Oh yes, you knew Mr. Harmer. The statement continues:
The Civil Service Commission advised me that if I wanted to do that I would have to dispose of the certificate already issued in favour of Ward. I did so, and the vacancy was advertised and I believe Ward is an applicant as well as Harmer. At the present time a civilian is temporarily in charge of the office with the distinct understanding that it is only temporary and that returned soldiers with qualifications are to have preference. That is the Norton case as it now stands and no decision has been reached as yet in that case.
I intend to deal with the case from March, 1924. Order in Council, P.C. 326, dated March 7, 1924, was passed for the dismissal of Allan Price. A letter was written by Hon. Charles Murphy, the then Postmaster General, to Doctor McAllister, the defeated Liberal candidate in 1921, informing him that Mr. Price had been, dismissed by order in council and that he had better send in an applicant for the position. Dr. McAllister replied' to the
then. Postmaster General stating that as this was a very important office he wanted to see a good man appointed. This occurred on March 11.
A letter dated March 17, 1924, was written by Dr. McAllister to Hon. Charles Murphy recommending William A. Reynolds, which stated that reasons would be given later on. This Norton file which appears to be stripped of a good deal of the correspondence does not contain any letter setting forth the further reasons why Mr. Reynolds should be appointed. In his letter of March 7 to Dr. McAllister, Mr. Murphy referred to the faot that Mr. Reynolds had been recommended by Hon. P. J. Yeniot, premier of the province of New Brunswick. The Postmaster General now comes forward and states that he knew nothing about this case until he assumed office.
On March 21 a letter was written by Mr. Coolican to the district superintendent at St. John with reference to advertising the position. I have all the papers under my hand, but as I said before, it would be impossible to read all the correspondence.
On May 29 notice of the advertisement was posted, signed by W. Foran, Secretary of the Civil Service Commission.
On May 28 there is a letter from W. H. Heine, enclosing a petition signed by ninety-two residents of Norton in favour of the retention of Mr. Price.
On April 15, 1924, there is a letter from Mr. L J. Gaboury, Deputy Postmaster General, to the district superintendent at St. John re Fred E. Sharp, an applicant for the position. I may say that Mr. Fred E. Sharp was the defeated Liberal candidate in the 1917 federal election, and he was also on a previous occasion a defeated candidate for the New Brunswick legislature. This letter called the attention of the district superintendent to the fact that Mr. Sharp was an applicant and asked him to put Mr. Sharp's name on the list of applicants for the postmastership at Norton.
On April 15 there is a telegram from Doctor McAllister to the Hon. Charles Murphy, then Postmaster General, asking him to carry out his recommendation regarding Mr. Reynolds, but giving no further information as to his qualifications or why the position should be given to him over the heads of a large number of returned soldiers.
On April 17 there is another letter from Mr. L. J. Gaboury, Deputy Postmaster General, to Doctor McAllister, pointing out that the Norton post office was under the Civil Service Commission.
On May 8, 1924, there is a report from the district superintendent to the Postmaster General, stating that ten applications had been received for the Norton post office. I wish to pause at this point for a moment or two in order to give the ratings of the different applicants for that office. The report from the district superintendent is dated St. John, New Brunswick, May 8, 1924, and it contains nine pages. I will just give a list of the applicants:
George Ward, a returned solder.
Ivan William Reid, a returned soldier.
Fred E. Sharp.
Miss Lucy Jane Campbell.
William A. Reynolds.
Ernest Nelson Myers.
William E. Harmer, a returned soldier.
This man enlisted in the 104 battalion. After he had enlisted he was taken with appendicitis. He was operated on and could not go to the front, but later on he went to work in a munitions plant and did everything he could to help win the war.
Miss Mary E. Saunders, Bloomfield Station.
Preston Douglas Price, a returned soldier formerly of Norton, but now of Concord, New Hampshire.
Charles Thomas Homer, Southfield, N.B.
That is five miles from Norton. It would take up too much time to read the whole report and I do not wish to dwell on the matter any longer than necessary. I will now give the report of the district superintendent in regard to George Ward, as follows:
Educational qualification: Good common
school education in England.
Accommodation offered: Suitable.
Location offered: Present site.
Residential qualifications: Has been living in the vicinity of Norton since April, 1921.
Experience: A little post office experience and has had experience in meeting the public.
Character and integrity: Good.
Time willing to give to post office: Full time.
AVhether returned soldier: Yes.
Whether disability case: No,-but is in receipt of a small pension.
That was the report on. Mr. Ward, No. 1 on the whole list. There were practically as good reports on Ivan William Reid, another returned soldier; William Elias Harmer, a returned soldier; Preston Douglas Price, another returned soldier who saw service in France; and Charles Thomas Homer, another returned soldier who saw service at the front, and who, by the way, was a school teacher before he went to the war.
I wish to give a further report regarding George Ward, the man who received the certificate from the Civil Service Commission:
Mr. George Ward; twenty-eight years of age; unmarried; is a returned soldier who enlisted in 1915; went overseas in 1916 and saw service at Vimy Ridge, Hill 70 and Passchendaele;
was wounded in November, 1917, and lost two fingers of his left hand; was discharged January, 1919, and is in receipt of a small pension per month. After his return from the war he took a course through the vocational department of the Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment, and has been employed as a telegraph operator on and off at intervals since March 6, 1920. For the past three months has been a clerk in the store of W. A. Saunders, at Bloomfield station in the parish of Norton six miles distant from Norton. He has had a little post office experience, having assisted the postmaster at Bloomfield station during the period the office was in Mr. Saunders' store (about one year). He is a man of good appearance, and comes well recommended by the members of the Empire Soldiers Club at Norton; by the secretary-treasurer of the G.W.V.A., and by King and McDonald, wholesale grocers of St. John; by the chief train dispatcher of the Canadian National Railways, Moncton, N.B., and by the Anglican Bishop of Fredericton, as per letters herewith enclosed.
There are no recommendations on the file. The file has been stripped of all those.
After his return from the war Mr. Ward met with an accident in a saw-mill which crippled his right hand slightly but his war and other injuries would not in any way interfere with his carrying on post office work. If appointed, Mr. Ward would provide a suitable location for the post office.
I do not intend to take up any more time. As I stated, this report of the district superintendent is nine pages long. I wish to lay this case before the committee in order that it may be judged on its merits.
On May 14, 1924, there is a letter and a petition from William E. Harmer, returned soldier, who had enlisted in the 104th battalion. This was sent to the Hon. Charles Stewart, at that time Acting Postmaster General.
On May 20 there is a letter from the Deputy Postmaster General to Doctor McAllister informing him again-there is no reference on the file to any letter from the doctor-that returned soldiers would have the preference under the Civil Service Act, as it is the law of the country. The Deputy Postmaster General who wrote that letter is the same deputy who is in charge to-day.
Next is a letter, dated May 27th, from William E. Harmer to the Hon. Charles Murphy, the then Postmaster General, informing him of Ward's record and of his joining the 104th battalion, and so on. It is a very long letter.
Then appears the certificate of the Civil Sendee Commission, dated July 30, 1924, of the apointment of George Ward as postmaster at Norton. I might point out that there were no strings attached to this certificate, as was the case, I understand, with some others.
This was a straight certificate appointing Mr. George Ward, postmaster at Norton.
About a week later, Mr. E. J. Undenvood, chief superintendent of post office service, writes to Mr. W. A. Reynolds, one of the applicants, informing him of the appointment of Mr. George Ward as postmaster at Norton.
Then on August 8, 1924, Doctor McAllister writes to the Hon, A. B. Copp, Secretary of State, as follows:
I am writing you again re Norton P.O. affair Little did I expect the Civil Service would choose Geo. Ward, not only for his being an emigrant to this country but for his incapabilities. It is true that he was overseas but he has been fully compensated since his return. The federal government gave him a course in telegraphy and the local government has compensated him to the extent of five hundred dollars, and I have learned to-day that his employer who runs a general store and had him as a cleTk. discharged him for cause. His employer was F. Saunders. Bloomfield, lumber man and merchant, I think this matter should be looked into. Please call the attention of this to the Postmaster General and by so doing you will greatly oblige.
Mr. McAllister was the defeated Liberal candidate in 1921, again in 1925, and again in 1926, and this is the kind of stuff that the local Liberal organization in the constituency of Royal kept putting up to the Postmaster General.
There is a lot of correspondence following the charge that Ward was a defaulter, and finally the matter came into the court at St. John, and after being considered by the grand jury it was thrown out. The correspondence which was furnished to the Civil Service Commission is here, and it shows that there was absolutely nothing in the charge and that it could not be proven.
On August 12, 1924, Hon. Charles Murphy writes to Mr. Copp acknowledging receipt of this letter from Doctor McAllister, saying that Ward had been appointed according to the law and under the Civil Service Commission. I want to emphasize, Mr. Chairman, that this was on August 12, 1924. For nearly two years from that time, until November 17, 1926, there was not much activity in this matter. During all this time the old postmaster was in charge, the man who had been dismissed by order in council. The former Postmaster General, the Hon. Charles Murphy, did not make any move to override the Civil Service Commission, but just as soon as the present Postmaster General assumed office on August 17, 1926, action took place. I will read this letter in full. It is written by the present Postmaster General
to the chairman of the Civil Service Commission, and is dated Ottawa, November 17, 1926:
Civil Service Commission,
I understand that the vacancy for the Norton post office, Queens county, N.B.-
By the way, it is Kings, not Queens county; it is in the constituency of Royal:
[DOT]-lias been standing for a considerable time. It appears that serious objections have been raised to the appointment of one Ward, who, I understand, ranks first in the qualification examination for that position, followed by one Reynolds.
I further understand that your board issued a certificate of appointment in favour of Mr. Ward, but that he was not installed in office, and the former postmaster who was found guilty of political partisanship still remaining in charge of the office.
The hon. Postmaster General knew that this man was in office all the time, and preferred to keep Mr. Price there rather than appoint Mr. Ward, a returned soldier, to the office, as recommended by the Civil Service Commission. The letter continues:
With the knowledge that he had obtained this appointment, Mr. Ward, in the last election took a very active part. My information is that he was even obnoxious in his conduct to those who did not agree with him in politics. In view of this, I feel that Mr. Ward should not now be allowed to take advantage of the certificate that has been issued in his favour.
I would ask that your board give this matter very serious consideration.
The chairman of the Civil Service Commission, Doctor Roche, replied as follows, under date of November 20, 1926:
Dear Mr. Veniot:
I desire to acknowledge yours of the 17th, in which you refer to the fact that Mr. Ward ffor whose appointment as postmaster at Norton. Queens county, N.B. a certificate was issued by the commission some two years ago) took an active part in the recent general election, and expressing your view that Mr. Ward should not now be allowed to take advantage of the certificate issued in his favour.
Unfortunately, however, once a certificate of appointment has been issued by the commission the matter passes beyond the jurisdiction of this body, but I have placed your letter before the full board of the commission, and as the commission is awaiting the decision of the Department of Justice on a point in connection with another case that has a bearing on this case, you will be further advised after the commission has received the opinion of the Department of Justice on the point referred to.
Following the receipt of that letter, the Postmaster General did not lose very much time, for on November 24 he writes from his
office at Ottawa to the Hon. W. J. Roche, chairman of the Civil Service Commission, as follows:
My dear Sir:
I am in receipt of yours of the 20th in reply to mine of the 17th in which I called your attention to the fact that Mr. Ward (for whose appointment as postmaster at Norton. Queens County, N.B., a certificate was issued by the commission some two years ago) had taken an active part in the last federal election and for that reason I did not think that he should finally receive the appointment of postmaster at Norton. I note what, you say about a certificate being once issued that the matter passes beyond the jurisdiction of your commission, but that you have placed my letter before the full board of the commission, and as the commission is awaiting the decision from the Department of Justice on a point in connection with another case that has a bearing on this case, I will be further advised in the matter after you receive the opinion of the Justice department.
A few days after that the chairman of the Civil Service Commission, Doctor Roche, wrote the following letter:
December 2, 1926.
Dear Mr. Veniot,
In further reference to the postmastership at Norton, Queens County, N.B., in mine of the-20th ultimo I pointed out that the commission's jurisdiction in regard to this appointment ceased after issuing the certificate in favour of Mr. Ward. But owing to another case having: been referred to the Department of Justice for-decision which might have a bearing upon this case I promised to let you know when such opinion was received.
The opinion referred to was in connection with the Hawkesbury postmastership, as to whether a department could legally reject a candidate for whom a certificate had been issued by the commission when more than one year had elapsed since the issue of such certificate.
The opinion just received from the Department of Justice is to the effect that section 13 may be invoked in rejecting a candidate after twelve months had elapsed from the date of certificate unless the person sought to be rejected has served in the position for a probationary period for six or tw-elve months, as the case may be. In the Hawkesbury case, however, 1 understand that your point is that the candidate for whom the commission issued its certificate of appointment is not sufficiently qualified bilingually, notwithstanding both the departmental officers and the commission decided otherwise, and if you feel justified in rejecting this candidate under section 13, apparently you can legally do so according to the decision of the Department of Justice. But in the case of the Norton postmastership you object to Mr. Ward being allowed to take advantage of the certificate issued in his favor by the reason of his activities in connection with the recent Dominion elections. I do not think this would be sufficient ground for the department to refuse to instal Mr. Ward in office, as he is not civil servant until he has been placed in a position to discharge the duties of same. Otherwise if he did not have the office tranferred to him for the next ten or fifteen years he might have his
hands tied politically notwithstanding he was earning his livelihood entirely outside the service, and this does not seem at all reasonable.
It would appear to me therefore that if it is your intention to reject Mr. Ward under section 13 some more substantial reason should be assigned than the one to which you refer. I think if you will discuss this point with the Deputy Minister of Justice he will agree with me.
You see by this correspondence between the Postmaster General and the Civil Service Commission that there was a desperate effort made to get rid of Mr. Ward, who had been appointed postmaster at Norton. On August 28, 1928, after an interval of almost two years from the date of the letter I have just read, there was a lot of correspondence between the department and the Postmaster General. I wish to refer to a letter of August 28, 1928, written by the Hon. P. J. Veniot, Postmaster General, to Mr. Gaboury:
Dismiss Allan Price and appoint William A. Reynolds acting postmaster at Norton.
This was done in face of the letter from the Civil Service Commission setting out the law in regard to this case.
On August 31 there is a letter from E. J. Underwood to the district superintendent at St. John, instructing him to put into the office Mr. W. A. Reynolds as acting postmaster.
On September 7, 1928, I find a letter from H. W. Woods to the superintendent of postal service saying that Mr. Reynolds had been installed on September 15.
On September 14 there is a letter from Mr. B. E. Thomas, Service Bureau of the Canadian Legion of British Empire Service League, to the Hon. Mr. Veniot, asking him why Mr. Ward had not been called upon to fill the post office at Norton. I desire to read the letter in reply from the Postmaster General. It is dated September 19, 1928:
I am in receipt of yours of the 14th instant m connection with the postmastership at Norton, N.B., and in reply beg to give you the following information:
It appears that in 1924, two years before I assumed the position of Postmaster General, an investigation was held into the conduct of the postmaster at Norton, N.B., and the charges made against him were investigated and proven. The office was declared vacant, but he was allowed to remain in temporary charge until the Civil Service Commission had made a permanent appointment. George Ward, a returned soldier, was one of the applicants, and he received the certificate of the Civil Service Commission for the permanent appointment. This certificate, it appears, was never accepted by the Postmaster General. The matter was left in abeyance with the old postmaster still acting when I took charge of this department.
Now, I desire hon. members to listen to this. The letter continues:
I knew nothing about this matter. About a year ago my attention was called to the situation at Norton, and after making inquiries touching the details I decided that in view of the length of time that had expired between the date of advertising the vacancy in 1924, and the time that the matter had been drawn to my attention, and in view of the fact that I learned that Ward had left Norton and was engaged in a position at St. John, and that there were other returned soldiers who had applied and who were still residing in Norton, it would be better under all the circumstances to have the vacancy advertised anew. In the meantime, so as to give no undue advantage to one returned soldier as against another, I issued instructions to have this vacancy advertised and to appoint a Mr. Reynolds in temporary charge. I had to appoint a person in temporary charge because conditions were such as Norton that it was impossible to put up any longer with the old gentleman in charge.
You will notice that in this letter the Postmaster General states that the matter has only just been drawn to his attention, whereas two yeans previously he had taken the matter up himself with the Civil Service Commission,
Topic: POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT