June 24, 1926

CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

No, they do not say

anything about "the minister before him."

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

For a good reason.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Perhaps so. I am now dealing with the report as it stands. That report says that the degeneration in efficiency was greatly accelerated in the last few years.

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PRO
CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Not since the minister was sick, but "in the last few years." Hon. gentlemen cannot put less than three for those years of rapid degeneration. That minister is declared to have failed to appreciate the duties of his office altogether and he is further declared to have directed his officers to make reports and recommendations to him, repugnant upon the recited facts, in order that he might do something which the facts did not warrant. We are asked to approve of that report, to approve of every particular, and then we are asked to find that the government itself is guiltless of the malfeasance, so described.

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PRO

John Warwick King

Progressive

Mr. KING (Kootenay):

May I interrupt? Does not the report also show that when the present Minister ,of Customs came into office he immediately started the machinery which brought about the cleaning up of the department, and that the inquiry which he instituted was the basis of this debate and the success-

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

It shows this, that immediately the minister got information that the member for Vancouver Centre had a resolution on the order paper, he told an officer of the department, Mr. Duncan, to proceed to Montreal to see if he could not get evidence.

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PRO
CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Yes, he got it. I wonder why he started it? That same officer had been in the employ of the department for months back and his efforts had been wholly sterile. The moment he was told to go to Montreal on the mission that proved effective, at that very moment he was informed by the minister and discussed with the minister the Stevens resolution in this House.

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PRO
CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Does the minister say

"no"? I read the evidence this afternoon, and there is no evidence to contradict it. I do not doubt that now the case is closed, and we have to accept the word of hon. members in this House, we will get evidence yet; but I am arguing this case on the testimony before the committee, and no hon. member has any right to come to any conclusion save on the testimony there adduced. And what is more, this government would not be arraigned before this parliament to-night seeking to give evidence from the floor of this House if there was evidence they dared to give before that committee.

Now there is an amendment before this House moved by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Woodsworth)-an amendment to the amendment. The purpose of that amendment the merest tyro in parliamentary life can easily discern. In itself it is comparatively harmless. It seeks to destroy, and if it is passed will destroy, every word and sentence of the original amendment; it seeks to destroy every word and sentence which passes the judgment of this House that the conduct of the government in permitting this state of affairs to exist is indefensible, that the conduct of the minister is utterly unjustifiable in relation to the Aziz case; it seeks to eliminate this wholly, and will do so if it is passed. Then it says that you ought to amend clause 4 so as to provide for a royal commission to continue the investigation. I wonder if the hon. member ever read the report, or did he who collaborated with him to prepare this amendment ever read the report. The report itself advises the continuation of this investigation, not merely departmentally but extra-departmentally, and leaves it wholly to the government to say what form that investigation shall take. There is the body of the report. But in order to get something to put in a subamendment, in order to get a bridge upon which timid members of parliament could pass over and get away from the main amendment-in order to do that, the amendment to the amendment says: you must appoint a royal commission to continue this

Customs Inquiry-Mr. Meighen

investigation. And the Prime Minister stands up and says that unless we vote for this and oppose the other resolution, thus defeating the main amendment, there cannot be a continuation of the investigation. Imagine the Prime Minister of Canada suggesting such a thing to the members of this House! The investigation, if this report is adopted, must go on by order of this House. The investigation can proceed by royal commission or by any extra-departmental machinery that to the government may seem fit.

The amendment to the amendment continues:

That the following be added >to danse 6:

Your committee deplores the common practice, as revealed by ilhe evidence, of members of .parliament and others appealing to the minister to relax the regulations of the department for personal advantage or political expediency.

May I ask the hon. member why he did not go on and say, "and of acceding to those appeals?" Why did he not say that? The member is very much absorbed. Do hon. gentlemen recall that the loudest assertion of his speech, that upon which he seemed to have the deepest conviction was a declaration that the most astounding fact of the whole thing was the appointment of Mr. Bureau to the Senate; that is what he denounced most. "Will the hon. gentleman tell me where that is in his amendment? His amendment is a lot of eyewash, purposely eyewash, froth and foam, and he knows it. His only-purpose was to-

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LAB
CON
LAB
CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I am accustomed to some of these privilege matters on the part of hon. gentlemen opposite.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

The right hon.

gentleman undertakes to state what my purpose was in moving this amendment to the amendment.

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Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I assert that the

purpose which I had in view was not that which the right hon. gentleman says it was. I tried last night-

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

That is not a question of privilege.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I tried last night

in the course of my address to state as clearly as I am capable of stating the reason that led me to propose this amendment to the amendment, and I submit, Mr. Speaker-

Topic:   A. 1925.
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June 24, 1926