Mr. H. LENNOX (South Simcoe).
This report asks that leave be granted the committee to employ counsel for the purpose^ of assisting' them in the investigation of matters referred to them. The question of employing counsel is a very important one, and I propose to offer a few remarks regarding the advisability of adopting this report. We have had in discussion in the committee the question of counsel. Yesterday, Mr. Smith, of Montreal, appeared before the committee as counsel for the commission. The matter to be investigated arises out of statements made by Mr. Lums-den in his letter of resignation. Mr. Lumsden in that letter said that the classifications on the road had not been in accordance with his instructions, and that in effect they were so erroneous that it was quite clear his instructions had been entirely ignored by a certain section of the engineering staff. That statement necessarily reflects upon the manner in which the road is being constructed. The commission appointed by the government is responsible to see that not only competent but thoroughly _ honest engineers are employed; and prima facie if the engineers have not satisfactorily carried out the work, the commission is to blame. The commission would be in a very deplorable position if it should turn out that, with its connivance, the engineering staff had deliberately conspired to defraud the public, but it would still be in an unfortunate position if the fault was due simply to incompetency or carelessness on the part of the staff. The charge, therefore, of Mr. Lumsden, is necessarily a charge against the commission, and it is important to it that it should clear its skirts by showing that there has been nothing wrong at all. On the other hand, it is in the public interest that this matter should be thoroughly probed; and if any wrong-doing has taken place, that it should be exposed and put a stop to, and that those responsible should be made known. The commission has appointed as counsel, Mr. Smith, to represent it. The commission is appointed by the government and is responsible for its engineers just as the government is responsible for the commission.
So the government are responsible for the acts of these engineers who are now charged with wrong-doing in the letter of resignation of Mr. Lumsden. Therefore we have this effect that we have counsel representing the one side and the one side only. It has been suggested that as Mr. Lumsden does not desire counsel, that is therefore an end of the matter. After discussion upon that matter the committee has come to the conclusion that it will be necessary to have counsel. That counsel is to be a counsel, as I understand it, represent-Mr. GEOFFRION.
ing the public and the public alone. Therefore I want to have an understanding before this matter goes any further whether this is, bona fide, a movement on behalf of the people to have a counsel appointed to represent them or whether it is not merely a colourable movement for the purpose of adding another counsel who will fortify the ranks of the commission and in that way the ranks of the government. What is the position now? We have a committee of judges, seven of them, of whom four are the appointees of the government, men in sympathy with the government and with the government alone, interested, as far as politics are concerned, to try and come to the conclusion that this matter has been all moonshine, that there is nothing in it. Now we have the majority of the judges who are to try the government supporters of the government, we have the commission in close alliance with the government employing a counsel at the public expense of course, and without consulting the minority of the committee, and we have a well organized staff, as far as political warfare is concerned in the personnel of the commission and we have all the staff of engineers, who are interested in showing that there is nothing wrong and as against that we have only three members of the opposition to watch that whole matter and try in the interests of the public to elicit the real facts of the case. I therefore, feel that this is only another gold brick added to what we had when this matter was inaugurated a little while ago. If we are not to have a clear and definite understanding that, as has been done on former occasions, the minority of the committee, the persons who are interested in bringing home these charges, the Conservative members of the committee if you like, shall have the selection of the counsel who shall represent the public on this occasion. I have no use for it and no faith in it. I want to make no bones about the matter at all, I want to say that when I make this statement I am not assuming, as I might be quite justified in assuming, that the majority of the committee will force upon the minority. A counsel in in whom the minority have not confidence, but I claim as a distinct right and by reason of precedents which have occurred before as well as upon principle, that the minority necessarily in this case represents the public and the public interests and that the selection should be left absolutely in their hands. Although I might have confidence in this committee, that the majority when we meet would accord to the minority what is manifestly their right and what is manifestly only consistent with fair play, yet as having a public duty
to discharge, I do not feel that I would be right in taking any risks in this matter because we know that risks can be taken in a matter of this kind. Therefore, to put the matter beyond any question, I shall take the responsibility of asking that the responsibility for this shall be placed where it ought to be placed, on the government; I shall ask that the government will intimate at this stage, in order that I shall not have to press this matter to extremities, that the preference of the minority of the committee shall be acceded to and in order that the government may have an opportunity of taking a definite position in this matter, and without referring to cases which have been before parliament on previous occasions and which have been dealt with in the committees, I shall move to amend the motion by adding thereto the following words:
It is further ordered that the members of the opposition upon the said committee shall have the right to select the counsel so to be appointed, and that such counsel shall be instructed to protect the interests of the people of Canada in the said investigation.