February 18, 1926 (15th Parliament, 1st Session)

CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Right Hon. ARTHUR MEIGHEN (Leader of the Opposition):

criminal, naturallly falls into two phases. There are on the one side those seeking to bring home guilt, wrongdoing, irregularity or whatever it may be, while there are on the other side those who endeavour t<5 remove inferences of guilt, that is to say, dn a word, to defend the case. That is the way all trials are conducted. Experience has shown that these divisions inevitaJbly occur; and if counsel are to be employed for the committee, if the committee feels that it cannot undertake the labour-and I can quite understand that there would 'be very much labour entailed in the study of documents, the systematizing of evidence and exhibits, and all that-then surely it would have been in the interests of justice and of tlhe arrival at the truth if the committee had followed the regular course and had one counsel prosecuting the investigation, analogous to prosecution anywhere, and another counsel representing the other side.
I do not think anything in the world can be gained by appointing a common counsel for the committee. It seems to me that the experience of last session, when what was alleged to be counsel for the committee was appointed in the Petersen investigation, should have been a warning to the House not to follow that process on a subsequent occasion. I should very much have preferred had the committee come before us with a request for counsel, the intention being that the regular course should be followed and that counsel on either side be appointed. I do not think that members of the committee are entitled to counsel at all, whether it be those representing us in this end of the chamber, those representing the government, or those representing the Progressive party; members of the committee are no more entitled to counsel than is a judge entitled to legal advice as to what he ought to do. It is the public that is entitled to counsel; the public is interested not only in the bringing out of the facts but in seeing as well that no injustice is done in the elucidation of those facts. The government is justified in employing counsel in the public interests and not, in the interests of the committee nor as specially representative of any members of the committee. I am sorry that this view has not prevailed in the committee, and I apprehend that if what has been stated to me as the decision of the committee in the matter of counsel be followed, and if this motion passes,
the investigation will turn out to be unsatisfactory. Certainly the relation of counsel to the investigation will be unsatisfactory and the public interest will not be served.

Topic:   CUSTOMS INQUIRY
Subtopic:   'FIRST REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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