May 22, 1924

QUESTIONS


(Questions answered orally are indicated by an asterisk)


CANADIAN NATIONAL TRANSCONTINENTAL TRAINS-MAIL

PRO

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

Progressive

1. Do the Canadian National transcontinental trains numbers 1 and 2 carry mail in either direction from coast to coast ?

2. If so, what are the revenues received therefrom?

3. Does mail from stations in the vicinity of Jasper Park go through to Vancouver when westbound?

4. If not, what is the routing practised, and what railway company carry the mail?

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LIB

Hon. Mr. STEWART (for the Postmaster General): (Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

1. Mails are carried on these trains between the following points: Halifax, N.S., and Montreal, P.Q.; Cochrane, Ont.; and Winnipeg, Man.; Winnipeg, Man.; and Melville, Sask.; Lucerne, B.C.; and Kamloops, B.C.

2. $270,094.62 per annum.

3. Yes, but- not direct.

4. By Canadian National Railway train 3 to Lucerne, B.C.; Canadian National Railway train 1 Lucerne to Kamloops, B.C.; Canadian Pacific Railway train Kamloops to Vancouver, B.C.

Mr. Murdock and Home Bank

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ARMENIAN IMMIGRATION

PRO

Mr. ELLIOTT (Waterloo):

Progressive

1. Is the government discouraging Armenian immigration into Canada?

2. If so, why?

3. How many Armenians have entered Canada since January 1st, 1924?

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Subtopic:   ARMENIAN IMMIGRATION
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LIB

Hon. Mr. ROBB: (Minister of Immigration and Colonization)

Liberal

1. The immigration regulation impose upon Armenians as well as upon immigrants of many other nationalities an occupational test and also upon Armenians as well as upon other Asiatics the money test. The occupation test restricts immigration from Armenia to, (a) farmers and farm labourers coming to settle on the land; (b) women coming to engage in housework; and (c) the wife and minor children of any person legally resident in Canada. The money test is $250 and Asiatic immigrants are required to be in possession of $250 as a condition of landing. This, however, does not apply to a wife or minor children. As Armenians seldom farm in Canada, it naturally follows that the application of the immigration regulations reduces Armenian immigration to a small number annually.

2. Answered by No. 1.

3. Incomplete returns to the end of April give the number of admissions as 163.

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Subtopic:   ARMENIAN IMMIGRATION
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HOME BANK

PRO

Mr. SPENCER:

Progressive

1. Did the officials of the Home Bank approach the Finance department of the government in 1923 to obtain an advance or advances under the Finance Act?

2. If so, on -what date or dates, and for what

amounts?

3. If a refusal was made, what reasons were given for same?

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LIB

Hon. Mr. ROBB: (Minister of Immigration and Colonization)

Liberal

1. No fresh advances were applied for.

2 and 3. Prior to May 1st, on which date all loans under the Finance Act became due, the bank made formal application for the authorization of a standing credit up to $3,000,000 against securities acceptable to the Treasury Board, including the renewal of an outstanding loan of $220,000 secured by Dominion bonds of a like amount. This application was approved, but the bank did not submit any additional securities or avail itself of the provision apart from the renewal of the existing loan.

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HON. MR. MURDOCK AND HOME BANK

CON

Edward Guss Porter

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. E. GUSS PORTER (West Hastings):

Mr. Speaker, I propose to move a resolution which affects not only the public interest but the honour of this House. It affects more particularly, in fact very particularly, the hon. Minister of Labour (Mr. Murdock). I have

taken occasion, Sir, to notify him of my intention, and I have also supplied him with a copy of the resolution. I have received a reply from him that the action about to be taken by me is satisfactory to him.

The matter concerned is the relation of and' dealings by the hon. minister, in his personal capacity and as minister of the Crown, with the defunct Home Bank, these dealings being confined to the day or two prior to its failure. It had been my intention to bring this matter before the House at an earlier date, but unfortunately I did not find an opportunity of doing so.

In presenting what I have to say in this connection I have no desire whatever to express a personal opinion or to comment upon the facts. I desire only to bring the facts as they have been disclosed to me to the attention of the House for such action as the House may see fit to take in the circumstances. I can only undertake to state, in addition to the facts as they have been disclosed to me, certain principles and rules of parliament which, the evidence has convinced me, have been infringed by the hon. minister.

In moving this resolution I hope that my intentions will not be misconstrued or my language misapprehended. I have no personal quarrel with the hon. minister; in fact I have no personal acquaintance with the hon. gentleman further than to have met him occasionally in the corridors of the House. I have no quarrel with him as minister of the department over which he presides or as a representative of that * class of people with whose interests he is most intimately connected. I have no Home Bank depositors or shareholders, so far as I know, in the riding which I have the honour to represent in this House. I have no political feeling in the matter; I have tried as best I can to divest myself of any feeling of that character, and I only desire and hope that what I may say in connection with this matter may be received 'by the House in that spirit. My only desire, my only intention in moving this resolution is that the dignity and the honour of parliament may be preserved, that its rights, its privileges and its traditions may not be infringed upon either by the hon. minister who is here charged or by any other hon. member. It is just as important that the honour and integrity of a member of the House or the government should at all times be sustained as it is that the honour of the House should be sustained, and it is with that double view that I take this action. Without that preservation of the integrity of ministers of the Crown particularly, and of members of the House in general, it would

Mr. Murdock and Home Bank

be impossible to carry on with any degree of safety the affairs of government. A disregard of the honour and traditions of parliament can only bring condemnation to any government, and it must in the end bring not only utter failure but disgrace upon the government of Canada. The importance, therefore, of the maintenance of the honour of a member of parliament or of a member of the government is evident.

I find, not only from my own recollection of political affairs, but upon searching the public records of Canada, that the Canadian government has been singularly free from lapses of public rectitude. There are only a few cases on record, and I find that in all those cases-and it is only what might have been expected-neither the parliament nor the public of Canada were slow in applying punishment where the conduct of a minister or of a member called for it. In all my searching, which has been somewhat extensive, I have not found a case where upon conduct being alleged such as I intend to charge here, the investigation asked for was refused by parliament. It is therefore with a great deal of confidence that I bring this motion before the House, believing, as I do, that the precedent established by parliament will be followed in this case and that an investigation of the charges I am about to make will be granted, in order not only that the honour of parliament may be vindicated and the traditions of parliament maintained, but, that the integrity, honesty and faithfulness to office and duty on the part of the minister will be established.

The matter to which I particularly refer came to the public knowledge as long ago as the 20th. of February, 1924, in an article published in the Ottawa Journal, in which the minister was charged with the same offence, if I may so designate it-charged with the same thing that I am about to charge him with to-day. In the Mail and Empire of the 29th February he was similarly charged I do not propose to read those articles, because I do not think it wTould be fair or just, nor do I believe that newspaper articles are competent or sufficient evidence. I only mention these charges made through the public press to indicate to the House that the public, and that includes the minister and the government, became aware of them at that time.

The British parliament, which we are all glad to look to as our example in connection with the preservation of the dignity of parliament, the proper conduct of public affairs and many other matters, has always been very careful in preserving the dignity i of that

,

House and in seeing that the conduct of ministers of the Crown is in accord with the principles that they have laid down and have always, I believe, succeeded in following. That is one of the principles-the principle laid down by the British parliament-that I am invoking here to-day. Let me quote the words of a very eminent minister of the British government, Sir Rufus Isaacs, then Solicitor General, in this connection. He said:

If a minister should use any information which he obtains as a minister for the purpose of furthering his own interests, he is deserving of censure.

Further he says:

Whether the minister was personally wicked is not the point. The question is whether the precedent which he sets up is a bad one.

And further:

Apart from all personal motives and personal considerations, whether the facts as known to the public establish a precedent which he can safely allow to stand.

The British parliament, so far as I have been able to discover, has never undertaken to define in so many words, or in any one particular rule, what conduct shall, or what conduct shall not, constitute an infringement of that rule. It is, as has been stated in some of the discussions, a matter of the honour of a member and of the dignity of parliament, which alone is in the keeping and charge of parliament itself. No one could possibly imagine exactly what line of conduct might come before parliament in a matter of that character, and so I take it that it has been impossible, or if not impossible, that it was at least considered inadvisable, that parliament should lay down any particular rule within the four corners of which a minister or a member must come in order to merit condemnation for any action that he might be guilty of. Sir Rufus Isaacs, to whom I have referred, was himself charged with a breach of his duty as a minister of the Crown, and I might say also that in that he was charged jointly with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and on that occasion when the matter came before parliament on a direct charge against these two ministers of the Crown, Sir Rufus Isaacs used this further language:

No minister should use any information which he obtains as a minister for the purpose of furthering his private interests.

And Mr. Asquith, when Prime Minister of Great Britain, on that same occasion used this language:

No minister is justified under any circumstances in using official information that has come to him as a minister for his own profit or for that of his friends-

Mr. Murdock and Home Bank

He adds this further, broadening out the rule and seeing that it is not too much confined:

-or as* to which from their position and their special means of early br confidential information, they have or may have an advantage over other people.

Now with those principles established on the authority to which I have referred, and which principles I invoke, I would like for a few moments to direct the attention of the House to the position that a minister of the Crown occupies, in his duty to the Crown, his duty to the public, and his personal interests. As a minister of the Crown I think it is apparent, and will at once be acknowledged, that he becomes a trustee for the Crown. His election to parliament makes him necessarily a trustee for the people, and his position as a minister makes him more so perhaps, if the obligation can be increased, than if he were an ordinary member of parliament. His personal interests are, at once upon his election to the honourable position of a minister of the Crown, subordinated to his obligations as such trustee. His obligations as a trustee for the Crown and as a trustee for all the people are far and away superior to any rights that he may personally enjoy. The general law of trusts, which is founded, as we all know, by centuries of practice on what is just and right, applies with all its force, to a member or a minister who occupies the position of a trustee. I do not think it will require any elaboration or argument on my part to establish that point. May I add that if a trustee in any capacity uses his position as trustee to gain some advantage to himself or in his own personal right, that is a breach of the very first obligation, and the greatest obligation that a trustee can possibly assume.

Now may I ask the House to assume, and only for the moment to illustrate my argument, that the hon. Minister of Labour (Mr. Murdock) did receive as a minister of the Crown, information as to the financial condition of the Home Bank. Could he go out on the street and divulge to the public the information that he received? The very obligation of his office would prevent his doing that. If he could not do that and give the public, those for whom he is a trustee, the benefit of his knowledge, let me ask, in all decency, could a minister of the Crown use that knowledge that he was denying and was bound to deny to the public, for his own personal knowledge? I have only to state the case, I think, to convince hon. members of this House that such conduct would merit the condemnation not only of parliament but of the people as a whole.

I had occasion to read a synopsis of the evidence given by the right hon. the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) before the Home Bank Commission just a few days ago, and I was very glad to see that the right hon. gentleman himself took the very position that I am-I was going to say urging on the House to-day, but I do not need to urge it, I need only mention it-the Prime Minister himself took the position I have mentioned, for he stated that his obligations of office precluded him from making any statement to the Home Bank Commissioner as to what had taken place in cabinet meetings, and he even went so far as to say that he could not-and he did not-disclose the names of members of the government who were present at a meeting of the cabinet.

Now, when the minister (Mr. Murdock) became aware of the charges contained in newspaper reports, and that his honour was impugned, it seems to me the obligation devolved upon him at that time to rise in his place in the House and clear the matter up, and disavow if he could those charges. The course was open to him to rise in his place and deny the charges that had been made. He could then have furnished proper and sufficient evidence, if such was available, giving all the particulars in regard to his withdrawal of his funds from the Home Bank at that particular time. Had he done that, parliament and the public might have been satisfied and the matter might not have gone any further. But the hon. minister did not do that. He prefered to remain silent, preferred to make no answer to parliament at all; and the charges made stand to-day so far as parliament and the public are concerned.

Then the matter came up incidentally in this House on the 27th March. I say "incidentally" because the questions put at that time were not of a direct character. On the date referred to the hon. member for West York (Sir Henry Drayton) questioned the Prime Minister as follows:

Will the hon. Prime Minister give us now, if he has them, the representations made by the directors who were here begging government assistance? He has got them.

Mr. Mackenzie King: I do not know what representations my hon. friend has reference to, but any representations made to the government will be placed before the commission, whatever they are and wherever they are.

The Prime Minister has been before the commission, "whatever they are and wherever they are" and I fail to find in his evidence anywhere that that information was placed before them.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I may say to

my hon. friend that as soon as the commission

Mr. Murdoch and Home Bank

was appointed I forwarded to it the representations that were made to the government.

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CON

Edward Guss Porter

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PORTER:

That does not appear in

the public records.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

It appears in the records of the commission.

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CON

Edward Guss Porter

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PORTER:

What I am stating is that there was an opportunity for the Prime Minister at that time to make a statement in a public way and not by private letter.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

It was a

public letter.

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CON

Edward Guss Porter

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PORTER:

In giving his evidence he

had the opportunity of meeting what I am alleging here. On the occasion in question the discussion proceeded:

Sir Henry Drayton: What I am referring to I think my hon. friend understands.

Mr. Mackenzie King: I do not.

Sir Henry Drayton: I refer to the representations made 'by the directors who came to Ottawa for the purpose of acquainting the government with the situation, and the statements made by them, the action taken by the government in allowing the bank to go, and the reasons for it.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Those are the very matters I referred to the commission, not privately but publicly.

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May 22, 1924