A few days ago I ventured to direct the attention of the house to the fact that I had heard grave and disquieting rumours as to the administration of post office affairs in the New Brunswick district, I regarded the matter as of sufficient importance to suggest that the files dealing with the administration of affairs in that district in recent years be made available, and the hon. the Postmaster General (Mr. Veniot) having made such files available, it now becomes my duty to present to the house the facts as disclosed therein. I do so for the moment without any comment as to what the inferences to be drawn from them may be, and I leave it to the house and the country to determine whether or not a department which is administered as that department is should have the confidence of this country or of this house. The matters with which I have to deal concern the administration of the department in the district office. The office in New Brunswick is under the control of a single superintendent, Mr. Woods, and there are two inspectors, Mr. Emerson, the senior, and Mr. Griffith, the junior. As was indicated the other day at times relations between the inspectors have not been harmonious, for reasons which I shall indicate as I proceed to unfold the case to the house, but one of the difficulties came about in connection with shortages in one or two of the offices under the control of the district superintendent.
There is a small post office at Dupey's Corner, the postmaster of which receives about $144 a year; on investigation it was indicated that a shortage of $907.06 existed at this post office. The investigation of this
office wa8 entrusted to the junior inspector, Mr. Griffith, and in consequence of the investigation which he made under instructions from Mr. Atwater, one of the chief inspectors at Ottawa, he made a report which indicated, as I have said, a deficit of S907.06. In order that there may be no misapprehension in respect to these various matters I am afraid I must ask the indulgence of the house as I place upon Hansard the record as indicated by the file.
Office of District Superintendent of Postal Service.
St. John, N.B. August 2, 1926.
H. E. Atwater, Esq.,
On account of complaints from the financial branch that the postmaster at Dupey's Corner, N.B., was delaying his remittances to the bank and also had not taken into account two error notices, the above-named office was visited and inspected by Inspector Griffith of this district on July 29th. At the completion of the inspection it was ascertained there was a deficiency of $907.06.
The postmaster was not present when the office was inspected but arrived home in the afternoon and Mr. Griffith collected from him the amount of $61.45 which brings the actual shortage down to $845.61. Duplicate and triplicate receipts and bank draft for $61.45 are herewith attached.
The first irregularity reported against this office was from the financial branch with reference to an alleged remittance of $170.00 per registered letter No. 377 entered in the postmaster's cash account on January 31st, 1926. After much correspondence the postmaster explained that he was of the opinion that this remittance had been destroyed by his four-year old child who accidently put same in the fire. The postmaster explained he was unable to pay this amount at once but made arrangements to send in $20.00 per month. To date he has made three payments of $20.00 each in May, June and July respectively. This leaves a balance of $110.00 in connection with this irregularity.
A further letter from the financial branch stated that an error notice, number not given, was forwarded to the postmaster in December, last, with reference to a remittance of $60.00 claimed at item 16 in the postmaster's cash account of the 30th November, forwarded under No. 353.
Another report was in connection with error notice No. 5899 for $10.00 to correct an error in the postmaster's return for the 31st of January 1926.
Another report was received regarding a deposit of $180.00 entered in the postmaster's cash account of June 8th alleged to have been forwarded to the Bank of Montreal on that date under registered number 463.
In the postmaster's account of July 22nd he claimed $608.57 worth of postal notes on hand. When the office was inspected on July 29th he had $173.51 worth of notes on hand.
The postmaster was instructed to make up his cash account to July 29th, inclusive, and forward same to the department, entering the amounts above stated on the debit side. Copy of financial statement is attached herewith.
Also attached you will find a translated copy of the postmaster's statement given to Mr. Griffith. It will be noted that he admits using post office funds for his own business, his method being to hold remittances and forward same after he had sold money orders, stamps and postal notes; also by claiming a larger amount of postal notes on hand than he had when the accounts were forwarded.
It will also be noted that the postmaster volunteers to make good this amount by monthly payments of $40.00. He was informed by the inspector that it was not likely the department would entertain this proposition and that he would be expected to forward the amount of the shortage without delay in order to avoid more serious consequences. The seriousness of his actions was drawn to his attention by the inspection officer and also in a letter from the district superintendent under date of July 31st.
The money order business of this office was closed out on July 29th and the money order books, postal notes, and equipment were removed. The office was 1 ft in the care of Mr. Hebert with a stamp credit of $25.00.
If agreeable to the department it is the intention to have an inspector again visit this office in the course of a few days to make a strong endeavour to collect the amount of the shortage.
(Sgd.) H. W. Woods,
That was the report made to the office at Ottawa with respect to the conditions existing in that post office. That report was acknowledged by the chief accountant on August 23, 1926, by letter which is also under my hand. It is directed to the district superintendent, and is as follows;
With reference to your letter of the 2nd instant, addressed to the chief inspector regarding the shortage in the accounts of the postmaster at Dupey's Corner, I beg to say that the department is willing to consider the question of allowing the postmaster time to make the amount of his deficit good but before taking this up and endeavouring to fix an amount that should be paid each month I should like to be advised as to the postmaster's ability to fulfil any engagement in which he may enter. It is presumed that he has some business other than that of running the post office. Will you please let me know what is the nature of this business and whether its present standing is sufficient to guarantee the postmaster eventually making good all the shortage. What sureties, if any, can the postmaster give for the execution of any agreement in this connection?
That letter was signed by the chief accountant, and in due course a reply was sent from
the district superintendent at St. John under date of November O, 1926, as follows:
In reply to your letter of the 6th inst. regarding the balance due by the postmaster at Dupey's Corner, and the assurance given that he would make good the sum of $200 by the 1st November, and at least $40 a month thereafter, would inform you that nothing further has been heard from this postmaster.
It is the intention of Inspector Griffith to visit this office within the next few days when a report will be made to the department.
(Sgd.) H. W. Woods,
At that time, as I have indicated, after crediting the amounts paid and deducting the salary and commission for October, amounting to $21, the balance due was $850.93. Then on September 9, 1926, a further letter was sent by the district superintendent, Mr. Woods, to the chief accountant of the financial branch, Mr. Austin Bill:
In reply to your letter of the 3rd instant, JAO/JMH, asking for a reply to your letter of the 23rd ult. regarding the shortage in accounts of the postmaster at Dupey's Corner, N.B.-I beg to say that Inspector W. F. Griffith is expected to see the postmaster of Dupey's Corner some day this week and will give full information on his return to the office.
On December 1, 1926, Mr. Griffith wrote to Mr. Austin Bill and the letter, although marked personal, is now upon the file. I think, in the language of the editorial which appeared in tihe Winnipeg Free Press the other day, it will be admitted that no document is personal which deals with public business, as is the case here. This letter proceeds:,
With further reference to our conversation re shortage in accounts of the postmaster of Dupey s Corner, N.B. I beg to inform you I visited this office last week and while it was 11 ot possible to see Mr. Magee to ascertain whether or not he would endorse the notes for the postmaster I can personally assure you that there will be no doubt about the monthly payments as promised by the postmaster, and I would respectfully suggest that you concur in the arrangements set forth in official communication from the district superintendent's office of this date.
That letter is signed by Mr. Griffith and refers to a conversation he had in Ottawa with Mr. Austin Bill, chief accountant of the financial branch. On the same day a letter was sent, signed by the district superintendent and bearing under the signature the initial "G." It reads as follows:
With further reference to my memo of the 9th ult. and previous correspondence regarding balance due by the postmaster of Dupey's Corner N.B.. I beg to inform you Inspector Griffith visited Dupey's Corner last week and received from the postmaster the sum of $150 on account of the shortage.
The postmaster promised to pay at least $50 more by the 15th of December, and will complete the balance in twelve monthly payments.
The inspector is positively sure that the postmaster will be able to make the payments as promised, and it is respectfully recommended that the department concur in the recommendation.
Attached please find duplicate and triplicate receipts and bank draft for $150, as per above.
That letter was written by Mr. Woods, the district superintendent. It will be observed that in the letter written on the same day by Inspector Griffith he refers to Mr. McGee. Mr. McGee was not, so far as the correspondence indicates, in any way connected with the postal service and just why it was suggested that he should sign a note or give a guarantee for the default or deficiency in the Dupey's Comer office does not appear. I merely mention that in passing; otherwise, it might be thought that he was in some way connected with the office.
On December 3, 1926, two days later, the chief accountant at Ottawa directed a communication to Mr. Griffith, the inspector at St. John, reading as follows:
I am in receipt of your letter of the 1st inst. regarding the collection of the amount due the department by the postmaster at Dupey's Corner.
The matter has been taken up writh the Deputy Postmaster General who has directed me to say that the offer of the postmaster to pay $50 a month can be accepted if the department has your personal guarantee that the payments will be duly and promptly made, or if a written endorsement of the postmaster's promise can be obtained in the form of a promissory note from Mr. McGee.
I would point out that it is necessary to have such assurance of payment as the postmaster has, both in the preparation of his accounts and in carrying out the promise already made not given the department reason to have great confidence in him.
I would point out that the suggestion of a personal guarantee to be given by Mr. Griffith comes from the chief accountant after Mr. Griffith had visited Ottawa and had discussed with him the deficiency at Dupey's Corner.
On December 11, 1926, Mr. Griffith wrote to Mr. Bill, the chief accountant at Ottawa, in these terms:
Replying to your AB-JMH of the 3rd instant with further reference to the collection of the amount due the department by the postmaster at Dupey's Corner, I beg to inform you that I personally guarantee that the payments will be duly and properly made; that is. at the rate of $50 a month, not later than the 15th day of each month.
That note is marked " personal." It is quite true that it is now upon the files but just why a personal note should be written by a post office inspector at St. John, N.B., to
the financial department of the post office at Ottawa, guaranteeing a deficiency or default in the accounts at Dupey's Corner post office in Westmorland county, does not appear.
The chief accountant acknowledged receipt of that letter, and in order that there may be no misunderstanding I am going to quote it. This letter is dated January 29, 1927, and reads as follows:
With reference to your letter of the 11th December, W.F.G./E., relating to the collection of the amount due to the Post Office department by the postmaster at Dupey's Corner, in which you advised that you would personally guarantee that the payments would be duly and properly made at the rate of $50 a month and not later than the 15th day of each month, as no payment has been received this month I shall be pleased if you will advise me concerning this matter.
A reply to that letter was sent by Mr. Griffith on February 7, 1927, reading as follows:
I beg to acknowledge receipt fo your personal letter number JAO-JMH of the 29th ult., with reference to the collection of the amount due the Post Office department by the postmaster at Dupey's Corner. My absence from the office was the cause of same not being replied to sooner.
I may say that the postmaster has been sick in bed this last month or more, and was unable to make his payment in January. I am arranging to go down there some time next week and can assure you that a double payment will be forthcoming before the end of the present month.
I expect to be in Ottawa the early part of next week and will drop in and discuss this matter more fully with you.
Then we have a letter directed by the Deputy Postmaster General to his superior officer, namely, the Postmaster General, the present incumbent of that office. That communication is dated February 25, 1927, and reads as follows:
With reference to the attached letter from the postmaster at Dupey's Corner, N.B., to the Postmaster General, he is informed that on the inspection of the post office on the 29th July last there was established a shortage of $907.06, which was later reduced by adjustments to $874.93.
I might observe that the letter written by the postmaster at Dupey's Corner to the Postmaster General is not attached to this file but it is referred to in this letter of the Deputy Postmaster General to his chief. The letter continues:
The first payment received from him was $150 collected by Inspector Griffith and forwarded to the department on the 1st December. At that time the postmaster promised to make up the balance by a payment of $50 on the 15th December and monthly payments thereafter of the same amount. Inspector Griffith having recommended that this offer be accepted, he was advised that some 78594-131J
further assurance of payment should be given. Mr. Griffith replied that he would personally guarantee that the payments would be duly and properly made not later than the I5th day of each month. [DOT]
As no further payments had been received uip to the 29th January Mr. Griffith was asked on that date to advise the department concerning the matter. He wrote on the 7th February that he expected to be in Ottawa the following week and would discuss the matter fully then. In an interview with the chief accountant Mr. Griffith said that he would see the postmaster personally on his return to New Brunswick and arrange for a double payment before the end of February.
In anticipation of this payment no further action has been taken by the department in the case.
That was a communication from the Deputy Postmaster General to his chief, who is now the incumbent of the office of Postmaster General. On March 23, 1927, the chief accountant at Ottawa wrote a further communication to the district superintendent, reading as follows:
When Postal Inspector Griffith was in Ottawa some weeks ago he stated that on his return to Now Brunswick he would arrange for a double payment on account of the shortage in the Dupey's Corner account before the end of February. No word has been
received from you in this connection. I shall be pleased to be advised as to the progress made.
Mr. Woods, the district superintendent, replied to that letter on March 2, 1927, as follows:
Receipt is acknowledged of the chief accountant's letter AB-JMH of the 23rd inst., with reference to the statement made by Postal Inspector Griffith when he was in Ottawa some weeks ago that when he returned to New Brunswick he would arrange for a double payment on account of the shortage in the Dupey's Corner account before the end of February.
The district superintendent begs to say that until the receipt of this letter he was not aware that the inspector had made this promise, and that on the return to headquarters of the inspector, who is now on field duty, the matter will be brought to his attention with the hope that the same may be adjusted to the satisfaction of the department.
That was the position on March 25, 1927. On April 14, 1927, a little less than a month later, the chief accountant at Ottawa again wrote to the district superintendent in these terms:
With reference to your letter of the 25th ult., HWW/M., in which you advised that Postal Inspector Griffith was on field duty and the question of the shortage in the Dupey's Corner accounts would be brought to his attention upon his return, as nothing further has been received relating to this matter I shall be pleased if you will advise me concerning the arrangements made as soon as possible.
On April 19, a few days later, the district superintendent replied to the chief accountant as follows:
Replying to your memo of the 14th instant, number JAO-JMH and previous correspondence, I beg to inform you that Inspector Griffith visited Dupey's Corner in connection with the shortage in the accounts of the postmaster of that office, and reports that owing to the illness of the postmaster, he was unable to make the payments as promised. It was arranged, however, that the sum of $150 will be forwarded to the department not later than May 5.
While the payments have not been made as promptly as promised, the inspector guarantees the department that the amount will be paid in full, and that the department will suffer no monetary loss.
To that letter the chief accountant wrote as follows on the 12th May:
With reference to your letter of the 19th ult., and previous correspondence, in which you inform me that owing to the illness of the postmaster at Dupey's Corner the promised payments have not been made but that arrangements had been made that the sum of $150 would be forwarded to the department not later than the 5th May, as no payment has been received I shall be pleased if you will advise me by return mail as to what action has been taken.
To that communication seven days later, namely, on the 19th May, 1927, District Superintendent Woods wrote as follows:
Replying to your letter of the 12th instant, JAO/JMH, referring to previous correspondence in regard to the indebtedness of the postmaster at Dupey's Corner, N.B.
I beg to say that no payment has been received from this postmaster at this office, and on questioning Inspector Griffith, who has been dealing with this matter, he advises me that he has not heard from the postmaster since his report of the postmaster's illness on April 19th, and arrangements are being made to have the inspector again visit him at an early date.
On the 9th June the chief accountant again wrote the district superintendent as follows:
With reference to your letter of the 19th May-HWW/M-in which you advise that arrangements had been made to have an inspector visit Dupey's Corner at an early date with a view to collecting the shortage, as nothing further has been received in this division relating to this case I shall be pleased if you will advise me as to what action was taken.
I might inform you that after the salary has been applied to date the balance due is $608.93.
To that letter District Superintendent Woods sent this reply on the 17th June:
With further reference to the matter of shortage in the accounts of the postmaster at Dupey's Corner, and in reply to your letter of the 9th inst, asking to be advised as to what action has been taken in this matter.
I beg to say that as stated in my letter of the 19th May, arrangements were being made to have Inspector Griffith visit Dupey's Corner at an early date.
Unfortunately, however, the inspector has not found it convenient to do so, and on the 13th inst. I made a personal visit and interviewed the postmaster, and received information from him, if corect wrould show that he has not been given full credit for all moneys that he has paid the inspector.
The inspector has not been in the office nor reported^ to me since the 6th instant, and I am awaiting his return to the office in order to get his explanation. As soon as this is received a full report will be made to the department.
I would ask you, therefore, to consider this confidential, and to hold the matter in abeyance until you further hear from me.
That letter was placed on the official file although the district superintendent marked it "confidential" and directed it to the chief accountant. I believe, in placing it upon the public file, the officer pursued the correct course. On the 20th June the chief accountant wrote to District Superintendent Woods in these words:
1 am in receipt of your letter of the 17th inst. marked "confidential" regarding the shortage in the acounts of the postmaster at Dupey's Corner. Of course, you will realize that if there is anything serious in the transactions between the postmaser and one of your inspectors the matter cannot be kept from the heads of the departments. On the other hand. I am glad for the sake of the inspector referred to that it is not necessary to place your letter on file as it may cast reflections on him which are not justified by the unsupported word of a postmaster who has been grievously at fault in accounting for post office cash.
I note that you say that the inspector has not been in the office nor reported to you since the 6th inst. I would suggest that this is a matter on which a special report should be made to the department and not embodied in a "confidential" communication to one of the officials.
It was for that reason, I assume, that the letter was subsequently placed on the official file. I now come to a letter written on the same date, the 20th June, 1927, a very important communication. It was originally marked "confidential." It is dated ait St. John and signed by District Superintendent Woods. It is addressed to the chief accountant of the Post Office Department at Ottawa, and reads as follows:
Referring further to the matter of shortage in the accounts of the postmaster of Dupey's Corner, and to my confidential letter of June 17 in which it was stated that I made a personal visit and interviewed the postmaster, and received information from him, if correct, would show that he has not been given full credit for all moneys that he had paid the inspector.
By referring to report from this office of August 2. 1926. WFG/S, it will be noted that Sir. W. F. Griffith, inspector of postal service, visited Dupey's Corner office on July 29, and at the close of his inspection he found that the postmaster was $907.06 short. After the in-
spection there was collected from the postmaster $61.45, which was deposited in the Bank of Montreal, Saint John, on August 3.
This reduced the indebtedness to $845.61.
According to our files the postmaster has paid nothing since, with the exception of $150 on December 1, which was placed to the Receiver General's credit in the Bank of Montreal on that date, as per deposit slip No. 2516.
Inspector Griffith, who was specially assigned this case, and who according to his letter of December 11 to the chief accountant, in response to one addressed to the inspector dated December 3, gave his personal guarantee that the payments promised by the postmaster would be duly made. Since then he has frequently been reminded of the indebtedness of the postmaster, and always gave assurance that the postmaster was all right and that he would see that the amount was collected, and on April 19, 1927, he reported that he had visited Dupey's Corner, but owing to the illness of the postmaster he was unable to make the payments as promised.
As I have not been satisfied with the course that the inspector has been pursuing in this case, and considering it strange that he would guarantee the postmaster's account, I decided to visit the office personally. This I did on the 13th inst., and in my conversation with the postmaster I concluded that there was something irregular going on.
The postmaster produced the following receipts, which I have now in my possession, for money paid to the inspector on account of the Post Office Department: -
Date of inspection:
July 29 $50
August 23 40
September 30 50
Besides this he stated, and verified the statement by entries in his registration book, that he sent to Mr. Griffith to his home the following amounts:
Nov. 8-registered letter No. 526... $200 Dec. 2-registered letter No. 545.... 40
These registers have been traced and found that they were delivered by letter carrier to Mr. Griffith's house and signed for by Mrs. Griffith.
The $50 mentioned as being received on the 29th July I feel confident is part of the $61.45 that was deposited to the Receiver General's credit on August 3. This would mean that if the postmaster's statement was found to be correct there should be placed to his credit $330, instead of $150 as per bank receipt No. 2516, December 1, 1926.
On acount of the inspector's absense from the office I was unable to question him in regard to these discrepancies until this morning.
When asked how many payments the postmaster had made to him he replied that there were three, namely:
Or a total of .. .. $150
and while he was unable to give the dates that he received these amounts he stated that from time to time he got the first until he received the third there would be about six weeks elapse.
He was then asked if the postmaster had made a payment at any one time of $200, and after hesitating a moment he replied "Yes", and stated he received it by registered letter. He was asked if he had received from the postmaster any other registered letter, but said "No". He was then told that the postmaster had stated to me that he had also sent by registered letter $40. The inspector then stated that he had no recollection of receiving this. He was asked if the $200 that he received from the postmaster by registered letter was on Post Office account, and he said "Yes". He was then asked why there was no record on the Dupey's Corner file of these amounts, and he stated that as he had become accountable for the amount due by the postmaster that he was holding them until the amount would make a fairly decent payment in order to make a good showing for the postmaster.
While the inspector has not yet admitted that he received the $40 that the postmaster says he sent on December 2, by register 545, I am quite convinced that he did receive this amount, and assuming this acording to my information there should be placed to the credit of the postmaster the following amounts:
August 23 $ 40
Spetember 30 50
November 8 200
December 2 40
Or a total of $330
instead of $150, or a balance due from Mr. Griffith of $180.
It will be noted that the inspector received on or about November 9. $200, and that he did not place the $150 to the postmaster's credit until December 1, which would go to show that the reason he gave for not turning these amounts over when he received them is not a very substantial one.
Going into this matter a little closer I find that in a letter dictated by Mr. Griffith to the financial superintendent on December 1 he stated that he had visited Dupey's Corner last week, and received from the postmaster the sum of $150. In checking up his journal of proceedings for November I see that he refers to a trip to Dupey's Corner on November 15, leaving there that same day.
The postmaster advised me that he had not made any payment at any time of $150 to Mr. Griffith. It can, therefore, be assumed that he made incorrect statements in his letter of December 1.
Again in his letter to the chief accountant of April 19, he states that he had visited Dupey's Corner, and that owing to the illness of the postmaster he was unable to make the payments as promised. The postmaster said that he did not visit the office during the month of April, and there is no mention of his being at Dupey's Corner in his journal of proceedings for the month of April.
Mr. Griffith has just called upon me, and has delivered to me on account of the shortage of the postmaster at Dupey's Corner, $180, and the same will be deposited in the Bank of Montreal, Saint John, this date.
That is the letter, as I have said, of the district superintendent, under date of June
20, 1927. Following that, a letter was sent by District Superintendent Woods to the acting financial superintendent, reading as follows:
Referring to previous correspondence concerning the indebtedness of the postmaster at Dupey's Corner, I beg to report that the sum of $180 has to-day been deposited in the Bank of Montreal, Saint John, towards such indebtedness, and herewith are duplicate and triplicate receipts and bank draft for same.
Then followed on the 23rd of June, 1927, a letter addressed to Mr. Coolican, the assistant deputy postmaster general, and this becomes important, Mr. Chairman, in view of subsequent communications that I shall read. It is directed by the acting financial superintendent, Mr. Atwater, to Mr. Coolican, the assistant deputy postmaster general, and reads as follows:
Re Dupey's Corner, N.B., we find that original shortage was $844. and that at the present time we are still short about $469. The office only has a revenue of $144 yearly, and why the postmaster was ever allowed to go on as he did, I do not know as I believe the matter was taken up by Mr. Glover a year ago.
Instructions have been sent to the district superintendent to-day to inform the postmaster that he must make an immediate settlement of the balance, the reason being given that he has failed to keep his agreement to pay $40 monthly.
There appear to Ire certain very disturbing factors in connection with the payments that have already been made, and probably they will be reported on by the district superintendent.
That letter was dated the 23rd day of June, 1927. On the 24th of June, 1927, the next day, the acting financial superintendent, Mr. Atwater, wrote to District Superintendent Woods a letter which although marked personal is upon the file, and lest it be that a precis of it would not be satisfactory I venture to trespass upon the time of the house by reading it:
My attention has been called by the chief accountant to a very serious ease in connection with the shortage at Dupey's Corner, N.B.
I find that out of the original shortage of $844, there still remains $469 owing the department, although it is nearly one year since the shortage was first brought under investigation. Yon will receive an official communication asking you to have this balance collected immediately.
Will you be good enough to see that personal attention is given to the matter, and that steps will be taken immediately to call upon the postmaster at Dupey's Corner to make good the balance of this amount without further delay. It cannot be expected that so large a sum of public money misappropriated by a postmaster can be left indefinitely for the postmaster to make good as he sees fit. The postmaster should have been placed under arrest when the shortage was first discovered if he failed to make it good. We have numerous cases, not nearly so seriou, one of them hap-
pened a few days ago, in which postmasters in other districts are promptly placed under arrest if they do not make good the shortage at once.
I do not know why the postmaster was allowed so much freedom, but it is quite evident that the case has been treated with a benevolence towards the postmaster, which is not usual. As the shortage took place a year ago, I am not aware of all of the facts, but in any case it is requested that this matter be adjusted without further delay.
To that communication District Superintendent Woods, on the 29th day of June, 1927, directed a reply, addressed to Mr. Atwater, the acting financial superintendent, reading as follows-and this letter becomes rather important in view of what subsequently transpired :
I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 24th instant, 1-66 with reference to the serious case in connection with the shortage at Dupey's Corner, N.B.
The official notification to which you refer asking me to have the balance due by the postmaster collected immediately has also been received, and the postmaster under registered cover has been advised that it will Ire necessary for him to have the amount due, namely. $469.43, in my hands not later than July 5th.
You will remember that the chief accountant after consulting with the Deputy Postmaster General wrote a letter dated December 3rd to Mr. W. F. Griffith stating that the offer of the postmaster to pay $50 per month would be accepted if the department had his, Mr. Griffith's, personal guarantee that the payments would be duly and promptly made.
In response to this letter Mr. Griffith wrote on December 11th personally guaranteeing the account.
Will this demand made on the postmaster annul the guarantee given by Mr. Griffith, or will his guarantee still hold good?
I note that you say the postmaster should have been placed under arrest when the shortage was first discovered if he failed to make it good.
On July 31 the postmaster was written to and it was pointed out to him the seriousness of his position, and a number of sections were quoted from the Post Office Act among which was the following:
"Every officer of or connected with the post office who converts to his own use in any way whatsoever, or by way of investment in any kind of property or merchandise or lends with or without interest, any portion of the public moneys entrusted to him for safe-keeping, transfer, disbursement, or for any other purpose, shall be deemed to have stolen so much of the said moneys as is taken, converted, invested, used or lent, and is guilty of an indictable offence."
He was told that the matter was being referred to the Post Office Department at Ottawa, and was advised that I was of the opinion that the department would not accept the offer that he made to the inspector.
A report dictated by Inspector Griffith was sent to you as chief inspector on August 2 giving information as to the shortage of the postmaster.
While this report did not recommend that criminal proceedings be taken against the postmaster, I may say that I was somewhat surprised when I did not receive authority from the department to do so, and I am at a loss to know why the postmaster was allowed so much freedom, and quite agree with you that he has been treated in a benevolent way.
It may be that the inspector's sympathy for him was made known to the department, but no early record of this is on file at this office, although a letter from the chief accountant dated November 6 refers to a conversation that took place with Mr. Griffith on October 14. which gave the chief accountant assurance that the postmaster would make good the sum of $200 by the 1st November, and at least $40 per month thereafter. Previous to this conversation the inspector had already collected from the postmaster $90 for which he had not given the postmaster credit. $40 of it was paid the inspector on August 23, and $50 of it on September 30.
It is quite evident that the inspector did not mention these payments to the chief accountant.
It is a sorry state of affairs when the action of trusted officials is such that their reliability is questioned, and it is regrettable that Mr. Griffith should so far forget his duties as an inspector as he has in this case.
I have my doubts as to the ability of the postmaster to meet this payment for I saw on my visit indications of poverty and distress, and the farm on which he lives belongs to his father and it is mortgaged up to its full value, namely, $1,400. However, he has been advised of the department's demands and you will be further informed in regard to the matter in a few days.
I am taking it for granted that you do not wish an arrest to be made until authority is received from the department.
On the 5th of July, 1927, District Superintendent Woods addressed a letter to the chief accountant, Mr. Austin Bill, reading as follows:
With reference to previous correspondence regarding the shortage in the accounts of Mr. Edouard R. Hebert, postmaster at Dupey's Corner, N.B., and in response to your letter of the 22nd ultimo, asking that the postmaster be called upon for an immediate settlement of the balance due, namely, $469.43.
The postmaster was written to on June 28 and advised that it would be necessary for him to have the amount of the shortage in my hands not later than July 5, and the following letter has been received from his father, Raymond F. Hebert:
"In answer to your letter to my son Edward, postmaster of Dupuis Corner, re shortage in his account, I must say that I had the occasion to meet the hon. Postmaster General yesterday and referred the matter to him and asked him to extend the time for one month to enable me to raise a part of the money and would make arrangement for the balance.
The hon. minister promised me to either write or phone you to-day.
Hoping you will grant me the extension of time, I am, sir, with thanks,
Yours very truly,
Raymond F. Hebert."
I am acknowledging the receipt of this letter and advising Mr. Hebert that the matter has been referred to the department.
I may say that up to the present I have had no communication either by letter or phone with the hon. Postmaster General regarding the matter.
You will observe, Mr. Chairman, that that letter is dated July 5, 1927, and on the day preceding, according to the statement made by the postmaster, he had interviewed the Postmaster General with respect to this prosecution and requested that he be given an extension of time to make good his shorts age of cash.
Subtopic: POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT