July 25, 1942

LIB

William Pate Mulock (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. MULOCK:

What date was that

telegram? .

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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PC

Alfred Henry Bence

Progressive Conservative

Mr. BENCE:

The telegram is dated

December 6, 1940. The purport of the telegram was that they requested that a full investigation be made by the police authorities. As I say, the matter was held up for a considerable time and investigations were made. On March 4, 1941, after this matter had been brought to my attention, I wrote a letter to the Postmaster General as a result of some complaints made to me by the veterans' joint council at Saskatoon that certain telegrams they had sent to him inquiring as to this appointment had not been answered. I referred to the telegrams and asked him if he would give me a review of the situation. He replied stating that the matter was being further investigated. I do not desire to read all these letters-*

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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LIB

William Pate Mulock (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. MULOCK:

I have a recollection, which may be wrong, that I suggested that the hon. member should see the file and go through it himself.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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PC

Alfred Henry Bence

Progressive Conservative

Mr. BENCE:

Probably I had better read the letters in order that the record will be clear. On March 4, 1941, I wrote to the Postmaster General as follows, from Ottawa: Dear Mr. Mulock,

Re: W. F. Hargarten, postmaster, Bruno, Sask.

The veterans' joint council representing the Canadian Legion, the Army and Navy Veterans and the Canadian Corps association recently communicated with me with respect to this appointment and pointed out that although they had communicated with you by telegrams dated 6, 7 and 9, inquiring as to whether the R.C.M.P. report on this man was favourable they have as yet received no reply.

I should be very much obliged if you would give me a review of the situation.

Supply*-Post Office

The Postmaster General replied to me by letter dated March 8, 1941, as follows:

Dear Mr. Bence,

Re: W. F. Hargarten, Bruno, Sask.

I am pleased to have your inquiry, under date of March 4, regarding the present situation in the matter of appointment of a postmaster at Bruno, Sask. Your letter seems to reflect an assumption that Mr. Hargarten has been finally appointed to this position, but such is not the ease. Appointment is not complete until transfer of the office has been made, and this, in Mr. Hargarten's ease, has been held up pending full investigation of charges by the veterans' organizations you mention that he is a nazi sympathizer. I might state that the investigation has been in progress for many weeks and it is only fair to Mr. Hargarten to state that it has evoked on his behalf recommendations from many of the highest officials in Saskatchewan's public and church life.

The veterans' organizations to which you refer have not been informed of the contents of the R.C.M.P. reports in this case any more than they would be in any other. R.C.M.P. reports are secret documents and it has been held long before this, by the police officials themselves, that to reveal their contents to unofficial organizations or individuals is not in the public interest. The investigation, in any case, is still proceeding.

As I have stated, Mr. Hargarten's integrity and loyalty have been vouched for in the highest terms by many prominent and dependable people. Pending the result of further inquiries which are being made, however, the matter is in abeyance and you may depend upon it that in whatever decision is finally taken the public interest will be given first consideration.

Yours faithfully,

W. P. Mulock.

I replied to that letter by a letter dated March 15, 1941, as follows:

Dear Mr. Mulock,

Re: W. F. Hargarten, Bruno, Sask.

I acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 8th instant, and note that Mr. Hargarten's integrity and loyalty have been vouched for in the highest terms by many prominent and dependable people. I also note that the veterans joint council and the various veterans' organizations which it represents have not been informed of the contents of the R.C.M.P. reports, and that it is not the intention of the government to reveal the contents of the reports to these organizations. I would like to know whether or not such reports would be made available for inspection by myself, and if not, whether you would state that there is nothing unfavourable in them as far as this man's alleged connection with subversive organizations is concerned.

By letter of March 20, 1941, the Postmaster General replied as follows:

Dear Mr. Bence,

Re: Bruno, Sask.

I acknowledge receipt of your letter of March 15 in^ regard to the Bruno, Saskatchewan, post office appointment which is pending.

If you think that any useful purpose can be served I will be glad to discuss the matter fully and show you the whole file, but part of

it I must show you in confidence and ask you to treat it as entirely secret and for your own information. It is my desire to see that no injustice is being done in this appointment.

I would point out that since my last letter, I have received a communication from Doctor B. W. Hargarten, Humboldt, Saskatchewan, a son of W. F. Hargarten, and chairman for the Humboldt district of the provincial campaign committee of the Canadian war services fund, advising me that he had brought this matter to the attention of Brigadier-General A. Ross, asking him to go into the matter in the interests of British justice.

If you decide it is your wish to go through the file and discuss the matter with me, please let me know and I will be glad to arrange an appointment in the near future.

I replied to that on March 29, 1941, as follows:

Dear Mr. Mulock,

I acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 20th instant which was not replied to before this due to my absence from the city.

I spent a short time in Saskatoon recently and was asked to attend a meeting of the joint council of veterans' associations representing, as you know, the Canadian Legion, Canadian Corps, the Army and Navy Veterans, and the Veterans' Security Corps, and they discussed with me their attitude in connection with this matter.

They advised me that they would be entirely satisfied if you would advise themselves or myself that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police reports were entirely favourable to this man as far as any alleged sympathy with the Germans or nazi is concerned.

As far as the second paragraph of your letter is concerned, I hesitate to accept your offer because if the file did show that there was any suggestion that this man had nazi sympathies, I would not want to be in a position of having to keep it to myself.

I am sure that if you can assure me, as I have above indicated, that there is no suggestion of nazi sympathies in the police report, that the matter can be very quickly settled. I would make this suggestion to you, however, that is that if there is any such suggestion in the police report, then it would not be advisable for your department, or for any other department, to take a chance of appointing such a person to a place of public trust.

. Subsequently, I think in March of this year, the appointment was made effective.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

After being vacant for two years?

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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PC

Alfred Henry Bence

Progressive Conservative

Mr. BENCE:

The appointment was made in December, 1940, and the postmaster was not allowed to take over the posmastership until March, 1942. A return to an order of the house dated March 11, 1942, was made on March 27. The motion was accepted without reserve. I cannot recall whether the Postmaster General was in the house at the time, but no exception was taken to filing the Royal Canadian Mounted Police reports. I felt, in view of the circumstances and the attitude and state of mind that had developed,

Questions

that possibly in this case the Postmaster General would feel that the police reports should be filed, as was in fact done in connection with a return made to the hon. member for Mackenzie this year. I felt that in view of all the circumstances it would have been the policy of wisdom to have done it in this case and cleared the whole matter up. However, the reports were not filed. Further communications passed between the veterans' organizations and the Postmaster General protesting this appointment. I want to read just two pages and I shall have finished.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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LIB

William Pate Mulock (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. MULOCK:

Since it is eleven o'clock, and so that there may be no misapprehension about this appointment, I wish the hon. member would be kind enough to read also the report from the Minister of Justice on it.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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PC

Alfred Henry Bence

Progressive Conservative

Mr. BENCE:

I was coming to that.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Eleven o'clock.

Progress reported.

Topic:   EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
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At eleven o'clock the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to standing order. Monday, July 27, 1942


July 25, 1942