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

LIB

Georges Henri Boivin (Minister of Customs and Excise)

Liberal

Mr. BOIVIN:

The services of Mr. Geoffrion are being continued in the interests of the Department of Customs because so far no other counsel has been appointed, and not until we are thoroughly convinced that it is the intention of the new counsel to probe the administration of the department very thoroughly, noit only during the past year but during the past eight, ten, twelve or perhaps twenty yeans, will we dispense with the services of the counsel already retained.
Mr. JEAN J. DENIS (Joliette): Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Customs (Mr. Boivin) has just said that the committee this morning unanimously decided that counsel should be retained to assist them. This places me in a better position than I would be in if members of the committee who sit on this side of the House had themselves recommended this course. Now, I may be wrong, but I do not see the necessity for counsel. The hon. member for \ ancouver Centre has brought charges against the Department of Customs and Excise, and it is up to him to prove those charges; it is not the duty of the committee to find witnesses for him. The committee is acting as judge of the evidence to be adduced before it. If the hon. member few- Vancouver Centre has no evidence to bring forward, so much the worse for him; but the committee has nothing to do with that. The Minister of Customs drafted the order of reference in such wide and ample terms as to give the hon. member every facility to substantiate his charges. The duty of the committee is to hear the evidence and report upon it to the House, and having done so its powers are exhausted. In the last resort, it is for this House to determine whether or not that report shall be accepted or rejected, or to send it back to the committee with certain instructions. That is the procedure. I repeat, Sir, that I cannot see the necessity of retaining counsel to act on behalf of the committee.
Hon. HUGH GUTHRIE (South Wellington) ; Mr. Speaker, it is quite true, as the hon. Minister of Customs has stated, that the motion to appoint the Customs committee was made by the government. But it is equally true, and within the knowledge of everyone in the House, that certain charges were made by the hon. member for Vancouver Centre of maladministration in the Department of Customs-

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