April 3, 1952 (21st Parliament, 6th Session)

LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. Pouliot:

I shall ask the hon. member to keep quiet, because I am coming to his defence, although he does not realize it.
Perhaps the report is inaccurate. I should be very glad if it were, and I should not be at all surprised. My dealings with the hon. member have always been extremely pleasant. If the situation is as the headline indicates: "Coldwell's opinion: feels M.P.'s and Senators put party discipline before consciences," and if he is accurately reported, I am surprised. I never noticed it, because I give every one of my colleagues the benefit of the doubt. Even when they differ, I am sure that they are sincere. For my part, I have never sold my birthright for a mess of pottage, and I do not know anyone among my colleagues who has done so.
In the first paragraph it is stated that the hon. member was speaking of "leading Conservatives and Liberals in both the Commons and the Senate." I am not a leading Liberal; and if I were, taking what was said literally, it would not apply to me. As a member of the House of Commons who was here when the hon. gentleman was presented to Mr. Speaker, and for a long time before that, may I say that I cannot stand for that kind of language being used with
regard to the membership of the House of Commons. I differ with my colleagues. Sometimes the argument is heated. While they may not agree with my views, I admit that they are sincere just the same.
In these times, when we hear so much about human rights and fundamental freedoms, I am surprised that I should be the one to rise on a question of privilege on a matter like this. Having spoken of "leading Conservatives and Liberals in both the Commons and the Senate", the hon. gentleman is reported as follows:
Men who hold the views we do, fail to express them.
Let him look at the index of Hansard and he will see that I have expressed my view quite a number of times in the House of Commons, and have done so quite independently. I will also tell him that in the Liberal party we have more freedom than has anyone in his own group. The hon. member says this, according to the Ottawa Journal:
" "While party discipline is essential," he said, "there are times when men who believe their party is wrong should exercise the right to satisfy their own conscience."
I do not intend to read any more of the article. I am extremely sorry that this has been said. I am sure that the hon. gentleman, who is a gentleman, is himself sorry to have spoken in this way. I am sure he realizes that, and I hope he will not slander his colleagues any more when talking outside of the House of Commons. I will also tell him that this is most dangerous language to use; because in these times especially no member of the House of Commons should say anything like that with regard to his colleagues.

Topic:   STATEMENT OF MR. COLDWELL AS TO MEMBERS' OPINIONS AND PARTY DISCIPLINE
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