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 3 of 1532)


February 8, 1955

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

As one

who for many years has been urging that estimates be sent to a committee, I rather welcomed the statement made by the Minister of Finance (Mr. Harris) this afternoon and the discussion which has taken place; but I do believe that there are some things which arise out of the discussion and some perhaps have not been mentioned, which should be clarified by the minister before we finally adopt with enthusiasm his suggestion.

I am somewhat confused as to just what the procedure is to be in the special committee on estimates. I think I should say it would appear that in the minds of many speed is the requirement and speed is what we should be aiming at. I would suggest that really time is not the important element in this as much as efficiency.

With respect to the procedure in the committee, it would appear that all parties seem to be in agreement on one thing anyway, namely, that policy is the business of the government and the responsibility of the minister, and that officers of the department should not properly be questioned on matters of policy. I do not think anyone will deny that under our system of government the minister is responsible for all the details of his administration. He cannot foist on the shoulders of his officers the

Special Committee on Estimates responsibility for his administration any more than the responsibility for the policies that he advocates.

Now, coming to the procedure in the committee, I am inclined to agree with the hon. member for Greenwood (Mr. Mac-donnell) that the business of carrying on by whispering or sotto voce suggestions will be impracticable if not futile in the narrow confines of a committee room. Pretty nearly all the members of the committee will hear the replies that the deputy minister whispers to his minister and naturally the members of the committee will say: "Well, Mr. Minister, ask him this or ask him that", which would be a sort of three-handed form of questioning which would finally finish up by being a bit ridiculous.

I would say that there should be nothing in the order of reference nor in the intentions of the government to preclude officers of the department from being examined and cross-examined. But I would say this: If any minister believes that he on his own can answer all the questions which an ingenious opposition can put to him, well, then, let him try it.

Topic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER CERTAIN ESTIMATES
Full View Permalink

April 13, 1954

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

Mr. Speaker, for some years I was honoured by being associated with Angus Macdonald in the course of our duties as members of this government. Angus left with those of us who were associated with him a memory of a man of intense patriotism without ostentation, forcible character without violence, of loyalty as a colleague and of the foremost natural friendship as a man. It is with the deepest regret that I note the passing of a man who did honour to the Nova Scotia which he loved, and to the Canada which he represented so ably in this house. To his widow

and family, I think I speak on behalf of all those who were in any degree associated with Angus during the time he was here, I express the deepest and most sincere sympathy. He will go to his last resting place, in the soil of the Nova Scotia which he loved, carrying with him the love, the affection and the admiration of thousands of his fellow citizens, and also the word that will go all over Canada that he was a great Canadian.

Topic:   THE LATE ANGUS L. MACDONALD TRIBUTE TO FORMER MINISTER OF NATIONAL DEFENCE FOR NAVAL SERVICES
Full View Permalink

February 18, 1954

Mr. Power (Quebec South):

Mr. Chairman, over a very long period of years I have taken a great interest in the subject matter of the bill now before the house. For that reason I am beholden to thank the minister for the 83276-142J

National Battlefields at Quebec interest he is taking in this question-and that, notwithstanding his great preoccupation with the enormous task he has before him in the development of those great last frontiers of Canada, the new regions of our north country. I am sure that he, in the interest which he takes in the preservation and conservation of the memorials to those who have gone before us, will find inspiration for himself and his associates in the great task they have undertaken.

My interest, as I have said, creates in my imagination an almost proprietary or vested interest in the objects which are covered by this bill. Back in March of 1920 I moved in the house-

That, in the opinion of this house, the ancient walls and fortifications of the city of Quebec, having for all military purposes become obsolete, it is expedient in order to better preserve these valuable heirlooms as a historical monument for future generations, that their upkeep and control be now vested in the national battlefields commission.

This resolution was repeated on one or more occasions. But in connection with this matter let me say that, as a member of parliament, I went through almost the entire gamut of human emotions. There was fervour, crusading zeal, a certain amount of encouragement, setbacks, small successes, long years of patient waiting, and finally almost partial achievement-and, I regret to say, at the end a good deal of disillusionment.

Encouraged by the somewhat favourable comments of the then existing government, in 1920, I fondly imagined that when a friendly government should come into power what had been encouragement would become decisive action. But, like a great many of that generation following the first war, I was carried away by the slogan that the 1914-18 war had been a war to end all wars. And in my firm belief in that theory I was bold enough, and imprudent enough, to move in 1922 that the estimates of the militia department, including the salaries of the military heads, be considerably curtailed. After that, may I tell the house, the walls still remained in the control of the Department of National Defence, and my most impassioned pleas to preserve their historic interest met with brazen hearts and cold words from the heads of the department.

After a term of years, proceeding along; these lines, it occurred to me that the interest which I had intended to suscitate might better be covered by an appeal to another element of the thinking of the ministry, the political element. And I raised the question in this house of the possibility-yes, and the probability-that these walls, if their upkeep and fortifications were not kept in proper repair by the Department of National Defence,

2232 HOUSE OF

National Battlefields at Quebec might some day crumble, and fall upon the inhabitants of the quarters situated below the hill, thus wiping out a substantial Liberal majority.

In those days the Liberal party had not achieved the state of respectability which it now enjoys, and those of us who wished to be returned sought and obtained considerable support from below the hill-or "below the track", as they would put it in other constituencies. The result of these representations was that, within a short space of time, moneys were voted by the Department of National Defence for the repair of these walls. And by strange coincidence, once every four years more moneys were voted, with the result that the Quebec walls, taken by themselves, are today in a reasonable state of preservation.

But it did take over 30 years for the government, as a whole, to be moved to the point where the control of the upkeep and maintenance of these historic monuments was taken out of the hands of the Department of National Defence and transferred to a civilian department. This took place some time in 1950. It was announced that, from now on, these properties would be looked after, maintained and kept by the then department of resources. But unfortunately, I believe through some slip, or perhaps because the military mind was not existent in the civilian department, in the transfer there was an oversight in that whereas the walls themselves, that is to say, the mortar, the rock and the brick, were turned over to the department; the approaches, the fortifications, which I believe to the military mind are part of an entire fortified city, such as the glacis, the clearance made for the path of fire, and so forth were transferred to the national battlefields commission. The result is that today we appear to have two authorities dealing with what, in the opinion of many, should be exactly the same property. I am going to suggest to the minister, not for immediate action, because I realize that there will be many obstacles to overcome, that he take under the immediate control of his department both the actual concrete buildings, walls, bricks and so on and the approaches thereto consisting of the glacis, the cleared terrain which lies in front of it, and that having the two together he might proceed to the development of this great historic site of Canada in a manner which befits the government of Canada.

May I suggest to him that he has very valid reasons for undertaking this in his department. The national battlefields commission of itself has neither the facilities, the personnel nor the equipment to undertake anything like reasonably large capital expenditure such as the building of approaches and the giving

of access to the more important parts of the fortification. I would suggest to him that he do not at once abolish the commission, but that he retain it in a consultative capacity within his department, and that the one or two permanent employees-and I do not think there are more than that-be also taken over and become employees of his department.

Should he-and I think perhaps he may- meet with some local prejudice, may I suggest to him that if he looks over the debates which took place in this house at the time of the creation of the national battlefields commission in 1908 he will find that at that time there was some objection, and serious objection also, from a great leader of public opinion in our province, the late Armand LaVergne, who objected to the creation of such a commission with a constitution as laid down in the act, which I believe is still in existence, whereby persons from other countries and from other provinces could on the subscription or contribution by that country or province select a commissioner on the national battlefields commission. Mr. LaVergne raised the question in this house, and as a matter of fact divided the house on the subject. It may be that at that time there was considerable justification for the constitution of the commission as it was then formed, since the figures given to me by the department indicate that outside of the contribution of the government of the day, which was I think $300,000, there were gifts from provincial governments amounting in all to $260,000; gifts from Canadian municipalities; a gift from New Zealand; gifts from teaching institutions in Canada, in Great Britain and in other parts of the empire; gifts from historical societies, from commercial institutions and so forth, amounting to $556,787.24, which was certainly to some extent a justification of the peculiar constitution of this particular commission. But I submit, sir, and suggest to the minister that at the present time the function of this commission is restricted almost wholly to that of maintenance. There are eight or ten commissioners, I do not know which, all of whom are men of standing and prestige in the community, and it is hardly likely that men of that particular executive capacity and standing would do very much in the way of attending to the work of laying out paths or deciding which particular type of shrubbery, be it mistletoe or holly, should line the different paths, byways and roadways in this particular park.

Again my suggestion to him is that he retain the services of these very eminent and estimable persons as consulting authorities in matters relating to this great national battlefields park, and that his department

undertake to do whatever there is to be done so as to bring the national battlefields park of Quebec, which after all was the first one constituted in this country and which from the standpoint of history does represent a great deal in the early and even in the later life of this great country of ours, on a par with all the national parks throughout the country. If he were to undertake the work which should be done by his department, I am sure it would not be long before the national battlefields park in Quebec would have the facilities and the appearance which would make it at least on a par with other national parks throughout the country.

Topic:   NATIONAL BATTLEFIELDS
Subtopic:   AMOUNT PAID TO COMMISSION
Full View Permalink

December 7, 1953

Mr. Power (Quebec South):

There are twelve counties in the province of Quebec the boundaries of which were frozen by the British North America Act. Then there is the question of homogeneity, if I may so call it, based on occupation. It is within the recollection of many hon. members that not so long ago a government took great credit to itself in an electoral campaign by saying it had carved out two seats in order to give representation to labour. If my recollection is correct, after the first election that representation of labour was usually by a lawyer.

These are matters which I think should be dealt with specifically by any committee which undertakes a study of this matter. There are localities and constituencies in this country which if divided along certain lines would provide a large proportion of the electorate who would vote occupationally along certain political lines. Then there are others where the population, being residential, could, if the theories expressed by Professor Lower on predetermination apply, be expected to vote along more conservative lines.

These are only some of the matters which must be settled or should be settled once

and for all however we proceed to bring about redistribution, even if we bring it back to this house by means of a committee. There is not much use in our proceeding with redistribution and then have an hon. member justify what may be an apparent injustice by saying that the population or the municipal boundaries are in his favour.

Old stories of municipal boundaries fill the pages 'of Hansard during debates on redistribution. It was supposed to be a Liberal principle that one must always respect the autonomy of municipal boundaries. Within the last 15 or 20 years I have seen little respect shown to that to which so much importance was attached many years ago.

For all these reasons I suggest that the proper time to give consideration to matters of this kind is now, and the proper body to give that consideration is a committee of this house. Personal interest would not be involved to any large extent at this time. I think a study of these questions would bring recommendations to this house which would enable us to decide at some time or other whether or not we should continue the practice which has been followed 'or whether we should venture on new ground.

Without hesitation I would say that no matter what we do we would not bring this parliament into worse odour than we do by following the system we have followed in past redistributions. I have heard it said that parliament is capable of great things, of carrying on its business with dignity, decorum, fairness and impartiality, but that when it comes to decisions with respect to redistribution it falls far short of that which the people of Canada expect from it. It seems to me we can now make a study of this matter coolly, calmly and with great deliberation, and thus do some good to ourselves and to the people of Canada. I commend such a study to this house.

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   REQUEST FOR COMMITTEE ON ADJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION AND ELECTORAL DIVISIONS
Full View Permalink

December 7, 1953

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

That, in the opinion of this house, consideration should be given as to the advisability of setting up a committee of members of the house to inquire into methods of bringing about the adjustment of representation and a plan for the division of the provinces of Canada into electoral districts in accordance with the provisions of section 51 of the British North America Acts 1867 to 1951, as enacted by the British North America Act 1946, and to report and recommend such method as may in the view of the committee be fair and equitable, and in the public interest.

He said: This motion is brought forward in order to fulfil an undertaking given to this house some two or three years ago when redistribution was being discussed, perhaps with more heat than light, and also to comply with the insistence of the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) who I am sure would have brought this matter before the house had I not done so. I may say that in this question of redistribution the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre is a valuable and forceful ally; but should the matter go to a committee, as is proposed, I will not hold myself responsible for all the vagaries in which he may indulge.

The justification for the introduction of such a resolution as this is that now we are far removed from the imminence of electoral battle and from the heat and ardour which are engendered by the contemplation of those electoral tests, and if ever we are to make a serious study of the method and the manner of bringing about the redistribution of seats within the provinces I believe it should be at a time when neither party interests nor personal interests are immediately evident.

May I say at the outset that it is not proposed in this resolution to deal with the distribution of seats as between the provinces.

Redistribution

My only thought is to deal with the distribution of the number of seats which are allocated to each province. In doing so let me lay down this as a primary proposition. The present method whereby the question of distribution is handed over to a committee of the House of Commons has not been found to be satisfactory.

I do not think there will be very much controversy on that proposition. I could, if it were necessary, quote eminent authorities who have publicly stated in this house and elsewhere that leaving to interested parties, members or those who give their allegiance to any particular group or party, the task of setting boundaries as between constituencies makes it very difficult for the members themselves to exercise their honest and conscientious effort, and the results have been such that the prestige and standing of this House of Commons have not been raised in the public eye.

Then I would make another suggestion with regard to a proposition which perhaps is not quite so non-controversial. I suggest that whatever method be found, we would be remiss in our duties and responsibilities as members of this house and as representatives of the people if we did not lay down rules, precepts and principles on which redistribution should be arrived at. The House of Commons in the final analysis must take upon itself the duty and responsibility of passing whatever report is made, whether it be by a body, a commission or an organization outside this House of Commons. So let me make it clear that it is not intended that we should divest ourselves of our duties and responsibilities, but that we should take them upon ourselves.

I next come to the suggestions as to what rules and regulations and principles-if we may call them such, when as a matter of fact principles, if ever there were any in connection with this matter, have been largely set aside and have been used on one or more sides by the same people, depending on whose ox is gored-are to be followed. Let me suggest that whatever is done there should be a decision made by this house and the members thereof on the great question as to whether there should be representation by population or not.

Are we to continue to adhere to what has been called the rule of thumb, of weighing rural constituencies so they require fewer in the way of population than urban constituencies? From the very first time that redistribution was brought into this house there was an understanding, rightly or wrongly, in that regard. I am not discussing

Redistribution

that at this moment; I am simply suggesting that this should be a matter that should be discussed definitely and once and lor all by hon. members themselves; that we cannot leave a decision of that kind to any outside powers, no matter how impartial or nonpartisan they may be, whether it is fair and just and reasonable that large cities in two or three of the provinces shall have a large number of representatives as representing that province in this house, or whether they should take into consideration that smaller centres of population and the rural districts should be entitled to a heavier weighting in their favour when we come to make that redistribution. That is a matter we cannot ask any outside body, whoever they may be, to decide for us. We must face up to our responsibilities.

I am not here suggesting that we should adopt one system or the other. I am simply calling the attention of this house to the fact that we cannot have a fair redistribution that would be satisfactory to all until the representatives of the people of this country come to a decision on such matters as these.

There is the matter of whether or not, under certain circumstances, certain communities or collections of communities should be given representation, the Northwest Territories, for instance, and the Magdalen islands. Are there reasons-there may be, and I have no doubt they will be laid before the committee-why a very much smaller quota of population in these sections of the country would be entitled to be represented by one member than a very much larger proportion of the population would be, let us say, in the city of Toronto?

There are questions of homogeneity of population, based in some instances on the racial consideration. In the old days, at the beginning of our Canadian parliamentary institutions, our predecessors attached great importance to the representation of different racial groups of the population. For instance, it is well known to hon. members of this house that the British North America Act contains a provision that eleven counties in the province of Quebec-I stand subject to. correction; it may be nine-should have their boundaries frozen to the extent that they could not be changed by the legislature of the province of Quebec. This was in order to protect the Anglo-Protestant population of Quebec, or of Lower Canada as it was then called. I cannot remember the particular counties offhand, but they include Bedford, Missisquoi, Brome and Sherbrooke. The Minister of Finance (Mr. Abbott) will probably be able to tell us just how many there are, but the legislature of the province of

Quebec may not change the boundaries of those counties without obtaining the assent of the members of those constituencies.

That is no longer of any importance, because it is. within the knowledge of all that the Anglo-Protestant population of those counties has diminished to an almost infinitesimal proportion of the population and the need or the necessity or the requirement is no longer of any great importance to anybody. I believe that up to the present time when redistribution has taken place in connection with those sections of Quebec, the members representing those particular constituencies in the legislature were consulted.

Whether or not we in this house now desire to continue arrangements similar to that I cannot say. For instance, in the constituency which I have represented for many years the voting strength was kept very low in order to give representation to the Englishspeaking Catholics who were widely scattered between Montreal and Gaspe. This was done in an effort to give the English-speaking Catholics an opportunity to elect one of their number as a member of this house. That situation has long since disappeared. The total English-speaking population in the constituency which I represent would amount to hardly 20 per cent.

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   REQUEST FOR COMMITTEE ON ADJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION AND ELECTORAL DIVISIONS
Full View Permalink