On Dec. 8, 1964, the six-month flag debate was about to be abruptly terminated by closure. Like most Canadians, Gilles Grégoire's patience with the Conservative opposition's filibuster was waning. The Social Credit member's participation not only highlighted the Parliamentary deadlock, but also went into the history books as one of the rare occasions that another language other than English or French was used in the House of Commons.
Gilles Grégoire (Lapointe): Mr. Speaker, this is the first opportunity I have of participating in this debate. During that time, 93 honorable members spoke once, 33 made two speeches, 18 took part three times in the debate and two spoke four times. One hundred and forty-six members made 229 speeches. That is truly freedom of speech.
Up to now, the debate has been going on for 119 hours, and when multiplied by the number of members, or 265, this makes a total of 31,535 hours of lost time. There are also the personnel of the House, interpreters, translators, the clerk of the House, etc. I am told that the personnel includes 60 officials, which makes a further total of 7,140 hours.
There are also the Hansard subscribers. It is said that they number 12,000 for the English and 4,000 for the French version, that is a total of 16,000 hours. If you multiply that number by 119 hours, supposing that the subscribers read Hansard, you get 1,905,000 lost hours. We have now reached 1,958,555 hours.
Mr. Speaker, supposing that six million people spend an average of five minutes a day reading what is said about the flag issue, this amounts to 140 minutes for 28 days. Six million people reading an average of 140 minutes amount to 840 million minutes, or 14 million hours.
If we consider now the news bulletins on radio and television, which take an average of 10 minutes a day. This amounts to 280 minutes in 28 days. With a minimum average of six million listeners and viewers, this amounts to 1,680 million minutes or 28 million hours.
We now have, Mr. Speaker, a grand total of 43,958,555 hours on the flag issue.
If the average salary is $3 per hour, up to now the flag debate has cost $131,875,650. Those figures only represent lost time.
Mr. Speaker, 18 members of the Conservative party each spoke three times. Eighteen hat tricks during the same season, that is almost a record. Two spoke four times, and that is an even more impressive record.
I would like to apply to the members of the Conservative party the sentence which was uttered by the Greek hero at Thermopyles: Ou kataiskunô opla ta iéra, Oud' en kataleipsô ton parastatein, Otô' an stokeiso. I am not afraid of saying so to their face.
Hon. Yvon Dupuis (St Jean Iberville-Napierville): Translation please.
Mr. Grégoire: Mr. Speaker, I would like to parody a vituperous statement made by Cicero in his famed Catiline Orations where he was attacking Catilina, the Roman despot: Quo usque tandem abutere Diefenbaker, patienta, nostra? Quamdiu etiam iste furor tuus nos eludet? Qkuemquem ad finem sese effrenata jactabit audacia?
Mr. Dupuis: There are two official languages here.
Mr. Grégoire: I will translate. "To what extent will you, Diefenbaker, abuse our patience? How much longer will thy furor make game of us? To what extremity will thy unrestrained boldness let itself be carried away?"
Mr. Deputy Speaker - Lucien Lamoureux (Stormont): Order. Even if the hon. member from Lapointe is quoting in Latin, he should know that he cannot refer to any hon. member by name and should refer to him by his constituency; and in the case of the leader of the Opposition, I suggest by his title.
Mr. Grégoire: It went so well with the text! That is why we have a debate like the one that is going on today: 43,958,550 hours. That is where the Conservative party is leading us: $131,875,550. That is what it costs. Enough words, if laid end to end, to cover the Trans-Canada highway, from coast to coast.
I am ready to accept something new for our country, something which would really represent Canada and not a foreign country, something which would give us a little more pride in the future of our country, that is a really distinctive flag which we could call our flag and would not be the fleur-de-lis or the union jack. It would be the flag of Canadians living in Canada.
Hon. Marcel Lambert (Edmonton West): Mr. Speaker, at the risk of incurring your censure but in the spirit of the remarks that have been permitted this afternoon and the personalities engaged therein, I might say that the braying of jackasses is the loudest noise heard in the barnyard.
Within a week, Canada had a new flag. In 1969, Gilles Grégoire ended his federal parliamentarian career to co-found, with René Levesque, the Parti Québécois. But in July, 1983, he was banished from provincial politics in shame, convicted on seven counts of having sex with seven girls ages 12 to 17. Grégoire was sentenced to a two-year prison term.