Jean-François POULIOT

POULIOT, The Hon. Jean-François, Q.C.

Personal Data

Party
Liberal
Constituency
Témiscouata (Quebec)
Birth Date
March 28, 1890
Deceased Date
July 6, 1969
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-François_Pouliot_(politician)
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=f88a7275-f7f4-407e-9d45-89d5300f2919&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
author, barrister, lawyer

Parliamentary Career

December 1, 1924 - September 5, 1925
LIB
  Témiscouata (Quebec)
October 29, 1925 - July 2, 1926
LIB
  Témiscouata (Quebec)
September 14, 1926 - May 30, 1930
LIB
  Témiscouata (Quebec)
July 28, 1930 - August 14, 1935
LIB
  Témiscouata (Quebec)
October 14, 1935 - January 25, 1940
LIB
  Témiscouata (Quebec)
March 26, 1940 - April 16, 1945
LIB
  Témiscouata (Quebec)
November 23, 1944 - April 16, 1945
IND
  Témiscouata (Quebec)
June 11, 1945 - April 30, 1949
IND
  Témiscouata (Quebec)
April 29, 1949 - April 30, 1949
LIB
  Témiscouata (Quebec)
June 27, 1949 - June 13, 1953
LIB
  Témiscouata (Quebec)
August 10, 1953 - April 12, 1957
LIB
  Témiscouata (Quebec)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 1970)


July 12, 1955

Mr. Poulioi:

It was done for others and it could have been done at the time, but they had so many other things to pack up that they did not have time to look after their friends. I think hon. gentlemen should give credit to the Liberal government for rewarding those two gentlemen who left many fond memories among those who knew them. My dealings with the members of the house have been most pleasant and I think one of

Special Committee on Procedure the finest rewards of a member of parliament in fulfilling his arduous duties is the many lasting friendships he makes among members on all sides of the house. I am known as a die-hard Liberal but I have many friends across the house and I shall remember them with emotion. I thank hon. members for having listened to these remarks on the rules.

Before concluding may I say what I have said to hon. members who have asked me to explain the rules to them. I said that it was easy to know the rules, it was easy to abide by the rules, provided the members are dealt with fairly in all circumstances.

Mr. Cold well: Mr. Chairman, we have just listened to a most interesting and characteristic speech by the hon. member for Temis-couata. He gave us the background of many of the rules of the House of Commons. I was most interested in his explanation of some of the old customs that have died out. When I first came to the house there were probably half a dozen members who used to insist on wearing their hats during the sittings, but I cannot recall any time in the last several years when an hon. member has followed that old custom. For example, 1 remember the Hon. Mr. Motherwell sitting in the chamber with his hat on, and I remember a former senator who used to represent a Quebec constituency in this house invariably wearing his hat in the chamber.

The historic background given this morning by the hon. member is rather different from what I learned when I was at school. I was told that the custom arose because in ancient times when the knights entered the House of Commons they wore their helmets in order to protect themselves should anything occur during a turmoil in the House of Commons. Similarly, in the house at Westminster the distance between the opposition and the government side of the house is exactly two swords' length, so that they cannot poke each other across the way. When I look at the mace I am reminded that it was once a club in the hands of the gentleman who occupied a position analogous to that of the Sergeant-at-Arms so that he could maintain order in the assembly.

Reference to these customs brings back worth-while historic references to the workings of this remarkable institution we call parliament. May I say in the house what I have often said outside, that I do not think that in the long history of mankind an institution has yet been devised which is as efficient and useful for the self-government of nations as is the parliamentary institution which we possess and under which we live

in this country. I think it is the duty of all members of the House of Commons to maintain respect for this institution.

With regard to the rules, I agree with the hon. member that the fewer rules we have the better it is for debate. When I came to the House of Commons some 20 years ago I expected to find the parliamentary rules being most carefully observed. I had taken part in debating clubs and societies and had belonged to organizations, including a city council, that had constitutions and bylaws, and when I came here I was amazed to find that strict parliamentary rules were more often disregarded than followed. I find that as a rule in smaller organizations that have constitutions and bylaws you are more apt to find the chairman enforcing the constitution and the rules with great vigour. As the hon. gentleman said, in this parliament of Canada there is across the floor of the house and from the Chair usually a breadth of tolerance which enables us to invoke the rules very rarely indeed.

With regard to the revision of the rules now before us, as the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre said when the rules were introduced for consideration a short time ago, we carefully considered these amendments and accepted the package policy. That does not mean to say that we are entirely satisfied with all the proposed changes. I am sure the Leader of the Opposition will not misunderstand what I am about to say because I do not intend to cast any reflection upon him. In the recent debate I began to have some qualms about the 40-minute rule and about the new rule in connection with committees under which hon. members would be limited to 30 minutes.

I am not objecting to the 30-minute rule, which I think is a good rule, as I believe hon. members, except in exceptional circumstances, could condense their remarks and confine themselves to 20-minute speeches. Apparently they have no time limit in the British house, but I notice on reading their Hansard when there is an interesting debate that in the main most speeches run from 20 to 25 minutes. They seem to get along very well.

I think that if members of parliament are going to be limited to 40 minutes there should be some understanding regarding the length of time for which a member of the government or the Leader of the Opposition may speak. As I say, I am not reflecting upon anyone, but we did listen to a speech which taken in pieces extended for 4 hours and 20 minutes. Under the rules now laid before us the debate on particular topics is to be limited and the motions on going into

supply are to be limited also. If a member on the government side, a minister, say, occupies two to three hours in bringing something in and talking on a particular measure, and on our side of the house we have a speech of two to three hours or more, it means that private members of the house who are neither members of the government or leader of the opposition are going to be denied the right to enter the discussion in a particular debate. Consequently I would say this. We are going to accept the amendments as they are now before us because we have already pledged ourselves to that, but there will undoubtedly be a move in this house to amend these rules further, limiting, we shall say, a member of the government introducing a measure to one hour and a reply from our side to one hour, if restraint is not exercised by those who have the privilege that the rules are going to give them in this house.

I want to say that very forthrightly, because I think somebody has to say it. I say it, not in any disrespect to anyone. Please do not misunderstand me. I say it because I think that otherwise there will grow up in this house something of an ill feeling, and I do not want to see that. We have always had, as the hon. member for Temiscouata has said, a pretty good feeling in all parts of the house. That was the main point that I really wanted to make in connection with the rules.

These amendments are new and we are going to see how they work. I am in agreement with the hon. member for Temiscouata in another sense too, when he speaks of the citations. I know that those who have written the books of rules and procedures for us -Beauchesne, Bourinot, May and so on-have gone through the precedents of the past and have gathered all the decisions of the various Speakers or the decisions of the house together in these books. I have often found since I have been here that it is quite easy to find one citation that will support the government in one respect and another citation that will show that the first citation is wrong. It seems to me that the citations need to be looked over and many of them swept out of the rule books used in the house. Some of them are in conflict. As the hon. member said, some of them are entirely out of date. I think we need a committee to go into the rule books and see what can be eliminated from them.

In the same way, we have Speakers' decisions quoted as precedents. It seems to me that a Speaker's decision is the decision of the Speaker of the house at the time and that it should not be used to govern the house in all

Special Committee on Procedure subsequent sessions, as is sometimes the case. One of the reservations I always have when a decision of Mr. Speaker is challenged, in voting for or against the Speaker's ruling, is that once the house makes a decision in support of a Speaker's ruling it can be quoted as a very convenient precedent, even though the ruling may appear subsequently to have been wrong and not in the interests of the house itself.

I do not want to prolong the debate. I want to follow my own particular advice, which is to speak within 20 minutes or so on a matter. As a matter of fact, in the 20 years I have been here I do not think I have exceeded the 40-minute rule more than half a dozen times, because I think we should all try to live within the confines of the rules of debate. The 30-minute rule in committee is to be commended, and I would like to have seen that 30-minute rule put into effect in the major debates in the house, because the 30-minute rule would give more members an opportunity of expressing themselves. If everybody takes 40 minutes, you are going to deny some of the members the right to express themselves.

I think a good job has been done by the committee. While, as I say, I have some qualms about some of the proposals, none the less I think it is in the interests of parliament to try them out. When we have tried them out, we can set up a committee again and perhaps make some further revisions in the interests of facilitating the business of the house and at the same time preserving the rights of all members of the house.

Topic:   SECOND REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON PROCEDURE-CONSIDERATION IN COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
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July 12, 1955

Mr. Pouliot:

I was paired with the hon. member for Cape Breton South (Mr. Gillis). Had I voted I would have voted against the amendment.

Motion agreed to and the house went into committee, Mr. Robinson (Simcoe East) in the chair.

Topic:   SENATE REFORM
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July 12, 1955

Mr. Pouliot:

Mr. Chairman, the discussion of the rules on July 1 was on a very high plane. I have just a few remarks to make about the proposals that are before us at the present time.

Eighteen years ago I was a member of the empire parliamentary conference. At a sitting of that conference, which took place at Westminster hall on May 6, 1937, the coronation year of the late King and the Queen Mother, I mentioned the rules of the house. Hon. members know that for centuries the British rules were few in number. The first one dates from 1707. It was standing order No. 63. Then there were two others, one in 1713, No. 6 and one in 1715, No. 65. The next one is 1821, No. 66. Therefore between 1707 and 1821 there were only four standing orders in force at Westminster and they referred to public money. In 1835 another standing order was passed, namely No. 81, to the effect that seats were not to be taken by members before prayers. In 1842 five standing orders were passed by the House of Commons, namely Nos. 75 to 79, relating to public petitions. Therefore at the time when May published the first edition of his valuable treatise only 10 standing orders were in force in the house at Westminster.

I thought that it might be of some interest to write a book on the rules of the various legislatures of the commonwealth. As one always does before writing a textbook, I made my own library. I obtained the rules up to date in 1937 from each legislature of the empire and I started my work on the standing orders of Australia. They were much more numerous than ours. I made my tabulations with great care in order to show what rules were the same in the larger number of the legislatures of the British Empire.

Then I went to Longmans, Green and Company in the shadow of St. Paul's cathedral and a reader gave me an interview. He was a very bright gentleman. He was a mind reader who could finish my sentences. It was an easy conversation. I showed him my notes or my tabulation and I asked him whether it was worth while writing a book on those lines. He said: Leave it with me and I will answer you in two or three days. When I returned to see him, he was friendly and he told me this: "Young man, if you want to write a book like this you may do so, but do not undertake such a work unless you have a foundation behind you because nobody will read it; nobody reads the rules."

What he said is true. I had proof of that fact when, after my speech, a gentleman by the name of Mr. F. W. Schramm, M.P. from New Zealand, said that he was delighted to have travelled 10,000 miles to listen to a great man like Sir John Simon; then he said: "What is the use of speaking of such a large number of rules when nobody pays any attention to them?" That was my experience. I destroyed my manuscript, which represented

12, 1955

Special Committee on Procedure some work, but it gave me the opportunity to realize what the rules of the house are.

The book of standing orders is divided into two parts. One part relates to the discussion of public bills and the other to the discussion of private bills. There should be another distinction made with respect to the duties of the clerk and assistant clerk of the house and the chief of orders because there are many rules that do not interest members. They are those that relate to the compilation of the orders of the day and Votes and Proceedings. When we come here we have two booklets in front of us. Votes and Proceedings relates to what has been done on the previous day and the orders of the day are the agenda for the present day. No member of the house, except possibly the leader of the house with the advice of the leaders of the other groups, has anything to do with them. It is done mostly by the chief of orders and notices and the clerk and assistant clerk of the house.

Therefore there are many rules that concern the members but which they are not interested in reading, and most of the time they take for granted that the work done by the officers of the house is satisfactory. In my personal knowledge extending over 31 years I do not recall a complaint being made by any member about the priority of one matter over another. Perhaps it has been suggested once or twice. Therefore, leaving aside those rules that concern the officers of the house gives us the opportunity to read the rules that are the shield and armour of members when they are engaged in debate or discussion. They are very few. Of course there are the rules of good education. One shall not be covered when he addresses the chair. We learned that in our families. It is nothing extraordinary.

There is a practice that members can wear their hats when they sit in the house. It came about because of the drafts at Westminster. They had to protect their skulls against the drafts coming across the hall. There is another practice that when members rise to speak during a division they must be covered. Not very long ago a member of parliament had to borrow a hat from a lady member to cover his head when he was addressing the chair during a division. But that is exceptional and it is rather ridiculous. It is outdated and out of fashion, and nobody would think of following tradition to that extent.

Now, what is the rule about sittings? Is it necessary to learn it by heart? I do not think so because the bells are there to summon the members. Sometimes they do not

Special Committee on Procedure ring long enough and we happen to arrive during the prayers. We miss the prayers because the ringing of the bells has been too short, but the bells are heard by all members of the house. Then there is another rule concerning the quorum, which is 20 members. If some members wish to object to what is said when there is a lack of a quorum they may do so. It happens very seldom, and the chair is always indulgent and waits until more members come to give a decision.

Then there is a rule to the effect that Mr. Speaker shall preserve order and decorum. There is standing order No. 15 concerning the business of the house and the orders of the day which are prepared by the chief of orders and notices and the clerks of the house.

Standing order No. 16 is a very important one and makes provision for the immediate consideration of any matter of privilege. This is fair because when there is an argument between two members, and a member objects to anything offensive which has been said, he may rise in the house. A member may exercise his right to rise on a question of privilege if any insults have been published in the press for speeches given outside of parliament. If some newspaper attacks a member of parliament, he has a right to defend himself and to defend his honour as a member of parliament in the very chamber where he is sitting. There is no question about it, because if the offensive language is used against the member in his capacity as a member of parliament, he has a right to defend himself in the House of Commons; that is clear.

Naturally, there is abuse of the privilege at times. There are some members who rise to say that their hockey team or rugby team has won something, and that is of no interest to the lawmakers of the country. It is very good publicity, and we must be tolerant in cases like that because they make members so happy in the thought that the best sportsmen in Canada live in their constituency and have accomplished a remarkable success.

To continue my line of argument, sir, standing orders Nos. 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 and 26 refer to the clerk of the house. Then, standing order No. 37 concerns the limitation of speeches. I feel that 20 minutes is long enough for a speech, provided that one is not interrupted and provided that no sermon is made during the speech. Then, one can go on and express what he has to say in 20 minutes. This rule is not fair because there are exceptions for some cabinet members and some members of the opposition. I do not see why these gentlemen could not answer any charge in 20 minutes, except

when they have to reply to specific accusations and they have to read some papers which form part of the evidence.

Then, there is the rule concerning debatable motions, and there is a list of them. There are many members who rise to speak to motions, but it is for the Chair to decide whether or not a motion is debatable.

Standing order No. 40 says that members have a right to explain their point of view, and it refers also to irrelevance or repetition. I am never so happy as when one of my colleagues says the thing I would have liked to say before I speak. This is in accordance with the law of the least effort, and it is a great joy to hear what I wanted to say said by another member.

Under standing order No. 41 no member shall speak disrespectfully of Her Majesty, and offensive language against any member of parliament is forbidden. There is something that surprises me about this rule. It extends not only to Her Majesty but also to the governor or person administering the government of Canada. The order reads:

No member shall speak disrespectfully of Her Majesty, nor of any of the royal family: nor of the governor or person administering the government of Canada; nor use offensive words against either house, or against any member thereof.

If it applies to the royal family, it should apply also to the whole family of the governor general and the person administering the government of Canada in his absence. Nobody attacks them, but it would be fair to put them on the same standing as the royal family. The order continues: \

No member may reflect upon any vote of the house, except for the purpose of moving that such vote be rescinded.

Standing order 41 goes with standing order 16, which reads:

Whenever any matter of privilege arises it shall be taken into consideration immediately.

We can ask a colleague to withdraw when he uses offensive language, but not when he has made an erroneous statement which contains nothing offensive. For instance, if a member says that a minister has not consulted his colleagues, it is a statement of fact. The minister rises and says: "I have consulted my colleagues." The matter is closed. If a member uses offensive language against any one of his colleagues, the member concerned may rise and ask for a withdrawal, but the member is bound to withdraw only offensive language, not a statement of fact which might be erroneous, but which contains nothing offensive in itself. Well, that is about all.

Questions are given to the clerk. A few years ago it was not necessary to sign them. Now they have decided the members should

sign the questions. If we give two copies of the questions it helps the officers of the house downstairs, and it is a very simple matter. The questions shall contain no statement of fact; that is all.

I have come to the conclusion that Mr. Schramm of New Zealand was right when he said that nobody paid any attention to the rules of the house and the discussion was nevertheless carried on satisfactorily. You remember, sir, that I complained not so long ago that a big concern like the Canadian National Railways had no regulation with respect to discussion. It is provided for in the new act that they are to have bylaws concerning the discussions at their meetings. That is new. I asked the Canadian Bankers Association whether they had any rules governing the annual meetings of the shareholders or the meetings of the board of directors and they said, "We never heard about it", but the discussion is carried on very well because, as the Minister of Finance, the leader of the house, mentioned the other day, it must always be carried on in a spirit of fairness.

One should not be too punctilious and too dogmatic about the rules. I remember that one of the predecessors of the present leader of the house referred at one time to rule 510, and I told him there was no such rule. Afterwards the word "citation" instead of the word "quotation" was used. What is that citation? That citation is a quotation from a ruling that may have been made 200 or 300 years ago, before the standing orders existed at Westminster, by a gentleman who happened to be Speaker, who made a decision under circumstances and conditions entirely different from those in which we live. Are we bound by that? What was the case before that Speaker? We do not know. That is why I said that most of the books which have been manufactured by Pepper, scissors and glue, the dicta of Redlich and all the other illustrious men, Anson, Bourinot, Sir Courtenay Ilbert and Beauchesne, were very easily manufactured. One had only to have the excerpts copied and then put them in disorder, in complete disorder. Cut them out with scissors and have them glued by Pepper, who was messenger to His Grace, and it was the rules of the house. Nobody understood anything in them, but there was one expert who could tell the government and the opposition, who wrote the rules of the house, and finally the books came out as an anthology of learning. I do not believe in it; I never did. I believe that the discussion should be according to the unwritten rules of fair discussion and debate, and then everybody would be satisfied. It would be in order; everybody would be satisfied. The less regard

Special Committee on Procedure we pay to the obsolete precedents the better we are, because these British precedents are completely ignored in Westminster at the present time. The Chair must have a broad outlook and be fair to members of parliament, as you are, sir, in order that they may fulfil their painstaking duties with the greatest ease and without any discrimination.

It is very easy for hon. members to understand the rules that concern them, because they are very few. They are clear enough to be understood by members who are not experts.

With regard to legislation, it is very seldom that members sponsor public bills, and when they do those bills do not go very far. I remember that I succeeded in having a bill passed in a few minutes to abolish one of the boards that had been created some years ago. I sponsored legislation to repeal the economic council act, and it was passed. It went out like that, but there was a barrage in the caucus the same day. I also sponsored bills to repeal the social legislation of the Conservative government which had been declared void by the privy council, but the prime minister of the time, Mr. Mackenzie King, adjourned the debate on each bill and it was never resumed.

The time is late and members have made concessions to each other in order to expedite the business of the house and I shall not insist upon this any further. What I want to say is that for 31 years in the House of Commons I have been more or less active. On looking up the index I find that I have made more speeches than any member of parliament. I have never bothered about the rules because I believed in the fairness of the Speakers when there was any difficulty.

I was glad that the prime minister and the government recognized the merits of Speaker Black and Speaker Bowman in appointing them members of the privy council. Other Speakers were appointed to the privy council upon leaving office but it took a Liberal government to give this deserved reward to these Conservative Speakers.

Topic:   SECOND REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON PROCEDURE-CONSIDERATION IN COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
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July 1, 1955

Mr. Pouliot:

May I ask another question? In the hon. member's view, how many days should be allowed for the debate on the Defence Production Act?

Topic:   SECOND REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON PROCEDURE
Subtopic:   CONSIDERATION IN COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
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July 1, 1955

Mr. Pouliot:

Expressing your own views.

Topic:   SECOND REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON PROCEDURE
Subtopic:   CONSIDERATION IN COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
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