May 3, 1911 (11th Parliament, 3rd Session)

LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

I deem it my duty to call attention to an article which appeared yesterday in the Toronto 'Telegram,' in which direct reference was made to me. The article is a long one, and I need not read it all.
As a matter of fact, the right hon. gentleman read very little of it, and he did not read some of the most important parts. His speech continues as follows:
It will be suflicient to read the matter which has reference to my name. The article proceeds to say that on the 2nd of March this letter was addressed to me.
Then the right hon. gentleman quotes the letter, and one part of that letter quoted is as follows:
Recently evidence has come to me that one of your colleagues is a grafter and a boodler. I shall be in Ottawa for a few days, and am wilting to .submit the evidence to you as Ta.rte was willing to 6ubmit his evidence of the Langevin-McGreevy iboodling to Sir John Macdonald. Should you see fit to take immediate action it would go no further. The alternative would he to place the document,
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letters and photographs of cheques, &c., in the hands of the opposition.
After quoting that letter, the right hon. gentleman alludes to a letter which was written by his secretary at his direction under date 3rd March, 1911, in which the gentleman who had written this letter to him was informed that the Prime Minister would be in his office at ten o'clock on the following day, Saturday, March 4, and would be ready to see the gentleman who was preferring these charges. Then the right hon. gentleman refers to the interview, and he uses this language:
The gentleman in question waited on me, as Stated in the rest of the letter, several times. Without committing my memory as to the number of times, I know it was more than once, but the tenor of each conversation between us on these occasions was of the same nature. The gentleman in question, with whom I had in former years friendly relations, but with whom I have not been in communication for many years, called on me and gave me the name of one of my colleagues and said that he had lost the confidence of the party, particularly in his own province, that he was a boodler and a grafter, and for these reasons should go out of the government.
Then the right hon. gentleman goes on to state that he had no doubt as to the honesty of his colleague, who was not only a colleague but a personal friend, and that the person who had the interview with him would have to take such steps as he might think fit. To quote the exact language of the right hon. gentleman:
My informant was free to take such stops as he pleased, to place the $&pers and documents in the hands of the opposition, and do anything be pleased with them. If my colleague were then proved to be dishonest, he would have to take the consequences, but if not, it was my duty to stand loyally by him. This is the gist of any conversation that took place between us.
The newspaper article to which the right hon. gentleman here alluded comprised nearly a full page of the Toronto 'Evening Telegram,' and purported to set forth the bank account of the Minister of the Interior and to show there that there had been deposited to his credit two sums of money, one on the 3rd of October, 1907, amounting to $50,000; the other on the 11th September, 1909, amounting to $19,350. The newspaper article to which the Prime Minister alluded, so far as I have been able to examine it, did not indicate any source from which these sums were supposed to have been derived, but this article did urge in a very insistent way that the source of these sums should be disclosed, and that an investigation should be held for that purpose. It now appears from a statement made by the Minister of the Interior in this House yesterday that he was the person to whom allusion had Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).
been made in the Toronto 'Telegram', and he based his remarks to some extent upon an article which had later appeared in the Toronto 'World', and the right hon. the Prime Minister, in reply to an inquiry from an hon. member on this side of the House, stated that the gentleman who had the interview with him which was alluded to by the Prime Minister on 28th April last, was Mr. McGillicuddy. The hon. the Minister of the Interior in his statement in reference tc this matter yesterday did not allude to the article which was brought to the attention of the House by the right hon. gentleman but did allude to a despatch which appeared in the Toronto ' World ' of the 28th ult., and which the Minister of the Interior set out in his remarks. There was no reference yesterday by either the Prime Minister or the Minister of the Interior to the article in the 'Evening Telegram' to which the right hon. gentleman had called attention on the previous Friday, nor was there any allusion to the charges or allegations set forth in the various interviews between the Prime Minister and Mr. McGillicuddy. Now, the Prime Minister has thought this newspaper article in the Toronto 'Telegram' worthy of being brought to the attention of the House, and the Minister of the Interior, referring not to that article but to another article which appeared in the Toronto 'World", has challenged a certain suggestion, or suspicion, as it has been called, which appeared in that newspaper; and the Prime Minister basing his action upon the state-ment_ in the House of the Minister of the Interior has asked for an inquiry which is absolutely restricted in its terms to the question as to whether the surmise or suspicion contained in the Toronto 'World' is a true or an untrue statement of the source of these moneys. Well, I think it must be apparent to the right hon. gentleman that if this matter is worthy of investigation, that is not the wav to investigate - it.
There is only one question properly before this House and this country in connection with the matter, and that is: Whether or not the source
from which these moneys came was a clean and untainted source. You cannot possibly arrive at a conclusion with regard to that by the inquiry which the right hon. gentleman proposes. Let us assume that there are one hundred sources; and one can easily imagine one hundred sources from which that money may have been derived, and in respect of which the acceptance of that money would be regarded as improper or prejudicial to the public interest. What is the position which the right hon. gentleman takes ? Instead of inquiring and investigating as to what the source of the money w'as, he takes one sur-

mise or suspicion in one newspaper, which probably knows no more about it than any other newspaper in the country, and he declares to this House: We can disprove
that, and, therefore, we will investigate that charge. Well, Mr. Speaker, it does not seem to me that that is worthy either of the occasion or of the government or of the Minister of the Interior himself or of this parliament. If there is to be any investigation upon this question, let it be an investigation which will satisfy parliament, and the country that the Minister of the Interior is absolutely free from any charge or suspicion of unworthy motives or unworthy conduct in this matter. That can only be done by disclosing the source from which these sums of money came. It can be settled in five minutes before a committee of this House. If it came from the private resources of the Minister of the Interior, all he has to do is to go before that committee and show that. That will settle the matter for all time. But to go before a committee of this House and say, here _rs one source as to which an unworthy suspicion is cast, and it did not come from that source, while you leave open to conjecture fifty or a hundred other sources from which the money might have come, surely would not satisfy the conscience of this House, the conscience of the Minister of the Interior or the reasonable desire of the people of this country to have this mystery cleared up in so far as mystery is attached to it, In that connection I would like to say just one word as to some past investigations.
I do not know whether the Prime Minister would regard it as a serious thing, an unjustifiable thing, that a conclusive inquirv of the kind I have suggested should be made. I may be told that it is not a right or proper thing to have the deposits of large sums of money to the credit of a minister of the Crown investigated. But I did not hear any very great complaint or any great murmuring from the right hon. gentleman ot from any of his colleagues when the bank accounts of my hon. friend from North Toronto (Mr. Foster) and other hon. gentlemen then members of this House were investigated by a Royal Commission which he himself appointed, the books of their bankers brought into court and exposed to the investigation of counsel, and the men themselves called before that commission to be cross-examined not only as to the source from which the moneys had come, but as to the disposition which they had made of those moneys, and that simply for the reason that a crossexamining counsel had some hint given to him that it might be a desirable thing to investigate those bank accounts; and as a matter of fact the investigation was made in more than one instance for reasons altogether out of the legitimate scope of
the inquiry. What is the position the Prime Minister takes now? He proposes to select one possible source which he believes can be disproved, and to prevent any further inquiry or investigation into the source or origin of these moneys. Does my right hon. friend seriously think that he will be clearing up this matter or solving this mystery by taking any such course as that?
I venture to say, Mr. Speaker, and I say this with all respect, that such an inquiry as the Prime Minister proposes would be a pure farce, and I would not advise any hon. gentleman on this side of the House to have any part in it. It is merely a piece of stage play, made not for the purpose of a real investigation, but for the purpose of disproving a suspicion or conjecture which the Tight hon. gentleman believes can be easily disproved, and without giving any opportunity whatever to investigate the real source and origin of these sums. Under these circumstances I think I am entirely justified in moving:
That all the words after the word 'that' in the proposed motion be omitted, and the following substituted therefor: A special committee of five members be appointed to inquire into and investigate the charges and allegations set forth and referred to in the statement of the Prime Minister made in this House on Friday, the 28th day of April last, and the charges and allegations 6et forth and deferred to in the statements of the Hon. Mr. Oliver, Minister of the Interior, and of the Prime Minister, made in this House on Tuesday, the 2nd day of May instant, and that the said committee have power to send for persons, papers and records, and examine witnesses on oath and affirmation and report from time to time.
I propose this motion in this way because I understand in view of the statement of the Prime Minister and the article which he brought to the attention of the House, that it will open up this whole matter for investigation by that committee. That was the intent and desire of the Prime Minister when he made his remarks in this House on the 28th of April last, if he had any real desire or intention of having this matter investigated. A motion of this nature, which is'confined to statements made in this House, set forth in speeches of ministers of the Crown in this House, in [DOT] respect of a matter as to which charges have been made against a minister of the Crown, surely cannot be objected to by any hon. gentleman on the other side of the House. It is quite true, it may bring in allegations and statements set forth in the Toronto ' Evening Telegram,' but that is due-to the fact that the Prime Minister himself, having observed these statements, has seen fit to bring them to the attention of : the House; and having been brought by i him to the attention of the House, they are t surely to be taken account of in any inves-

tigation which the right hon. gentleman proposes to make in respect of a matter which he himself was the first to introduce. Under the circumstances, Mr. Speaker, I feel it my duty to press this amendment in order that the scope of the proposed inquiry may not be restricted, but may be just as wide as the Prime Minister "himself made it when he first spoke in this House oh this matter.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   NEWSPAPER STATEMENTS AFFECTING HON. MR. OLIVER.
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