June 10, 1908

LIB

Honoré Hippolyte Achille Gervais

Liberal

Mr. GERYAIS.

At any rate in the number of ' Le Rappel,' dated Sunday, April 3, 1904, I find a beautiful article upon Mr. Monk headed in large capital letters ' Mr. Monk.'

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Mr. F. D.@

Monk has just raised once more in parliament the most important question of the turnpike roads. He was courting a sure defeat when hutting against the stubbornness of our narrow minded ministers, hut it matters not as we do not expect the opposition members to win victory, but

There is a long article in French in which it is said that Mr. Monk has raised once more the great and very new question of the abolition of the Montreal island toll gates. Then in the same article I find: (Translation.)

The electors of the county of Jacques-Cartier are justly proud of their representative in the Commons. When electing him, they intended to entrust him with their own as well as with the country's interests. Mr. Monk did not deceive their expectations. Nobody else has in so short a time run such a distinguished and fruitful oareer. His self-devotion and his eagerness for work form a strange contrast with the laziness and selfishness of too many members from the province of Quebec.

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LIB

Robert Franklin Sutherland (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER.

I can hardly see how this relates to the subject under discussion.

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LIB

Honoré Hippolyte Achille Gervais

Liberal

Mr. GERVAIS.

I bow to the decision of the chair ; my attention was taken for a moment from the regular debate. I wish to quote an article from ' Le Rappel,' an

article relating to Mr. Charlier. When I said that Mr. Charlier went to jail for a compatriot who had written the article incriminated, I spoke the truth. Here is what ' Le Rappel ' said about it on the same date :

(Tnansliajfrion.)

1. We must first state that the chief culprit in this case, that is the wretched and cowardly writer of that libellous article knew the proper time to hide himself. His name, which Mr. Charlier refused to mention, has not been disclosed before the court. The name, however, is known; it is whispered everywhere and it will soon, let us 'hope, toe published abroad.

' Le Rappel ' says : We have to remark, first of all, that Charlier is not the guilty party. We know who wrote the article. Charlier has been too frank and too true to his friends to divulge the name, but we hope before long the culprit will be brought before the court.

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CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

Does the hon. gentleman think it is always a merit to shield the culprit?

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LIB

Honoré Hippolyte Achille Gervais

Liberal

Mr. GERVAIS.

No, it is not always a merit, but it is not always a sign of demerit. Many men who have suffered on the scaffold have made England free. The hon. gentleman will admit that the men who imposed Magna Charta and the Bill of Rights, the men who made -England free, went to the scaffold, almost every one of them.

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CON
LIB

Honoré Hippolyte Achille Gervais

Liberal

Mr. GERVAIS.

It is a question of fact. If you read the history of the great quo warranto writ you will find that the sacrifice of the men of those earlier days was for the advantage of their neighbours of this time.

The hon. member for Jacques Cartier (Mr. Monk) has said that Mr. Charlier has been charged with blackmailing. That charge was tried once, there was a disagreement of the jury after one of the most ferocious trials, and then a nolle prosequi was entered because no conviction could be secured against him. I think in all fairness the hon. member for Jacques Cartier (Mr. Monk) should withdraw such a charge as he has brought before this House. I have nothing to say about the merits of the charges against Mr. Charlier. The jury has passed upon them. From the point of view of morality, after all nothing has been proved against Mr. Charlier's character. If you look at his competency, his capacity, his capability, everything has been proved in the most conclusive way. He is a Bachelor of Letters and Science of the University of France, and any one of my fellow-citizens who knows anything about education, university degrees and diplomas and sheep skins knows the value of a university degree granted by the University of France. There are not ten men in Canada holding 325

such a diploma. There are not five men in Canada able to translate fluently ancient Greek, modern Greek, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and English, and now when th'e hon. member for Jacques Cartier (Mr. Monk) wants the Debates Committee to make further inquiries about the capacity and capability of this man to be a translator, I think he wants to joke and laugh at the members of this House.

In regard to the question of dishonesty- I repeat that nothing has been proved against Mr. Charlier. It is true he has been convicted for another's crime, for the crime of a gentleman who is highly considered and esteemed. It is true he has been convicted, but there is no disgrace in being convicted under such circumstances. We in the Debates Committee knew at the time of the drafting of the report all the circumstances of the case and the Debates Committee made their report after due knowledge having been conveyed to them and knowing all the circumstances of the case.

I say that the fourth report of the committee should stand as it has been affirmed and confirmed and concurred in by this House-in good faith on my behalf I pledge my word, openly, without any restriction or limitation, having communicated the report to whom the report was to be communicated. Under these circumstances I appeal to both sides of the House to support the Debates Committee, not to handicap their work, but to help them all through in order that their work may be made more efficient and more useful for the benefit of the public in general. I have been trying to do my duty as chairman of the Debates Committee. I have been trying to be fair, just and honest to both sides of this House, and I hope that my Debates Committee will be left unhandicapped, will be left free, being only the servant of the House of Commons. I ask that no internal economy commission policy should be framed to interfere with the good work of the Debates Committee. For the official reporters and official translators, for all time to come, should remain under the guidance and rule-the exclusive guidance and rule- of the House of Commons. We should not make the official reporters and official translators subservient to the dominaut party, the tools and servants of the government. But for the benefit of everybody in the land, for the benefit of every member of this House, on the opposition side as well as on the government side, these officers should remain as they are, the servants only of the House of Commons as a whole. For these reasons, Mr. Speaker, I ask that the motion be rejected and that our report stand confirmed.

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Mr. J. H.@

I think I owe it to the House to express the views which I have indivi-

dually formed with regard to the motion now under discussion. Some days ago, the Debates Committee made a report to this House which was adopted on the same day that it was presented. This was not exactly regular, for, in such cases, it is usually required that notice be given. However, as is often the case in the despatch of the business of the House, the strict technicality of the rule was not observed. Exception is taken to-day. When the motion for adoption of the report was made, no exception was taken, and the report ;|was adopted accordingly. When attention was called to the matter, some days later, I believe, I took the ground that if there was a feeling that the motion had been carried as the result of surprise, the report should be sent back to the committee on reason therefor being shown. I have listened to the motion and speech of my hon. friend for Jacques Cartier (Mr. Monk) and the speech of the chairman of the Debates Committee, my hon. friend from St. James, Montreal (Mr. Gervais). The motion of the hon. member for Jacques Cartier, as I understand it, is to send the report back to the Committee of the House in order to examine into the qualifications of Mr. Charlier to see whether or not he is qualified for the position to which he has been promoted.

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Mr. POSTER@

Is there not another question-as to the necessity for the appointment ?

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LIB
CON

Joseph Gédéon Horace Bergeron

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. G. H. BERGERON (Beauharnois).

The position created by the motion of my hon. friend from Jacques Cartier is not quite clear. The difficulty arises from the fact that two years ago when the Debates Committee made a report, the government, instead of accepting it, privately prevented it from being discussed in the House. The report recommended an increase of salary to the translators, and the government, instead of accepting the report, reversed the entire previous practice, and brought the translators under the control of the Commission on Internal Economy. That was a rebuke to the Debates Committee, it was the first time the government had done such a thing. I was astonished myself, because I knew that the right hon. gentleman had always been in favour of adopting the reports of committees unless there was something in them radically bad. Well, two years ago this report was withdrawn. A few days afterwards the Commission on Internal Economy, under your presidency I imagine, Mr. Speaker, granted to the translators the increase of salary which had been proposed by the committee; but instead of remaining as they were before, employees of the House, they became employees of the government, and they are not to-day on the same footing as they were when they were appointed in 1880. I need not say to the House that I, as a member of that committee, felt offended, and was almost inclined to resign, because I thought that the usefulness of the committee was gone. This year we received from the reporters a long standing request for an increase of salary.

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LIB

Honoré Hippolyte Achille Gervais

Liberal

Mr. GERVAIS.

Let me remark to my hon. friend, as I said a few minutes ago, that the debate on this phase of the question will come up later as a couple of translators will have to be appointed before long to secure a quick edition of the French ' Hansard.'

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CON

Joseph Gédéon Horace Bergeron

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BERGERON.

I started out by saying that the position was not quite clear, and I am trying to show the House why it is not. The Debates Committee passed a 325$

unanimous resolution recommending an increase of salary to the reporters, who have been getting the same salary for, I think, twenty years. This report was presented to the House, but has never been accepted, nor even discussed. About three weeks after this report had been made, another meeting of the Debates Committee took place. I was not present at that meeting, because the notice was given in the evening, we had been sitting here very late, and I did not get my notice until next morning, and the meeting was called for ten o'clock. But here is where I think the situation is somewhat confused. At that meeting, the recommendation which is now the subject of discussion, was made. The report was presented to the House at three o'clock and went through immediately. My right hon. friend will remember that he has always objected to that, he has taken the ground that the report should lie on the table for two or three days as a notice; and this is the reason, if I understand rightly, why the hon. member for Jacques Cartier is making his motion to send that report back to the committee to be reconsidered. Now my right hon. friend will remember further, that objection was then taken that the adoption of this report was contrary to the course which had been previously followed by the government. Now the government also said: Whenever you bring in a report involving expenditure of money for an increase of salaries, we have decided to take tile ground that such expenditure must be initiated by the government. Therefore they have changed the policy that has been followed since 1879, because since 1879 the recommendations of the Debates Committee for increases of salaries have always been accepted by this House. Now the other day without any notice at all, a recommendation of the committee was made for a new salary. It is no use denying that it was a new salary ; the Minister of Finance said he had been told there was no increase. Well, he was under a false impression, because it is an increase. Mr. Charlier was a proof-reader, and by that report he becomes a translator at a salary of $2,000 a year. We appointed a new man, and it seems to me the position has been created for no other purpose than to give it to this man. It is not a question whether Mr. Charlier is a good French translator or not, I believe he is a very good one; but he becomes translator, and another man is appointed to replace him. Now is there not here an inconsistency on the part of the government ? Are we going to accept a report of the Debates Committee recommending a new salary of $1,500, and are we going to refuse the request of the reporters because it involves an expenditure of money ? Certainly there is a contradiction. Now I am going to support the motion of my hon. friend from Jacques Cartier that the report be sent back.

to the committee for reconsideration. My own opinion is that we do not need another translator. I have been told by the translators themselves that they do not need another man. The demand for another man does not come from them, but it comes from another source; and I hope before the session is over we will have an opportunity of discussing that question. There are translators enough. As 1 say, I am going to vote to send the report back to the committee. My opinion is that the majority of the committee will not sanction the appointment of a new translator, if I may judge from the conversations I have had with some of the members. I am going to vote for the motion of my hon. friend from Jacques Cartier in order that the question may be discussed again, because this is undoubtedly the creation of a new policy on the part of the government.

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. SAM. HUGHES (Victoria).

As a member of the Debates Committee, and possibly the one instrumental in moving this appointment, I desire to explain the circumstances. At meeting after meeting of the committee my hon. friend from Beauhar-nois (Mr. Bergeron) had been complaining of the French translation. Complaints have been rife from time immemorial about delay in the French translation. In order to expedite matters this appointment was recommended, and I felt it my duty, as representing the English speaking part of the committee, not to dissent from what was desired by the French speaking members of the committee. With the exception of the hon. member for Leeds (Mr. Taylor), who was perfectly within his right, it was the opinion of the committee that this ap-pdintment ; should be made. Accordingly the motion was made, the appointment was carried out and we heard nothing about any objection of this kind. It was known that he had been reported upon most favourably by the King's Printer, and this is the first time that I have heard a word against him. We thought that we were doing a good service, that we were facilitating the French translation. We brought the matter before the House and I have heard nothing this morning which would influence me in the slightest against supporting the original proposition. Certainly no suit for libel would prevent me from supporting a man, because the very best men in newspaper work in the world, have been indicted for libel. I have been in that honourable position myself, Sir, and I have always succeeded in vindicating myself. I am .told that the right hon. the Prime Minister (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) has also been in the same box; I was not aware of it.

There is another aspect of the case which has been presented by the hon. member for Beauharnois with -which I heartily agree. The internal economy commission took out of the hands of the Debates Committee, as Mr. BERGERON.

was pointed out by the hon. member for Beauharnois some time ago, the right to recommend an increase in the salaries of the ' Hansard ' reporters. In other words, they said : We are willing to receive your recommendations, but we are not willing to give you the authority which has been delegated to the Debates Committee from time immemorial by the House. I do not know the details of the matter, but if that be the case, I think there has been a serious mistake made, and I am sure that it only needs to be brought to the attention of the right hon. the First Minister to have it rectified. The debates reporters and translators are the servants of the House and not the servants of the government. I am satisfied that when the right hon. the First Minister looks into the matter he will see that that is the proper view of the case. As far as I am concerned, I do not see that the House will be justified in referring this report back to the committee for reconsideration.

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CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

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

I do not want to take part in the discussion except on one single point. I am going to vote for the resolution becausel think the report has been adopted under a misapprehension by the House. Under all the circumstances it went through very hurriedly. We had the assurance of the hon. the Finance Minister (Mr. Fielding) that there was no cost or charge involved. Well, it is plain that it is the creation of a new translator and that there is a charge involved.

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. SAM. HUGHES.

Has not the Debates Committee from time immemorial made similar recommendations and have they not been adopted?

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CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

I hear from gentlemen who are members of the Debates Committee that an additional translator is not necessary. I think, under these circumstances, that we had better send the report back to the Debates Committee and let them investigate the question. That is the reason why I propose to vote for the resolution.

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LIB

Alexander Johnston

Liberal

Mr. A. JOHNSTON (Cape Breton).

Just a word as a member of the committee who was present at the meeting when this question wras discussed. I have to say that I agree in the main .with what the hon. member for Victoria and Haliburton (Mr. S,am. Hughes) has said. We did have notice of this meeting in question and some of the members attended the meeting. The matter was fully discussed and, as far as I am concerned, I do not profess to have any very great knowledge of the question under discussion, but I was impressed with the complaints which have been made from time to time and more particularly by the hon. member for Beauharnois (Mr. Bergeron) as to the delays which occurred in getting out the French edition of the official report of the debates. It was the com-

plaints of the hon. member for Beauharnois that induced me to take a favourable view of the man named and of the recommendation for additional assistance in that regard.

I beg to say that I supported, on the faith of the explanations which were made, the resolution moved by the hon. member for Victoria and Haliburton and which is now before the House. I may say too that the matter was fully discussed that morning in the committee. There was no evidence before the committee that no additional appointment was necessary. On the contrary there was abundant evidence before the committee that additional assistance was required and that, taken in connection with the evidence that we have had from time to time, for the last few months, convinced me that such an appointment was necessary. Therefore, in so far as I am concerned, I do not see any reason why this report should go back to the committee.

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CON

Joseph Gédéon Horace Bergeron

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BERGERON.

I do not want the House to be under the Impression that I wanted to secure the appointment of more translators. That is not the question at all. That has never been discussed in the House. When the report was placed before the' House I said that the trouble was not due to the lack of translators, that if you had live hundred translators you would not get the French ' Hansard ' sooner. It is due to another cause and it is not due to the fact that we have not enough transla-, tors.

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June 10, 1908