My hon. friend knows it is going to take a long time for any commission to go into the matter and to report. If we do not know that we are just as foolish as the right hon. Prime Minister thinks we are, but I do not think we are quite so foolish. I think we know that it is going to take a long time, and that it means there will be no action taken one way or the other.
I do not for one minute identify myself with many of the remarks made by the mover of the resolution'(Mr. Irvine). I think he is all wrong. But there is one matter I want to identify myself with, Mr. Speaker, and that is that the worst thing that can be done to our financial institutions at the present time is the maintenance of a smoke screen and keeping up a situation which will not admit the fullest discussion and the brightest light of day. And the way to get it and the way to have it, to my mind, is before the Banking committee without restrictions. Why should this parliament shackle the Banking committee with a resolution of this character? I say I do not agree with ground taken by our hon. friend from East Calgary (Mr. Irvine). I think he is wrong. Take for example, what he says as to the assets of the banks of Canada, and what he says as to the 12 or 15 per cent-I forget the figure he gave,
I think it was 12-of excess of assets over liabilities. Then in a subsequent sentence he said that that was only arrived at including bad debts, frozen credits, bank premises, and so forth. My hon. friend is quite wrong. That means that the banks, after every possible allowance is made, find themselves in that position. My hon. friend again is wrong. It is idle to say that there are no liars; but because we find a liar here-
It would be absolutely wrong to say that they were all liars over there. Some of them may be honest and I think they are. Just in the same way, it is ridiculous to say that because there is one thief, everybody else is a thief. We know that is not so. Because one bank is improperly run and managed, it is ridiculous to say that the rest are the same, or that simply because one bank goes wrong, all are to be suspected. My hon. friend goes too far altogether. He says that he wants to put Canadian banking upon a proper basis in order to restore confidence. His speech this afternoon, if taken seriously, would go a long way to dispel any possibility of confidence.
There is another point, and I think if my hon. friend looks into this, he will see the
fallacy of it. In one part of his speech he tells us that the banks are in this deplorable condition. In the next part of his speech he takes the position that the banks are so well off and prosperous that, without affecting their depositors or the interests of their shareholders, they can afford to shoulder the whole burden. My hon. friend is wrong there. He is right in this-that it is always better to have open and free discussion. The bank that ought to be respected has nothing to hide. Therefore, the position that I take is, in short, this, that any investigation into the Home Bank ought to be full and thorough; it ought to have to do, not only with its governmental connection during a certain period of its lifetime, but most particularly with its birth, and then, a great deal more emphatically and particularly, with its death. Further, if anything is to be done in connection with this matter, it is a great deal better that it should be done now. Why leave in the public mind the suspicion that people are giving voice to, that members of this House are giving voice to, as to the solvency of our institutions?
In the opinion of the hon. gentleman, would it be possible for the Banking committee or any other select committee during this session of Parliament to investigate fully the affairs of the Home Bank and to come to a definite conclusion as to its condition at the time it was formed, as to the maner in which it conducted its business and as to the shape in which it was when it went into liquidation?
I do not know why they could not or should not. In any event, they will have to do it sooner or later. Whatever work is done by any royal commission, if anything is wrong, has all to be done over again before that committee. No measure of relief or change in the law can be carried out by the commission. Any fences that are found to be down cannot be re-erected by the commission. In any event, the work has to be done by the committee. If the government wants to have the commission running around, all right; but if we are really serious about this, we should say one of two things: Either that because there is a royal commission, nothing is to be done until that commission reports in so many words-and that means that we shall do nothing this year-or we should reject the amendment
Home Bank Investigation moved by the hon. member for Pontiac (Mr. Cahill). '
Hon. E. M. MACDONALD (Minister of National Defence):
Mr. Speaker, I think
the admission of my hon. friend the former Minister of Finance (Sir Henry Drayton) is one of the most peculiar utterances ,t we have ever heard in this House on a serious question. Altogether it is rather a unique situation that an hon. gentleman speaking for the opposition should have been a Minister of Finance of this country during a period in which he ought to have known something about this bank. It is generally understood that my hon. friend had in his possession certain information that had been given to Sir Thomas White in previous years, and I think many in this House would view with some suspicion this attempt to sidetrack a deliberate effort which I believe the House will appreciate on the part of this government to find out the true facts in regard to the whole situation and to take action immediately those facts are found. That is the policy of this government. Imagine my hon. friend intimating to this House that the sole purpose of the organization of the commission was to get after Sir Thomas White. That is a peculiar statement, and one which my hon. friend knew, when he made it, had no warrant in fact.