March 27, 1924 (14th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Robert John Woods



I am not prepared to state tnat such a revision would have saved it, but the Home Bank was in a precarious condition many years ago-long before the revision of the Bank Act last session. As I have already said, the masses of the people of this Dominion believed that the Bank Act and the banking system were and had been in years gone by of such a character that there was no possibility of a bank failure and that their deposits would be absolutely safe. After the failure of the Home Bank, individuals came to me and referred to that, stating that they considered that the government was responsible to depositors for money deposited in a chartered bank. That was the general impression amongst the people; having that impression, they deposited their money with confidence, and the banking system has fallen down to such an extent that depositors have lost millions of dollars which they expected they would receive.
I said that the Bank Act was under revision and that in my opinion, a government inspector or auditor of banks would have in some way helped the situation. Some time ago, we listened to an address by the hon. member for Vancouver South (Mr. Ladner) ] who, to my mind, gave us a great deal to think about. He gave us some information regarding a federal reserve bank. But whatever system it is thought wise to adopt by the men who transact the affairs of this Do-[ Mr. Woods.]
minion and we have wise, capable men, men who have no peers, I believe, in any other country it is a fact, so we are informed, that government inspection and a federal reserve bank system have proved to be a good thing in the United States, and something should be done to lift the banking system of this country above what it is to cause the people to have confidence in our banks, and to make it impossible for men and women who deposit their money, not for speculation, but for investment and safekeeping, to lose it. The government should take hold of the situation and work out some scheme that will put the banking system of this Dominion in such a position that an occurrence like the Home Bank failure will be impossible in years to come.
The hon. member for East Calgary has referred to the action the government has taken in appointing a royal commission. Many questions have been asked about it. I hope that commission will make a thorough investigation into the whole system, as it has been appointed to do, and that its report will be laid before parliament before the close of this session.
I am not going to make any definite statement in regard to my attitude on the question of reimbursing the depositors further than to say this: If it is proved satisfactorily that a minister of finance, past or present, in years gone by or whenever the occasion was, was remiss in his duty, or that the government of that day neglected to investigate thoroughly the affairs of the Home Bank; if it is proven to be the case, as a minister of finance of the last government in a statement in the public press excused himself in regard, that the investigation did not take place at the time because the war was on and because there was a danger of upsetting the financial system of the country and breaking the confidence of the people in our banks; if the then minister of finance neglected to undertake the duty of investigating the affairs of the Home Bank in 1915, 1916, or any other year, on the ground that this inaction was in the interest of the people of Canada; and if as a result of that inaction on the part of the minister, hundreds and thousands of the people of this country lost their little all, the little money they had in the banks, and citizens are suffering thereby,-then, in my opinion, the government and the people of the Dominion of Canada are bound to reimburse the men and women who have suffered in the public interest. ,
The ground has already been thoroughly covered, and I believe the attitude of the

Home Bank Investigation
great majority of hon. members is to do justice to the poor, the widows and children. If the poor people, widows and children, have suffered because of the public interest in 1915, and 1916, those same people should be reimbursed for their losses in that regard.

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