May 21, 1951 (21st Parliament, 4th Session)


Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

The committee has the subject matter of the agreements, but apparently will not be given the opportunity of passing judgment directly on the agreements.
Now, sir, it seems to me that this method, while commendable from the point of view of getting before a committee the details of the negotiations, is not a satisfactory method, having regard to the relationship between the committee and the house; and the relationship between the government, acting in pursuance of such powers as it possesses in the matter of negotiating a trade agreement, on the one hand, and the house on the other. It is no happy reflection upon the Canadian parliament, as it certainly is no happy reflection upon the government opposite, that measures such as these Geneva trade agreements which were pictured to be the new heaven and the new earth, in that broadcast of November, 1947, so important that parliament was summoned to meet on the eve of Christmas to pass judgment on them, were simply allowed to be forgotten. Such a course reflects no credit on the Canadian parliament, and it certainly reflects no credit on the government opposite. While I repeat that I am glad to see the banking and commerce committee given an opportunity of reviewing the details of these negotiations, I am nevertheless regretful that the government now proposes to simply follow a course which is a repetition of an incident which does not reflect credit on parliament or the government.
The government goes ahead with trade negotiations on what we were led to believe was a very broad and important scale, in pursuance of the powers it possesses to reduce the Canadian tariff. Surely, sir, if those measures have the importance pretended on their behalf by the government, this parliament should have the opportunity of passing judgment on them, whether favourable or unfavourable. It seems to me that what we have before us is a very halfhearted permission from the government to have a
Trade Agreements
peek at the details of the agreements, but apparently no opportunity of expressing some judgment upon them. I urge, Mr. Speaker, that the terms of this resolution should be broadened so that when the committee meets it will not be stultified, it will not be confined, but as a committee possessing the dignity of parliament will be a responsible committee to consider the matter which the government pictures as one of importance, and will have an opportunity of conducting such a review and inquiry with respect to these negotiations and agreements as will be a credit to the Canadian parliament.

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