Mr. D. J. Walker (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Justice):
Mr. Speaker, may I first compliment, on behalf of the members of the house, the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar on his eloquent and at the same time succinct outline of this problem which faces all of us. I want to say what a pleasure it is to sit opposite the hon. member for Rose-town-Biggar. He enunciates principles and
he enunciates them well. While I seldom have been able to agree with him, on this occasion I think the majority of the members of the house do so. We respect him because of his parliamentary ability and also because he is a very kindly man.
May I say that it is very fitting that we should pause today in our mad rush of material thinking to consider matters which are far more important, matters of the spirit. Transcending all others is the question of our freedom. This is close to all our hearts and I trust, Mr. Speaker, that in this debate which takes place after all on private members' day, as suggested by my hon. friend everybody will express himself free of any party affiliations and free of any party duties.
I know the hon. gentleman will have no objection if I briefly trace-because he has taken the opportunity of doing so himself- the history of the proposed bill of rights in this house. Not today, not yesterday but almost 12 years ago a certain member of this house tried to get a bill of rights resolution on the order paper. Not being able to do that, he moved an amendment to the citizenship act in order to bring the matter before the house. Within a short time a petition signed by 500,000 or more Canadians insisted that a bill of rights should be passed by this house.
From that day to the present time, one resolution after another advocating a bill of rights has been placed on the order paper by this certain person. I need hardly identify the member of the house whom I have in mind because to the older members of this house his name is so well known. He is none other than the then member for Lake Centre who is now the Prime Minister of Canada.
The first time he raised this matter was in May, 1946. A year later he took part in a very important debate, the reading of which I commend to all members of this house. In 1947, as found at page 3149 of Hansard, he started the pilgrimage and, as you know so well, the matter has been taken up very ably by the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar as well as by many other hon. memners.
As a result of the speech of 1947 tremendous interest was created in Canada with respect to a bill of rights. Not only did the speech catch the imagination of the Canadian people but it was cited in the United Nations and, I understand, was used when the United Nations was drafting its fundamental bill of rights, the universal bill of rights, a year later. Furthermore, one year after the speech of this hon. member the declaration of human rights was passed by the United Nations
assembly, namely in December, 1948. In addition great interest was stirred in England. I found last summer during a visit to parliament at Westminster with some members of that house that our Prime Minister was recalled in one connection in particular, as the champion of the bill of rights.
In 1952 we had his resolution finally placed on the order paper and, his motion having been made and debated, three years later, in 1955, he again moved the same resolution in the same wording. On the same occasion he submitted to the hon. members of this house a draft bill for their consideration; a bill, Mr. Speaker, which was originally drafted by certain honourable members in the other place and amended at that time by the then member for Prince Albert.
May I today very briefly compare the resolution moved by the former member for Prince Albert, as a matter of fact the member for Lake Centre at that time, when that resolution was before the house. It is very short and I would like to read it into the record. It is to oe found at page 714 of the 1952 debates, as follows: