Hon. R. B. HANSON (Leader of the Opposition) :
Mr. Speaker, with much of what the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Ralston) has said, I am in thorough agreement, but I think it would have been better if it had been stated a long time ago, after the first incident, just what was the proper course to pursue. That was not done. I may say to the minister that I heard of this incident myself on Tuesday. Reports were widespread in the province of Quebec, and I have had many letters about it. I communicated with the minister on my arrival from Fredericton at noon on Tuesday; he told me what the position was as they understood it and indicated just the reason the minister has now given-that a substantial time should elapse before the incident should be made public. I am in thorough agreement with that. If that course had been proposed to the hon. member for Gaspe (Mr. Roy)
I have no doubt that as a good citizen he would have been guided by it. At Matane and Cap Chat the situation was such that everybody knew7 it. From a letter I received only this morning I could tell the minister just how widespread was the information about this incident. You cannot keep these things quiet. However, an announcement in the House of Commons is another matter.
There is one thing I should like the minister to bring to the attention of his colleague. What is the position with respect to convoys in the St. Lawrence? Are there any? Should we not know the position, at least in a general way? The minister shakes his head. Perhaps he is right; I am not going to judge. But so far we do not know just what is the position with respect to protection. I think it would have a reassuring effect if something were said on that point.
Subtopic: PRIVILEGE, MR. ROT-SINKING OF SHIPS AS A RESULT OF ENEMY ACTION-REQUEST FOR SECRET SESSION