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 4 of 1532)


December 17, 1952

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

Mr. Speaker, in the thirty-five years that it has been my privilege to take part in debates and to close one or two, I cannot recall one where the words used by the speakers who went before me were so uniformly kind, tolerant, generous and magnanimous. Even my hon. friend who compared me to a wild goose was

probably unaware of the fact that there are few greater legendary heroes in the history of Ireland than the wild geese who were obliged to flee their country in order to remain faithful to their faith and to their king.

I have other friends outside the house who, having considered the events of the past few days as they concerned me, were somewhat perturbed lest the laudatory remarks and even the adulation which has been showered upon me, as they said, on account of a sort of careless promenade on the fringes of Canadian history during the past third of a century, might affect my better judgment, and they have furnished me with certain quotations which I hope are not too irrelevant but which may perhaps be considered to be salutary. One is from the Hansard of the British House of Commons of March 7, 1945, Mr. Winston Churchill speaking:

I have only two more minutes to speak, and I will devote them to my noble friend, the father of the house. He is a comparatively young father of the house; he has many years of useful life before him. We still hope they may be years of useful life in this house, but unless in the future his sagacity and knowledge of the house are found to be markedly superior to what he has exhibited today, I must warn him that he will run a very grave risk of falling into senility before he is overtaken by old age.

It is perhaps well that I should take note of this warning and that I do not indulge in semi-senile maunderings about the good old days. Perhaps I might quote another little piece, I hope not quite so relevant but still salutary. It is an epitaph on the politician:

Here, richly, with ridiculous display,

The politician's corpse was laid away,

While all of his acquaintances sneered and slanged,

X wept: for I had longed to see him hanged.

These lines are from the writings of Hilaire Belloc who, strangely enough, was a member of parliament in the British House of Commons. I rather suspect that he must have been for long years a member of the opposition faced with a vociferous, turbulent and arrogant majority. I too in the course of my career have been twice on the opposite side. I have had the privilege of sitting in two parliaments as a member of the opposition and can well remember the irritation and the anger which were occasioned by what I then considered to be the arbitrary and dictatorial acts of the members of the government. I am quite sure that my good friend, the hon. member for Inverness-Richmond (Mr. Carroll), when he sat in the house as one of the heroes of the Liberal filibuster against the naval bill in 1912-as a humble camp follower I had the privilege of sitting in the gallery at that time -must have had his moments of blind rage when first closure was introduced into this

Private Bills-Divorce

house and his beloved and idolized leader, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, had to submit to the gag.

But as the years went by those of us who changed our positions in the house were able to look at similar proceedings with a certain degree of calmness and perhaps satisfactory equanimity. Therefore I suppose' the strength of one's emotions and one's feelings is largely to be gauged by the lapse of time and the geographical situation in which we find ourselves. Nevertheless there does develop over the years a feeling of kindly tolerance which grows into comradeship and finally develops into true and strong friendship as between members of this great institution, the House of Commons. Even Belloc himself, whom I have already quoted, must have come to that conclusion, because in his later years he had this to say:

From quiet homes and first beginning Out to the undiscovered ends,

There's nothing worth the wear of winning But laughter and the love of friends.

As for me, to paraphrase the poet, all I can say is:

My thanks, my friends,

My thanks, my foes;

My love to these,

My peace with those.

Topic:   MR. POWER FELICITATIONS ON ANNIVERSARY OF ELECTION TO PARLIAMENT
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June 25, 1952

Mr. Power:

If I may be permitted to mention a personal element for a moment in connection with this particular resolution, I may

Members of Parliament-Pensions say that I am probably the only member of the house who has a definite mandate on this question. It came about in this way. During the course of the last general election, the campaign in the constituency of Quebec South was based solely on the fact that the former member seeking re-election had grown old in the service of the state, had become decrepit, had lost influence in the House of Commons and, in fact, had been relegated to the doghouse where even his bark was not of very much interest. My political opponents carried on a campaign on the sole issue, as they put it in French, "met-tez Power a sa pension", or in English "Pension Power off". Every telegraph pole in my constituency was covered with this slogan "Pension Power off".

The result of the election would appear to be that my electors do not approve of pensions for members. By a majority of 13,000 they decided not to "pension Power off". But adhering as I do to the old constitutional principle that a member of parliament is not the delegate of his constituency but is sent here to represent the interests of the whole of Canada, and to use his own judgment and discretion in matters that are placed before the house, I therefore feel that I could, were I so inclined, or convinced, entirely discard the mandate received from the electorate of Quebec South.

In a more serious vein, I should say that in view of the fact, if this legislation passes, that I shall be immediately placed in a beneficial economic position, I feel it would be more appropriate and more proper if I did not cast a vote, should this matter be brought to a vote.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT
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June 12, 1952

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

Mr. Speaker, though I am only too glad to support the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) in his suggestion that his amendment is in order, that does not by any means imply that I believe the amendment to be a valid and proper one in the circumstances and on its merits. May I say at once that with respect to the bill I am by no means convinced that it should pass on its merits. I am quite satisfied with the amendment to the British North America Act which was made in 1946 and I see no great necessity for the amendment now proposed.

However, with respect to the amendment moved by my hon. friend and the complimentary references he made to my efforts to have a study made to bring about a scheme or plan whereby redistribution would be made by persons outside this House of Commons, I want to say here and now that although on two occasions I have presented a bill which would have had the effect of setting up some sort of commission to prepare a general plan of redistribution it was never my intention, and it is not my intention, that that should form part of our fundamental constitution.

I believe we have reached such a stage of confusion, are in such a practical morass, have got ourselves into such a mess with respect to redistribution by amending and modifying and changing the various principles with respect to representation by population, 55704-201

British North America Act with respect to geographic units, with respect to county boundaries that we must have a new deal. I have too much respect for the members of this house to burden them with the duty and responsibility of making that kind of new deal in connection with redistribution. However, I do not want to see us get away from the responsibility of parliament to carry out the duties which we as members have been sent here to do, the duty laid upon us by the British North America Act which says that redistribution shall be made by the parliament of Canada.

In the bill which I presented there _ is scarcely one section which would not require modification. I insist only on certain principles, namely, first, that we should start afresh; second, that parliament maintain its control and responsibility over the action it takes with respect to redistribution and, third, that we lay down some set of rules and regulations upon which we can base future redistributions.

With respect to some of the provisions of the bill it is quite clear to me, as it would be to anyone, that the position and status of the unfortunate civil servant whom I have nominated to be a sort of umpire between the upper millstone of Toryism and the lower millstone of Liberalism would be most unhappy. He would either be obliged to resign before the job was done or he would be fired by one or other of the parties when the job was completed. Therefore there should be at least some discussion on that section of the bill.

There are some sections which I think need to be carefully studied. There is above all a need for a brand new redistribution. The reason I think it should be taken out of the responsibility of members of the house is that it would place too heavy a burden on them. If the job were properly done it is extremely unlikely that any hon. member would be representing the same geographic unit after the job was over. I do not think members should be called upon to commit hara-kiri any more than they should be called upon to meet the importunities and pressures that would be brought upon them by local interests, by people attached to the traditions of the county and by people attached to party tradition. It is for that reason I suggest that for once anyway we ask people from outside the House of Commons to do the job. Where they will come from I am not prepared to say. Whether they are to be appointed, as I suggest in the bill, in a bi-partisan way or whether they are to be appointed in a non-partisan way makes no difference, but I do suggest that when they have made their report and have laid before parliament

British North America Act a plan and scheme for redistribution, parliament in the last analysis should be the judge whether that plan and scheme is or is not a proper one.

I am convinced, and it may be only a faint hope, that if some such redistribution is made then notwithstanding local objections, notwithstanding the difficulties and the obstacles which will confront individual members of parliament, a plan of that kind presented to the people of Canada would carry such force and authority that it would be very difficult to alter or modify it in any degree.

With respect to the specific amendment of my hon. friend, I do not think he would expect me to support it. I have been too outspoken in my objection to commissions, bureaux and bureaucrats receiving delegated powers to do jobs which should be done by this assembly, this House of Commons, to now be willing to enshrine in the ark of the covenant of our constitution an omnipotent bureaucracy to do the work of redistribution which is primarily our concern. I have no objection to creating non-partisan machinery to do the job in order to give us a pattern of what we should do for the future, but I do not think we should place in the constitution of this country for all time and, as my hon. friend further says, for the next census and for the censuses to come, any provision which will free us from the responsibility which has been laid upon us.

Again with respect to this particular amendment, my hon. friend does not anticipate that it will be effective immediately. He says it needs to be effective only in the census of 1961. Why does he not join with me at the next session in an endeavour to prepare some kind of bill that will pass the house or at least be referred to a committee for discussion? With our joint efforts in the ten years to come we might achieve something. As it is now all he would get from the committee- and I would be glad to get it too, but not in the form of a constitutional amendment- would be a sort of pious hope that some day we would have a commission. I suggest that the two of us get together, hammer out a bill, endeavour to overcome the obstacle of its being out of order, and eventually convince our colleagues that that is the proper thing to do for at least once.

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO READJUST REPRESENTATION IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS
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June 12, 1952

Mr. Power:

Perhaps I have the very citation the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre is referring to, Your Honour. It did come to my ears that there was a question of raising a point of order in connection with the bill standing in my name on the order paper, the same point of order which

has been raised, and I was proposing to refer the subject matter to a standing committee. I find that the House of Commons Journals of Tuesday, March 22, 1949 at page 233, contains the following. Perhaps the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre will tell me if this is the citation to which he refers. I read from the Journals:

The house then resumed the adjourned debate on the proposed motion of Mr. Garson: That Bill No.

86, an act to amend the Continuation of Transitional Measures Act, 1947, be now read the second time, and on the proposed motion of Mr. Fleming in amendment thereto: That the said bill be not now

read the second time, but that the subject matter thereof be referred to the standing committee on banking and commerce with instructions that they have power to recommend a specific measure relating to rent control and other specific measures relating respectively to other matters provided for in the said bill.

Topic:   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO READJUST REPRESENTATION IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS
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April 3, 1952

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

for leave to introduce Bill No. 144, respecting the constitution and duties of the redistribution commission.

Motion agreed to and bill read the first time.

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION COMMISSION
Subtopic:   CONSTITUTION AND DUTIES, APPOINTMENT OF ASSESSORS, ETC.
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