May 12, 1908

LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

As I stated a moment ago, if it be agreeable to my hon. friends on the other side I am disposed to leave the preparation of the lists in northern Ontario, not to any partisan officer, but to place It altogether under the control of the judges. That I am prepared to do.

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CON
LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

We will come to that when we are in committee. I shall be only too glad to receive the suggestion of my hon. friend (Mr. Boyce). I am not entering into this with any preconceived opinion; I am disposed to receive the suggestion of my hon. friend and perhaps I will be glad to avail myself of his services. We are all interested in this question. In conclusion I have simply this to say-my hon. friend the leader of the opposition has

appealed to me and I also appeal to him.

I appeal to him in the name of fairness, of broad equity, of natural justice, to help us to frame an Act which will place the whole machinery of the preparation of the lists under judicial authority so as to give satisfaction to Grit and Tory and so that when an election takes place sooner or later the voice of the people absolutely untrammelled may be given expression to. That is the position which we take and that is the position which we place before the House and before the country.

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CON
LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

On that question I must say that in my opinion very little justice has been done to my hon friend the Minister of Justice. There is no such intention as has been attributed to my hon. friend to try and tamper with the secrecy of the ballot. What we have in mind is to prevent if possible a recurrence of what has taken place when the voice of the people in certain elections has been baffled and set aside by the intervention of mere technicalities. I have to say that upon this point and upon every other point of this Bill we are prepared to receive suggestions, to amend the Bill if necessary so as to give effect to the policy contained in it, which is the secrecy of the ballot without stifling the voice of the people as pronounced by them. Should we say that it is impossible to prevent what has taken place in certain constituencies; should we say that we cannot frame an Act which will preserve the secrecy of the ballot and at the same time to prevent a recurrence of such a thing as that a man who has been honestly elected to this House by the people could not take his seat ?

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CON

George Oscar Alcorn

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ALCORN.

Has the right hon. gentleman mapped out or has he in mind any modus operandi by which his new lists will be made altogether under judicial authority.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

I think so. I think we will be prepared to do so at the proper time when we are in committee.

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CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. G. E. FOSTER (North Toronto).

Mr. Speaker, the debate upon this Bill has been proceeding now well on into the second week, and up to the present time we on this side of the House have been noting particularly the evidence and testimony adduced which might be considered a sufficient basis upon which the very drastic legislation contemplated in this Bill has been founded. The evidence and testimony upon which to base legislation of this kind ought to be, I think, more than hearsay and more than mere assertion. Now, whether we are right or wrong, from the time the Minister of Justice took his feet to explain this Bill until the last gentleman on that side of the House finished his speech last evening, I 265

am free to say for myself that the evidence and the testimony has been of the most unreliable, illusory and unsatisfactory nature. I am on my feet to declare that if you submit the speech of the Minister of Justice to a critical analysis, what with the actual misrepresentation of facts, what with the hearsay and allegation of what might have been or what might not have been, take those all out, and you have scarcely anything left, in that speech. I had thought to submit a little analysis of it, even at the risk of repeating what was so well done by my friend Dr. Schaffner, from Souris, last night; but it was done to a very thin House. Then we have the hon. gentleman from Lisgar (Mr. Greenway), who was an actor in the legislative and political history of Manitoba, from whom we ought to have had precept upon precept and line upon line and proof for every assertion. Boil down the speech of my hon. friend from Lisgar, and you reduce it in the main to a mere froth of assumption and of hearsay. Then I followed, very closely that most remarkable exhibition, the speech of the member for Winnipeg (Mr. Bole). I understand that tnat hon. gentleman does not propose to go back again to Winnipeg to ask for the suffrages of the people. If this last performances of his in this House can have any weight, ought to be taken into consideration, is it too much for me to say that I think the people of Winnipeg may well be congratulated? Then, I listened, and read after listening, the speech of the member for Portage la Prairie (Mr. Crawford), and I defy any one to take that speech and thoroughly analyse it, and find any large basis of fact in it. And to-day I have listened to the speech of my right hon. friend the leader of the government, and, Mr. Speaker, I ask you, just fresh from that speech, where is the body of proof given by my right hon. friend upon which to base a grievance sufficiently large and sufficiently grave to justify this House in adopting this drastic legislation which he has proposed. If there had been an investigation into alleged grievances in 'Manitoba, with reference to the work of the registration clerks or with reference to the work of the revising officers, and if out of that investigation, carried on fairly, reasonably, and according to terms of law, there had been presented to this House sufficient evidence that a fraud was being perpetrated, that a hostile attitude was being taken by the legislature of Manitoba towards this Dominion government with reference to one-half of its people allied to his party, then, Sir, he would have had good ground upon which to base drastic legislation, and then the proviso stated by my right hon. friend and alluded to by my hon. friend at my side (Mr. R. L. Borden), that such a state of circumstances might arise in a province, in its attitude and in its action towards a

party in this House, which would justify some action on the part of this House. But, Sir, we have had no investigation, we have had no proof; we have had simply assertion of the most allusory and unsatisfactory kind. Against all that I put this one consideration, and it is a consideration which I put to the man on the street, to the man 'who is unpartisan, to the man who simply wants to be fair, and I put it to my right hon. friend. It is this: You have a party in the province of Manitoba, the Liberal party of that province; they are your supporters m this House; without their action you would not have a Liberal supporter from the province of Manitoba. That party has its home and its existence in that province of Manitoba. It is vitally interested in provincial politics as well as in Dominion politics-may we not say more interested in provincial politics than in Dominion politics? Your party of men in the province of Manitoba is to-day well officered, intelligent, has its organs of public opinion to express its position and to expose its grievances if it has any. in the House of Winnipeg to-dav you have one of the best men of the Liberal party, I think, the Hon. Mr. IMickle, who represents that party in the province of Manitoba. He is an old politician; the history of politics in that country is contemporaneous with himself; he has worked through it, lived through it, knows of it as an active partaker in the political life of that province. If this condition of things exists in the province of Manitoba, it exists as a tyranny and oppression of the Liberals as far as they are concerned provincially just the same as it does as far as Y'i c?ncerned federally, is that not absolutely time? Are we to consider that if those grievances, if those acts of oppres-ty^nny and fraud, are absolutely true, the Liberals of the province of Manitoba sit down quietly under that state of thmgs, and neither through their organs of public opinion-I would not say so much about that-nor through their representatives in the provincial legislature have thev made any move of warfare, opposition or ^""dment with reference to that state of

Take a concrete example and it serves here splendidly. There was your representative from Winnipeg-doing what? A gentleman in the provincial legislature because w2i'Z?ni' mo^e/ban a year ago, of an alleged dirty and dastardly attempt to put 450 foreign voters on the naturalization lists and on the voters' lists for the province of Manitoba-in the city of Winnipeg, if I remember right. That is knowledge which comes to him. He knows it because he paid for it or gave his cheque to pay for it. He knows it because he procured those affidavits, because he read those affidavits because he was alongside Rud-neski and the other gentlemen who swore Mr. FOSTER.

to the affidavits. He bought the live carcass more than a year ago, but up to the present day he has not presented the animal to the provincial legislature. But he hands over the dead carcass to the selected purveyor of that sort of thing the hon. member for Winnipeg (Mr Bole), and that member brings into this House the carcass, ill smelling and decayed, on a silver salver and presents it to my right hon. friend, and he calls it sweet meat. What does my hon. friend think of that ? With what applause was not the reading of those affidavits received-those affidavits which the hon. gentleman who procured them and paid for them, and had for more than a year in his possession, did not dare offer at home. But a thousand miles away was the theatre where they could be presented to the applause of the right hon. gentleman and all honourable Liberals who support him in this House. I am willing that this matter be judged by that simple proof. Show me a vote among the provincial Liberals in the province of Manitoba, show me a debate in the provincial legislature in Manitoba, show me a grievance ventilated in that legislature, show me a single amendment proposed in that legislature, show me one move made by honest thinking men there writh regard to those grievances which press down so severely on the party opposite. There is a challenge to my right hon. friend. Let him point out one protest in the local legislature of that province. My right hon. friend cannot do it. But he is willing to take these old, decayed and dastardly affidavits, brought Into this House, as the proof upon which he comes with this radical legislation and proposes to carry it through willy nilly. The hon. member for Winnipeg (Mr Bole) read affidavits from these men ; and on the very face of them, they were men who were absolutely without conscience and without principle- because they swore that they did everything that was illegal and wrong with reference to the naturalization and the putting of names on the lists, and they did that for pay. That is the herd with which the hon. member for Winnipeg runs. That-is the herd with which-my right hon. friend runs. For he himself applauded the reading of those affidavits.

I saw him applauding. Affidavits of that kind brought down 1,000 miles from the scene of the transaction, where they were ashamed to deploy it, and those men's affidavits put up here to traduce throughout the whole .Dominion of Canada, by being spread on the records of the Dominion, honourable men and honourable officials in the city of Winnipeg, in the Manitoba government and in Manitoba public life ! That T leave with gentlemen who have such peculiar ideas of their position and rights in this House as the hon. member for Winnipeg (Mr. Bole). And it is the saddest of things for me to know that that was applauded by my right hon. friend and by. other gentle-

men on that side of the House. Now how do you explain the absolute inaction under this tremendous pile of grievances and wrong-inaction absolute and positive of the Liberal party in local affairs in the city of Winnipeg and the province of Manitoba? Has my righ thou, friend any explanation to give ? Is there any explanation of it ? If there is an explanation, is it not this, that the men who are closest to it know that there is nothing in it, and the men that are furthest away, it is thought can be bamboozled by reckless statements ? At Winnipeg where the people live, in Manitoba where they know this sort of talk the assertion would not go down. That is the reason it is not employed there. The distance is the reason it is employed here. More than that, will my right hon. friend deny that the Hon. Mr. Mickle has stated in the local legislature that the present Manitoba law Is fairly good legislation and the best they have had in that province in his political experience? There is your local leader-will my right hon. friend give any credence at all to this local leader in the Manitoba legislature ? Or will he rather take the Rudneski affidavits, brought by the hon. member for Winnipeg, as a proof, against the woi-d of the leader of his party in the local legislature ?

We have waited a long while for legislation with reference to an election law. It has been long promised and is much needed. It has been looked for widely. At last it comes down, and when it comes down, what is it ? Take the speech of the Minister of Justice (Mr. Aylesworth). For all that fell from him, this Bill consists absolutely of one clause and one only. That is the clause for taking over the franchises of Manitoba and British Columbia and the unorganized territories. In his speech the Minister of Justice gave more than 'three quarters of his time to section number 1 of this Bill and very cursory attention, if any, to the other sections.

What is this Bill when we come to look at it ? It is remarkable for what it does not include. My hon. friend the leader of the opposition (Mr. R. L. Borden) briefly enumerated what it does not include that it might have included. No provision is made for simultaneous polling, that is, that all the constituencies of the Dominion, with the possible exception of the Yukon, shall have polling on the same day. The present method is an abuse. There is no reason why the polling should not be simultaneous. But the Minister of Justice Was too busy with section 1 of this Bill to think about the simultaneous polling. And what about the other flagrant abuse practically carried on by my right hon. friend (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) of allowing a constituency to remain unrepresented indefinitely in this House because of partisan and political difficulties which remain to be cured? Is it not an outrage upon the rights of the 265$

people, upon all principles of good government, that an electoral unit should remain unrepresented in this House for a longer time than is actually and reasonably necessary to bring about an election? There is nothing in this Bill to make it necessary that by-elections shall be held within a reasonable time, or to provide that, if there be more than one vacancy, the elections shall take place simultaneously. There is nothing of improved machinery, either as regards methods or appointees, with the exception of one or two technical improvements, as, for instance, in the service of writs in election protests and so on. There is nothing to prevent that abuse, which has been growing under this government, of using government officials as active political partisans. The Minister of the Interior (Mr. Oliver) made, I think, a very great slip the other night, a slip which shows that he at least, whatever may be true of the government as a whole, has not the least idea of the principle involved or of the gravity of this matter. What is the fact of the case? The fact is that the government use their officials, dressed in its authority-and every Dominion official has a certain authority by virtue of being a Dominion official-to help their party in their election contests, making of the officials, in many cases, almost permanent electioneering clerks. The Minister of the Interior tried to excuse one case by saying that, though he had one Dominion official with him in an election contest, the official -vvas not a permanent employee, or was paid a very small salary. The salary has nothing at all to do with the matter, in my estimation. The gravamen of the charge is that the official is dressed in government authority and yet represents the party in power. It makes no difference whether he receives $300 a year or $3,000 a year; the bad principle is in allowing that kind of influence to be exerted. The right horn Prime Minister (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) has been profuse in professions. With the assistance of his supporters he has helped to carry unanimously in this House a resolution that officials should not be allowed to take a partisan part in elections. Yet there is nothing in this Bill to carry that out-profession and profession only; when it comes to the practical fulfilment of the professions here in this Bill, simply nothing is done. How about that growing evil, that growing scandal in this country, of using public works and promises of expenditure of public money in special cases at by-elections or otherwise in order to influence the voters in favour of the government? Everywhere, in properly constituted countries, this is considered a wrong. It is a growing and grievous wrong In this country, yet there is nothing in this Bill to prevent it. The exatopies which we have had within the last two years of the use made by ministers and others of that kind of in-

fluence have been so gross, so unconcealed that the independent press of this country has launched its vigorous opposition against it, and thinking men all over the country are condemning it more and more. Yet where is the clause in this Bill that applies to that? Then, Sir, there are no * adequate penalities for certain election crimes such as have been shown to exist through the action of the courts within the last year or two. And, more than that, there is no effective power to carry the election law into effect, so that these crimes declared to be crimes by the law shall be exposed and the evil-doers punished.

I have said that there are two or three satisfactory technical amendments. But one change that is made seems to allow a method of legal corruption. The Bill-[DOT]' whatever may be meant by it-authorizes incorporated companies for political purposes only to distribute alms without incurring the penalties of the law. There is a vista opening before us; there is a provision of jvonderful possibilities. We have no explanation of it from any hon. gentleman who has spoken on the side of the government. We do not know what it means, but it seems to be a peculiar proposition and one that may lead to great abuses. Then we have in this Bill an attack upon tlie secrecy of the ballot. After seven days' debate, after the clause had been attacked right and left, the first light that we are given upon it is the statement made by the Prime Minister that his Minister of Justice did not mean what the clause says; That is what the right hon. gentleman's statement amounts to. And he says the Minister of Justice has been very unfairly criticised in the statement that this means a departure from the secrecy of the ballot. The section says :

Provided, however, that no ballot paper shall be rejected on account of any writings, number or mark placed thereon by any deputy returning officer.

That is as wide as it can be made. It covers any kind of combination or series of combination. It opens the way for the purchase of votes, because it provides a method by which the vote can be identified. Any deputy returning officer of the calibre of hundreds of deputy returning officers of whom we have had experience in this country could, under that plenary power, make it possible for the party that he stands in with-and he is a partisan appointee- to make their negotiations upon the basis of absolute certainty and to have the ballots marked so that they can be absolutely identified and that payment can be arranged for with absolute certainty that it can be known whether the goods are or are not delivered. The very fact that this provision is in the Bill will raise fear in the mind of every dependent, of every poor man who would rather conceal the way in

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Mr. POSTER@

which he votes, the man who labours for a corporation or for a master who would try to influence his vote-that there is no use, that it is impossible for him to escape, that his ballot will be identified and the way in which he votes will become known. That is the first thing. But the second thing is what I have spoken of, that it opens an organized, trustworthy and certain method of clinching the wrongful negotiations that take place for the purchase and sale of votes.

My right hon. friend says that the minister has been unduly criticised. What criticism could there be ? The minister himself never opened his mouth upon it, he did not explain it, his explanation is in the clause and the clause, I have read. What we suppose is that the clause means what it says, and if it means what it says it certainly is open to criticism of the most stringent and vehement kind. The Bill does something else, it provides for a partisan division of electors in divided polling subdivisions. That remark is absolutely true as far as the Bill goes, as far as the arguments to support the Bill up to this date go, because every gentleman who has spoken on that side has gone upon the Bill and has lapproved of the Bill, the whole Bill and nothing but the Bill. To-day my right hon. friend says that he will delete partisanship entirely from the redistribution of voters and will have the redistribution conducted entirely by county court judges. That is not the Bill, but why did the right hon. gentleman, if that was the intention of the Bill ot1 his intention, waste the time of this House for seven long days, keep back the business of the country at this late time of the session, imperil the wages of working men and civil servants all through this country and then, at this late day, announce that he has agreed to delete partisanship from that portion of it ? We agree absolutely in this, that if it is necessary, as it is, to have overlapping polling subdivisions distributed-I agree to that, we all agree to that- any reasonable legislation which is non-partisan and competent legislation will receive the support of this side of the House so far as that delimination is concerned. My hon. friend who leads the government said that on Tuesday last.

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CON
CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

The government soon to be-stated that in explicit language and yet for these whole eight days the debate lias gone on and it is only at this late moment that the right hon. gentleman concedes the point. We agree to accept the concession. It was our principle laid down at the first and we congratulate the right hon. gentleman on acceding to the justice and reasonableness of the demand which has been made in that respect.

I put two questions to my right hon. friend in order that we may be clear upon this. This overlapping is to be interpreted as referring to the polling subdivisions which are cut by the boundary of the federal constituency and to no others ?

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LIB
CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

And this work contemplated in that first section is to apply to that kind of polling division and to no other ? There we are agreed.

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LIB
CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

The astounding thing about it, and what makes me discount my right hon. friend's proof, or what he thinks is proof and evidence sufficient to make this legislation necessary, is that my right hon. friend has sat in this House for eight days, has listened to the whole discussion and did not know until this afternoon, and may be does not know yet, fo'r he says he does not, that the returning officers in 1904 went beyond the overlapping polling divisions and redistributed the polling divisions whieh were absolutely within the boundaries of the federal constituency and that two-thirds of the cases in which they interfered were polling divisions of that kind and not polling divisions which were intersected by the boundary of the Dominion or federal constituency. More news for my right hon. friend probably. No prosecution was launched against a returning officer in Man-toba for what he did in 1904 in so far as his action was concerned alone with an overlapping polling division. The returning officers were prosecuted because they went beyond the power given by the Dominion Act, and, after having distributed the overlapping polling divisions, went to work and redistributed large numbers of the polling divisions in Manitoba which were not overlapping and which they should not have touched. My right hon. friend will find that to be true. How could they institute a prosecution against your returning officer if he did simply and only what your Act authorizes him to do ? What your Act authorized him to do was to distribute the names in an overlapping intersected polling division. For that Manitoba brought no prosecution, the prosecutions were for interference with polling divisions inside a constituency which were not intersected at all.

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Edward Frederick Clarke

Mr. CLARKE.

Where did they distribute those inside ?

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CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

The Lord knows. They distributed them all through, they took off one and added to another all over the province and the hero Leach, to whose defence my right hon. friend came this afternoon, the hero, the moral reformer, Leach, who did this work largely as Liberal organizer

for the returning offiers, swore in his testimony that he took good care, mighty good care that the Liberal-Conservatives did not know what they were doing and did not get on the track of the redistribution that was made. My right hon. friend will not question that; it is in ' Hansard.' .

I ask my right hon. friend to think for a moment of the situation of things in 1904 in connection with that business of the thin red line, as he calls it-I ask him to sense the position. He gave orders under the law to the returning officers to distribute the overlapping polling divisions, that was legal, they had a right to do it. Does he consider that it was right that when the returning officer received the King's Printer's list which was for him and his deputy returning officers alone, he should send it, or take it to the rooms of the Liberal organizer of the city of Winnipeg, give the list into his hands for days, tell him to do practically what he liked with them, and then when it was finally received from Mr. Leach's office, without looking through or certifying to himself in any respect that that list had not been wrongly tampered with, use it as the official list ? Does he consider that was proper ? That is the gravamen of the red line business. What would you think if within the province of Ontario you were to send out the King's Printer's list to the returning officers and that these returning officers around about the city of Toronto should bring those lists in to the Liberal organizer of the province of Ontario, Mr. Inwood, deliver them over into his hands, and if there was the same overlapping in the province of Ontario, have him do the redistributing secretly, stealing a march on his opponents and then simply use the lists that had been arranged in Mr. Inwood's office. How would he consider action of that kind? He would believe with me that it would raise a revolution in the province of Ontario. It was absolutely that and nothing else than that that Leach did. But Mr. Leach was not an officer of the Dominion government quoad the electoral lists. It was the returning officer who put these into the hands of Mr. Leach who was the criminal. Mr. Leach is a man of judgment and common sense. Does the right hon. Prime Minister think that it is the highest type of man who takes hold of lists, given to him by a returning officer, sworn to keep these lists and to certify to them himself, sworn to do what is neces-' sary in the way of rearranging the voters' lists, does my right hon. friend think that it is indicative of a finely spirited and finely conscienced man, one to make a hero of, who, as organizer for the province of Manitoba, would take these lists and erase and add to them, do it through the whole province of Manitoba, and do it to the detriment of the party to which he is opposed, taking good care that they shall not know

anything of what he is doing? I want to ask the right hon. gentleman if he thinks that is the right kind of a man and the right kind of a spirit or if that is a thing for a high spirited and honourable man to do. Surely politics is not one vast trickery. Surely an honourably minded man would have said to this deputy returning officer, Duggan: I cannot do anything with your lists; I have no right to; you are the man to make these rearrangements; go to work and rearrange your own lists. An honourable man would have said that. But, this gentleman leapt at the chance, took to himself the lists, made erasures and changes absolutely disfranchising voter after voter, and he was the means by which the present hon. member for the constituency sits in this House by his present majority of ten. My right hon. friend denied that Mr. Leach disfranchised a single man. Well, technically my right hon. friend may be right. Leach could not disfranchise a man, he had not the power, but, if, through the co-operation, the willing co-operation of Duggan, he manipulated the list so that man after man, Conservative after Conservative, was left off from his proper polling place and therefore could not and did not get his vote in, what does it amount to in the end ? It amounts to the disfranchisement of every man whose name was striken off that list Technically you may say that Mr. Leach did not disfranchise him, technically you may say that the returning officer disfranchised him, but Leach was the representative of the returning officer and he possessed the knowledge which enabled him to do this work that Duggan himself could not have done. And yet, in that polling place and in that constituency Duggaii had been fifteen .years a resident and knew the people. Leach was not a resident and did not know the people except through his greater knowledge as ofganizer for the Liberal party and through the men he had at his heck and call all through the province. Now, Sir, I contend that no small tribute of mitigated praise from the ' West ' of Begina with reference to Mr. Leach's making some fair turn in reference to the distribution of seed grain is anything to set against that kind of conduct. It stamps Leach as being of the same pattern as Rudneski. Is that too strong a phrase ?

I stand by it. Rudneski did what he did wrongfully, knowing that it was wrong because he was paid for it. Leach did what he did wrongfully knowing that it was unfair and illegal and lie did it receiving pay as organizer for that party and receiving the rewards of that party. What is the difference between Rudneski and Leach ? Only this, that Leach had probably a Biblical education and should have and did know better. But Rudneski did not have that advantage. The first part of his name Mr: POSTER.

may be an index of the character of his training.

At six o'clock House took recess.

After Recess.

House resumed at eight o'clock. PRIVATE BILLS.

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GRAND TRUNK PACIFIC BRANCH LINES.


On the order for the House to go into Committee of the Whole on : Bill (No 151) respecting the Grand Trunk Pacific Branch Lines Company-Mr. Crawford.


LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

Stand.

Topic:   GRAND TRUNK PACIFIC BRANCH LINES.
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May 12, 1908