May 13, 1914

LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

As these votes are in the Supplementary Estimates of the last fiscal year, I think the minister should inquire whether it will not be necessary for him to introduce a special Supply Bill.

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CON

Louis-Philippe Pelletier (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PELLETIER:

I have taken the

opinion of the assistant Clerk o'f the House, who says that he has not the least doubt that we can pass the items now.

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LIB

George Perry Graham

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

But after the items have passed, as the Supply Bill for 1914 has gone through, if will be necessary to put these in a separate schedule of the next Supply Bill and have that passed.

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CON

Louis-Philippe Pelletier (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PELLETIER:

My hon. friend is quite right; that is what I am told.

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LIB

Edmund William Tobin

Liberal

Mr. TOBIN :

A few days ago I placed a question on the Order Paper, which was answered by the Postmaster General. The question and answer are as follows:

Mr. Tobin:

1. Has Mr. J. R. Denison, postmaster of Richmond, Quebec, been dismissed? If so, on what grounds?

2. Was an investigation held? If so, by whom and did Mr. Denison have an opportunity of defending himself? If not, why not?

3. Has a new postmaster been appointed? If so, what is his name and who recommended his appointment?

Mr. Pelletier:

1. Tes. The management of the office was very unsatisfactory.

2. Serious complaints were made in regard to the management of the office and an official investigation was held. The inspector's report showed that a change in the postmastership was necessary.

3. A new postmaster has been appointed by the direction of the Postmaster General. His name is Wm. E. Mclver.

It seems that the Postmaster General has a kind of brutal way-

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order.

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LIB

Edmund William Tobin

Liberal

Mr. TOBIN:

-of dismissing old employees. Mr. Denison, who has been postmaster bf Richmond for the past sixteen years, has, as far as I know, given satisfaction to the public; and up to April 22 last, I believe, he was not aware that any mistakes had [DOT]been made in his office. But on the 22nd of April last he received this letter from the inspector of the district:

To the Postmaster,

Richmond, Quebec.

Dear Sir,

I beg to notify you that I have received notice from the department at Ottawa that you have been dismissed from the postmastership of Richmond for unsatisfactory management. The transfer will take place as soon as arrangements can be made.

In answer to tliat letter, Mr. Denison *wrote to the inspector on the 23rd of April as follows:

L. E. Dastous, Esq.,

Post Office Inspector,

Sherbrooke, P.Q.

Dear Sir,-I beg to acknowledge receipt of yours of the 22nd inst., advising me that I have been dismissed from the postmastership of Richmond for unsatisfactory management.

I must say that this seems to me to he a very peculiar letter to have received, and I would ask you to register my protest against this, and to advise me wherein the unsatisfactory management has occurred. It seems to me that I should have been advised of any investigation which has been made into the working of this office, and to have had a chance to have put in my defence.

Will you please procure for me copies of any complaints which have been made against me, bv whom they were made, and also what steps were taken to investigate this matter.

J. R. Denison.

I am surprised, yet in another way I am not, at the stand taken by the Post Office Department. It seems they have no regard for justice at all when .they wish to distribute patronage. I quite understand that some weeks ago there was a tour through the Eastern Townships of certain members of this Government, and I have no dou'bt that one of the promises they *made at Richmond was that Mr. Denison's head should be cut off to make room for one of their own friends; but why did they not dismiss him in the proper way? Why did they not hold an investigation and give the accused a chance .to defend himself? If that had been done I should have had nothing to say, but, as it was, the man was dismissed without any investigation, and I would ask the Postmaster General why that investigation was not held? Mr. Denison would like to have the satisfaction of- knowing what he was dismissed for.

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CON

Louis-Philippe Pelletier (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PELLETIER:

I am somewhat surprised to hear the hon. member for Richmond and Wolfe raising this question in the way he has done. Politics do not enter into this case at all. I want to tell my hon. friend at once that the Hon. Mr. Per-ley has not in any way been the cause of the dismissal of this postmaster. That question, to my knowledge, was never discussed at all during the visit which my two colleagues made in the Eastern Townships. I might say that for a long time previous to this dismissal it had been represented to .me that the postmaster at Richmond was not giving the public satisfaction. I made inquiries, and was told that

if I could leave this postmaster in charge it would be a good thing from some other point of view than the service, seeing that he was an old man; and I have kept him there for the last twelve or fifteen months. He was not accused of taking any part in politics, and that is not the reason for his dismissal. He has been dismissed purely from the point of view of efficiency in

12 noon, the transaction of the business of that post office- nothing more or less. My hon. frien'd says that an investigation should have been held. Let me tell my hon. friend that I did not go into this matter blindly. This man was dismissed as the result of an investigation. I am sure we have a report in the department from our officials notifying me that the business of the post office at Richmond was not transacted in a satisfactory manner to the public, and that a change should consequently be made. I have not the report before me, as I was not informed that this matter was going to be brought up, when I asked my friends opposite to let me know what matters they were going to 'deal with so that I might have the papers. My hon. friend has chosen to use the word ' brutal ' in referring to this man's dismissal. I did not rise to a point of order at that word because I did not think the hon. member for Richmond and Wolfe, whom everybody knows is a very good fellow, really meant what is implied by that word. There was no brutality about it at all. The postmaster in question has been kept on for a long time, in spite of representations made to me that the business of that post office was not carried out as it should be. Gradually the representations became more pressing, but I said that I would not dismiss the man until the regular and proper investigation had been held. That investigation took place, and the report showed that there was nothing else for me to do but to replace this man in order to give efficient and satisfactory service to the public. Under the circumstances, I do not think the remarks of my hon. friend are just and fair to me.

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LIB

Edmund William Tobin

Liberal

Mr. TOBIN:

Does the Postmaster General think it is right to 'dismiss this man after he has served the public for sixteen years? The Postmaster General admits that no complaints have been made as to Mr. Denison's interfering in politics. Mr. Denison is a Liberal, but he has never interfered in politics one way or the other. He is an honourable gentleman, who is

respected throughout the whole district; and I would ask the Postmaster General if he thinks it fair that Mr. Denison should receive such a letter of dismissal from the post office inspector without any other notice having been given? For the information of the Postmaster General and the House, I will read the letter once more:

The Postmaster,

Richmond, Que.

Dear Sir,-I beg to notify you that I have received notice from the department at Ottawa that you have been dismissed from the postmastership of Richmond, for unsatisfactory management.

The transfer will take place as soon as arrangements can be made.

Yours truly,

(Signed) L. E. Dastous,

Post Office Inspector.

The Postmaster General objects to my using the word ' brutal.' But is that word too strong, considering how this old servant has been treated? This man wrote to the post office inspector on the 23rd of April asking for an investigation, and a chance to defend himself. Was it unreasonable of him to expect British fair play at the hands of the Postmaster General? He was accused of mismanagement of the business of his post office, and he should not have been held guilty until the charge had been proved. But the Post Office Department does not want any light thrown on their investigations; they hold their investigations in the Eastern Townships in a dark room. Mr. Denison was not given a chance to defend himself. I am sure he is not looking for the small salary attached to that post office. He is a wealthy man, well able to provide for himself, but he objects to being dismissed in this way. I will ask the Postmaster General a direct question: Does he approve of that letter of dismissal that the post office inspector sent to Mr. Denison on the 22nd April?

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CON

Louis-Philippe Pelletier (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PELLETIER:

The post office inspector having received instructions from the Post Office Department to change the postmaster at Richmond had nothing else to do but notify Mr. Denison of his dismissal, and I cannot blame the inspector for doing what was his duty. My hon. friend seems to be under a misapprehension as to the facts. I told him a moment ago that I was not aware of any charge of partisanship having been made against this man. We have our regular officers whose duty it is to look into these cases of improper management of a post office, and who report to the department whether the

office is being properly managed or not. In this case the regular course has been followed. We have a report which says that the management of the office was such that an investigation was held and that the change in the postmastership was desirable.

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LIB
CON

Louis-Philippe Pelletier (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PELLETIER:

Had my hon. friend

given me notice I would have brought the papers. I cannot remember the exact tenor of the report but I am almost sure I gave instructions to name another postmaster because of the report of the officials which justified that course. If I remember aright the report of the officer was such that I would not have done my duty had I kept that postmaster there. I am sorry to have to go so far in my statement, but it is the fault of the hon. member (Mr. Tobin) and not mine. I do not know the postmaster, I never saw him, but will the hon. gentleman say that when I have a report from the officers of the department telling me a change must take place on account of mismanagement, that I should refuse to act on that report?

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LIB

Edmund William Tobin

Liberal

Mr. TOBIN:

I did not give the Postmaster General' notice in the House, but last evening after the House adjourned I told him that it was my intention to take the matter up. I am pleased to hear the Postmaster General say there are no politics in this, but I know the contrary, and the supporters of the Government in the Eastern Townships know it also. The minister without portfolio and the Secretary of State could not stop off there during their visit but they had Mr. Baker. I do not know what you call him; I call him their sleight-of-hand man, that is the member for Brome; he stopped off there. Perhaps he expects to step into the gap some day and become a minister. The secretary of the minister without portfolio stopped off there also to settle some questions -as to a site for a post office. When the Postmaster General gets the report of these gentlemen he will discover that his friends down there were not throwing bouquets at each other. Did the Postmaster General inform Mr. Denison that this investigation would be held?

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CON

Louis-Philippe Pelletier (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PELLETIER:

The investigation was held by the official of the department who was instructed to do so, and I cannot say whether notice was given or not. I feel

sure that the usual and proper course was taken. In what particular does Mr. Denison claim that he had no notice? Does he claim that he was not in the post office when the officers of the department investigated its affairs ? I presume it was not done by the officer in the absence of the postmaster. Unless the report of the post office inspector is a pure fabrication, there was every justification for the dismissal of this postmaster.

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LIB

Edmund William Tobin

Liberal

Mr. TOBIN:

Let me read the following letter from Mr. Denison to the post office inspector:

Richmond, P.Q., April 23, 1914. L. E. Dastous, Esq.,

Post Office Inspector,

Sherbrooke, P.Q.

Dear Sir:-

I beg to acknowledge receipt of yours of the 22nd instant, advising me that I have been dismissed from the postmastership of Richmond, for unsatisfactory management.

I must say that this seems to me to be a very peculiar letter to have received, and I would ask you to register my protest against this, and to advise me wherein the unsatisfactory management has occurred. It seems to me that I should have been advised of any investigation which has been made into the working of this office, and to have had a chance to put in my defence.

Will you please procure for me, copies of any complaint which have been made against me, and by whom they were made, and also what steps were taken to investigate this matter.

Mr. Denison wrote me yesterday that he had not got any answer to that letter. I beg also to read the following letter from Mr. Denison:

I might say that about the 10th day of March, 1914, Mr. Dastous, the post office inspector, came to Richmond, and stated that he had a complaint and charge to lay against me, in connection with the office. I asked him what the complaint was, and he told me it was for allowing people who are not sworn to assist in stamping and assorting the mail, and he named W. J. Ewing, and Mrs. Powers. I told him that he was (mistaken, as Mr. Ewing had been sworn in assistant postmaster about one year and a half ago, and that Mrs. Powers was duly sworn as assistant, the day she came into the office, and Mr. W. J. Ewing, J.P., administered the oath to her. The inspector seemed surprised at this, and asked me to show him the certificates; as the mail was being sorted, I asked him if he could not wait as at the present time I could not lay my hands on them, and he said he would take my word for it, if I told him I had the certificates when he came.

That is the only notice the postmaster had of what the Postmaster General calls an investigation. I do not wish to take up any more time in the matter, but I think I can ask the Postmaster General to investigate this case more fully, because the

people of the Eastern townships, and especially the people of Richmond and Wolfe, have been treated very harshly by his department in the last two or three years. My hon. friends seem to have nothing to do but to make room for their Tory friends, and they do not even do it in a decent way. There is no use in holding a one-sided investigation. If these people have done wrong in taking part m politics, if they have not conducted their office properly, if they have not given the best service possible to the public, I am sure we shall have no complaints to make; but I am surprised when I hear the Postmaster General tell the hon. member for Rouville (Mr. Lemieux) that he is trying to run the Post Office Department on the same business principles as those on which banks are run. Before any little mail contract is given to-day, the Post Office Department calls for tenders, and two or three tenders are put in. If a Liberal is the lowest tenderer-

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LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

He is out of the game.

Mr'. TOBIN:-why, the department will wait for a few weeks and finally write to the defeated candidate, who in some instances will not reply for months. Then they will get some of their Tory friends in the city of Sherbrooke, where there are a lot of lawyers looking for a few dollars, to write to the Postmaster General stating that if such a gentleman is offered a few dollars less than the lowest tender he will accept the contract. Yet the Postmaster General calls that running his department on the same business principles as those on which the banks of the country are run. When my hon. friend makes that statement, he knows that no business man in the country will believe him. Take the St. FrangoisrXavier and Windsor mail services.

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LIB
LIB
LIB
LIB

Edmund William Tobin

Liberal

Mr. TOBIN:

As I have the papers here, I might as well give the names. Tenders were called for the service on the 28th of February, 1913. The Postmaster General wrote to the defeated candidate, Dr. John Hayes, at Richmond, Que., on the 28th of February, 1913, as follows:

The following tenders have been received for the St. Fransois-Xavier de Brompton and Windsor Mills mail service. Jos. l.abbt, $175.

Mr. Lab be was the old carrier who had been carrying the mails there for the last tem twelve or fifteen years.

George Morin, $175; T. Levasseur, $180; Pierre Salois, $200; E. J. Morissette, $200.

The first three, Mr. Jos. Labbe, Mr. Geo. Morin and Mr. T. Levasseur were Liberals, and Mr. Pierre Salois and Mr. E. J. Morissette were Conservatives. (Reading):

Jos. Labbe and Geo. Morin's tenders are equal, and the department would be glad to be informed which of these two you consider in the public interest more capable of performing a satisfactory service. An early reply would be appreciated.

Tours sincerely,

(Sgd.) H. B. Verret,

Asst. Deputy P.M.G.

On the 15th of March, 1913, the following letter was addressed to the Deputy Postmaster General:

H. B. Verret,

Deputy Postmaster General,

. Ottawa.

Dear Sir,-Re tenders St. Frangois-Xavier de Brompton and Windsor Mills mail service.

Mr P. Salois, one of the tenderers, I think, would give good service. I suggest it be offered him at $170 per annum.

Yours truly,

(Sgd.) I. Hayes, M.D.

Five dollars less than Mr. Labbd's tender, and ten dollars less than Mr. Levasseur's tender.

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May 13, 1914