May 15, 1914

CON

Eugène Paquet

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PAQUET:

I regret that my hon. friend should have thought fit to speak sneeringly of the names of electors in my constituency. It is not the privilege of many to be known under the name of Lapointe. I must say that I represent a county comprising many new settlements, a thriving region, and I am not backward in requesting the opening of post offices in sufficient numbers. Long enough that county had been negleoted; long enough our friends on the other side had dismissed all applications, however reasonable, submitted by the representative of L'Islet. Since the coming of the Conservatives into power, I found in the hon. Postmaster General, a man who understands what are the needs of the settlers in the county of L'Islet.

Before we reached power, the settlers and farmers of the county of L'Islet, in order to get to a post office, had to travel over distances varying between seven and twelve miles. That was satisfactory to the member for Kamouraska, but as regards farmers and settlers, the story was a different one. I thought the Postmaster General would be able to do something in their behalf, and I congratulate and thank him for having given some relief to that class of sturdy workers. That may be the reason why the member for Kamouraska is so sour on the Postmaster General and the member for L'Islet who both work in their interest.

In cities such as Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa and others, the people a^e not any better than those I represent, notwithstanding which the mail is distributed from house to house. Why should we not have in our rural districts as many post offices as are required to dispense people of the necessity of travelling over distances of ten miles to get their mail, as was the case under the Liberal rule. The county of L'Islet is progressing, and I am ready to discuss that question with the hon. member for Kamouraska; let him come into my county and upbraid the minister for having done his duty towards that fine agricultural class.

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

If the hon. member

heard what I said, he must know that far from criticising him, I congratulated him on wielding such influence over the Postmaster General, as evidenced by the fact of his obtaining fourteen new post offices with a resulting total deficit of $1,000 per annum.

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CON

Eugène Paquet

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PAQUET:

I stated and I repeat that the county of L'Islet had been shamefully

neglected under the Liberal rule. To-day a work of regeneration is 'being carried on, since we have icome into power. The hon. gentleman has referred to my parish. The non. member for L'Islet is a genial fellow, but he made a sad mistake when he tried to cast ridicule on the names of my fellow citizens. I would not advise him to repeat the experiment in the parish of St. Aubert. When a man puts his name to a petition hut has not the courage to himself sign it with his own name, I say I have a perfect right to wait until the session is over to personally investigate the facts. And if the Giasson post office should be closed, I shall be the first to call on the minister to do it. I am up against a plot engineered by a Liberal who wanted to get both the post office and the mail contract. Through spite, he got that petition signed, and forwarded it under cover to the hon. minister; however, he had not the courage to sign his own name to the petition, only putting his cross thereto, while he duly signed the covering letter. Under the circumstances, it seems I am justified in postponing until after the session is over the settlement of that matter, and finding out whether the Giasson post office should be closed.

I propose following up the work of providing postal facilities throughout the constituency, so as to put our poor settlers on a footing of equality with city people. I wish to work with all my might in the interest of my electors and let them enjoy the advantages of rural mail delivery.

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

I wish to protest

against the statement made by my hon. friend that I sneered at the names of those Who signed the petition. I did nothing of the sort, and if the hon. gentleman gathered that meaning from my utterances, he is utterly at sea. As regards Cyrias Dubd whom he taunts for not having had the courage of signing his name to the petition, contenting himself with putting his mark, well the Postmaster General will tell him that one is just as good as the other.

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CON
LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

But somebody else

writing to the minister in Dube's name, may have signed for him.

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CON

Eugène Paquet

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PAQUET:

Is not that sufficient

reason for me to delay giving the decision which should be taken under the circumstances?

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

Does the hon. gentleman contend that the names of the nine-

teen persons who are mentioned in that petition are not actually voters of the parish of St. Aubert?

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CON

Eugène Paquet

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PAQUET:

They are voters of St.

Aubert, but I do not know whether these are their signatures; as a matter of fact, I see that Cyrias Dube who signed the letter addressed to the minister, has not signed his name to that petition, but merely put his mark.

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

I do not think the hon. gentleman should put forward such a contention. So far, I have had only complimentary references to make to him, but now I am bound to find fault with him. The hon. gentleman was advised by the department that a petition had been received bearing a certain number of signatures and asking that the said post office be closed. His reply to that letter was that he would take the matter up and call at the department. How is it that he has not yet been there, and has not secured the requisite information?

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LIB

Joseph Arthur Calixte Éthier

Liberal

Mr. C. ETHIER (Two Mountains):

Mr. Chairman since we are dealing with the dismissals of postmasters, I may be allowed to enquire from the minister whether he recalls the incident which took place on Tuesday evening when the removal of the Ste. Scholastique postmaster was considered. I complained on that evening of the action taken by the department on the petitions sent in by certain parties, asking for the emoval of Mr. Raymond and recommending as his successor two persons, the present postmaster, Mr. Presseault, and Mr. Sauve, who, by the way, is not related to Mr. Sauve, M.L.A., at Quebec. The minister answered me as follows:

Mr. Pelletier: I will look into that.

Mr. Ethier: There were many persons surprised that these petitions were not on the file. I am certain they are not of a private character.

Mr. Pelletier: I will instruct the officer in charge of the branch to look into it to-morrow.

It is now Friday, and we have not yet had the promised information. That same evening the Postmaster General, basing himself on the precedent and principle laid down by the former Prime Minister, to-day leader of the opposition (Sir Wilfrid Laurier), that all letters addressed to the department and marked 1 Personal," should in no case be brought down on an order of the House for a return, declared himself to be in perfect sympathy with the views then expressed. That is actually the principle laid down by the hon. gentleman.

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CON

Louis-Philippe Pelletier (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PELLETIER:

Without the consent of the writer. Occasionally, I have had letters marked 1 Personal,' which I brought down after getting the consent of the party who wrote them.

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LIB

Joseph Arthur Calixte Éthier

Liberal

Mr. ETHIER:

Well, since Tuesday I

have not yet had an answer to my request for the bringing down of those petitions, which are in the hands of the minister or filed in the department.

Here is a second question. In the return which was handed to me in connection with the removal of Mr. Raymond, I see there is a letter marked ' Personal.' Now, either the minister has been deceived or is trying to deceive others. How explain the inclusion of that letter in the return, if the rule is not to lay before the House a letter marked ' Personal ' ? Even the copy I have in my hands is marked ' Personal.' That letter is dated December 10, 1913. Again I ask, why is it included in the return? I fancy that when it suits the convenience of the department letters are sent down; if not, they are withheld.

This letter was laid before the House on March 6 last and it reads as follows:

Montreal, December 10, 1913.

(Personal)

The Hon. L. P. Pelletier,

Postmaster General, Ottawa.

My Dear Sir,-In answer to your letter of the 3rd instant, I must say that the gentleman I recommend to succeed Mr. Raymond as postmaster at Ste. Scholastique, is Mr. Wilfrid Presseault. I have no doubt that the aforementioned gentleman will make an excellent postmaster.

Please accept, &c.

G. A. Pauteux.

This Mr. Fauteux is the same who failed in securing his election, because he did not even know how to prepare his nomination papers. Now, I wish to draw the attention of the House to the manner in which the removal was effected of the postmaster of Ste. Scholastique, which is the chief town of the district of Terrebonne. I might explain that removal was effected through the intervention of the hon. member for Terrebonne, and if Mr. Nantel were present, he might be in a position to enlighten us.

In the redistribution of electoral seats which is being effected, it is proposed to annex the whole or part of the county of Two Mountains to that of Laval. Well I accept that proposal, for I am satisfied that I would get along very well with the good people of Laval. But it would have been a much simpler proposition to unite my county with that of Argenteuil, my 243i

natural neighbour. I invite the hon. member for Argenteuil (Mr. Perley) to come and discuss that question in my constituency, and he will be quite nonplussed at the result.

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CON

Louis-Philippe Pelletier (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PELLETIER:

He might take a lesson in the art of securing an election by acclamation.

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LIB

Joseph Arthur Calixte Éthier

Liberal

Mr. ETHIER:

Now let us come down to business, I mean let us revert to Ste. Scholastique. Is there a rule laid down for Ste. Scholastique and another for Kamour-aska? In this matter as in the matter of banks, is the principle to be laid down that what is fair as regards Ontario is not fair as regards Quebec? But let us stick to the question, that is, the removal of Mr. Raymond, and let us see under what circumstances it was demanded. In 1896, the postmaster of the district town of. Terrebonne was Mr. Antoine Fortier-what I am about to narrate is a matter of history in the county of Two Mountains. Mr. Fortier was revising officer under the Electoral Franchise Act and he had been appointed by Mr. Ohapleau. Mr. Fortier was postmaster, he was also a Conservative leader in the county. In 1896, when the Liberals reached power, he was, in consideration of his advanced years, retained from 1896 to 1898, the year of his demise. After his death, was he replaced by a Liberal? No, Mr. Minister. You are familiar with Quebec, but you are not quite so familiar with the district of Terrebonne, concerning which you might be posted by your colleague, Mr. Nantel, that silent Mr. Nanitel, who is never seen in the House.

In 1898, we appointed notary Forest, a Conservative also, who had always worked against the Liberal party. He kept the position some time, and then resigned to be replaced by his brother-in-law, Vincent Fortier, always in the same family, and also a Conservative. He resigned for reasons, which I do not wish to state here, and the Government appointed his sister, Miss Annie Fortier, to take his place. In 1903, Miss Fortier got married. I recall these facts in order to show to the Postmaster General that the Liberals did not show any spite, as you are showing against the Liberals.

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CON

Pierre Édouard Blondin (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BLONDIN:

I would suggest that the hon. gentleman address the Chair, and not the minister.

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LIB
CON

Pierre Édouard Blondin (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BLONDIN:

Such is the rule of the House.

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LIB

Joseph Arthur Calixte Éthier

Liberal

Mr. ETHIER:

After Miss Fortier married, we appointed Mr. Felix Raymond, who was a Liberal. But, please note, Mr. Chairman, that we dismissed no one to appoint Mr. Raymond. Between 1896 and that date Conservatives had been appointed, and they were people who gave no cause for complaint, and properly fulfilled their diuties. Whejfn Mr. Felix Raymond was appointed, the position was vacant and we did not remove any one to find a place for him. He is a respectable citizen, and the only fault to be found with him is that of being a Liberal.

After the elections of 1911, the Conservatives asked for his removal through the petition a copy of which I applied for the other evening. Mr. G. A. Fateaux, the would-be candidate in the county of Two Mountains, thus expressed himself on November 19, 1912, in a letter addressed to the minister:

Montreal, November 19, 1912. The Hon. Postmaster General,

Ottawa.

My Dear Sir,-The post office of the village of Ste. Scholastique is at present under the care of Mr. Felix Raymond. That gentleman received that appointment from the -Liberal party on account of exceptional services rendered to that party, and he has been in the meantime maintained in office owing to his constant participation to the Liberal organization in the county. My desire would be that in future that post office be confided to the care of Mr. Wilfrid Presseault, of Ste. Scholastique.

I trust therefore that you will give the requisite instructions to have my request complied with under the shortest notice.

I have the honour to remain, &e.,

G. A. Fauteux.

On the other hand, I had never asked for the removal of any one. On December 21, 1912, the department wrote as follows to Mr. Raymond:

Ottawa, December 21, 1912. Mr. Felix Raymond,

Postmaster,

St. Scholastique, Que.

You are charged with having, since your appointment as postmaster, taken part in the Dominion and Provincial elections. I am directed by the Post Office Department to inquire whether that is a fact. If the charge is foundationless, I imagine you will have no objection to signing the inclosed solemn declaration, which should be received before a justice of the peace or a notary.

Should there not be any justice of the peace or notary in your locality, the declaration may be received before the mayor of the parish.

Kindly forward me your answer without delay.

I remain, &c.

H. B. Verret,

Asst. Deputy Minister.

It will be noticed that the form never varies. That printed form was submitted to me, and I advised Mr. Raymond not to sign it, and to return it to the department.

The following is the declaration which Mr. Raymond sent to the department:

Solemn declaration made under the Act for the prevention of extrajudiciary oaths.

I, the undersigned, Felix Raymond, postmaster of Ste. Scholastique, Quebec, do solemnly declare:

(1) I was appointed postmaster in the year 1907 ;

(2) Since the date of my appointment as postmaster, I have not taken an active part in the elections, whether Dominion or Provincial, I have not done any canvassing or taken voters to the polls, or offered or given money or liquor ; neither have I represented any candidate at the polls, except at the Provincial election of 1908, when I represented a candidate late in the afternoon. Neither have I voted, checked off voters at the door of any poll. Neither have I taken part in any organization committee. I did not address any meeting in favour of any of the candidates, and I did not interrupt any public speaker at any public meeting.

(3) All I did do was to peacefully record my vote. In 1908, and at the elections, Dominion as well as Provincial, of 1911 and 1912, I abstained from voting.

And I make this declaration knowing it conscientiously to be true and to have the same effect as if given under oath under the Evidence Act of Canada.

And I have signed,

F. Raymond.

Then an inquiry was ordered. On December 30, 1912, after a year's delay, Mr. Bergeron was appointed to inquire into the charges brought against Raymond. It will be noticed that there were about fifteen similar cases. Postmasters whose salaries did not exceed $30 were dismissed, and for what purpose? Mr. Bergeron was employed as investigating commissioner at a salary of $15 per diem, plus $3 per day for his living expenses, besides his travelling expenses. It cost $75 to remove some poor fellows, whose only offence was that they were Liberals. In every case, it is always the same form which the minister uses:

Your fees will be $15 per day, plus your actual travelling expenses and $3 per day as a living allowance. It will not be necessary to employ a stenographer or copyist; you will hear the witnesses brought forward for and against, and you will base your report on the evidence.

Please advise Mr. G. A. Fauteux, barrister, 97 St. James street, Montreal, and the interested postmaster, of the date at which you will proceed with the inquiry.

I give herewith the report of Mr. Bergeron, in the case of Ste. Scholastique, dated January 30, 1913. Mr. Raymond had been dismissed in December, 1912.

Montreal, Jjanuary 30, 1913.

To the Hon. L. P. Pelletier,

Postmaster General,

Ottawa.

Re Felix Raymond, postmaster of Ste. Scholastique, county of Two Mountains.

Sir,-Acting under your instructions received on December 30 last, X proceeded to Ste. Scholastique, where, on Tuesday the 28th instant, I conducted an inquiry into the charges brought against Postmaster Raymond, for political partisanship. X had advised Mr. G. A. Fauteux, barrister, and Mr. Felix Raymond of the date and place when and where I would proceed with such inquiry. I had assigned as witnesses Mr. J.-Bte. Legault, Mr. Wilfrid Presseault and Mr. Guillaume Sauvii, all three of the village of Ste. Scholastique. These witnesses have sworn that Mr. Raymond was a Liberal in politics. Mr. Legault swore that Mr. Raymond discussed politics at Mr. Barsalou's on the evening of the votation in 1911, stating that the Laurier government was going to remain in power as strong as it was previous to the elections. He swears, moreover, that Mr. Raymond went to congratulate Mr. Ethier, member elect, following on the decision rendered in June, 1912, confirming him in the possession of his seat.

Mr. Guillaume Sauv6 corroborates Mr. IjO-gault's statement as to Mr. Raymond congratulating Mr. Ethier after the judgment of June, 1912. Mr. Felix Raymond who has been postmaster for the last ten years, he says, though very active in politics, previous to his appointment as postmaster, swears that he has not taken any part in politics in the meantime. He does not deny having met Mr. Fauteux, the Conservative candidate, at the registrar's in 1911, during election time, and having expressed his views. He does not recall the conversation with Legault at Barsalou's, but he will not deny the truth of Legault's statements. There is no doubt that Mr. Raymond, a former Liberal leader, has in a great measure altered his ways since becoming postmaster, but he did not refrain from expressing his views in the presence of Mr. Fauteux, Conservative candidate, at the registrar's as also in the presence of Messrs. Legault and Sauv6 at Mr. Barsalou's.

I have the honour to he, &c.,

J. G. H. Bergeron.

The elections had been held in 1911, and that report came out only two years later.

On January 30, 1913, Mr. Fateaux wrote as follows to the minister:

Montreal, January 13, 1913. To the Hon. L. P. Pelletier,

Postmaster General,

Ottawa.

My Dear Sir,-Mr. Bergeron, who has been appointed by you to carry on an investigation at Ste. Scholastique into the charges of political partisanship brought against Mr. Raymond, has given me communication of the report which he is addressing to you. Will you be so kind as to suspend all further action in

the matter until I see you again in this connection ?

Please accept, &c.

G. A. Fauteux,

Since when has a judge the right to communicate his decision to an outsider before sending it to the proper authority? We have witnessed that once before in the saloon prosecutions in Montreal; but Mr. Justice Charbonneau quashed the decision of the license commissioners.

Is there a word in the report of Mr. Bergeron, stating that he recommends the removal of Raymond? No, Mr. Bergeron's report is rather favourable. But it was Sauve who made use of this report. The following is the copy of a letter he wrote to the minister on December 16, 1913:

Mr. Minister,-I have just learned that the postmastership is vacant. I have applied many a time for the position. You invariably answered that it was not vacant, but that my request would be considered. I hope to receive a satisfactory answer, as one of the principal leaders of the party in my county had promised that in the case of a change taking place,

I would get it. That is my reason for applying once more. X have been for many a year a supporter of the Conservative party, and I trust it will grant me this favour now, as I was given to understand that it would be, ever since a change is being talked about.

An answer will oblige.

William SauvS.

On the 28th of November, Mr. Fateaux, who had been carrying on an ex parte investigation, sent to the minister the following letter:

My Dear Minister,-Herewith you will find two statements, one signed by Mr. Jean-Bte. Legault, and the other by Mr. Wilfrid Presseault, both electors of Ste. Scholastique, showing that Mr. Ethier has been making political capital out of the fact that we are not taking action towards removing Mr. Raymond, the present postmaster of Ste. Scholastique.

Trusting that these statements will prove the correctness of what I asserted in a previous letter and will justify you in effecting the removal which I urge, I beg of you to accept the, expression of my most cordial feelings.

Yours, &c.,

G. A. Fauteux.

Presseault and Legault are two retired gentlemen who -never go to Montreal unless somebody else pays their expenses, and it will be seen that their statements are headed Montreal. They read as follows: Montreal, November 24, 1913. On or about the last days in May, 1912, while we were three or four people congregated in front of the court house at Ste. Scholastique, Mr. Calixte Ethier, of the village of Ste. Scholastique, advocate and member of parliament, came towards us, unprovoked, and addressing Mr. Wilfrid Presseault, who was one of our group, he said sarcastically: ' Are you going

to get the post office? If you get it, you won't keep it long. There is going to he a change of Government within six months, and I shall not defer the matter for a year or two. On the day following you will he put out. If I were in your place, it would not take twenty-four hours.'

(Sgd) J. B. Legault.

Sworn before me at Ste. Scholastique, this 25th day of November, 1913.

(Sgd) Narcisse Forest,

Notary.

Montreal, November 24, 1913. On or about the last days in May, 1912, while we were three or four people congregated in front of the court house at Ste. Scholastique, Mr. Calixte Ethier, of the village of Ste. Scholastique, advocate and member of parliament, came towards us, unprovoked, and addressing Mr. Wilfrid Presseault, who was one of our group, he said sarcastically: 'Are you going to get the post office? If you get it, you won't keep it long. There is going to he a change of Government within six months, and I shall not defer the matter for a year or two. On the day following you will be put out. If I were in your place, it would not take twenty-four hours.'

(Sgd) Wilfrid Presseault. Sworn before me at Ste. Scholastique, this 25th day of November, 1913.

(Sgd) Narcisse Forest,

Notary.

As a matter of fact, I may have littered those words, but would that he sufficient ground to dismiss Mr. Raymond? It was no fault of his. Political turncoats are to be found everywhere, at Ste. Scholastique as in Quebec. One sure thing is that Wilfrid Presseault was the man who took the cake. That is the whole story of Mr. Raymond's removal. Who asked for it? Andr6 Fauteux, the defeated candidate. Mr. Bergeron had not recommended his dismissal, as his report clearly shows.

So I say that the removal of Mr. Raymond is an insult to the whole county of Two Mountains, and particularly to the parish of Ste. Scholastique. As no one had been removed to make place for Mr. Raymond, there was no occasion for reprisals. It is a case of gross injustice and the people will keep it in mind for the next general elections.

. I might mention all the post offices in the county. It is well known that in Two Mountains there is no patronage to distribute, however, I never got a single postmaster removed, even of those who were appointed previous to 1896. In 1897, a post office was opened at the Cdte St. Vincent, at the request of the public; the postmaster, Foisy, did not replace any one, nevertheless he was removed. Everywhere it was on the part of our opponents a revelry of dismissals.

Now, I wish to refer to an incident which occurred the other day in this House, while I was absent, in reference to the Oka postmastership. The question was raised by the hon. member for Rouville and the right hon. leader of the Opposition, who inquired from the Postmaster General whether he would not do something for the widow of the postmaster of Oka, who lost his life in the autumn of 1911, on the lake of Two Mountains while transporting the mails. The member for Rouville recalled to the memory of the minister that I had made an application to that effect.

I must admit that $1,000 has been granted to the widow; but my hon. friend was right, I had applied for it, and the minister told me at the time that was too late. Call later on, he said, and we shall see what can be done. I did not fail to do so, and at the session of 1912, there was in the supplementary estimates a thousand dollar vote intended for the widow. Reference was made to a Jettre of thanks from the family addressed to the minister. It was the member for Two Mountains who made the request, and it is the minister who gets the thanks.

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CON

Louis-Philippe Pelletier (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PELLETIER:

It is understood you gave the money.

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May 15, 1914