February 18, 1926

IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN (York):

Now it is coming out. We ought to have three counsel.

Topic:   CUSTOMS INQUIRY
Subtopic:   'FIRST REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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PRO

Donald MacBeth Kennedy

Progressive

Mr. KENNEDY (Peace River):

We met

yesterday in camera, but I was overridden. The recommendation now made I moved in

the committee this morning in deference to the unanimous opinion of the other members. Of cotirse. if the House is opposed to the recommendation, well and good; but this recommendation expresses the opinion of the committee that, so far as the committee itself is concerned, we ought to have counsel possibly more than one.

Topic:   CUSTOMS INQUIRY
Subtopic:   'FIRST REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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CON

Richard Burpee Hanson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. B. HANSON (York-Sunibury):

Topic:   CUSTOMS INQUIRY
Subtopic:   'FIRST REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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CON

Richard Burpee Hanson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HANSON:

In the light of what the bon, minister has said, may I ask why it is that the services of Mr. Geoffrion are being continued? The minister says the department has no defence to make.

Topic:   CUSTOMS INQUIRY
Subtopic:   'FIRST REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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LIB

Georges Henri Boivin (Minister of Customs and Excise)

Liberal

Mr. BOIVIN:

The services of Mr. Geoffrion are being continued in the interests of the Department of Customs because so far no other counsel has been appointed, and not until we are thoroughly convinced that it is the intention of the new counsel to probe the administration of the department very thoroughly, noit only during the past year but during the past eight, ten, twelve or perhaps twenty yeans, will we dispense with the services of the counsel already retained.

Mr. JEAN J. DENIS (Joliette): Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Customs (Mr. Boivin) has just said that the committee this morning unanimously decided that counsel should be retained to assist them. This places me in a better position than I would be in if members of the committee who sit on this side of the House had themselves recommended this course. Now, I may be wrong, but I do not see the necessity for counsel. The hon. member for \ ancouver Centre has brought charges against the Department of Customs and Excise, and it is up to him to prove those charges; it is not the duty of the committee to find witnesses for him. The committee is acting as judge of the evidence to be adduced before it. If the hon. member few- Vancouver Centre has no evidence to bring forward, so much the worse for him; but the committee has nothing to do with that. The Minister of Customs drafted the order of reference in such wide and ample terms as to give the hon. member every facility to substantiate his charges. The duty of the committee is to hear the evidence and report upon it to the House, and having done so its powers are exhausted. In the last resort, it is for this House to determine whether or not that report shall be accepted or rejected, or to send it back to the committee with certain instructions. That is the procedure. I repeat, Sir, that I cannot see the necessity of retaining counsel to act on behalf of the committee.

Hon. HUGH GUTHRIE (South Wellington) ; Mr. Speaker, it is quite true, as the hon. Minister of Customs has stated, that the motion to appoint the Customs committee was made by the government. But it is equally true, and within the knowledge of everyone in the House, that certain charges were made by the hon. member for Vancouver Centre of maladministration in the Department of Customs-

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Subtopic:   'FIRST REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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LIB

Georges Henri Boivin (Minister of Customs and Excise)

Liberal

Mr. BOIVIN:

I said that.

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CON

Hugh Guthrie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

-and it was in respect

of those charges, some of them very definite and very positive, that this committee of investigation was appointed. Personally I would have no objection Whatever to the employment of counsel by the Department of Customs; I think under all the circumstances that is their right. But there is another side to the case-the public. Now, the public are concerned. My hon. friend from Joliette (Mr. Denis) stated that the member for Vanoouver Centre had made certain definite charges. He certainly has made some very broad charges. My hon. friend from Joliette lays the burden on the shoulders of the hon. member of proving those charges. Surely, then, he should have something to say in regard to the prosecution of those charges before the committee. I think we are all well aware that three members of the committee represent the government side of the House-*

Topic:   CUSTOMS INQUIRY
Subtopic:   'FIRST REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Four.

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CON

Hugh Guthrie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

-four members of the committee represent the opposition side, and one member represents the Progressive side. My information is only gained in the corridors, but I understand it was insisted that every one of those political parties should have counsel-for what purpose I hardly know. The idea to me was absurd, and I so expressed myself when I heard it. One party of members representing the government to have counsel, another party of members representing the opposition to have counsel, and the third and single member representing the Progressive party to have counsel! Surely that is not in the interests of justice, of fair play or of anything else. My hon. friend from Joliette, said he would be prepared to accept the proposition that no counsel be employed'. Were it not for the tremendous amount of work that is to be performed, I think his suggestion would be a good one, and that the committee might deal with the matter themselves without counsel. But in this case there is so much involved and there are so many ramifications to be dealt with that I doubt if any nine men could do justice to the case without the reasonable assistance of counsel. If there is to be counsel for the committee one should suffice, but I think my hon. friend from Vancouver Centre should be the one to name that counsel. The government, or the Minister of Customs at the present time, has employed counsel, which I think is proper.

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Subtopic:   'FIRST REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   CUSTOMS INQUIRY
Subtopic:   'FIRST REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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CON

Hugh Guthrie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

Surely then he will allow

those who have laid the charges, who have

Transportation of Coal

been the real instigators of the investigation to appoint counsel on their behalf, in order that all sides of the case may 'be fairly laid before the committee.

Topic:   CUSTOMS INQUIRY
Subtopic:   'FIRST REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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LIB

Georges Henri Boivin (Minister of Customs and Excise)

Liberal

Mr. BOIVIN:

I would like to ask the

hon. member a question. Does he not consider it sufficient for the hon. member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Stevens) to be at the same time the accuser and the judge, without giving him all the powers of the House of Commons?

Topic:   CUSTOMS INQUIRY
Subtopic:   'FIRST REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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CON

Motion agreed to.


UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF


On the Orders of the Day:


CON

Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. T. L. CHURCH (Toronto Northwest):

I would like to call the attention of the government to the acute unemployment situation in the larger centres of population this spring, and to learn if the government will consider by Monday adopting the proposal of the conference on unemployment by which this government was to contribute its share of one-third to help the provinces and municipalities and thus to relieve the whole unemployment situation.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
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LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Hon. ERNEST LAPOINTE (Leader of the House):

The government has already announced that it is prepared to do so. That is our understanding with the municipalities and the provinces.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
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HUDSON BAY RAILWAY


On the Orders of the Day:


February 18, 1926