June 10, 1908 (10th Parliament, 4th Session)

LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

The information given me was that it was to fill a vacancy.
On the same day, my hon. friend from Beauharnois (Mr. Bergeron) who, I believe, is a member of the committee said ;
The statement of the Finance Minister shows how useful and necessary it is to discuss these matters. Mv hon. friend the Minister of Finance is entirely mistaken in his understanding of what was said to him. Thero is no doubt that the report of the committee yesterday created a new office and a new expense. it was to appoint a new employee altogether and that at a certain salary, and that is the report which was adopted.
And my right hon. friend the Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier said :
When the report was brought in I inquired from the chairman of the committee and I

understood from him that the report did not involve any new charge on the revenue, hut simply filled a vacancy, and I understood under such circumstances there would he no objection at all. I may say to my hon. friend and to the House that if the good faith of anybody has been infringed upon, we will reconsider it. I do not want to have the matter passed in that way. There is no reason why this report should not be debated if it is to be debated at all.
The Minister of Finance (Mr. Fielding) said, further :
Lest I should mislead the House, I want to say at once that I have not the slightest doubt that the chairman of the committee acted in good faith, but from what he said I certainly did understand that this was . not creating any new office, but filling a vacancy.
And the hon. member for North Toronto (Mr. Foster) in that debate, said :
I most certainly would like to discuss the matter of adding translators before the report goes through, and 1 think the suggestion made by the Prime Minister should be carried out, to have this report reconsidered and committed to the House to be discussed when the next report comes up.
In answer to which my right hon. friend the Prime Minister said :
I would not like to take this position to-day in the absence of the chairman of the committee, but, certainly, if there is not a proper understanding of the report, there is room for explanation.
There are other references to this report a little later on, I think. I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that I have shown that the report was adopted hastily and under a misunderstanding for there is no doubt whatever that it involves au additional charge upon the revenue, as it calls for a salary of $2,000 a year.- Under these circumstances, I think it is a case which would call for the rescinding of the resolution and recommittal of the report of the committee in order that the committee should fully investigate Ihe matter as set out in the resolution which l have had the honour to present. I do not, for a single moment, suppose that my hon. friend (Mr. Gervais), the chairman of the committee, intended to mislead the House- nothing is further from my idea-It is merely one of those cases where, in the haste of the business of the House towards the close of the session, such things may occur without any fault being imputable to anybody.
I mentioned this matter to my hon friend (Mr. Gervais) this morning, and suggested to him the propriety of allowing this motion to go through in order that the committee might reconsider the question, as it has evidently been a matter of surprise. My hon. friend did not seem to see the advisability of doing that. Had he agreed to my suggestion, that would have dispensed with the necessity of my calling in question the qualifications of the man whose appoint-Mr. MONK.
ment has been recommended in the report adopted by the House. My information is that Mr. Chariier has been convicted before a criminal court of libel and sentenced to imprisonment and then released on ticket of leave. That alone is a grave enough matter for re-investigation by the committee upon his appointment. He is at present under accusation of blackmail. There is an indictment and the jury in the first trial has disagreed. I do not wish to insist on these two points, but in view of the attitude of the chairman of the committee, I thought I should mention them to the House, and it seems to me these are conclusive reasons why tile report should he sent back to the committee, in order that the whole matter may be investigated.

Topic:   OFFICIAL REPORTS OF DEBATES.
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