February 13, 1939 (18th Parliament, 4th Session)

LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

I shall deal with that in a moment. The answers to these questions are, I suggest, clear and conclusive, but apparently they have to be repeated again and again in order to correct the impression which speakers from the opposition are attempting to have go out from this house to the country. The Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) put the position in the clearest possible light when he opened this debate on February 3. I quote his words:
The article was published on September 1, and the minister reached Ottawa a few days after. When he arrived in Ottawa there was a meeting of the cabinet which he attended. He brought the matter up for the consideration of the government, and he felt, and other members of the government felt, that if this article with the allegations it contained were to go without investigation until parliament reassembled, which would be some time in the new year, there would immediately be created in the public mind considerable concern over these allegations and it would be assumed that the government was seeking to avoid inquiry into the matter. The government took the alternative course of not delaying for one moment the matter of instituting an inquiry and adopted the course which would afford the most effective means for the fullest and most searching kind of inquiry, namely, an inquiry under royal commission by a judge of the Supreme Court of Canada.
So far as I can recall, the only objection taken by anyone to the form of the original inquiry by Mr. Justice Davis was that raised by the leader of the opposition when he suggested that the commissioner had submitted under pressure of counsel to a restriction of the scope of his findings. I do not wish to misquote my hon. friend, and I shall give his exact words on that point, on page 706 of Hansard:
In other words I find myself asking, was the whole investigation turned into a farce, in this way: that Mr. Justice Davis apparently desired to give opinions but was influenced so strongly by the views I have quoted, including the views of government counsel, that he did not, presumably, dare to do so?
Those are the words used by my hon. friend when referring to this matter.
No one who has even a slight acquaintance with Mr. Justice Davis would believe for one moment that he would be influenced by counsel against his better judgment, and I suggest that it is a reflection on him even to make a suggestion of that kind. The truth is that any restrictions accepted by the commission were not imposed by counsel at all but

Bren Gun-Mr. Rogers
were based upon the provisions of the Inquiries Act, combined with the fact that Colonel Drew, with more caution than he usually displays, failed to make any specific charges against any individual in the article published in Maclean's magazine. So that the suggestion of my hon. friend that it was counsel who imposed a restriction upon the commissioner is surely very wide of the actual facts.

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