Hon. E. M. MACDONALD (Minister of National Defence):
Before the motion is
put I rise to speak more of a matter of privilege than otherwise. My hon. friend from Kent, N.B, (Mr. Doucet), in his address the other night, referred to me as being one of those who participated in the stopping of prosecutions for smuggling. I want to mention a circumstance that occurred in June 1925. A portion of the permanent force were in Glace Bay, Cape Breton. They had an officer's mess there. These officers had some liquor. This liquor was seized, I do not know by what authority, Whether federal or provincial. Everybody who knows anything about the life of officers, on active service or otherwise, knows that the mea is an institution which has been maintained by them from time immemorial. When the liquor was seized one of the officers happened to be going to Montreal, and came on to Ottawa. He reported the matter to the department and stated-and the officers of the department sustained the point-that under the king's regulations the mess supplies were immune from seizure by civil authority. I simply transmitted to the department the position
these gentlemen took in regard to this officers' mess. I never inquired what the decision of the department was, and I never knew what it was. Further than that, I had nothing whatever to do at any time with regard to this question of the smuggling of liquor or smuggling of any kind. I merely wish to say that if the innuendo which was contained in my [DOT]hon. friend's reference to me was of the same character as was made to some of my colleagues, then there have been a great many innuendoes in this discussion that are without foundation.
Mr. MALCOLM MicLEAN (Melfort): I
do not intend to take up much time of this honourable House, but I wish to make some remarks before the vote is taken. If I might be permitted to digress a little bit, I would like to tell hon. members a story. I am reminded of two boys who were working in a law office. They met one day and one said to the other, "Johnny what do they pay you at the office?" Johnny said, "Four dollars a week, what do they pay you"? The other boy said, "$1,000 a week". Johnny says, "Aw go on, you're talking." The boy said to him, "No, I am not, they pay me $3 a week in money and $997 in advice." I feel something like that boy. As a new member of this House I am bewildered by the flow of legal lore and the advice that has been given particularly during the past few days, but generally through the session,. The legal advice and information that have been given us are enough to bewilder an ordinary, plain person trying to solve problems coming before this House on the basis of experience and common sense and by assiduously studying them. So to-night, as I look over the debate of the past few days and the issue at stake herein, I find that I must endeavour to differentiate between the material that has been displayed and the legal verbiage that has been thrown around it.
Time after time in this House I have heard clever lawyers such as the hon. member for St. Lawrence-St. George (Mr. Cahan) argue the case as if they were prosecutors in a court-house prosecuting some law breaker. I appreciate much the excellence of the wisdom and learning given to us by the hon. member for St. Lawrence-St. George and the plane on which he spoke. But habits of the court room are hard to break, and apparently the intention on his part and on that of many hon. members opposite was not to make the matter plain and clear to us, but to ensure that a verdict would be given against the defendant.
Custom* inquiry-Mr. McLean (Meljort)
When first these charges were made in this House some months ago, I was surprised that the hon. member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Stevens) should in his laudable desire to suppress smuggling in this country, go all the way to Montreal, Rock Island, to Beebe and these other places of which many of us had never heard before and tell us about the lamentable conditions existing in the customs administration there. I would have thought that the hon. member for Vancouver Centre, coming from the city of Vancouver, a city which through the press and other methods of spreading information has been notorious for smuggling, booze running and dope peddling for many years back, would have first started to clean up near his home where we are told that charity begins. I would have thought, I say, that there where it was easier for him to get information he would have endeavoured to start the cleaning up process.
I found, however, that there was something else to it than that. I found that in addition to the smuggling of liquor out of Canada and other commercial goods into Canada, there was the smuggling of something worse, something that in my opinion the Canadian people will feel less like forgiving even than the smuggling of liquor out or the smuggling of other commercial goods in. I refer to the smuggling of secret information, secret reports, confidential reports, prepared by trusted employees of this government for the benefit of the public and the administration generally in enforcing the observation of the law and in bringing evildoers to justice. These reports, according to all the information that has been given us in connection with this matter during the past few days, were smuggled from their rightful place in the possession of the government into the hands of the chief political attacker of the government at this time. While I am not excusing the smuggling of liquor or other goods into the country and other goods out of the country, these are material things, the value of which can be reckoned accurately in dollars and cents. But when parts of the civil service of Canada, the secret agents of the government who are paid to get information on which the laws can be upheld, are debauched to the stage where they are willing to allow their information to be smuggled to the hon. member for Vancouver Centre or any other hon. member, that is a sad state of affairs and the people of this country are not going to think lightly of it.
Information given out during the course of this debate has shown that all the disclosures in the Customs Inquiry committee on smug-14011-321
gling in two months and a half, prepared for and paid for by the government and handed to the hon. member for Vancouver Centre, was that based on the famous Duncan report. Is there anything so infamous in the history of the department as that this information which was prepared an'd paid for by the government should be handed over for political purposes and that the service should be debauched in this way? Yet, hon. gentlemen qpposite smirk and smirk as they sit in their places and think lightly of it, while they talk of some youngster who brought in some celery, bread and other things.
I notice another hon. gentleman of the legal profession making notes, and I know he will get after me in good style; but I am satisfied that to-night I have in mind the outlook of the people of Canada rather than the heated and biased outlook that it is almost impossible to keep away from after 'six months of political warfare in Ottawa, where intrigue runs strong, where lobbying has been developed to the fine art at which it stands, where efforts have been made such as we had an inkling of in the debate-yes, desperate efforts made to swing members this way or that but generally I think to swing them away from the thing their constituents in many cases want.
This attack on the government through the Customs investigation and now through this report is not a new thing at all. All during this session and the session of last year hon. gentlemen opposite have been making these attacks on the government. The government have been accused of almost everything under the sun. If they were not accused of anything that was bad, it was because their opponents apparently overlooked it. At the start of the session they were accused of paralyzing industry, bringing the country tu the brink of ruin.
Mr, SPENCE (Parkdale): That is right.
Topic: CUSTOMS INQUIRY
Subtopic: REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE-MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE AND AMENDMENTS THERETO