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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald {Newspaper} - 1974-01-16,Lethbridge, Alberta «•diiMday, Jmuary 16. 1974 ^THC LETHMIDOi HERALD43Part of Canada? Max Saltsman, New Democratic MP for Waterloo riding, says the 6,000 inhabitants of Caicos Island and Grand Turk Island would love to become part of Canada. He plans to introduce a private member's bill in the Commons asking the House to establish a committee that would study his proposal. The islands, between 30 and 40 small outcroppings surrounded by reefs, are in the Caribbean, 160 miles north of Haiti and 100 miles south of the Tropic of Cancer. The islands would give Canada 165 square miles of tropical paradise if added to our 3.85 million square miles of not-so-tropical territory. The islands, 1,600 miles south of Ottawa, are 400 miies closer to the capital than Vancouver Veteran B.C. member hails from Alberta By PAUL JACKSON ' ' Herald Ottawa Bureau OTTAWA - Another veteran Western Canadian socialist member of - Parliament, British Columbia -nTom Barnett, who has jii represented the federal rid-<*tiing of Comox-Atbemi for the best part of 20 years, has decided to call it a day and retire from active political life at the age of 64 and not seek reelection at the polls again. Mr Barnett, like fellow British Columbia New Democratic Party MP Bany Mather who has also decided not to seek reelection again, is regarded in the House of Commons as a dedicated socialist, but a moderate and rational man who is respected by MPs in both the Liberal and Progressive Conservative parties. The Western Canadian socialist remembers well his introduction to politics. In the summer of 1929, Thomas Speakman Barnett, then a 20-year-old University of British Columbia student, took a trip to Jasper, Alta., with other members of the Student Christian Movement. There he heard Canada's great old man of socialism, J S. Woodsworth, declare that the mad prosperity of the Twenties was quickly coming to an end that the most devastating p(^'!omic depression im-aginatile was just around the corner, PROSPEROUS ERA ' “Those late 1920s really were prosperous days, there's no doubt about that. But that warning set me thinking about certain things," says Mr. Barnett who, while by no means a chip-on-the-shoulder Socialist, contends that he's experienced the real evils of unrestrained capitalism while at the same time admits that society has come a long way since the Great Depression and the Dirty Thirties. The Barnetts had hailed Supreme Court style under Laskin may not l]|e evident for some time By STUART LAKE OtlAWA (CP) - Few sessions of the Supreme Court of Canada have generated as much interest and attention as the one starting Jan. 22. However, there are few big issues among the 75 appeals facing the court in its first session under Bora Laskin, the new and controversial chief justice, whose appointment shattered tradition and inspired reports that two judges migbt resign because of it. The lack of major issues and a backlog of judgments still to come from the court as it was under retired chief justice Gerald Fauteux means it may be months before the style of the Laskin court becomes evident. Among the more interesting questions before the new court is a challenge of the Official Languages Act by Mayor Leonard Jones of Moncton, N.B., and a move by an Indian widow to have a sectiwi of the Indian Act declared invalid on grounds it discriminates against Indians. The section of the Indian Act prohibiting Flora Canard from becoming administrator of her husband's estate is challenged on the ground it clashes with the Bill of Ri^ts, which assures equali*^ w beiore tbe Uw for all Canadians. The new chief justice is a staunch advocate of the Bill of Rights. Last Aumst, when he disagreed with the majority in an appeal against women losing Indian status when they marry whites, he said the Bill of Rights takes precedence over any other federal statute when they are in conflict. UBERAL VIEWS His writings reveal him as a staunch federalist. They also show him with liberal views on social issues. Beil McKelvey, president of the Canadian Bar Association, said Laskin believes the law “should evolve with the times, taking note of changes in society . . . .” An example of this is his dissent in the appeal of Ireme Murdock, an Albertan woman who sought a half-interest in a ranching business she helped her separated husband establish. In a 4-to-l decision the high court rejected her claim. In disagreeing, the new chief justice said that in contributing a substantial amount of physical labor, Mrs. Murdock “established a right to an interest in the property which it would be inequitable to deny.” Some western Canadians, rticularly in Alberta, saw f. Justice Laskin’s appointment as a political one. Recent developments in the enei^ field may lead to a test of provincial powers in the courts and the chief justice’s leaning towards strong central government has led to accusations that Prime Minister Trudeau was packii^ the court. The appointment is made by cabinet on the recommendati«! of the prime minister. SOME OPPOSED Some unfavorable Alberta reaction to his appointment was based on the fact that the prime minister threw tradition out the window in passing over Mr. Justice Ronald Martland of Edmonton, the senior judge and normally the next chief justice. Chief Justice Laskin, interviewed last week, said he hopes there will be no more questions on his appointment in this regard. "I know feelings have been hurt,” he said. There is speculation Uiat at least two judges felt so strongly about the appointment they considered retiring. Although no names were mentioned, it was taken to mean those involved were Mr. Justice Martland and Mr. Justice Pigeon. Judge Pigeon would, in the usual course, have become chief justice upon the retirement of Judge rtland. Since Chief Justice Laskin, now only 61, won’t retire until he is 75, only newcomers to the court can nurse ambitions of someday presiding over it. W.C. Field, president of the Alberta Law Society, who called the Laskin appointment a political one, said breaking the tradition of appointment •could raise uncertainty among the judges. “It may create some hard feelings at a time when that would not be conducive to the smooth functioning of that body.” But the new court swings into action next week with more attention focussed on it than nornul. Here’s the court lineup. —Mr. Justice Martland, 66, and a member of the court since January, 1958, He has been acclaimed as having one of the keenest legal minds in Canada. Although stern of face and Inclined to snap when lawyers r^>eat themselves in argument, he is renowned among his peers for his sharp-witted poetry; —Mr. Justice Wilfred Jud* s«i, 71, appointed to the court in February, 1958. He adopts a down-to-earth attitude on the bench, speaking little and not inclined to share in the private jokes that sometimes bring smiles to other judges. There are reports he will retire later this year; —Mr. Justice Roland Ritchie, 63, is the Maritime representative on the court. He was appointed in May, 19S9. He wrote the judgment in the Drybones appeal, the first time the Bill of Rights was applied by the court; —Mr. Justice Wishart Spence, 69, a frequent dissenter along with Chief Justice Laskin. He was ap pointed to the court in May. 1963; —Mr. Justice Pigeon, 68, a former adviser to Quebec Liberal premiers. He enjoyed a prosperous law practice before accepting his Supreme Court appointment in September, 1967. Asked why he accepted the appointment at an obvious loss of income, he replied: "You can’t beat the pension plan;'’ —Mr. Justice Robert Dickson, 56, still active in sports although he lost a leg during the Second World War. He was appointed to the court in June, 1973; —Mr. Justice Jean Beetz, 46, among the last two appointed to the court last month, was a constitutional adviser to the prime minister for three years. He is a former dean of the University of Montreal law facility and was a member of the advisory commissioner on reform of Northern Canada government in 1966; —Mr. Justice Louis-Phillipe de Grandpre, 56, the other newcomer to the court. He is an avowed federalist and believes law-making is the function of Parliament and not the courts. TOM BARNETT •VI    —1 coj 8 originally from the Red Deer, Alta., district. In fact, two relatives on his mother’s side, Alfred Speakman and James Speakman, had been or were to be elected to the House of Commons in Ottawa or the provincial legislature. So the next time the younger Barnett passed by the old homestead he mentioned Woodworth’s warning. “An uncle admitted to me that this man Woodsworth was a bright fellow, but said he was a bit inclined to go overboard. Well, not six months later the entire economy went overboard with the Wall Street stock market crash and the beginnings of the Great Depression.” That more or less convinced Mr. Barnett that socialism was the answer to the world's economic problems, although It certainly didn’t COTvince some of his other relatives. James Speakman, for instance, was Progressive Conservative MP for Wetaskiwin, Alta., between 1958 and 1962, ironically when Mr Barnett, first elected to the Commons in 1953, was thrown out of office in the great 208-seat election sweep of former but soon to be prime minister John Diefenbaker. FIRST DEFEAT During the best part of 20 years on Parliament Hill, the 1958-62 period was the first defeat for Mr Barnett. The second came in the great Trudeaumania shake-up of 1968 when there was a brief period of “Russian roulette” in which no one could decide whether Mr Barnett had held the seat by three votes or Liberal R J. Durante by nine Supreme Court action and a byelection soon put Mr Barnett back in the Commons chamber. As Mr Barnett now faces retirement from the House of Commons, he says that while he is disappointed that a federal socialist govermment has yet to come to power in Ottawa he isn't bitter about it, and he doesn’t bear anjr harsh grudges against anyone. In a democracy, he insists, eve^ man has a right to his choice of government and his vote and the Western Canadian MP wouldn’t have it any other way. So while there’s a tinge of disappointment that as yet the New Democrats—who already govern in three Western provinces—have been unable to appeal to the mass of Canadian voters it is a rational disappointment, a disappointment accepted without malice, without bitterness, but with the knowledge that the democratic rights of the people of Canada have been exercised. 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