June 29, 1920

UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

You can readily understand my being hungry for information while I am on my feet, Mr. Speaker, when I get so little of it from hon. gentlemen when they are on theirs.

This is scandal No. 6 against the Government,-the most grievous scandal that was ever levelled against any Government in the history of the world!

That when Mr J. B. Hugg, representing the *Crescent Creamery Oo. L/td. Winnipeg, felt that he could write under date Feb. 18, 1920, to the then chairman of the Board a letter submitting a copy of the Crescent Creamery Company's factum for use before the Supreme Court of Canada in opposition to the case that had been presented by the Board of Commerce to define its status saying:

Then he quotes the letter, and continues: -a state of affairs was disclosed which destroyed whatever usefulness the chairman might up to that moment have had.

Scandal No. 6 against the Government,- that when Hugg wrote that letter a state of affairs was disclosed which destroyed the usefulness of the chairman and the chairman forthwith resigned. Is that a scandal against the Government? Who committed a scandal?

Topic:   BOARD OF COMMERCE.
Subtopic:   RESIGNATION OF MR. MURDOCK DISCUSSED ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY.
Sub-subtopic:   UNE 29, 1920
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L LIB

Samuel William Jacobs

Laurier Liberal

Mr. JACOBS:

Does the hon. gentleman not think that it should be investigated?

Topic:   BOARD OF COMMERCE.
Subtopic:   RESIGNATION OF MR. MURDOCK DISCUSSED ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY.
Sub-subtopic:   UNE 29, 1920
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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

That may be. I am not dealing with that now; I will come to it in a minute. But if it were investigated it would have to be an investigation between Mr. Murdock and Judge Robson. There is no charge, no reflection in the world, against the Government. Are we responsible for Hugg's letters to Judge Robson or for Judge Robson's reply to them? So we have not yet come to any scandal so far as the Government is concerned-at least, that my wit can discern.

Well, we will go on to scandal No. 7:

That the chairman's two explanations of the

transaction, first, that it was to be explained by the fact that Mr. Hugg had formerly been in his office, and that they were, therefore, on very close relations with each other, and, secondly, that it was "an unwarranted impertinence" by Mr. Hugg, were not sufficient to reinstate him so far as usefulness was concerned.

Well, it is too bad that they were not, especially when he resigned. I do not know what Mr. Murdock is driving at. What had that to do with the Government, or what had it to do with his resigning? Why, Judge Robson did all this and Mr. Hugg did all this away back in February, and Judge Robson resigned in February. What has Judge Robson's conduct prior to his resignation in February to do with Mr. Murdock's duty to the board in the month of June? That has always been a mystery to me. It might have been a reason, if Judge Robson were continued in his position after that was revealed,-it might at least have been a colourable reason for his resignation. But Judge Robson having been off the board for four months,-Mr. Murdock resigns because of something he believes Judge Robson did before. Well, it passes my comprehension, limited though it be, to see wnat relation that has to the honour or dishonour of the Government. It would require the imagination of a poet.

Now, here is scandal No. 8:

That when the former chairman on February 23 wrote his resignation as a member of the Board of Commerce promptly after he discovered that I had seen the letter written to him by X B. Hugg, representing the Crescent Creamery Company of Winnipeg, he then knew that he would be regarded as disloyal to the Board of Commerce and to the consumers of Canada.

I suppose we are asked to investigate whether when Judge Robson wrote his letter he knew that he would be regarded as "disloyal to the Board of Commerce and to the consumers of Canada." What is the charge? What is this heinous crime which the Government is alleged to have committed? That Judge Robson when he resigned knew that he would be regarded as disloyal to the Board of Commerce and to the consumers of Canada? Well, even that could not be an accusation against Judge Robson, much less an [DOT] accusation against the Government, and much less still any reason in the world for resigning. What it has to do with his duties to the board in the premises *-well, it passes like something much better,-all understanding.

Now, we come to No. 9:

That the people of Canada should have had this and other information contained in the

documents sent to the Rt. Hon. Sir George Poster on March 3, last.

Now we are at the point; this is the awful indictment-that the people of Canada should have had this letter sooner, and, on that account Mr. Murdock resigned. Well, it was in his power to give the letter to the people of Canada if he wanted to do so. He could have cured this awful evil; why he should, by holding it, make it a ground for his own resignation is more than I can understand. Why should he resign because the Government does not publish something that be himself can publish if he wants to? The hon. member says: "Why did you not publish that letter when Judge Robson permitted you to do so?" But where is his authority for saying that Judge Robson permitted us to do so?

Topic:   BOARD OF COMMERCE.
Subtopic:   RESIGNATION OF MR. MURDOCK DISCUSSED ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY.
Sub-subtopic:   UNE 29, 1920
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L LIB

Samuel William Jacobs

Laurier Liberal

Mr. JACOBS:

I think he said so in his letter.

Topic:   BOARD OF COMMERCE.
Subtopic:   RESIGNATION OF MR. MURDOCK DISCUSSED ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY.
Sub-subtopic:   UNE 29, 1920
Permalink
UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

You think so? I want to tell the hon. member something. The only reason in the world the Government had for not publishing that letter was the personal protest of Judge Robson that it should not be published.

Topic:   BOARD OF COMMERCE.
Subtopic:   RESIGNATION OF MR. MURDOCK DISCUSSED ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY.
Sub-subtopic:   UNE 29, 1920
Permalink
L LIB

Samuel William Jacobs

Laurier Liberal

Mr. JACOBS:

Where is that personal protest?

Topic:   BOARD OF COMMERCE.
Subtopic:   RESIGNATION OF MR. MURDOCK DISCUSSED ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY.
Sub-subtopic:   UNE 29, 1920
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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

It is in the hands of the Government; that is where it is.

Topic:   BOARD OF COMMERCE.
Subtopic:   RESIGNATION OF MR. MURDOCK DISCUSSED ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY.
Sub-subtopic:   UNE 29, 1920
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L LIB

Samuel William Jacobs

Laurier Liberal

Mr. JACOBS:

I would like to see it.

Topic:   BOARD OF COMMERCE.
Subtopic:   RESIGNATION OF MR. MURDOCK DISCUSSED ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY.
Sub-subtopic:   UNE 29, 1920
Permalink
UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I do not think there would be any difficulty about seeing it. Anyway, I tell the hon. member that as a fact. What had the Government to fear by publishing this correspondence? What difference did it make to us?

Topic:   BOARD OF COMMERCE.
Subtopic:   RESIGNATION OF MR. MURDOCK DISCUSSED ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY.
Sub-subtopic:   UNE 29, 1920
Permalink
L LIB

Samuel William Jacobs

Laurier Liberal

Mr. JACOBS:

Will the hon. gentleman permit me to ask him why the personal interest of Judge Rob-son should weigh against the public interest in a matter of this kind?

Topic:   BOARD OF COMMERCE.
Subtopic:   RESIGNATION OF MR. MURDOCK DISCUSSED ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY.
Sub-subtopic:   UNE 29, 1920
Permalink
UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

That is another question; but that is not what the hon. member said. He said that Judge Robson permitted its publication and that we did him a personal injustice by not publishing it. I tell him that the reason why we did not publish it was found in Judge Robson's personal protest. Whether or not that was a sufficient reason for our taking the course that we did I will discuss later; I am free to admit that it is a more debatable question. Now, I set out to say that the Government had no concern one way or the other as to the publication of the letter. It did not reflect in any way on the Government. It did

reflect on Judge Robson, whether justly or unjustly is open to question; Judge Robson says one thing and Mr. Murdock says another. It reflected on him, but it did not reflect on us; it did not matter to us whether it was known or not known.

Topic:   BOARD OF COMMERCE.
Subtopic:   RESIGNATION OF MR. MURDOCK DISCUSSED ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY.
Sub-subtopic:   UNE 29, 1920
Permalink
L LIB

Samuel William Jacobs

Laurier Liberal

Mr. JACOBS:

Why does my hon. friend consider and why does the Government consider that it was not in the public interest that that letter should be published?

Topic:   BOARD OF COMMERCE.
Subtopic:   RESIGNATION OF MR. MURDOCK DISCUSSED ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY.
Sub-subtopic:   UNE 29, 1920
Permalink
?

Mr MEIGHEN:

Could the hon. member not see that that was just what I was proceeding to discuss? I stated that it might be debatable whether the reason for the course we took was sufficient, but that view did prevail with the Government and it prevailed' .in the face of the clear fact that the Government had nothing to gain one way or the other and nothing to lose one way or the other. When the letter was laid before the Government Judge Robson took the ground-and Judge Robson is a man who was on the King's Bench of Manitoba, placed there by the Laurier Government; he was a good judge. He has been Public Utilities Commissioner in that province for many years, and has served most honourably and acceptably- Judge Robson took the ground that the letter in question had not been authorized by him. He said, in effect: "The publication of that letter would do me a gross and cruel injustice"-I am not pretending to use the exact words-"That letter is an impertinence on the part of Mr. Hugg. I never had any conversation about it; never expected it; never knew anything about it. That letter was taken from me by dishonourable means. If you publish it you do me an injustice." Now, that was the stand he took.

Topic:   BOARD OF COMMERCE.
Subtopic:   RESIGNATION OF MR. MURDOCK DISCUSSED ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY.
Sub-subtopic:   UNE 29, 1920
Permalink
L LIB

Samuel William Jacobs

Laurier Liberal

Mr. JACOBS:

Where does that appear?

Topic:   BOARD OF COMMERCE.
Subtopic:   RESIGNATION OF MR. MURDOCK DISCUSSED ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY.
Sub-subtopic:   UNE 29, 1920
Permalink
UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I am putting it in my own language; I cannot remember his exact words, but his statement appears in the telegram. These ideas, however, were clearly beneath the words he used; that is the way he felt about it. Mr. Hugg also made a protest. Now, it did not matter what the personal opinion of the Government might have been or of any member of the Government. We did not feel that we had any right to decide the point with reference to Mr. Hugg's letter to Judge Robson. The prevailing opinion was that inasmuch as its publication might do Judge Robson a cruel injustice-he claimed that it was purely personal and should never have been taken from him-the Government

should not make themselves the instrument of its publication. But Mr. Murdock had the privilege of publishing it. In fact, I had no doubt that it would be published. I knew that Mr. Murdock could publish it at any day, and personally I fully expected that he would. It was not with the idea of concealing it that the Government did not publish it, because it was in Mr. Murdock's hands and could be published; but rightly or wrongly we respected Judge Robson's personal protest that its publication at our instance would be a gross injustice to him. Rightly or wrongly, that was why it was done, be the reason sufficient or be it not.

Now, that is a plain and frank statement of the whole situation. It is open t-o debate whether as a matter of judgment we should have recognized Judge Robson's protest and request under the circumstances. A very strong case can at least be made out for the attitude that we took, but whether it was right or wrong, how could it be called a scandal?

Topic:   BOARD OF COMMERCE.
Subtopic:   RESIGNATION OF MR. MURDOCK DISCUSSED ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY.
Sub-subtopic:   UNE 29, 1920
Permalink
L LIB

Samuel William Jacobs

Laurier Liberal

Mr. JACOBS:

You suppressed the letter.

Topic:   BOARD OF COMMERCE.
Subtopic:   RESIGNATION OF MR. MURDOCK DISCUSSED ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY.
Sub-subtopic:   UNE 29, 1920
Permalink
UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

We could not suppress it. It was in Mr. Murdock's hands, so there was no possibility of doing that.

Mr. JAjCOBS: It was asked for in the

House.

Topic:   BOARD OF COMMERCE.
Subtopic:   RESIGNATION OF MR. MURDOCK DISCUSSED ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY.
Sub-subtopic:   UNE 29, 1920
Permalink
UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Very good, but the

motion passed on the understanding that anything that was considered private or confidential in it would not be produced, and the Government, at the request of Judge Robson, took the ground that it should not be the instrument of producing it. I am free to say that good arguments can be adduced that the better judgment would have been to have brought it down. That argument can be made pretty strongly; but even were the judgment wrong, there is no scandal. It would be at the worst only an error of judgment; there cannot be anything else suggested.

Topic:   BOARD OF COMMERCE.
Subtopic:   RESIGNATION OF MR. MURDOCK DISCUSSED ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY.
Sub-subtopic:   UNE 29, 1920
Permalink
LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Why was the telegram of Judge Robson to the Government requesting that this document be kept confidential not brought down?

Topic:   BOARD OF COMMERCE.
Subtopic:   RESIGNATION OF MR. MURDOCK DISCUSSED ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY.
Sub-subtopic:   UNE 29, 1920
Permalink
UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

It would be said that if the protest were brought down, then, of course, the letter would have to be brought down, because the protest pointed to the letter, and Judge Robson doubtless considered that communication a personal communication. Now that the letter is down, I see no reason in the world why 286

his telegram should not come down. I remember the telegram very well; I have not seen it since.

Topic:   BOARD OF COMMERCE.
Subtopic:   RESIGNATION OF MR. MURDOCK DISCUSSED ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY.
Sub-subtopic:   UNE 29, 1920
Permalink

June 29, 1920