April 13, 1948 (20th Parliament, 4th Session)


Angus MacInnis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)


I know that the bill provides that if, upon a reference submitted by the governor in council, a superior court of criminal jurisdiction expresses the opinion that the association is illegal it may be outlawed, but I submit that no party in this country, unless it is guilty of overt acts, should be outlawed just because a court has expressed an opinion as to its aims.

I was going to draw attention to the proviso which the sponsor has just mentioned, and which modifies the sweeping provisions of the bill except in so far as it applies to the communist party and the Labour Progressive party, but the section being bad in principle it cannot be made acceptable to a democratic people by a modifying proviso. I know of no democratic country which is not plagued today with its quota of communists, but I know of no democratic country at the moment which has legislation such as we are now being asked to put into our laws, legislation which is contrary to democratic practice and democratic traditions. What is needed in this country is not a law to make illegal parties and ideas that we do not like, but that we should as quickly as possible improve the quality-I emphasize that, improve the quality-of our democracy by abolishing social inequities and making our economic democracy as pervasive as our political democracy. That is what this parliament has to do, and when we do that I have sufficient confidence in the common sense and good judgment of the Canadian pbople to be satisfied that we shall not need any repressive laws such as this bill would put into effect.
May I point out that no country ever saved itself from revolution or from overthrow by oppressive laws. If oppressive laws have any merit, if they would prevent subversive methods from growing, the communist party would never have come into existence, but the fact of the matter is that the communist party grew and prospered where oppression flourished. There is only one way in which freedom can be extended. That is by extending it. We cannot extend freedom by limiting it. We have laws now on our statute books for dealing with sedition and overt acts. Let us apply these laws where and when there is need, but do not let us begin to make laws to ban ideas, because such laws just won't work.
It is interesting to note that the section which this bill proposes to add to the criminal code is numbered 98. There was a section 98 in the criminal code from 1919 until 1936, the purpose of which was to outlaw certain associations, organizations, societies or corporations. It was later repealed. I should like to read subsection 1 of the old section 98 of the criminal code, which later was repealed. The marginal note to the section is "Unlawful associations," and subsection 1 reads:
Any association, organization, society or corporation, whose professed purpose or one of whose purposes is to bring about any governmental, industrial or economic change within Canada by use of force, violence or physical injury to person or property, or by threats of

Criminal Code Amendment
such injury, or which teaches, advocates, advises or defends the use of force, violence, terrorism, or physical injury to person or property, or threats of such injury, in order to accomplish such change, or for any other purpose, or which shall by any means prosecute or pursue such purpose or professed purpose, or shall so teach, advocate, advise or defend, shall be an unlawful association.
That was the old subsection 1 of section 98. The section which this bill proposes to introduce is of a similar nature except that it mentions the communist party and the Labour Progressive party by name. There were ten other subsections in the old section 98, but the one I have read was the operative subsection. It was passed in panic after the Winnipeg general strike of 1919 and it remained on the statute book until 1936. There was considerable agitation before it was repealed. I was a member of the house at the time and I can well remember the debate.
The late Mr. Lapointe, then Minister of Justice, introduced the bill to repeal the section. I should like to quote briefly from Hansard some of the points made by Mr. Lapointe at that time. I do so because I know that Mr. Lapointe was highly regarded in this house not only on the government side where he sat but on this side as well. As a matter of fact I came to know Mr. Lapointe well before I ever met him, through hearing the late Mr. Woodsworth speak of him with appreciation. I quote from page 3901 of volume IV of Hansard of the session of 1936. Mr. Lapointe said:
I come now to another phase of the matter. Those who hold the views I hold on this question have been and are being charged with friendship towards the communistic element.
Unfortunately that continues to this day. You cannot speak for what you think is decency and democracy and liberty and freedom in a situation of this kind without being accused of being a communist. An amazing statement was made in the house yesterday by an hon. member to the effect that everyone who gave support to a certain organization was a communist or a member of the communist party. Mr. Lapointe was not a communist and I am not a communist. As I have said before, I detest and abhor everything they stand for.
Mr. Lapointe went on:
I am not a friend of the communists, and those who say that know I am not. I abhor, I hate the teachings and ideals of communism. But I want to fight them in a successful way, and I believe the way to fight them successfully is by argument, by attempting to have social justice everywhere and sound policies of administration.
He then quoted from a statement made by himself on some previous occasion, and he said:
To ensure our political stability as well as our economic stability, to victoriously repel the attacks of the trouble makers we must rely not so much on the criminal code, the officers of justice and the gaols as upon the personal dignity, the individual effort and the social co-operation which are the substance and soul of a free nation.
Could anyone put the situation clearer than it is put here by Mr. Lapointe? May I say that I agree with him; I agree with him with my mind and soul. He continued:
The adepts of the strong manner to the contrary notwithstanding ideas, whether they are good or had, cannot be billed with guns or machine guns. There must be an enlightened acceptation of the changes to make and the reforms to accomplish to take away the weapons which certain abuses and certain mistakes have placed in the hands of the enemies of order.
There again you have it. We are not going to destroy these people by sections in the criminal code. We are not going to destroy them by jails and prosecutions; we are going to destroy them only when we build a social order in which they cannot exist. It must be remembered that roses do not bloom in gutters. It is as sensible to try to destroy ideas of this kind by repressive measures as it would be for a man who wanted to clear his garden of weeds, and who, on seeing a weed growing, took a rock and put it over the weed. In a few days, instead of killing the weed he would see that the weeds had sprouted all around the rock. By suppressive measures we may think we are destroying communism, but we just hide it as the weeds were hidden by the rock; it will sprout out in every direction and we will not have the same opportunities for dealing with it as we have when it is in the open.
I should like to give one other quotation from the speech of the late Mr. Lapointe.

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