May 19, 1932

LIB

Joseph Georges Bouchard

Liberal

Mr. BOUCHARD (Translation):

We know it. May I ask a question of the hon. minister?

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CON
LIB

Joseph Georges Bouchard

Liberal

Mr. BOUCHARD (Translation):

Is it not a fact that in a number of cases these dismissals were insisted upon and demanded by the minister's colleagues? It was generally after one of his colleagues had passed through, my former opponent in Kamouraska riding-

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LIB
LIB

Joseph Georges Bouchard

Liberal

Mr. BOUCHARD (Translation):

-that

these dismissals took place-unjust dismissals, as I shall have occasion to show later on.

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CON

Arthur Sauvé (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SAUVE (Translation):

The hon. member for Kamouraska has just said that he intends to deal more fully with this subject on some later occasion. With his permission I shall await his explanation before replying; no doubt by that time I will understand better just what he means.

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LIB
CON

Arthur Sauvé (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SAUVE (Translation):

There are

members in the opposition ranks who can bear witness to my sense of fair play. There are members on the other side who have made representations to me and been listened to; there are opposition members who have asked certain things of me, which I was only too glad to perform, when at all possible. I put politics behind me-

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LIB
CON

Arthur Sauvé (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SAUVE (Translation):

-I did not consider whether they were opposition or government members. .

Some hon. MEMBERS (Translation): That is true.

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CON

Arthur Sauvé (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SAUVE (Translation):

Some are listening to me, others are absent, who can bear me out in this. I wanted to make this statement about dismissals in order to acquaint the house with the true facts and so that our Liberal friends should discern my administration from another angle than that used so far.

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LIB

Vincent Dupuis

Liberal

Mr. DUPUIS (Translation):

May I be

allowed to complete the history of the case I brought up on April 28, that of Noel Fontaine of Laprairie. The hon. minister has just stated that I should not complain because there have been but few dismissals in the county of Laprairie-Napierville. That is like someone saying to me: "Don't complain; the thieves robbed only one individual in Laprairie-Napierville. Let them be."

The case of Noel Fontaine is the most typical that can be brought to the attention of the house. The hon. Postmaster General says he means well and that I appear ill-disposed towards him. It seems to me that when I have spoken in the house I have

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'very often shown that I esteem the hon. minister, that I have a very high regard for him and that if he had made all these dismissals it was because his hand had been forced. In my remarks of April 28 concerning the Noel Fontaine case I stated clearly that the pressure came from the outside, that people in the county had appealed to the defeated candidate and he in turn to the minister. It was fair to the hon. minister to remember his words to me: "If Noel Fontaine did not mix in politics, if his wife alone went to meetings, Noel Fontaine has no cause to worry." I can go further and repeat what the minister said in Laval-Two Mountains when two Conservatives from my constituency went to see him. When the dismissal of Noel Fontaine became known in Laprairie two Conservatives and one Liberal called on the hon. minister who told them then and there: "Try to get Gustave Monette to withdraw his complaint and Noel Fontaine will not be interfered with. I wash my hands of the whole affair."

I am sure the hon. minister did not enjoy ordering these dismissals. I know, for instance, that when an investigation is made on a postmaster with the definite intention of relieving him of his functions, it is not a pleasant thing for the Postmaster General. To show more clearly how repulsive the dismissal of Noel Fontaine was to the hon. minister may I remind the house that the inquiry was held in February, 1931, and that the dismissal was not made until shortly before the provincial elections, when a delegation of Conservatives from Laprairie waited upon Mr. Gustave Monette and gave him to understand that if he did not cause Noel Fontaine to be dismissed the Conservatives would remain at home or would work for the Liberal candidate.

An hon. MEMBER (Translation): Shame!

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LIB

Vincent Dupuis

Liberal

Mr. DUPUIS (Translation):

Those are the circumstances which justify the hon. minister and which explain his conciliatory attitude of a moment ago. I want to be just towards him. Nevertheless this iniquity has been perpetrated against a postmaster who remains independent, impartial and who only seeks to do his duty. Allow me to give you a few more details concerning the dismissal of Noel Fontaine. The investigation did not reveal a single thing to his discredit. So then the attackers turned on Mrs. Fontaine. False testimonies were used, and I can prove it. A lady testified at the inquiry, under orders from a Conservative leader-I should not employ that expression, for the great name of Conservative, as I understand it, cannot apply to people capable of such action. A

vile individual forced an ailing woman to commit perjury by swearing that she had heard Mrs. Fontaine speak at one of my opponent's rallies during the last campaign. This same woman admitted two months later-the thing made her positively ill- in the presence of two witnesses, that she had sworn a false oath, that she was sorry and that she begged Mr. Fontaine to forgive her all the trouble she had caused him. What did they do? They got false witnesses to swear that the postmaster's wife had addressed a meeting held in the interests of Mr. Gustave Monette. Six witnesses, two Conservatives and four Liberals, swore under oath that Mrs. Fontaine was not present at the meeting in question; they established an alibi. Notwithstanding this, Noel Fontaine was dismissed. But how did they go about his dismissal? The investigating commissioner was Mr. Bruno Nantel-

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LIB

Pierre Auguste Martial Rhéaume

Liberal

Mr. RHEAUME (Translation):

A good

Liberal!

Mr. DUPUIS .(Translation): Mr. Bruno Nantel made a report in which he quotes the evidence-I could mention the names of witnesses-and draws his own conclusions. Is there anything, I shall not say more disgusting, because that is unparliamentary, but more iniquitous than a report from which the names of witnesses who proved the alibi of Mrs. Fontaine are deleted. The following persons appeared as witnesses during the investigation: Jeannette, Mrs. Paul Bonneterre-I wish the hon. Postmaster General would inquire as to how, where and by whom these names were struck out-Samuel Racine, one of the leaders of the Conservative candidate, Wilfrid Ste. Marie, another good Conservative, David Racette, Emilien Lamarre, also a conservative, and Mrs. Arthur Lamarre. Six witnesses, two Conservatives and four Liberals, came and proved beyond all doubt that Mrs. Noel Fontaine, the same evening when she is accused of having attended the meeting of Mr. Gustave Monette, was at St. Mathieu de Laprairie. What did they do? They struck out the evidence of those six witnesses. I call the attention of the Postmaster General on that fact and I am asking him to explain to the house why those statements in favour of Noel Fontaine were struck out.

Mr. Chairman, I simply wanted to draw the attention of the committee to these facts that came to my knowledge only recently, after the remarks I made the other day. The question is serious enough to be worth mentioning.

I have only a few words to say about the very fair request that I made to the hon.

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Postmaster General. I addressed him very courteously, and I shall now say it in English.

At page 2985 of Hansard will be found my question to the hon. Postmaster General:

May I ask the hon. Postmaster General when he intends to continue with the estimates of his department ?

To this question the minister gave- quite a vague answer. I do not blame him. He might not have been in a position to answer definitely, because, as I understand, it was a matter to be decided by the cabinet. He said: .

I have no objection to discuss the estimates of my department immediately if the rules so permit. I will submit them again to the house when the rules permit me.

I repeat, thait is not an answer to my question. Then the right hon. Prime Minister brought forward another matter altogether. When he was through I said:

A few minutes ago I asked the hon. Postmaster General when he expected to proceed with his estimates. As he seems to be unable to answer, I would ask the right hon. the Prime Minister if he is able to tell the house when the Postmaster General will proceed with his estimates.

What did the right hon. Prime Minister . answer? He said that I had insulted the Postmaster General. I did not catch that at the time because the right hon. gentleman spoke in an undertone, otherwise I would have asked him in all fairness where and when and in what manner I had insulted the hon. Fosbmaster General.

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CON

Robert James Manion (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

It is not a compliment to say that a minister cannot himself answer a question.

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LIB

Vincent Dupuis

Liberal

Mr. DUPUIS:

It was only my interpretation of the fact that as the Postmaster General was not able to decide the matter alone it might have been decided by the Prime Minister. It was not intended as an insult at all. If it was an insult it would have been the duty of the Prime Minister to ask me to withdraw my remarks, because I have no right to insult a member of this house.

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LIB
LIB

Vincent Dupuis

Liberal

Mr. DUPUIS:

I bring this matter up because I do not want to have the reputation of insulting anybody. If the hon. Minister of Railways and Canals would ask my good friend Mr. Monette, my opponent at the last election, I am confident he would tell the minister that I never insulted anybody even in the heat of the campaign, and it was a very

strenuous fight. It was very unfair on the part of the Prime Minister to say that I insulted anybody.

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LIB
LIB

Vincent Dupuis

Liberal

Mr. DUPUIS:

I should like the Prime Minister-he is not in his seat at present-to withdraw his statement. If I did insult the Postmaster General I would expect him to ask me to withdraw whait I had said.

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May 19, 1932