Charles Gavan POWER

POWER, The Hon. Charles Gavan, P.C., B.A., LL.L.

Personal Data

Party
Liberal
Constituency
Quebec South (Quebec)
Birth Date
January 18, 1888
Deceased Date
May 30, 1968
Website
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Gavan_Power
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=a47e2fa3-277a-47c3-8868-2fc0fdddd05a&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
lawyer

Parliamentary Career

December 17, 1917 - October 4, 1921
L LIB
  Quebec South (Quebec)
December 6, 1921 - September 5, 1925
LIB
  Quebec South (Quebec)
October 29, 1925 - July 2, 1926
LIB
  Quebec South (Quebec)
September 14, 1926 - May 30, 1930
LIB
  Quebec South (Quebec)
July 28, 1930 - August 14, 1935
LIB
  Quebec South (Quebec)
October 14, 1935 - January 25, 1940
LIB
  Quebec South (Quebec)
  • Minister of Pensions and National Health (October 23, 1935 - September 18, 1939)
  • Postmaster General (September 19, 1939 - May 22, 1940)
March 26, 1940 - April 16, 1945
LIB
  Quebec South (Quebec)
  • Postmaster General (September 19, 1939 - May 22, 1940)
  • Minister of National Defence for Air (May 23, 1940 - November 26, 1944)
  • Minister of National Defence for Air and Associate Minister of National Defence (May 23, 1940 - November 26, 1944)
  • Minister of National Defence (June 11, 1940 - July 4, 1940)
  • Associate Minister of National Defence (July 12, 1940 - November 26, 1944)
June 11, 1945 - April 30, 1949
LIB
  Quebec South (Quebec)
June 27, 1949 - June 13, 1953
LIB
  Quebec South (Quebec)
August 10, 1953 - April 12, 1957
LIB
  Quebec South (Quebec)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 2 of 1532)


May 16, 1955

Hon. C. G. Power (Quebec South):

Mr. Speaker, I am quite willing to answer the question.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   INQUIRY RESPECTING REINTRODUCTION OF AMENDING BILL
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March 11, 1955

Mr. Power (Quebec South):

Quite right; but none of that literature is official, other than being official in the sense of the party. It is not sanctioned by the parliament of Canada, nor by the people of Canada represented in the house by their members.

Up to the present time we have religiously avoided what is suggested in this bill. I remember the trouble we had in framing the elections act in order to have enumerators from two political parties making up the lists. We had to find such language as "a representative of an opposite and adverse political party" if I remember correctly. During the first overseas election-I am not speaking of the one in 1917, but the one in 1940

we refrained from stating the political allegiance of the persons who were candidates. I admit frankly that we received innumerable complaints on that score. But in 1945, if I recall correctly, there was some kind of arrangement made whereby political parties were not recognized but leaders of groups in the house were given recognition. It was stated either on the ballot or in the literature-I think perhaps it was in the literature sent out by the returning officer-that such and such a candidate was endorsed by the leader of the opposition or by the leader of the government, or something of that nature. But I doubt if the word "Liberal" or the word "Conservative" or "C.C.F." was on the ballot, though, in saying this, of course, I am speaking only from memory.

Besides, I doubt if we can here, by legislation, give to the leader of the government, for those of us sitting on this side of the house a copyright on the name "Liberal". I have as much right to call myself a Liberal, even though I might oppose some of the policies of the right hon. gentleman who leads us. In the same way, hon. gentlemen sitting in the opposition can call themselves Progressive Conservatives and still not ask for the endorsation of the hon. gentleman sitting opposite.

Under the circumstances, then, I do not oppose this because it is an innovation, but rather because, in conformity with the customs, the habits and the traditions of our parliamentary institutions, I would strenuously oppose placing on the ballot paper the name of the political party to which a candidate adhered.

Canada Grain Act

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO PLACE POLITICAL AFFILIATION OF CANDIDATES ON BALLOT PAPERS
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March 11, 1955

Hon. C. G. Power (Quebec South):

Mr. Speaker, at the risk of arousing the derisive laughter of my friends in the corner I think I should take the traditionalist view of this, and repeat what has been said by the hon. member for Greenwood (Mr. Macdonnell), that nowhere in our federal elections act is there any mention of any political party. In our experience in the past in trying to draft the elections act we have always carefully avoided mentioning political parties, and for the reason-you may laugh at it-that whatever we may do in practice, members of parliament are sent here to give our constituents the benefit of the best of our judgment and the best of our ability to determine what should be done in the interests of the country as a whole.

Except perhaps during the time when we were occupying the hustings, for many years we have done our best to say that we are non-partisan in our outlook on matters coming before us. It seems almost an insult to tell a man he is a politician. Now, under the guise of a great reform, we are asked to label ourselves as politicians. We will come here and, in the words of some statesman of long ago, we will be all for the party and none for the state.

It seems to me we have not reached the stage in this country where we are going to set up throughout the country political machines and political organizations to which members will become so attached that it will be very difficult for them to take an impartial and non-partisan view of matters coming before the house. If on the ballot paper itself an individual who proposes to become a member of parliament labelled himself, for the time during which he will be a member, as the supporter of such and such a party, it would be extremely difficult for him, both in conscience and in the view of his electors, to say that from now on he repudiates the

Canada Elections Act

pledge he made to his electors when he said he was a Liberal, a Conservative, a Social Crediter, or anything else you may mention.

Topic:   CANADA ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO PLACE POLITICAL AFFILIATION OF CANDIDATES ON BALLOT PAPERS
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March 8, 1955

Hon. C. G. Power (Quebec South):

Mr. Speaker, ladies and gentlemen: It is indeed an honour to participate in this ceremony of tribute to an outstanding parliamentarian, Miss Agnes Campbell Macphail, the first woman member of the House of Commons of Canada.

The very fact that Miss Macphail was the first representative of her sex to sit in this chamber would have placed her in the public eye, irrespective of her personal qualities. But her unique position alone does not explain the respect she won and the influence she played in Canada's national life. Personal qualities of intelligence, courage and unselfish industry were the real factors in her rise to prominence.

At the outset the position of Miss Macphail was difficult indeed. She was at once breaking a tradition and, at the same time, pioneering an advance in the political mores of a nation. Sensational headlines were anticipated: her native dignity precluded the roles of the shrinking violet, the flapper hoyden or the crusading virago.

(Text):

Topic:   APPENDIX
Subtopic:   AGNES CAMPBELL MACPHAIL
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February 8, 1955

Mr. Power (Quebec South):

He would have to be good. I do not know whether the question arises or not, but out of these circumstances it would appear to me that inevitably the questioning would be addressed to the officers of the department. In any case, I would suggest to the minister that he make it perfectly clear to the house there will be no prohibition on officers being asked questions if the minister cannot reply to them himself.

I am not quite sure whether the order of reference should not be altered to meet those conditions. Perhaps, as has already been said, when the individual estimates are referred, the ministry may adopt the idea of stating in the order of reference that matters of policy are not to be discussed in the committee, but I do not think I would go as far as the hon. member who last spoke. I would suggest that matters of policy could be discussed in this special committee, and that questions respecting policy should be addressed only to the minister and not to his officials.

If the order of reference is not wide enough and does not go far enough I suggest to the minister that it should be widened. This is something new; it is an experiment. If in the government's mind it is a reform let us treat it as a reform and see that it is properly framed so that it operates. If it is

Special Committee on Estimates only a concession to my hon. friends of the opposition then let us make our concession freely and willingly, not grudgingly.

Reference has been made to the United States system of committees, and to the British system. With respect to the system in the United States it should be quite clear to all of us that on account of the differences in our parliamentary and constitutional practices it would not be easy and indeed might be very difficult for us to adopt anything like the United States system.

In the first place, in so far as I am able to judge their system does not carry any ministerial responsibility. The ministers are not even in the house. There does not appear to be any governmental responsibility for appropriations since any member of congress may move to add additional expenditure to appropriations. One reads of dozens if not hundreds of bills being introduced by private members for the purpose of giving pensions to worthy soldiers or civil servants. One also hears a great deal of the practice known as log-rolling, whereby certain members of congress agree with certain other members to obtain larger expenditures in their particular regions of the country. In view of these things any attempt to import the United States system would, I believe, be useless in this country.

With respect to the British system, it is worthy I believe of consultation and should perhaps be consulted, but I am reminded of a book I read recently with reference to the British House of Commons. It is a house, as we all know, replete with respect for customs, usages, and tradition. But something like 100 years ago they had to alter the rules of that house very radically indeed. Up to that time it had been known as an English gentlemen's club. Unfortunately, a large group of Irish arrived. The Irish were not Englishmen, and they had no ambitions whatsoever to be gentlemen.

With respect to us, we are not Englishmen either. We have our own traditions and 80 or 90 years of parliamentary government. Surely with these traditions back of us we can feel a way or invent a way whereby we can make our parliamentary system work without slavishly following that of any other country.

Going back to the story I mentioned, with respect to the Irishmen-though perhaps I had better not make any invidious comparisons in connection with the second qualification. However, I should say that owing to our own hypersensitivity with respect to the language used in the house, and owing to the decisions of successive Speakers, we have to some extent lost the flavour and saltiness of

the forthright language of our pioneer forebears, and in our attempts to become gentlemen quite a number of us have become little Lords Fauntleroy minus the lace collar and well brushed curls.

However, and be that as it may, I should say there are very great advantages in referring estimates to a special committee. These advantages have been enumerated by hon. members on all sides of the house, though I confess I was a little surprised that the hon. member for Greenwood (Mr. Macdonnell) did not appear to share the enthusiasm of his neighbour who last spoke and favoured referring these estimates to the committee.

Nevertheless the control, criticism, and scrutiny of the estimates is one of the bulwarks of the opposition. The opposition should, if it is doing its duty, take every possible step to see to it that these expenditures are appropriate and in the interests of the country. May I say as one who enjoyed being in the opposition for two parliaments that I have great sympathy for the opposition, and believe it is the duty of the government and the house to give the opposition every opportunity to scrutinize these estimates.

With respect to hon. members on the government side, perhaps it should be said that there is no constitutional or legal bar to their scrutinizing the estimates also. Such scrutiny is not by law, practice, or the constitution the sole prerogative of members of the opposition. I suggest to many hon. members on the government side that they too would learn a great deal about the function of government, they would learn a lot about the inner workings of departments, if they would take the time and trouble to scrutinize the manner in which estimates are prepared and brought to this house.

From the standpoint of the government I can think of no better procedure than to have deputy ministers appear before parliamentary committees. Anyone who has been in the government must be aware of the almost intolerable pressure brought upon ministers to increase the estimates of the departments. Whether it be the natural tendency to empire-building which exists in all departments and which is very difficult to control; whether it be the pressure to have new gadgets in departmental offices; or whether it be only keeping up with the Jones's in some other department, the ministers have only one way of protecting themselves against this pressure from their officials and that is to be able to say, "No, I cannot get by with this in the House of Commons." If the departmental officers are brought face to face with members of the house and made to understand the reluctance of members to give in to their

whims and fancies, then perhaps the minister would have a much easier time with his department. Without being derogatory in any way to our civil service, I think it would be a good idea to match bureaucracy face to face with democracy as represented by the members of this house.

Topic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER CERTAIN ESTIMATES
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