June 27, 1904

CON

Uriah Wilson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WILSON.

Then I would ask the hon. gentleman to take proceedings on that ground.

Topic:   SUPPLY-RESIGNATION OP THE AUDITOR GENERAL.
Subtopic:   THOMAS PREST.
Permalink
LIB

William Mulock (Minister of Labour; Postmaster General)

Liberal

Sir WILLIAM MULOCK.

The hon. gentleman (Mr. Wilson) will please allow me to finish. I say this was a grave offence. Jn this case the postmaster is mixed up with municipal politics. There is nothing necessarily to prevent a postmaster taking part in municipal politics. At the same time, when asked, as I frequently have been by postmasters who desire to run for municipal office, whether there is any objection, I have invariably told them that the department would not lay down any rule, but that they were to consider from their own standpoint whether or not they should identify themselves with matters that might have the effect of bringing them into antagonism with a considerable number of the patrons of the office. I need not elaborate that point. Here is a postmaster who becomes a candidate for a municipal office. It is to his interest that a certain letter should not go forward. And, though it was posted at 2.30 p.m., and the mail did not leave until 6 p.m., the letter did not go forward until it was too late for the person to whom it was addressed to respond by coming to the place.

Topic:   SUPPLY-RESIGNATION OP THE AUDITOR GENERAL.
Subtopic:   THOMAS PREST.
Permalink
CON

Edward Arthur Lancaster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LANCASTER.

How was the postmaster supposed to know what was in the letter ?

Topic:   SUPPLY-RESIGNATION OP THE AUDITOR GENERAL.
Subtopic:   THOMAS PREST.
Permalink
LIB

William Mulock (Minister of Labour; Postmaster General)

Liberal

Sir WILLIAM MULOCK.

He might not know what it contained, but it was addressed to an opponent of his. The inspector waited upon Mr. Gallagher, and I suppose got from him any explanation he could offer to any of these charges. There does not seem to be any explanation from the postmaster as to why that letter was detained. That in itself waSj an act of bad faith on 'the part of the postmaster that could not _ properly be overlooked. What right had he to detain a letter that might have brought to town a person to vote against himself '? Merely because he happened to be in the position, as postmaster, to control the sending of the letter, what right had he to make use of that position to interrupt the free passage of the mail ? Men have been removed from office for such transactions before, and will again. No man who puts himself in such a dual position may use his position as postmaster for his personal advantage.

Topic:   SUPPLY-RESIGNATION OP THE AUDITOR GENERAL.
Subtopic:   THOMAS PREST.
Permalink
CON

Uriah Wilson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WILSON.

I do not think that anybody will say he had a right to stop a letter in its course through the mail. I would be the last man to jusltify that. But Mr. Gallagher says he had no knowledge of it. The Postmaster General will remember the letter I wrote him on June 2, 1903, in which I told him that it was only fair to Mr. Gallagher that he should have a copy of the

charges laid againsit him. Everybody will say that that is only fair.

Topic:   SUPPLY-RESIGNATION OP THE AUDITOR GENERAL.
Subtopic:   THOMAS PREST.
Permalink
LIB

William Mulock (Minister of Labour; Postmaster General)

Liberal

Sir WILLIAM MULOCK.

The inspector waited upon him and got his statement.

Topic:   SUPPLY-RESIGNATION OP THE AUDITOR GENERAL.
Subtopic:   THOMAS PREST.
Permalink
CON

Uriah Wilson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WILSON.

I do not care to say much about the inspector. I think he is a man fonder of office than of justice. I know him and there are men in the House who know him. There are men who are willing to go a good way to save their necks or satisfy the party in power. I do not say that this applies to one set of men more than to another. But I am fully convinced that if Mr. Gallagher had had (the charges sent to him, as he ought to have had, and had had an opportunity to have a full investigation, he would have been able to show that he was perfectly innocent of the charges against him.

Topic:   SUPPLY-RESIGNATION OP THE AUDITOR GENERAL.
Subtopic:   THOMAS PREST.
Permalink
LIB

William Mulock (Minister of Labour; Postmaster General)

Liberal

Sir WILLIAM MULOCK.

The inspector waited upon him.

Topic:   SUPPLY-RESIGNATION OP THE AUDITOR GENERAL.
Subtopic:   THOMAS PREST.
Permalink
CON

Uriah Wilson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WILSON.

The Postmaster General will remember that I told him about the meeting in Mr. Gallagher's house-that there had been no meeting-and I do not think the Postmaster General has found me equivocating in these things. I think my word is as good as that of a man who would make an affidavit-if he did make it, and he says he did nolt-and then withdraw it. But he told another man that if he did make the affidavit he must have been drunk when he made it, and he told me in the presence of another man that he had never made the * affidavit or signed anything against Mr. Gallagher.

Topic:   SUPPLY-RESIGNATION OP THE AUDITOR GENERAL.
Subtopic:   THOMAS PREST.
Permalink
CON

Richard Blain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BLAIN.

Perhaps the Postmaster General will explain what form the investigation took ?

Topic:   SUPPLY-RESIGNATION OP THE AUDITOR GENERAL.
Subtopic:   THOMAS PREST.
Permalink
LIB

William Mulock (Minister of Labour; Postmaster General)

Liberal

Sir WILLIAM MULOCK.

The complaints and declarations were forwarded to the inspector and he made his investigation and submitted his report. As to the exact form of the investigation, I am not informed, but I judge, from my perusal of the report, that he communicated with Mr. Gallagher, waited upon him, heard his version of the story, drew his own conclusions and made his report. He found the charge substantiated that there was a detention of the letter with a motive.

Topic:   SUPPLY-RESIGNATION OP THE AUDITOR GENERAL.
Subtopic:   THOMAS PREST.
Permalink
CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

It seems to me that, without further explanation, we can have a pretty good idea of what form the investigation took. I think it quite evident from the report as read by the Postmaster General that the investigation was pretty much a matter of general rumour-that the inspector was pleased to act to a large extent, if not wholly upon the gossip that was going in the neighbourhood. I think it was a most fortunate thing under the circumstances that the Postmaster General has departed from his usual custom and read to Sir WILLIAM MULOCK.

the committee the report of his official. If this is a fair sample of the investigations that have taken place, we can well understand how it happens that many honest postmasters have been dismissed for insufficient cause. What does the inspector say in regard to that alleged meeting ? He says that it was rumoured in the neighbourhood, but he has not taken precautions to have evidence as to whether this meeting that was supposed to have taken place was a political meeting or not. Yet, he thinks he may conclude, as a matter of surmise, that it was a political meeting. I would like to ask the Postmaster General, as a matter of reasonable fair-play, what right there is fcr the inspector to make a report against a man occupying a responsible position for many years, basing his conclusions upon the fact that there is a rumour in the neigbourhood that there was a political meeting, because, forsooth, it happens that a respectable man engaged In politics stayed there a few hours after a political meeting had taken place somewhere in the neighbourhood ?

It was denied: by a gentleman to-night, denied by a gentleman of the House of Commons, and in the face of that this gentleman presumes to conclude that that was a political meeting. That is not all. He says there was a general rumour in the neighbourhood also in reference to this letter not being sent on, that it was common gossip in the neighbourhood that the letter had been delayed. Is that the kind of evidence upon which the Postmaster General of this country proposes to act and dismiss a man who has occupied a responsible position in the neighbourhood and a responsible position in reference to the Crown ? The Postmaster General says that the delay of the letter and the interference with the proper transmission of the mails is a criminal offence. Is that a reason for a less rigid examination or a greater reason for a thorough, efficient, searching and conclusive examination ? To my mind if there is any ground at all for a thorough and searching Investigation in a matter of this kind it is the fact that the charge involves a criminal offence. Surely a man shall not be tried in regard to that which is a criminal offence without being called upon to make good his defence if he has any defence to offer. Surely it is not a case where he should be convicted on rumour or on suspicion, and surely it is not a case where with any regard to British justice, he should be convicted without being heard in his own defence. That is what was done in this case.

Topic:   SUPPLY-RESIGNATION OP THE AUDITOR GENERAL.
Subtopic:   THOMAS PREST.
Permalink
LIB

William Mulock (Minister of Labour; Postmaster General)

Liberal

Sir WILLIAM MULOCK.

He seems to have been beard in his defence.

Topic:   SUPPLY-RESIGNATION OP THE AUDITOR GENERAL.
Subtopic:   THOMAS PREST.
Permalink
CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

Has the inspector gone to the trouble of obtaining the evidence of any of the men who were there upon the occasion of the meeting in question, who could have given evidence ? There has been no invests-

gation. The party who made the report has not been brought to confront the person accused and it is a principle of common justice that when a person is accused he shall be confronted by his accusers, and shall be afforded an opportunity of making good his defence in the presence of those who have accused him. I want to say that if this is a fair sample of the way in which men have been dismissed and of the kind of evidence on which they have been dismissed, and of the kind of report on which the Postmaster General has acted in the past, it is a very severe commentary on the administration of the office of Postmaster General. We have not had an opportunity of examining the reports of these inspectors, and the hon. gentleman who is bringing this matter up says that he does not care to say anything in regard! to this particular inspector. I am not in that position and I can say that if this is the .kind of investigation generally which results in the dismissal of a postmaster, it does not reflect much credit on the administration of the Postmaster General, and if this is the kind of Inspector generally employed for the investigation of these difficulties, it reflects credit on neither the inspector nor the department.

Topic:   SUPPLY-RESIGNATION OP THE AUDITOR GENERAL.
Subtopic:   THOMAS PREST.
Permalink
LIB

William Mulock (Minister of Labour; Postmaster General)

Liberal

Sir WILLIAM MULOCK.

I should be very sorry to allow any reflections on the inspector. I have a very slight acquaintance With him indeed. He is a man so far as I know, of eminent standing in the country. I have never heard his honesty impugned. He was in office when I took office, and I do not know how long he had been in office before that, but I think he is a very reliable man'and he understands his duties. He understands human nature, and when he is given a question such as this to investigate, he is as competent to investigate it as any one else. He would have no reason for not making an honest report, and when these matters were sent to him for investigation *he went down to the neighbourhood, as appeared from his report, he interviewed Mr. Gallagher who was the one man above all men who could give explanation if the circumstances admitted of any explanation of the detention of that letter. He had a motive in detaining that letter.

Topic:   SUPPLY-RESIGNATION OP THE AUDITOR GENERAL.
Subtopic:   THOMAS PREST.
Permalink
CON

James Clancy

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLANCY.

If he knew what was in it.

Topic:   SUPPLY-RESIGNATION OP THE AUDITOR GENERAL.
Subtopic:   THOMAS PREST.
Permalink
LIB

William Mulock (Minister of Labour; Postmaster General)

Liberal

Sir WILLIAM MULOCK.

He knew it was addressed to a person who was not a friend of Ms, and it was detained so as to miss the mails. He knew it was addressed to a man who might come up to vote against him. People know a great deal about each other in the country and about who is going to vote at a municipal election even if he lives a good distance off. The postmaster had an opportunity to explain this charge, but so far as this report is concerned, he does not seem to even'have attempted an 180

explanation. The charge is made, he is interviewed by the inspector, and does not seem to have offered one word of explanation about the transaction.

Topic:   SUPPLY-RESIGNATION OP THE AUDITOR GENERAL.
Subtopic:   THOMAS PREST.
Permalink
CON

Edward Arthur Lancaster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LANCASTER.

I am afraid that if this inspector is no more competent with the other part of his duties than with these investigations he is not a very competent officer.

I am afraid people will believe that there has been some understanding other than what appears here to-night as to what was to be done with Gallagher. I imagine that although he was not an active politician, because they do not pretend to dismiss him on that ground, still he was a man who refused to become an active politician on the other side of politics to that which he originally belonged. The question of whether there was an investigation at all or not, is a serious one and might affect all post offices in this country. I doubt if one-half the postmasters in Canada could stand the application of the same rule. I get complaints in St. Catharines from clients from various parts of the province, stating that I should have got letters the day before I received them, but I would not think of coming down here to ask the dismissal of a postmaster, under these circumstances. Delays of this kind occur every day in Ontario and perhaps in the other pro v i nces of the Dominion.

What is the case against this man according to the hon. minister's own statement ?-that a letter was posted in his post office addressed to a man whom he knew to be not a friend of his in regard to some municipal election. It is suggested that he held that letter but the hon. Postmaster General cannot furnish any statement from his inspector to show that there was any evidence that that letter was withheld. He does not pretend to say that Gallagher knew that the letter did not go forward. How would Gallagher know unless he was guilty and how would he be able to say at what hour the letter went forward ? If he did not admit that he had delayed it, how could the post office inspector be sure that he had delayed it ? The letter was not registered. There is not a suggestion of the evidence that caused the inspector to come to the conclusion that the letter was delayed except the unfair, uncharitable suspicion that because the letter was addressed to somebody who might be supposed to vote against Gallagher in the municipal elections, therefore he was villain and scoundrel enough to delay that letter for fear of that paltry vote being cast against him. The post office inspector does not seem to have found out at the other end of the line when the letter reached that post office.

Topic:   SUPPLY-RESIGNATION OP THE AUDITOR GENERAL.
Subtopic:   THOMAS PREST.
Permalink
LIB

William Mulock (Minister of Labour; Postmaster General)

Liberal

Sir WILLIAM MULOCK.

There does not seem to be any question about the fact that the letter did not get there in time.

Topic:   SUPPLY-RESIGNATION OP THE AUDITOR GENERAL.
Subtopic:   THOMAS PREST.
Permalink
CON

Edward Arthur Lancaster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LANCASTER.

Who has shown that ?

Topic:   SUPPLY-RESIGNATION OP THE AUDITOR GENERAL.
Subtopic:   THOMAS PREST.
Permalink

June 27, 1904