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

CON

William Barton Northrup

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. W. B. NORTHRUP (East Hastings).

Mr. Speaker, my only reason for rising on this occasion is that it seems to me that only half the question has been touched upon in the discussion that has so far taken place. The hon. member for Algoma (Mr. Boyce) called attention to the fac-t that a certain resolution had been passed in the year 1891 whereby both sides of politics in this House agreed that no testimonial should be presented to a minister of the Crown to which contractors or those having any financial relations with the minister had contributed. The right hon. Prime Minister (Sir Wilfrid Laurier), in his reply, has admitted that, in fact-and, of
course, it could hardly be denied-such a resolution was passed, and he has said two things: First, that the honour of Mr. Fielding is above question-and on that point 1 have no intention of engaging in a discussion with the right lion, gentleman;-and, second, that no contractors or parties who have been forbidden by the resolution of 1891 had contributed to this fund. Sir, this is very satisfactory so far as it goes. Perhaps it would have been a little more satisfactory if the right hon. gentleman whoi made the statement had not been obliged' to admit, in reading the quotation from the newspaper charging that the Bank of Montreal had made a subscription to this fund, that only since yesterday he had inquired into that matter, and, as to the other great corporation, he did not believe' that they had contributed-I say it would' have been more satisfactory had his statement not been weakened by these admissions. But, taking his statement in full, admitting that the right hon. gentleman' had denied, and had proved to the satisfaction of every member of this House so that no member on this side would dare to contradict his statement, that no contractor or official had contributed to this testimonial, I would like to ask the right hon. gentleman: Does he himself think that that is a sufficient answer to the question propounded by the hon. member for West Al-j goma? There are different ways of view-* ing this question, of course, and the present Minister of Trade and Commerce (Sir Richard Cartwright), in introducing this question in 1891 was very careful to say that he had no intention of entering on the vexed question whether or not a minister of the Crown ought, under any circumstances, to accept a present while he was in office. Now, the case of the Rt. Hon. Sir John Macdonald has been referred to. I will not occupy more than a moment on, that subject. I would only point out that the remarks made in 1891 by Sir Richard Cartwright and by the right hon. gentleman (Sir Wilfrid Laurier), who now leads the House, showed that the testimonial to Sir John Macdonald was raised in 1870 when he was lying on what was supposed to be his deathbed, that'his family was unprovided for, and both the right hon. gentleman (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) and Sir Richard Cartwright thought it a most laudable and most praiseworthy spirit, a most honourable spirit, that actuated the gentlemen who raised such a testimonial at such a time, for all the objections that naturally apply to a testimonial to a living statesman had practically ceased to apply to Sir John Macdonald then. And yet, Sir, even in that case of Sir John Macdonald, Sir Richard Cartwright, in referring to it, used this language,-and I wish particularly to call attention to these words, because
they justify my statement that, even if every word that the present leader of the House had said, were accepted by this side of the House, the real question has not been answered:
It was perfectly well known that he

That is, Sir John Macdonald.
-was in deeply embarrassed circumstances; deeply indebted I believe, and that but a very slender provision indeed had been made for his family. Under these circumstances, if ever, it was quite justifiable for the hon. gentleman's personal friends and admirers to have contributed for the purpose of relieving his family from any danger of want, and had two or three very obvious and reasonable precautions been taken no blame could have been attached to the parties who were engaged in getting up that testimonial. Unfortunately, these precautions were not taken, unfortunately, publicity was not given, as I have always said publicity should be given to the names of persons who subscribed.
The language of Sir Richard Cartwright seems perfectly clear and distinct. But his were not the only words heard on that occasion. The Tight hon. gentleman (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) who now leads the House spoke on the same subject. He said:-
The testimonial to Sir John Macdonald, as was said by my hon. friend (Sir Richard Cartwright) was conceived in a very proper and laudable spirit at a, critical time in his life, when his life was despaired of, and with a view of providing ^for his family, since he had not been able himself to provide for them. So far, so good. The only thing, with which my hon. friend found fault in regard to what was done on that occasion by the friends of Sir John Macdonald, was that, instead of being done publicly, as it should have been done, it was done in secret.
Later on, the right hon. gentleman said:-
The Minister of Justice said a moment ago in reference to the testimonial offered to the hon. Minister of Public Works, the member for Three Rivers, that that hon. gentleman did not know who were his subscribers. Sir, if he did not know, why did he not look at the list? If the hon. gentleman did not know, it was because he chose to remain ignorant of what were the names on the list, and if he chose to be ignorant of the names which were on that list, is it not because his moral sense told him that he might there find the names of persons giving contributions, which should not be accepted at all? Is it not simply because his conscience told him that if he were to look at that list he would find there the names of men who were every day suppliants in his office for favours? [DOT]That is the reason why the hon. Minister of Public Works did not choose to have a look at that list. If that is not the reason why did he choose to be blind on that matter? Then, I call on the hon. gentlemen opposite to tell what is the reason, if there could be any good reason for it. Certainly there could be nothing wrong of the admirers of a man in public life coming to his help and rescuing

him; but it seems to me that the recipient of such favours would naturally be too glad to know who are the persons to whom he owes gratitude, and if he does not choose to know who are those to whom he owes gratitude, it must be because his moral sense tells him that he would find there names that would be a condemnation of his accepting such a testimonial.
It seems clear from the language of Sir Richard Cartwright and the language of the right hon. gentleman who now leads the House that it was with them a sine qua non not only that contractors should not subscribe, but that the testimonial itself should be published, that the public, knowing who had subscribed, would have a guarantee that the contribution was bona fide. Now it is all very well for any hon. gentleman to stand up in this House and say that he has seen the list and that he knows that every name on that list was the name of a person who was justified in contributing to such a fund. Any gentleman might make that statement with absolute truthfulness, but he may not know the circumstances under which any name was attached, and he may not know that the names attached to any particular list were not the names of the individuals whose hands had gone into their pockets and who had put their names to that subscription. The Minister of Trade and Commerce says, going even farther than the right hon. leader of the government, says:

I have observed, Sir, that some of that hon. gentleman's apologists have undertaken to mitigate the error, or the crime, call it what you wrill, which was committed by the reception of that testimonial under the circumstances by the plea, which I think was also _ advanced in the other case, that the hon.
' gentleman did not know who had subscribed to his testimonial. Such a plea, in my judgment, is a direct aggravation of the offence.
A public minister has no right whatever to allow any gift to be made to him unless it is done publicly, and unless he knows from what sources it proceeds; and, Sir, I would say this, that if a minister of the Crown tells me that he has accepted a gift not knowing and not choosing to know from whom it proceeded, so far from regarding such a plea as a mitigation, I say that such a plea raises a presumption of guilt. It was his duty to know it; it was his duty to find out; it was his duty to see that not one penny went into his pockets or into his coffers unless it came from such sources that he could honourably and fairly receive it.
I do not wish to be misunderstood. I am quite prepared to admit that a testimonial might be presented to a public man in this country, to an hon. gentleman who had given the best years of his life to the country. I am quite prepared to admit that a testimonial of $120,000, or five times that amount might be presented under such

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Subtopic:   GIFTS TO MINISTERS OF THE CROWN.
Full View