May 3, 1910 (11th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Arthur Cyril Boyce

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. A. C. BOYCE (West.Algoma).

Mr. Speaker, before you leave the Chair to go into Committee of Supply, I desire to draw the attention of the House briefly to some matters of history with respect to this House, a course which I deem to be necessary in the light of recent events. The right
hon. gentleman who leads this House, prior to the year 1896 was the leader of the opposition, and while enjoying the privileges of that position laid down and struggled for certain high principles to which he pledged himself. I am going to refer briefly to one of those principles. I speak of the complaint, the very vehement complaint that the right hon. gentleman made while leader of Her Majesty's loyal opposition in 1891 with regard to certain gifts having been given to ministers of the Crown, and to the offence against good government which he said had been committed by ministers rf the Crown or ministers of state, as he was pleased then to call them, accepting, while in office, gifts of money or other presentations as ministers of the Crown. A colleague of my right hon. friend who is now the leader of the Senate, Sir Richard Cartwright, moved in the House, on August 13, 1891, the following resolution to which I now refer, and wThich I unhesitatingly commend to my right hon. friend. At page 3827 of ' Hansard,' 1891, Sir Richard Cartwright moved:
That Mr. Speaker do not leave the Chair, but that it be resolved: That the acceptance
of gifts or testimonials of any kind on the part of ministers of the Crown or of any member of their families from contractors, government officials or other persons having pecuniary relations with the government, is entirely opposed to sound principles of administration, and is calculated to bring parliamentary government into contempt, and that the example thus given tends to corrupt and demoralize the officials serving under ministers who have accepted or permitted the acceptance of gifts or testimonials as aforesaid.
That is the resolution which was moved, and while deprecating the manner in which it was moved, and some of the statements that were made by the mover of it and by my right hon. friend who seconded it, Sir John Thompson, then Minister of Justice, on behalf of the government of the day accepted that resolution, and it became the resolution, and principle adopted by this parliament. But all the glory, all the honour, all the esteem, and all the prestige for the high principles laid down in that resolution were claimed by, and gathered in by my right hon. friend the present Prime Minister. At page 3839 the right hon. gentleman, then leading the opposition said:
I congratulate the Minister of Justice upon what I conceive to be the very wise course he has now taken, but I still more congratulate the hon. member for South Oxford on the signal victory he has obtained. He has laid down a principle which has been long contended for on this side of the House, which has always been refused on the other side of the House, but which, at last, circumstances compel the government to accept.
So much for the principle that was so strongly contended for by the right hon.

gentleman, and, according to his contention, so strongly resisted by the then government. I do not desire to criticise or to offer any remarks that I may have to make on the subject in any hypercritical sense. I do not desire to offer any criticism upon the fact itself at the present time. I desire to state facts, and I propose to state facts, and then I propose to leave some questions to my right hon. friend. Public notoriety has been given in the last few days of this session to the fact that the Minister of Finance, who has enjoyed the office of minister of the Crown since 1896, and now enjoys it, while occupying that office of the Crown, to wit, Minister of Finance, has been presented with, and has received, according to newspaper accounts, especially that of the ' Globe,' which commends the transaction very highly, a gift or testimonial aggregating some $118,000, or $120,000 in round figures. If that statement be true, and I have never heard it denied, the government organs in different parts of the country have referred to it as a fact, then it is a matter for the consideration of the House, and I am quite sure that my right hon. friend would be the very last to reproach me as a member of this House, having the privileges and responsibilities of a member, for mentioning the matter and drawing the attention of the House to it in the light of the resolution which he so highly commended. That on or about the 26th day of April, a presentation was made to the Minister of Finance of so large a sum of money, a fortune in itself, is, as I said, a matter which certainly should, and does excite the curiosity of this country. That presentation was made, according to the newspaper reports, in the presence of my right hon. friend the Prime Minister. More than that, the Liberal organs which I have read, and which refer to the fact, state that the right hon. gentleman expressed his unbounded delight at the exhibition of confidence shown by the magnificent gift. Well, Sir, the fact not being disputed, it does form a pretty bold, blunt presentation of a fact. Congratulations have been expressed with great unanimity in Liberal papers all over this country upon this matter. Some sombre effect has been given by criticisms coming from quarters where perhaps they were least expected, and which refer back to the good old days when my right hon. friend sat here as leader of the opposition, and was contending for the principle contained in the resolution to which I have referred. But if the fact be not disputed, if the notoriety which has been given to this transaction is just, if I am correctly informed by the government organs throughout the country, if the newspapers are not publishing that which would otherwise be a very serious reflection upon the minister, and the whole of this gov-Mr. BOYCE.
ernment, I say that the matter calls, here and now, for some explanation on the part of the government. There has been a dead silence on the part of the government. I am not saying that there is anything significant in that silence, but there has been an utter absence of any word in this House coming from government benches to the effect that that which has been done is openly declared to have been done with the absolut unbounded joy of the right hon. the Prime Minister himself, and was not within the mischief, and the purview of the legislation which he commended to this House in 1891. I, therefore, ask my right hon. friend the first question: Does he not
think under the circumstances that it was his duty, if he was true to those principles, to come down to the House, and if there was any explanation, if this transaction did not infringe upon the principles involved in that magnificent resolution, that he should have explained the circumstances? I ask my right hon. friend now to state whether this gift, this testimonial, was not the result of a subscription, whether there was not a public subscription list, whether it was not delivered and presented in public, and whether the names of the persons who subscribed to this large testimonial of money were not made known to the Minister of Finance, and to the right hon. the Prime Minister, and if they were made known, I assume of course that the right hon. gentleman will without any hesitation make public the names of the subscribers. I can only assume that pressure of parliamentary business heretofore has prevented him from doing so. I am sorry indeed to have the matter so long delayed in the session, but I could not regulate the time at which this magnificent fortune was to be presented to the minister, and I can only assume that having risen to such high principles in 1891, having congratulated his colleague the present right hon. Sir Richard Cartwright upon having obtained this signal victory in getting this resolution through the House, the right hon. gentleman will certainly, before this House prorogues, and if possible without a moment's delay after I have taken my seat, lay before parliament and before the public the facts, so that in the light of day every one in Canada may see that that which has been done, that which is publicly reported to have been done, did not in any way come within the mischief of the resolution of 1891. My hon. friend will see, of course, that there is only one course to pursue along the lines of this resolution, and that is to make the facts public. Here and now is the time to make the facts, public, and I think it will not be necessary to urge my right hon. friend very strongly, f quite conceive that he realizes his duty and responsibility in the matter. I urge

him now to lay upon the table of the House forthwith the list of names, and the amounts subscribed which made up this magnificent testimonial. My right hon. friend will agree with me that that is due first to the Minister of Finance himself, secondly to the Prime Minister, and his government, to every minister of state, and ex-minister of state. It is due to this House, and it is due to the people of this country that a full disclosure of these matters should be made, and having brought this matter to the attention of the House I can only again say that the responsibility incident to the acceptance of such a gift-and I am making no comment as to whether the presentation or the acceptance of the gift in itself is right or wrong-the responsibilities incident to the acceptance of the gift of such a large sum of money make it absolutely imperative upon the government or upon the minister to make that full disclosure to which I have referred, and to forthwith give publicity to the list of all those who have subscribed. I shall not attempt to dwell upon the principles involved nor to moralize upon the dangers of the situation, but I feel safe in assuming that my right hon. friend, realizing that he spoke upon this resolution in 1891, and that he congratulated his party upon the signal victory obtained, will see that the grand victory of which he speaks, and which was attained as he would argue through blood and tears, be not besmirched now in 1910 by a derogation from the principles then enunciated. The only way, as I submit, in which my hon. friend can put himself square with the resolution, the only way in which I submit he can discharge the duty he owes to this country as Prime Minister and leader of the government, is to make full disclosure, and publish the names and lay the list on the table. -

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