May 26, 1904

CON

Rufus Henry Pope

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. RUFUS POPE (Compton).

In his speech this evening and afternoon, the hon. the Finance Minister said that myself with others had not dealt fairly with the government in our estimate of the cost of the construction of the road from North Bay westward. After the answer had been given by the right hon. the Prime Minister that all information, papers, and documents relating to this question had been laid on the Table, what other conditions could I assume than that the Grand Trunk Pacific had asked for the construction of this road on other basis than those which had been submitted to this House. We in the opposition should have the same information upon a subject of this character as the Prime Minister or any of his colleagues in the cabinet. We have a right to be given the fullest details. I believed that we were given the fullest information and was therefore warranted in stating that the Grand Trunk Railway had agreed to construct from North Bay westward for the ordinary subsidy granted to railway construction in this country. It is unfair that at the last moment the Finance Minister should bring forward a document, hitherto unknown to parliament, and base an argument on it. It was unfair and unjust. I know nothing of the rule of government and perhaps as little of the rules of parliament, but I know the rules of fair-play, and I say that it is only fair-play that the man who stands up and opposes a great governmental scheme should be put in possession of all information pertaining to it.

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Andrew B. Ingram

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. A. B. INGRAM (East Elgin).

Perhaps it might be well to go back some months and

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. SAM. HUGHES.

inquire what effect the concealement of this petition had on the legislation in this House. I remember when the Grand Trunk Pacific Bill was introduced and referred to the Railway Committee, the hon. the Finance Minister was asked whether it was the intention of the Grand Trunk Pacific to ask for any assistance, and he said it was time enough to arrange the terms when the Grand Trunk Pacific did ask for assistance. On the strength of that misleading statement, for it was a deliberate statement on the part of the Finance Minister

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Subtopic:   GEO. A. COX, CHAS. M. HAYS, WM. WAINWRIGHT.
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Some hon. MEMBERS

Order.

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Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. SAM. HUGHES.

Does any one deny it V

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

I deny it, the statement was not made. The statement made was that it was time enough when the government proposed to parliament.any scheme for aid, to discuss the condition under which that aid could be granted.

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Andrew B. Ingram

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. INGRAM.

No, the statement was that it was time enough when the Grand Trunk Pacific asked for assistance-and I will go further and say to hon. gentlemen on that side that they understood it in that light. The hon. member for Brant (Mr. Heyd)-if I may be permitted to use his name

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LIB

Charles Bernhard Heyd

Liberal

Mr. PIEYD.

Do not use my name, for I do not know anything about it.

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Andrew B. Ingram

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. INGRAM.

That hon. gentleman said in the committee that it did not make any difference to us where they built the railway so long as they paid for the construction of it. Therefore it had a perfect right to grant that legislation. That was the statement he made, and it was a misleading statement. There were other ministers of the Crown in attendance at that committee from tirpe to time, and from time to time this question was asked and answered in the w'ay and' spirit I have stated, and by reason of the answers given on different occasions to the committee, we refrained from discussing "'here that railway should run. Now the right hon. gentleman says to-night: is there anything in that correspondence that would be of service to members of the opposition ?

I hold that if members of the opposition and members of the government side who belong to the Railway Committee had/ known about that petition, they would have discussed the question from a different standpoint. I would ask the Finance Minister and the Prime Minister as well, what would have been the result after eight months of a session last year, if the legislation granted by this House had been carried out ? Would we in that case have heard anything of that petition to-night ? Not one word. Then again, the Finance Minister says that the object of reading that petition to-night was to meet the arguments presented by hon. gentlemen on this side.

But the same arguments were presented If st year. This subject is discussed throughout the country and every man who knows anything about it knows that the Grand Trunk last year expected that they would get fair and reasonable assistance in carrying out their project. That is what we believed then, and that is what we believe now. But when it was stated that no land grant was asked for by the company, then. I say again, the government were misleading the House. In the discussions that have taken place upon the land grants the Conservative opposition here have been taunted with supporting a policy of land grants to railways. But the government did not explain to us that the company last year were asking for $53,358,000 in land and money to assist the Grand Trunk Pacific. They misled the House with regard to this project. And I say it is a sorry finish to this affair when we find the government which preaches such a high standard of morality now, at the eleventh hour-no, not at the eleventh hour but at the twelfth hour and even longer after-reading a petition that was intended just as much for this country as for the government.

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Subtopic:   GEO. A. COX, CHAS. M. HAYS, WM. WAINWRIGHT.
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CON

Robert Abercrombie Pringle

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ROBERT A. PRINGLE (Cornwall and Stormont).

The Minister of Finance has said that the reason why this document was not brought down before was that it had not been dealt with by the government. This document is signed by George A. Cox, Charles M. Hays and William Wainwright. Are we to understand that the government thought so little of these petitioners, and regarded their petition as of so little importance that they did not even consider it ? That does not seem to me to be reasonable. Another reason given by the Minister of Finance is that the document was marked 'confidential.' This memorial was addressed not to one individual member of the government, but the government as a whole. And this petition was followed almost immediately by the official notice in the * Canada Gazette.' The petition is dated November 2. 1902, and it was followed on December 15, 1902, by notice of application for the incorporation of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company, the notice being almost in the very terms of the memorial. Hon. gentlemen opposite are not always so scrupulous with regard to documents that might be considered confidential. It was only the other evening that we had the Minister of Labour (Sir Wm. Mulock), when dealing with a discussion in regard to the alien labour, making the statement that Mr. Hays, instead of answering his correspondence had sent a letter marked ' confidential ' to the Prime Minister, that the document was a public one, and so he had no hesitation in telling the House the contents of it. And he went further, and said that his reason for being ready to give

it was that the Prime Minister had stated the'substance of it in the afternoon. This was the very foundation, the very initial proceeding, in connection with the Grand Trunk Pacific, and the parliament of this country was entitled to know how the proceedings were commenced.

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CON

William Barton Northrup

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. W. B. NORTHRUP (East Hastings).

My only justification for addressing the House at this late hour of the morning is that there seems to be a misunderstanding between the two sides of the House with regard to the matter before us. As the hon. member for Cornwall (Mr. Pringle) has said, the government is formally committed to the principle that if a document is addressed to the government in a matter touching the public, even though marked ' private and confidential,' it is to be brought down.

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

No.

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CON

William Barton Northrup

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. NORTHRUP.

Documents have been brought down by the Postmaster General which were marked ' confidential,' and the plaudits of hon. gentlemen opposite supported him in doing so, while the Prime Minister had not a word to say against that course. The government, I think, laid down a principle, and I am not prepared to say that they have departed from it, that if a document relates to the public, even though marked ' confidential.' it should be brought down. It will be seen that this document relates to a matter in which the public has no concern whatever. We have only to look into the letter of Sir Charles Rivers-Wilson to see that. He says :

It has always seemed to me that the government of Canada

not the public of Canada, but the government of Canada,

-and the Grand Trunk Railway Company, being in point of fact partners in the enterprise-

And so on. I am prepared to defend the government in the position they have taken. They agree with Sir Charles Rivers-Wilson, that the position they occupy is that of a partner with the Grand Trunk in this great scheme, and they regard a communication from the head of the firm to the junior partner as confidential. True, it may relate. to a great public enterprise, but it is a matter in which the Grand Trunk and the government are partners. Evidently the hon. member for Cornwall and those behind him think that the public have something to do with these matters. This is a matter where the Bill conceived by the Prime Minister and arranged with the Grand Trunk is to be carried out. And, with the principle laid down by the government that, where the public is concerned, even a document marked ' confidential ' should be laid before the House, I am sure

they would have brought down everything that related to the public. The Prime Minister was quite sincere. Viewing this as a communication between partners, and one with which the public had nothing to do, the Prime Minister told us that everything was brought down that should be brought down. If that view is correct, that the public had nothing to do with this matter, they are perfectly right in refusing to bring down the document.

If the view held by hon. gentlemen on this side be correct the public is most intimately and vitally interested in this and is entitled to all the information it can have. Put while I would be sorry to say that the government are two-faced and brought down a document when it suited them, and did not when it did not suit them, still, if the government really believed that the public was interested in this matter they would have brought this document dowil. I think I am justified in saying it is a simple case of difference of opinion, the government and its supporters, as junior members of this important firm. Hays, Cox & Company, they should stand by their partners while we stood by the people.

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Right Hon. S@

The hon. member for Stormont (Mr. Pringle) has alluded to me and stated that a short time ago I read in this House communications sent by Mr. Hays to the premier marked ' confidential.' 1 presume that, however inaccurate he may be, he has reference to some remarks which I made in the House upon the 13th of May instant. On that occasion I was giving to the House the correspondence up to date that had passed between myself and the Grand Trunk with reference to the subject that evening under discussion and stated that I had written to Mr. Hays and that he had replied transmitting to me a letter which he had sent to the premier which might properly have been sent to myself, and that Mr. Hays in his communication to me expressed the wish that I should not make his letter public except with the consent of the premier. He did not say to me that it might not be used by the premier, and the premier himself having the control of the document stated to the House before I spoke what its tenor was. When I spoke therefore. I did not make known to the House the nature of the letter to the premier ; the premier had already, as was his right, made that communication to the House.

Another hon. gentleman has referred to an incident that happened seven years ago when I published to the House and the country certain documents that were upon the public files when I took office. On that occasion the facts connected with the transaction were essentially different from those referred to to-night. On that occasion, I may say briefly that although I shared the entire Mr. NORTHRUP.

responsibility of that publication I had not myself seen the communications until they were printed and placed before the public. The matter came up incidentally in my department in the following method : One of the officers in the department asked me what was to be the procedure in dealing with public contracts and I told him the ordinary procedure that the law laid down. He informed me that that had not been the procedure in the past and brought to my knowledge a number of cases in which the public interest had been disregarded for the promotion of private interests, and on exa rnina-tion it was found that in these various transactions the irregular letting of contracts had resulted in a loss to the country of many hundreds of thousands of dollars, the exact figures of which I set forth in that report.

I gave instructions throughout the department that ail contracts that had been irregularly let were to be cancelled and relet according to the Post Office Act. That was done and I instructed that one of the officers of the department should prepare a return to parliament setting forth all the circumstances connected with the letting of these contracts and to give to parliament the correspondence bearing on the subject. I myself did not go into the public files or see the letters in advance of their publication, but they were published because the officer found them upon the public files. They were not placed upon the public files by me but by my predecessor, a member of the preceding administration, and I presume if he placed them on the public file it is fair to conclude that he had authority from the senders to so make use of them, and whether or not he had authority it seems to me that these letters had direct bearing upon the public affairs of the country, and disclosed and were part and parcel of, a project to rob the people of Canada. That is what they were and I doubt myself if the documents having that purport may be regarded as confidential. When my hon. friends opposite took extreme exception on that occasion to the course pursued I wonder how they reconciled their action then with their action to-night. Here they declare that no communication to a minister concerning the public interest should be regarded as private and confidential. How do they reconcile their contention to-night with their criticism of my actions seven years ago in having given to the public documents which I found on the public files ? That was the transaction then and I accept the full responsibility, but there is an essential difference between that transaction and the one to-night. In my case the documents were on a public file. I got them where they had been placed by my predecessor, in a very different method from that in which the leader of the opposition became possessed of a private and confidential document a short time ago, the circum-

stances of -which have not yet been satisfactorily explained to this House and to the country.

Amendment (Mr. Porter) negatived on the same division.

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L-C

Andrew B. Ingram

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. A. B. INGRAM (East Elgin).

I move, seconded by Mr. Wilson :

That all the words after the word " That " in the main motion be left out and the following subtituted therefor :-' the Bill be referred back to a Committee of the Whole with instructions to amend the same by adding thereto the following as section No. - :-

" ' Notwithstanding anything in the scheduled agreements, or in this Act, or in the Act hereby amended contained, it is hereby declared and enacted that in the event of the government determining to undertake the operation of the Eastern Division upon the termination of the said lease, the government shall be entitled for a further period of fifty years to such running powers and haulage rights over the Western Division, or any portion thereof, and over any branch line or lines running from any point or points in the Eastern Division as may be necessary or expedient in the opinion of the government, upon such terms as may be agreed upon between the government and the Pacific Company, or as may from time to time in case of failure to so agree be determined in the manner provided by clause 24 (2) of the original agreement, which is hereby made applicable to cases arising under this section.' "

I moved this before, and it was understood that I would have the privilege of withdrawing it and moving it again to-day. I understood that the Minister of Justice desired to say something in connection with it.

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LIB

Charles Fitzpatrick (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. FITZPATRICK.

The hon. gentleman moved it, and at my suggestion withdrew it. I desired at the time to have an opportunity to look into what I had already said on the subject, for the purpose of deciding whether or not I would maintain the opinion I had then expressed. I have, since my hon. friend moved his amendment, considered the matter further, and I can see no reason to depart from the opinion I expressed when the amendment was moved in committee.

Amendment (Mr. Ingram) negatived on the same division.

Motion (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) agreed to on the same division reversed, and Bill read the third time and passed.

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Subtopic:   GEO. A. COX, CHAS. M. HAYS, WM. WAINWRIGHT.
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ADJOURNMENT-BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE.

LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

I have a motion to make which, I suppose, will not be opposed. I move that the House do now adjourn.

Topic:   ADJOURNMENT-BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE.
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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

Before that motion is put, I would like to inquire what business we are to take up to-day ?

Sir WILFRID LAURIER, I do not know that we will be in a condition to do much

business, but we will take up the estimates. My hon. friend the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Fisher) will take up his estimates.

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Motion agreed to, and House adjourned at 5.25 a.m. Friday.


May 26, 1904