March 15, 1928 (16th Parliament, 2nd Session)

LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

With permission of the house I should like to answer this question orally. The appointment and procedure of the International Joint Commission is at present in substantial harmony with Canada's national status. Article 7 of the Boundary Waters treaty of 1909, under which the commission was constituted, provides for the appointment of the Canadian members by " His Majesty on the recommendation of the Governor in Council of the Dominion of Canada." The governmental references to the commission are made by the Canadian government. I have used the words " in substantial harmony " for the reason that as a matter of fact there is the use in several places in the treaty itself of the terms " the United Kingdom" and "His Majesty's government" where if the treaty were now being drafted the term " His Majesty " would be used instead. In many articles of the treaty reference is made' direct to the government of the Dominion of Canada, but there are three instances in which it is ambiguous. When I give my hon. friend those instances he will see in a moment that any ambiguity has been removed by the understanding reached at the last Imperial conference. Article V of the treaty reads:
The United Kingdom, by the Dominion of Canada, or the province of Ontario, may authorize and permit, etc.-
The words " United Kingdom " would be out of place in any drafting of a treaty today between the United States and Canada, and it may be taken as now being the fact that the words "His Majesty" are the words that are signified in that particular.
Article VII reads as follows:
The high contracting parties agree to establish and maintain an International Joint Commission of the United States and Canada composed of six commissioners, three on the part of the United States appointed by the President thereof, and three on the part of the United Kingdom appointed by His Majesty on the recommendation of the Governor in Council of the Dominion of Canada.
In this section as will be seen the words " United Kingdom " occur again. If the treaty were being drafted to-day the words " United Kingdom " would not appear, but the words "His Miajesty" would appear instead.
Article X reads as follows:
Any questions or matters of differences . . . may be referred for decision to the International Joint Commission by the consent of the two parties, it being understood that on the part of the United States any such action will be by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, and on the part of His Majesty's government with the consent of the Governor General in Council.
The words " on the part of His Majesty's government " would read to-day in a redrafting of the treaty " on the part of His Majesty."
I submit, however, that in view of the following statement which appears in the report of the Imperial conference of 1926, it is scarcely necessary to redraft the treaty in order to have it conform to the status of Canada as laid down at the last Imperial conference, although in some particulars this might be desirable:
We propose that it should be placed on record that, apart from provisions embodied in constitutions or in specific statutes expressly providing for reservation, it is recognized that it is the right of the government of each dominion to advise the crown in all matters relating to its own affairs. Consequently, it would not be in accordance with constitutional practice for advice to be tendered to His Majesty by His Majesty's government in Great Britain in any matter appertaining to the affairs of a dominion against the views of the government of that dominion.
So with respect to the International Joint Commission having regard to the procedure set forth at the last Imperial conference and the practice to be adopted in accordance with that procedure, any matter relating to the commission would be dealt with by His Majesty on the advice of his Canadian ministers. Wherever the treaty makes a reference to His Majesty's government in the United Kingdom, it would be understood, in accordance with the practice as now laid down, that this would mean His Majesty's advisers in Canada in so far as the matters have to do with Canadian domestic or external affairs.
There is one point I should like to clear up because I have seen some mention in the press of an intention on the part of the government to make some alteration because of the change in Canada's status. There is no intention to make any changes. Some time before the last Imperial conference, a communication was sent to the British government asking their opinion as to whether, in the event of an appointment being recommended by His Majesty in council in Canada, the wording of the treaty which nominally places the appointment in the hands of His Majesty's government in Great Britain, would be construed as in any sense giving that apointment to His Majesty's government in Great Britain rather than to His Majesty's government in Canada. The reply which was received was to the effect that most
Privilege-Mr. Cahan

certainly the King would be advised in these matters by his Canadian ministers and not by his ministers in Great Britain. Since the Imperial conference with respect, for example, to exequaturs issued to consuls, the practice has been adopted of having them bear the signatures of His Majesty the King and the Secretary of State for External Affairs in Canada where formerly they bore the signatures of His Majesty the King and the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in Great Britain. If to-morrow a commission were being issued to a new member of the International Joint Commission, it would be signed by His Majesty the King and would bear the signature as well of the Secretary of State for External Affairs in Canada and not the signature of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in Great Britain as was formerly the case.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   CIVIL SERVICE SUPERANNUATION
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