March 16, 1910

CON
LIB

Victor Geoffrion

Liberal

Mr. GEOFFRION.

We will be very glad to see them, and we will discuss the matter and come to a conclusion.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

I think my hon. friend (Mr. Geoffrion) places himself in a very unfortunate position by the way in which he evades a question which can only be answered in one way if there is good faith in this matter. And the very best evidence that there is not good faith in it is to be found in some of the statements which have been made in the House to-day. The right hon. the Prime Minister had this matter brought to his attention; he introduces a great many ' ifs ' and qualifications-' if there was a mistake,' he said. Is he satisfied now that he has it out of the mouth of the chairman of the committee that there was a mistake? Will he put in any more ' ifs' in connection with the change in that report? The right hon. gentleman is responsible for fair dealing in this House, and for the decency and dignity of the proceedings of parliament, and does he think that it conduces to the decency and dignity of this parliament that there should be an intentional change of this kind? I am aware that any such intention has been denied. Well, Sir, does the right hon. gentleman think it conduces to the decency and dignity of this parliament that when a mistake has been pointed out -a mistake vitally affecting the rights of certain hon. gentlemen on this side of the House-that he should resort to the kind of argument which I was sorry to hear from his lips to-day. There was admittedly a mistake-

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LIB

Victor Geoffrion

Liberal

Mr. GEOFFRION.

Will my hon. friend allow me. I did not admit there was a mistake; I said if there was a mistake, after discussing it in the committee I would act accordingly.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

Does my hon. friend assert that the recommendation which passed that committee was reported in its terms to this Hous^1 Did not the hon. gentleman, not ten minutes ago, admit to me that there had been a change made in that report from the recommendation of the committee?

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LIB

Victor Geoffrion

Liberal

Mr. GEOFFRION.

No, I did not admit it. I could not make an admission that there was a change made in that report because I do not know of any change.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

Well, my hon. friends seem to be remarkably obtusf^ but I will read again the recommendation as it passed the committee:

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.

That was agreed to. That is found in the official report of that committee and it is borne out by the stenographic report, because at page 39 of the proceedings on the 22nd of February I find this:

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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.

Therefore the stenographic report and the report of the committee both agree. It is perfectly true that further down Mr. Lennox is reported as saying:

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

Every hon. gentleman knows that the stenographic report of the proceedings in the committee bears the same relation to the record of the committee as signed by the clerk, that the ' Hansard ' report bears to the record of this House as kept by the clerk of the House, and the records of the House as taken by the clerk of the House would always be taken of course as a true record of the proceedings. Well, that is

the way in which the motion passed, and it was reported to this House in this way:

Your committee recommends that their proceedings and any evidence taken hy them he printed from day to day.

Does my hon. friend deny that the omission of the words ' and reported to the House ' is a change? Does he deny it, or does he affirm it?

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LIB

Victor Geoffrion

Liberal

Mr. GEOFFRION.

What I said was that I did not know whether there was any mistake. I said that I had inquired and tried to find the original motion to see if it was as the hon. member for Simcoe (Mr. Lennox) said. It may read ' that the evidence be printed and reported to the House from day to day,' or it may read ' that the evidence be printed from day to day.' I cannot tell until I see the original motion.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

I am talking about the report, about which there is no doubt whatever, and I ask the hon. gentleman to state whether the omission of the important words to which I have alluded constitutes a change. My hon. friend places himself in a peculiar position before this House when he declines to answer. I would be inclined to think that if he is not capable of determining whether or not the omission of those words constitutes a change, it would be well for him to resign the chairmanship of that committee, because I think we should have some gentleman at the head of that committee who would know and be able to state in a straight-for-wardfcway in this House whether the omission of those important words constitutes a change. I think it is high time that we had as chairman of this committee an hon. gentleman who would be in a position to say yes or no. without equivocation ot deliberation. There is no need of arguing it. I thought my hon. friend would have been manly enough to say at once that it 'was a change, and I intended to follow that up bv asking him whether that change was due to a mistake or was intentional. I propose to ask him once more, if he takes the ground that it was a mistake, why he has not seen fit to correct that mistake during the week that has elapsed since it was brought to his attention? If he was too busy to devote the necessary time to redress that mistake, why did not the Prime Minister, or some other member of the committee, take it upon himself to redress that wrong and correct that mistake? I think, Mr. Speaker, this is one of the most extraordinary instances that has ever occurred in the history of parliament, within my recollection. I cannot account for it. I do not see any occasion for it. Can this be due to >a desire that three members of that committee on this side of the House should be silenced? If that is so, it seems to me that it is a.11 extremely awkward and undignified method to adopt for that purpose. I would suppose there was not such Mr. LENNOX.

party gain as to justify that method. My right hon. friend says he has told the chairman of the committee that this is a matter for the committee. It is not only a matter for the committee, but it is also a matter for him, as the guardian of the dignity of this House, and as one whose position demands that he shall see that such things aTe done in order, and that nothing that can be regarded as discreditable conduct on the part of any committee of the House shall be brought to the attention of the House without some effort being made to redress it. I am sorry that the Prime Minister has made no such effort. I repeat again that it must have been either a mistake or intentional. I am not charging that it was intentional, but I do say that it is beyond question that a change was made in that report. You have only to read the record of the committee and the record of this parliament to know that, and I say that it was the bounden duty of the chairman of that committee as an honest man, and it was also the bounden duty of the Prime Minister, as the guardian of the dignity of this parliament, to see that that mistake was corrected, and that it was made good at the earliest possible moment after it was brought to their attention.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

I hope that my hon. friend will not shed any tears over my delinquencies in this matter or any other matter. I vfilue very much the attention which he gives me. He wants to keep me right, which is his duty and privilege; but I may say that I am not the victim of the false heroics which he has directed to me this afternoon. What am I to do in this matter? My hon. friend the leader of the opposition and my hon. friend from West Elgin (Mr. Crothers) do me too much honour when they say that I am the dictator of this House. I am but a humble member of this House. I do not claim to have any other power or right here than any other member of this House. It happens that I have responsible duties to perform, and I try to perform them. But in this matter, I ask mv hon. friend the leader of the opposition, what am I to do?

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

See that the mistake is corrected.

Sir WILFRID LAURIER/ I do not know what relations my hon. friend has with the members of the committee who represent the minority in this House. Perhaps he can dictate to them; but I cannot dictate to those members of the committee who represent the majority of this House. They would resent, and properly resent, any attempt of mine to dictate to them what they should do. When this matter was brought to my attention yesterday, I told them very plainly what my mind was-that it was a matter for the committee to look into, to find out whether or not there had been an

incorrect report made to the House. This is the only thing to do. ;I am 'sorry that my hon. friend the leader of the opposition has dealt with my hon. friend from Ver-cheres (Mr. Geoffrion), the chairman of the committee, in the way he has done. My hon. friend had no more to do, I am sure, with the preparation of that report than the leader of the opposition himself. He simply signed it as any other man would have done.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

I made no statement to the contrary.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

Very well, then, if the mistake has not been made by the chairman of the committee, but by some one else, is not the natural course and the common sense course simply to bring it before the committee?

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

Will my right hon. friend tell me what question there is about the report of the committee?

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LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

I look at this matter from an altogether different point of view from that of my hon. friend. He has discussed the report of the committee; I have carefully abstained from discussing it, because it is not before this House.

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CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

If the right hon. gentleman will look at page 5 of vol. I of the proceedings of the Lumsden Commission, he will find that not only was there a second report, on the 22nd of February of the proceedings issued down to that date, but a subsequent report, which brings us down to the 23rd of February; so that so far as these are concerned, we have the right today to discuss this matter. My right hon. friend was probably not aware of that.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

Then I am sorry my hon. friend has not brought it in such a shape that we can discuss it, but has brought it up simply as a matter_ of privilege. I abstained from discussing what took place before the committee. I am right there, and -whether the matter has been rectified by the committee or not, it will then be time for it to come here. If the alleged error in the report has not been rectified, it is by the fault of my hon. friend. Why did he give up his duties? And to crown all that, my hon. friend suggests that the chairman of the committee, my hon. friend from Vercheres (Mr. Geoffrion) should also resign. _ Resignation after resignation. If an injustice has been done to my hon. friend, I am sure the chairman will see it is corrected.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

The Prime Minister says he is not a dictator. He is a dictator whenever he wants to be, but whenever it suits him to pose as a

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS

Order.

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March 16, 1910