July 22, 1903

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The PRIME MINISTER. (Rt. Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier).

I must say to the House at once that I never heard of this matter until a few. minutes before the opening of this sitting, and, up to this moment, I do not know the particulars. Of course, when an hon. member of this House takes upon himself to make an accusation which involves not only the seat, but the honour of a fellow-member, and when he does that, deliberately, as has been done by the hon.

member for Jacques Cartier (Mr. .Monk), the rule of the House is that, under such circumstances the inquiry is generally granted. I followed the statement of the hon. gentleman (Mr. Monk) as carefully us 1 could, and I think I represent exactly the effect of what he said when I say that he based his case mainly upon the fact, as he stated, that the sale which took place last fall from the hon. member for Beaubaruois (Mr. Loy) to Mr. Johnston was not a bona fide but a colourable sale, that the hon. member for Beauharnois knew that Mr. Johnston was not the real purchaser, but that the government of Canada was the real purchaser. Of course if such were the ease, my hon. friend from Jacques Cartier would have reason to bring the matter to the attention of the House. If the sale was a colourable one, as is alleged by my hon. friend from Jacques Cartier, instead of being a real one, the case would be a very strong one. But my hon. friend from Jacques Cartier has heard the statement of my hon. friend from Beauharnois. I believe there is no man in this House who would not accept at once the statement of the hon. member for Beauharnois that when he made the sale to Mr. Johnston, he had no intention of making a colourable sale ; he had no reason to suppose that Mr. Johnston was not buying for himself ; he had no reason to suppose that Mr. Johnston who is a business agent, was not buying in the ordinary course of his business. My hon. friend (Mr. Monk) has also heard my hon. friend the ex-Minister of Public Works (Hon. Mr. Tarte) who informs him that the statement made by the hon. member for Beauharnois is true to the letter in every particular, that the hon. member for Beauharnois had no notion that Mr. Johnston had been sent there at the instance of Mr. Dandurand who was acting at the request of the Minister of Public Works. Under such circumstances I think the hon. member for Jacques Cartier will perhaps hesitate to persist in the statement which he made a moment ago, that the sale from the member for Beauharnois to Mr. Johnston was a colourable one, that it was, to use his own words, a sale under what we call in French a pr?te-nom. Under these circumstances, I hope my hon. friend will see the advisability of not pressing his motion any further.

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Subtopic:   INDEPENDENCE OF PARLIAMENT-
Sub-subtopic:   THE REPRESENTATION OF BEAU- HARNOIS.
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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

In answer to the right hon. leader of the House. I am bound to say that the information I have received is of a very reliable character, and I weighed it very carefully before I decided to bring this matter to the notice of the House. I do not question the good faith of my hon. friend from Beauharnois. but it may be that, not being a lawyer, nor accustomed to weigh judicial circumstances, he was led to believe that the transaction, so far as he is concerned, was absolutely in conformity with the law, and that he did not evade the

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Subtopic:   INDEPENDENCE OF PARLIAMENT-
Sub-subtopic:   THE REPRESENTATION OF BEAU- HARNOIS.
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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

provisions of .the law relating to the independence of parliament. In the motion which I have placed in your hands. I have summed up the facts, and alleged that this was a colourable sale. It may be a colourable sale, and still my hon. friend from Beauharnois may be in perfect good faith when he, appreciating the circumstances from his own point of view, thinks it is not a colourable sale. Members of this House who are members of the bar know that matters of this kind are appreciated differently according to the standpoint from which one looks at them. But I believe the circumstances of the sale, if they were fully disclosed to a committee, would lead the committee, not to the belief, but to the conviction, that the provisions of the law relating to the independence of parliament-had been violated, and that it is in reality what the hon. gentleman calls a colourable sale. I think I may make that assertion without in any way reflecting on the credibility of my hon. friend from Beauharnois. I therefore find no reason for not proceeding with this resolution, which I beg you to believe I did not bring before the consideration of the House without weighing every circumstance connected with the transaction. I am convinced that when these circumstances are fully disclosed before a committee, the committee will arrive at the conclusion that the privilege cf parliament has been violated. Under these circumstances, I cannot recede from the position I have taken, and I must persist in my motion.

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Subtopic:   INDEPENDENCE OF PARLIAMENT-
Sub-subtopic:   THE REPRESENTATION OF BEAU- HARNOIS.
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The PRIME MINISTER.

As the hon. gentleman takes the responsibility of the grave charge which he has made, of course the committee will have to go; but he takes his own risk in the matter.

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Subtopic:   INDEPENDENCE OF PARLIAMENT-
Sub-subtopic:   THE REPRESENTATION OF BEAU- HARNOIS.
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Motion agreed to.


INQUIRY FOR RETURN.

CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. H. LENNOX (South Simcoe).

Before the Orders of the Day are called, I wish to call the attention of the Minister of the Interior to the fact that on Monday last the leader of the opposition referred to the promise of the Minister of the Interior to place on the Table of the House certain papers in connection with the sale of land to the Saskatchewan Land Company. The Minister of the Interior said then, that the papers would be down immediately, but we have not got them yet. I trust the minister will be able to assure the House that they will be down immediately, as it is- very important for us to have them at this time.

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Subtopic:   INQUIRY FOR RETURN.
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The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR (Hon. Clifford Sifton).

I inquired about them this morning, and find they are in course of preparation. If I cannot lay them on the Table of the House this evening, I will do so to-morrow.

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Subtopic:   INQUIRY FOR RETURN.
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REPORT OF SALMON COMMISSIONER, B.C.


The MINISTER OF MARINE AND FISHERIES (Hon. R. Prefontaine) moved that an Order of the House do issue for a copy of the report of the Salmon Commissioner for British Columbia. Motion agreed to.


GOVERNMENT RAILWAY POLICY.

CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN (Halifax).

Before the Orders of the Day are called, I wish again to direct the attention of the government to the very great delay which is taking place, in announcing to the House that no such policy as that which has been discussed in the Address will be brought down, or in bringing it down forthwith without any further delay. It .is well known to all who have followed the course of public affairs in this country that the question of a transcontinental line was engaging the attention of the government during the past session, and in the interval of the recess, after that session had come to a close, the subject was discussed by different members of the government throughout the country, and particularly by the ex-Minister of Railways and Canals. If I remember correctly, it was announced by one of the members of the government during' the past autumn that negotiations were even then going on between the government and the Grand Trunk Railway Company, or the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company, as it is called now, and that the company was possessed at the time of the views which the government entertained with regard to any arrangement that might be made. The question of transportation was brought prominently before the House in the speech from the Throne, and as I have pointed out before, the government then announced, as part of its policy, the constitution of a transportation commission, which should make a report, to be laid before this House, with regard to certain matters which are intimately connected with the project of a transcontinental line. Now we are at a period which should be very closely approaching the end of this session, if the length of the session is to be brought within any measurable limits. We have had announced through the press of this country, and through correspondence between members of the government which has been submitted to parliament, a project which is probably of more importance to the future welfare of this country than anj'- matter which has engaged the attention of parliament during the past twenty years, but we are not able to get any pronouncement from the government on the subject. My right hon. friend stated to us on Fi'iday last that the proposal would be brought down during the present week, 223J

and probably, as he stated, very early in the week. We are now in the third day of the week, and no notice of any resolution has made its appearance in the usual place, in the Votes and Proceedings, and ike days are slipping away. We are in as much ignorance as ever we were as to the actual intentions of the government, except in so far as we know them from the utterances of the press and from the correspondence, which has been brought down, between the ex-Minister of Railways and Canals' and the Prime Minister.

Now, it does not seem to me that this is a satisfactory condition of affairs. I will not refer to the rumours which are prevalent, not only around the corridors of this House, but throughout the press of the country, of differences of opinion between the members of the government who still remain in the cabinet in regard to this question, but I say in passing that these differences of opinion, if they do exist, are not sufficient to justify the government in keeping members of parliament here week after week and month after month waiting until the government can come to some conclusion upon this all-important matter. I would like, in that connection, to point out to the government, and particularly to my right hon. friend (Rt. Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier) who leads the House, some very significant language which has been addressed to him by his late colleague, the hon. ex-Minister of Railways and Canals (Hon. Mr. Blair). That language seems to indicate that the government has decided upon a policy and that that policy is of so definite a character that the hon. ex-Minister of Railways and Canals has found it necessary to withdraw from the government, because that policy, being of a definite nature and being opposed to his views and judgment, he could not see any other course to take at the present time. I will point out to the right hon. gentleman who leads the House this language, referring to the letter of the hon. ex-Minister of Railways and Canals of the 10th .Tuly, 1903 :

It further appears to me that if I had declared my intention of withdrawing from the cabinet while there wias still a prospect of this policy not being adopted, you would have considered I was endeavouring to accomplish by threat what I had failed to effect by argument.

The direct statement is that there had been a definite policy decided upon by the government in consequence of which the hon. ex-Minister of Railways and Canals found it necessary to withdraw from the government. He states the same thing in the most explicit language further on. He says :

The action which has been taken since Saturday last, In submitting to a caucus of supporters of the government in parliament the transcontinental railway propositions, identically in the form in which they were adopted by coun-

ell, assures me that the government was fully resolved to take the responsibility of asking parliament to approve them.

That is not a vague rumour. That is not the utterance of any individual member of parliament. It is the utterance of the late colleague of my right hon. friend, and it is an utterance which shows that this policy was not only decided upon in council, but it was submitted to a caucus of the supporters of the government. That letter bears date 10th July, 1903, nearly a fortnight ago ; therefore, the policy itself must have been submitted to the caucus more than a fortnight ago, and yet, the House and the country are kept in ignorance of the actual details of this policy which it is proposed to bring down to parliament, as it is said, during the present session. Then, the hon. ex-Minister of Railways and Canals says further :

In case you may think the action which has been taken is not irrevocable, and to avoid any possible misunderstanding on the question, I feel I ought to repeat to you the conditions upon which I would be disposed, if you so desired, to further consider my action in this matter.

Then he sets forth the conditions, which I need not read to the House, in order to indicate that there was a definite policy proposed by the government, adopted in council and submitted to the caucus.

Now, if we turn to the letter written In reply to that by the right hon. leader of the government, we find no denial whatever of the fact that a policy has been formulated by the government, adopted by council and submitted to the government supporters. On the contrary, we find language in the letter of the right hon. gentleman which indicates that the view expressed by the , ex-Minister of Railways and Canals was exactly accurate in that regard. He says in his letter, dated the 14th of July, more than a week ago :

With regard to the charge that negotiations with Mr. Hays made progress and were well advanced, before I considered it proper or necessary to acquaint you with the facts, I have only to remind you that I thought advisable at first, to retain in my hands the negotiations of this important subject, keeping the Council constantly informed, until I referred the matter to a sub-committee, of which you were one. Moreover, far from admitting the charge, 1 claim that since you entered the government, at its formation, I have always extended to you the frank, loyal and cordial support which X consider is due by the Prime Minister to his colleagues. [DOT]

As to the reasons which you put forward for your dissent from our policy, this is not the time or place to review them.

I may observe, however, on the two main points of your objections :-

Then the right hon. gentleman proceeds to details which indicate that this policy down to the minutest details had been formulated by the cabinet, that it had been

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Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT RAILWAY POLICY.
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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

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Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT RAILWAY POLICY.
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An hon. MEMBER.

What was the date ?

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Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT RAILWAY POLICY.
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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

The publication is on the 13th of July, but the date of the telegram is the 12tli of July. I call attention to this date, because it so closely corresponds with the date named by the exMinister of Railways (Hon. Mr. Blair), on which he said that this project had been adopted toy the cabinet and had been submitted to a caucus of government supporters. On the 10th day of July the ex-Minister of Railways and Canals (Hon. Mr. Blair) declares that this is the case, and under date of a telegram on the 12th day of July the announcement is made toy this prominent organ of the government. The telegram is dated the 12th of July. It does not imply that the cabinet met on Sunday, tout on Saturday, and on the 13th of July, 1903, the Toronto ' Globe ' announces :

There was a meeting of the cabinet yesterday, when the Grand Trunk Pacific project was finally passed upon, and' it is expected that an announcement of the government's policy will be made in the House early this week. While there have been some minor changes in the agreement between the government and the company since the details of the undertaking were given in this correspondence, they are not of material character. Whatever alterations have been made are in favour of the government. As there has been some criticism of the best mode of dealing with the eastern section. that is from Moncton to Quebec, it may be said that there is no change in this regard, and that the decision remains to have a government-constructed road from Moncton to Winnipeg. As the name of Sir Rivers-Wilson and others connected with the Grand Trunk Company have been added to the directorate, it may be inferred that the company is taking a still greater interest in the scheme. After disposing of the Grand Trunk Pacific business, the cabinet

took up the supplementary estimates for the current fiscal year, and made good progress with them.

Under these circumstances, some explanation is certainly due ; some better explanation than which we have had to the present-

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Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT RAILWAY POLICY.
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Some hon. MEMBERS

Hear, hear.

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Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT RAILWAY POLICY.
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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

Some better explanation is due as to the reason why the government should delay in bringing down this proposal to parliament, if it purposes to bring it down. We should know why the anticipation of my right hon. friend on Friday last, when he said he expected the proposal would be laid before parliament early this week, has not been fulfilled. Here we have the details settled, approved by the cabinet, submitted to a causus of government supporters nearly three weeks ago. Here we have the announcement made in the organs of the government, first on the 3rd of July as to the details, afterwards on the 12th of July that the matter had been finally concluded ; and yet we are here on the 22nd of July without the government proposals before us, without any opportunity to consider them or to deliberate upon them, and that after we have been in this session of parliament since the 12th day of March last, or four months and ten days. The question of transportation has been before the government for more than a year with regard to this matter, and yet we are supposed to deal with this subject in the closing days of the session, because if rumour is to be trusted, the differences which have led to the resignation of one member of the cabinet are not the only differences which exist ill the cabinet on this subject, and up to the present time they are unable to make up their minds to bring down any proposal to parliament on account of these differences, which are keeping us here during the entire summer. I trust that my right hon. friend will be able to give some assurance to the House to-day more satisfactory and more definite than any he has yet afforded, and that we may not be kept here day after day and week after week, marking time as it were, and waiting for the announcement of a policy which should have been made in the early weeks of the session. Mr. Speaker, X conclude these remarks by moving the adjournment of the House.

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Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT RAILWAY POLICY.
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The PRIME MINISTER (Rt. Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier).

Mr. Speaker, I doubt not that it would be more agreeable to my hon. friend, as it would be to myself, if he and I could slip away to the seaside rather than to remain in this sweltering atmosphere. But I have been prepared for a long session ever since we assembled here four months ago or thereabouts, for we heard it from gentlemen on the other side, -that before prorogation day would come the snow

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Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT RAILWAY POLICY.
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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

would cover the hill tops, and consequently we are still in the early days of this session.

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Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT RAILWAY POLICY.
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Some hon. MEMBERS

.. Hear, hear.

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July 22, 1903