February 28, 1905

LIB

William Mulock (Minister of Labour; Postmaster General)

Liberal

Sir WILLIAM MULOCK.

It was not political literature according to the definition of my hon. friend and others ; it had no bearing upon elections ; and, therefore, it ought not to have been sent out under frank. Yet it was sent out in such quantities as to conjest the mails in Broekville and other places, even to the extent of blockading the work. As to the observation of my hon. friend from Victoria (Mr. Sam. Hughes), that eight hundred bags of literature, franked by himself, did he say ?

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. SAM. HUGHES.

No ; but franked by the Liberal-Conservatives in this House, who have a perfect right to frank it.

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LIB

William Mulock (Minister of Labour; Postmaster General)

Liberal

Sir WTLLIAM MULOCK.

It is always with great fear that I venture to cross swords with my hon. and ferocious friend from Victoria (Mr. Sam. Hughes) ; but if I might, with all mildness, suggest something, I would say that I am satisfied he is entirely in error. Mail matter mailed in this House, no matter by whom, is delivered to a man who is an officer of the House. He is not under the orders of the government or of the Postmaster General-he is an officer of this House, and is amenable to this House. And my hon. friend from Victoria' says that eight hundred bags of literature posted last session here are still concealed somewhere in the precincts of this building.

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L-C
LIB

William Mulock (Minister of Labour; Postmaster General)

Liberal

Sir WILLIAM MULOCK.

Why, that is simply absurd. The city post office was nearly burned down

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LIB
LIB

William Mulock (Minister of Labour; Postmaster General)

Liberal

Sir WILLIAM MULOCK.

I should not be surprised if Providence did smite the post office for that. The hon. gentleman (Mr. Sam. Hughes) says this literature was stored in the basement of the city post office. That building was burned from the roof down to the working floor, and we had immediately- to take possession of the basement and fill it with the staff. And they have been in occupation of the basement

ever since-that is, for more than a year, or

from a time beginning long before the posting of this literature last session. So the hon. gentleman will have to find some other place in which to charge that this literature is stored, for it could not be in that building. Now, the hon. gentleman has made a statement. Let him prove it. Let him give me some inkling of facts so that the matter may be looked into.

Mr. COCHRAiNE. Will you appoint a *commission ?

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LIB

William Mulock (Minister of Labour; Postmaster General)

Liberal

Sir WILLIAM MULOCK.

I will investigate the case. I say that the postmaster and the acting postmaster of Ottawa are as reliable gentlemen as are to be found in the service, and they would be the last persons in the world to do the thing the hon. gentleman (Mr. Sam. Hughes) Isays has been done. Therefore, I feel certain that no such thing has occurred as the hon. gentleman has charged.

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CON

Edward Cochrane

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COCHRANE.

The hon. gentleman (Sir William Mulock) had better investigate what has occurred. I say that during last session many communications were received from Liberal candidates throughout Canada which contained campaign literature sent from Ottawa under frank, and marked ' with the compliments ' of some candidate in opposition to the Conservative party. It is true that Conservative members in this House sent out literature under frank. But this they had a perfect right to do, as the Postmaster General knows, for it was posted during the session. And he wants simply to draw a red herring across the track. But our complaint is that the Postmaster General or any other minister of the Grown lias no right to send out documents during the recess from their departments other than reports and official documents. But they went further. After the session they uot only sent out this literature, but they had the hardihood to put our opponents' compliments on it, and that was done with the stamp, no doubt, paid for by the people's money. That is wbat we complain of.

I don't want the Postmaster General to delude public opinion by saying, ' Oh, you are another.' We have got sick and tired of that. The Postmaster General tried

to use his authority to prevent us from using our privileges as members of parliament last session in sending out literature and having it brought into the House. We have a perfect right during the session to send out literature and stamp it, and we will accord to the Postmaster General and his ministers the same privilege we enjoy. But after the session was over, when we were right upon the heels of an election, I complain that we had literature that was written by our hon. friend's secretary, when we were paying him a salary for doing it, and that was sent out with the likeness of Sir Wilfrid Laurier upon it; and then to add insult to injury, they put on Sir WILLIAM MULOCK.

that literature ' with the compliments ' of our opponents.

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LIB

William Mulock (Minister of Labour; Postmaster General)

Liberal

Sir WILLIAM MULOCK.

My hon. friend said they had a perfect right during the session to frank whatever they liked.

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CON
LIB

William Mulock (Minister of Labour; Postmaster General)

Liberal

Sir WILLIAM MULOCK.

Perhaps he intended to say that. It is not a question of legal right, it is a question of propriety and good taste. If any gentleman franked these advertisements of dental supplies, I presume he can find nothing in the law to make it illegal ; yet public opinion in this House is against such an abuse; and I think public opinion is also against the abuse I referred to of transmitting through the mails, even during the session, of matter which is not properly parliamentary literature and connected with public life. It is equally improper 5nd illegal after the session, in my opinion.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. T. S. SPROULE (East Grey).

While this subject is under consideration I want to say that it is generally believed, and 1 think with good grounds for the belief, that a large amount of literature which we sent out from this House last session never reached its destination. I know for a fact that when the campaign was on at various places in my riding, I inquired whether they had received literature from Ottawa during the session, and in many cases the answer was that they had not. I addressed that literature, I franked it and sent it out, it went into the post office here, and where did it go after it left here? It was in the possession of the Postmaster General's employees, there is no doubt whatever of that, and some person must have made away with it, because it never reached its intended destination. I believe the same thing took place in many portions of this country, literature addressed and franked here, with the compliments of our opponents on it, was sent all over our county.

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LIB

William Mulock (Minister of Labour; Postmaster General)

Liberal

Sir WILLIAM MULOCK.

Both sides did it.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

No, I never saw or heard of it being done except by the Liberal side.

I know that my opponent had his compliments put on the literature that was sent out, and some was sent to myself, while the election was going on, and it was distributed all over my riding. When I went into North Grey, I found some distributed there, presumably from Ottawa. Now that was improper and illegal. I could not ascertain whose frank had been used, because the letters were so blurred that you could not read them. In some cases there were letters but you could not fix it on any member. It was sent out in large quantities. Certainly that went through the post office, and it was supposed to have come from Ottawa, and it was franked with the compliments of my opponent on it. I think

that was very wrong. A privilege that was enjoyed by one side ought to be enjoyed by the other side as well. It was illegal and improper, yet it was done. Now I have sometimes questioned whether the explanation was that this literature never went from Ottawa, or whether it was intercepted at Toronto or some other point on its destination, or whether it was made away with by some of the Postmaster General's friends, the postmasters throughout the country. I have sometimes wondered whether it might not be the case that it was made away with by the postmasters, and that opinion was strengthened by the fact that was brought to our notice last session, namely, that away out in the Northwest Territories our literature was deliberately thrown into the fire by the postmaster and burned. That was stated in this House for a fact, and there was no contradiction. I do not know whether the postmaster was ignorant of his duties, but he was known to be a friend of the Postmaster General and his supporters ; but he never even handed out the stuff from the post office, it was sent out and burned.

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LIB

William Mulock (Minister of Labour; Postmaster General)

Liberal

Sir WILLIAM MULOCK.

Would the hon. gentleman give me the name of that postmaster?

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

I do not remember the name now, it was in the Yorkton district. The statement was made in the House, and the name of the postmaster was given in the House, and attention was drawn to it; therefore I am within my rights in referring to it again. Although I cannot give the name from memory, I am sure the name can easily be found and given to the Postmaster General. That took place in one portion of the country, may it not have taken place in any other portion of the country? I am not saying that is the case, but at any rate it is a fact that can be established beyond question that many parties to whom literature was mailed here during the last session of parliament, never received it. I think it would be quite in order for the Postmaster General to inquire into many of these cases and ascertain where the abuse takes place.

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LIB

Adam Zimmerman

Liberal

Mr. A. ZIMMERMAN (West Hamilton).

I am glad that this matter has come before the House. I think that many people are guilty of abuse of the franking privilege to which allusion has been made. We know that that has always been done by both parties ever since we have had a government in this country. I have a letter that I received this morning from one of my constituents, in which he complains that business literature is being franked to different business concerns in this country. I will read the letter :

There is another matter which I have been requested to bring to the notice of the Postmaster General through you. The dentists here,

and no doubt throughout the country, received the inclosed sealed package containing advertisements and price lists, and franked by a member of parliament. I do not know whether that is a customary practice or not, but it struck some of my friends and myself as savouring of a breach of parliamentary privilege, and has given rise to considerable criticism in certain circles. X leave the matter in your hands to do as your judgment dictates.

Now, Sir, if it is the rule, or the law, to allow that kind of matter to be franked, I trust the government will immediately take steps to put a stop to it. It is unfair to other business men, it is unfair to the whole country, that public money should be used to convey advertisements going from this House by the thousands every day. I would like to ask the Postmaster General whether it is customary to allow private advertisements to be franked by members of parliament, and by members even who have no interest in the business, so far as we can see. So far as I can make out the member had no interest whatever in the business of this firm.

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L-C
LIB

William Mulock (Minister of Labour; Postmaster General)

Liberal

Sir WILLIAM MULOCK.

The subject to which my hon. friend from Hamilton alludes was brought up by anothe member of this House some time ago during this session and I then gave an explanation which will appear in ' Hansard.' My hon. friend will perhaps be willing to read my explanation in ' Hansard ' given to the hon. member for St. Antoine division (Mr. Ames) because he refers to the very same abuse to which my hon. friend from Hamilton West (Mr. Zimmerman) refers.

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February 28, 1905