I wish to inform the hon. leader of the opposition, that I have had an inquiry into the statement which the hon. gentleman made in the House a few days ago, that one of the officers of the Tost Office Department had threatened the express company, that if it ventured to carry any mail matter such as was under discussion, the company would be prosecuted. I have a statement from the controller of the mail service to the effect that the hon. gentleman has been entirely misinformed. If the hon. gentleman wishes I will read that statement.
THE USE OF MAIL BAGS.
Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).
I do not think it is necessary.
Briefly, tlie facts are, that Mr. Plumb waited on the express company and pointed out that it would be illegal to use mail bags for the carriage of express matter. He made no reference whatever to their carrying express goods.
Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).
There seems to 'have been some suggestion of prosecution, but according to Mr. Plumb's version it related solely to the use of mail bags. The impression conveyed to the express people as communicated to me was that the suggested prosecution concerned the carriage of this matter by the express company from Montreal to Ottawa. I can understand how one thing may have been intended on one side and understood differently on the other, but certainly the statement was made to me in the most direct and circumstantial manner, that there had been the threat which I have mentioned.
Mr. Plumb is in the service of the railway branch and Mr. Armstrong is his superior officer. Mr. Armstrong was instructed to examine ' Hansard ' and send a reply. He reported to the deputy that he had examined 1 Hansard ' and had submitted the same to Mr. Plumb. Perhaps I had better read the reply, which is as follows :
Sir WILFRID lLAURISR.
Ottawa, October 22, 1903.
Memorandum for the Postmaster General.
In reference to the remarks made by Mr. Borden, M.P., in the House, to the effect that after 400 parcels of mail matter expressed from Montreal had arrived in Ottawa addressed to Mr. George Taylor, M.P., an officer of the Post Office Department called upon the express company and threatened to prosecute them because they did not come by mail ; the Postmaster General is informed that no officer of this department called upon the express company under such circumstances, and threatened them with prosecution. The facts are as follows :-
Having been informed that mail sacks were being illegally used by the Montreal 'Star' in the transmission by express of certain printed matter to Mr. Taylor. M.P., at Ottawa, I instructed Mr. Plumb, superintendent of railway mail service, to visit the Ottawa express office and ascertain the truth of the report and, if well founded, to point out to the agent that mail sacks were for the use of the Post Office Department, and could not, therefore be legally used for other purposes than the mail service of the country, through the post office and not through the express office, or otherwise and to make known to him that any one making illegal use of the sacks incurred liability to a fine. Subsequently Mr. Plumb reported to me that acting upon my instructions he had waited upon the express company's agent at Ottawa and made known to him the above view, and suggested that, in order to prevent any violation of the law, through inadvertence or otherwise, it might be well if the agent were to telegraph the express company at Montreal not to accept, for transmission by express, anything contained in post office bags.
Mr. Plumb assures me that in his interview with the express company's agent he confined his observations strictly within the foregoing instructions, and that he made no mention whatever of any prosecution because of the transmission of the political literature in question to Mr. Taylor by express, and said nothing whatever which could be so construed.
I have called Mr. Plumb's attention to the statement of Mr. Borden in the House, to the effect that the express agent reported him as threatening the company with prosecution for carrying this printed matter and he informs me that he made no such threat, and that he took no exception whatever to the company carrying the printed matter in question, but con- [DOT] fined his remarks strictly to the subject of the illegal use of mail bags.
B. M. ARMSTRONG,
RAILWAY SUBSIDIES IN SEVERAL PROVINCES.
DATE OP CONVENING PARLIAMENT.
Mr. N. BOYD (Macdonald).
Mr. Speaker, once more I enter my very strong protest against tlie late date at which this session was called. It is most unfair to members of parliament, coming from British Columbia, Manitoba, the North-west Territories and the outlying portions of the eastern provinces, that the session should be so late in opening. I do not care what party may be in power, I enter my protest against it. I emphasize most strongly what I have already said : that m the interests of members of parliament coming from a long distance it is an outrage for any government to call parliament together at such a late date as the middle of March. Those of us who are engaged in agricultural pursuits have been here since before our crop was put in, and now it has been reaped, and threshed and sold. The most egregious part of it is that we will not be able to participate in the proceeds of the harvest ; the money will be all gone. It is true, the government say that under the circumstances it was impossible for parliament to meet earlier owing to the illness of the Premier. That may be a very just cause in this particular instance ; but delay lias occurred before, and it may occur again. It is largely brought about through the officials of the departments, to a very great extent governing the actions of the government. The Minister of Justice smiles, but he knows that it is too true. He knows that this report cannot be got ready and that report cannot be got ready ; but if the ministers would exercise the power which they possess and which they should exercise, and would say to those men that the reports must be got ready or some other person would get them
ready, I think they would be ready. The government must have known the enormity of the business that was before them ; if they did not know it, they were at fault. We were promised the Redistribution Bill, and we expected it, and we knew its contentious character.
I suppose the hon. member intends to conclude with a motion.
If I am not prevented, I shall. I wish to draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the length of time we have been kept here. I also want to call your attention to the money voted and the liabilities incurred
during this session :
Main estimates $ 57,109,974 35
1st supplementary estimates for the year ending 30th June, 1903.. 300,000 00
2nd supplementary estimates for the year ending 30th June, 1903. 5,090,968 27
3rd supplementary estimates for the year ending 30th June, 1904. 10,590,863 12 4th supplementary estimates for
the year ending 30th June, 1904. 771,365 55
5th supplementary estimates for the year ending 30th June, 1904. 1,333 34
Bounties on iron and steel, based on last year's appropriation. .. 1,148,000 00Bounties on lead
300,000 00Railway subsides, minimum (maximum $18,000,000)
G. T. P. Railway (Mr. Blair's
estimate) ! .. .. 120,000,000 00
Canadian Northern Railway.. .. 10,010,000 00Subsidies to bridges in the province of Quebec 150,000 00Quebec city bridge
6,678,200 00Guarantee of the G. T. P. bonds from Winnipeg to the Pacific.. 31,000,000 00 Increase in civil service salaries. 80,000 00 Bounties on binder twine
$256,280,704 63 COMMONS
Knowing all these tilings, and the other important items to which I have drawn your attention, is it not strange that the gov- ; eminent should have deferred calling this parliament together until the 12th of March? If they decide to go to the country, I do not think we shall have the misfortune of having this government to call parliament together again ; but if they do not go to the country, I as a western man want to enter my strong protest against calling parliament to meet at such a very late date.
Mr. .TABEL ROBINSON (West Elgin).
Mr. Speaker, I regret very much that this House was not called together sooner, and whatever government may be in power, I hope it will see its way clear to call the members together earlier in the year in future. I think, Mr. Speaker, that you more than any other member of the House will regret the length of the session, because I notice by the British North America Act that you are not allowed to leave this House for forty-eight hours at a time. Consequently you have been tied here while the rest of us have been able to go away. This is said to be the longest session on record in Canada. If this is a long session, I think the people of Canada are long-suffering in allowing us to remain here so long and to spend so much money as we have been doing. I have sat in my seat and listened to many of the eloquent speeches that have been made ; but when I have listened to some of village Hampdens'talking for hours and saying so little, I felt like looking at the door for a prototype of the great protector to come in and order that mace to be taken away and the doors to be closed and us to be sent away about our business ; and I thought that if that happened, the country would not suffer a particle. I hope during the recess that members will think well of the subjects they are about to introduce, and so condense and boil down their speeches after this that they will not last longer than fifteen or twenty minutes.
Mr. WALTER SCOTT (West Assiniboia).
Mr. Speaker, I desire to take advantage of the present opportunity to correct a misstatement in the press, occasioned, I think, by an inadvertence on the part of one of my colleagues from the North-west at the time the question of North-west autonomy was discussed a few days ago. That misstatement is, I think, calculated to prejudice the minds of people against the demands of the North-west with regard to provincial autonomy. It is to the effect that Mr. Haul tain demands compensation for the lands which have been homesteaded. There is no such request in the draft Bill which was presented here about a year and a half ago by Mr. Haultain. The compensation requested was for lands which have been granted to railway companies. I think Mr. BOYD
that was the whole request for compensation for lands.
Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).
Might I call the attention of my hon. friend from Ottawa (Mr. Belcourt) to the fact that the hon. member for West Assiniboia is referring to a past debate.
It is after eleven o'clock.