Mr. EOBEET LOENE EICHAEDSON (Springfield):
Mr. Speaker, I cannot afford to allow an occasion of this kind to pass without expressing my views, even although the hour is very late. When the Board of Commerce was appointed, I am quite sure it met with the general approval of the masses of the people of this country. Profiteering had been running rampant for months, and in my judgment that great strike in Winnipeg was to some extent caused by the spectacle of wholesale profiteering. When I reached Winnipeg during that strike, I found practically unanimous opinion amongst not only the better-informed people -but all classes, that an effort ought to be made, if not to control prices, at least to limit profits. When, as a result of the high cost of living inquiry and of the general feeling throughout the country, it was decided that a Board of Commerce should be appointed, I repeat, there was a general feeling of satisfaction that something was at last to he done.
The question came up-who should constitute the members of the Board of Commerce? The -name of Judge Eobson had been mentioned; in fact, I took the liberty of suggesting his name to members of the Government. The judge had said to me a year or two ago that he would like to be identified with some such work as that which was carried on by the Interstate Commerce Commission in the United States. I had remembered that statement, and I recommended Judge Eobson very strongly for the position of chairman. I stated then,-and I believe the opinion that I expressed will be endorsed by ninety-nine per cent of the
people of Manitoba,-that if you held a plebiscite in that province to find the ideal man, Judge Robson would have been selected. He had been a very successful practitioner at the bar; he had make a record for himself as judge, and when the Public Utilities' Commission was created in Manitoba, he was selected as commissioner. He made an admirable record in the service of the people in that high office. He resigned because of some reason of his own which I shall not state here, and he went back into the practice of law. When this position offered and I discussed it with him, he said at first that he would accept. A week or two later, he declined and gave out that he would not accept the position, but in another week or so he reconsidered his decision and communicated with me stating that he would be willing to accept the position. I took the liberty of mentioning the matter to the authorities, and as a result probably of that as much as anything else, Judge Robson was, appointed to the position. He continued in that office for some months. The work of the Board of Commerce did not seem to be as successful as might have been expected, and finally the judge resigned. J understand the reason he gave for his resignation was that he did not think the Act was a valid one, nor that the powers conferred upon the board by the Act which created it were constitutional. Be that as it may, it is my judgment that a man to whom the country looked as unanimously and as confidently as the country did to Judge Robson, should not have resigned upon that pretext, nor for that reason. If the judge came to the conclusion that the Act was not constitutional and did not confer upon him the necessary powers to make the board as useful as it should be, it was his duty to have iso- stated1 the case to the Government and toi have asked for additional powers. I felt extremely disappointed when the judge threw the Board of Commerce over, retired from Ottawa and went back to Manitoba.
Having taken as deep an interest in the board as I did, I conferred very frequently with the other members of the board, Mr. O'Connor and Mr. Murdock, and I may say that I formed a very set opinion that these gentlemen were perfectly sincere and desirous to make a success of the work. I have rarely met a man who seemed' more thoroughly sincere, who took himself more seriously and was mo-re anxious to be of service than Mr. Murdock. I met both him and Mr. O'Connor quite frequently because the control of newsprint had been
placed an the hands of the board!, and for a time I was brought into constant contact with him. I had learned of the Hugg letter; I had also learned that before Judge Robson retired-so these other commissioners informed me-he had made an arrangement with them to resign in a body, and thus put an end to the Board of Commerce. That is -the statement that both these other members of the board made to me. They said that they did not suspect Judge Robson at that time; they thought he was acting with perfect sincerity; but when this letter sent -by J. B. Hugg, K.C., of Winnipeg was found on Judge Robson's desk, they made up their minds that he was trying to betray the board, and consequently they changed their attitude, decided that they would not .resign, but that they would stand loyally by the board.
Topic: BOARD OF COMMERCE.
Subtopic: RESIGNATION OF MR. MURDOCK DISCUSSED ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY.