February 16, 1965

HOUSE OF COMMONS DEBATES

OFFICIAL REPORT


Tuesday, February 16, 1965


PRESENCE IN GALLERY OF NORTHWEST TERRITORIES COMMISSIONER AND COUNCIL

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Maurice Bourget (Speaker of the Senate)

Mr. Speaker:

Order. May I take this

moment to direct the attention of hon. members to the presence in the Speaker's gallery this afternoon of the commissioner of the Northwest Territories, Mr. B. G. Sivertz, and the members of the council of the Northwest Territories.

This important legislative body, which has the responsibility for governing an area of 1J million square miles in Canada's far north, has been in session in Ottawa over the past 10 days. I am sure that the commissioner and his council would want me to express to the house their appreciation that meeting space has been made available on the hill for this twenty ninth session of the parliament of the north.

Topic:   PRESENCE IN GALLERY OF NORTHWEST TERRITORIES COMMISSIONER AND COUNCIL
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Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   PRESENCE IN GALLERY OF NORTHWEST TERRITORIES COMMISSIONER AND COUNCIL
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Maurice Bourget (Speaker of the Senate)

Mr. Speaker:

May I also take this opportunity to announce certain seat changes both on the government side and on the official opposition side.

Topic:   PRESENCE IN GALLERY OF NORTHWEST TERRITORIES COMMISSIONER AND COUNCIL
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THE MINISTRY

ANNOUNCEMENT BY PRIME MINISTER OF CABINET CHANGES

LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Right Hon. L. B. Pearson (Prime Minister):

As hon. members are no doubt aware, there have been certain changes in the ministry since the house last met of which hon. members should be informed officially and immediately.

I deeply regret that personal reasons made it necessary for my esteemed friend and colleague the hon. member for Maisonneuve-Rosemont to resign as Minister of Public Works. As the exchange of letters between himself and myself which I shall table when we come to motions will make clear, I tried to prevail on the hon. member for Maison-neuve-Rosemont to reconsider and remain a member of the government, but he felt that

personal reasons made this impossible. My regret at his loss as a colleague is exceeded only by the sympathy I extend to him and to Madame Deschatelets in the tragic bereavement they have suffered.

Consequent upon the retirement of the hon. member for Maisonneuve-Rosemont, the hon. member for Richelieu-Vercheres (Mr. Cardin) has assumed the portfolio of public works. The hon. member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Nicholson) has become Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, and his portfolio as Postmaster General has been assumed by the hon. member for Matapedia-Matane (Mr. Tremblay).

To replace the hon. member for Richelieu-Vercheres as Associate Minister of National Defence it was my pleasure to recommend to His Excellency the Governor General the hon. member for Terrebonne (Mr. Cadieux). His experience with the armed forces during the last war will, I am sure, be of great advantage to him in the new responsibilities he assumes in the Department of National Defence. I warmly welcome him as a new colleague in the ministry.

There is one further change on which I must report to the house. Hon. members are aware that since the house last met the hon. member for St. Jean-Iberville-Napierville, Minister without Portfolio (Mr. Dupuis), submitted his resignation from the government and that it was accepted on Friday, January 22, 1965. When we come to motions I shall table a copy of his letter of resignation and a copy of my reply.

In December of 1964 certain evidence was submitted to me regarding allegations involving the hon. member for St. Jean-Iber-ville-Napierville. These allegations were in connection with certain transactions in which it was alleged he was a participant during the year 1961. They were not related to his membership of this house or of the government. I saw the hon. member and advised him that the evidence submitted required an investigation. To this he agreed.

I spoke to the hon. member for St. Jean-Iberville-Napierville again on Wednesday, January 20, after I had been shown a preliminary report on the investigation into the matters in question. It appeared to me, as a result of having that preliminary report, that

Question of Privilege

it would be best in all circumstances, and without prejudging the conclusion of the matter, for the hon. member to cease to be a member of the government. After discussing the matter with me Mr. Dupuis submitted his resignation, which was accepted.

In the course of the past week the report to which I have referred, which is still incomplete, has been referred to the attorney general of Quebec. I am sure the house would not want me, by anything I might say, to prejudice the position of the hon. member for St. Jean-Iberville-Napierville or to appear to prejudge whatever conclusions the attorney general of Quebec may reach once the inquiry is completed. I do not therefore, Mr. Speaker, think it would be desirable for me to say anything further on this matter at this time.

I should like to table the letters, Mr. Speaker, to which I referred in my earlier statement, between the former minister of public works and myself and the hon. member for St. Jean-Iberville-Napierville and myself. I should like to table also a special edition of the Canada Gazette, dated February 8, which includes the proclamation of the national flag of Canada.

Topic:   THE MINISTRY
Subtopic:   ANNOUNCEMENT BY PRIME MINISTER OF CABINET CHANGES
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PRIVILEGE

MR. DUPUIS-RESIGNATION AS MINISTER WITHOUT PORTFOLIO

LIB

Yvon Dupuis

Liberal

Hon. Yvon Dupuis (St. Jean-Iberville-Napierville):

I rise on a question of privilege, Mr. Speaker, as I told you I would in a letter I sent to you from St. Jean-Iberville on January 29 of this year. It has to do with false interpretations given in certain newspapers after I handed in my resignation as minister without portfolio.

Mr. Speaker, I should like to thank the Prime Minister (Mr. Pearson) for having tabled the two letters he and I exchanged on January 22, 1965 and which confirm that, after having met the Prime Minister on a few occasions and discussed the situation for some time, I agreed with him that I should resign as minister without portfolio, which I did.

Mr. Speaker, I should like to remind the house that since I resigned as minister without portfolio, I declined to make any comments to the press because I felt it was my duty to wait until my return to Ottawa to state to my colleagues of the House of Com-

mons the reasons which prompted me to hand in my resignation as minister without portfolio.

I kept silent, but the same does not hold true in respect of some newspapers and certain persons who, by setting stories afloat about me, almost succeeded during a certain period in creating an irreversible image of my guilt.

You will agree, Mr. Speaker, that I showed a great of deal of patience by not leaping with indignation and anger when I read certain scurrilous, untrue and tendentious items about me in the papers. I shall not state the names of those newspapers or quote all those false articles, but in order to convince you, Mr. Speaker, if you are not already so convinced, that my question of privilege is well founded, I shall only quote a few excerpts from press reports in order to substantiate my question of privilege.

The newspaper Le Devoir of Monday, January 25, 1965, published, on the front page, an article by Mario Cardinal under the following title:

Yvon Dupuis is alleged to have received from a race track promoter a $10,000 gift.

That article was libellous, untrue and therefore slanderous. The journalist, in the same article, was bold enough to write the following:

One thing is certain: he (Mr. Dupuis) admitted having received the $10,000.

In writing those lines that newspaperman indulges in spiteful scandal-mongering. His writing is a patent and dishonest interference with my privileges as a member of the House of Commons. I say here, before my colleagues, that I have never received the $10,000 referred to by that journalist, let alone that I have confessed receiving such a sum.

One had to read also, Mr. Speaker, the Montreal newspaper La Presse of Saturday, January 23, 1965, to find out how much newspapermen can write on a matter they know nothing about. Since they were completely in the dark, they gave free rein to their vilest prejudices, their most despicable instinct and their most tendentious imagination to ruin my reputation before the public. However, in that issue of January 23 La Presse did not give its readers any evidence of my guilt or any valid explanations of my reasons for leaving the cabinet. After reading the countless articles published in that issue people could ask themselves: "What exactly do they have against Yvon Dupuis?" Only in

later issues did La Presse start publishing rumours and stories gathered here and there during investigations made by a team of newspapermen who had been sent looking for scandals about the former minister without portfolio. I think that can be called a trial by newspapers.

It was then that' appeared in this Montreal daily, the largest French daily in America, big headlines reading as follows:

Deslauriers admitted handing over the $10,000 to minister Yvon Dupuis.

Nobody was grieving yesterday in Quebec city.

Is it Lesage who asked for the head of Yvon Dupuis?

Kierans had sent the Dupuis file to Favreau.

Deslauriers will reveal the whole racket.

The R.C.M.P. acted before Yvon Dupuis.

And so on. It was obvious to any outsider that a well planned press campaign had been staged against me by means of those two French Montreal dailies and of a few other newspapers. It was also plain from those articles that somebody, somewhere, was interested in telling his or perhaps their own version of the story in order to disparage me in the public eye.

Mr. Speaker, I must say here that most papers throughout Canada acted with great prudence and moderation concerning my resignation and the reasons which brought it about. Most of them just asked questions and frankly admitted they could not provide the answers. I am sure that when I am through with my remarks the editors of those newspapers will congratulate themselves for having observed such prudence and objectivity until now. As for those who tried everything to soil my reputation, I hope they will have the honesty and the elementary decency of correcting their mistake. One thing is sure: they will never be able to make up for the wrong they did me and for the injustice they did to my family and to the electors of St. Jean-Iberville-Napierville whom I am proud to represent in this house.

Since I resigned two main questions have remained unanswered. I shall answer them today in the course of my brief comments. I hope my colleagues will understand that it would be impossible for me to summarize in just a few sentences all I will have to say to explain to them the reasons which led me to hand in my resignation to the Prime Minister (Mr. Pearson) on January 22. I would ask you, Mr. Speaker, to bear with me if I have to speak longer than I might wish to.

Because of all the gossip and rumours that have been going around since my resignation,

Question of Privilege

I know that the two main questions being asked here and there are the following:

Did Yvon Dupuis exert undue influence concerning a race track in St. Luc, in the county of St. Jean?

Did Yvon Dupuis receive a gift of $10,000 from the hands of Dr. Deslauriers, the promoter of this race track?

I will therefore answer both questions.

I must say, in the first place, that it is true that between April 1961 and February 1962 I helped to carry out a project for the development of a pari mutuel race track which was to be built in St. Luc in the St. Jean constituency. I did so at the request of the promoters, Messrs. Roch Deslauriers, Albert Ariss and Yves Papineau, three St. Jean constituents. I co-operated in the interests of my county as did my colleagues of the Quebec legislature Messrs. Hamel, of Iberville, and Baillargeon, of Napierville. I looked after that important project when my friend and colleague, the member for St. Jean in the Quebec legislature, Mr. Philodor Ouimet, convinced me that I should support his undertaking. I must point out that at that time I consulted Premier Jean Lesage who strongly encouraged me to endorse this project and to co-operate with my former colleague of the Quebec legislature, Hon. Paul Earl, who was then provincial minister of revenue.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. DUPUIS-RESIGNATION AS MINISTER WITHOUT PORTFOLIO
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An hon. Member:

Co-operative federalism.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. DUPUIS-RESIGNATION AS MINISTER WITHOUT PORTFOLIO
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Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. DUPUIS-RESIGNATION AS MINISTER WITHOUT PORTFOLIO
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LIB

Yvon Dupuis

Liberal

Mr. Dupuis:

In 1961, I thought, and I still think so, that it would be an excellent thing to build a race track on the south shore of Montreal. I was happy at the thought that such a project might be carried out in my riding. I felt this new industry would contribute to reduce the great number of jobless we had at the time in St. Jean, Iberville, St. Luc and the vicinity. Moreover, and contrary to what certain persons claimed, there was nothing secret about that project. Everyone spoke about it with great interest, including the newspapers, and the idea appealed greatly to the population.

It can be seen by the documents I have before me that very important and very representative people have openly expressed their opinion, as I did, in favour of that of that race track.

Many of them wrote to Mr. Lesage in 1961 to let him know that they were giving unqualified support to the project. I have here copies of letters that were written by the mayor of St. Jean, Mr. Jean Desmarais, lawyer, by the municipal council of St. Luc

Question of Privilege

parish, by the parish priest of St. Luc parish, the Rev. Donatien Donais and his churchwardens, Messrs. Gerard Depelteau, Robert Baillargeon and Raoul Lague. Messrs. Hamel, Ouimet and Baillargeon, members of the legislature as well as myself, had also written to Hon. Jean Lesage and Hon. Paul Earl.

In May 1961, Premier Jean Lesage indicated that he looked disapprovingly upon such a project and that he refused to issue a permit for a new race track in the province of Quebec where, according to him, there were already too many. But it is important to mention to the house that in June of the same year Premier Lesage changed his mind and asked Hon. Bernard Pinard, provincial minister of highways, and Hon. Paul Earl, minister of revenue, to look after the matter. Besides, Mr. Speaker, I am sure that Premier Lesage will be the first to vouch for the facts I just related.

Moreover, about June 15, 1961, Mr. Ouimet, member of the legislative assembly for St. Jean, informed us that he had decided to continue his representations in favour of the St. Luc project, of which the principal promoter was Dr. Roch Deslauriers, of St. Jean. He told the latter that the Quebec premier had told him to meet with the minister, Mr. Bernard Pinard, who from now on would look after racing matters in the province. Therefore, Mr. Ouimet was granted an interview by the minister of highways on June 21, 1961. He invited to accompany him the member of the legislative assembly for Iberville, Mr. Laurent Hamel, Dr. Deslauriers, the secretary of the united harness association, Mr. Sebastien Brisson, and myself. As agreed, Mr. Bernard Pinard received us all in his office on June 21, 1961, in Quebec city. He confirmed to us that he had been requested by the premier to look after our St. Luc project. He added that he was himself in favour of that fine project. He told Dr. Deslauriers that he would have to meet Hon. Paul Earl to discuss with him the details concerning the financing of the venture.

In the meantime the member of the legislative assembly gave us the assurance that he would continue to exert pressure in Quebec city to hasten the issuance of a permit.

About January 22, 1962, Hon. Paul Earl asked me if he could meet me at my place in St. Jean, with Mr. Deslauriers and also Mr. Ransen and Mr. Maron, Mr. Deslauriers' new partners. So, the four of them came to my home on a Sunday afternoon. The promoters said they had the funds needed to build the race track, that is to say $4 million.

[Mr. Dupuis.1

Mr. Paul Earl said he was quite satisfied with this meeting and told them he would probably be able to issue the permit within a few days.

But at the end of January 1962, Mr. Earl told us that if Mr. Deslauriers wanted his permit he would have to get new partners. And at the beginning of February he asked him to go and meet Mr. Rene Hebert, who would arrange a meeting for him with those new partners who were ready to invest half the amount required for a race track. They were people by the name of Veilleux, from Drummondville, which is outside the constituency of St. Jean-Iberville-Napierville. In fact, it had been rumoured for some time that those Drummondville businessmen were trying to obtain a race track permit and that powerful friends were seconding their project.

I was surprised at Mr. Earl's suggestion that Mr. Deslauriers should join that group, because they wanted to build a race track outside my riding. I told Mr. Deslauriers that he would simply have to give up his project if he was asked to take part in some other one outside the constituency of St. Jean-Iber-ville-Napierville. But he was so anxious to build a race track that he was willing to make any concession to that end.

Mr. Earl told me that in order to obtain his permit Mr. Deslauriers would have to change partners. He explained to me that the provincial government was willing to deliver only one race track permit and that both projects would have to be combined.

I agreed to call on Mr. Rene Hebert with Mr. Deslauriers. I knew Mr. Hebert very well because he had always been connected with the financing of the provincial Liberal party. We met him at his office on Galt Street, in Verdun. He told us that Mr. Earl had asked him to do everything he could to merge the Veilleux and Deslauriers groups into a single company and to explain to them the procedure they should follow to obtain a race course permit. Messrs. Hebert and Deslauriers signed a mutual agreement and Mr. Hebert suggested to Mr. Deslauriers that they should go to Drummondville the next day so that he could be introduced to Mr. Veilleux. They wanted me to go along with them, but I turned down the invitation and I told them that I already felt that pressure was being brought to bear to have the project switched to Drummondville instead of St. Luc. Mr. Deslauriers asked me to witness the signing of the "mutual agreement" but I refused to

have my name associated with such a document and you will understand why after I have read it.

I have here a copy of that mutual agreement signed before me on February 5, 1962, in the office of Mr. Hebert who claimed to represent the financial side of the Quebec Liberal party.

I will now read from a photostat copy of that document which I will then table on the clerk's desk.

Mutual Agreement

February 5. 1962

Group Rene Hebert, group Dr. Deslauriers

It is agreed by the two above mentioned groups that a company will be created tor the operation and ownership of a pari mutuel race track at St. Luc, on the property now held by Dr. Deslauriers for his group. It is agreed that Mr. Rene Hebert will receive for his group 10 per cent of the shares of the new above mentioned company and that neither the said group nor Rene Hebert will have to disburse any money for acquiring 10 per cent of the shares.

(Signed) Rene Hebert (agreed)

Dr. Roch Deslauriers (agreed)

And, at the bottom, one finds the English translation: Mutual Agreement-to show you that bilinguism is respected when it comes to mutual agreements.

I table the copy of that document on the clerk's desk.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. DUPUIS-RESIGNATION AS MINISTER WITHOUT PORTFOLIO
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Maurice Bourget (Speaker of the Senate)

Mr. Speaker:

Does the house give consent to the filing of this paper?

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. DUPUIS-RESIGNATION AS MINISTER WITHOUT PORTFOLIO
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Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. DUPUIS-RESIGNATION AS MINISTER WITHOUT PORTFOLIO
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LIB

Yvon Dupuis

Liberal

Mr. Dupuis:

So, I have answered the first question.

I exerted no undue influence in a race track matter. I became involved in that project in the interests of my riding of St. Jean-Iberville-Napierville and of St. Luc. In 1961, when I was concerned with that project, I was not a member of the government, but a federal member sitting in the official opposition. Besides, my involvement in the matter came to an end early in 1962.

Indeed, as soon as the project was switched to St. Hubert, in Chambly county, by Mr. Rene Hebert, instead of St. Luc in St. Jean riding, I stopped being concerned with it.

To answer the second question, that is whether I received a gift of $10,000 from Dr. Deslauriers, the promoter of the race track, I wish to say, Mr. Speaker, that contrary to what was suggested in certain quarters, I never told anybody that I had 20220-719

Question oj Privilege

received that amount which Mr. Deslauriers pretended he had paid out, for the excellent reason that I never pocketed such an amount and that I never received directly or indirectly any benefit in that matter.

I regret that I must restrict my remarks to the minimum because the right hon. Prime Minister just informed us that the R.C.M.P. investigation in this matter is not yet concluded. I would have much more to say but I shall limit my observations at this time. I am sure, however, that this investigation will establish beyond any doubt that I never received neither directly nor indirectly any favours or gifts from Mr. Deslauriers or from anybody else as regards race track projects.

Because of malicious reports carried by certain papers, I must say at this time that I intend to fight to the very end and that I shall not capitulate before charges or innuendoes, no matter from what quarters they originate.

Mr. Speaker, if I have agreed to send my resignation to the right hon. Prime Minister, it is somewhat because I could foresee that some newspapers were ready to indulge in falsehoods about me, as I have mentioned earlier. I did not want those rumours and aspersions cast upon me to reflect on the cabinet, of which I was a member.

Besides, for some time now my name had spitefully been associated, unsuccessfully I must say, to other so-called scandals concerning my colleagues in the cabinet.

As I said earlier, I personally decided to submit my resignation; no one else had anything to do with it. I can say here that there is somewhere a statement made by an individual, and I know that such a statement started the whole chain of events which led to my resignation and that story was made up about my alleged or so-called interests in that race track.

As I said in a statement given the press the day I resigned, I was informed on my arrival from a trip in Asia and Africa, where I had carried out an official mission for the Canadian government, that an individual had given a minister of the Lesage government a statement to the effect that he had seen Dr. Deslauriers hand me $10,000 in cash for a race track permit. That provincial minister, in all good faith, probably, sent the federal Minister of Justice a photostat of that statement.

Now, Mr. Speaker, as I said before, I know there is a document-which will be disclosed in due time-in which the person who signed that false document against me or made that charge against me recognizes that he was

Question of Privilege

forced to sign that statement and that it is false. There is also another document somewhere, that I have seen myself and which is in the hands of the R.C.M.P. That one is signed by the instigator of the whole story who confessed that he had asked the first individual to sign a false statement against me. According to him it was a prominent political figure who asked him to make up that statement. The investigation is not up to me but to the R.C.M.P.

The R.C.M.P. also holds a statement sworn before an official of the superior court, in Montreal, and signed by Dr. Roch Deslauriers, which states that I have never directly or indirectly asked him for money.

Mr. Speaker, since that project had absolutely nothing to do with the federal administration, I deemed it advisable to resign from the post I held in the federal cabinet. I considered it my duty to clear my own name, without involving in any way the responsibility of my cabinet colleagues. Since the matter in dispute is a provincial one, and one which also concerns my constituency, today it is in my capacity as member for St. Jean-Iberville-Napierville and not as a minister that I can rise in this house to state with pride that never, in the course of my political career, in my own riding or elsewhere, have I done anything not in keeping with my duties as an honest servant of the people. I have decided to bring this whole matter completely into the open and this will be done in due course. My conscience is clear, and I am convinced that the results of the inquiry now in progress will bear me out. That is why I shall refrain from saying anything more for the time being. I will merely add, for the benefit of those who claim that my resignation will end my political career, that they do not know me. I will never capitulate under pressure of shameful intrigues.

Mr. Speaker, I shall conclude by saying that when, in the near future, the outcome of the various investigations are made public, it will become obvious that the disgusting schemes of those individuals who tried to attack the reputation of federal politicians have resulted in a dismal failure. I hope that those events will mark the end of a period of disparagement during which the reputation of our parliamentary institutions has suffered pretty badly. One thing is sure. The authors of those scandals will not get off scot-free. Our government is composed of honest men and the people of Canada have confidence in that government which has done

such great things under our great Prime Minister.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. DUPUIS-RESIGNATION AS MINISTER WITHOUT PORTFOLIO
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MR. MCILRAITH-COMMITTEE CONSIDERATION OF ARREST OF MEMBER FOR LAPOINTE

February 16, 1965