July 20, 1917

LIB
CON
CON

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DOHERTY:

Yes, there will he items in the supplementary estimates, but that, covers the main items.

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LIB
CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROTHERS:

Yes, they will not take very long.

Fair wages and inspection officers, $15,000.

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LIB

Alexander Kenneth Maclean

Liberal

Mr. A. K. MACLEAN:

I would like to

ask the minister if the findings made, by Mr. O'Connor are to be referred to a judge for further inquiry?

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CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROTHERS:

The matter has not

yet been fully determined. My hon. friend will remember that, in the order in council passed November last, provision is made for a further examination under the directions of the Minister of Labour, who is authorized to appoint an examiner, and to confer upon him power to examine books and witnesses under oath, and all that sort of thing. Whether a further investigation will proceed under that clause of the order in council or otherwise, I am not in a position to say definitely, but there will be a further investigation. *

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LIB

Alexander Kenneth Maclean

Liberal

Mr. A. K. MACLEAN:

I did not make

myself plain. What I meant to inquire of him was whether his Teport, covering the matters of bacon and foodstuffs, is to be the subject of an investigation by some judicial tribunal. There is some intimation of that in the press to-day. If there is to be such an inquiry, has a judge been appointed yet to conduct it?

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CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROTHERS:

I think I understood

what the hon. gentleman asked. What I said was that it had not been determined yet whether there would be- a further inquiry or investigation under that order in council. There will be' a further investigation.

[Mr. Doherty.!

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LIB
CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mt. CROTHERS:

No telling what the

future may bring forth. Perhaps I ought to makq a little explanation as to a misunderstanding concerning that report. Questionnaires were sent out to those having cold storages in Canada, somewhere about a hundred, I think, just as we had sent out questionnaires to dealers in coal.

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LIB
CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROTHERS:

It is a name given to a set of questions. Take the matter of bacon, for instance; the first question was as to the quantity of bacon on hand on a certain date. The next question was with regard to the cost of the bacon laid down in cold storage, including freight and unloading charges. The questions were answered satisfactorily. The next question was: what was the storage, overhead, and delivery cost. One or two of the firms said: " we cannot answer these questions; we are not in a position to give you the particulars." Hon. gentlemen will see at once that in the case of bacon that is sold in Liverpool that the delivery charges would be a very important matter. No answer was given to that question by the firm about which there has been so much talk during the last few days. In his report, Mr. O'Connor does not profess to deal with net profits; he deals with what is known in economics as margins. He pointed out the gross profit, that is the difference between the cost of the bacon and its selling price. Margin is made up of the different items of cost, delivery charges, overhead and cold storage charges -which the firm failed to give us. In a day or two after the report was filed these items of margin, the cost of delivery, storage and overhead charges were all provided and published in the Citizen and other newspapers.

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LIB

Alexander Kenneth Maclean

Liberal

Mr. A. K. MACLEAN:

Then what is the purpose of having a further inquiry by a judge? Why should not Mr. O'Connor make a further explanation of his report, having obtained from the firms investigated information which they failed to give to him upon request earlier in the proceedings?

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CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROTHERS:

It is thought desirable that the information should be got by the department through some special officer- not necessarily a judge, though that has not been determined. Uuder the order in council we have power to send a man out

who may examine the books of the company and any witnesses under oath that it may think it desirable to call, with a view to ascertaining without any doubt what the net profits of this particular concern were within a certain period.

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LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie

Liberal

Mr. McKENZIE:

The Government seems to have established a peculiar system under which these examinations go on indefinitely. You appoint a commissioner to make certain inquiries according to the best of his ability. Perhaps his report is not quite satisfactory to the party whose affairs are investigated. Accordingly, that party raises a howl and makes a lot of noise, the effect of his noise being proportionate to the influence he has with the department or with the Government, and, in some degree, to the size of the interests that he represents. Then another commis-

11 p.m. sioner is- appointed to investigate the first commission. If the second commissioner is not orthodox in his report, the first may say: This report is not fair to me; I did the best I could; I furnished the facts and gave good reasons for the conclusions to which I came. Over my head you have appointed a judge who does not agree with me. I want to investigate him; he is not right; he is not fair. And then it goes on-ad infinitum. There is -an old saying, well known to the Minister of Labour, that it is in the interest of the state that litigation should end. The minister should tell his officials that when they make a report upon a matter of this kind, the report will be final; that the first investigation or finding of a properly constituted court must be considered as final. If that is done, the public will know that when a report is filed, that is the end of the matter. The principle established now seems to be that of waiting a certain number of years after the filing of the first report for a further report on the subject. Has the minister any particular policy in his department in that regard? Is there any statute of limitation which he regards as applying to these investigating commissions?

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CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROTHERS:

In his report Mr. O'Connor points out that the information is not complete and he asks that an expert accountant be employed to make a further investigation. This was done before the William Davies Company ever saw or heard of the report., I quite agree with my hon. friend that it would have been better that further investigation by an expert accountant should have been made before the report was published. But the further investigation is not to be an investigation of Mr. O'Connor's work, whether it was right or not right; it is the further investigation under order in council- as recommended by Mr. O'Connor in his report.

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LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

Do I understand that the minister thinks he was premature in submitting the incomplete report to the House?

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CON

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROTHERS:

I admit frankly that it would have been better to have had an investigation by an expert accountant first.

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LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

Perhaps "it would have been better" is a mild way of saying that, it was a grievous mistake.

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July 20, 1917