April 2, 1947 (20th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative


We have only a few minutes left for discussion this afternoon, and I should like to bring up one other matter before moving the adjournment of the debate.
We have heard a good deal about bureaucrats. The hon. member for Muskoka-Ontario referred to the functioning of government officials-he did not use the word "bureaucrats"-the way in which these controls involve supervision and constant snooping. We have heard statements as to the number of these officials required, if there is to be a thoroughgoing system of controls. All these things open the way for great abuses. And, as was suggested by the hon. member for Muskoka-Ontario, not only do they have a tendency to make criminals of those citizens affected- because w'e all resent controls-but we have in the act a type of provision which has the effect of depriving a man of the benefit of that doubt which, under our criminal law, results in an accused person's being presumed innocent until he is proven guilty.
We also find it necessary to protect controllers against what would otherwise be the legal consequences of their acts. For instance, we find this in section 15 of the order in council setting up the wartime prices and trade board:
No member of the board and no administrator or other person employed or appointed by the board or acting on behalf of or under authority of the board shall be or become liable to any person for or in respect of any act or omission of himself or any other person in the exercise or purported exercise of any power, discretion or authority or in the performance or purported performance of any duty conferred or imposed by or under these regulations.
And so on. So that those people have complete protection for their otherwise wrongful acts.
That brings to mind a case which has arisen this afternoon. I would ask the Minister of Justice (Mr. Ilsley) or the Minister of Finance (Mr. Abbott), or perhaps both of them, if they would care to throw light on this particular case, one which concerns the activities of some of the officials of the wartime prices and trade board. It is a case which shows that not only do these controls tend to make criminals of citizens affected, but they tend sometimes to make criminals of those who find these unusual opportunities for abuse placed

___________Adjournment for Easter Recess
in their hands. It is reported from Montreal this afternoop that a lawyer, an official of the wartime prices and trade board, along with another man has been arrested because he had received at least $1,000 as a bribe for issuing blank accommodation rate cards for hotel rooms. It appears that this official is in charge of hotel accommodation rates for one district in Montreal and that he was caught in the act of delivering these blank rate cards to a certain hotel in the Windsor street district. The hotelkeeper apparently informed as to what was going on and the information which we have and which the press has is that at least $1,000 in marked money changed hands in one particular transaction in that, connection. I understand that these men are to be arraigned, if they have not already been arraigned, and will be charged early next week.
That is an indication of the extent to which abuses can creep in and are creeping into the administration of these controls. It is possibly an inevitable consequence when you expand your administrative or controlling force as must be done with widespread measures of control such as we have had in this country. I wonder if the Minister of Justice (Mr. Ilsley) would care to say something this afternoon about that situation, because I think it is of vital importance to the country. Perhaps it is not fair to introduce it just before six o'clock without giving him some opportunity to make an explanation. If it is the wish of the right hon. gentleman and it meets
with the feelings of the house I suggest that I be allowed to adjourn the debate now, and the minister could make a short statement.

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