June 2, 1908

LIB

Duncan Ross

Liberal

Mr. DUNCAN ROSS.

You did not want much encouragement.

Topic:   SUPPLY-ADMINISTRATION OF THE YUKON.
Subtopic:   EDITION
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CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

No. I read these simply because the House might think it unfair that I should publish other statements and not publish these statements of the commissioner and I might be criticised for so doing.

I gave what I considered a fair summary of them but I am not going to submit myself to criticism on the ground that I did not give the statements of the commissioners and of these other officials. The first which I shall read is as follows, this is Mr. Henderson's report to the government:

Dawson, December 7, 1907. Sir,-I have the honour to report that I have received your letter of the 4th ultimo, ill which you state that some time ago you asked me to let you have a general report with respect to the allegation of immorality in the Yukon. I also received in due course your letter of the 6th September on the same subject, in which you state that you are in receipt of certain papers concerning the licensing of two music halls in Dawson, which papers are set out fully in your letter and which it is perhaps necessary for me to again enumerate. On receipt of your letter of 4 th ultimo, I wired you as follows:

' x unhesitatingly affirm that the Yukon including Dawson is as moral in all respects as any other part of Canada, report follows by mail.'

My reason for sending you the telegram was that I thought .perhaps a telegram giving the purport of my report might be of use to you. Before my arrival in the territory I had heard that the question of dance halls had been brought prominently before the public through a letter addressed to a Winnipeg newspaper by the Reverend Dr. Pringle, and 1 felt that one of the first questions which would demand my attention would he the devising of some solution to remove the conditions complained of should I find the complaint was well founded. After my arrival in Dawson on July 14, X ascertained that two dance halls respectively called the ' M & N ' and the ' Floradora,' were in active operation, and that there was some diversity of opinion as to whether these institutions were a menace to public morals or otherwise. My own opinion was that they should he suppressed, and before the session of the Yukon council, which opened on the 9th of August last, I had thoroughly canvassed the situation with every member of the Yukon council. I made no secret of the position I proposed to take in the matter. An amendment to tho liquor ordinance was introduced by the Honourable Mr. Justice Dugas, providing in effeet that no music hall should he kept in connection with premises licensed to sell liquors (sec. 3, chap. 9, ordinance, 1907.) There was some opposition to this Bill in the council, and various amendments proposing the postponement of the operation of the Bill to a later date received some support, hut eventually the section passed as proposed, the effect being to immediately make the sale of liquors in dance halls illegal. The two dance halls I have mentioned continued to run for some time without selling liquor until the largest, the 'M. & N.', went out of business, and the other still continues to run as a dance hall, but I am credibly informed by the police that there is very little business being done and that no liquors are sold in the dance haih

The most vicious feature of the dance hall was undeniably the sale of liquors to frequenters with the result that it is has been stated that on many occasions men, who were induced to drink excessively, lost large sums of money, hut since my appointment as commissioner 1 have never had any complaints of this kind. I might add that I have given instructions to the -police -that they are to watch carefully for any infraction of the law and immediately prosecute those who are guilty of any violations thereof.

I have also informed Dr. Pringle that I feel it my duty to investigate any complaint he may make respecting any infraction of the liquor laws or any laws enacted for tho suppression of vice or immorality.

I might add that I delayed making a full report, as I understood that the effect of the amendments I have spoken of, would he brought to the attention of the government by a perusal of the ordinances passed at the session, copies of which were duly forwarded to the government in accordance with the order in council governing the same.

Generally, I am of opinion that the standard of morality is as high in Dawson as in any other town in the Dominion. From my own observations I am quite at a loss to understand the necessity for comments such as 'have recently been made to the effect that there is greater immorality in the Yukon than elsewhere in Canada.

I might call attention in this connection to section 4, chapter 9, of the amendment to the Liquor Ordinance, 1907, which repeals section Cl of chapter 76, of the Consolidated Ordinances, and substitutes therefor a new section consisting -of subsection 1 -and 2. I -have every reason to believe that public sentiment is overwhelmingly in favour of the legislation enacted at the recent session of the council, and I feel that I have the support of the community in ray efforts to see that these laws -are strictly lived up to. However, I have -learned since my -arrival in Daw-son, and I am convinced, that the conditions

I' am inclosing you herewith reports ot Major Wood and Captain Wrighton, respectively the assistant commissioner ot the Royal Northwest Mounted Police and the officer commanding ' B ' division of the same force. As both these gentlemen are familiar

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CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER (reading) :

Ottawa, January 2, 1908.

Dear sir,-I have before me the papers in connection with the inquiry ordered in respect to Dr. Pringle's charges with your covering letter of December 7. I note that in your letter of November 8. yon suggest your appointment as a commissioner to investigate the charges under the provisions of the Inquiries Act, chapter 104, Revised Statutes of Canada,

19In reply to this suggestion I beg to say that it appeal's to me that it would be a, very strained construction to put upon section -of that Act to say that an inquiry into charges of the nature of those made by Dr. Pringle was an inquiry ' into and concerning any matter connected with the good government oi Canada or the conduct of any part ol tne public business thereof.'

Inasmuch as Dr. Pringle has been requested to make a specific statement of his knpwledge of the facts regarding which he complains and has failed to do so, I do not think I would be warranted in applying the terms of the Inquiries Act. If Dr. Pringle had availed himself of the opportunity which you gave him under my instructions it would then be a matter for consideration whether we might or might not invoke the terms of the Act, but without something more definite than lias yet been brought to your attention, I do not think we have sufficient warrant for doing so.

Yours very truly,

(Sgd.) FRANK OLIVER. To the Hon. Alexander Henderson,

Commissioner Yukon Territory,

Dawson.

There are just two points in that letter on which I wish to comment. The first is that Dr. Pringle having been requested to make a specific statement of facts and he

failed to do so. It is well to give just at this point Dr. Pringle's statement again.

Dawson, Yukon Territory, October 2, 1907

Alexander Henderson, Esq.,

Commissioner of the Yukon.

Sir,-I am prepared for the investigation, which you have been instructed to hold into the charges which I have made of scandalous living on the part of J. T. Lithgow and J. E. Girouard, prominent public servants in the Yukon.

Then follow explicitely (a), 1, 2 and 3 ; (b) and (c), the charges that he makes and which he declares himself ready to substantiate. So it is not because there were not charges made by Dr. Pringle and it is not because he was not ready to substantiate them. But he knew the crowd against whom he had to go up and he did not propose to put himself in the position of having no sworn testimony and no protected witnesses, in fact no protection at all before tne examination and no punishment for perjured witnesses. He had too large an experience with those whom he calls ' the gang ' in the Yukon, to put himself in that false position and in that I think he was absolutely correct. The other comment is that the Minister of the Interior says that he will not grant a commission to examine under oath because he does not consider that an investigation of the charges made by Dr. Pringle was :

An inquiry into and concerning any matter connected with the good government of Canada or the conduct of any part of the public business thereof.

I think that simple comment upon that is quite sufficient. I have always supposed that it was a part of good government in Canada to see that men in office conducted themselves with credit and honour to the country. Of course if we are to revise that and subscribe to the doctrine that it does not matter a tinker's fiddle as to what a man representing the Dominion of Canada does when he is in office, then the position of the minister may be a fair position. But I would ask the Minister of the Interior if he did not grant a commission on oath but a few mouths or weeks ago to investigate a case simply with reference to property. I forgot the name of the person but the minister 1 think, will know. When that person made a complaint, the Investigation into the business under review was made without oath and without the power to swear witnesses. He made an application for a commission to examine under oath in a mere matter of private property and it was granted to him by the Minister of the Interior. But in a case of this kind, the Minister of the Interior could not see that it was pertinent or came under the law.

The Toronto ' Globe ' sometimes has a spasm of virtue and in one of those it wrote a criticism:

The paper containing that criticism says :

Iir. John Pringle's charges of scandalous immorality against two prominent officials of the Dominion government are not at present to be investigated. Commissioner Henderson required the names of Dr. Pringle's witnesses and Dr. Pringle declined to give them to the commissioner until the latter should receive authority to compel witnesses to appear and testify on oath, he not having been vested with such power. The minister refused to delegate such authority to the commissioner, and there the matter rests.

The Toronto ' Globe ' discussing the question says :

The issue thus raised is one that may be considered entirely apart from the question of the truth or falsity of the accusations. It is incredible that a clergyman of Dr. Pringle's standing should make grave charges against public officials in a community such as the city of Dawson without havin'; good ground for believing them to he not only well-founded but capable of being proved. He was desirous of having them investigated, hut he knew he would have little chance of establishing them unless witnesses could he compelled to testify on oath and thus become indictable for perjury if they swore falsely. The request for an inquiry conducted under this commonly used and easily afforded safeguard, was, under the circumstances a perfectly reasonable one, and it is not easy to understand: why it was refused. Public opinion will not throw responsibility for failure on Dr. Pringle until some adequate reason is forthcoming.

I think that represents the sane and proper view of the case under the circumstances.

I notice that, as usual, some of the papers have not been brought down. For instance there was a joint telegram of protest from the Protestant minister of Dawson somewhere about the 14th or 15th of December, 1904, at the time when riots were fairly within the horizon on account of the outrageous proceedings at the election. Nor are there the telegrams of the police officials notably that of assistant Commissioner Wood at about the same date. He also made very strong telegraphic representations to the government with regard to the seriousness and urgency of the situation. There is also a telegram sent by Rev. John Pringle himself which has not come down with the papers but, fortunately, I have a copy of it.

Dawson, December 15, 1904. Hon. Clifford Sifton,

Minister of the Interior,

Ottawa.

Conditions here intolerable. Names illegally removed from lists. Enumerators refuse lists, polling divisions on order returning officer. Some enumerators missing-others in barracks under police protection. People incensed and assembling. If people's rights further invaded forbearance will cease. Cong-don and outfit desperate adopting desperate methods. People will not stand for it: Judge Dugas refuses even to advise in matter. Gir-ouard public scandal. Outrage on common decency. Must not retain position nor get

Mr. foster.

other, humiliates self-respecting people to do business with him. Statement and affidavit by mail. Government dare not countenance these things. Take some measures that will produce lists, polling divisions immediately.

Topic:   SUPPLY-ADMINISTRATION OF THE YUKON.
Subtopic:   EDITION
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JOHN PRINGLE.


* And so the case ends, so far as the papers are concerned. But Rev. John Pringle still stands to liis guns, and as late as February, 1908, I find a letter from him published in the Toronto 1 News ' and dated Dawson, January 28. In this letter he says : Ha,s the law been enforced in the Yukon? Has it been enforced in precisely the same way as the law in every other part of Canada has been enforced? Let us see. 1. There is, or it is generally believed that there is, a law forbidimg the immigration into Canada of prostitutes and criminals. Has this law been enforced? We have a customs house at Summit, and a strong police force at WMteho-rsa-the door to the Yukon. Wihat has been done to throw back the steady stream of prostitutes with the collateral stream of male undesirables which have poured into this territory for years ? Absolutely nothing. The police who are always ready to do their duty have mot been instructed or permitted to prevent this shameful immigration. It is sufficient for my pur-pose to quote the words of the assistant commissioner of police, spoken in the Yukon Council, last August, during the debate on dance halls: ' If the dance halls are closed hundreds of these women will not flock to the city, as they have been doing, for the past two years.' If there is any sudh law or -regulation governing immigration and its enforcement elsewhere, has been on Yukon lines, it i-s a dead letter, dead as a coffin nail. 2. There is a federal Sunday law, passed after sore -travail. I shall not argue whether it is good -o-r had, broad or narrow. It is a law for the enforcement of which in the unorganized districts and territories the Minister of Justice is responsible. H-a-s this law been enforced in the Yukon? Last April the assistant commissioner of police was advised that the law was in force, and instructed to report to the Minister of Justice infractions of the law. He dad so. Was the law enforced? Was there any pretense made of enforcing it? Absolutely none. The assistant commissioner was told that the police would do their duty if they attended to complaints made by private citizens, and the constables on duty on the streets of Dawson and on the creeks, saw the law broken-book stores, cigar stores, general stores, teams, wood-sawing machines going on S-unday as on other days-and under order, did nothing to enforce -the law. The Department of Justice had forbidden action, and had thrust the onus and the odium of prosecution on the private citizens. 3. The Criminal Code forbids the business of prostitution. Has. this law been enforced as in any other part of Canada. He goes on to give very explicit reasons to show that this law is a dead letter. He says that it is impossible to convict. The Minister of Justice, he says, instructed the authorities iu a particular case which'was reported to him to take no action. He goes on to speak of gambling : 4. The Criminal Code forbids gambling. Has ifche law been enforced precisely in the same way as in any other part of Canada ? To say, here, that it has, is to raise an incredulous laugh. I have seen in the police court, right under the eyes of the police magistrate, all the furniture of the common gambling houses raided by the police, money taken from the faro tables, cards and chips from the poker tables, the best men in the police court swore to the facts. The case was dismissed. How do police magistrates in the east calculate the preponderance of evidence? By counting the witnesses solely or by considering their character and weighing themr testimony also? . . . Have the laws for the protection of life and property been enforced? I believe they have, thanks to the police, unthwarted and unhindered in .this sphere of their duties, and also to the impossibility of escape except north or south by the river into the arms of the police, and east or west into an untrodden and unhospibable wilderness. Has the liquor ordinance



6. Has the liquor ordinance been enforced as such laws are enforced in any other part of Canada ? Emphatically no. He then goes on to give liis proof, and proceeds : My mind is, of course, unlegal, and I shall be pardoned if, in a measure, I fail ito see and appreciate the nice distinctions which laws and lawyers make. But the foregoing seems to me to be a pretty fair case against the contention that law has been, or is now, enforced in the Yukon, in the same way as in any other part of Canada. If way means procedure, I admit it; if it means the measure of the law's enforcement by the procedure provided, I unhesitatingly deny it. He then goes on to mention the postal frauds and to show how much or how little has been done in' reference thereto. He continues ; What about the criminal conspiracy oases after the election of 1904? The franchise stolen from one in eight of our voters, and no redress found. Why were the cases dropped? A gentleman now on the Supreme Court bench could, I think, give the reason. Was there what I learned from the eastern press is called a ' saw-off/ or some other new scheme as yet without a name? The cases were dropped. The public never knew why. They would like to know even now. Administrative and judicial abortion where a great public wrong is under investigation arouses the suspicion of free men. I think a very interesting and informing series of papers might he written on: ' curiosities of representative government, with illustrations from the Yukon/ Perhaps ' Immoralities ' might be substituted for ' curiosities/


JOHN PRINGLE.


Presbyterian Minister. Dawson, January 28, 1908. I clipped from the Vancouver ' News ' a letter signed with a nom de plume, which letter bears out in much the same, or even stronger, language the statements made by the Rev. John Pringle in the letter the reading of which I have just concluded. I do not propose at this stage to make any extended comments on the papers I have read. My object has been to lay this matter before the House and through the House before the country. I think that comments that might bo made and sustained would be something of this nature; In the first place that the government is certainly at fault for not having given such attention as it should to the high standing and character of the men whom it placed in commanding positions in official authority in the Yukon. In the second place, that the government must have found it absolutely impossible not to know during the last five or six years what was going on in this connection in the Yukon. They must have had information both from official and unofficial sources. I believe they did know. In addition to the other information that came to them, there were in 1902 the explicit and fully detailed information of Rev. John Pringle. Prom 1902 up to 1905 the government did absolutely nothing by way of investigation for adequate redress. Then when Rev. John Pringle sent an additional letter in 1905, with fresh information added to that already given in 1902, that letter also resulted in no action on the part of the government. After waiting for months, Rev. John Pringle wrote to the Governor General in 1906 and sent to the Governor General with his covering letter the letters that he had sent before to His Excellency's ministers. Even then the government did nothing adequate, made no investigation or examination and procured no redress. But the Governor General's letter seems to have got later into the hands of the minister (Mr. Oliver). . Then, in 190T, on a fresh impulse given by the extraordinary canvass made both for and against Mr. Lithgow, as governor of the Yukon, the whole matter was brought to a head and the minister took tardy action. But for all these five years the Prime Minister, knowing absolutely just what was going on, paid the salaries of the men who were involved and implicated, raised their salaries from time to time, gave them the official mantle of this country and of this government and kept them in their places despite everything that had been said. Then, when at last they made a show of investigating, they did not grant, in a case like this, the formal and effective investigation which they would and did grant to a man whose small claim was in question and who called for an investigation under oath and got it. The Rev- John Pringle, with his information and his witnesses ready had to declare that he could not put himself in the position of attempt-



ing to give his evidence unless he had the protection of the oath for the witnesses and all that proceeds from that. Then the investigation is entirely dropped and the commissioner has nothing better to say than that as the Rev. John Pringle did not go on with his charges and as no other prosecutor appeared he did not consider it of use to carry it on any further and he ends it with, in his report, giving a certificate of good character, in so far as he himself goes and in so far as he himself knew, to the very parties who were accused and whose conduct ought to have been inquired into under the accusations of the Rev. John Pringle. I think that in the administration of any part of Canada, and more particularly of that distant part of Canada where people from every clime come, and where they judge of the character of this country and the character of its people and government by what they meet with there, a special care ought to have been taken to have kept common decency, at least, side by side with official life and to have redressed the monstrous and almost incredible grievances which all good and moral people in that country had to complain of.


LIB

William Roche

Liberal

Mr. W. ROCHE (Halifax).

Mr. Speaker, I did not wish to interrupt the hon. gentleman (Mr. Foster) In the course of his remarks, but it appeared to me that the gravamen of his charge was that certain officials of this government were in the habit of playing music in dance halls. I think he gave the names of them-the Flor-adora and the M. and N. I would like to ask the hon. gentleman if he knows the instrument upon which [these gentlemen played because if this is a question of comparative ethics between a mining centre like Dawson and other centres we ought to know the character of the instrumental music which they rendered. We all know that a gentleman who could play well on the banjo or the concertina, or the violin would be very popular with the heterogeneous population which floats into these music halls. These music halls are not recognized as being hopelessly immoral in a great many centres. In London, in New York and in a great many other centres there are music and dance halls. It -would not be a question of immorality if an official were endeavouring to while away a long evening in Dawson by playing well upon any of the instruments indicated or engaging in the festive dance provided he did not disturb the peace by attemptng to perform upon the trombone or any instrument of that kind.

I think the hon. gentleman ought to give us that information now.

Topic:   SUPPLY-ADMINISTRATION OF THE YUKON.
Subtopic:   JOHN PRINGLE.
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CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

If the House will allow me I will take just a moment to, In the first place, commend the hon. gentleman who has just spoken (Mr. W. Roche) to the government and the Prime Minister as also the defence which he proposes to put up

Topic:   SUPPLY-ADMINISTRATION OF THE YUKON.
Subtopic:   JOHN PRINGLE.
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CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

to a case such as has been presented to this House. If the government have as high an appreciation of the issues involved as the hon. member for Halifax has, it will be for them to say. But, as to the hon. gentleman himself and the query he has made, I will leave him and the peculiar position he has just taken now to the people of the city of Halifax who will understand the issue and understand the position that he takes in reference to an issue of this kind. As to the peculiar type of instrument upon which this gentleman was playing I have no special or detailed information such as my hon. friend evidently desires to have. It may probably have been an instrument of many strings ; I am not sure.

Topic:   SUPPLY-ADMINISTRATION OF THE YUKON.
Subtopic:   JOHN PRINGLE.
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LIB

Frank Oliver (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Hon. FRANK OLIVER (Minister of the Interior).

Mr. Speaker, while my hon. friend (Mr. Foster) who has spoken at such length, has not seen fit to offer the House any conclusion to his remarks, we can at least give him credit for having made good his suggestion of yesterday that although the government might take the mornings it would not necessarily get more business done on that account. However, we will not begrudge our friend the double pleasure that he has had during the last'two hours and a half, pleasures in which he revels so much : one, the sound of his own voice, the other, the pleasure of putting discredit upon other people at a distance from here, not only individually but collectively, not only by reason of his own ingenuity and imagination, but by the ingenuity and imngina-ation of another man. I think it is not going too far to say that my hon. friend has traded perhaps too much on the fact that that gentleman whom he quoted so much was a member of the clergy of a great church in this country. I would not suggest such a thing in regard to the Rev. Dr. Pringle, but my hon. friend will have to admit that as there are members of parliament who have their imperfections, so there may be ministers of the gospel who are not entirely perfect, and it is not sufficient to say that because a statement is made by the minister of the gospel it is absolute evidence that it is in all parts and points absolutely correct.

Topic:   SUPPLY-ADMINISTRATION OF THE YUKON.
Subtopic:   JOHN PRINGLE.
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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

It might perhaps be regarded as a fair ground for investigation.

Topic:   SUPPLY-ADMINISTRATION OF THE YUKON.
Subtopic:   JOHN PRINGLE.
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LIB

Frank Oliver (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

Precisely; so it was considered to be a fair ground for investigation.

Topic:   SUPPLY-ADMINISTRATION OF THE YUKON.
Subtopic:   JOHN PRINGLE.
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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

When was the investigation held ?

Topic:   SUPPLY-ADMINISTRATION OF THE YUKON.
Subtopic:   JOHN PRINGLE.
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LIB

Frank Oliver (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

It was a matter of regret on my part that it was not found to be sufficient ground for investigation when the opportunity was given.

Topic:   SUPPLY-ADMINISTRATION OF THE YUKON.
Subtopic:   JOHN PRINGLE.
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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

What does the minister mean by that ?

Topic:   SUPPLY-ADMINISTRATION OF THE YUKON.
Subtopic:   JOHN PRINGLE.
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LIB

Frank Oliver (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

I am sorry to say that it was not found to he sufficient ground for investigation when the opportunity was given.

Topic:   SUPPLY-ADMINISTRATION OF THE YUKON.
Subtopic:   JOHN PRINGLE.
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LIB

Frederick William Borden (Minister of Militia and Defence)

Liberal

Mr. K. L. BORDEN.

In what way ?

Topic:   SUPPLY-ADMINISTRATION OF THE YUKON.
Subtopic:   JOHN PRINGLE.
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June 2, 1908