Before the orders of the
day are proceeded with, I desire to make a statement. On Thursday, April 21, the hon. member for Quebec East (Mr. Lapointe) raised a point of order, upon which I reserved my decision. At that time the Minister of Finance (Mr. Rhodes) rose in his place and in part said:
Mr. Speaker, one week ago to-day I directed the attention of the house to an observation which had been made in the course of the budget debate by the hon. member for
Sherbrooke (Mr. Howard). What I said upon that occasion will be found at page 2170 of unrevised Hansard. The hon. member was absent for a period of days, but now he is present in his seat I would ask him either to support or withdraw the remarks to which I made reference at that time.
The hon. member for Quebec East, then leading the opposition said:
Before my hon. friend for Sherbrooke rises, I think, Mr. Speaker, that objection to words uttered in the course of a debate must be taken at the time the words are uttered. If I remember well, my hon. friend the Minister of Finance was in the very seat he now occupies when the member for Sherbrooke was delivering his address. The hon. minister did not say a word at the time, he did not take any objection, and I do not think it is in order for him to raise the question to-day.
The Minister of Finance in replying, said in part:
I do not propose to discuss the point of order at all. It is only a question of the general fitness of the character of the remarks and the charges implied in them, and I should think the hon. member for Sherbrooke would be the last person to wish to shield himself behind any point of order.
The hon. member for Quebec East then said:
Behind the rules is always good shelter for a member of parliament.
I then reserved my decision. The statement of the Minister of Finance made on April 14, and which appears at page 2003 of Hansard, was as follows:
I regret that the hon. member for Sherbrooke (Mr. Howard) is not in his seat, but I believe this matter to be of such importance that I should refer to it at the first opportunity, so I would ask the hon. member for Quebec East (Mr. Lapointe), who is leading the opposition at the moment, to be good enough to direct what I have to say to the attention of the hon. member.
It has been brought to my notice, sir, that during the course of his remarks in the budget debate the hon. member for Sherbrooke referred to the conversion loan, and stated that he had advised the people of his district to convert their bonds. Then at page 2157 of unrevised Hansard, he went on to say:
"I told these men, 'If the government want you to convert your bonds I think you should do so.' They converted their bonds. What happened? Insiders of this government did not convert their bonds; the people of Sherbrooke and the eastern townships did."
With respect to that statement I have to observe that the hon. member said either too much or too little, and I must ask him either to withdraw his remarks or to substantiate the facts.
The hon. member for Quebec East may have misapprehended the purport of the remarks of the hon. the Minister of Finance
who did not allege that the words used by the hon. member for Sherbrooke were unparliamentary or that his language in itself was objectionable in the sense that it was unparliamentary. What the minister did suggest was that grave charges were implied in the remarks of the hon. member for Sherbrooke and he invited him either to withdraw the implications or to support them.
My ruling is that though there is no rule whereby the hon. the Minister of Finance may insist upon it, if the hon. member for Sherbrooke wishes to make an explanation of the remarks in question, he is not estopped from doing so by the rules or usages of the house.
Subtopic: RULING OF MR. SPEAKER ON POINT OF ORDER RELATIVE TO STATEMENT OF THE HON. MEMBER FOR SHERBROOKE