Hon. FRANK OLIVES (Edmonton):
Mr. Speaker, before you leave the Chair, I desire to draw the attention of the House to a matter that I brought up some time ago, and I would like to have an opportunity of dealing with it at some little length tonight. It relates to the prohibition of the book called "The Fiddlers." When I brought this matter to the attention of the' House on a former occasion, I asked the Government to specify the portion of the book that was in contravention of the Consolidated Orders in Council regarding censorship. It was a very plain and simple question, but I have not yet received an answer to it. Instead of an answer, the House was favoured by the Prime Minister with a statement Iby Surgeon-General Fotheringham, who made a long report to the Prime Minister, which the Prime Minister presented to the House. The purport of the report was that this book containe-.1 reflections upon the conduct of Canadian soldiers, and, therefore, it was undesirable that it should be circulated in Canada. The fact, if it be a fact, thait the book is according to the description of Surgeon-*Generi.\ Fotheringham, does not bring it within the censorship regulations, and, therefore, the prohibition of the circulation of the book by order of the Government or the censor is a trespass upon the rights of the people of 'Canada that should not be committed by its Government. It is to be supposed that, when a Government has the full power to make a law, as ft has in the passing of regulations regarding censorship, having made provision for the prohibition of undesirable books or other literature, it should be willing to be bound by law that it itself has made, and that it should not undertake to exercise for the suppression of free speech or of the circulation of liter-, ature a power that it does not possess by any authority of any body, not even of itself. I might perhaps read to the House the conclusion of the report by Surgeon-General Fotheringham in regard to this book. He says:
It is submitted,, please, that the above criticisms on the character of the pamphlet in question are fair and represent the general unreliability of the pamphlet as a whole. If I may be permitted to express an opinion based upon my personal knowledge of the situation among the Canadian troops in France and Britain as regards alcoholism and venereal disease it would be that the circulation of statements such as fill the pamphlet in question, among the people of Canada is most undesirable, and should be prevented by any measures open to the authorities, having regard to the interests both of the troops themselves and of the Canadian public. -
It 'will be observed that the Prime Minister does not make that statement. It is made by a gentleman holding a responsible position under the Government; but the Prime Minister takes the responsibility of placing that statement before the House on the authority of this official, and therefore I am compelled to hold the
11 p.m. Prime Minister responsible for that statement. The statement is that the Government, owing to the character of this book, is justified in using any measures open to the authorities to prevent its circulation in Canada, and that such prevention would be in the interest both of the troops themselves and of the Canadian public. The attempt is made by Surgeon-General Fotheringham and the Prime Minister to create the impression that this book is printed for the purpose of libelling the Canadian forces in England. There is no such purpose in the book, either directly or indirectly. The book is for the purpose of calling to account the Government of Great Britain for permitting the destruction, in the manufacture of alcohol, of grain required for food, a subject that is surely entitled to be criticised in any free country, a matter of public administration in regard to a matter of grave public interest. That criticism, I am credibly informed, is not subject to prohibition in England, in Great Britain, in the United Kingdom. There.the book is freely circulated. But in Canada it is made subject to the censorship. Just to give the House the character of the book, on page 4, under the heading "The Shadow of Famine," the writer says-
Subtopic: "THE FIDDLERS"-STATEMENT BY HON.
Sub-subtopic: FRANK OLIVER-AMENDMENT NEGATIVED.