May 19, 1932

LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

The Prime Minister will

withdraw the next time he comes to the house.

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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LIB

Wilfrid Girouard

Liberal

Mr. GIROUARD (Translation):

The hon. Postmaster General spoke, a few moments ago, of the discussion that took place when his estimates were submitted to the committee, on April 28th. On that occasion I called his attention . on the activities of a man named Garfield MacKinnon and I asked him to be kind enough to say what his department intended to do.

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CON

Arthur Sauvé (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SAUVE (Translation):

Mr. Chairman, in reply to the hon. member for Drummond-Arthabaska, I must say that the information I gave the other day to this house has been corroborated by the legal adviser of the department.

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LIB
CON

Arthur Sauvé (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SAUVE (Translation):

Based upon

the fact that MacKinnon has a right to form an association, to ask the rural mail carriers to become members of it and to exact a fee of $5 to cover organization expenses. He promises them that by being members of that association they will be better protected. The hon. member for Drummond-Arthabaska, who is a good lawyer, will admit that I should not be blamed1 for not having taken legal proceedings against that organizer. Perhaps he will say: Yes, but the Postmaster General received complaints or an affidavit signed by three citizens of Megantic. From a legal point of view can that affidavit be taken into consideration by the department? I am informed that it cannot, because it bears three signatures. The affidavit says that at the end of January, 1932, a man named Garfield MacKinnon, who styles himself as secretary of the Rural Mail Carriers' Association, called at the homes of the undersigned, and asked them to contribute a sum of $5 as mail carriers, failing which they would lose their contract. Ii: says also that the said Joseph Cote was the only one to pay $5 and the others refused to do so. That is the statement of Antonio Boulanger, Wilfrid Boule and Joseph Cote. Is that affidavit sufficient evidence to allow the post office department to prosecute that

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promoter? It is not, according to the information I received from the legal adviser of my department. We advised the inspectors throughout the province and the whole country that MacKinnon was not authorized by the Post Office Department to form such an organization and that the rural mail carriers were not bound to listen to his representations or threats. We even issued a public statement to that effect, and we asked all our inspectors and superintendants to take up the matter and to warn the people that the Post Office Department had nothing whatever to do with that promoter.

Mr. Chairman, if that man MacKinnon commits any fraud in a province, it is up to the Attorney General of that province to prosecute him or else let the people whom he has deceived lay a complaint with the Attorney General.

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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LIB

Wilfrid Girouard

Liberal

Mr. GIROUARD (Translation):

The hon. Postmaster General is perfectly right in saying that this man MacKinnon has the right to organize the rural mail carriers; to that extent, certainly there is nothing wrong. He has also the right to exact $5 from the mail carriers who wish to join his association. If the activities of that man were limited to these two things, the Postmaster General may be sure that I would not object. The only point on which the Postmaster General has some doubt is whether the sworn statement that was sent to him by the hon. member for Megantic (Roberge) is sufficient to establish before the courts that MacKinnon obtained money under false pretences. Here is a man going through all the parishes of the province of Quebec-and others, I presume-gathering the mail carriers together and telling them that they will lose their contract, unless they pay him a sum of $5. That is the kind of pretence that induces the mail carriers to pay $5 in order to join the association.

I respectfully submit, Mr. Chairman, that such a threat is what might be called extortion and according to the provisions of the criminal code the department has a perfect right to prosecute that man MacKinnon. The evidence in the hands of the department is complete. The hon. member for Megantic has offered the Postmaster General to bring three witnesses to prove the facts. To tell these people that unless they pay him S5 they will lose their contract shows very clearly that MacKinnon was extorting money. The hon. Postmaster General has three witnesses at his disposal.

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CON

Arthur Sauvé (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SAUVE (Translation):

How could the Postmaster General deal with a man who is not in his employ?

(Mr. Sauve.J

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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LIB

Wilfrid Girouard

Liberal

Mr. GIROUARD (Translation):

The hon. Postmaster General will easily understand that it is a question of public interest. Here is a man who travels through our counties and obtains money in the way that I have just mentioned. Therefore it seems to me that if there is anybody that is interested in protecting his. employees or the people connected with the Post Office Department, it should be the Postmaster General. I think his reputation is at stake. I don't reproach him with not having taken any steps before this very day, for he had not enough evidence; but he has it now, thanks to the activities of the hon. member for Megantic. Now the hon. Postmaster General says that anybody can lay a complaint: either the Attorney General of the province of Quebec or the person who has been deceived. In this case I respectfully submit that it is for the Post Office Department to see that the mail carriers in the different provinces are not victimized by cheats and swindlers who are acting in the way that I have mentioned in order to extort five dollars from people under contract with the government. By his threats, MacKinnon leaves the people under the impression that he has some influence on the Postmaster General.

Mr. Chairman, I am not unaware of the fact that some Conservative members, being deceived by MacKinnon whom they didn't know, accompanied him when he made his tour of the province. The presence of these Conservative members or candidates alongside of MacKinnon led the people to believe that he had a certain influence with the Postmaster General or else that he was an employee of the department. I shall not speak any further on this subject, but I most respectfully submit that it is about time that the Post Office Department should prosecute MacKinnon.

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CON

Arthur Sauvé (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SAUVE (Translation):

Does the hon. member mean that this affidavit is legal and can be accepted by a court?

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LIB

Wilfrid Girouard

Liberal

Mr. GIROUARD (Translation):

Mac-

Kinnon can be charged not with perjury, but extortion. Whether it is a sworn statement or not, that has no effect on the charge to be laid against MacKinnon, because, as I already said, it is not a charge of perjury but one of extortion and the department has three witnesses to prove it.

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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CON

Arthur Sauvé (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SAUVE (Translation):

Does my hon. friend not think that it is up to the party that has been wronged to prosecute?

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LIB
LIB

Wilfrid Girouard

Liberal

Mr. GIROUARD (Translation):

It is very well in a private case; but here is a question

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of public interest and under the circumstances as I have mentioned a moment ago, the most interested party is the Post Office Department.

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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LIB

Peter John Veniot

Liberal

Mr. VENIOT (Translation):

Mr. Chairman, I have no intention of discussing the estimates of the hon. Postmaster General to-night. As I thought he would not be able to get through to-night I intended to discuss them later on. But since the activities of that Mr. MacKinnon have been brought up again to the attention of the house, I think it is my duty as a former Postmaster General to sa}7 a few words about the behaviour of that gentleman while I had the honour of being at the head of that department.

In 192S my attention was called on the activities of Mr. Garfield MacKinnon. I gave instructions for an investigation to be made and I found out that Mr. MacKinnon was going through the different districts of the country. I even saw him in my own constituency. I did not know then whether he was authorized by the Post Office Department to canvas the rural mail carriers such as he was doing. Upon my return to the department I made inquiries and Mr. Anderson, superintendent of mail contracts, informed me that Mr. MacKinnon was not connected at all with the Post Office Department and that he had organized an association which was not recognized by the department. We endeavoured to get some evidence about the activities of that gentleman and his false representations to the mail carriers. Had I been able to secure affidavits such as those of which the hon. Postmaster General has now in his possession I would have prosecuted Mr. MacKinnon; but we had none, and for several reasons. When we saw that we could not secure any evidence, I publicly denounced in this house the activities of Mr. MacKinnon. At that same time I sent-

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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CON

Arthur Sauvé (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SAUVE (Translation):

The postmasters were warned.

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LIB

Peter John Veniot

Liberal

Mr. VENIOT (Translation) :

I sent a

circular letter to all the mail carriers warning them against MacKinnon. That was on the eve of the election in 1930 and Mr. MacKinnon was then pleading for the mail carriers.

A debate took place in this house in which four or five present members of the government took part. They were urging an increase in the price paid to the mail carriers and they even pledged themselves,-I have here their very words-if they came into power, to give the mail carriers a monthly salary or else to pay them at the rate of $70 a mile. Hon. gentlemen promised to carry

out that change upon their coming into power. They are now in power, but they have never kept their word. To prove what I have just said, I have here a circular letter from the Conservative party in which they criticize the then Postmaster General and promise to raise the salaries or the rate allowed in the rural mail contracts. They were to give rural mail carriers a monthly salary or $70 per mile.

Mr. MacKinnon was then going throughout the country pretending that he had a formal promise from the present members of the government, who were then members of the opposition. When our Conservative friends came into power, MacKinnon asked them to fulfil their promises, but he did not succeed. And since then MacKinnon still travels around and states that he has the promise of hon. Mr. Sauve, Postmaster General, and hon. Mr. Guthrie, Minister of Justice, that they are both in favour of a rate of $70 per mile for rural mail contracts, or else a monthly salary, and the mail carriers being placed under the Civil Service Commission.

Moreover, some of the French-Canadian members from the province of Quebec attended meetings at which they are reported as having asserted that they, as Conservative members of this house, knew of hon. Mr. Sauve and hon. Mr. Guthrie being in favour of that plan. Acting on the faith of these promises MacKinnon asked the mail carriers to pay him five dollars. I want to be well understood; I am not saying that the Postmaster General is responsible for what happened, but I want him to know-

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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CON
LIB

Peter John Veniot

Liberal

Mr. VENIOT (Translation):

-what is going on in his own province.

Mr. POULIOT (Translation) Hear, hear I

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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LIB

Peter John Veniot

Liberal

Mr. VENIOT (Translation):

I want the hon. Postmaster General to know that some hon. members who are supporting him as *members of the government, some members from the province of Quebec, are attending these meetings and are telling the people-I shall give some names-

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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LIB

May 19, 1932