Mr. VICTOR GEOFFRION (Chambly and Vereheres).
Mr. Speaker, in asking that the
report of the committee appointed to inquire into the charges of Major Hodgins with respect to the National Transcontinental Railway be concurred in, I wish to place before the House as briefly as I can some of the reasons which induced the committee to adopt this report. It will be useless for me,
I suppose, to state very minutely the circumstances which led to the appointment of this committee of investigation. I think they are known by every hon. member of this House, and I simply wish to recall that Major Hodgins, who now resides in the city of Victoria, B.C., who had been for some time previously in the employ of the Transcontinental Railway Commisison and who had either left his position or been dismissed by the commission on the 16th April last, wrote a letter which he signed and caused to be published in the ' Daily Colonist' newspaper, published in the city of Victoria, B.C., charging the Transcontinental Railway Commission with undue influence over their engineers, charging them also with undue influence over some members of the government and making other charges which are set forth in the letter, which letter is quoted in the report now before the House. This letter was followed by two alleged interviews in the same paper with Major Hodgins enlarging and repeating in other words the charges that had been made by him in the previous letter. The Transcontinental Railway Commissioners thought it their duty to send a memorandum to the right hon. Prime Minister (Sir Wilfrid Lau-rier) denying all the charges made by Major Hodgins in his letter and these interviews, and asking that a committee of this House be appointed to inquire into these charges, to give an opportunity to Major Hodgins to prove his charges and an opportunity to themselves to disprove them. That committee was appointed on April 29, and commenced its proceedings about that date. Major Hodgins was put on the stand and was subjected to a long examination by his own counsel and by the counsel of the Transcontinental Railway Commission. During the course of this examination, after it had proceeded for some time, on June 3 last Major Hodgins practically repudiated the two interviews which had been attributed to him by the ' Colonist.' I shall quote his exact words to the House to show how emphatic his repudiation was. They are to be found at page 248 of the evidence. He was then being examined by Mr. Murphy, counsel for the Transcontinental Railway Commission, and his examination reads:
Q. Well, it is of importance to know, major, how much or how little of this interview you are now prepared to stand by, because it affects the cross-examination?-A. I am not prepared to be responsible for the interview at all. As I say, if a reporter interviews you and takes down half a dozen sentences, and his notes certainly were not that long (illus-
trating by a gesture) and writes up two columns you cannot hold me responsible for it. Part of the interview, I might tell you, the reporter was trying to find out what an engineer has to do, why he does this, that and the other-in fact I was giving him more or less of a lecture on engineering. There was a whole lot of questions he was working up and he got hoplessly mixed up in the thing.
Q. Prom your answers this morning you would not like to be responsible for other articles that are written nearer home?-A. No.
Q. On the same subject?-A. No.
After this repudiation by the Major of his two interviews in the 'Colonist.' I think about June 16, Major Hodgins repudiated or withdrew all charges he had made previously in his letter to the ' Colonist ' with which we had to deal during the investigation. The question of the classification of materials In district P where he was working, had been the subject of a great deal of correspondence and discussion between the engineers for the Grand Trunk Pacific and for the Transcontinental Railway. The engineers, the commission and the contractors also had obtained from eminent jurisconsults in different parts of the country opinions as to the proper interpretation to give to the specification on that very question which was the basis for Major Hodgins' charges. It was given in evidence that these opinions were all adverse to the contention held by the Major. In the face of this evidence the Major on June 16, withdrew these charges and imputations which he had made in his letter. His withdrawal is to be found at page 386 of the evidence. Major Hodgins was examined by Mr. Macdonald, a member of the committee :
2. You regard that as practically the only question left now?
That is the question of the interpretation of the specification for the classification.
Q. You regard that as practically the only question left now, the question of whether your view of the classification is correct?-A. That is all.
Q. That is all. I understand you to say, from the information that you have gathered since coming into this matter, Major, that you feel that you can not say that you have any imputations to make upon the commissioners in regard to any improper interference, with the engineers for instance?-A. With those legal and engineers' opinions there I do not see that I have.
Q. And you are, not in a position to offer any evidence to show that they exercised any improper interference with the engineers?-A. No.
Q. In regard to that matter in which the statement was made here that Sir Wilfrid Laurier refused investigation on account of the influence exercised on him by Mr. Parent;
I understand , you are not in a position to say, or to offer any evidence that would show that Mr. Parent attempted to influence Sir Wilfrid