March 2, 1909

LIB

Jacques Bureau (Solicitor General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. BUREAU.

I challenge my hon. friend to point out any dishonest statement made by the Minister of Justice. Here is a fair question and a fair question requires a fair answer. Show me any statement made by the Minister of Justice that is dishonest.

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CON
LIB

Jacques Bureau (Solicitor General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. BUREAU.

I am asking the hon. member for Victoria and Haliburton. I will keep on my feet if he does not desire to answer my question.

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. HUGHES.

The statement that I spoke of in this connection is that the Minister of Justice stated that he had demanded of Mr. Bourke when he did not demand of Mr. Bourke, but very tamely and very humbly took his hat in his hand and asked Mr. Bourke to be good enough to give an explanation. Mr. Bourke seems to be master of the situation.

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LIB

Jacques Bureau (Solicitor General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. BUREAU.

If that is the only crime committed by the Minister of Justice and the Department of Justice the country can be safely trusted to place a proper value upon the accusations of hon. gentlemen opposite. I see that the warrior spirit has invaded the other side of the House. The other night the hon. member for North Toronto (Mr. Foster) wanted me to show him my burglars' tools with which I was to burglarize the country post office where the postmaster happened to keep a few cents in a tea cup and he declared that because I franked a few letters that I sent through the mail I was to be condemned. To-day he wants the Minister of Justice to walk up to Mr. Bourke pistols in hand and say ' your money or your life.' If that is the only charge against the Minister of Justice all well and good. The leader of the opposition ought not to be so bitter against the

Minister of Justice as he is. I ask now in all fairness what other steps could have been taken to recapture the convict Bill Miner whose escape we all regret ? Hon. gentlemen cannot say that we have been derelict in our duty in the Department of Justice. As soon as the news came action was taken to try to find the convict and bring him back. The hon. member for New Westminster (Mr. Taylor) tried to show that there was a mistake in the telegrams. In his speech on the 11th February the Minister of Justice explained, as Mr. Bourke explained himself, in his letter, that the telegram had been sent to Mr. Dawson instead of being sent to ' The Inspectors,' that the telegram had gone to Dorchester, then to Kingston and then back to Ottawa, that Mr. Dawson had got it in Kingston and had sent it back to Mr. Stewart upon its receipt and that immediate action had been taken on the matter.

The leader of the opposition also states that in view of the rumours which are going around, the government ought to take immediate action. I do not think that my hon. friend is serious when he makes that statement. If we were to make an investigation, if we were to appoint a committee of the House upon every rumour that we hear we would be constantly sitting with a special committee investigating and trying matters. As my hon. friend the Minister of Railways and Canals (Mr. Graham) states we might as well have this House sitting as a committee on rumours because they would keep it busy.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

I know my hon. friend (Mr. Bureau) does not wish to misquote me, but my chief basis for the suggestion that there should be an inquiry was the statement that Mr. Bourke made over and over again in the press.

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LIB

Jacques Bureau (Solicitor General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. BUREAU.

How does my hon. friend want us to act after Mr. Bourke has been heard under oath ? Subsequently Mr. Bourke made statements in the newspapers. We ask Mr. Bourke to tell the government all he knows about it and he gives this information as it is his bounden duty. Here is a man that had performed his duty as acting warden in the penitentiary, and when we write him he says he has nothing further to disclose than that which he did disclose at the time of the inquiry made by the inspector. I should think that at the time of the escape and at the time of the inquiry made by the inspector the facts were vivid in Mr. Bourke's mind. He knew exactly what they were. He was then at the head of the penitentiary and when he came to give his evidence under oath I am satisfied that, the man being honest, as I believe he is, told the facts and I do not attach as much reliance upon any statement of fact which Mr. Bourke made eighteen months or two years after Bill Miner's escape as the lapse of time, might, under certain conditions, make him forget the facts and cause him to believe that they had another aspect than that which presented itself to his mind at the time of the occurrence. In view of all the circumstances, it is absolutely unfair to charge the department with negligence, or to charge that there was conspiracy between the government or any of the officials of the government in Ottawa, looking to the escape of Bill Miner. There is nothing m Bourke's statement, there is nothing even in the rumours that have been published, there is nothing anywhere to give ground for such an insinuation. The hon. gentleman read from a newspaper the statement that a man high in office knew that BUI Miner did not escape through the hole in the fence as alleged, but that the hole was put there as a blind. Well, if this matter is really brought up m parliament m the public interest why do these people not come forward and state exactly what they know to the Department of Justice P

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Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. HUGHES.

Why not bring them forward?

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LIB

Jacques Bureau (Solicitor General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. BUREAU.

Why is not the name of this gentleman high in office given?

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. HUGHES.

The paper will give it if you demand it.

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LIB

Jacques Bureau (Solicitor General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. BUREAU.

But the paper publishes a mere rumour.

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Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. HUGHES.

The paper is responsible to the Solicitor General and he can bring that paper up if he wants to.

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LIB

Jacques Bureau (Solicitor General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. BUREAU.

We cannot bring to account every newspaper that publishes a mere rumour. This newspaper says it is reported that some one high in authority knows a certain thing; it publishes a mere rumour and it takes that rumour as a basis for attacking the government. Now, what can you do in such a case? What means is there toi hold a newspaper responsible for such a publication? The department has done everything that it could do in this matter; the Minister of Justice has made a fair and full statement to the House as to all the circumstances, but notwithstanding, every now and then the hon. gentleman from Westminster produces the ' Daily Columbian ' to read certain statements and to base on them an attack upon the government. I submit to hon. gentlemen that such a proceeding is not fair play. I submit also that there is no warrant for saying that the Minister of Justice has endeavoured to cast any slur on the member for New Westminster. I submit further, for the consideration of the House, that

the action of the 'Daily Columbian' newspaper in this matter, using an incorrect statement about Chief Constable Macintosh and endeavouring by interviews based on that incorrect statement to stir up the feeling of the people of British Columbia, is intended to unwarrantably cast disrespect on the administration of justice and is not such conduct as one would expect from n journal which would be supposed to be devoted to the public; interest.

Mr. MARTIN BURRELL (Yale-Cariboo.) This being a question which has been much agitated in the province of British Columbia, and in view of the sarcastic remarks which have been made by hon. gentlemen on the government benches as to how public business is conducted in British Columbia, I think I should say a few words. I have not the>

honour or the advantage or the disadvantage whichever it may be of being a lawyer, and not having a trained legal mind, it may be that I am unable to see that it makes any material difference to the question at issue whether in a telegram of 700 words the word the name 'Macintosh' was incorrectly substituted for the name 'Mackenzie.' What has that got to do with the principle at stake? The Solicitor General has not denied the charge made by the leader of the opposition, that the Minister of Justice had attempted to discredit the hon. gentleman from New Westminster because of his connection with the newspaper which gave publicity to this matter. As the leader of the opposition clearly showed this despatch was printed in good faith word for word by the ' Columbian ' as it appeared in one of the leading newspapers in Vancouver. In view of tl'at fact, I do not think we have yet had an adequate retraction of the charge made against the hon. member (Mr. Taylor) by the Minister of Justice. Is it any great misfortune that a member of this House should be connected with a newspaper? I do not know what the affiliations of other hon. gentlemen may be but I dare say there are some on the other side of the House who are connected with the press. They are not to be blamed therefor, nor should there be criticism of this sort directed to the hon. gentleman who opened the debate. What point was the Minister of Justice trying to make against my hon. friend (Mr. J. D. Taylor) because he was connected with a newspaper and because he has succeeded in running it after an up-to-date fashion? If we are to believe the Solicitor General it would be the duty of the 'Columbian' to make no reference whatever to the escape of Bill MineT or to the management of the penitentiary What is a newspaper for if it is not to keep the public in touch with what is going on and what more interesting and important piece of news could the 'Columbian' publish than this very peculiar incident in connec-Mr. BUREAU.

tion with a great public institution situated in the city in which it is printed? The 'Columbian' simply did its duty in putting the public in the possession of the fullest information in regard to this whole affair, and that it did so reflects credit on the management of that newspaper. Now, although we have had explanations over and over again both by the Minister of Justice and by the Solicitor General, there are several matters which have not been cleared up. Inspector Dawson was apparently in New Westminster inspecting the penitentiary in June and July and it has been shown that he knew of five or six visits which had been paid to this convict Miner previous to that date and. it is apparent that he did not report them to the department. One would think that this was of sufficient importance to be reported by Mr. Dawson to his superiors. We have also the statement that in this letter of Bourke which has just been published, he says that Mr. Dawson saw an authentic copy of the telegram as it left New Westminster addressed to Inspector Dawson, and that has not been explained by the Solicitor General. Without going into the question in any crit ical way, I may say that what the people of British Columbia and what the people of Canada want to know is, whether this whole thing is not of sufficient importance to call for a thorough investigation in the interest of the administration of justice in Canada. I believe I am voicing the opinion of a great many members not only on this side of the House but also on the opposite side when I say that in view of the statement made by the Solicitor General in this House some time ago in connection with the bonds which were stolen and in view of the fact that there was no action by the department to see whether the bonds were accounted for in Australia, and when we have in addition the fact that a notorious criminal has escaped without being recaptured, there is sufficient to call for a strict inquiry. The capture of this convict was a credit to the police system of the country and his sentence strengthened the confidence of the public in the administration of justice in Canada, and, now that he has escaped, and in view of the discussions in the press, and in view of the elaborate statements made by the Solicitor General and the Minister of Justice in the House, arid in view of the unrest in the public mind about the circumstances of the escape of this notorious criminal, is it not time that we should have an impartial inquiry not an inquiry at the hands of Inspector Dawson who is hopelessly mixed up in it, but a thorough inquiry conducted by some impartial tribunal. I believe that the Department of Justice will not justify itself in public opinion and that it will not promote in the eyes of the public the highest respect for the administration of justice

unless it causes this whole thing to be probed to the bottom.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. T. S. SPROULE (E. Grey).

The Solicitor General defied any member on this side of the House to point to any inaccurate statement made by the Minister of Justice. Only a few minutes before, when it was drawn to the attention of the House, the Minister of Justice said distinctly that the mistake which appeared in the 'Columbian' was absent from the reports in all the other papers in British Columbia. That is shown to be inaccurate.

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LIB

Jacques Bureau (Solicitor General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. BUREAU.

Was it dishonest?

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

It was not founded in fact, and that is sufficient to discredit a great deal of what the Solicitor General says. Then, the Minister of Justice says that when the department first received the report of the escape on the eighth day of the month, the names of the prisoners were not given, and that they got no information as to their names until the 12th; yet Mr. Bourke says he telegraphed the names on the following morning. There is a discrepancy there, and yet neither the Minister of Justice nor the Solicitor General desires to go any further either to verify or to refute that statement. Then, we have the facts of the prisoner's hair and moustache being allowed to grow, so that his identity could be hidden when he got out into the world, and no explanation is given of the reason for that. I thought that either the Minister of Justice or the Solicitor General would have referred to that fact; but both of them, I was going to say purposely, avoided it. The country would like to know what was the cause of it, who was responsible for it, for what purpose it was allowed to be done. It was in violation of the rules of the prison. With all these rumours and more than rumours, and all this circumstantial evidence before the country, the impression is left on the public mind that there was some connivance between the department and this prisoner to account for his escape; and when the Department of Justice refuses to inquire into the matter any further, the country will come to the conclusion that they have something to hide which they are afraid will come to light The very pleading reference made by the Minister of Justice to Mr. Bourke was in itself very suggestive that he would like to keep the friendship of that eentleman. It was quite in contradistinction to the statement he made before in the House, that he had caused' an imperative demand to be made upon Mr. Bourke. There must be something behind all this. If there is, this House would like to know it. The apathy of the government and their opposition to any further inquiry will force on the public mind the impression that there is somethine behind which they desire to prevent coming

to light; otherwise they would take the first opportunity to have the fullest inquiry made before this House and the world in order to refute the many charges which are levelled against the Department of Justice.

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William Barton Northrup

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. W. B. NORTHRUP.

Mr. Speaker, I think no one can have listened to the debate this afternoon without feeling that the escape of the hon. member for New Westminster (Mr. J. D. Taylor) was about as easy as that of Bill Miner and apparently a great deal more regretted by the government. We are perhaps liable to lose sight of what is after all the main feature of this interesting and important case. I remember that a few years ago, under somewhat similar circumstances, charges were made against another department of this government. It was at first insinuated and then charged that the Department of Marine was not all that it should be; and I remember with what indignation hon. gentlemen opposite decried any reflection on that department from this side of the House, and how every one of them was prepared to raise his hands to Heaven and swear that a more immaculate department than the Department of Marine and Fisheries had never existed. And yet as time went on investigation was made into that department first in part, by a committee of this House, afterwards by the Civil Service Commission and still further by Mr. Justice Cassels, and it would be cruel to point out all the derelicts that now lie stranded along the course of those investigations. Charges are now made against another department of this government, and an opportunitv to investigate them is refused. Every member of the House, on whatever side he mav sit, will, I think, feel that it is a pity that, whenever the suspicion is expressed that any department of this government is not properly conducted, the supporters of the government should refuse an investigation into that department. But even when we have had suspicions of other departments, I think everybody, not only in this House, but in the country has had the feeling that there was one department on which we could implicitly rely, and that was the Department of Justice. I ask if any greater misfortune could befall any country than to have the administration of justice befouled; and it is almost as bad to have a susnicion in the minds of any number of people that that department is badly administered. Now, there are certain facts in this case which are beyond all dispute. Nobody disputes the fact that Bill Miner escaped. Nobody disputes the fact that he received remarkable treatment while in the penitentiary. The rules of the penitentiary forbade certain interviews. These were wilfully and deliberately ignored by the officials of the penitentiary, none of whom apparently have been punished for that. Miner was

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George Henry Cowan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. G. H. COWAN (Vancouver City).

I agree with the hon. member for East Hastings (Mr. Northrup) in regarding the administration of justice as of far greater importance to this country than any partisan advantage to either of the two great parties of Canada, and therefore I can enter into this discussion for a moment, I think, without imputing any sinister or improper motive to the members of the government-just for a moment. As I understand it, since the investigation that took place, very important and material evidence has come to light. It has become known that certain visits were made to Bill Miner in the cell, in violation of the rules of the penitentiary. I understand that that fact was not reported by the person who made the investigation. I understand that that material fact was not reported, that Inspector Dawson did not report to the Minister of Justice or the Department of Justice that he himself had been derelict in his duty and had failed to advise the department that although he knew improper and illegal visits had been made to Miner, he had kept that knowledge locked up in his own breast. I understand further that this same Inspector Dawson, to whom had been deputed the sacred task and duty of preserving intact and pure the administration of justice in this matter, is directly contradicted when he says he received a telegram addressed to him, G. W. Dawson. It is also a new and unreported fact that this Bill Miner was allowed to grow his whiskers and his hair. The Solicitor General says, as if he had made an actual measurement of the man's whiskers, that they were not longer than three-quarters of an inch. I do not think the administration of justice is dependent on whether these whiskers

were allowed to grow three-quarters of an inch, an inch or a foot, they were allowed to grow contrary to the penitentiary regulations of Canada. If I understand the Department of Justice aright, that fact was not brought to the attention of the department. In the light of all this new evidence, of all these material facts discovered since the investigation made by the man against whom all circumstantial evidence points as the man who was derelict in his duty, since this investigation was made by the culprit in the case, according to the circumstantial evidence in the case, surely no government in Canada will dare to ignore these important and material facts freshly discovered. Surely no man impressed with the importance of preserving pure and undefiled the administration of justice in Canada will dare to say: We

will not accord an investigation. If we are reduced in Canada to the condition that men, fearful of their partisan advantage, fearful of the exposure of their own officers, fearful of I know not what else, refuse to permit an inquiry, then the administration of justice in the United States, at which we have been in the habit of pointing the finger of scorn, is away and above our own, our own which will set free a man convicted of the most serious crime in the calendar, a crime which has no parallel in the criminal annals of this country. I cannot believe that the government of Canada, impressed with the great obligation that is upon them, will dare in the light of these new facts to sit quiescent and refuse an investigation.

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Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. S. HUGHES (Victoria and Halibur-ton).

But for the evident attempt of the Minister of Justice to place the hon. member for New Westminster (Mr. J. D. Taylor) in an improper light before the House, I would not have uttered a word to-day. The offence of the hon. member for New Westminster (Mr. J. D. Taylor) is that he has unearthed the very suspicious circumstances connected with the escape of this man, Bill Miner, and forsooth, because the hon. member's paper chanced in copying from another paper to get the name of Macintosh instead of Mackenzie, we have the tirade against our friend which we have just heard. What is the object of all this bluster? Is it to so intimidate our friend from New Westminster that he will sit quietly in his seat like a good little boy the rest of the session and not dare to further seek to expose the gentlemen who have had charge of the management of this institution and of this particular case? The statements made by the hon. member for New Westminster (Mr. J. D. Taylor) were that Bill Miner's moustache was allowed to grow. It transpired that this was the case. Might I ask that the Minister of Justice follow this matter up to see by whose authority the order was given

which allowed this poor man, whose eyes were affected to grow his moustache? Is it or is it not true that the electric light in his cell so affected the nerves of the brain of the poor fellow that he could not sleep, and that after inquiry an order was given that Bill Miner's hair should be allowed to grow? We have it on the authority of the Solicitor General that it was at the time of his escape three-quarters of an inch long.

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LIB

Jacques Bureau (Solicitor General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. BUREAU.

I said less than that.

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March 2, 1909