April 7, 1932

CON

Hugh Guthrie (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

The next item is in connection with penitentiaries. Unfortunately my deputy is not in the chamber.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Go ahead.

Penitentiaries-amount required for cost of administration, construction, purchase of land, supplies and equipment, maintenance and discharge of inmates at Kingston. St. Vincent de Paul. Dorchester, Manitoba, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Collins Bay penitentiaries, $2,655,700.

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LIB

Joseph-Arthur Bradette

Liberal

Mr. BRADETTE:

I should like to refer to the case of Fontaine and Lacasse, who, on account of a miscarriage of justice a few years ago, were sent to a penitentiary. Afterwards it was found that they were innocent. I understand they have made application to the Department of Justice for compensation. To bring the facts clearly before the committee I shall read an article which appeared in the Ottawa Citizen of March 17, 1932:

The Citizen has received a letter from Lionel Fontaine in which he appeals to us again to draw his case to the attention of parliament. This we do in the belief that until some restitution is made a blot will remain on Canada's reputation for impartial justice.

Fontaine is one of the two men (Lacasse is the other) who were charged, "identified," and sentenced as the guilty persons in the robbery of an Ottawa milk salesman in Rockcliffe in the

[Mr. Guthrie.l

fall of 1929. They were given two years and served seven months of that term before their innocence, by an extraordinary turn of events, in which the police had no part, was established.

It is now nearly two years since Fontaine and Lacasse were shown to be the victoms of a miscarriage of justice. But they have received no redress.

Then the closing paragraph is as follows:

Presuming no steps have yet been taken to "amend the incident" it is time that something were done. Fontaine asks on behalf of himself and Lacasse for compensation to the amount he would have earned if gainfully employed during the seven months the two lay in prison innocently convicted. We respectfully call the attention of the authorities to this request once more and suggest that the compensation be paid. .

I think the request is very reasonable, because had they been falsely accused by a layman he would have had to make compensation.

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CON

Hugh Guthrie (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

The hon. member is no doubt aware of the fact that while we in this parliament make the criminal law of Canada, the Department of Justice or the government does not administer that law throughout the provinces. The unfortunate prosecution which resulted in the conviction of these two young men was undertaken at the instance of the attorney general's department of the province of Ontario. His officers made the arrest and conducted the prosecution; the federal department of Justice had no part in it whatsoever. Conviction was made after a trial in the province of Ontario, and sentence was imposed by a court of that province. The prisoners were ordered to serve their terms in the penitentiary at Kingston. As soon as the true facts were brought to the attention of the former Minister of Justice he recommended that the two young men in question be released. I do not think he had authority to make a payment of money, or to do anything other than he did do-to have the young men released as speedily as possible. This case has been before me at least half a dozen times, and in each instance I have informed the applicants that if they have any redress they must seek it from the legislature of Ontario, in which province the prosecution was instituted. It is one of those unfortunate miscarriages of justice that sometimes take place, but I cannot see that the federal department is in any way responsible for it.

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LIB

Joseph-Arthur Bradette

Liberal

Mr. BRADETTE:

The Minister of Justice has said an injustice was done to these men. Naturally the Canadian people will think they are entitled to compensation. So far as I can learn, no application has been made to the provincial legislature. It would seem that

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Penitentiaries

pressure should be brought upon the provincial authorities by the federal government so that this anomaly may be remedied. From the article appearing in the Citizen one would conclude that these young men think they should receive compensation from federal authorities,

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CON

Hugh Guthrie (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

They have no reason to think that, because ever since they were liberated they have been informed definitely and on many occasions that any claim to compensation or indemnity they may have should be lodged with the Ontario legislature. They know that; I do not know whether or not they have made application there.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I have learned there is to be some reorganization in connection with the personnel of the penitentiary at Kingston. Is the minister in a position to make a statement in that connection?

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CON

Hugh Guthrie (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

Yes; reorganization is contemplated. We have two penitentiaries at Kingston. One of them is in course of construction, and has hitherto been referred to as the preferred class penitentiary. The name has been changed and it is now known as the Collins Bay penitentiary. That institution was controlled by an acting warden who had never been appointed to the wandenship. Formerly he had been an inspector on the penitentiary staff, and he has now returned to his duties as inspector at Ottawa. Another member of the staff named Allen, who was chief engineer, has been appointed warden of the Collins Bay penitentiary. Warden Ponsford of Kingston penitentiary has retired. The position is now vacant. There is an acting warden in that penitentiary, a man who has been for a long time on the penitentiary staff, but the appointment will be filled by the Civil Service Commission. The advertisement for that position has recently been current, and I think applications are all in and are now under consideration. I do not know what the determination of the commission will be in that respect. There is also another change through the retirement of General Hughes, who for many years was superintendent of penitentiaries. That position is likewise vacant and an advertisement is current by the Civil Service Commission to fill it.

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LIB

Thomas Reid

Liberal

Mr. REID:

Has the minister any information regarding a criminal by the name of Bagiev? He escaped from Oakalla provincial prison some time ago. It is said he was sentenced to a ten-year term at New Westminster penitentiary and was released after serving only five years. Later he was picked up by the provincial police and put in the

provincial prison at Oakalla. He is now advertised as a very desperate criminal who boasts that he will not be taken alive.

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CON

Hugh Guthrie (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

I think I have some information with regard to the case. This man Bagley, or Brown-I think Brown is his correct name-was implicated, with three others, in an armed robbery some six or seven years ago. They were convicted and received fairly long terms in the penitentiary. Brown, or Bagley, was sentenced to a term of ten years and twenty lashes. His three companions in crime were released in 1928 and 1929. Brown was not released at that time. He did receive the lashes that were imposed and has served with remission-because remission is allowed for good conduct-six and a half years of his term. In November, 1930, he was released for deportation to the United States, being an American citizen. He was deported. Subsequently he seems to have again come to Canada in some way or other, and committed a further crime, for which he was placed in the provincial prison at Oakalla, British Columbia. From that prison he escaped, and has since been guilty of some other serious depredation, I do not know exactly of what nature. I believe at the moment his whereabouts are not known, but, I understand, he is regarded as a dangerous criminal.

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LIB
CON

Hugh Guthrie (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

No, that also is awaiting action by the Civil Service Commission. The warden at New Westminster resigned to take the position of chief of police of the- city of Vancouver.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

How does the Civil Service Commission go about filling the position of warden of a penitentiary?

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CON

Hugh Guthrie (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

I must say quite freely

that I have not been consulted about it either directly or indirectly by any member of the commission.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Have any of

them ever been in a penitentiary themselves?

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CON

Hugh Guthrie (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

I cannot say as to that,

but I understand that they selected a committee and placed the applications before the committee to deal with. I know of one case -and I fancy that my right hon. friend the leader of the opposition will recall it-where the Civil Service Commission made an appointment some years ago and actually brought the man from Nova Scotia to fill it, but when he got here they reconsidered the matter and told him he could not have the position, and

Supply-External Affairs

appointed another man. But I do not know the modus operandi adopted by the Civil Service Commission in regard to these appointments, more than the fact that they advertise the vacancies.

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LIB

Frederick William Gershaw

Liberal

Mr. GERSHAW:

A few years ago a resolution was discussed in this house regarding the advisability of providing work for inmates of penitentiaries with a view to supporting their families. Has anything along that line been considered?

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CON

Hugh Guthrie (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

Nothing along that line

has ever been adopted. I do not think anything of the kind is in force in any prison in the British Empire. I believe in some prisons in the United States something is done in this way, the inmates being paid at the rate of about ten cents a day.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
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Item agreed to.


April 7, 1932