June 2, 1903

FIRST READINGS.


Bill (No. 189) to incorporate the Canadian Telephone and. Telegraph Company..-Mr. Birkett-by Mr. Taylor. Bill (No. 190) respecting the Queen's College of Kingston.-Mr. Harty-by Air. Logan.


THE TREADGOLD CONCESSION.

CON

Thomas Chase Casgrain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. T. CHASE CASGRAIN (Montmorency).

Mr. Speaker, before the Orders of the Day are proceeded with, I desire to call the attention of the House to a matter that is both serious and of a pressing nature. The rumour has circulated from time to time -in fact it was announced to the House- that a commission would be appointed to

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investigate the granting of concessions in the Yukon Territory, and, amongst others, the Treadgold concession. Since then the rumour has been consistent that Mr. Justice Britton, of the High Court of Justice of Ontario, has been appointed a commissioner to make inquiry into these matters. It is also stated that a gentleman who is a civil engineer will be associated with Mr. Justice Britton to conduct the inquiry, and that Mr. Lacombe, a member of the legislature of Quebec, will be, or has been, appointed secretary of the commission in question. I shall put myself in order by moving at the end of my remarks that the House do. now adjourn. This morning the papers announced that Mr. Justice Britton has actually left Kingston on his way to Dawson. Now, it seems to me that this is a most extraordinary way for the government to treat the House. Here we are in session ; this matter was discussed in the House the other day ; the announcement was made, as I said a moment ago, that a commission would be appointed to investigate; and now, all at once, we learn, not from the ministry, but through the public press, that the appointment has actually been made and that Mr. Justice Britton, with another gentleman, will carry on the investigation. It seems to me that it was the duty of the government, first of all, to inform this House of the appointment of the commission, of the names of the gentlemen who would be charged with this difficult and important investigation, and also to submit to the House-as I think was almost promised some time ago-the terms of the commission under which Mr. Justice Britton and the other gentlemen would act. This matter is of a grave nature, and I take it that the members of this House have a right to know what were the instructions to be given to Mr. Justice Britton. These instructions should have been submitted to us, so that we could have seen whether or not in our judgment they were sufficient and covered sufficient ground. .

Now, this matter is of more importance than the ordinary mortal would believe at first sight. Not wishing at all to refer to a debate which has already taken place in this House, let me simply call attention to the fact that the principal denunciation of what took place in the Yukon in regard to these hydraulic concessions was brought to the notice of the government by the government's own friends. When the member for the Yukon went before the electors the very first questions which were put to him were whether he would have the Treadgold concessions cancelled, and whether he would have the other, or the hydraulic, concessions cancelled also. Let me read to the House-because they will bear repetition-some of the questions which were put to him at the time when he went' before the people as the government candidate in the Yukon. One of the questions was this :

Will you agree to advocate for and insist upon the cancellation of the Treadgold concessions ?

Will you pledge yourself to advocate and insist upon the punishment and exposure of officials both in Dawson and Ottawa by whose fraud or culpable negligence or inefficiency those concessions were granted in the first instance, or are now continued in force after the same by their terms should be cancelled ?

Will you support the appointment of a commission of five persons of whom two shall he nominated by the premier, two by the leader of the opposition and one by yourself to inquire into the administration of the Yukon country, both local and federal in all departments and report ?

I believe the member for the Yukon was not present at the time in Dawson city, or near Dawson city, and he could not answer these questions ; but a gentleman well known to this House, a high official of the government, the Gold Commissioner for the Yukon, Mr. Congdou, wrote in answer to the questions as follows :

Dawson, November 4, 1902. Sir,-I beg to say that your questions were received and forwarded to Mr. Boss at too late a date for it to be possible for him to have answered them by this time. I know the views of Mr. Ross as well as any one can and have no doubt he will advocate the course of action you suggest in your questions.

Now let me call the attention of the House further to the fact that it is requested in these questions that there should be punishment and exposure of the officials, both in Dawson and Ottawa by whose fraud or culpable negligence and inefficiency these concessions were granted ; and to this the member for the Yukon, by his agent, by his friend, by his right hand man in that territory, answered that he would see to it that this commission was appointed, not a commission of one man or of two men, but an absolutely Impartial and independent commission, the members of which were to be appointed by the premier, by the leader of the opposition and by the member for the Yukon himself. Now, Sir, that is not all. When the member for the Yukon was nominated by the Liberal convention, here are the resolutions which were put to him :

.Resolved that the government be requested Immediately to make careful examination and obtain reports upon the subject with a view of cancelling forthwith the Treadgold concession, and undertaking such supply as a national enterprise.

Resolved, that in the opinion of this convention many of the concessions now held were obtained by fraud and Imposition ; that it Is in the interest of this territory that such concessions should be annulled, and to that end that inquiry should be set on foot to ascertain the circumstances of such fraud and Imposition, and action taken by the Attorney General of Canada in the premises.

And the member for the Yukon, in a letter in answer to the resolutions which

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were passed at that convention nominating him, wrote as follows :

With this in view I shall advocate the reduction of fees, &c. . . . the thorough investigation of the charges of fraud made in respect to the manner in which certain concessions are alleged to have been obtained, and if such fraud is established the immediate commencement of such proceedings as may be required to vacate the grants, and the enforcement of strict compliance vyith the conditions embodied in all crown grants In the Yukon.

And furthermore, at a meeting of the Liberal club, held at Dawson, this resolution was passed :

That an inquiry may be set on foot to ascertain the circumstances under which the leading hydraulic concessions were obtained, in order that action may be taken by the Attorney General of Canada in the premises.

Now, Sir, it will be seen that, not members of the opposition, not gentlemen in any way connected with the party which we represent in this House, but the very friends of the government allege that the Treadgold concessions and the other concessions were obtained by fraud, by false representations, and that the government was, as it were, imposed upon by certain parties, and they asked that a thorough investigation be made of this fraud, not, as I said before, by any body who would be open to the least bit of suspicion, but by an independent and impartial tribunal. Sir, I do not wish to say anything in disparagement of the character of Sir. Justice Britton. We knew him here in the House, he was a very estimable member of the House, until some time after the last general election, when he was appointed to the bench, either in 1900 or 1901. Now it seems to me that Sir. Justice Britton was not a fit and proper person under the circumstances to be charged with this most important inquiry. He comes, as it were, from the very hotbed of politics, he is fresh from the political arena ; and although he may be upright and honest, he is like every one of us, a man, and he must have his political leanings. Now I ask, is it fair to Sir. Justice Britton himself, is it fair to those who have brought these accusations of fraud and misrepresentation against the government, against officials of the government, and against ministers themselves, is it fair that an inquiry of this nature should be put into the hands of Sir. Justice Britton, and that Sir. Justice Britton should be put into this position, that he is between the fulfilment of his duty which lie will swear to accomplish, and his political leanings ? Because, Sir, although, as I said before, he may be perfectly honest, he may be perfectly upright, he cannot fail, like every one of us, to have his political leanings: and having been associated so long with bon. gentlemen on the other side of the House, having been a devoted supporter and partisan of theirs, having been appointed only lately to the bench, is it possible they can have in him that confidence Mr. CASGRAIN. .

they would have in such an independent and impartial tribunal as was suggested to the member for the Yukon by the Liberal convention. Why, Sir, it is well known-and this is not in disparagement of the character of Air. Justice Britton, I take it-it is well known that when he was a member of this House during the last parliament and a part of the present parliament, the government had no more ardent and no more active supporter than the judge himself. When an investigation was asked for and a committee a [.'pointed to investigate matters pertaining to the administration of the affairs of the country by the government, for instance, into that question of military rations for South Africa, and I believe also in the question of the West Huron and Brockville elections, Air. Justice Britton was appointed by the government as the best man they could probably get to defend the government in those two matters.

That is not all. If we look at the ' Hansard ' what do we find '! AVe find that upon these very questions of the administration of the Yukon, Mr. Justice Britton expressed bis opinion on several occasions. AVe all know that when a judge has expressed his opinion upon a matter that afterwards comes before him, or upon a matter similar to one which afterwards comes before him to be adjudicated upon in his official capacity, the judge recuses himself by his own motion, or if he does not, he is recused by the parties interested. On tile 13th of April,

1899, my hon. friend for West Toronto (Mr. Clarke) moved an amendment to the Address to His Excellency with regard to the maladministration of the Yukon. Air. Bertram, who then sat in this House, moved ail amendment to the amendment expressing satisfaction at the prompt action taken by the government with respect to this maladministration. Air. Justice Britton, then a member of this House, voted in favour of the amendment of Mr. Bertram. Again on the 28th of June, 1899, Sir Charles Hibbert Tupper, the senior member for Picton, moved a resolution with respect to the maladministration of the Yukon. A vote was taken on the 29th of June. It is true that Air. Justice Britton did not vote on that occasion, but he was paired for the government with a member on this side of the House. On the 31st of May, 1900, the senior member for Pictou moved another resolution respecting the maladministration in the Yukon, and Air. Justice Britton spoke upon the motion in opposition to the arguments which had been given to the House by the senior member for Pictou. At this time also lie did not vote, but he was paired again for the government. On the 28th of June,

1900, the junior member for Pictou (Air. Bell) moved a resolution upon the same question, and again Air. Justice Britton spoke in defence of the government upon this resolution, and voted with the government against the resolution.

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Now, Sir, it seems to me that under the circumstances the choice of Mr. Justice Britton as a commissioner to investigate these serious frauds which are charged by supporters of the government is an unfortunate choice, unfortunate for this House, unfortunate for the country and unfortunate for Mr. Justice Britton himself. I would like to know what the terms of the commission are under which Mr. Justice Britton is acting. Have counsel been appointed to conduct the investigation, because we all know it is a complicated matter, it is a matter which requires a good deal of study and preparation, and such an involved case as this, without saying anything against gentlemen who do not belong to the legal profession, is a matter that should be placed in the hands of counsel so that a prepared brief could be made up and an effort made to get at the bottom of facts as to the manner in which these concessions were granted. Where is this commission going to sit ? We have seen it in the papers that Mr. Justice Britton is leaving Kingston for Dawson and that he expects to get there in twelve days. I remember that some time ago a challenge was thrown down to us here by the hon. Postmaster General (Hon. Sir William Mulock) to go before this commission, make our accusations and try and support those accusations with evidence. Are we to leave our duties here while this House is in session and go to the Yukon at our own expense ? Are we to lose our time and not to perform the duties which are imposed upon us as members of this House and go to the Yukon to conduct this investigation or to lay our charges before the commission ? What opportunity is given us of conducting an investigation into these very serious matters ? It seems to me, that, parliament being in session, that this House being now met for the discussion of the affairs of the country, the proper course to have taken would have been to appoint a parliamentary commission to investigate these matters. If a parliamentary commission had been appointed during this session we could certainly have brought witnesses down from the Yukon territory at less expense than it would have cost us to go up there and conduct the investigation. And besides, as I mentioned when I read the questions put to the hon. member for the Yukon (Mr. Ross), this alleged fraud was committed not only in Dawson but also here in Ottawa. Then, it becomes, of course, the duty of Mr. Justice Britton and of this commission to sit also in Ottawa, but iif this commission is to sit in Dawson and Ottawa also, certainly, that is another argument in favour of the appointment of a parliamentary commission which could go fully into this matter and report to the House, so that the House during this session would see whether or not any charges which have been brought against the government and the ministers are well founded and whether or not any of the hydraulic concessions

were, as the resolution of the Liberal Club said, obtained by fraud and misrepresentation. Let me tell the House that there are ugly rumours afloat about the granting of this concession. I am not repeating anything that is not said on the street every day. I am not repeating anything that is not said in the corridors of this House, and it is constantly repeated that large sums of money have passed between the grantees of this concession and certain gentlemen in authority. These are questions which should, in the interests of this government be investigated also. If these rumours are not true, if these rumours are ill-founded, then, so much the better for the credit of the government and tile credit of the country. I stand here as a member of this House wishing that the government for the credit of the country shall wash its hands completely of these accusations which have been brought constantly and persistently against the members of the administration. I beg, Mr. Speaker, to move the adjournment of the House.

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The PRIME MINISTER (Rt. Hon. Sir Wil-rid Laurier).

Mr. Speaker, if my hon. friend (Mr. Casgrain) were not so credulous as he has shown himself to be, and if he had exercised a little of the judgment with which Providence has endowed him, he would not have made the statements which he now makes. My hon. friend has been caught by a rumour and he has risen simply because he has read in the newspapers that Mr. Justice Britton has left for Dawson City. All I have to say is that if he has read this rumour he should have taken the trouble to verify it before saying what he has said, because I can inform him that there has been no communication with Mr. Justice Britton except to ascertain whether or not he is agreeable to serve upon the commission. Nothing has been done with Mr. Justice Britton up to the present time except simply to ask him whether or not he is willing to serve as a commissioner to go to the Yukon to inquire into the matters which have been referred to the commission. My hon. friend says now that there are rumours now going on the streets that large sums of money have been paid to high officials of this country, and he expresses the hope that the government will wash its hands of these accusations. The government will not appoint a commission simply to investigate rumours. If the hon. gentleman will take the responsibility of these rumours by making a statement upon the floor of the House and asking the judgment of the House upon it, the government would be prepared to appoint a commission to investigate his accusations. But the hon. gentleman is not serious, surely, when he tells us that we should appoint a commission simply to investigate wild rumours. I am about the corridors of this House as much as the hon. gentleman is, I am about the corridors every day in the week. I have not heard of these rumours. Perhaps they have been heard by those par-

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ties only who are interested in hearing them. So far as I am concerned, I have not heard these rumours. If any member of the House of Commons will take it upon himself, according to parliamentary usage, to give voice to such rumours, then he shall have all the investigation that he wants. In regard to the charges made by the hon. gentleman against Mr. Justice Britton, 1 think he must himself admit that they are equally uncalled for. One of the best members of the Ontario bench at the present time, I think is Mr. Justice Britton. Mr. Justice Britton is human, as my hon. friend has said. He may have had his political leanings and he had in the past, but is my hon. friend prepared to say that because a man has had political leanings he will not be an upright judge ? That would be a severe indictment against the bench of Canada, because men on this side or on the other side who have been appointed to the bench have had their political leanings, but still, I do not think that the bench of Ontario has ever been charged with political partisanship. I know that men have been appointed to the bench from the Liberal side and from the Conservative side who have in their day had strong political leanings, but I have never known of a judge who ascended the bench against whom the charge of partisanship has been laid. Though Mr. Justice Britton, when he was here, may have had political leanings, still, I am not prepared to say that Mr. Justice Britton would not be a most admirable man to perform the duties which he has to perform. Mr. Justice Britton has had large experience in the province of Ontario as a drainage commissioner ; he understands, therefore, something of hydraulics, he understands something of the questions which are to be investigated in the Yukon, and that is one of the reasons why we selected him to perform the duties which he is to perform. It is true that while Mr. Britton was here he voted on a motion which was made charging maladministration in the Yukon. When Mr. Britton gave that vote at that time, I do not know that he did not give the very vote which he should have given as events have developed. We have heard a good deal about maladministration in the Yukon, but these charges are now proved to be futile and worthless, to have nothing in them, and if anybody has to recant or apologize for the vote which he gave on that occasion, it is not those who voted as Mr. Britton did, but rather those who voted in favour of the motion against which he voted. I have nothing further to say in defence of the character of Mr. Justice Britton. I do not believe that there is a single man who ever appeared before Mr. Justice Britton since he has been on the bench, who will be ready to countenance the charges made against him by my hon. friend. As I understand, everybody in the province of Ontario is satisfied with his judicial spirit, with his impartiality, with his efficiency, and I have reason to believe that he Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

will perform the duties of this commission as ably as he has performed his judicial duties. It is quite proper that before Mr. Justice Britton proceeds upon his mission, the terms of the commission should be laid upon the Table of the House. The commission shall be laid before parliament before Mr. Justice Britton proceeds to Dawson, and before he takes charge of the matter. We shall not avail of the invitation to invite the advice of parliament as to what should be the character and terms of that commission. We shall proceed according to parliamentary rules and usages. We are responsible to parliament for whatever we do. We exercise our duties to the best of our judgment, and when we have put them in concrete form we submit them to parliament and it is for parliament to pass upon them. If, when we bring down to parliament the instructions given to Mr. Justice Britton, they are not satisfactory to my hon. friend (Mr. Casgrain) it will be for him, if he chooses, to move that other instructions be given, but we are not prepared in advance to say that we should consult parliament as to what instructions should be given in this investigation. For these we are responsible. Unfortunately they cannot be brought down for a day or two, and the reason why they are not brought down to-day is that the gentleman we wanted to associate with Mr. Justice Britton has given us notification that it would not be convenient for him to serve upon that commission. I do not know that I have to say more than this at the present moment. The commission will be brought down in proper time, and if it is not satisfactory to my hon. friend it is open to him to move any kind of motion he wishes in connection with it. Just now I have only to protest against the assumption of the hon. gentleman (Mr. Casgrain) that a man whose record has been most honourable up to the present time,/ is not fit to discharge the duties with which he has been intrusted.

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Mr. R.@

Ij. BORDEN (Halifax). The House might be very much impressed with the earnestness of the right hon. Prime Minister, if we had not had some illustrations of the same earnestness on some somewhat similar occasions heretofore. Nothing could have been more delightfully earnest than the right hon. gentleman when he got up to tell the House some years ago how desirous he was that there should be a thorough and sweeping investigation into the West Huron and Brockville elections ; and when he assented at once to sending these matters to the committee, the right hon. gentleman was eloquent on the subject-the purity of parliament must be preserved; no stream could be pure that was polluted at the source and elegant phrases of that kind. And the right hon. Minister of Trade and Commerce (Sir Richard Cartwright) was not far behind him. And then, when we went to that

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committee, this gentleman against whom no charge had been made by my hon. friend (Mr. Casgrain) but in reference to whom only certain facts have been stated-this gentleman was one of the men put forward on that committee to fight the battle of the government and to protect the men who were being charged as be|ing criminals. He is one of the men who voted in that committee that my witnesses, whom I brought there, should not be heard until the criminals themselves had first been put upon the witness stand. I have nothing to say against Mr. Justice Britton, except that he was a very intense partisan on all occasions in this House; a very intense partisan indeed; a man whose character led him to be such; a man of very intense opinions. I do not know that I am saying anything to his discredit in that, because there are a great ' many intense partisans on both sides of the House here to-day; but I do say that it is a remarkable thing that Mr. Justice Britton who has just only left the arena of politics, should have been selected, and that the government should have seen fit to appoint him, before every other judge in Canada, for this'particular purpose, especially when as pointed out by my hon. friend (Mr. Casgrain) he had been present during four debates on the maladministration of the Yukon; he had spoken in two of those debates, and he had voted or had been paired on every occasion when a resolution was proposed to the House, and on every such occasion he had voted against any such investigation as was demanded from this side of the House. *

Now, these are not charges against Mr. Justice Britton; they are simply facts that no gentlemen in this House can controvert. Under the circumstances, I join with my hon. friend (Mr. Casgrain) in regretting that the government saw fit-having so wide -a choice among the judiciary of Canada-to select Mr. Justice Britton for this particular occasion.

This matter has been brought up, and it has been discussed in parliament, and my right hon. friend says that the government would be prepared to grant any investigation that is demanded from this side of the House when charges are laid. Did we not lay charges from this side of the House once before, and did not my right hon. friend call upon his followers to vote them down, and were not they voted down, and was not the investigation that was proposed refused, although the hon. gentleman on this side who made the charges stated from his seat in parliament, that he would consider it his duty to retire from public life, and would consider himself incapable of holding any office in the gift of the Crown, unless he made good the charges he read before the Speaker of the House. And yet my right hon. friend stands up and says that if any lion, gentleman will make charges, 122

that is all that is necessary, and an investigation will be granted at once.

The right lion, gentleman promised most definitely to bring this commission down not later than to-day. He said it would be brought down yesterday, but not later than to-day, and he tells us now that it has not been brought down because one of the commissioners has not consented to act. Is there any particular reason why we should not see the terms of the commission. Cannot the commission be brought down in blank, so that we can rend the terms of it and understand whether there is any proper provision made for safeguarding the rights of the public. My right hon. friend must remember that very serious things have been said against this condition of affairs in the Yukon. I do not desire him to take the statements in the independent press; I do not desire him to take statements from people who are interested in any way as political partisans on the Conservative side; but I ask him to take the statements made by his own friends in the Yukon; by Liberal conventions; and I ask him to realize then, if he can, that this is somewhat a serious situation so far as the standard of public life in this country is concerned. For example, we have a convention of the Liberals of the Yukon in which the statement is made :

That the commissioner should be requested to represent to the government that in the opinion of this meeting the insertion of such features in the Order in Council can only have been procured by gross misrepresentation and fraudulent concealment.

Further on

Resolved, that in the opinion of this convention many of the concessions now held were obtained by fraud and imposition. That it is in the Interest of this territory that such concessions should be annulled and to that end that an inquiry should be set on foot to ascertain the circumstances of any such fraud and imposition and action taken by the Attorney General of Canada in the premises.

It is the political supporters of my right hon. friend who are voicing the sentiments of the Yukon in this way. It is not any independent opinion; it is the opinion of those who are supporting this government; business men in the Yukon who sent the hon. member for the Yukon (Mr. Ross) to represent them in this House. And the hon. gentleman from the Yukon (Mr. Ross) iri adopting this platform used this language :

I have received a copy of the platform adopted by the convention which honoured me by its nomination as a candidate for the House of Commons. I freely subscribe tq every measure suggested therein.

And further, the question was put to him :

Will you pledge yourself to advocate for and insist upon the punishment and exposure of officials both in Dawson and at Ottawa by whose

fraud or culpable negligence or inefficiency those concessions were granted in the first instance or are now continued in force after the same by their terms should be cancelled.

And the answer given by the gentleman (Mr. Congdon) who is now the commissioner in the Yukon was, that Mr. Ross freely subscribed to everything stated in that platform. Under these circumstances, especially as a strong voice from the Yukon demanded that there should be an independent commission appointed, a commission in which the government, the opposition, the people of this country independent of the government or opposition should be represented, it might well have become the government and my right hon. friend to submit to the House in the first place, as he did in the case of the judicial investigation into the electoral frauds, the terms of the commission, in order that they might be discussed in the House, and that such steps might be taken as would insure a prompt and thorough investigation into these alleged frauds which have been referred to by the right hon. gentleman's friends in the Yukon. There is a precedent for that course in the proposal for the judicial investigation into the electoral frauds. In that case my right hon. friend brought down the commission before it was issued, in order that it might be discussed in this House. It was discussed in this House; suggestions were made, in some of which the late Minister of Justice, the late Hon. David Mills, acquiesced, and the commission was amended in accordance with those suggestions. In view of the gravity of the charges made on all sides in this matter, some of which have not been mentioned in the House, though I have no doubt they have come to the right hon. gentleman's own ears-at all events, they have appeared in the public prints in the Yukon- I say it might well have become the government to bring down the terms of the commission and have them discussed, as was done in the case to which I have referred. However, the right hon. gentleman lias seen fit to adopt another course ; he has seen fit to appoint a commission of his own choosing. What precautions are to be taken in the terms of that commission for safeguarding the public interest I do not know; because, although the commission was promised us to-day, we have not yet had an opportunity of perusing it. But, in view of the facts already brought to the attention of the House, the rumours, the more than rumours-the statements made in the public press of this country in regard to this matter-I think the right hon. gentleman lias not taken the wise course in neglecting to take the House and the country into bis confidence in regard to the terms of this commission, before he settled them and before he appointed commissioners for the purpose of making the investigation. Therefore, I think that my hon. friend from Montmorency was perfectly justified in Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

bringing this matter to the attention of the House to-day, and that it would have been far better if the government had pursued in this case the same course which they pursued in the case to which I have referred.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. F. D. MONK (Jacques Cartier).

I rise merely for the purpose of saying that I entirely concur in what has fallen from the lips of the hon. leader of the opposition, and particularly in the suggestions made by my hon. friend from Montmorency. The right hon. leader of the government is, I think, mistaken in saying that my hon. friend from Montmorency made a charge against Mr. Justice Britton. He made no charge of any kind at all ; but what he desired was that the ordinary rules of administrative, decency should be followed . in this case as in every other. There is no question that in litigation, at all events in t our province, Mr. Justice Britton would be debarred from sitting in this case, having on many occasions previously expressed an opinion, not exactly, perhaps, on the particular question involved, but on questions akin to it, and that he would have excused himself for that reason from sitting on the case. Under these circumstances, it seems only right and proper that my hon. friend from Montmorency should have conveyed to the government his sense, which is the sense of many other members of this House, of what is decent and proper in connection with this investigation. The right hon. leader of the government treats lightly the accusations which my hon. friend from Montmorency brought to the notice of this House. It may be that my right hon. friend is not aware of all the rumours, as he contemptuously calls them, which were circulated in respect to this affair ; but I am perfectly convinced that if the right hon. gentleman were more in touch with what has been stated for weeks in regard to this matter in all the cities of the Dominion he would see that it is far too important a matter to be investigated by a man who has so recently occupied the position in politics which Mr. Justice Britton occupied. I am very pleased to hear from the right hon. gentleman that there has been as yet no acceptance by Mr. Justice Britton* of this important mission ; and I feel convinced, from my knowledge of that hon. judge, that taking all the circumstances into consideration, he will refuse to act on this commission, as I think it is his duty to do. There is another point which I think deserves to be brought to the attention of this House, and that is that Mr. Justice Britton, or whoever is going to investigate this matter, is to begin bis investigation in the Yukon. Now, the Yukon is the country which has been aggrieved by this nefarious transaction, and it may be proper that that transaction should be investigated on the spot; but unless that investigation is made primarily here, and unless we have the opportunity of hearing, before those charged with the investigation, the people

concerned in the transaction, most of whom are to-day in England, the real facts of the case will not be brought out. Because it must be not unknown to the hon. gentleman sitting on the treasury benches that serious charges have been made before the public-that it has been stated time and again by responsible men-and there is not a member of this House, I am sure, who will not corroborate what I say-that these concessions were only obtained by the payment of sums of money, as the hon. gentleman from Montmorency has said, to persons occupying high and controlling positions. The sum has been mentioned. It has been stated that a document was signed in connection with that transaction, and that that document is to-day in the city of London. Everybody knows that, and I demur to the proposition of my right hon. friend that a man is obliged, when he hears these rumours current in the public, when time and place and circumstances are stated-when it is stated, for instance, that my right hon. friend himself, when he was in England, was made aware of certain circumstances connected with this matter

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The PRIME MINISTER.

I deny that absolutely.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

So much the better, Mr. Speaker ; but I say that has been stated, and I demur to the proposition that we are here for the purpose of bringing accusations.

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The PRIME MINISTER.

Do it, then. Do it, then.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

We are here for the purpose of conveying to the House the sentiments of the public and what is stated by the public. I deny that my function is to go around finding accusations against ministers or against my hon. friends on the opposite side of the House. But when we hear these things stated constantly and continually, I say it is our duty, as representatives of the people, sitting here in the interests of the people, to bring these statements to the notice of the House and government : and it is then for the government to have the facts fully investigated. That is my interpretation of the duties devolving upon us, and I demur entirely to the proposition that when we make the House acquainted with matters charged not only by the Liberal Association of the Yukon, but-in the public press, it is our duty to make an accusation when we have no personal knowledge of the facts ; but it is the duty of the government in the presence of the public to have a full and complete investigation. That is my proposition. I venture to say that unless we have just such an investigation by men entirely disconnected with politics-and when I say that, I am casting no reflection on Mr. Justice Britton, for there is not a man whom I held in higher esteem when he sat in this House, but he has been too recently in the political arena for his judgment to give satisfaction to the public in a matter 122}

of this kind-I say that unless we have such an investigation, public opinion will not be satisfied. That is the ground I take. Unless we have the statements under oath of the men who engineered this concession, unless we have the explanation given by these men of this transaction, the public will not be satisfied.

Topic:   THE TREADGOLD CONCESSION.
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The MINISTER OF RAILWAYS AND CANALS (Hon. A. G. Blair).

I only wish to make one reference to what the hon. gentleman has just said. The proposition advanced by the hon. gentleman is an amazing one to come from one who has had so much parliamentary experience. He says that if rumours are abroad reflecting on the integrity of any member of the government, and a member of parliament informs the House that rumours of this character are in circulation, the duty devolves on the government of appointing a commission for the purpose of having the matters investigated concerning which these rumours are circulated. Let me ask my hon. friend from Jacques Cartier and the hon. gentleman beside him if, in all their experience in public life, they have ever known of any such principle having been laid down before, or, if laid down, having been acted upon. Is it conceivable that the duty of gentlemen in opposition is to gather up all the garbage they can find and then constitute themselves into channels for spewing that out into parliament ? And when they do undertake such a task, are we to be told that it is the duty of the government to appoint a solemn tribunal in order to find if there is any warrant for these slanders ? Why, the government which would adopt any such course, would simply make itself contemptible in the eyes of the whole people. It would not only make itself contemptible but ridiculous, and would take up all the time it should devote to the discharge of the public duties in pursuing investigations of this character. One hon. gentleman after another gets up and says that there are rumours in London and in every city in Canada, that this or that minister has been conducting himself in a discreditable manner. They do not pretend to go into particulars, they simply state that they have been informed that certain discreditable things have occurred. They do not even say that they believe their information but that there are people who do believe it. If that principle were to hold, what would this parliament be doing ? Why, every member of the House who approved of that sort of proceeding, who revelled in scandal, who wanted something to do, would take up some yarn and seriously retail it to parliament and then ask parliament to appoint a commission.

Topic:   THE TREADGOLD CONCESSION.
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CON
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The MINISTER OF RAILWAYS AND CANALS.

I shall tell my hon. friend in a moment. But I want to know whether a

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more absurd and more startling proposition ever emanated from any responsible member of parliament ? I for one do not think that any member of this House, outside of my hon. friend, would seriously desire to commit himself to any such a declaration. Now, I shall tell the hon. gentleman why a commission was appointed. No commission was appointed or intended to be ail-pointed for the purpose of holding any investigation into rumours which lion, gentlemen have brought here and which they say are in general circulation. No such commission is contemplated, but simply a commission for the purpose of deciding whether or not the method which the government has adopted for solving the problem of mining in the district is the best method that could be adopted. If lion, gentlemen opposite want to do any nosing around to see if they can get hold of something or other on which they can hang some reflection, they are at liberty to do so, but if they want any importance to be attached to their statements, they will have to take the responsibility of saying that they believe, at all events, that somebody has done wrong before they can ask, with any confidence or any reasonable degree of justice, for the appointment of a commission of investigation. Therefore I say that there is no good sense in the hon. gentleman's proposition.

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William Frederic Kay

Mr. IV. K.

, NORTHRUP (East Hastings). I listened with delight to the remarks just made by the hon. Minister of Railways, as I always do to all liis- statements. His speech was both eloquent and forcible, but it reminded me of the words of the old song : Like the flowers that bloom in the spring, it had nothing to do with the case. It was all very well for the hon. gentleman to call upon members of this side to make charges and assume full responsibility for matters of which they have no personal knowledge, but we were told that the government! have appointed a commission. It was not we who asked the government to appoint a commission, but the government who announced that they had appoirfted one. From the lips of the right hon. the Prime Minister, we had that information, and accepting it as true, it cannot be out of place for hon. gentlemen on this side to endeavour, to the best of their humble ability, to assist the government in making that commission as efficient as possible. There are two possible objects of a commission. One is to disclose the truth and the other is to suppress it. Surely we are not to suppose that hon. gentlemen opposite have gone through the farce of appointing a commission in order to deceive themselves and the country and suppress the truth ? Surely they cannot complain if we charitably assume that, in appointing a commission, they honestly desired to ascertain the truth ? If that be' the case, they cannot object if we make a few suggestions regarding certain features of this commission. I would be Hon. Mr. BLAIR.

sorry to say a word against the hon. Mr. Justice Britton. No member of the bar of Ontario would support me if I were to say a word against his ability or integrity, but when we remember that Mr. Justice Britton who committed himself with regard to these charges when he accepted a seat in this House, we may assume, without any disparagement of his ability or integrity, that should his decision not be in conformity with the preconceived ideas formed by the general public, they will conclude that justice has not been done. And, Sir, we ail know that it is almost as bad to have the public, or a large section of the public, believe that injustice has been done by the bench as it is actually to have such injustice done. Now, in the province of Ontario we have had a little experience of commissions. We have had commissions and commissions. We bad a commission in the western part of the province appointed as this apparently is, a commission of judges, to investigate certain election matters. No provision was made for a prosecutor, no provision was made for the purpose of arranging to bring the charges home to the parties accused, no provision was made to have witnesses brought-simply one counsel appointed for the commission. From one end of the province to the other, Conservatives and Reformers all know that the only result was to bring not only commissions but the bench itself into discredit, because of the failure, in fact, the complete travesty of justice that was exhibited. AVe have had a second commission, a most important one in Toronto, the sittings of which have just been closed. Perhaps it would not be out of place, as the report of this commission is not yet down, to say that everybody thinks that that commission, composed of two of our most eminent judges, endeavoured to the best of their ability to elicit the truth no matter who might be hurt. In that case, we had those who were prosecuting and those who were defending, both appointed by the government, as though it were felt by them that the public, after all, ivere the people most interested, and that if counsel was appointed to assist one side, counsel should be appointed to assist the other side; if witnesses were wanted, it should not be left to the parties who might be making the charges to go to the expense of bringing those witnesses to prove a thing which, after all, was in the public interest. So, I venture to think that the right hon. premier would make similar provision to that of our recent Ontario commission and have counsel for the prosecution as well as counsel for the government, and give counsel for the prosecution power to bring witnesses and pay them and do whatever might be required to be done. I venture to say that when the commission made its report the public would have confidence in that report. I have here the remarks made by the hon. Postmaster General (Hon. Sir AA'ii-liam Mulock) as to the scope of the coin-

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mission in this case now under discussion. In giving liis views as to the scope of that commission, the hon. gentleman said :

I would also say to my hon. friend who tells us that he is so desirous of investigation that I am sure he must well know that It has been long the fixed intention of the government s;o hold isueh an investigation. The hon. gentleman must remember that, when the election was held, promises were given to the people of the Yukon that there would be a commission to inquire into the whole administration of that territory. There has been no opportunity since that date until the present to send in commissioners. I doubt if navigation is more than open, even if it is yet open. When the hon. member for the Yukon (Mr. Ross) returns to Ottawa-he is at present in British Columbia, I understand-and we can have the benefit of liis advice, it is our intention ito fully carry out the representations made to the citizens of the Yukon to have a full investigation into all charges or suspicions that hon. gentlemen may be good enough to mention or entertain in regard to any matters connected with ithe Yukon administration. I give that public notice to my hon. friend, so that, in addition to the advantage he has had of ventilating his views on the floor of this House, he will have an opportunity to make good, if he can, any of his charges or suspicions before a tribunal where newspaper extracts and letters will not be the only evidence, but where gentlemen will have the privilege of pledging their oaths to the truth of all they say.

It will be a matter of interest to tliis House, when the commission has actually been laid on the Table-and I presume some day it will be-if any of us live to that interesting day-to compare the utterance and the promises of tlie hon. Postmaster General with the statements just made by the hon. Minister of Railways (Hon. Mr. Blair). I am afraid that it will puzzle the ingenuity of even the right hon. the premier to reconcile the promise on the one hand and the statement on the other. I have no desire to go into the merits of the case, but surely it would not be out of place to remind lion, gentlemen''opposite, when they so glibly call upon gentlemen on this side to make charges assuring us that there will be an investigation, of the tone and feeling on the other side of the water. It is but a short time since a British minister of the Grown, a gentleman against whom nothing was charged, but who simply happened to be a director in a company whose transactions had not been altogether creditable-though nobody, not even his enemies suggested that he had any knowledge or connection with these matters-yet, even of the company in which he was found it was deemed necessary, because of the pressure of public opinion, for him to resign his seat, which) he promptly did. If that spirit were to be shown here, if lion, gentlemen read the newspapers in the Yukon, read the resolutions of the Board of Trade of Dawson, read even the utterance of their own political friends assembled in convention, I am sadly afraid there would he at least one vacancy behind my right hon. friend the premier before the present session

is much older. We trust to that, hon. gentlemen opposite, in bringing down the commission which we looked forward to with hope and expectation, will help to realize the good opinion which we wished to have of them by allowing us to assist them in making tliis as perfect an investigation as can be made. For. surely, laying aside partisanship and viewing this simply as a Canadian, in view of the charges made in the British newspapers, in the newspapers of Dawson, by the Board of Trade of Dawson, by the vote lately taken by the elected members of the Yukon council, and by the statements made in this House this afternoon, there is no man who has pride in his birthright as a Canadian, who does not feel that, in tlie interests of our country, and as a defence of its fair fame and honour, these charges sliouid be either proved or disproved at tlie earliest possible day.

Motion (Mr. Casgrain) to adjourn negatived.

Topic:   THE TREADGOLD CONCESSION.
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ATLANTIC FAST LINE.

CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir. II. L. BORDEN (Halifax).

I would like to ask the hon. Slinister of Trade and Commerce (Right Hon. Sir Richard Cartwright) whether or not he has anything to communicate to the House with regard to the tenders for the Fast Atlantic Service ?

The S1INISTER OF-TRADE AND COMMERCE (Right Hon. Sir Richard Cartwright). I expect to be in a position to do so within a day or two.

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RAILWAY ACT, 1903.


House again in committee on Bill (No. 21) to amend and consolidate the law respecting railways-The Slinister of Railways and Canals.


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The MINISTER OF RAILWAYS AND CANALS (Hon. A. G. Blair).

There were three or four sections that were held in reserve until they might be considered and sections drafted. The first of these is clause (e) of section 2. It may be remembered that an hon. gentleman from Slanitoba suggested that there were in his province political divisions which were not called counties, and that it might be desirable to add some words to meet such cases. I propose to insert, after the word ' division ' in the seventeenth line, the words ' to that,' so that it will read ' or like division to that of a county.'

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June 2, 1903