March 16, 1910

LIB

James Kirkpatrick Kerr (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER.

I am not consulting the government, I am consulting the practice of the House that there must be something before the Chair.

Topic:   QUESTION OF PRIVILEGE-THE LUMSDEN COMMITTEE.
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CON
?

Some hon. MEMBERS

Order.

Topic:   QUESTION OF PRIVILEGE-THE LUMSDEN COMMITTEE.
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SUPPLY-THE LUMSDEN COMMITTEE.


Mr. FIELDING moved that the House go into Committee of Supplv.


CON

Samuel Barker

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. S. BARKER (East Hamilton).

I intend to say but a very few words upon the subject which has just been engaging the attention of the House. I am awaiting and I hope before long to have an opportunity to deal with all the proceedings of the committee while I remained a member of it. The right hon. gentleman (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) takes two positions here. One is that it is the duty of the hon. member for Simcoe (Mr. Lennox) to go before the

committee, and get this report rectified; the other is that there is no question of privilege. I have very great respect for the opinion of the right hon. gentleman in a matter of that kind, but feeling inclined myself to rise to the question of privilege, I certainly think that my hon. friend from Siimcoe (Mr. Lennox) was within his rights in raising the question in that way, and I shall state why. The right hon. gentleman first says it was the duty of the hon. gentleman who has just spoken to get this rectified. What did he do? He came here before the House, the House to which that report was made, and he complained. What was the result? Instead of any attention being paid to that complaint made properly here in the House, the committee have been going on for about twelve days conducting this investigation, and not making a single report. Why is that? There is no question about the facts. The resolution moved in committee was not a verbal one, and it is printed in the minutes of the committee exactly as my hon. friend from Simcoe has said.

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CON
CON

Samuel Barker

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BARKER.

And reported. Every member of the House has got it. There is no question whatever as to what the resolution was. But the chairman of the committee, instead of reporting, according to the resolution in his hand, and the evidence before the committee, reported otherwise. It seems to me that the proper place to bring that matter up is in the House, and when it was brought to the attention of the right hon. gentleman, it was his duty to tell the chairman of that committee to report properly. What did he do? Instead of instructing the chairman to report properly, he appears to have had conferences with him, the result of which is that no report has been made. There is my answer to the right hon. gentleman. He does not deny what my hon. friend from Simcoe (Mr. Lennox) has said, he does not deny that he was in consultation with the chairman who made this erroneous report; and instead of telling the chairman to correct his report and present a report to the House in accord with the evidence, he apparently advised him to make no report.

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

I never saw the chairman until last evening, and the result of my conversation with him was that the matter was one for the committee to take up and not the House.

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CON
LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

I said I had no conference with the chairman of the committee.

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CON

Samuel Barker

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BARKER.

Probably it was with somebody else, and I do not care so much Mr. BARKER.

about that. The other point made is that this is not a question of privilege. Why the hon. member for Simcoe (Mr. Lennox) and myself withdrew from that committee because we considered that we were rend ered useless by the proceedings of the majority, and we were told at the time by the other members of that committee that we had no power to legally withdraw from it. And we have been waiting for twelve days to have a proper report brought in so that we might state to the House oui true position and be relieved from our duties as members of that committee. That, it seems to me, is a question of privilege. It is a question affecting my self and my hon. friend from Simcoe (Mr Lennox). We consider that we were fully justified in withdrawing from that committee, but we are not able to get a formal, legal, discharge because there is apparently a deliberate design not to report and thus prevent our bringing up the question. Ii that be not a question of privilege, I do not know what is. The committee have suddenly become very slow in making their reports. Prior to our withdrawal we had reports from that committee, some two or three of them; but since we retired, we have not had a word. The committee, 1 am told, have engaged another counsel After we left, they passed a resolution nominating a certain counsel to prosecute this inquiry against the government. These four supporters of the government, who were alone on that committee, carried a resolution to appoint a counsel to conduct the prosecution against their own friends. That gentleman refused and I am told they then appointed another counsel, and all this is done without a word to this House. I appeal, Mr. Speaker, to your sense of fair play whether that is treating the House properly. Does the right hon. gentleman think it is right or ptopei that these gentlemen, a section of the committee, should appoint counsel, and after the one they first called on refused to accept a retainer that then they should appoint another, and this House be given no opportunity to know anything about it for twelve days afterwards.

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LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald

Liberal

Mr. E. M. MACDONALD (Pictou).

Both my hon. friends opposite know very well that it is entirely out of order to discuss the proceedings of any committee before that committee has reported. I do not think it is necessary, for the purpose of this discussion, to go into the proceedings of that committee. Botli my hon. friends have been in the unfortunate position, ever since this matter came up this year, of looking for a grievance and trying very hard to find one, and when they could not find a grievance, they invented one. They now complain because the com-

mittee sits every day and they do not attend its meetings. It is unfortunate that the committee should have to do its work without the assistance of these hon. gentlemen, but that is not the fault of the committee. The committee is bound to carry out the mandate of this House. This House directed it to proceed with an inquiry into this matter and the committee is endeavouring to do that-that is the members of it who are attempting to carry out their duties. But these hon. gentlemen opposite have refused to carry out the instructions of this House and they do this without the permission of this-House. If they do not want to carry out the instructions of this House, they should have applied to the House,

through you, Mr. Speaker, to be relieved of the task assigned to them. My hon. friends are aching for an opportunity to come before this House and have a debate but they have not taken the proper way. They know that they are in contempt of the House iby their refusal to attend the meetings of the committee. They know that they should by resolution have asked the permission of the House to withdraw from the committee and be relieved of the duties which they had under taken to do. As regards the motion of the hon. member for Simcoe (Mr. Lennox), he knows that it was purely a catch motion. Unfortunately for him, he did not read it over himself. The proceedings of the committee, which are in his own possession, show that he has given three different versions of what he wanted the committee to do. First he moved that the proceedings of the committee and the evidence should be printed and reported to the House from day to day. As was pointed out, that could not, as a matter of fact be done. He knew very well, when he made the motion, that it could not be carried into effect. The chairman said that the committee would be required to be empowered by the House to have that done. Whereupon the hon. gentleman gave another and a different version of his motion. He said that his motion was not that the proceedings be reported to the House, but that the evidence be printed and reported from day to day. So that he gave a second version of what he meant and ultimately there appeared in the minutes a third statement. Then the clerk of the committee prepared the report, so that we have four versions of what the hon. gentleman wants to have done. Apparently the hon. gentleman did not know what he wanted.

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CON
LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD.

He was careful not to Tead the motion, if it was in writing.

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CON
LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD.

I am reading from the stenographic report of the proceedings which is also in the hon. gentleman's hands. According to that report the hon. gentleman gave two different versions of his motion, and on being interrogated the second time, he narrowed his request down so as to mean simply that the evidence be reported to the House from day to day, which is always done, when it is printed. My hon. friend knows that up to date the committee had not been able to get from the printers a single piece of printed evidence.

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CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

There are five separate volumes of evidence actually printed, and I have them in my possession.

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LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD.

If my hon. friend has got them, I have not got them, as a member of the committee. Here are my hon. friends lamenting about the great lack of opportunity they have had to do things, and they have got something which I, as a member of the committee, have not got. These gentlemen run away from their duty to attend the committee, and now they come here and give different versions of the proceedings. They refuse to perform their duties, and yet they come here and make complaints of this kind. I say my hon. friend has been playing the baby act in this business from the beginning, his attitude here is playing the baby again today. The evidence here to which he refers shows that. My hon. friend did not manfully and above-board stand up and make the motion that he is trying to show should be presented in this House. But the motion he did make was one which no one had any objection to, that is the one which was reported to the House, that the evidence should be printed and reported to the House day by day. Now my hon. friend from Hamilton alleges that some high principle is being subverted, and, therefore, his conscience would not permit him to attend this committee and take part in its deliberations. All I can say, is that the hon. member for Hamilton will search in vain the history of this parliament, or of any colonial parliament, or the English parliament, for any precedent where the minority of a committee were given the control of the appointment of the counsel to control the proceedings. The assertion of this principle, which is made by my hon. friends for the first time in the history of this country, is simply put forward by them to enable them to find a grievance which did not exist, and to afford them an opportunity of making an exit from the committee for other reasons than the reasons they have given.

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CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. T. W. CROTHERS (West Elgin).

I do not understand that this is the proper

time to discuss our reasons for leaving that committee, as the hon. member for Pictou (Mr. Macdonald) just now began to discuss them. The time will come when it will be proper to discuss our reasons, and then we shall be fully prepared to meet the statements made by that hon. gentleman, or any other member of that committee. Early last week the attention of this House was called to the fact that the report presented on the 22nd of February was not accurate, and on that occasion it was admitted by all parties concerned, that it was not accurate. Now the hon. member for Pictou, sitting as a member of that committee, knows full well that the motion made by my hon. friend from Simcoe was in writing.

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March 16, 1910