What is the real issue? In my opinion the real issue is the government's attempt to change a procedure which for many, many years has been considered absolutely essential for the preservation of the sacred rights of parliament over the control of expenditure. That is the simple issue.
I should like to give the house a simple example of what I have in mind. I hold in my hand the estimates for the province of Alberta for the fiscal year April 1, 1954 to March 31, 1955, and I wish to use them by way of illustration. In these pages are set out departmentally the estimates of the proposed expenditures both on income and capital account. But near the back of this book is a statement of further supplementary estimates of expenditures for the fiscal year ended
March 31, 1953. There is a list of items: legislation, education department and highways, on income account; agriculture, public works, on capital account, but the table is headed by these very important words: "Amount expended and to be voted". Those are very important words. And I draw to the attention of this committee that at the end of the items set up in this table follows this very important note: "This statement represents expenditure by special warrant authorized after the prorogation of the legislature with respect to the fiscal year ended March 31, 1953." That special warrant is the counterpart of the governor's warrant.
Here we have a table of further supplementary estimates placed before the members of that legislature, carefully noting that it refers to amounts already expended but to be voted by members of the legislature in spite of this fact. These further supplementary estimates were placed before the members of the legislature that year in exactly the same manner as the ordinary estimates of expenditure for the forthcoming fiscal year, and the members of the legislature had every opportunity to question the government about them and vote them in the same manner as the others were voted.
I think that is a good example, and a clear example, of the kind of thing which has been done by this parliament year in and year out from the earliest days, though perhaps in a somewhat different way. The effect, in any case, has been exactly the same and the intention has been the same, and it is because a change has been made in that procedure that we are making a protest here today.
The supplementary estimates containing item 684, which caused this whole discussion today, were tabled on October 15, 1957, and on that occasion the Minister of Finance rose in his place and announced that he was tabling them. He gave ample notice to all hon. members that they were being tabled that day. The governor general's warrant providing the money-I think it was $2,400,000 under immigration-was passed by the executive council of Canada some time in August.
It seems to me that between August and the time these estimates were tabled there was ample opportunity to have included in the printed further supplementary estimates a very simple note. Instead of showing "immigration branch, $8 million" there could have been shown "immigration branch, $10,400,000",-in round figures-with a little asterisk at that point, and then a note at the bottom with the asterisk explained in this way: "amount expended. This item represents expenditure by governor general's
warrants authorized after the dissolution of parliament in respect of the fiscal year ended March 31, 1958."
Under those circumstances, Mr. Chairman, this house would have had ample notice that the governor general's warrants had been passed and that we would be asked to consider what the government had done and the purposes for which the warrants had been issued and all would have been well. That would have been the normal course and no one could have taken any exception whatsoever to that procedure. What I am complaining about is that the government, in the way it has taken to deal with this situation, has attempted to cut a corner and it has not been ready to straighten out its course since, and I continue my protest.
Topic: DEPARTMENT OF CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION