May 14, 1908 (10th Parliament, 4th Session)


Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)



Here is a commission that has not yet reported, and already assertions are made and conclusions are drawn. We will have an opportunity of taking up the subject later on. I do not go into it at this moment because, as I say, I am not prepared to discuss the point of order. But it seems to me that if there is any sense in the point of order that we are not allowed here to discuss an investigation by committees of this House, a parity of reasoning would apply to investigations by commissions. Now I come to the point of my hon. friend's motion. He says that because Judge Cassels owes his first duty, as he states himself, to his own court, this investigation has to be put off, and must be put off for some time. Sir, that is a point well taken ; the investigation by Judge Cassels has to be put off because Judge Cassels very properly insists that his first duty is to his court. My answer is this, that if Judge Cassels has not been permitted to proceed with the investigation because his first duty is to his own court, the fault is not with this government, but the fault is with my hon. friend and those who sit around him. Perhaps my statement will cause some wonder among hon. gentlemen opposite, and I see that there are some doubting Thomases on the other side. Let me give the evidence. We have had some correspondence with Judge Cassels on this point, and he pointed out to us at the very outset that he could not undertake to carry on this investigation unless he was provided with assistance to carry on the work of his court. On the 6th of April Judge Cassels addressed to me the following letter :
Ottawa, April G, 1908.
Dear Sir Wilfrid,-Your kind letter of April 3 instant was duly received. As mentioned to Mr. Aylesworth, the fact of my not having been consulted prior to my name being mentioned did not in the slightest degree cause me to think that I had been in any way slighted or treated discourteously. Possibly I should feel that some members of the press understood me better than I understand myself, but the fact, however, is as I have stated.
You ask me to give you my views of what provision should be made for the despatch of business in the Exchequer Court.
First. I think statutory provision should be conferred upon me to perform as judge the duties desired by parliament, and that provision should also be made for the disposal of the business before the court.
Second. As to the business of the court, my views are as follows : I would not make any suggestions had you not asked me to do so. During the last three weeks I have had occasion to acquire a fairly accurate notion of the work to be performed. The work of the Exchequer Court is increasing rapidly. At present no summons or order can be made unless signed by me, no cheque can be issued unless countersigned by me. The circuit engagements are necessarilv numerous.

Full View