July 31, 1931

LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

No, I am not making a bid at all; as a matter of fact most people could not be ten years in the house without having been made aware that people might be willing to do something if a certain attitude were made manifest.

Last year the hon. member for Acadia (Mr. Gardiner), backed up by the hon. member for Bow River (Mr. Garland), by

Beauharnois Power-Report

myself and by certain members from Toronto brought this matter to the attention of the house. The action of the government was defended by the then Minister oi Public Works. This year the hon. member for Acadia, again backed up by several of the independent members, introduced the question in the house. I think it is not going too far to say that if this group had not brought the matter to the attention of the house we would have heard very little about Beauharnois, so we must assume some responsi-[DOT] bility for whatever good or evil has come about in connection with this investigation.

I might point out as well that it was really touch and go as to whether or not the matter should be discussed in the house at all. Hon. members may recall that at first only a handful of members voted in favour of considering the question, and then a roll call was asked for. In fact I am not quite sure that we were strictly entitled to a roll call, so small was the number of members who actually stood up. I might note also that the leader of the opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King) voted on that occasion only after the Prime Minister had voted, and at this point I may say that I believe very considerable credit should be given the Prime Minister for having permitted this matter to go to a committee.

Topic:   BEAUHARNOIS POWER PROJECT
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE IN FOURTH REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

My hon.

friend knows that the reason for that occurrence is recorded in Hansard.

Topic:   BEAUHARNOIS POWER PROJECT
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE IN FOURTH REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Yes, I know the reasons are recorded in Hansard, and I think they might bear very careful reading. The scene was one of the most ludicrous I have witnessed in this house.

I do not intend to go further into that phase of the question except to say that in a general way the contentions of the hon. member for Acadia and those who supported him were substantiated, but I do submit that the outside public is far from satisfied with the results of the investigation. If I interpret outside public opinion aright as I learn of it through people who come to see me, through the letters I receive and from newspapers in all parts of the country I would say that to-day the public demand several outstanding things. First of all the punishment of (a) those who have defrauded the public; (b) those who have been guilty of bribery, and (c) those who have betrayed public trust. Second, I think the public demand a further investigation, and third at least a very large section of the people demand government control of the whole Beauharnois enterprise. Further, at least the more

thoughtful part of the public demand legislation that will prevent similar occurrences in the future, and from my standpoint I think perhaps that would be the most desirable result of these unfortunate revelations.

Now let me very briefly speak of those three or four points. I suppose that with regard to punishment the public generally likes to find a scapegoat. Perhaps we all remember the ancient Hebrew ceremony by which the people sought to get rid of their sins by taking a goat, laying their hands upon him-thus symbolizing the laying of their sins upon him-and then driving the goat into the wilderness.

Topic:   BEAUHARNOIS POWER PROJECT
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE IN FOURTH REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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?

An hon. MEMBER:

Ask Mr. Jacobs.

Topic:   BEAUHARNOIS POWER PROJECT
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE IN FOURTH REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Yes, perhaps my

hon. friend from Cartier (Mr. Jacobs) will be able to say whether or not I am giving a correct interpretation. Some of us, too, may have seen that painting, by Holman Hunt, if I recollect aright, in which the scapegoat is shown as a very sorry and desolate figure wandering in the wilderness. Well, I confess that I have a good deal of sympathy with the scapegoat; I am not sure that these particular individuals whose actions are now before us are so much more to blame than a great many other individuals. I must insist on this though, that if a small man or a small criminal is to be punished-and I called attention to this a few days ago in connection with another matter-what about the man who takes millions without giving any return, the man who attemps to bribe political parties and to undermine responsible government, or the man who uses public position for personal gain? I would say that practices of this kind are much more dangerous to our morals than are nude parades.

After all, criminals big or little are not very different from ordinary people. I can remember shrinking away when I first met a criminal. I regarded him as a creature different from the rest of us. But as I came to know men of his class a little better, and as I came to understand their experiences a little more intimately I began to realize that they were very much like other men. Indeed, the greatest differences were that they had been harder pressed and that they had been caught. So I would suggest that our indignation really ought to be against the system rather than against the victims of that system. I think that ought to be kept in mind; we ought not simply to drive these men into obscurity and heap all sorts of blame on them when we know perfectly well that a great many of the things they have done are quite common in society to-day. Not only are they common, but let me say that with regard to the

Beauharnois Power-Report

morality of many of those transactions, we have not yet worked out very clearly a generally accepted standard, and the public as a whole are apt to condone a great many things in general which in a report such as this we condemn.

Then I would urge further investigation and in this suggestion I join with the leader of the opposition. I urge that the report of our committee of investigation should be followed up by the appointment of a royal commission to investigate just as far as can be done the whole question of corrupt practices. The probe is something like a drill. The committee bored down and struck oil; the disquieting probability is that had they drilled in other places they would also have struck oil. The surface indications are very much the same. The financing of Beauharnois was dependent, for example, on two power contracts, one to the Hydro Electric Power Commission of Ontario and one to Montreal Light, Heat & Power Consolidated. This will be seen at page 555 of the report. I would ask what were the circumstances connected with the securing of these contracts. I think that had these been investigated fully we should have a great deal more evidence than is now before us.

In this connection, with regard to the payment of 8125,000 to John Aird, Jr., I note that the Ottawa Journal of July 30, has the following to say-and I commend the Journal for having taken this ground:

The committee reports that there was no evidence before it that this money reached any political party. There was the evidence of Mr. Sweezey that he paid it to Aird -with the understanding that it was to go to the Ontario Conservative party, and, this being so, it is difficult to understand why the committee did not probe the matter further; all the more so seeing that Mr. Aird's statement that Mr. Sweezey paid him $125,000 for doing nothing in particular places an impossible tax upon human credulity.

That coming from the Ottawa Journal is most significant and heartening, and it seems to me that if the Prime Minister could see his way to the appointment of a royal commission he would be simply carrying on the work which he had the courage to commence in allowing the matter to go to the committee.

With regard to campaign funds, again I should like to quote from the Ottawa Journal of July 22:

No political party can enter an election in this country to-day without a central fund of at least $1,000,000-for perfectly proper purposes.

Perhaps the Ottawa Journal might have stretched that a little bit and made it $2,000,-

000. That is closer to the actual mark, from the information I have.

Topic:   BEAUHARNOIS POWER PROJECT
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE IN FOURTH REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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CON

Richard Burpee Hanson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

What is

your information?

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?

Charles Stephen Booth

Mr. WOODS WORTH:

The general information which one secures in the course of a number of years around the lobbies of the House of Commons.

Topic:   BEAUHARNOIS POWER PROJECT
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CON

Richard Burpee Hanson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

Just hearsay.

Topic:   BEAUHARNOIS POWER PROJECT
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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Just hearsay, that

is all. But if the hon. member prefers I will take the estimate of the Ottawa Journal-Si,000,090. That is good enough. It may be that a great political party, in order to carry on a campaign under modern conditions, needs a million dollars "for perfectly proper purposes." But this means, I suggest, that the ordinary people across the country will not have very much opportunity to initiate policies with much hope of seeing them carried into legislation. Some of us in the independent groups feel very strongly on this point. We are making an effort to have adopted certain policies. I know that most members do not agree with us, and that is their right. But we as citizens, as groups of citizens, believe that we ought to be more largely represented in this house. A few of us only have as yet been returned to parliament. Now, we have no such funds as these, and if our groups are to extend their influence it is rather a serious thing if we have to contemplate in some way raising a great fund of a million dollars before we can hope to enter the field against the established and older parties.

In contrast with these large funds, I might point out that my own campaign last year cost less than $500. In fairness I should say that there came from what might be called the central committee of our little organization possibly $100 in value; that is to say, they financed one big meeting for us and financed some literature.

Topic:   BEAUHARNOIS POWER PROJECT
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LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

You were not using the radio?

Topic:   BEAUHARNOIS POWER PROJECT
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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Yes, to some extent.

Topic:   BEAUHARNOIS POWER PROJECT
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LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

Out of the $500?

Topic:   BEAUHARNOIS POWER PROJECT
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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

No; that came out of the central committee fund. Our proportion of the general amount would be something like $100, but my election last year cost with this included, less than $600. I admit

Beauhamois Power-Report

that the situation was rather exceptional, because I did not have opposing me any official Liberal or Conservative candidate.

Topic:   BEAUHARNOIS POWER PROJECT
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CON

James Dew Chaplin

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHAPLIN:

You could not have used the radio to any great extent at that rate.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

No; and that is

the very point I am getting at. It is impossible for us to use the radio and other modern means of getting our point of view across to the general public. And that involves a very serious question. If corporation funds are the determining factor in an election, that means that the most wealthy people in the community are going to control and win elections.

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CON

James Dew Chaplin

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHAPLIN:

Did you not do something last year to change the law?

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Yes.

Topic:   BEAUHARNOIS POWER PROJECT
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CON

James Dew Chaplin

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHAPLIN:

Why did you do it?

Topic:   BEAUHARNOIS POWER PROJECT
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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

There was on the

statute books a law which prevented corporations from contributing to campaign funds. We all know that this law was very largely a dead letter; it had never amounted to very much. But that legislation had the effect of prohibiting labour unions from contributing to campaign funds. We had tried our best to introduce an amendment to exempt labour unions from this clause as they contributed openly. That amendment was turned down on one or two occasions, but last year on the third reading, when there was no opportunity to go into the matter in detail, I introduced an amendment removing that particular clause from the criminal code, and the house accepted the amendment. I will not discuss the question whether, in view of the present situation, that was a good thing or not; but I do know that campaign funds came from corporations long before that amendment was adopted.

Topic:   BEAUHARNOIS POWER PROJECT
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CON

James Dew Chaplin

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHAPLIN:

It was not in the criminal code but in the election act.

Topic:   BEAUHARNOIS POWER PROJECT
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE IN FOURTH REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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July 31, 1931