June 29, 1926

FORMATION OF MINISTRY-PROGRAMME OUTLINED-STATEMENT PRESENTED BY SIR HENRY DRAYTON

CON

Henry Lumley Drayton (Minister of Finance and Receiver General; Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON (Leader of the House):

Before the proceedings open I desire to give to the House a statement prepared by the right hon. the Prime Minister (Mr. Meighen) in connection with changes in the ministerial situation. The statement is as follows:

14011-323i

Immediately following the resignation of the late government and the adjournment of the House yesterday, His Excellency, the Governor General sent for the Right Honourable Arthur Meighen, leader of the Conservative party and requested him to form a new administration. Mr. Meighen advised His Excellency last evening that he would undertake this task, and was sworn in this morning as Prime Minister, Secretary of State for External Affairs and President of the Privy Council,

Having in mind the fact that the present session has now continued for almost six months, and is very near its close, Mr. Meighen believed it to be the first duty of any government he might form to conclude with all convenient despatch the work of the present session. Such a course in preference to a somewhat prolonged adjournment was demanded also by a just regard for the convenience of hon. members, especially those who come from a great distance.

It was manifestly impossible to effect this result if a government was to be formed in the usual way and if ministers were to be assigned portfolios necessitating the vacating of their seats and consequent by-elections. The delay thus involved would, especially at this period of the year, have entailed unnecessary hardship. The Prime Minister accordingly decided to constitute and submit to His Excellency a temporary ministry composed of seven members, who would be sworn in without portfolio, and who would assume responsibility as acting ministers of the several departments.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh!

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton (Minister of Finance and Receiver General; Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

I am delighted to hear the applause of hon. gentlemen opposite and to note thedr anxiety to have the session brought to a close.

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An hon. MEMBER:

Read the statement.

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton (Minister of Finance and Receiver General; Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

Hon. gentlemen are unnecessarily alarmed. Let me repeat the statement which they apparently approve:

The Prime Minister accordingly decided to constitute and submit to His Excellency a temporary ministry composed of seven members, who would be sworn in without portfolio, and who would assume responsibility as acting ministers of the several departments.

This step has been taken and the following members have accepted office as ministers without portfolio:

Sir Henry Drayton.

Hon. R. J. Manion.

Sir George H. Perley.

Hon. H. H, Stevens.

Hon. Hugh Guthrie.

Hon. W. A. Black.

Honourable R. B. Bennett is on his way ito Ottawa from Calgary and will be asked to accept similar duties upon arrival. S

These men have been assigned responsibility as acting ministers as follows: 'Sir Henry Drayton, Finance department and Railways department. Honourable R. .T. Manion, Department of Health, Department of Soldier's Civil Re-establishment, Post Office department, Immigration department, jand Labour department; Sir George Perley, Department of Secretary of State and Department of Public Works; Honourable H. H. [DOT]Stevens, Customs department, Interior department, Department of Indian Affairs and Mines, Agriculture de-par ment, and Trade and Commerce department; Hon.

Privilege-Mr. Mackenzie King

Hugh Guthrie, Department of Justice and Department of National Defence; Honourable W. A. Black, Department of Marine and Fisheries.

Mr. Meighen having accepted an office of emolument under the crown, namely that of Prime Minister, has thereby vacated his seat, and has asked me to assume temporarily the duty of leading the government in the House. As already stated the government deems it its first duty to give parliament an opportunity of dealing with all such matters as should be disposed of prior to the close of the session. Among these is the resolution of the Honourable member for St. Henri, for adoption of the report of the special committee which investigated the Department of Customs and Excise, and the amendment thereto of Mr. Stevens, as amended by the amendment submitted by Mr. Fansher. The government feels that under all the circumstances it has no other course than to ask the House to take up and dispose of this subject in the same way as others which appear on the order paper. While in opposition the present Prime Minister announced to parliament the acceptance by his party of the amendment moved by the Honourable Mr. Stevens, as amended by the amendment of Mr. Fansher. This position the same party takes now when in office and the adoption of such amendment so amended represents the view of the government and the advice of the government to the House. So soon as prorogation takes effect Mr. Meighen will immediately address himself to the task of constituting a government in the method established by custom. The present plan is merely to meet an unusual if not unprecedented situation.

PRIVILEGE-MR. MACKENZIE KING Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Leader of the Opposition): Mr. Speaker, I

rise on a question of privilege to read to the House an article which appears in the morning press-I am reading from the Ottawa Citizen of June 29, but I assume that the same article has appeared in other papers throughout the Dominion. As the article contains a reference to His Excellency the Governor General which reflects on His Excellency as well as on others, I think it important that an immediate statement should be made with reference thereto. The article is as follows:

The Canadian Press understands that His Excellency the Governor General consented to sign only such of the aippointmenta submitted to him 'by the Prime Minister as had been made on Friday, before the adverse votes to the government, and these included the two senatorships, W. M. MaeDougald, Montreal, Quebec, and Dr. Daniel Riley, High River, Alta., and the judgeships already announced, as well as the two appointments to the Civil Service Commission, these being made Friday.

The government had also determined appointments to the vacant senatorship in Nova Scotia, to two judgeships in Quebec, and one judgeship in Ontario, it is stated, but as these were not submitted to His Excellency until after Friday's votes, Lord Byng felt himself unable to assent to them.

To the last paragraph I give an emphatic denial. Not one word of it is true, Mr. Speaker. The paragraph to which I give denial is this:

The government had also determined appointments to the vacant senatorship in Nova Scotia-

Appointment to the vacant senatorship in Nova Scotia was never determined by the government and no 'recommendation whatever was made to His Excellency in reference thereto.

-to two judgeships in Quebec and one judgeship in Ontario, it is stated, but as these were not submitted to His Excellency until after Friday's votes, Lord Byng felt himself unable to assent to them.

May I say as the one who was occupying the position of Prime Minister at the time, that I did hot present a single order to His Excellency the Governor General which His Excellency declined to accept at the time, except the one order asking for dissolution of this House, which His Excellency said he was unable to assent to.

While I am referring to this matter, Mr. Speaker, may I draw Your Honour's attention and the attention of the House to the position which I took with His Excellency after the last general election? I then took the position that owing to the uncertainty which existed a? to the control of parliament, I would not ask His Excellency to make any appointments to office, nor would I commit the government to any new course of action without the House in the first instance de* ciding upon the party that had the right to carry 0n. I shall expect that the Prime Minister now in office will give the same undertaking to His Excellency-that no appointments will be made and that the government will not be committed to any new courses of action until it is definitely known whether the right hon. Prime Minister enjoys the full approval and confidence of this House.

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton (Minister of Finance and Receiver General; Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON (Leader of the House):

Mr. Speaker, I hasten to assure my

right hon. friend that the right hon. Prime Minister (Mr. Meighen) will conduct himself in his office with the most perfect propriety.

, REPORTS

Eighth report of the select standing committee on Miscellaneous Private Bills-Mr. Brown.

Ninth report of the select standing committee on Miscellaneous Private Bills-Mr. Bowen.

Customs Inquiry-Mr. Rin/ret

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FREE METHODIST CHURCH OF CANADA

CON

Arthur Edward Ross

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. A. E. ROSS (Kingston City) moved:

That the promoters of Bill No. Ill, an act to incorporate the executive council of the Free Methodist Church in Canada, having signified their intention of not proceeding further with the said bill during the present session of parliament, the bill be withdrawn.

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Motion agreed to.


PRIVATE BILLS


Mr. FRED W. BOWEN (Durham) moved: That in accordance with the recommendations contained in the ninth report of the select standing committee on Miscellaneous Private Bills, all bills reported in the eighth and ninth report of said committee be placed on the orders of the day among private bills for consideration in committee of the Whole this day. Mr. FRANK S. CAHILL (Pontiac): Mr. Speaker, I think there are certain names mentioned in one of the reports that I may have to object to. Therefore I ask that this motion stand as a notice of motion.


LIB

CUSTOMS INQUIRY

REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTED-MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE AND AMENDMENTS THERETO.


The House resumed from Friday, June 25, consideration of the motion of Mr. Mercier (St. Henri) for concurrence in the report of the special committee appointed to investigate the Department of Customs and Excise, and the proposed amendment thereto, as amended, of Hon. Mr. Stevens.


LIB

Louis Édouard Fernand Rinfret

Liberal

Mr. FERNAND RINFRET (St. James):

Mr. Speaker, before I attempt to resume this debate, I cannot resist the temptation to outline the different aspect that this House has taken since, the last time we met. If my memory went back to only a few months ago, I think I could find fluttering around me some of the arguments that my hon. friends opposite-now pretending to be the government-used at the time regarding what they called the "truncated and incomplete" government of that time. I look in vain at the gallery, and I wish my eyes could pierce the walls, to see if I might not find in the lobby the pretended Prime Minister of to-day. I see before me some of the ministers who are without portfolios, although at the same time every one of them pretends to act for a number of departments. The hon. member for Fort William (Mr. Manion) and the hon. member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Stevens) are each burdened with five or six departments, although they were eager at the time

to claim that no government could function under circumstances which were much better than we find them to-day. We were also told, Mr. Speaker, that the Hon. Mr. "Myself" had been called to take charge of the Department of Finance. I was just going to rise to a point of order and state that we had never heard of such a gentleman, and to inquire as to his identity when we found that it was no other than the same gentleman who early in January was so definite in stating that no government could function under such conditions. I am surprised to see the hon. member for West York (Sir Henry Drayton), enter into a combination completely opposed to the stand he took in the House in the early days of this session.

If I say this, Mr. Speaker, it is merely to underline the fact that our revered leader took the proper course when he advised dissolution, and I am sorry that we of the Liberal party have not been allowed to bring before the people of Canada, who after all are the real judges, the question which has come to a crisis in this House. It is well to point out that politicians should be very careful in the stand they take in this House. In speaking for two months at the opening of the session hon. gentlemen opposite made it very easy for us to find a heap of arguments, a lot of statements, the character of which may not suit us but which would very well depict them in their own words. Perhaps I may be permitted to add that whether he sits as the Prime Minister or merely as the member for Prince Albert, we of the Liberal party are united in the fullest admiration and confidence in the Right Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King.

As for the debate which we are continuing to-day, I am under no difficulty whatever in making the statements I should have made had I remained on the other side of the House. I hold the same views; I have the same arguments to present and circumstances have not in the least altered my opinion of this report and the amendment which has been moved. I say that because I think we should approach this question without the least sense of partisanship and look at it squarely and frankly. I think on the whole the speeches which have been made not only by the ex-ministers, if I may call them so, but by some of the independent members as well have been above partisanship, and it is my intention to do likewise. But I would like to put this principle first, that if we show no partisanship in the defence of our case we should expect none in the attack. When I heard members sitting on these benches, now

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sitting across the floor, applauding some of the speeches made during the course of the debate, I could not help thinking that these members were less concerned in reforming the Customs department than in embarrassing the then government. They were not so anxious to prevent smuggling as to smuggle themselves into power if they could. And it reminded me of a scene during the last campaign in our province. I attended a political meeting of one of the candidates then representing Mr. Patenaude, who perhaps will represent Mr. Meighen to-morrow, and he was depicting the ruin which he claimed had come over this country. The more ruin he depicted the more applause he commanded from his Tory hearers; the more gloomy his picture the more enthusiasm he created, and when he finally concluded by saying that this country was on the very verge of bankruptcy nothing could control the exuberance of those good Tory patriots. I had the same impression when listening to some of the speeches during this debate. An hon. member who sat on that committee depicted what he said were the conditions of smuggling in his own province, and the more cases he brought before the attention of the House the louder became the applause of the Conservative members sitting around him. It was easy to see, Mr. Speaker, that hon. members were rejoicing over what they thought they had found, and were only too sorry that they could not find more. That was the measure of their patriotism, and that is what I want to prevent when dealing with this matter. I would like to deal with it not as a member of the Liberal party, not as a member of the Conservative party, but rather as though I belonged to the third party, who claim that they should have the deciding voice in this contest.

The hon. member for Mackenzie (Mr. Campbell) took the stand that we were the defendants, the other side the prosecutors and the third party the jury. I would be quite willing, Mr. Speaker, to take him at his word, but I would not leave it to him alone to decide or to the three or four other members of that group who appear to be of the same opinion. I would be willing, however, to leave it to a majority of the independent party. If the hon. member takes the stand that neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals should vote because they are prejudiced by party spirit, to follow his own reasoning he should himself follow the majority of what he calls the independent jury. Has anyone ever seen in the justice courts of this country a case decided by a minority of

[Mr. Rinfretj

the jury? If you have a jury composed of twenty-five or thirty members would any case be decided by five of those members as against the wishes, the opinions, and the decision of the remainder of the jury? I say to the hon. member for Mackenzie that if he wishes to be consistent-and I will give him every credit for sincerity-instead of registering his own vote against the motion and perhaps later on against the ex-government, he should rather find out the opinion of the majority of the independents in this House, and he and all other members of that group should then unite to see that that sentiment is carried in the House. Any independent member who holds the view that neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives are unprejudiced in this matter should not vote according to his own individual viewpoint, but he should vote in order to see that the wish of the majority of independents is carried out. That is why I say that when the hon. member for Mackenzie (Mr. Campbell) or any other member votes censure of the ex-government in this matter or of the ex-Mnnister of Customs, he is following only his own individual opinion; he is not following at all the opinion of the majority of independents in this House.

I now come to the report, and I desire to say that I am in accord with much that is contained in it when it was first presented to the House. The hon. member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Stevens) said that the committee had been unanimous in bringing in this report; but we should take into consideration the fact that unanimity in such a report is always arrived at by way of compromise on certain matters dealt with in the report. The hon. member for Vancouver Centre told us that there had been reservations regarding the minister, and that on that point the committee could not agree, that there was a composite opinion. I look to the proceedings which are printed with the report, and I can see very well, Mr. Speaker, why there was a diversity of opinion on the matter of censuring the minister. It was simply because members on the other side of the House who formed part of that committee were willing to censure the minister, and were even willing to include censure of such hon. members on this side whose names had come before the committee, but they were perfectly unwilling to include in the report the names of hon. members of their own side of the House. That, Mr. Speaker, was the nature of the difference of opinion which obtained at that time. It was a remarkable state of things, and it should be pointed out even to-dav that hon. gentlemen opposite wished to exercise

Customs Inquiry-Mr. Rinjret

undue severity where an hon. member of this side was concerned, but they became remarkably lenient when a member on their own side was concerned, and were prepared to consign all such matters affecting their own side to oblivion. If there was a composite opinion during the preparation of this report, it was only on that point. The Liberal members on the committee had no censure to offer of hon. members, whether on this side of the House or on that, who had followed the established custom of making representations to the department on behalf of certain of their constituents. The member representing the Progressive party on the committee was in favour of censuring all the members whose names had been exposed before the committee; he would not consent to censuring the minister alone. These were both logical attitudes to take. What is to be thought of hon. gentlemen on the other side who want to exercise the strictest kind of severity against either our minister or the members of our party, and at the same time plead for the fullest measure of indulgence for members of their own party who had done the very same thing, only that one happened to be a Conservative and the other a Liberal. That is the stand that was taken on that matter in the committee.

The report gives us certain findings, the most radical in my opinion being contained in clause 6, which says:

The evidence submitted to the committee leads to the general conclusion that for a long time the Department of Customs and Excise had been Slowly degenerating in efficiency and that the process was greatly accelerated in the last few years.

Without discussing, Mr. Speaker, whether the evidence submitted justifies that finding, we find the Conservative party taking the stand that the only words in that paragraph which count and to which they assent are the words applying to the four years we have been in power. Though they admit that the Department of Customs had been slowly degenerating for a long time, the only charge they make against this government is that it had not been able to stop that process of degeneration which had started under the Conservative administration.

Let us see what the Liberal government in office tried to do to stop that process of degeneration, which in the opinion of the hon. member for Vancouver Centre himself, had obtained in that department for a long time. The House has been reminded of the fact that the ex-government put legislation through the House in order to make the preventive service more effective. It has also been pointed out to the House that the ex-government had

entered into a treaty with the United States in order to make the prevention of smuggling between the two countries more effective. It has also been pointed out to the House that before this committee was asked for, the Minister of Customs had started a departmental inquiry, and it is only to his credit to state that the main findings of the committee were nothing else but a substantiation of What had already been found out by Mr. Duncan, acting under the very instructions of the then Minister of Customs. We have in this country a situation which is to-day unprecedented as regards the administration of the Customs department. It has been said before, and I wish to emphasize it, that we have a border 4,000 miles long to protect. We have, on the other side of that border, and in some of our own provinces on this side of the border, laws prohibiting the use of alcoholic drinks, which are in themselves the strongest incentive to the smuggling of alcohol on both sides of the border. We have had at the same time the development of a system of good roads and the enormous development in the automobile industry, which two combined have afforded to the smuggler every facility that he could ask for in order that he may carry on his contraband trade. These are the conditions the ex-government had to contend with; and to these conditions, in my opinion, the development of smuggling between-the two countries is due to a great extent. The hon. member for Vancouver Centre has dealt at length with the treaty which was negotiated with the United States. But let us see what the conditions in that country are? Are they any better than in Canada? Will it be claimed that the Coolidge administration does not enjoy the confidence of the people of the great republic or that it has displayed energy in seeking to stamp out this evil? Yet the Coolidge administration has not been able, any more than we have, to contend with this problem and to solve the difficulties created by the new conditions which now exist between the two countries. Therefore why should we censure the late Canadian government because it has not been able, with less resources at its command and in the same amount of time, to solve a problem Which the Coolidge administration has failed equally to solve? The problem with respect to the smuggling of alcohol still confronts both countries, and both countries are trying to fight it. They have entered into a treaty in order to try and cope with it more effectively; and if they have not succeeded in doing so on the other side of the line, or if we in Canada have been equally unsuccessful, it would be most unfair

Customs Inquiry-Mr. Rinjret

to censure the late government and the exMinister of Customs for failure to deal with the problem.

In this connection may I quote paragraph 24 of the report? It reads as follows:

The real solution of (the difficulties at such points as Windsor, Ndagana Falls, where traffic is heavy, and where a thorough examination of vessels and vehicles cannot foe carried out, will foe found in the discovery in advance by investigators of the secret service of the (persons who make a practice of smuggling at these points, and their arrest when passing the customs barrier. The committee recommends that at bridges, ferries and main highways, where traffic enters Canada, in addition to tihe regular customs supervision, vessels and vehidles should be searched at frequent irregular and uncertain times. The uncertainty as to what vehicles will foe examined, and as to when such examinations will be made, should operate as a strong deterrent of smuggling.

I draw your attention, Mr. 'Speaker, to this 'paragraph. Do you not see that it admits the great difficulty which exists in the prevention of smuggling at such points as those referred to? Even hon. gentlemen opposite themselves do not say that the government or the department can stop this contraband traffic. They recommend, in consquence, the hiring of secret service men who-at uncertain periods, at irregular intervals and se-cretly-shall proceed in such a way that they may be able to catch some of the smugglers. But is there not evidence in this very paragraph that the problem is a most difficult one to deal with, and that it would be most unjust to censure the government because -although it has improved conditions to some degree-it has not finally succeeded where other governments have failed to achieve success? And is it not the height of injustice for the hon. member for Vancouver Centre to have stated, as he did, that the late government had entered into partnership with a group of bootleggers? Could any statement be more immoderate or more unjust in view of the difficulties of dealing adequately with a problem so baffling and so intricate in its character as this one?

I have said already that the recommendations of the committee had been unanimous, but may I point out that there was unanimity merely because of the necessity for compromise which always arises with the framing of such a report as this. Actually there is not unanimity with respect to that report; I know several members opposite who do not agree with its recommendations. Then why do they support those recommendations? For no other reason, and I wish to emphasize the point very strongly, than to gain a political advantage. They will support a report in whose recommendations they do not believe-and perhaps the same may be said as

to some hon. members on this side also; I am not trying to be partisan in any way- for the sake of endeavouring to secure censure of the late government, which simply resolves itself into a question as to which party shall succeed to the treasury benches and nothing else. Now my argument is that if we could remove such political considerations from the report, if we could suppress any amendment that would have a tendency to obscure the real issue, we could deal with the findings of the committee in a way that would be useful to the country. But if the issue is merely to endeavour to place one party in the right and the other party in the wrong, then, all the advantage which the country should derive from the customs inquiry will be lost. We should come to the consideration of the report animated by a desire to see whether its recommendations are in the best interests of the country and of the Department of Customs and Excise. We have not been able to do that. Why? Because in the five or six days of debate that have token place there has been nothing but jockeying for position in the House and to obtain power, which in my mind is a much less important matter than that of curing the evils which lie at the root of the customs problem. That brings me back to my first line of argument, which is this: Although hon. gentlemen opposite pose as saviours, as angels of purity, struggling to combat with all their strength what they call corruption, they do not seem anxious at all to reform the Department of Customs and Excise. They are merely seeking to create an issue whereby they may possibly gain a temporary advantage and form a temporary-in my opinion very temporary- government such as we have to-day.

Then, Mr. Speaker, the inquiry has not been completed in so far as the ground which should be covered is concerned. Nobody denies that. I do not take any stock in the argument that the inquiry was confined to the province of Quebec, my argument would be the same if the inquiry had been confined to the province of Ontario; but my contention is that the investigation should be extended to a'll the provinces of the Dominion and cover all parts of Canada before we affirm any opinion as to what the situation in respect to the Department of Customs and Excise is. There should be a full and complete inquiry; it should not be limited to one province. There is another reason why we supported an amendment the other night asking for a judicial commission to continue this inquiry and make it complete. It has

Customs Inquiry-Mr. Rinjret

not been complete as to years; it has covered only the last four or five years. It may be interesting to find out to what extent Conservative members on the committee were justified in stating that for a long time the Department of Customs had been degenerating. The scope of the inquiry should be enlarged so as to cover not only all Canada, but all Canada over a period of years, in order that the House may come to a proper decision on a matter of this kind.

As I have said my hon. friends opposite were not concerned about reforming anything except their own position in this House, and they think they shall have achieved their aim if they can put through a motion of censure that will leave this matter where it is. For that purpose-and I am sorry for them because I think this is a grave injustice-they have singled out the former Minister of Customs claiming that he personally in the discharge of his duties during the last number of months has come under the censure of the House.

As members of this House and public men- and again I do not speak as a partisan-we should be fair; we should admit conditions of public life as we find them and as they are. I was elected seven years ago; I am not an old member; but I have been long enough in public life to know that our constituents come to us and ask us to do services of all kinds for them. They 'regard us, every member in every individual constituency, not only as legislators, not only as their representatives in this House, but as public men to whom they can come when they are in distress and in need of help. If we go one step higher and come to the ministers of the crown, it is our duty or at least it has been the established practice in this country for us to go to them and to plead for benevolence pn behalf of our constituents. These are conditions that have obtained in this country under all regimes and all governments of both political parties.

Our constituents come to us with requests not only in connection with the Customs department but in connection with every department of the public service. For instance they want to bring in immigrants who perhaps do not strictly conform with the requirements of the law but who. by the discretion of the minister, may be allowed to enter. When a man has been sentenced for a number of years and has served part of the sentence they ask us to apply to the Justice department to have him liberated on parole. They come to us to obtain delays in payment of their taxes because they are embarrassed in

their business. There is no service of any kind that they do not expect from their member.

At the same time I think we can say that on both sides of the House, whenever such a demand is made upon us, we make it our duty to go to the minister. It has been established in this debate that such has been the practice of members of all parties, even of the opposition, to go to the minister on behalf of constituents. If my words are too strong I will bow to your ruling, Sir, but I speak in a general way not applying my remarks to anyone in particular. Are we going, whether in power or in opposition, to take the hypocritical stand in -this House that what everyone of us-and I apply this to myself as a member now-has done .many a time and thought it our duty to do, will become a crime because it has been found out before a committee of inquiry of this House? I for one will not stand for such a thing. I do not know what the decision of the House will be on the motion of censure towards the exminister of Customs, but he has my full support because I realize that what

3 p.m. has been asked of him has been asked of our ministers by every one of us. I will never try to screen myself because they have not found me out and have found someone else out. It is nothing short of sheer hypocrisy to try to make a crime out of what the ex-M mister of Customs has done in this matter when the same thing has been asked for and done over and over again and will be done again in the future by everyone intrusted with such responsibility.

If there is any censure in this matter 1 claim my share of it as a public man and I claim the same share of censure for every public man in this House. If you do not want such conditions to obtain, do away with the discretion you give to the ministers, because there is no doubt there was a discretion left to the minister in this case. If he had had no discretion how could his intervention have been made effective? If he could not interfere, how could his interference have had any effect in having the sentence delayed? The fact that he did interfere and succeeded in having the man's sentence suspended is sufficient proof to me that he had discretion in the matter. If he had had no discretion he could not 'have exercised any effectively.

In this very debate we have had before us cases showing that this has been done before. The ex-Solicitor General (Mr. Cannon) in a very remarkable speech pointed to the details of the Plamondon case. He could have

Customs Inquiry-Mr. Rinjret

read a part which I have before me and which shows that the .Piamondon ease was only one of many which are on record in this very inquiry. At page 2153 we find the evidence of Richard Alleyn on Wednesday May 19. After dealing with the Piamondon case, the Hon. Mr. Bennett puts this question:

The arrangement was approved of by the department, by which ihe was to do so?

Mr. Alleyn's reply is:

Yes. As a matiter of fact, in the other six cases the department did not want those persons sentenced to jail; they told us they did not wish these people to go to jai'l; -not only in the Piamondon case.

Here in four lines of the report are seven cases Which are the same as the case of Moses Aziz and which occurred1 under the regime of the Conservative party.

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

What date?

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LIB

Louis Édouard Fernand Rinfret

Liberal

Mr. RINFRET:

The Piamondon case was in 1920. There are six other cases bunched up as the departments are now bunched up in the hands of several of the hon. gentlemen opposite.

The hon. member for Mackenzie (Mr. Campbell) after he had finished his speech was reminded that he himself only a few months ago, indeed in April last asked the same favour from the Department of Justice and it was referred to the Department of Customs. The case was exactly the same. Here was a man who had been convicted of making home brew and who could not pay his fine. The hon. member for Mackenzie thereupon asked, and properly so, that he be given time to pay up so as to avoid his being sent to jail. He applied to the Department of Justice and his application was transferred to the Department of Customs; and so much was it a matter of routine that it never even came before the minister of that department. It was decided to suspend the sentence. Now what is the difference between that case and that of Moses Aziz, which the hon. member has described as criminal? So far as I can see the two are identical; it is the same sort of offence. In both cases the man is sentenced to gaol; in both cases a member of parliament applies to the department for suspension of sentence; in both cases the sentence is suspended. I can see no difference whatever between them, and it is strange that the hon. member for Mackenzie should argue that it is a crime to suspend a sentence in August, 1925, but very proper thing to suspend one in April, 1926. I see no difference at all. And the Piamondon case is more striking. Here was a man who was caught in possession of an illicit still. He was sentenced to imprison-

ment, and not only was sentence suspended, but upon 'his becoming informant against other people he was paid by the department a sum equal t'o the amount of his fine. He received for informing against others money enough to discharge his fine, with the result that he was not punished at all. That was done under the government of my hon. friends opposite.

Now as an ordinary member of the House and not as a member of the party to which I belong I ask hon. gentlemen this question: Why should we single out the ex-Minister of Customs (Mr. Boivin) and try to make a case against him in respect of something which has taken place under various administrations at the instance of various members of parliament? I hold that it would be the height of injustice and hypocrisy on the part of this House to adopt a vote of censure on the exminister in a matter of this kind.

This is not a question of mere justice. It seems to me that justice devoid of all other considerations is merely another form of injustice. If we want to do away with all possibility of appeals to ministers, then we should in my opinion fully accept the proposal contained in the amendment to the amendment, and abolish all ministerial discretion. If under such circumstances a minister, having no authority to exercise any discretion in a matter of this kind, undertook to use his own judgment then he would be liable to censure. But under existing conditions I cannot see any reason whatever why we should single out the ex-Minister of Customs and try to derive from the inquiry some political advantage for the party opposite. It is very poor politics indeed for this House to attempt to give any party such an advantage at the expense of the reputation of a minister who, I contend, deserves no censure at the hands of hon. gentlemen.

I have not dealt in detail with this case because it has been fully reviewed in the House. I merely wanted to remind the House that other cases of a similar character had been brought to light. We could, I have no doubt, find many other instances if we went through all the files under any government. This case is insignificant in itself, and is it not remarkable that although the inquiry has lasted many months and, as my hon. friends opposite admit themselves, was conducted in the most impartial way-in fact some of them are inclined to think that the party then in power rather erred on the side of too much impartiality, having to bend backwards in order to be straight-yet this is the only matter which the investigation has been able to bring out. Not a single

Customs Inquiry-Mr. Rinjret

case of bribery, not one instance of unlawful profit of any kind, not one charge against the honesty of any of the members of the government or of any of the members of this party has been disclosed. Is it not, I ask, a remarkable fact that practically the only matters which were brought out before the committee were such as had been discovered by Mr. Duncan himself, who carried out his investigation on the instructions of the then Minister of Customs. If we remember that the conditions obtaining between this country and the United States to-day are quite abnormal, owing to the existence in that country of the prohibition law and the extended facilities of which the bootleggers have been able to avail themselves, we can readily understand that smuggling should have been engaged in on an extensive scale. It seems to me, therefore, that far from censuring a group of men who have done their very best to improve the conditions that have arisen as a result of the introduction of prohibitory laws on the other side of the line, the members of this House, and more particularly the independent element, should continue to cooperate with us, and instead of adopting this motion of censure, which will lead nowhere, accept the main motion so as to have the recommendations of the committee carried into effect. It is necessary in my opinion that the investigation be continued, and this party supports that view. The inquiry should be made exhaustive in all parts of the Dominion, and should cover an adequate period, to enable us to understand just what has been the situation, not only in the last few years but over a more extended time. Only in the light of such a complete investigation can the public form a proper opinion on this question.

Just a word more with reference to the motion of censure. In previous parliaments when there were but two parties and when the government could command a clear majority among its supporters, a motion of censure was a very different thing from what it is to-day. In those days, when an opposition moved a vote of censure they had no hope that -the motion would carry, with a *consequent defeat of the government and the abandonment of the work of the session. It was merely a/ way of recording an opinion. The party wanted to go on record that regarding a certain question it differed in opinion from the government, and so it voted for the motion, which was defeated by a majority of the supporters of the administration. It was, as I say, merely a matter of record before the country. To-day however the situation is different, and with a motion

of censure against a government there is involved not only the defeat of the government but the destruction of the whole governmental programme. That was -the situation when the motion of censure was moved last week. Now we have been sitting here for six months and putting through legislation of a very varied character-legislation which did appeal at times to all members of the House and on other occasions to the majority. Certainly not one of these measures was defeated, some having passed unanimously; and practically all of them have gone to the Senate.

I urge that the independents-who, as they themselves say, form the jury in this House- when voting on this amendment must not lose sight of the fact that by their vote they will also decide as to which of the two parties shall retain the reins of power and, what is more important still, as to what political spirit shall prevail in this country. I appeal to my Progressive friends, some of whom have been in the House for the last five sessions, while others have been here only for this session, that, although they are a small minority to-day, they represent the wishes and the aspirations of the west very much as do our Saskatchewan friends of the Liberal party-I ask them, have they not found in the late government a true friend, the first government that was ever really anxious to try to do something for the provinces that they represent? That is an important -point. "Oh," you may tell me, "we may secure a certain degree of assistance from the new supposed-to-be government"-to speak as our friends opposite did of us last January. To which I reply: "How long will it last? Will it last until the next budget speech, unless the new minister then renounces the whole Conservative programme? It can not." So I say to these independent members representing western constituencies -that in considering how they will vote on -this motion of censure they must have an enlarged outlook and view the whole political situation; they cannot take an isolated view and regard this particular case alone. If I were a Progressive member and told my constituents on my return home this summer, "Well, the Liberal government during the past six months yielded to our demands for the continuation of the Hudson Bay railway, they gave us a measure of rural credits, they tried to put through the House an Old Age Pensions Bill, and they gave us other legislation;" naturally my constituents would say, "That is very good. We hope you gave the Liberal government full support." What would they say when I re-

5106 COMMONS

Customs Inquiry-Mr. Rijijret

plied, "No, I withdrew my support because a certain man in New Brunswick was gaoled in the month of December instead of August." I think my constituents would tell me that not only was I ungrateful to vote against that government, but that I lacked foresight in turning out of office such a government and putting in its place the very party who have steadily refused all these measures and opposed them until this year, when they modified their stand because they thought they might possibly make an agreement with the Progressive party.

It is a matter of record, Mr. Speaker, that while the Conservative party has tried to divide this country on economic problems, has tried to draw the east against the west, we of the Liberal party in the east have stood for co-operation between all the provinces. We who went through the last federal campaign in Quebec remember that our Conservative friends told us-and I wish my Progressive friends to listen to this because it is very important-they told us that we had sold Quebec to western interests. That is how they tried to prejudice us in the eyes of our people. That was the strategy of my hon. friends opposite in the last election, and that will be their stand again as soon as they feel they can act independently of any Progressive support in this House. We all know that the Conservative party stand for selfish, private interests, and the King government has consistently opposed those interests in order to secure a good national understanding and to be fair and just with all the provinces. This is a matter of history, Mr. Speaker. It is a statement of facts, not mere argument.

Therefore before I move the amendment I would remind my Progressive friends that the issue now before us is very much greater than this paltry, shabby, lamentably insignificant case of Moses Aziz. It is even greater than the reform of the Department of Customs. The issue is not so much as to which government shall retain power, but what spirit shall prevail in this country. After having worked together during five years in an effort to foster a spirit of good-will between east and west, are we to go back to our constituents and report that the whole thing has fallen down because a poor individual who had in his possession a few bottles of liquor was not jailed in a certain month of the year? If we do so, what will our people say? I readily understand that hon. members on the other side should grasp this occasion to try to oust us from power and take our places, for they are playing the political game; but from the bottom of my heart I must say that I can-

not understand that in the face of the circumstances a single independent member in this House should support such a move. It may be a vain hope, but in all sincerity I do hope that when our Progressive friends come to think over the situation they will at least agree that the Moses Aziz case is so paltry as to be unworthy of the consideration of this parliament for weeks and weeks. There are urgent national problems before this parliament which might more profitably engage our attention. I ask those members who have found in the Liberal programme all that they wanted in a broad, general way, whether they are going to falter now and abandon that programme for a paltry case of this kind. I cannot believe it, Mr. Speaker. Therefore I have every confidence in moving an amendment which will do away with the motion of censure and provide for the continuation of the inquiry on a larger and more effective scale, in order that all the facts may be presented to this House before we pass judgment. I move, seconded by Mr. Prevost:

That ithe amendment as amended be further amended by striking therefrom -the following words:-

"The evidence further discloses that ministerial action has been influenced by the improper pressure of political associates and friends of the minister, or acting minister administering the department, resulting in the suspension and in some instances the abandonment of prosecutions against those charged with violation of the statutes, and in the loss of revenue to the country. Moreover successful appeals have been made to the minister and acting minister administering, the department to improperly interfere with the course of justice between the conviction of the offenders and the execution of judgment thereon. The Prime Minister and the government had knowledge for some considerable time of the rapid degeneration of tihe Department of Customs and Excise, and their failure to take prompt and effective remedial action is wholly indefensible. The conduct of the present minister of the department, the Honourable George H. Boiivin, in the case of Moses Aziz is utterly injustifiable".

By adding after the words "for reasons of politico/ expediency" at the end of the second paragraph thereof, the following words: "or personal advantage".

And by adding to /the proposed addition to paragraph four of the report of the committee, after the words "and to prosecute all offenders" the following words: "and to examine former ministers of the Department of Customs and Excise with respect to any matters which in the opinion of the commission may reflect on their administration;

The said commission to be composed of three judges, one to 'be nominated by the Prime Minister of Canada; one by the right honourable the leader of the opposition; and one by the honourable the leader of the Progressive party, said commission to have a 111 the powers conferred upon such commissioners under the Public Enquiries Act;

The said commission to have power to make findings and recommendations, and to report the same to parliament at the opening of the next session together with the evidence taken before said commission".

In so many words, Mr. Speaker, this amendment would do away with the mention of

Customs Inquiry-Point of Order

censure and would provide for the establishment of a commission to continue the inquiry as I have indicated.

Topic:   CUSTOMS INQUIRY
Subtopic:   REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTED-MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE AND AMENDMENTS THERETO.
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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton (Minister of Finance and Receiver General; Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

I rise to a point of order. I submit that it does not require very much debate to demonstrate wherein this amendment is entirely out of order. The House has already determined that the words referred to in the Stevens amendment shall stand. The object of this amendment, as shown by the speech of the hon. member, is to strike out the Stevens amendment, upon which the House has already passed.

Topic:   CUSTOMS INQUIRY
Subtopic:   REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTED-MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE AND AMENDMENTS THERETO.
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June 29, 1926