March 16, 1910

LIB
CON
LIB
CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROTHERS.

The member for Pictou was sitting at the table, the motion was put in in writing, it was read by the chairman of the committee, and carried in the presence of the member for Pictou.

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LIB
CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROTHERS.

I have the records here, and they do show it, on page 8 of this report. I may say, in passing, that a copy of this report as printed from day to day, is sent through the post office to each member of that committee, and it is remarkable that my hon. friend from Pictou has not received a copy of it from day to day, as the rest of us have. On page 8 of the report it is recorded that a motion was made by my hon. friend from Simcoe.in these words:

Mr. Lennox moved that the committee recommend that their proceedings, and the evidence taken by them, be printed, and reported to the House from day to day, which was agreed to.

I repeat that the motion was in writing, it was read by the chairman of the committee', who declared it was carried, no one dissenting.

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LIB

Victor Geoffrion

Liberal

Mr. GEOFFRION.

Allow me to interrupt the hon. member. He probably does not remember that the motion was not read by the chairman at all. There was a motion read by the chairman, but I cannot remember whether it was written or not. But I know a motion was made, and the chairman said simply: ' You have heard the

motion; are you in favour of it?'

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CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROTHERS.

My hon. friend, the chairman of the committee, having made a statement, of course it would be improper for me to contradict it; I am bound under the rules of the House to accept it. But I Mr. CROTHERS.

have stated what occurred. The House has heard his statement and it has heard mine, and I am in the judgment of the House. However, this matter was before this House early last week. My hon. friend, who is the chairman tif that committee, and my hon. friend from Pictou, who is a member of it, have had an opportunity of ascertaining since whether that motion was in writing or not, and of examining the contents of it, if it was in writing. I have no doubt whatever that one of two things happened: If they have forgotten the contents of that motion, I have no doubt they have since examined it in the clerk's hands, and know what it contains; or else they did not find it necessary to examine it because they knew its contents without examining it. The question is as to whether the report made by the chairman of that committee was an accurate report; that is a very serious matter. It is admitted now that it was inaccurate. The Prime Minister says that because that report went through this House, as such reports generally do, without any opportunity of reading them, without half the members of the House hearing them, therefore we are bound by it for all time to come. My hon. friends, including the Prime Minister, knew early last week that the report presented to this House on the 22nd of February was an inaccurate report. Their attention was called to the fact that the motion of the committee required that the proceedings should be, not only printed, lout reported to this House day by day, they found that out early last week, if they had overlooked it before. The question naturally arises why have they not, since their attention was called to it, since they admit that the motion carried in the committee required them to report from day to day - why have they not since reported from day to day? We have had the spectacle this afternoon of my hon. friend from Simcoe challenging the chairman of that committee to say whether or not he had had any hand in mutilating that report, and we find the chairman of the committee sitting tight. Further. Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister, when charged this afternoon with having been consulted by the chairman of that committee, said that he had not seen the chairman until last night, but he did not deny that he had seen other members of that committee. The Prime Minister knew early last week that the report brought into this House on the 22nd of February was an inaccurate one, because the charge was made here in his presence and admitted, all round. So the Prime Minister, since early last week, has known that it was the duty of this committee to report to this House from day to day.

Knowing that, we have the result that the report has not been made from day to

day. The lion. Minister of Finance (Mr. Fielding) told us yesterday that nobody controlled this House-

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

Hear, hear.

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CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROTHERS.

That we were a free parliament. Well, Mr. Speaker, I have sat in this House long enough to know that such is not the case. I have seen the Prime Minister hold up his linger time after time, and his followers obey. Every member of this House knows that all the First Minister required to do, when he ascertained that the report presented to this House was inaccurate, admittedly so, was to say to the chairman of the committee: It is your duty, since your attention

has been called to it, since it was the instruction of the committee, according to the resolution of the hon. member for Sim-eoe, to report from day to day, even though you misapprehended it, even though you were labouring under a mistake even though you did not realize at the time that the motion carried, that it required you not only to print, but report the proceedings from day to day, to report to the House from day to day as instructed by the resolution. It is clearly your duty not only to the members of the committee, but to parliament. But, notwithstanding what was said by the hon. Minister of Finance, it is evident that the Prime Minister does control this House, and the committees of this House when he desires to do so. He has been consulted by members of the committee. Why is it that we have not had reports presented, in order to give the three gentlemen who retired from that committee an opportunity of explaining why they retired? I want to ask the Prime Minister when we may expect to get an opportunity, on the report of this committee, for these three gentlemen to explain the reasons why they left that committee, and I will sit down to give the right hon. gentle^ man an opportunity to answer that question. The Prime Minister does not propose to answer that question. In the face of these facts, when I give him the opportunity to say whether or not this House is to have the resolution moved by my hon. friend from South Simcoe carried into effect, he sits tight to his seat. He knows that would permit us to bring the report into this House to-morrow, and if the report is brought to this House, and laid on the table, these three members of the committee who retired will have an opportunity in the face of this House, and country to make their statement as to why they retired. I ask the hon. member for Pictou (Mr. Macdonald) when that opportunity will be afforded?

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LIB
CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROTHERS.

We might have put a notice of motion on the order paper, but it would not have been reached until the end of the session, and my hon, friend knows that very well. Can he suggest any reason why this report is not brought down, if it be not to deprive us of the opportunity of giving the people of this country the reason why these three gentlemen left the committee? I repeat the time will come. We will take good care that the members of this House, and the people of this country know just why we retired from that committee, and I have no doubt whatever that when these reasons are given, they will meet with the approbation of every intelligent member of this House, and of the good citizens of this country.

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LIB

Victor Geoffrion

Liberal

Mr. GEOFFRION.

The hon. member for South Simcoe (Mr. Lennox), a few minutes ago, quoted a statement of mine to the effect that the clerk had prepared the report. I want it understood that I do not wish to shield myself behind anybody. I take the responsibility of my acts as. chairman of the committee, and I know that if the clerk made a mistake I should have to take the responsibility myself. He is an intelligent and efficient man, and it was my duty if an error was made to see that it was corrected. Some insinuations have been made with regard to myself, but if there is an hon. gentleman in this House who knows that these insinuations are false it is the hon. member for South Simcoe. He will remember, and he will not deny that when that motion was put by himself -perhaps some members of the committee may not recall it-it was at the very last minute when the committee was rising, and everybody was on his feet. Then, the hon. member for South Simcoe submitted the motion. I cannot remember whether it was in writing or not, but I know he read or recited it. Nobody paid any attention tc it, but this dialogue passed between the chairman and the member for South Simcoe.

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CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

I move that our proceedings and the evidence be printed and reported to the House day by day.

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LIB

Gilbert Howard McIntyre (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The CHAIRMAN.

Reported to the House day by day, that means at different times.

Perhaps it was not couched in very intelligible or elegant English, but everybody must know that when the chairman said that he evidently meant that it was almost impossible to report day by day, and that he must have meant that it should be reported from time to time.

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CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

As a matter of fact we cannot get it done, but that is the way the motion reads.

What does that mean? The hon. member for South Simcoe evidently meant that it

was impossible for the committee to have that done because it would impose too much of a hardship on the reporters. We could not have the report made every day, and he simply said: Well, that is the motion as it reads, but we will not insist on it being acted upon. That must be the understanding.

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LIB

Gilbert Howard McIntyre (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The CHAIRMAN.

I shall have to be empowered by the House to have it done.

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CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

My motion is that the evidence be printed and reported to the House day by day.

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LIB
LIB

Victor Geoffrion

Liberal

Mr. GEOFFRION.

The evidence only. Evidently the hon. member for South Simcoe kjiew that it was impossible. The insinuation is made that I have been guilty of presenting a false report. It is not my habit to do anything false, and I am always prepared to take the responsibility for_my actions. The report in fact, was not presented to myself. I am sorry to say that I was obliged to leave the citv. I did not stay to present the report, and it was presented by my hon. friend from South Essex (Mr. Clarke). He evidently did not read the report. He presented it just as it had been written, and he knew nothing more about it than the hon. member for South Simcoe, or the hon. member for Hamilton. But, where is the great harm after all? I know that the House is jealous of its privileges. If a motion is carried directing that a certain course be taken I know that the House will insist upon its directions being carried out. But, where is the harm? My hon. friends had the report before we had it ourselves. They had the report of the committee printed before we had it, and Die committee is open to everybody. What interest had I to make a false report, or to order the clerk, which he would not have done, to change the wording of the report? I think it is all nonsense to insinuate that we had an interest in withholding the evidence. The final report will be made, and it will contain the evidence, and other reports will be made before that time. But suppose we did not, when the final report comes the evidence will be put on the table and an opportunity will be given to every member of this House to study it. For instance, the Hod-gins report was laid on the table to give an opportunity to every member to study it, and the motion to have it adopted was not made until a couple of weeks after the presentation of the report. I know that if the motion was properly put, and that it was understood it was to be acted upon, then it was the duty of the chairman to have the report made accordingly. I admit that. But, I did-not think at the time- I was of the same mind as the hon. member for Simcoe-I did not think it could be done as he himself said, and then probably Mr. LENNOX.

the clerk, after having heard that conversation, prepared the report which was not examined by me, and which was presented to the House, and accepted by the House. Of course we cannot do anything about it now until another report is made.

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March 16, 1910