April 6, 1938

ROYAL ASSENT

LIB

Walter Edward Foster (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I have the honour to inform the house that I have received the following letter:

Ottawa, 6th April, 1938.

Sir,- I have the honour to inform you that the Honourable Thibaudeau Rinfret, acting as Deputy of His Excellency the Governor General, will proceed to the Senate chamber on Thursday, the 7th April, at 5.30 p.m., for the purpose of giving the royal assent to certain bills.

F. L. C. Pereira,

Assistant Secretary to the Governor General.

PRIVILEGE-Mr. LACROIX

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PRESS REPORTS OP STATEMENTS MADE BEFORE THE PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE OF THE QUEBEC LEGISLATURE

LIB

Édouard Lacroix

Liberal

Mr. EDOUARD LACROIX (Beauce) (Translation):

Mr. Speaker, I rise to a question of privilege, and since it is a matter of great personal concern, I have written down

what I intend to say. Yesterday, before, the public accounts committee, at Quebec, my integrity was called in question by the prime minister of my province, as reported by several Canadian newspapers.

Taking for granted that the report published in La Presse of April 5th page 25, is an accurate statement of what occurred in the public accounts committee, which report was moreover substantially corroborated by all other Quebec newspapers, I notice the following words:

Hon. Mr. Duplessis: Do you know Mr. Edouard Lacroix, the federal member for Beauce?

Mr. Gagnon: xes sir.

Hon. Mr. Duplessis: He is a lumber merchant ?

Mr. Gagnon: Yes sir.

Hon. Mr. Duplessis: Tell the committee what you know about Mr. Lacroix's dealings.

Mr. Gagnon: Under a statute of 1910, it was forbidden to export to the United States any lumber coming from crown lands. Well, in 1924-25, Mr. Lacroix cut down several thousand feet of lumber which he shipped to the United States.

Hon. Mr. Duplessis: Where was that timber cut?

Mr. Gagnon: On crown lands in Daaquam

township.

In reply to this first charge, I wish to state that contrary to what the prime minister of Quebec endeavoured to bring out according to -what I have quoted, never, -absolutely never has a single cord of wood from Daaquam township been exported to the United States either by myself or by any of my companies. So much with regard to that first malicious or politically sadistic falsehood.

Then the same individual further tried to show through a man in his pay that I had cut trees of a smaller size than that provided in the statute, in that same Daaquam township, and therefore that I owed $117,991 in fines to the provincial government. Well, Mr. Speaker, I hold in my hand a receipt from the government of the province of Quebec, showing that all the fines that I have incurred during the whole course of my life through regular development of our forests, and over which I had no personal or absolute control, amounted not to SI 17,991, as erroneously and maliciously stated by Mr. Duplessis, but actually to only $5,000.

Not only can I say and prove to the people that the offences to which I have referred were the only ones committed, but I have also before me all the proper receipts from the provincial government showing conclusively that I owe nothing, and moreover that I always paid regularly each year and in proper

Privilege-Mr. Lacroix

time the amounts which I was bound to pay under the law. And these amounts are not those which Mr. Duplessis also tried viciously to establish; I have paid $121,910.90 in excess of that, namely $244,601.98.

Mr. Speaker, if I am wearying the house with these personal details, it is not so much for me as for the sake of my wife and children of whom I may well be proud, unlike Mr. Duplessis, and to whom I shall leave the well known reputation of an honest business man, who always paid fair salaries to his employees, thus giving my family an example of Christian charity, of honesty and of morality which I would be loath to compare with that of the prime minister of the province of Quebec, whatever he may say.

In fact, if the prime minister had been prompted by that spirit of justice which must always be based on Christian charity, he would not have singled out the member for Beauce in connection with the logging operations in Daaquam township; he would have also referred to previous and later companies-

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order order!

Mr. SPEAKER: The hon. member for

Beauce-

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LIB

Édouard Lacroix

Liberal

Mr. LACROIX:

-whose policy has been similar to mine, unless his purpose was to show once more his gratitude to the powerful companies for which he has so much sympathy.

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CON

William Allen Walsh

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WALSH:

Mr. Speaker-

Mr, SPEAKER: The hon. member for

Mount Royal has the floor.

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CON

William Allen Walsh

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WALSH:

Mr. Speaker, I rise to a point of order. I hardly think that on a question of privilege the hon. gentleman is in order in discussing a matter which has been and is being dealt with in the legislature of one of the provinces. I understand that the rules of this house allow a member to defend himself against an attack that has been made upon him publicly in relation to the discharge of his duties as a member of the house, but I do not think that the attack he complains of has been made on the hon. member as a member of this house. I raise that point of order, Mr. Speaker.

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LIB

Walter Edward Foster (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

Does any other hon.

member wish to speak to the point of order?

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Mr. Speaker, it is quite apparent, I think, without going into the authorities at all, that it is competent for any hon. member who has been attacked in his capacity as a member of this house to rise in his place on a question of privilege and make

such explanation or statement as he may think desirable to negative the inferences to be drawn from any public statement attacking his honour or his fitness as a member of the house. But to rise in his place and discuss his relations with the provincial government with respect to lumber transactions and licences for the cutting of timber is to deal with purely a provincial matter, and if we are to listen for a quarter of an hour on a question of privilege to a statement that has to do with purely a provincial matter, where are we going to land? That is the question at issue.

I cannot but think that the hon. member will realize that he is dealing with something that might properly be dealt with in the legislature at Quebec, something having to do with his capacity as a business man, not as a member of this chamber, and the discharge of his obligations in connection with a matter affecting timber licences and timber rights in that province, over which we have no control. If every transaction that affects the question of a man's relations to provincial governments or to contractual obligations with respect to timber or sales of lumber in the United States is to become the subject matter of discussion in this chamber on a question of privilege, certainly, Mr. Speaker, this house is going to be in rather a difficult position.

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE (Quebec East):

Mr. Speaker, a few years ago, when a committee sitting in Manitoba had found something against a member of this house, the late Hon. Mr. Rogers, I well remember that he rose in his place in this house and answered the charges that had been made against him, not as a member of the House of Commons but as a public man in the province of Manitoba.

As far as my hon. friend from Beauce (Mr. Lacroix) is concerned, I listened to what he was saying. He was grossly attacked yesterday, not as a member of the House of Commons but as a man, and he takes the opportunity to defend himself and his honour in the only tribunal of which he is a member, namely, the House of Commons.

My right hon. friend (Mr. Bennett) may be right in saying that the hon. member should defend himself in the legislature or committee of the legislature of Quebec, but if my right hon. friend knew how proceedings are being conducted there, he would know that men are attacked and are not given the right to say even one word in their defence or in explanation of the charges made against them.

I merely want to add that all of the colleagues of the member for Beauce ought to support him in his endeavour to vindicate his honour as a man.

Privilege-Mr. Lacroix

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Mr. Speaker, I have one observation to make with reference to what the Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe) has just said. I prefaced my observations by the remark that any statement made outside of this house that reflects upon the honour or fitness of a member to sit in this chamber as a representative of the people, he is within his rights in denying as a matter of privilege. He has the right to deny any insult directed against him outside of this chamber touching his capacity as a member; indeed his duty is to deal with it promptly in this chamber, but not to make an elaborate speech dealing with his relation as a business man and merchant and lumber man with the government of the province of Quebec or any other province. The distinction is clear. It is mentioned in the books with great particularity.

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CCF

James Shaver Woodsworth

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe) has made an appeal for our sympathy-

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

No.

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE (Quebec East):

No

sympathy at all.

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CCF

James Shaver Woodsworth

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

It was an appeal for sympathy, and I say that our sympathy may very well be warranted. But I suggest that we cannot play fast and loose with the rules of the house, and if the hon. member were living in some other part than in Quebec and belonged to some other party than the party in power, I do not think an appeal of this kind would be permitted. Hence it seems to me-

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order.

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Some hon. MEMBERS:

Withdraw.

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CCF

James Shaver Woodsworth

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I say that is my

opinion, and I do not withdraw. For that reason some of us who belong to minority groups might very well hope that there would be an extension of sympathy and every privilege possible afforded for any member who has been maligned to vindicate his honour. At the same time we must insist that the rules be kept; if they are not rigidly adhered to, it should be distinctly understood that the rule is for this particular purpose set aside, or such a matter might be quoted in future as a precedent. Citation 161 is very clear.

Libels on members have also been constantly punished: but to constitute a breach of

privilege they must concern the character or conduct of members in that capacity-[DOT]

That is, in their capacity as members.

[DOT]-and the libel must be based on matters arising in the actual transaction of the business of the house.

[Mr. E. Lapointe.}

If I understand aright, the matters concerned have not arisen in connection with the transaction of the business of this house: hence I do not see that in accordance with the rule this matter can be raised as one of privilege. If it is put on a sympathy basis I will vote in favour of it, but not as coming within the rules governing the privileges of the house.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

When my

hon. friend who has just spoken makes the inference that his Honour the Speaker is according to the hon. member for Beauce a special privilege because he comes from the province of Quebec-

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April 6, 1938