August 20, 1946

PRIVILEGE

MR. DIEFENBAKER-RETURN RESPECTING CAMP BORDEN ARMY REJECTION OR MEDICAL DISCHARGES


On the order for motions: Right Hon. L. S. ST. LAURENT (Acting Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker, I have now had an opportunity of investigating that grave matter of a breach of the privileges of the house about which the hon. member for Lake Centre and several newspapers have been so seriously concerned. On Friday last the hon. member, after reading the terms of order.for return No. 258, said: A perusal of the documents produced yesterday shows that in spite of the fact that parliament passed the order without any qualifications that any documents should be refused, a number of the letters have been deliberately omitted and the file is in the position of having been stripped and denuded of four known letters, as well as others. The four letters which do not appear in the file are the following: (1) A letter from Mr. Robinette, K.C., of Toronto, dated March 22, referred to in letter of March 26. (2) Letter from Mr. Miall to Mr. Anderson, dated the 26th of March. (3) Copy of letter, October 12, from Mr. Robinette, K.C., sent to Mr. MacNamara, the deputy minister. (4) Letter of the deputy minister of justice to Mr. MacNamara, dated the 19th of October, 1945. These four letters are referred to in the correspondence produced, but have not been produced. When the hon. member made that statement I felt, as I am sure all hon. members who heard it must have felt, that it must be serious or no hon. member would be making it. On examining the file this is what it reveals: two of the letters which were alleged to have been deliberately omitted, of which the file had been "stripped and denuded", which, according to the statement, do not appear on the file, are there and were there all the time. One of them is the letter from Mr. Miall to Mr. Anderson dated the 26th of March; it is document 4 of the file,; another is the letter of the Deputy Minister of Justice to Mr. MacNamara dated the 19th of October, 1945; it is No. 6 on the file. The other two documents, being letters from Mr. Robinette to the Department of Justice dated, one, March 22 and the other October 12, are, as I explained yesterday, not letters from one department to another-which were the only things called for in the order-but letters written to the Privilege-Mr. Diejenbaker Department of Justice by a lawyer acting as such for the department and which, according to the invariable rule, are not produced in parliament. Now, if there has been any "affront to parliament and to the privileges of parliament", it would seem to be only in the fact that the hon. member has once again allowed his zeal about cases which he calls cases having "odoriferous characteristics" to outrun his discretion and has made, quite inadvertently I am sure but nevertheless without sufficient care, positive statements to this house about a document which on its face shows that the statements are just not true.


PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. J. G. DIEFENBAKER (Lake Centre):

Now, Mr. Speaker, I trust you will allow me to place the record before the house and the country.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. DIEFENBAKER-RETURN RESPECTING CAMP BORDEN ARMY REJECTION OR MEDICAL DISCHARGES
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. DIEFENBAKER-RETURN RESPECTING CAMP BORDEN ARMY REJECTION OR MEDICAL DISCHARGES
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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

I am not at all impressed by the jeers.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. DIEFENBAKER-RETURN RESPECTING CAMP BORDEN ARMY REJECTION OR MEDICAL DISCHARGES
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PC

Gordon Graydon

Progressive Conservative

Mr. GRAYDON:

Neither is anybody else.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. DIEFENBAKER-RETURN RESPECTING CAMP BORDEN ARMY REJECTION OR MEDICAL DISCHARGES
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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

And truculence is no substitute for information. The attitude adopted by the Minister of Justice to-day indicates one thing, that there is a very good reason why the government, through the instrumentality of the Minister of Justice, does not produce the record in this case. And I am going to produce the record because it indicates this, sir, not only was there a deliberate attempt to interfere with the course of justice, but that it is connived at and approved and condoned by the Minister of Justice.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. DIEFENBAKER-RETURN RESPECTING CAMP BORDEN ARMY REJECTION OR MEDICAL DISCHARGES
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An hon. MEMBER:

"Very loud cheers."

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. DIEFENBAKER-RETURN RESPECTING CAMP BORDEN ARMY REJECTION OR MEDICAL DISCHARGES
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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

All right: I will give you the facts and then I will read the record, and I will allow the country to decide whether it was I who made the mistake or whether it was my right hon. friend, who to-day participates in the concealment which I criticized the other day. Let me say this to him: I defy him to produce the record; I defy him to produce those letters which have been taken from the record. He dare not do it.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. DIEFENBAKER-RETURN RESPECTING CAMP BORDEN ARMY REJECTION OR MEDICAL DISCHARGES
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

Mr. DIEFENBAKER.: He may laugh and hon. members may jeer. But to-day, when we speak so much of lawlessness in the land, lawlessness on the part of the government is as serious as lawlessness anywhere else.

Here is the record. In the first place, sir, I asked the question:

Have any criminal proceedings been taken or are any contemplated in connection with an

alleged conspiracy arising out of the improper use of army rejection or medical discharges at Camp Borden since 1943?

The answer is no. The next question was:

Was the matter investigated by the R.C.M.P. and did they recommend prosecution?

Here is the answer:

The R.C.M.P. investigated and reported, which report was reviewed by counsel who was acting as agent for the crown in a prosecution case having to do with mobilization regulations. Counsel expressed the opinion that a review should be made by another counsel although he was also of the opinion that the reports indicated a prima facie case.

Counsel in question was Mr. Robinette, K.C., who I am informed was counsel for the prosecution in the case of one Lennox, on March 22, 1945, at the city of Hamilton, Lennox having been charged with having passed one of these fake medical certificates, and he gave evidence there that he paid one Joseph Bagley at the Humber Hotel in Toronto $1,200 for the certificate. He was charged with uttering a false document and received three months. My information is that Mr. Robinette, K.C., an outstanding counsel, set forth the facts and indicated that there was a prima facie case and then another counsel was brought in. What his report was it is not for me to say, but my information is that it too advised that there was a prima facie case.

Now we go on with the record. As far as the Department of Justice is concerned, Mr. Varcoe, the deputy minister, made sure that tlie responsibility did not rest on that department. Here is the correspondence from the beginning. The first letter is dated October 19, 1945:

Department of Justice

October 19, 1945.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. DIEFENBAKER-RETURN RESPECTING CAMP BORDEN ARMY REJECTION OR MEDICAL DISCHARGES
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A. 4347


Re: Major James A. Elliott, et al. National Selective Service Mobilization Regulations Dear Sir: T enclose herewith copy of a letter of October 12 from Mr. J. J. Robinette, K.C., the agent of the Minister of Justice of this matter. I shall be pleased to receive your comment thereon. Yours truly, (Sgd.) F. P. Varcoe, Deputy Minister. The order of this house was for the production of all documents. Is that order met by producing a letter to which an enclosure is referred and leaving out the enclosure which deals with the facts? Mr. ST. LAURENT: Is not the letter which the hon. gentleman has just read the very letter which he said on August 16 was not there? - Labour Conditions


PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

Sir, the record

speaks for itself. I am reading the record, and it purports-

Mr. ST. LAURENT: Does the hon. member say that it hurts him to find out that it is there after he stated it was not there?

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LIB

James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

The hon. member knows that he is absolutely out of order. It is the practice of the house, when a member receives an answer, to refrain from debate upon it. It is not supposed to be debated, nor is a statement made by a minister debatable either. I have permitted the hon. member to make his reply, but I thought that he would do so in a few words. I am prepared to allow a little latitude to the hon. member, but if I permitted him to enter into a debate on this question he can see what the result would be. Other hon. members would like to do the same.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

Surely I have the right to reply to an allegation by my right hon. friend. I am putting the record before the house and the country-

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Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

Mr. Speaker, may I continue to put the record before the house? Here is a letter dated November 13, 1945:

Mr. F. P. Varcoe,

Deputy Minister of Justice,

Ottawa.

Dear Mr. Varcoe:

With reference to your letter of October 19th relative to prosecutions of Brother Arnold and Major J. A. Elliott of Toronto.

I would recommend that this file he put away for three or four months and then the matter could be reviewed.

I am sure that I will receive the endorsation from the minister for this proposal.

Very truly yours,

(Sgd.) A. MacNamara.

After it has been put away for two or three months a letter is written by Mr. Varcoe a little later in which he sets forth the following on April 10. Your Honour will have noticed that the cooling off period had elapsed:

April 10, 1946.

Dear Mr. MacNamara:

May I have a reply to my letter of March 16, with reference to Brother Arnold and Major J. A. Elliott.

Yours very truly,

(Sgd.) F. P. Varcoe,

Deputy Minister.

Finally on April 16, 1946 Mr. MacNamara wrote to Mr. Varcoe, the deputy minister of justice, as follows:

Dear Mr. Varcoe:

I have your letter of April 10th, File No. 146298 and I would recommend that this file be closed and that prosecution be not proceeded with.

Now there is the record; the omission of counsel's letter from the file, which was part and parcel of the file that should have been brought before parliament; the omission of all the other letters to which I have already referred. First you have the prosecution of Lennox in 1945; you have evidence there given, and you have the report of Mr. Robinette, K.C.; you have the report of counsel, as admitted by the government in its answer, that a prima facie case had been made out; then you have the deputy minister of labour advising the Department of Justice, first, that they allow the matter to remain for three or four months, and finally that there be no prosecution.

I say, sir, the record speaks for itself and the record establishes everything I said. What is more, the rights of parliament are still being flouted by the refusal of the government to produce the entire file in this case which, if produced, will reveal interference with the administration of justice, which ought not to be condoned in this house.

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LABOUR CONDITIONS

TYPOGRAPHICAL UNION AND SOUTHAM NEWSPAPERS

August 20, 1946