No; that is another. If it falls within this resolution the hon. gentleman will have the fullest opportunity to discuss the matter when the bill is in committee. I assure him he, need have no apprehension on that point.
Resolution reported, read the second time and concurred in. Mr. Bennett thereupon moved for leave to introduce Bill No. 106 to amend the Special War Revenue Act.
Mr. Chairman, the last time the committee sat the minister was asked
to have available for members certain information before this item was called again. Certain questions have also appeared on the order paper, but they have not yet been answered, and it is certainly impossible for us to further consider this item until we have had an opportunity to go through those returns.
I think Mr. Chairman, that the returns asked for have been brought down. I regret I was not present the other evening when this matter was under consideration. It is only fair to say that it originated in the Department of External Affairs and not in the Department of Trade and Commerce. I have already indicated to the house the circumstances under which Sir Josiah Stamp was asked to become chairman of the commission. The grain trade selected Mr. Sanford Evans as its representative on the commission, and the Hon. Chief Justice Brown became the representative of the agrarian interests. As is indicated by the return filed to-day, Mr. Pearson of the Department of External Affairs was selected to act as secretary.
When the commission had concluded its labours Mr. Pearson returned to Ottawa and Mr. Sanford Evans also came here. Each of the commissioners had a copy of the evidence. The report had been drafted only, and it had been agreed that as Sir Josiah Stamp could stay in this country only a limited number of days, the typewriting of portions of the report that he had indicated, apart from what he had written, should be completed, and the report would be set up in type and mailed to him on the Mauretania, sailing on the succeeding Tuesday, so he might be able to revise and return the report to Canada. Mr. Pearson undertook the overseeing of that work. At the time among the appendices was the number 12 which had been put in evidence by Mr. Pitblado practically at the conclusion of the hearing, under the circumstances mentioned by him in his telegram.
I said the other day, and I now repeat in passing, that the real objection to that appendix was the red ink statement which drew inferences from the chart itself. I knew nothing of this, neither did anyone in the department so far as that is concerned. The report came back from London, approved by Sir Josiah Stamp. There were one of two typographical errors that he had corrected. But recall this, if you please, there were no appendices sent to Sir Josiah Stamp with the report.
When the report was returned, Mr. Pearson -a competent young man who has long been in the department and enjoys the confidence
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of his superiors-sent the draft to the printing office, had it printed, and included with the appendices the appendix in question. I am informed that this was done in the ordinary course, it being believed that this was one of the appendices that should be attached. I am informed by Mr. Pearson that some little conversation took place between him and Mr. Evans, Mr. Evans believing that the appendix should be included as part of the report, and Mr. Pearson, as secretary, concurring in the suggestion of the commissioner because the appendix had been put in evidence at the hearing It is an elementary rule that any document put in in evidence may be printed as part of the report and the proceedings. This appendix was so included.
I tabled the report. I notice it is suggested that it was my duty to read the report. I think not. The report was made to me by the commission, and it was my duty to table the report as I received it, without making any comment on it in any way, shape or form; which I did. Some days later I was called up by telephone asking if I had observed that the appendix had been included in the report to which exception had been taken by certain of the grain interests. I said the matter was entirely new to me because as a matter of fact I had not read the appendix. I immediately got the report and looked at the appendix. Then I went down to the office and inquired into the circumstances under which the appendix had been included in the report, with the results that I have just given to the committee.
I believe that the appendix would not have been received by a judge in a court of law if attention had been directed to the inferences drawn from it and which are printed in red. So far as the appendix itself is concerned, we would say that it could be put in evidence just for what it is worth. The inferences to be drawn would be left entirely to the commission itself rather than to the person who prepared the return. I understand the return was prepared by the statistical agency in Winnipeg of which Mr. Evans is the head. I am only told that; it does not appear so from the report.
There is nothing further that I can add. The copy of the evidence and the other documents were lodged in the department by Mr. Pearson in his capacity as secretary of the commission; they were not so lodged as a part of the files of the department. The documents are still in the department. I do not think the correspondence which took place is any part of the departmental correspon-
dence, I not having written any communication then in respect to it. As I have said, the communications which took place between the chairman, the members of the commission and the unfortunate secretary are in no sense part of the records of the department over which I can in any sense have control, and I do not regard them as such. I regret more than I can say that these difficulties arose, but they would have arisen in spite of any supervision which might have been made, because Sir Josiah Stamp indicated when he came to Canada that it was absolutely necessary for him to leave on a certain date by a certain ship. The inclusion of the appendix as a part of the report is in no sense objectionable either as a matter of evidence or fair dealing or as a matter of good faith between the commission and the department from which the commission issued. But, as I stated when my attention was directed to it by the hon. member for Humboldt, in my opinion the red printing which drew inferences from the document should not have appeared.
I issued instructions that the appendix should foe removed from all copies of the report in the department, and Mr. Pearson saw that the appendix was in fact removed. Those which have been circulated since that time have not contained that appendix. A certain number of copies, as indicated by the return filed to-day, have been issued to public libraries and to individuals who have asked for them; the Winnipeg Grain Exchange printed a certain number of copies of the evidence and obtained a number of copies of the report as well. From those copies of the report the appendix in question has been removed.
Mr. Chairman, I do not rise to question in the least the accuracy of any statement made by my right hon. friend, but I hope he will not judge me too severely if I am a little critical of one aspect of what he has just said. The Prime Minister said it was his duty to present the report to this house just as it was received, without reading the report in the first instance himself or having anyone read it on his behalf.
I do not agree with the Prime Minister in that statement; I think he is responsible for the report being presented at all. His responsibility goes the length of his being obliged either to table the report and allow matters to develop as they may as a result of his so doing, or to
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withhold the report either temporarily or permanently and give to parliament his reason for so doing.
I just wish to illustrate where the failure of appreciating that circumstance has led my right hon. friend. He has brought into the discussion to-night the name of a member of the civil service who is not in a position to make any statement in his own behalf.
If the right hon. gentleman will pardon me, I did not bring his name into this matter until it had been brought in through the report filed, in which he desired his name should be put as secretary of the commission.
That does not matter in the least; I wish to make a very clear statement about the position and rights of members of the civil service of this country. It is a rule of parliamentary practice and procedure that members of the civil service who are not in a position to answer for themselves or to make statements on their own behalf should be protected from having their names mentioned in discussion on the floor of parliament by any minister or any member of this house unless they are being criticized personally for some act for which they must take the full responsibility. My right hon. friend would have been perfectly within his rights had he said that all this was due to the fact that a member of his staff, or a member of the public service, had inserted this chart without his knowledge, that he regretted the circumstances though prepared to take responsibility for it. The responsibility would necessarily be his for not having observed that the chart which should not have been inserted had been placed there. He cannot escape that responsibility.