May 19, 1932

LIB

Joseph-Arthur Denis

Liberal

Mr. DENIS (Translation):

I do not know myself whether I am well informed or not, but I heard that a sub-contract was awarded to one Paul Denis.

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CON
LIB
CON

Arthur Sauvé (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SAUVE (Translation):

According to

my information, I know that Paul Denis is related to Laurent. Paul Denis has no contract, but he works for Laurent. He has more experience in this kind of work and he was employed under the administration which my hon. friend supported.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT (Translation):

Mr. Chairman, I heard a moment ago the hon. member for Dorchester ask the hon. member for Kamouraska if he had seen a letter from the

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Supply-Post Office

hon. solicitor general in the files. The Solicitor General's letters are aerial, invisible; they are personal letters that reach the minister, but laymen like you and me, Mr. Chairman cannot see them.

This reminds me of a film of Grace Cunard, a serial which was a great success some twenty years ago and that was entitled "The Crushing Hand." The reason for my protesting against the numerous lady secretaries of the hon. Solicitor General is because these secretaries are carrying on a work whose results we know, but whose machinery we cannot see. The minister acts as a medium between defeated candidates who are a little sourmouthed and each member of the government. I think we should put a stop to that, and when a defeated candidate wants to deal with a member of the government, he should send his communications directly to him and do away with such a costly and useless medium.

I revert now to the suggestion that I offered at first to the hon. Postmaster General. Before discussing each case, I want to make some preliminary remarks and state my position. If there were affidavits stating the complaints against the postmasters, sworn affidavits by responsible persons, the postmasters would then have a certain recourse either before the criminal or the civil courts, against those who gave the affidavits, should they not tell the truth.

Now I am going to give a typical case, that of Sully. The postmaster was dismissed -I shall not speak of the investigation-after the commissioner had insisted on hearing him. I think that is not fair, because a man is presumed innocent as long as he has not been found guilty. It is an elementary principle of British common law and specially of the criminal law. A man is not guilty, until it is proven otherwise. In the case of the commissioners, it is different. They want the postmaster to testify and prove his own case. They compel him to do so. In this connection, the Postmaster General has made a very timely decision and instructed the commissioners not to compel the postmasters to testify, but the commissioners told me that they would send the Postmaster General to a certain place which I cannot mention in this house. I was surprised to see that the commissioner to whom I refeT had so little respect for the bon. minister, when the latter was proclaiming a principle of law so universally recognized, specially in 'the British Empire. The postmaster was nevertheless dismissed.

Two men applied for the position. One even sent his application as soon as it was rumoured that the postmaster might be dismissed. He applied for the position long before the dismissal. I am glad to see the right honourable Prime Minister in his seat, because it was to him that the application was sent in the first place. That man, named Jean, applied first to the Prime Minister, and reminded him that he was a great war veteran and he was entitled to the position, should it become vacant. Upon instructions from the Prime Minister, his private secretary communicated with the Postmaster General to whom he forwarded Mr. Jean's letter; and, what is of the utmost importance, Mr. Chairman, is that the secretary of the right hon. Prime Minister mentions that the correspondence is being sent to the Postmaster General upon instructions from the Prime Minister.

The first letter from Jean to the right hon. Prime Minister is dated February 12, 1931. On February 17, 1931, Mr. Merriam informs Mr. Jean that he has forwarded his request to the hon. Postmaster General.

(Text)

"To be brought to the Minister's attention,

please.

(Sgd.) A. W. Merriam,

Private Secretary."

There is a letter dated October 5, 1931, addressed to Mr. Jean, and which reads as fellows:

"I am instructed by the Prime Minister to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated September 25."

You no doubt, know that the position of postmaster is relevant of the Civil Service Commission. Vacancies in such positions are advertised by this commission and candidates must forward their applications within the stipulated time as advertised. Veterans are always given preference over other candidates, pursuant to the act. I would therefore suggest that you address yourself directly to the Secretary of the Civil Service Commission, at Ottawa, and to the Postmaster General who has entire jurisdiction over his department.

At all events, I am submitting to him your request immediately.

This letter appeared in the file which was tabled in the house. I congratulate the right hon. Prime Minister for having instructed his secretary to forward such an answer to a veteran of the Great war.

Mr. Jean wrote to the hon. Postmaster General, on February 27, 1931. Mr. Gaboury, the deputy minister answered on March 4, 1931-note well this letter, sir:

"If it becomes necessary to make a change, the appointment of the new incumbent will be made by the Civil Service Commission. However, your application has been noited and will

Railways and Shipping-Report

be referred to that commission if there is

occasion."

What happened? There is some correspondence which might indicate differently, however, I attach no importance to it. On 'September 19, 1931, Mr. Jean writes again to the hon. Postmaster General-a long time after March 4, 1931. The deputy minister answers on September 28, 1931:

If it becomes necessary to make a change, the permanent appointment of the new incumbent will be made by the Civil Service Commission. The minister, however has taken your application under consideration.

Mention was made of permanent appointment. First, there was but a question of the appointment which was to be made by the Civil Service Commission. Finally, following inquiries held in the county of Temiscouata, by people with whom the minister is well acquainted, and whom I do not care to name, so as not to place them in the limelight, on February 5, 1932, a person by the name of Tardif, a blacksmith, was appointed. Was he appointed by the Civil Service Commission as the deputy minister wrote on March 4, 1931? No, he was appointed temporarily by the hon. Postmaster General who set aside the veteran.

I communicated with the commission on this matter to inquire why the vacancy was not advertised. I received the answer that the postmaster had not been dismissed after an inquiry had been held, but that he had been suspended, and that was the reason why the notice had not been posted. I wish to inquire from the hon. Postmaster General whether he intends to re-establish in his office, Jean-Baptiste Plourde, the former postmaster? I shall continue then .... Will the hon. Postmaster General inform me whether he has the intention to reinstate former postmaster?

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I move that the committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.

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LIB
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

There is a motion before the chair.

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CON

Raymond Ducharme Morand

Conservative (1867-1942)

The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Morand):

It is moved that the committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.

Progress reported.

On motion of Mr. Bennett the house adjourned at 11.45 ip.m.

41761-197J

Friday, May 20, 1932

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May 19, 1932