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


Robert Henry Halbert

United Farmers of Ontario

Mr. R. H. HALBERT (North Ontario):

Mr. Speaker, I do not think it is necessary for me to take up much of the time of the House, because the situation has already been extremely well covered by the hon. member for East Calgary (Mr. Irvine). I should, however, like to put on record this petition:
We, the undersigned petitioners, being your constituents and depositors in the Home Bank of Canada, and the friends and neighbours of such depositors, respectfully submit as follows:
Whereas the Home Bank of Canada did at the time of suspension have on deposit by the citizens of North Ontario a sum upwards of three hundred and thirty-six thousand dollars, divided among approximately two thousand people, mostly of small means. .
And whereas the suspension and subsequent insolvency of the said bank has caused and is causing serious hardship among many people.
And whereas your petitioners are led to believe that the insolvent condition of the bank was known to the government for many years and that it was allowed to continue business because its closing might have occasioned a serious crisis in more difficult times.
We therefore your petitioners do hereby respectfully request you to use your utmost endeavour and your influence as a member of parliament at Ottawa to induce the government of Canada to take whatever action may be necessary to ensure the depositors full payment of their deposits.
And your petitoners will ever pray.
Now, Mr. Speaker, this petition is signed by William Brethour, R. C. Brandon and six hundred and seventeen other persons in my constituency. We have already heard of the many hardships resulting from the failure of the Home Bank. Allow me to stress the baneful consequences to many war and other widows in our small towns, where this bank had most of its branches. These widows sold their property in the country, moved into the small towns and villages because it was cheaper for them to live there, and many of them deposited the proceeds in the local branches of the Home Bank. But, worse still, many of these widows were induced, by the prospect of receiving higher interest, to become stockholders of the bank. The result is that not only have they lost their deposits, but they are also subject to double liability. This means that many a little home purchased in these small towns will have to be sold to meet that double liability.
Undoubtedly, as has been already stated, the impression prevailed generally throughout the country-although unfortunately it proved
not to be well founded-that money deposited in a chartered bank was practically safe as the Dominion government was, in a sense, behind the bank.
Now, to appoint a royal commission to investigate the failure of the Home Bank and apportion the blame upon the responsible parties with a view to their being sent to jail, will not help the widow and her small family. On the contrary, it will rather increase her burden, because the wreckers who are incarcerated will have to be maintained in jail by, among others, their victims. Then again, in some cases those in charge of the bank who speculated with the money of the depositors were guilty of even more than robbery. I would characterize their crime as practically murder in the first degree, because some of the unfortunate depositors who lost their all in the wreck have gone out of their minds. I hope this parliament and this government will see to it that justice is done to the innocent victims of the unscrupulous manipulators who were responsible for the Home Bank failure.
While it may not be possible under the present Bank Act for the government to reimburse the unhappy depositors, I think perhaps something might be done by way of an insurance scheme out of which some of the losses might be met. I think also that we might have a more extended government issue of currency instead of leaving this important privilege in the hands of our banks. I say this by way of protest against our present system of banking and the abuses which it sometimes leads to.

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