May 23, 1921 (13th Parliament, 5th Session)


Robert Laird Borden



My hon.
friend does not remember the ruling given by the Chairman a little while ago. If it is desired to refer the Bill back to the Private Bills Committee, we shall have to proceed in another way. We must have the Bill reported, and before it is read the third time, some hon. member can move that the order for third reading be discharged and that the Bill be referred back to the Committee on Miscellaneous Private Bills for the purpose of taking further evidence; or some hon. member can move that the Committee of the Whole rise and report progress, and when progress is reported a motion can be made that the order for reference to the Committee of the Whole be discharged and that the Bill be referred back to the Private Bills Committee. The same result would be attained in either case, but you cannot refer the Bill back to the committee at this stage.
I am perfectly satisfied, since reading the evidence, that there is ample proof that the woman has been guilty of adultery.
It is quite possible that the husband also has been guilty of adultery, and it is equally possible that there may have been collusion. The difficulty about dealing with these questions, in the way they are dealt with in this Parliament, is that the ordinary precautions taken in a court to guard against collusion, are not taken here; and I must confess that sometimes I am a little surprised at the attitude of some of my hon. friends on the other side of the , House. If they want to restrict divorce and put proper safeguards around it, then all these questions ought to be referred to the courts, where the necessary precautions can be observed. You cannot very well have these safeguards so long as the present procedure is continued. You have a sub-committee of the Committee on Miscellaneous Bills going over to the Senate and watching the evidence, and, after all, that is little better than a makeshift. There are circumstances in this case that seem to point to the possibility of collusion. What would take place if these matters were relegated to the Court?

The King's Proctor would be there, and would institute an immediate inquiry as to whether or not there was collusion. You would have a subpoena issued by the Court, bringing the woman before the Court, and she would be examined thoroughly and exhaustively in respect of every circum-tance that might point to collusion or otherwise. You cannot very well carry out any such procedure as that in the Senate or in a Committee of the House of Commons, but you could take every necessary precaution and exercise every safeguard if these questions of divorce were dealt with in the proper way. I hope the committee will pardon me for this suggestion, which has often occurred to me. Let me repeat again: if it is desired to refer this Bill back, some procedure other than that which my hon. friend from Maisonneuve (Mr. Lemieux), has just suggested, must be adopted.

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