June 1, 1908

QUESTION OF PRIVILEGE-HON. MR.

FOSTER.

CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise to a question of privilege. On Wednesday last, a statement was made in this House by the Minister of Militia and Defence (Sir Frederick Borden) in the course of debate. It is always difficult to tell exactly what a man says across the floor of the House. Still, I ventured to characterize the statement at that time as absolutely untrue. It now appears in cold print as reported on page 9585 of ' Hansard ' :

The hon. gentleman seems to be very suspicious. But, Mr. Speaker, assuming that every word that he has said to-day is true- and scarcely ,a word of it is true in its application-I would like this House to consider whether at its worst it is to be compared for one moment with the position of a man who *succeeds in placing himself in a position of trust in a company and then succeeds in placing himself in another position connected with another company, and then engages in the delightful occupation of selling out the company of which he is a director to himself in another company, and taking a commission which comes out of the hard savings and earnings of the people of this country, in connection with one of the large insurance companies, and putting that commission into his own pocket

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CON
LIB

Frederick William Borden (Minister of Militia and Defence)

Liberal

Sir FREDERICK BORDEN.

All of which is absolutely true.

He then goes on to say be does not need to take it up because it has been taken up and proved : ' it is an accomplished fact and everybody in this House and out of it knows it is an accomplished fact.'

Mr. Speaker, I desire again to-day to say that, so far as the language of that declaration and its charges are concerned, and the meaning that seems to be intended by them, they are absolutely and wholly untrue. I give the Minister of Militia and Defence-as this is the first time these insinuations have come to be put in direct language by a responsible member of this House -the opportunity to prove that statement ; or, if he cannot prove it, to retract it, again stating that it is absolutely and wholly untrue.

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Hon. S@

The language reported as just quoted by the hon. gentleman (Mr. Foster) is not precisely the language I used, or, at any rate, is not what I

intended to use, for there is very little meaning in the words as reported. The following is what is reported :

I would like this House to consider whether at its worst it is to be compared for one moment with the position of a man who succeeds in placing himself in a position of trust in a company and then succeeds in placing himself in another position connected with another company, and then engages in the delightful occupation of selling out the company of which he is a director to himself in another com, pany, and taking a commission

And so on. I did not say that, or I certainly did not intend to say it. What I intended to say was :

A man who succeeds in placing himself in a position of trust in a company arid then succeeds in placing himself in another position connected with another company, and then engages in the delightful occupation of buying lands for the company of which he was manager, and accepting a commission and putting it in his pocket in that connection

And so on. That is what I intended to say, and the revised 'Hansard' will show the words so corrected. And my authority, if the hon. gentleman wants it, are the proceedings of the Royal Commission wbieli investigated this particular case which was discussed thoroughly in this House during the last session, and I quoted particularly, and I mentioned it, from the speech of the Minister of Justice which I happen to have before me at this moment. I had not the pleasure of hearing the speech which was delivered by the Minister of Justice, as I was away, but I read it after my return from England, and in that speech I find the following :

The other transaction of a similar character perhaps deserves one word of additional notice, and for the simple reason that in regard to the $5,000 transaction, the verbal evidence which witnesses gave before the commission is contradictory. One witness gives in his testimony-which I need not say is equally sworn evidence-a statement of the transaction directly at variance upon this crucial point with the statement of the hon gentleman. It is not for me to judge between the two, it has not been the part of the commission to judge between the two. They have stated simply and frankly upon the face of the report what was the evidence of one and what was the evidence of the other, and leaving that evidence for comparison and for perusal, and leaving those who read to form their own judgment upon it. The commission left it at that and discussed the transaction from either of the different points of view, according to the different evidence which any reader may choose to accept.

But with regard to the subsequent transaction-

Tile one to which I referred.

-in respect to which a commission of small amount was paid, there is not, because there cannot be, variation in the testimony of witnesses, it resting upon written documents. This is a transaction, in essence of precisely

the same character. The syndicate is purchasing lands with the money of either the Foresters or of the Trust Company, with money which is furnished to it, borrowed by it, if you please, upon the security of the lands that are being bought, and the syndicate so making its purchase and so making its payment, we are again treated to the proposition that there is to be paid a commission out of it. And in this instance, it is upon the letters which are in evidence. Exhibit No. 665 is a letter dated December 23, 1903, from Mr. George E. Foster to Mr. Pritchard, at Winnipeg. He says:

I have talked the matter of these lands over with some parties. The price is too high as it was asked, and I can get no one to take any interest at any such price. My clients are filled with lands, and the offerings of men who have got lots and have to make payments and have not the money, are numerous. This flattens the price. Now, if the following is of any use to you I will, on receipt of answer, go into it further, and give you an early decision, to wit, $5.25 per acre for the land with twenty-five cents per acre as commission, thus netting you $5 per acre. This will depend upon the amount of cash down required-$1.25 certainly, and $1 say in four months, and the remainder in four yearly instalments with note, and option to pay the whole amount at any time without bonus. One trouble is the inability to inspect lands at this time. This, I am aware, is not as good as you expect, but you have no idea of the .amount of land offered here and parties here are filled up. Kindly let me know if this will be acceptable. I see no way of doing anything better at present, but I think I can get the above through.

The answer on December 28, in Winnipeg, from Mr. Pritchard, is as follows:

Dear Mr. Foster,-I am in receipt of yours of the 23rd, and have read your offer with some little regret, as I had hoped that you would be able to handle these lands at a better price in view of their choice location. As I pointed out when I saw you in Toronto, the Canadian Northern are putting their branch through from at or near Swan river to the Thunder Hills, which will make these lands convenient to railway facilities. However, as you cannot do any better, I accept your proposition with the following slight modifications. There is $2.48 due the Canadian Northern on these lands which runs for eight years at thirty-one cents an acre per year, with interest at six per cent. The whole of it can be paid off at any time without bonus, which I expect you to assume. As regards the cash payment, $1.25 down, seventy-five cents in three months and seventy-five cents in six months. The cash payment in that way will secure the equity, all being met within six months. I trust you will be able to meet me in this slight change.

Tours very sincerely,

The answer is a telegram of December 31, 1903, to A. W. Pritchard, Winnipeg, Manitoba:

Send contract terms your letter for part due Canadian Northern and amounts due vendors. The Union Trust Company, Limited, in trust is purchaser. Cash payment will be made on signing contracts.

On January 2, 1904, Messrs, Macdonald, Hag-gart and Whitla, of Winnipeg, solicitors for the vendors, wrote to the Hon. George E.

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LIB

Frederick William Borden (Minister of Militia and Defence)

Liberal

Sir FREDERICK BORDEN.

Foster, as manager of the Union Trust Company, as follows:

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Mr. A. W.@

Pritchard, who has been carrying

on correspondence with you regarding the lands in the Swan river district, has handed us all the correspondence therein, together with your telegram of the 31st ultimo, accepting the offer of sale of these lands The lands in question stand in the name of our Mr. Whitla, under contracts from the Canadian Northern Railway Company. We are preparing agreements of sale in accordance with the terms of the agreement already arrived at, and will forward the same to you as soon as completed. There are 9,920 acres all told. If you have any suggestions to make as to the methods of closing the sale we will he glad to hear from you. We presume that since we act as solicitors for your company we can have Mr. Whitla sign the agreements and forward them to you for the signature by the company, and you can forward the cash payment and return one copy of agreement duly signed. We can at the same time forward you for inspection the contracts covering the various parcels which our Mr. Whitla holds. We trust this will be satisfactory.

The answer was as follows:

Toronto, January 5, 1901.

Yours of January 2, duly received re Pritchard's sale of Swan river district lands. The contracts will be with the Union Trust Company in trust and cash. Cash payment will be made to credit of vendors in Standard Bank of Toronto on receipt and signing of satisfactory documents of agreement. Twenty-five cents per acre is to be paid as commission on sale. This can either be deducted from the cash payment or better. You can send a cheque therefore signed by the vendors in favour of myself. I will then deposit to credit of vendors the whole cash payment and present cheque which will be paid therefrom. Kindly see that purchasers are allowed to pay up whole amount due on lands at any time without notice or bonus.

Yours truly, GEORGE E. FOSTER.

And accordingly, as is asked by that letter, a cheque to the hon. gentleman (Mr. Foster) issues for that amount of commission at the rate of 25 cents per acre on the 9,920 acres, or $2,480. That is asked for in the letter I have read in distinct and unmistakable terms as a commission on the sale of these lands to the company of which the writer was jthen the paid manager. That is asked for as a deduction from the cash payment his company was to make, or better, a cheque for the amount signed by the vendors in favour of ' myself,' the manager. And that amount so received has not been shared with anybody.

That is the ground upon which I made the statement, Mr. Speaker.

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CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

If the House will allow me for a moment, I have not altogether caught the exact statement made by the Minister of Militia and Defence. This much is certain that he does not stand by the statement he made the day before yesterday. Do I understand that he retracts it ?

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LIB

Frederick William Borden (Minister of Militia and Defence)

Liberal

Sir FREDERICK BORDEN.

I do not stand by the report; I stand by the statement I made.

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CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

Then the minister declares that this is not the statement that he did make ?

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LIB

Frederick William Borden (Minister of Militia and Defence)

Liberal

Sir FREDERICK BORDEN.

I have already said what took place. ' Hansard ' will show that.

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CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

That is not the statement that he did make ?

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LIB

Frederick William Borden (Minister of Militia and Defence)

Liberal

Sir FREDERICK BORDEN.

I do not say that.

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CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

The minister does not say that ? What does the Minister say V

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LIB

Frederick William Borden (Minister of Militia and Defence)

Liberal

Sir FREDERICK BORDEN.

I gave the bon. gentleman the statement I made.

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CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

I see no difference between the minister's statement now and that which appears in the unrevised ' Hansard.' We find it very difficult to go upon anything else than that.

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LIB

Frederick William Borden (Minister of Militia and Defence)

Liberal

Sir FREDERICK BORDEN.

If there is no difference it is quite satisfactory.

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CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

Now, the Minister of Militia and Defence substitutes another statement for this one and I do not altogether understand his statement. We will see what it is in 1 Hansard ' to-morrow, but if his statement is intended to convey the meaning that his statement of the day before yesterday was intended to convey, all I have to say, Mr. Speaker, is that in the verbiage and in the intent it is absolutely untrue and unfounded. I do not care how many speeches the Minister of Militia and Defence may read to buttress it up ; even if he has to take the campaign literature of the Liberal party and read it as he does at this moment, Mr. Speaker, although I have nothing to say against the extract as not being a fair extract.

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LIB

Frederick William Borden (Minister of Militia and Defence)

Liberal

Sir FREDERICK BORDEN.

Does the hon. gentleman deny the authenticity of the letters I have read ?

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June 1, 1908