May 30, 1921 (13th Parliament, 5th Session)

LIB

Charles Adolphe Stein

Liberal

Mr. STEIN:

That was in 1914. She secured a judgment on November 22, 1912, from the courts of the province of Quebec granting her, under our laws, separation as to bed and hoard, and alimony to the amount of $100 per month; and the husband says that on September 22, two months previous to that judgment, they separated of their own free will on account of incom-patability. Now, the husband does not say a word of this in evidence before the Senate Committee. He tries to hide all these things,
but if he had been frank he would have stated the facts in their entirety. Now hear what he did afterwards:
Q. After 'that interview did you urge her to give up Perry? A. Well, I told her I would not stand for that.
He was very angry; he told his wife he would not stand it. I suppose he slammed the door and left her. I also remind hon. gentlemen that the questions, from first to last, are practically all leading questions, questions putting the answer into the mouth of the suppliant himself, of the party most interested in the case. In fact I find that in one instance a member of the committee told the solicitor for the suppliant that he had better let the witness reply himself. Then de Martigny states that he thought he had lost the right to supervise the behaviour of his wife, but at the same time he was not going to lend himself to a public scandal, especially in view of the fact that the wife had a baby that was only four years old at that time. That was in 1914 and she had been given the custody of the baby by the courts of the province of Quebec. The husband states further that after his wife had left him in 1912, she left the child with him, and he says:
This is what hurt me most. She left me the child. I loved the 'baby, and I could not see how her mother could leave her alone like that.
This statement is absolutely contradicted by the suppliant himself, for on page 10 of the evidence he says:
She was longing-
That is the baby-
She was longing for her mother and her mother was longing for her.
Well, this is a flat contradiction of the statement in which he says he was disgusted to see how his wife could part with that baby. Without having been re-examined, de Martigny contradicted himself on this one fact, to say nothing of many others. He begins by saying that he was dissruitted at his wife not seeming to love the child- having no regret in parting with it. Then he says: ^
The child was longing for her mother, and the mother was longing for the child, and 1 allowed the child to go back to the mother.
He allowed the child to go hack to its mother because he was compelled to do so by the courts of the province of Quebec under the judgments to which I have already referred.

There was no question of immorality at that time. He does not give the date, but after explaining that in 1913, when he felt so much depressed he left for California, he states that he had no suspicion then of immoral conduct on the part of his wife. He came back in 1914, and it is then that he said he heard some gossip. Further on he says:
There was no question of immorality at that time.
This is another contradiction of his statement that he had heard some gossip about the conduct of his wife. After that first answer of there being no question of immorality, he was further asked:
There was no charge of immorality at that time?
But he does not appear to have given any answer to that second question on the same subject.
The following questions were put by the chairman and answered by the petitioner:
Q. She got the custody of the child?
A. So she took the child.
Q. Have you got the child now?
A. No, sir.
Q. Who has the child?
A. She still has the child.
Q. Still has the child?
Mr. Guthrie, who I understand was the solicitor for the suppliant then states:
Mr. de Martigny got a judgment from the courts of Quebec giving him the custody of the child at one time.
Well, that is a mistake. I have stated to the contrary, and I shall be glad to prove my statement before the Private Bills Committee if this Bill is sent back to them. This is a mistake, for Mr. de Martigny was not given the custody of the child; it was the wife, as I stated a few minutes ago.
Then the witness continues to refer again to the interview that he had in his office with his wife after she had telephoned to him on his return from California at the end of May, 1914. He says:
After that interview in my office when I told her I was not going to stand for that kind of life. I told her I was going to take the child away from her. I took action, and I then took the child away from her.
This is another mistake. If he ever took the child away he did not do so after the action, because he lost that action and the court gave the wife the custody of the child.
There is no wonder that although very little evidence was adduced the members
fMr. Stein.]
of- the Senate Divorce Committee were brought to believe that all the grievance was on the husband's side, especially as the wife did not appear before them. But I am not very much surprised at her failure to appear. She had already won three actions against her husband and also against her mother-in-law in the courts of the province of Quebec, and therefore perhaps she did not think that she should be compelled to come into the province of Ontario and adduce further evidence. It must also be remembered that she had only $125 a month to maintain herself and her child.
Then another question was put to the suppliant:
Q. Did you make any condition?
That was after the interview they'had in May, 1914. He stated that the mother was longing so much for the child that he decided to allow the child to go to the mother, but it was on the express condition that she would not live with Perry any longer.
Q. Exactly.
A. And that was absolutely understood, so I let her have the child back, and she kept on living with Perry ever since.
Q. And that is the reason you are here?
There was no answer to that question, but apparently the members of the Divorce Committee were satisfied. Then the chairman of the committee put this one question:
Q. And she still keeps the child?
A. She still keeps the child.
Then Mr. Guthrie, his solicitor, makes the following statement:
The present position, Mr. Chairman, is that Mr. de Martigny has to get a divorce in order to establish toils rights to the custody of the child.
I submit that Mr. Guthrie again" made a great mistake. The judgments to which I referred a few minutes ago were rendered on Article 214 of the Civil Code of the province of Quebec, which provides that the children are entrusted to the party who has obtained the separation from bed and board, unless the court, if it think proper, having consulted a family council, decide it is for the greater advantage of the children that all or some of them be entrusted to the care of the other party or of a third person. I respectfully submit that this altogether sets aside the statement made before the Senate committee by the suppliant through his solicitor. He states that he is before the Senate committee requesting a divorce in order to

establish his rights to the custody of the child. But there is no mention of such a claim in the divorce Bill. If he is seeking a divorce for that purpose he must take action under the laws of the province of Quebec in which he is domiciled. And article 214 of the Civil Code which I have just quoted states that the custody of the children is granted to the party who has obtained the separation, which in this case is the wife. Therefore, whether the husband gets his divorce or not, he will not be entitled to the custody of the child. Then why grant him a divorce?
It is to be noted that all the witnesses who were brought before the Divorce Committee on behalf of the husband were French-speaking, they could not understand English, and their evidence was translated. This enables us to understand why the evidence is so incomplete and why it is so difficult to comprehend the answers that have been given. Most of the answers are given in the third person, as statements made by the interpreter, not in the first person as statements made by the witness himself. The first witness was an old woman of eighty-two years, Azilda Fournier. She was shown a photograph of three ladies and she identified Mrs. de Martigny as one of them. She stated that she had lived in several places with Mrs. de Martigny and that in the last place in which they had lived, on Boulevard St. Joseph, there were four bedrooms, one for Mrs. de Martigny, one for Mr. Perry, one for herself, and one for the child. She was asked:
Q. I suppose you cannot say anything as to what happened between them?

A. She says she did not see anything; she was in her room.
Q. Did you ever see them in bed together?- A. Oh, no, sir.
That is a very emphatic statement,-"Oh, no, sir." Then Mr. Guthrie makes a statement, although he is not a witness and should not have testified in the case:
Mr. Guthrie: All Mrs. Fournier can swear to is that they lived together, apparently en famille, as man and wife.
The witness could not speak English. Mr. Guthrie was not the interpreter and he should not have been allowed to make that statement. That will give hon. members of the committee an idea of the way the hearing was conducted before the Senate committee. I repeat that I say this with all due respect, but I feel that I must express my humble opinion as to how these matters were dealt with before the Senate committee. The next witness was Justina Brosseau, a dressmaker. She had worked
about eight or ten times for Mrs. de Martigny. She was asked:
Did you ever hear them speak to each other?
To which she replied in the affirmative. Then she was asked:
Did they ever use any expressions of affection or endearment?
To which she replied: "No, sir." She had been working there for eight or ten days, but she never heard any expressions of affection or endearment passed between Mrs. de Martigny and Mr. Perry. I have taken the trouble to go through this evidence, because it was frankly admitted by the member for Frontenac (Mr. Edwards) the other day that he for one had never read it, and that may have been the case with several other hon. gentlemen.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS
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