Hon. H. H. STEVENS (Vancouver Centre):
I would like to ask the leader of the government by what rule of procedure of parliament the government was authorized to retain two eminent counsel, Mr. Aime Geoffrion, K.C. and Mr. Eugene Lafleur, K.C., presumably, as reported by the Minister of Customs and Excise (Mr. Boivin) this morning to the committee of inquiry into customs matters, for the purpose of representing that committee. The retaining of these counsel preceded the organization meeting of the committee and was done without consultation of the committee. These two eminent counsel have been brought to Ottawa, and when the committee met this morning it was instructed that counsel had been retained for the committee by the government. By what rule of parliamentary procedure is the government authorized on any occasion, and particularly on this occasion, to retain counsel for a committee prior to its organization and without consulting it?
Hon. GEORGE H. BOIVIN (Minister of Customs and Excise: If the question asked
by my hon. friend and the long argument which accompanied it are perfectly in order, the matter having been already discussed in committee this morning, and one of the rules of the House, if I understand them correctly, providing that any matter under consideration by a committee is not debatable upon the floor of the House, I will give the hon. member an answer. Only one counsel has so far been engaged by the government. On Sunday evening I communicated with both Mr. Geoffrion and Mr. Lafleur to ascertain if either would be available. Mr. Eugene Lafleur was not sure that he would be able to act and he has not been engaged. The services of Mr. Aime Geoffrion were retained, and the government offered to the committee this morning that he would be secured to assist the committee if the committee so desired. One member of the committee- I will leave the House to judge who that hon. member was-objected very strenuously to his engagement as counsel for the committee. The committee agreed however to recognize him as attorney for the Department of Customs and Excise, for the purpose, not of defending the department but Of probing into the administration of the department, correcting any irregularities that may be found and protecting the customs and excise revenue of Canada.
Subtopic: SPECIAL COMMITTEE-RETAINING OF COUNSEL