Mr. Speaker, in my preparation for this debate I went to the parliamentary library and read at length of the literature on freedom. It seems to me that the discussions on freedom boil down to two phases: one, that in man's original state he was free and all laws tend to reduce and limit that freedom. There are statements in support of this by Algernon Sydney, who said:
The liberties of nations are from God and nature, not from kings.
Lord John Russell, indicated as probably the greatest apostle of liberty in many centuries, said:
What is called love of liberty means the wish that a man feels to have a voice in the disposal of his own property and in the formation of the laws by which his natural freedom is to be restrained.
The second concept is that freedom exists today as a result of wresting away from dictatorial powers the authority they possessed. The milestones along that road to freedom are many: Magna Carta, the declaration of rights, the petition of right, the habeas corpus act, the United States bill of rights. These and others are representative of the magnificent effort of free men down through the centuries. I think in this debate it behooves us to pay grateful tribute to those champions of freedom to whom we owe so much.
I read in Hansards of years gone the debates on human rights and I hope the house will pardon me if I repeat in part what the hon. member for Rosedale (Mr. Walker) said. In my reading I found that the words and phrases of one man stood head and shoulders above all others. What interested me even further were, in reading the comments of other hon. members of the house at that time, the flattering phrases and sincere statements concerning that man. Of course, I refer to the Prime Minister. In reading his words and the words of others in the house today as well as the words of others who have gone to the other place and some who have since died, I became more and more aware of the fact that any contribution I might make to this debate at this time would be meagre indeed.
My most outstanding personal experience with regard to the rights of man came some few years ago when I was called for jury duty in the city of Toronto and was selected as a juror on two successive murder cases. Those hon. members whose background is in the law and who deal with the law day by day perhaps do not appreciate as much as one whose day to day life has been concerned mainly with business and commerce that it was a tremendous experience and a revelation to me in serving in the capacity of a juror to achieve a fuller understanding of what the principle of law that a man is innocent until proven guilty really means. I came away from that experience with a tremendous respect for our system of justice.
I mentioned a moment ago that in my reading and perusal of debates of years gone by I had encountered significant words and phrases. I should like to quote one short passage from a speech made by the Prime Minister on March 24, 1952 in support of a motion 96698-184J
Human Rights moved by him similar to the one before us today. As found at page 716 of Hansard for that date he said:
Great as is our inheritance, events in recent years demand that we review from time to time what is our inheritance, to ascertain whether any of our freedoms are being lost either intentionally or by default, and how far the principle of the heritage of freedom that is ours and that we take for granted is ours to enjoy.
In that same speech he quoted the Marquis of Reading, speaking in the British House of Lords on May 15, 1947, at which time the Marquis of Reading said:
Personal freedom had for so long been the current coin of life in this country that we had been apt perhaps to forget that currency may be slowly and stealthily withdrawn from circulation, that coinage may be debased without any very evident outward signs and that it may even be deliberately counterfeited without immediate detection.
It is no part of my case today to allege any malign conspiracy on the part of any one deliberately to attempt to overthrow the liberties of the subject. The process has been gradual, stealthy, haphazard, almost inadvertent, but unfortunately both insidious and menacing in its cumulative effect.
Further, he quoted from a speech by Viscount Samuel in the British House of Lords in 1951 in which Viscount Samuel said: During the last 30 or 40 years, imperceptibly, almost unconsciously, here a little and there a little, there have been encroachments upon that great and precious heritage.
I do not suggest today that we have lost, or are in danger of losing, those liberties, but I do suggest that they have been again and again impaired, that that process is still continuing, and that it needs to be stopped and reversed.
Even now, after the peace, or semi-peace, of the last five years, not all these liberties have been restored, and there is danger that some of these restrictions may be allowed unnecessarily to slip into our permanent system of governments.
Surely these remarks indicate the ultimate necessity for such a bill of rights. It is almost unnecessary to state that the necessity for such a bill will receive my whole and complete support. The hon. member for Rosedale expressed the hope that this discussion would not become political in its ramifications. I have prepared something which I suppose might be considered as being political, but unfortunately something as fundamental as appears in paragraph (a) of the resolution is inseparable from this discussion. I refer to the opening part of that paragraph beginning with the words, "abridging freedom of speech and expression". If there had not been abridgement of speech in the House of Commons in recent years, Mr. Speaker, I would not be sitting in this seat today nor, I suggest, would a great many of my colleagues on this side of the house.
The principle, as ennunciated by John Stuart Mill, to which certain members of one
party in this country lay claim, is certainly sound today and points up what happened in the house. Mill said that if all the people in the world but one were of one opinion and only one opposed, the world would be no more justified in silencing that one man than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.
If I may stray a little farther into the political field, I have a suggestion which I put forward in all humility to the political party which is about to hold its convention in the very near future, a party which last June 10 was tried and found guilty by the jury of public opinion of abridgement of freedom of speech, a party which gathered to beat its breast at Presqu'ile Point, to apologize to the people of Canada for its performance when in office. I suppose it can be likened to a situation where A1 Capone, appearing in court for multiple murder, would apologize for taking a penny out of the collection plate. I hasten to assure my friends that I am by no means suggesting that they are political gangsters. That is not my intention at all. But gathering at Presqu'ile Point and confessing that a budget that was not politically attractive in the first instance and something about the brass and the grass in the second instance certainly did not atone in any way for the violence which was done to a fundamental principle in this house. As I say, if I, as one young in years and political experience, may give them one small piece of advice, may I suggest that when they again foregather in this city they admit to the Canadian people the great wrong which they perpetrated and apologize for it.
I must apologize, Mr. Speaker, for straying somewhat from the principle before us today but as I said in the first instance human rights and the incident which occurred in this house are virtually inseparable. I think it behooves us, as has been very ably pointed out today, to be on guard at all times concerning our freedom.
The principle that a man is innocent until proven guilty is curiously reversed under our present system of government, particularly with regard to income tax, customs laws and certain other statutes. In matters of income tax, the individual is assumed to be guilty and the onus is upon the individual to establish his innocence. This is a reversal of an important principle of law. It is a reversal which works a particular hardship, it seems to me, on the ordinary individual who has to summon to his assistance a lawyer, when in many cases he has little or no means to do so, to present a case against a government department and the government lawyers.
I am not prepared to offer a solution to the matter of collecting taxes. However, I would suggest to the appropriate ministers that they re-examine the situation and perhaps with the co-operation of and suggestions from members of the house arrive at some more consistent method of collecting. Before I resume my seat, may I concur with what the hon. member for Rosedale has said concerning the sponsor of the bill, the spirit behind it, and I would say that it has my complete and unqualified support'.
Topic: "XII HUMAN RIGHTS