemy submarines are now operating, and by reason of particulars I possess and desire to share with the house, but which it would not be wise to disclose publicly, I would ask the government as the representative of the constituency in the vicinity of which these enemy-submarine activities are taking place that an immediate secret session of the house be held to consider these most important war developments which are taking place as far as 300 miles within our Atlantic border. These events are of such gravity that it seems to me that the people's representatives should be made aware of all details concerning the attacks and be given an opportunity to take part in deliberations on the means to protect our threatened country.
My request of Friday last for a secret sitting of the house was not based upon the necessity of having such a means of conveying my information to the Department of National Defence, but rather to the house, as I very clearly stated, to permit members of parliament to discharge their duties towards our endangered country. I am prepared to present to hon. members of this house the information which I possess and which I deeply feel should be shared by all members in order that they may truly understand at least some of the perils to which our country is exposed at the present time. In my opinion it would be wiser to discuss that very important matter in secret, and there are more than sufficiently strong reasons, as stated by the Prime Minister, when our country is being attacked as it is, for members to be given an opportunity to look after the greatest interest of all in the protection of the whole country-

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