Mr. Guy Marcoux (Quebec-Monlmorency):
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege.
As related on page 2761 of Hansard, the Minister of Justice (Mr. Favreau), in reply to a question put by the hon. member for Chapleau (Mr. Laprise) concerning the Indian chief Jules Sioui, answered:
Mr. Speaker, I asked to be informed on the case of Jules Sioui who has been in jail for almost a year and I realized, just by looking at the record, that this case was never submitted to my department.
In all fairness to the Department of Justice and for those who dealt with the case, I must inform the house that I myself instituted proceedings to have Jules Sioui released.
I do not want to insinuate that the minister knowingly misled the house, but I think he was misinformed by his own officials, so that the answer he gave on April 30 last was wrong.
In order to clear up any misunderstanding, I shall read the correspondence I had with the former minister of justice, Hon. Lionel Chevrier, and with the attorney general for the province of Quebec, Hon. Georges-Emile Lapalme.
On June 10, 1963, I wrote the following letter to Mr. Chevrier:
Dear Mr. Chevrier:
On May 10, 1963, Mr. Jules Sioui, an Indian of the Huron reserve, was sentenced to a month in jail for having "maculated electoral lists" placed on the reserve.
And at this stage I should like to inform the house that the Indian reserve is located in my riding. I continue:
The jury had then asked for the leniency of Justice Gerard Lacroix.
Immediately after the sentence, Mr. Sioui expressed his wish to appeal from the judge's decision. He then had to sign a bail enabling him to prepare his new trial before the court of appeals. But almost immediately, a justice employee tore up the signed document.
At the termination of the jail term, on June 6, Mrs. Jules Sioui-a 75 year old woman-went to meet her husband at the Quebec jail. A jail
officer then told her that Mr. Sioui had to post a bond to keep the peace for a period of 18 months. The sentencing document was shown to her.
Mrs. Sioui noticed that the characters in which the mention of bail was written were different from those which had been used for the original sentence.
Mr. Sioui, who was surprised by that addition, refused to sign the document. He has been kept in prison ever since.
And, which is a fact worth mentioning, the letter is dated June 10, 1963. I go on with the letter:
We maintain that he is now illegally detained in the Quebec jail.
I therefore respectfully submit that a request for the immediate liberation of Mr. Jules Sioui is under your jurisdiction.
I trust that your intervention will ensue at the earliest opportunity and remain, sir, yours very truly.
(Signed) Guy Marcoux Member for Quebec-Montmorency
On June 26, 1963, I received from the minister of justice, Hon. Lionel Chevrier, the following letter:
Dear Mr. Marcoux:
I thank you for your letter of June 10 last concerning Mr. Jules Sioui, an Indian from the Huron reserve, near Quebec, who was recently sentenced to a month's imprisonment, after having being convicted of smearing up election lists. The chief electoral officer, as well as the lawyer he appointed to conduct the preliminary inquiry in the Sioui case, informed us that they had' not been aware of the developments mentioned in your letter. On the other hand, I should tell you that when the Sioui case came up for trial, it was in the hands of one of the substitutes of the attorney general for Quebec.
On the other hand, the employees of the various courts of justice are under the jurisdiction of the attorney general of Quebec and the contents of your letter lead me to believe that this is a matter which comes under the jurisdiction of the attorney general of Quebec.
Consequently, and again according to the purport of your letter, it seems to be a case in which my jurisdiction does not entitle me to intervene.
I remain, dear Mr. Marcoux, yours very truly, Lionel Chevrier.
On July 5, 1963, I wrote a letter to the attorney general of the province of Quebec from which I shall read only a few excerpts:
Moreover, I approached the chief electoral officer of Canada, who confirmed the text of the sentence and the fact that the matter was under your own jurisdiction. (He wonders why it should be so.)
I ended my letter in saying:
I respectfully submit, therefore, that it seems obvious that Mr. Sioui is now being illegally confined to the Quebec jail and that you alone can order his immediate release.
Question of Privilege
On July 15, 1963, Mr. Speaker, I had to write once again to the attorney general of the province of Quebec, since I had not received any reply to my letter of July 5. I shall spare the house the reading of that last letter.
On July 16, 1963, I received a letter from the assistant deputy attorney general of the province of Quebec concerning file No. 2323363, in which it was written:
As you mentioned in your letter, on May 10, 1963, Jules Sioui was sentenced to a month in jail for an offence against section 72 of the Canada Elections Act. In addition, he was ordered by the court to provide a $500 bond as a guarantee that he would keep the peace for 18 months.
The judgment passed by Justice Gerard Lacroix stipulates that this $500 bond is to be signed at the expiration of the sentence and that Jules Sioui must not be released until it has been signed.
We are informed by the prison authorities that Sioui refuses to sign the bond on the grounds that he would be submitting to federal authority if he did.
Assistant Deputy Attorney General
As you can see, Mr. Speaker, that is quite a complicated matter which the Minister of Justice will surely wish to clarify for the house, since we learned just a few days ago that, for no apparent reason, Justice Gerard Lacroix released the prisoner at the end of the period he spent in jail.
Subtopic: MR. MARCOUX STATEMENT BY JUSTICE MINISTER RESPECTING JULES SIOUI