March 16, 1910

CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

My right hon. friend the Prime Minister spoke twice.

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE LUMSDEN COMMITTEE.
Permalink
LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

The hon. gentleman has spoken, he cannot speak again.

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE LUMSDEN COMMITTEE.
Permalink
CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

The Prime Minister spoke again.

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE LUMSDEN COMMITTEE.
Permalink
LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

Not on the motion to go into Committee of Supply, my hon. friend is all wrong.

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE LUMSDEN COMMITTEE.
Permalink
CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

I am very much pleased that we have got as much light on this matter as we have. If the government are satisfied to leave the matter in this wray, 1 do not know that the opposition have from a party standpoint any great reason to complain. The leader of the government suggested to the House a little while ago that I had no right to bring this matter up as a matter of privilege. I have great respect for the views of the First Minister upon a question of this kind, a question of procedure, but I beg to assert that I have ample justification for bringing it up as a matter of privilege because the order of the committee, the solemn resolution of the committee passed on February 22 last, has not been carried out, and by reason of that, three members of the committee are prevented from exercising those rights which as members they have a Tight to exercise. That is one substantial ground of privilege, and the other ground is that when the hon. the chairman of the committee spoke the other day he made assertions which, as I have pointed out, were not justified; errors I admit, if you like, at all events, statements which were not justified, saying for instance, that the members of the committee had assented subsequently to the handing in of the report in the form in which it was presented to the House. We have a right to speak of this matter as a question of privilege, and I have said on that branch of it all I desire to say. I have given a concise unbroken record of what took place, and I am oontent to leave it there. The hon. member for Pictou (Mr. E. M. Macdonald), whose adroitness is marvellous-he is a good second to the Prime Minister in that regard-endeavoured to draw us away a little from the point in discussion, and he submitted that three members of this committee were guilty of contempt, wgre in contempt of the House, by reason of the action they had taken. I will admit that if you like, I am not particular. If the hon. gentleman thinks that way, he has his remedy, and I would like to have it fought out on the floor of the House. But I would rather be in contempt in this House than be in contempt before the people, and that is what the other members of this committee will be in if they persist in their refusal to comply with the order of that committee regularly passed. I am not going to follow the hon. gentleman in

an argument which did riot address itself to the point at issue, but I may say I am not daunted by the fact that he suggested that I am-I do not think he coupled my associates in that regard, so I exonerate them-but he says that I am playing the baby act. I would rather be playing the baby act than some acts I have known my hon. friend to play. He says that history affords no parallel for the action of the minority of the committee in demanding or asking to have the right to name the second counsel, the government already having one. I shall discuss that point and give our authority when the matter comes up properly in the House. But what is more important is that we should pay _ a moment's attention to the record. First, in reference to what has been read to the House on page 39. I referred to that in bringing the matter before the House a few moments ago. The stenographic report says:

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

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE LUMSDEN COMMITTEE.
Permalink
?

The CHAIBMAN.

Reported to the House day by day. That means at different times.

I am reported to have said:

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

This is almost correct, but not absolutely so. What I did say was: As a matter of fact it cannot get the printing done. But that does not affect the motion in any way. We were to have the report to the House from day to day and we have the evidence as rapidly as it can be printed, and so it was understood by the committee at that time. The only difference is that insteal of putting the words ' the printing,' they put the word ' it.' Then I gave a summary of what I meant, wishing to impress on the committee, as I did at that time, that the material point was that it should be reported to the House from day to day. I went on:

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

So that matter was impressed on the committee. What was the other record? I have pointed out to the Prime Minister that the proceedings are reported to us down to February 23. In other words, we have the reports of the committee that cover the matter that we have been discussing to-day, but we have not the report of the committee that covers the matter of the resignation of the three members, and that is what they do not want us to have. It is important, perhaps, that we should look again at the order of events. I moved the [DOT] resolution that has already been read once or twice. At this point a very peculiar suggestion is made by the hon. mem-Mr. LENNOX.

her for Pictou (Mr. E. M. Macdonald) and also echoed by the chairman. It may have more significance than we think. If I understand the hon. member for Pictou, he suggests that my motion may not now be in the committee room. I do not know anything about that, perhaps my hon. friend knows more about it than I do. This is followed up by the chairman of the committee, and he hints that possibly my motion is not now on record in the committee. I do not know anything about that, but I do know this, that I presented it, that I read it, that I handed it to the chairman, and that I left it with the chairman and left it with the committee. That is the end of my responsibility there, and if the motion is not there now, as is pretty broadly suggested, it only means, Mr. Speaker, that there is another incident to be explained. But it is only right that I should point out that not only was my motion read in the form:

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

Not only that, but in the next day's proceedings, which have also been reported to this House, we have this:

Wednesday, Feb. 3, 1910.

The committee met at 11 a.m. Present Messrs. Geoff r ion, chairman; Macdonald, Clarke .(Essex), Wilson (Laval), Barker, Lennox and Crothers. The committee appointed R. C. Smith, K.C., counsel for the Transcontinental Railway Commissioners. The minutes of the last meeting were read and confirmed.

So that we had the resolution again in committee and .'again brought to the attention of the chairman that this resolution bad been passed the day before, providing that its proceedings should be reported to the House from day to day. That being so, it does not come with very good grace from the right hon. the leader of this House to take the position he does. He is responsible for the conduct of this House and it is his duty to suggest to the com mittee he appoints that at least fair plaj should he meted out to all the members of that committee and the public. He must know that there can be no question whatever as to what took place in the committee. He cannot doubt that the committee did solemnly determine that its proceedings should be reported to the House from day to day. He must know, as an experienced parliamentarian, that the dearest right which the minority on a committee possesses is to have the proceedings repotted from dav to day, because that furnishes the only means for an appeal to the House against the majority. He does know that a serious injustice

has been done to the minority of that committee. He does know that the public is waiting to hear whether or not the minority on that committee were justified in their action or whether a system has been pursued which made it impossible for that minority to continue on that committee. The minority were not on the committee for the purpose of whitewashing the administration. The right hon. gentleman knows all that, and he knows that the minority would be belittling themselves were they to go back and ask the majority to ratify this mistake. He knows that the proper place to ventilate this wrong is, not in that committee room, but in the open, before the public, in the House of Commons. I have brought the matter to his attention and make no apology for having done so. I have done simply what was my duty and I will continue to press this matter, let the Prime Minister take what attitude he likes. I make the demand that this mistake or wrong, which ever you like to call it, shall be rectified now; and if my demand be not granted, I will consider it my duty to bring the matter up again from time to time. What is the object of preventing a rectification of this error or wrong-doing? Is it because the Prime Minister and his following desire that the minority on that committee shall be gagged and shall not have the right to tell this House why they were compelled to leave that committee? Will the right hon. gentleman get up now and say that, regardless of the report of the committee, he will allow us to make our statement to the House to-morrow? If he will do that, I shall not argue any more; if he will do that, I venture to say it will not on his part be good politics or wise administration.

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE LUMSDEN COMMITTEE.
Permalink
CON

John Dowsley Reid

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. D. REID (Grenville).

I merely want to say a few words on this matter. We have heard from a lawyer and I wish simply to speak as a layman. This matter, particularly in so far as it concerns the National Transcontinental railway, is one in which the public take great interest, and I may not at all be surprised at the anxiety of the right hon. the leader of the government to prevent a discussion of it. When the question of privilege was raised, a little while ago, he objected to any further discussion at that particular time, and had the opportunity not been given on the motion to go into Supply, we would have been debarred from discussing it at all. The right hon. gentleman knows that the question of privilege applies to the hon. member for Hamilton (Mr. Barker) as well as to the hon. member for Simcoe (Mr. Lennox), yet he would not allow the hon. member for Hamilton to explain his position. The right hon. gentleman has 177J ,

told us that he does not control this House, but no sooner does he cry out, 'order' than he is echoed by every hon, member at his back. If he had told the members behind him that they could vote as they wished on the Naval Bill, I believe the hon. gentleman would have found himself obliged to go into opposition. At the time when the right hon. the Prime Minister brought in his motion for a special committee, we on this side wanted to have an investigation into all the circumstances in order that we might ascertain whether the contractors had been paid solid rock prices for loose rock, but the right hon. gentleman carefully worded his motion so that it did not give the committee the right to investigate into this. His motion simply read that a special committee of five members, to be named hereafter, be appointed to investigate the charges made-by Mr. Lumsden against a portion of the engineering staff. Mr. Lumsden, in his letters, made charges against parties on the railway,_ and claimed the contractors had been paid much more than they should have been. But the Prime Minister takes a similar course to that he took in reference to the steamer 'Arctic'. At that time he took very good care to limit the investigation so that we could not go into it as we desired. But fortunately, as we proceeded in the investigation, we were able to show that a great deal of wrong had been done, and the Prime Minister had to admit afterwards that we were absolutely right. Now I do not know what is going on in this committee. I have not been at the committee, and one reason is that_ if I had gone in there and asked a question, I would simply have been ruled out of order. But I read in the newspapers what is going on, I am only referring to what I have seen in the newspapers, and if I can get the correct meaning of what is reported, these four gentlemen who are members of that committee took good care that the gentleman appointed as counsel to represent the people was practically an official of this government. Now, is that the right kind of a gentleman to appoint to look after the interests of the people? That gentleman is practically a paid official of this government, and he is going to do everything in his power to save this government from, trouble. Why, Sir, the Prime Minister remembers when he sat in this House as-leader of the opposition, and when charges-were made against a member of the Conservative party who were in power, the opposition were allowed the privilege of appointing a solicitor to look after the interests of the public, and Sir John Thompson, who was then Prime Minister, allowed them to choose their own counsel and

allowed the opposition to examine all the -records.

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE LUMSDEN COMMITTEE.
Permalink
LIB
CON

John Dowsley Reid

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. D. REID.

I refer to the Connolly and McGreevy case.

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE LUMSDEN COMMITTEE.
Permalink
LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD.

The records of the department show that _no thing of the kind occurred. Mr. Tarte brought his own counsel, Mr. Geoffrion, who conducted the matter throughout. Mr. Tarte's lawyer was counsel for the prosecution.

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE LUMSDEN COMMITTEE.
Permalink
CON
LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD.

Mr. Osier and Mr. Henry represented the Public Works Department.

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE LUMSDEN COMMITTEE.
Permalink
CON

John Dowsley Reid

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. D. REID.

They were appointed at the request of the opposition.

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE LUMSDEN COMMITTEE.
Permalink
LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD.

Let the hon. gentleman go to the records and refresh his recollection.

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE LUMSDEN COMMITTEE.
Permalink
CON

John Dowsley Reid

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. D. REID.

The records show that it was at the request of the member who made the charges, and that member was advised by the Prime Minister, and his party to do so. These are the facts, as I remember them, without looking them up. But an hon. gentleman tells me now that he has looked them up, and that my statement is correct. The Prime Minister knows at that time he was in conference all the time with the gentleman who made those charges, and was advising him what to do, and he knows that that gentleman was carrying out his wishes. He must also admit that Sir John Thompson was willing to give him all the assistance he wanted. Now I ask the Prime Minister if his course in this matter at all compares with the course of Sir John Thompson in the Connolly and McGreevy matter? I think there is no comparison whatever. The Prime Minister must admit that in every case where we bring something before the House, 'the whole object of the government and their supporters is_to try and prevent us from getting at the facts. We frequently see the same thing occurring in the Public Accounts Committee. It is a strange thing that in the matter of these charges, some of the gravest that have ever come before the House, the Prime Minister appoints the hon. member for Vereheres, one of his supporters, as chairman of that committee, and he remembers well that the *chairman of this committee was the same gentleman whose conduct w'as complained [DOT]of in the Public Accounts Committee. The whole thing, to my mind, is simply a put up job, or at least, is an effort to try to squelch the investigation so that we may not be able to get out the facts.

Now in regard to this National Trans-Mr. J. D. REID.

continental railway, I have been over a part of it myself, and when I went along the line I heard it said that part of this work had been put in as rock when, so far as I could judge, it was only sand. I do not know whether that was the case, but if we had a fair opportunity to investigate, we could find out whether that was the fact. Now when Mr. Lumsden's letters were made public, it was surely the duty of the Prime Minister to throw open the books and records, and give the opposition a chance to find out whether there was any truth in the charges. It is absolutely necessary, if the public interest is to be protected, that we should have that opportunity. In England, when investigations are being carried on by the Public Accounts Committee, and whenever any charge is made, the government offer to appoint a member of the opposition as chairman of the committee in order to insure a fair inquiry. I must aay that when the Conservative party were in power every opportunity was given to the opposition to ascertain the facts in relation to any charge that was made, but since this government have come to power - the Prime Minister need not smile, because he knows that every word I am saying is true. He knows well enough that in the Public Accounts Committee he picked out four of the ablest lawyers on his side, and each one had his own part assigned to him to stand up and try and block proceedings and prevent anything from coming out. If I were allowed to state what some of his supporters sitting behind him hiave said about the rascality that is going on in some of these departments, it would shock, I think, even the Prime Minister, and I think he would have to admit that it is a pretty serious affair. But of course hon. gentlemen opposite sav: We have got to

vote these things through, and if we don't we shall be voting want of confidence in the Prime Minister, even though we were to lose our seats in consequence; so we will ' swallow the whole thing, even to a saw^dust wharf or something of that kind.

Now, as to the evidence before this committee, the Prime Minister must have read where, in one place, it shows a motion to have been made, and now the chairman makes a different report. When this discussion arose I thought that the right hon. Prime Minister would have stood up and said: If this thing is wrong I shall instruct the committee to at once look into the report and see that it is corrected. But the right hon. gentleman did not want to do that, because, if that report had come down, we could have discussed the whole thing, and it would have been shown why these three gentlemen had retired. The Prime Minister admits that is the reason why he does not want the report to come down. He nods his head. He wants the whole in-

vestigation to be complete before he will allow any discussion. The investigation is being carried on simply by four of his followers, who must do what he says, and by a solicitor from Montreal, a great supporter of the right hon. gentleman, and who will do anything to carry out his wishes, and prevent the government from getting into trouble. These four gentlemen have employed as the solicitor for the people practically another official of this government to look after their interests, and who knows that if he were instrumental in bringing in a report that would censure, or put the government out of power, he would lose his position. Under those circumstances, is it reasonable to expect that justice will be done in the interests of the people? I have just been informed that practically this public official has drawn about $30,000 from this government since they came into power. I would appeal to any man in this country, be he Liberal or Conservative, to say whether we can reasonably expect that man to do what is right in the interests of the people; or is it reasonable to expect that if there was any way that he could help this government he would not do so? I do not believe that the Prime Minister has done what is right and square in the interests of the people in allowing the committee to go on as he has done with four of his own followers, four lawvers, some of whom have been blockers in other investigations, or in other committees of this kind just as they have been on this committee. Therefore I say that justice has not been done on those other committees, and I believe that in this case justice will not be done in such a way as the people have a right to expect.

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE LUMSDEN COMMITTEE.
Permalink
CON

William Sora Middlebro

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MIDDLEBRO.

I think it will be acknowledged by every member of the House that the object in appointing this committee, or what should have been the object, was, in the first place, to investigate the charges that were made that there has been over-classification on the Grand Trunk Pacific, and I think we should keep that thoroughly in mind when we consider the result of the action that has been taken by some person in changing, or mutilating the report as presented, whether that change was made through inadvertance, or mistake, or otherwise. It is quite clear at any rate to the members on this1 side of the House that the motion made by my hon. friend from South Simcoe (Mr. Lennox) was in writing, and it is quite clear that in that motion there was a provision that the proceedings and evidence should be printed by the committee, and reported to this House from day to day. That being the case, it was the bounden duty of the committee, and all those under the authority of the committee, to print and report the evidence from day to day. Then it would be only fair to assume that every

member of this House would be expecting that the proceedings and the evidence would be reported from day to day. At once, upon a member finding that that was not being done it would be reasonable to expect him to go and ask how it was that the-order of the committee was not being carried out. That is as the matter strikes me. Then, upon the matter being brought to the attention of the House by my hon. friend from South Simcoe again only a week ago it would be natural to expect that the error would have been corrected, but that has not been done, and the matter has been allowed to go on from that time until the present day. That makes it all the more inexcusable, and one would be almost tempted to suggest that there was something of intention in regard to the error that was made in the report. I happened! to be sitting in the room at the time my hon. friend from South Simcoe marie his motion, and I certainly understood, as he did, that it was intended that the evidence-and proceedings should be reported and printed day by day. It is true that the statement was made by somebody that it was quite impossible, but nevertheless that was the order of the committee, and I believe that it was a case in which we did not expect the evidence and proceedings to-be actually brought to the House from day to day, but it was supposed to be done as soon as it possibly could be done by the officers whose duty it is to prepare the report. But there has been absolutely nothing done in that line, and the very fact that the matter was brought to the attention of the committee in such a way would leave it in the mind of the committee that it could be done would seem to make it all the more suggestive to them when the proceedings and evidence were not reported to the House from day to day.

I noticed by the press reports that it was suggested that Mr. Wallace Nesbitt be employed as counsel on behalf of the Dominion for the purpose of investigating the accuracy of the statements made by Mr. Lumsden. These newspaper reports said that the Conservative members of the committee objected to the selection of such an eminent counsel as Mr. Nesbitt, and also that they were very greatly surprised because o.f that objection by reason of the fact that he was alleged to be a Conserva-, tive. I do not know the politics of Mr. Nesbitt, but I will say that I have every confidence in his ability and integrity, and I have more confidence in his integrity than I had prior to the time when his name was first mentioned, because I find that Mr. Nesbitt has upheld the dignity of his profession by saying that he will not act as counsel for the people of Canada in this matter, because the government employed him as counsel not more than two years ago, and took his opinion, and that

he gave an opinion directly contrary to the position of Mr. Lumsden.

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE LUMSDEN COMMITTEE.
Permalink
LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

Does the hon. gentleman say that he was consulted by the government of Canada?

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE LUMSDEN COMMITTEE.
Permalink
CON

William Sora Middlebro

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MIDDLEBRO.

Perhaps not by the government of Canada, but he was employed by the contractors to give an opinion as k>

the interpretation of the specifications which are the subject matter of investigation before this committee. Mr. Wallace Nesbitt gave his opinion that Mr. Lumsden had made an improper interpretation of the specifications. How could you expect that Mr. Nesbitt would come forward now and endeavour to prove that the opinion which he had previously given was wrong? Therefore, I say it is to the credit of Mr. Nesbitt to say: I will not act as counsel and controvert an opinion which I have expressed, and for which I have been paid by the very contractors whose Interests are adverse to those of the people and by whom I wa3 retained as counsel. Then, the right hon. leader of the government, through his majority on that committee, and whose duty it is to protect the public interest, calls in a gentleman against whom I have not one word to say personally in any manner, shape or form, but a gentleman who has been employed by this government since 1896, and has received from the public treasury about $30,000.

He is brought here to prove that this .government is guilty of the charges we have laid at their door. Is it human to expect that gentleman to come before that committee and to use the best of his endeavours and ability to prove that the very .men from whom he got $30,000 have done anything wrong? I say the position is wholly inconsistent with the public interest, and I say that the three Conservative members of that committee were, acting in the interests of the people of this country when they declared they would no longer sit on a committee which first proposed to employ as counsel, a gentleman who gave an opinion directly antagonistic to the interests of the country, and secondly a gentleman who has got $30,000 from the coffeTS of this country, and who they expect to prove that this government has been guilty of maladministration in 'connection with the Transatlantic railway.

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE LUMSDEN COMMITTEE.
Permalink
LIB

Alfred Henry Clarke

Liberal

Mr. A. H. CLARKE.

Does the hon. gentleman suggest that the three members refuse to act on that committee on account of the employment of Mr. Chrysler?

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE LUMSDEN COMMITTEE.
Permalink
CON

William Sora Middlebro

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MIDDLEBRO.

If the chairman of the committee performed his duty and reported the proceedings to the House, I would be able to answer the hon. gentleman.

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE LUMSDEN COMMITTEE.
Permalink

March 16, 1910