The MINISTER OF FINANCE.
I think I have made them.
I think I have made them.
Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).
Regarding the remarks which my hon. friend has made,
I desire to mention that I have attended sessions of that committee for five years, and have never before seen any occasion -although party strife was sometimes strong, although matters were keenly debated in that committee-when that committee refused to summon a witness after a member of this House on the committee had stated, on his reputation, that he believed the witness to be material. On the contrary, the rule laid down in the Public Accounts Committee and the Privileges and Elections Committee and every committee on which I have had the honour of sitting was that if any gentleman of that committee or any member of this House would stake his reputation on the belief that a witness was material, that witness was called, as a matter of course. And naturally so. Because any gentleman, any member" of that committee who took it upon himself without sufficient cause, to ask that a witness be summoned, after statiug that witness was material, took his reputation in his hands, and perhaps more than his reputation. I would like to know upon what other basis are we to act in a matter of that kind. What is considered sufficient justification to any ,hon. gentleman for asking for an investigation ? Is it not that he stands up in this House and stakes his reputation on the truth of the charge which he makes ? Does he not practically assume the same position when he stands up in the committee and states that he, as a member of that committee, believes that a certain witness is material ?
The Minister of Railways and Canals took a rather singular way of dealing with this question. He adopted a rather singular mode of argument. He wanted to know if this witness was coming for the purpose of exonerating some one. He seemed to think that unless a witness was coming for the purpose of exonerating some one, he should not be called. He seemed Hon. Mr. FIELDING.
to think it was a dreadful thing that a witness should, as he expressed it, post the opposition. Well, in the interests of this country, is there any particular reason why the opposition should not be posted on the methods of hon. gentlemen opposite ? I wonder if all hon. members on that side, I wonder if all the hon. gentleman's colleagues are not of opinion-some of them at least-that it would be a fair thing to have the methods of the administration of the Intercolonial Rail-way fully investigated ? Is there any reason which the Minister of Railways and Canals or the Minister of Finance can suggest why the opposition should not have every possible means of sifting to the ground every transaction of the government ?
The hon. gentleman says that this witness is not an official. Well, I have seen something of that hon. gentleman's mode of examining officials before a committee of this House, and I do not think it is a valid reason for not calling a witness that he does not happen to be an official of this government, because the hon. gentleman is somewhat intense in his manner with officials, when examining them. I have noticed that more than once, and I am not quite sure that possibly we could not get evidence out of a witness more clearly and more fairly, if that witness did not happen to be an official of the Department of Railways and Canals.
I do not know what my right hon. friend who leads the House thinks about this. This is not a question merely of dealing with a few items in the estimates or the Public Accounts respecting the Intercolonial Railway. This is the setting of a precedent. Are we to have the precedent set for all time to come that although a dozen gentlemen, members of a committee, may stand up in that committee and say that they stake their reputation on the materiality of a witness, the minister in charge of the particular department concerned, shall call on his followers, who are a majority in that committee, to vote down the motion just because he happens to think that it will not suit his interests, and upon such reasons as the Minister of Railways has indulged in this afternoon.
These items, Mr. Speaker, relating to the Intercolonial Railway will be investigated. Let not the Minister of Railways imagine for one moment that by preventing the summoning of this witness, he is going to prevent a most thorough investigation into every item of that expenditure. He may delay the proceedings or protract them, but I venture to say that my hon. friends behind me will see that these proceedings are not completely burked. Even if this material witness is not permitted to us, we will endeavour to get at the proof in some other way, and I assure my right hon. friend that I think it will be in the best interest, not only of the government of this
country, but of all of us in this House, if he would exercise some pressure on the Minister of Railways and Canals and see that any witness, as to whose materiality any hon. gentleman on that committee stakes his reputation, is not kept from that committee by denying the issue of a summons. I am not saying this in any spirit except that which prompts me to believe that we on this side are bound to see to it that these accounts are investigated in the most thorough manner and that we are doubly bound to see to it in this particular instance on account of the action taken by the Minister of Railways and Canals and the Minister of Finance, the latter of whom, as the guardian of the treasury of this country should have been above the position which he has ventured to take.
I hasten to assure my hon. friend the leader of the opposition that he will find in this House no intention whatever of burking the inquiry in the Public Accounts Committee. Since he has appealed to me, 1 am bound to tell him that I shall hope that in the future, as in the past five years, nothing will ever take place in that committee which will disgrace this government, such as took place under late administrations. We shall endeavour to meet all charges as they are brought, but I want to call my hon. friend and the House to a proper sense of the rules of the House. There is no occasion for any display of passion.
Some hon.' MEMBERS. Hear, hear.
There is none at all, and my reasons may apply as well to one side as to the other. I was surprised at the manner in which my hon. friend the leader of the opposition (Mr. Borden, Halifax) discussed this question. Let me call the attention of the House to the fact that this is purely and simply a matter of parliamentary procedure. The rule is well laid down and will be observed on the floor of this House, and will be observed also upstairs, that all matters connected with public expenditure shall be investigated to suit the opposition or to suit anybody else. In this matter, however, how do we find the case brought to the House ? This is an appeal from a decision reached a few days ago by an important committee of this House, the Committee on Public Accounts. Now, I appeal to my hon. friend the leader of the opposition, I appeal to my hon. friend the member for South Eanark (Hon. Mr. Haggart), who is an old parliamentarian, to support me when 1 say that the rule which is invariably followed on the floor of this House is that the House maintains the decisions of committees unless adequate cause be shown to the contrary, and unless cause be shown on the record, and not upon the ipse dixit of this man or that man. There is a rule which has been departed from in ' 45i
this procedure, and a rule the wisdom of which has been shown by the example which we have had on this occasion, that there is to be no discussion in this House of what has been said in one of the committees. There is a rule that the report of the committee must stand by itself, and that it is not allowed to refer to what may have transpired in the committee.
Until the report of the committee has been presented.
And then we are bound by the report of the committee. If we are allowed to refer to what took place in the committee, what have we in this very case but a statement made on one side and contradicted on the other side ? Here we have two such honourable men as my friend from Pictou (Mr. Bell) and the Minister of Finance (Hon. Mr. Fielding) not exactly agreeing on a statement of fact. I say that if the decision of the committee lias to be appealed to the House, it is the bounden duty of the hon. gentlemen who wish to make an appeal to place before the House a complete record, so that the House may judge from that record. My hon. friend from Pictou (Mr. Bell) thought he was not properly treated by the committee in not having the witness summoned that he desired. I shall come to that presently. But I have to say to my hon. friend that if he wanted an appeal taken to the House, his bounden duty would have been to have the record so prepared by the committee that the House would be in possession of the facts. We have here the bare fact that request was made to summon a witness and the committee would not allow it. What were the committee's reasons for that decision ? They may have been good or they may have been bad. We must assume that they were good. There is nothing before the House to show that they were bad. If the case was that request was made that a certain witness be summoned at once, and the committee said : We will not summon him to-day, there are other witnesses to be heard, would that not be a reasonable thing ? And why should I give my vote to reverse the decision of the committee ? If the hon. gentleman had taken the precaution to say : This is a material witness,
and I wish to summon him to give evidence on this or that point, and give the reason, and, if, then, the summoning of this witness had been refused, he would have a complete case. But how do I, as a member of the House, know the reasons that actuated the committee ? I have not the honour of being a member of the committee, and I do not know what took place. It is not reasonable to ask me to take the word of any member of the committee or anybody else. As a member of the House, and speaking for the whole House, we have a right to have on record the reasons which led the committee to act as it did. If the
decision of the committee was a good one, the committee ought to be supported, if not, the decision of the committee ought to be reversed. But how are we to carry od the business of the House unless the safeguards which surround our procedure are maintained as sacredly as they are maintained in Great Britain ? I will go one step further and refer to what I said in the first instance. The opposition have a right to investigate expenditure. It is not only their privilege, but I say without hesitation, it is their right. Bet them make application to the committee, and if they do not get justice there, let them come before this House with a case that we can deal with, and, for my part, I will pledge the majority of this House that they will receive the justice that is their due. But my hon. friend from Pictou, who has a logical mind and understands these rules, must see that it is not possible for the House to take action upon the appeal that he has made. The record is too bare. You have nothing of the reasons which were given to the committee for summoning the witness. It is not even stated that the rule of the House which my hon. friend has quoted has not been observed in this instance. We have only, as I gather from the conversation which took place a moment ago across the floor of the House, a statement that such and such a thing was done. I advise my hon. friend to go before the Committee on Public Accounts, take the necessary procedure, if he wants this witness summoned, and, certainly, if he puts himself within the rules of parliamentary procedure, he will be entitled to all necessary support in making his investigations. Let me say one word more to my hon. friend the leader of the opposition. I would have preferred that he had not held out any threats against us. We will not be threatened. We are prepared to stand by our rights, as we are prepared to stand by the rights of the o pposition. We are prepared to do our duty whenever the appeal is made to us upon grouuds which enable us to see what that duty is. But no threats will be listened to.
Hon. Mr. HAGGART.
I would like to ask the right hon. gentleman a question. Suppose that the majority of the committee refused to put the reason of the refusal in the report of the committee ?
Then, I would expect that there would be a minority report laid before the House.
Mr. W. B. NORTHRUP (East Hastings).
Although the question before the House is. on its face, a very simple and unimportant one, yet, there being a principle involved, it is very doubtful if a question of greater interest or importance to the people of this country will come up during the present session than the question now before us. There seems to be great difference of opinion between hon. gentlemen on the other side and hon. gentlemen on this side as to Sir WILFRID LAURIER.
what that principle is. Speaking my own view, not presuming to express the opinions of gentlemen on this side-I think, however, they will agree with me in this presentation of the case-whenever matters are referred to the Public Accounts Committee, they do not go before a court for the trial of any individual. The committee has no machinery to try any Individual. And, evem if any member on this side were, on his responsibility as a member of parliament, to make charges against the Minister of Railways- to make all the charges that are at present floating in the air-and even if those charges were proved before the committee, that committee has no machinery to pass any sentence and no machinery to punish. It would be utterly without force in acting upon the evidence laid before it. As I take it the functions of the committee are simply these : The people of this country raise a large amount of money every year, taking it out of their own pockets, and they have appointed certain gentlemen as their trustees, with the function, among others, of disbursing these moneys. When the representatives of the people come to Ottawa, among our duties is that of seeing to it that the moneys disbursed by our trustees are honestly, economically and wisely disbursed. When we go before the Public Accounts Committee, we go not to charge that the minister has acted in a manner forbidden by law, we go not pretending to know that there is anything -wrong in his department. We do not attempt to make a charge ; and if we had a charge to make, the committee would not be the proper place to make it. We go there as representing the people of this country to investigate the accounts on behalf of our constituents, and to see whether those items are properly disbursed. Going then as a committee, and trying to use the common sense which I am sure every member of this House possesses, it must be assumed that the members on this side of the House are more likely to investigate those accounts carefully than gentlemen sitting on the other side, who perhaps have more confidence in the hon. gentlemen making the disbursements than we have on this side of the House. Naturally, I say, the people of this country expect gentlemen on this side of the House to investigate these accounts more carefully, and to show whether the moneys are properly disbursed. Now then, if that duty devolves upon us there must be surely some power belonging to us to enable us to carry out that high duty.
But the reason I rise is to enter my protest against the principle laid down by two ministers of the Crown to-day that there should be a charge made, or that, as the Minister of Railways and Canals expresses it, witnesses should not be summoned before that committee unless some wrong was proved, that is to say, that after the necessity for the witness being called had passed, then we could call him. Perhaps it will
not be out of place to call the attention of bon. gentlemen opposite to the fact tliat when a day or two before a member of the committee asked that two officials of the railway should be called, they were promptly called, not a word of objection. I would like to ask what right had members on this side of the House to call on those two officials of the railway ? What conceivable reason could be given for any member on this side calling for those witnesses, or any witness ? There must have been some reason, or the Minister of Railways and Canals would not have consented to these two witnesses being called. These witnesses were called, and on a subsequent day precisely the same right was invoked, the member who had before exercised his right desired to exercise it again, and if a member had a constitutional right to call those two witnesses, how can he be refused the constitutional right to call another ? Now, the premier called attention to the fact that the record should show the ground on which this motion is based. I submit that the record does show the ground. I submit, and I think my argument is sound, that there is an inherent right in every member of that committee to name a witness whom he wishes to call. That, I submit, is the prima facie right of every member of the committee, though the regulation of that right rests in the committee, so that if any member abuses his right, then that member in future will forfeit it; and the committee will refuse him the privilege of misusing a right which, nevertheless, he certainly possesses. Now, I think it was hardly fair to this House that, when so important a question was raised, when so much money was at stake, the Minister of Railways and Canals should rise in tiiis House and, after saying that no witness should be called unless a wrong had been proved, and after an inquiry had been made, that he should say, why should Mr. Archibald be called unless to exonerate the minister ? Is a witness only to be called after a charge is proved, and even then only if his evidence will tend to exonerate a minister V I say it was rather beneath his dignity and unworthy of his place in this House to say: I am not
afraid-boldly challenging all criticism. Of what should he be afraid, after his committee had refused to call the witness we wished to call ? I could not help wondering if, when the hon. gentleman spoke, there was not running through his mind these lines of an American poet:
In short, I firmly du believe In Humbug generally,
Fer it's a thing thet I perceive To bev a solid vally ;
This heth my faithful shepherd ben,
In pasture sweet heth led me,
An' this'll keep the people green To feed ez they hev fed me.
Now, Sir, I shall not take up any more time, because the only point I wish to insist upon is the right of every member of that committee to call any witness whom he thinks proper to be called in the public interest; and if hon. gentlemen opposite are to lay down a contrary doctrine, it is just as well that this House should understand, it is just as well that the people of this country should understand, that when we, the members on this side of the House, who are upon the Public Accounts Committee, desire to investigate the finances of this country, in the course of our investigation we are only to be allowed to call those witnesses that hon. gentlemen opposite approve.
Mr. T. B. FLINT (Yarmouth).
As a member of the Public Accounts Committee, and having been a member of it for nine or ten years, and having been present on the occasion referred to, I presume it would be proper for me to make a few remarks in respect to some of the observations made by lion, gentlemen on the other side. I cannot but think that perhaps more heat has been evolved from this discussion than the intrinsic merits of the case demanded; but perhaps that heat has been evolved in obedience to a well known scientific law that heat is evolved in proportion to the momentum and weight of the two bodies which come into conflict. As a reason for adopting the resolution proposed by the hon. member for Pictou (Mr. Bell), it has been stated that large sums were involved, that there was great extravagance, and that dangerous principles were being established in the management of the government railway, that the Minister of Railways and Canals was upon his trial, and that, to a certain extent, the political party which supports him was also upon its trial. I think this is wandering rather far afield, and making the matter of greater magnitude than a calmer consideration would allow. If any body is on trial it is the Public Accounts Committee, and from that standpoint alone I propose to view the situation. As the hon. member for Lanark (Hon. Mr. Haggart) has remarked, after the vote was demanded which decided that the gentleman named should not be summoned, I ventured to remark to the committee that I presumed this would not prevent us dealing with the matter later. That point seemed to be generally accepted by the committee. Following the observations made by other hon. gentlemen who have spoken on this side of the House, I cannot see that any considerable grievance can be complained of by hon. members composing the minority of that committee. Certainly I think it was not very becoming for my hon. friend the leader of the opposition to intimate that any sort of terrorism should be exercised against the majority of the House by threatening to prolong the session if his wishes were not complied with.
Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).
I beg my hon. friend's pardon, I made no such suggestion.
I accept the hon. gentleman's disclaimer, but it appeared to me that there was an intimation that the session might be prolonged in consequence of this refusal of the committee. Any standing committee of this House has certain discretion as to the order of its procedure. It is true, as the hon. member for Pictou (Mr. Beil) stated, that there is no precise precedent for a case of this kind, but I can call to mind during my recollection of proceedings in this House, many occasions on which the summoning of witnesses has been deferred until other proceedings were taken, until a more opportune time had arrived on which to hear their evidence. Moreover, when a question of fair-play* towards the opposition is raised, we have also to remember that there may be a question of fair-play to the administrators of the government, a question of fair-play to the officers in the employ of the government, who are conducting the various public affairs in the outlying portions of the Dominion and expending large sums of money. Certainly the committee charged with such investigations should follow a reasonable and fair course of procedure towards both parties, especially when it is claimed that a minister or any other person is put upon his trial before that tribunal, and necessarily before the country. We have officials on the Intercolonial Railway spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, covering a vast variety of subjects all of which are subject to investigation, to differences of opinion; and it is the right and duty of that committee to investigate all these points carefully, to see that the vouchers correspond to the accounts, to see that the proper procedure has been taken, that no extravagance has been committed in the operations of the road. As a mere matter of procedure before the committee, it is proper that officials of the road should first be examined as to their expenditure of the money placed at their disposal before any outsiders are called to explain discrepancies or improprieties in the expenditure. I think it was not fair for the leader of the opposition to intimate, as he did, that there was any improper terrorism exercised by the minister towards his subordinates before that committee. I am certain that I never have, and I do not believe that any hon. member of that committee has ever seen the slightest scintilla of any such spirit shown on the part of the lion. Minister of Railways and Canals towards the men who are under him and who have been before that committee. If that should be maintained, every one could easily understand that the result would be that the evidence given by these men, many of them men of eminence and high standing, would be discredited, and I do not believe that a charge affecting the integrity, the
courage, and the fearlessness of these men ought to be entertained by this House, or by the committee. We all agree that examinations before the committee should be thorough and exhaustive, but, I think we must all agree that these examinations should be systematic and based on some fair and reasonable principle, not perhaps on the strict legal principle which would be followed in the trial of an action at law, but, perhaps, corresponding to that, because there must be some regularity in order that the gentlemen of the committee who are not familiar with these details should be able to make up their minds. There are two kinds of committees which are mixed up in the minds of some hon. gentlemen here, and they have spoken as if the procedure before any committee should be of precisely the same character. There are the regular standing committees of the House, which have large jurisdiction, and there are committees of inquiry, which are appointed for the investigation of particular charges. The latter class of committees are special committees appointed by this House based upon charges laid and formulated before the House and sent to the committee for special examination. In such cases specific charges are made, and a gentleman formulating these charges and being desirous of establishing them through the evidence which he has in his possession, it is easy to see that it would be only fair that he should be given more latitude and ready facility for subpoenaing his own witnesses. But, the committee of which we are speaking is a committee formed in a different way. Its operation is not based on specific charges, it is a committee with large powers of inquiry and of procedure in a particular direction, and the discretion to be exercised by such a committee would be somewhat larger and ought to be exercised in a broader spirit than the same discretion would be exercised by the majority of a special committee. This matter was discussed in the House of Commons many years ago, and the late Minister of Justice (Sir John Thompson) made some observations upon it which may be proper to be read at this time. Speaking of the powers of the Committee on Public Accounts and its course of procedure, that eminent gentleman mode these remarks :
No one can deny, and certainly on this side Ol the House we do not pretend to deny this afternoon, that, in the investigation of any re-ferenco made to the committee by this House it is entirely proper for the committee to hear evidence which may be adduced, no matter what consequence may ensue to any member of this House. It matters not, therefore, in the least whether the committee finds that an item' In the account which is before it for investigation affects the credit and honour of a minister or of a private member of this House. The one claim I should make, if it were necessary to do so-but it is not necessary, because there Is nothing to the contrary in this resolution- would he that it shall be the duty of the committee carefully to see that the proceedings
before them is not searching tor evidence, fish- | ing for evidence, a proceeding for the purpose of affecting the honour and credit of any member of the House or a member of the govern- j rnent, but that the evidence shall be pertinent and relevant to something which the committee has been instructed by the House to investigate. Further, I say that the moment the conr-mittee-X speak of the present committee, and I will refer to future committees in the.same way as long as I have a right to say anything on the subject in this House -the moment the committee is satisfied and evidence is adduced which is relevant to any inquiry which this House has asked the committee to undertake, that inquiry should be continued, no matter how fatal it may be to any member of this House. The one safeguard which, I say, it is unnecessary to insist on, should be contained in this resolution, because it contains nothing to the contrary, is that the committee shall not be made use of by outsiders for the purpose ot attacking the honour and credit of membus of this House.
The House to-day is under the same line of argument. This is the case before this committee. An enormous volume of public accounts relating to expenditures on the Intercolonial Railway is before the Committee on Public Accounts. I ask the Intelligent members of this House, and particularly the members who may be members of that committee, wliat course they would like to see pursued for their own information. They are not experts. They are waiting patiently for such an exhibit of evidence as will enable them to form their opinions and make up their minds as to the propriety of any suggested procedure. Is it not natural and fair to assume that the first men they would like to hear are the leading and important officials of the road who are concerned in the expenditure on this road, and that after they have been heard and searchingly examined by gentlemen on both sides of the committee, and by gentlemen particularly interested, perhaps -although all the members of the committee are interested-in the more thorough probing of the public accounts, the committee would be willing to hear the evidence of other gentlemen who are not officials of the government and who may be called to throw light upon matters which have been brought forward In the previous testimony. Any other course would strike me, as I am sure it would strike other members of this House, as being decidedly unfair. I think it would be only fair that prima facie evidence should be given first of the officials of the road, and if there Is to be any rebuttal of their testimony, or if matters upon which they have been examined have not been satisfactorily explained to the committee, then, any member of the committee would be justified in summoning outsiders to atend upon the investigation and contradict or deny the evidence given by the proper officials. I cannot hut think that our hon. friends opposite have been premature in bringing forward this resolution, and that if they had been content to
wait a little longer and lay their reasons before the committee why this witness should be called before the committee, 1 am as certain as 1 can be certain of anything, that the committee would be willing to accede with alacrity to their request, but, while men emploj^ed in connection with the railway had been summoned and are on their way to Ottawa, I think it would be permature to ask for other witnesses to be summoned here. I think hon. gentlemen opposite have thought that this might be a good opportunity for making some political capital.
That is what we are here for.
Apart from the importance of the evidence, hon. gentlemen no doubt, imagine that they can divert the attention of the House to another point, by trying to make it appear that this committee was endeavouring to stifle inquiry. I, for one, as a member of that committee will join them at any time to prevent any attempt at stifling inquiry. It would be suicidal, politically as well as economically, on the part of my hon. friends to do anything of the kind. It would he injurious in the interest of the party responsible for the management of the railway to cover up one item of folly or extravagance, and I, as a member of that committee, as, I believe the majority of the committee, will assist the hon. Minister of Railways and Canals and assist the opposition in that committee to examine most thoroughly and in detail every item of the accounts which the hon. gentlemen opposite desire to have examined. But, we must have some procedure, some form, some fair-play, not only for the government and for the hon. Minister of Railways and Canals, but for the officials who may be charged with wrong-doing. I support the action of the' committee under the circumstances. and I believe this House should, in justice to the committee, throw out the resolution of the hon. member for Pictou.
Mr. HAUGHTON LENNOX (South Sim-coe).
Mr. Speaker, I am glad to hear the very fervid declaration from, I think, every hon. gentleman who has spoken upon the other side of the House of the fact that he is actuated by the most honest and most sincere motives. From what has taken place one would imagine that if that declaration had not been so explicit, ^ thei e might he some reasons for doubting it. As a young member of this House I would not be very much impressed with the desire of the government or the desire of the supporters of the government to have a full, fair and impartial investigation of the public accounts, judging from what has already taken place in the committee and in this House. Without wishing to be offensive to the hon. member for Yarmouth (Mr. Flint) I may say that he has added nothing to the debate, and that his chief success was
in getting further away from the issue than any other of his friends who have spoken. He says that this motion is premature, and that if delay is allowed then we may get the witness we require. It is the first time, in a rather long experience which I have had of investigations in the course of my profession, that I have ever heard that the party prosecuting should be directed by the other side as to the manner in which he shall conduct his case. It is a good sound rule of law that those who have the conduct of an investigation are the best judges of how to array the evidence in support of the contention which they set up. So much is this the case that even the judges do not interfere with counsel as to the order in which he shall call witnesses. It would be a most extraordinary stretch of prerogative if when we are investigating the public accounts of Canada, the government should dictate to us as to what witnesses we should call, and in what order we should examine them. This is not a question with us of begging for something. It is not a question of : By your grace or by your leave. We are here to maintain our rights as representing the electors of Canada, and it is our right to call this witness now, and not to delay until some future time when it may suit the convenience of the government to call him. I am learning all the time I am in this House.
Some lion. MEMBERS. Hear, hear.
I am getting experience all the time.
You need it.
I echo back to that hon. gentleman : So do you need it. I may tell that hon. gentleman (Mr. Holmes) something that he and his friends do not seem to understand ; I tell him that when I came to this House I understood that the parliament of Canada was above all things a deliberative assembly. I understood that it was an assembly to which men came, not to vaunt wild opinions in extravagant language but to reason calmly and deliberately upon the great questions affecting the people of Canada. I am glad and yet sorry for what has taken place in the House to-day. I am sorry that so many of the ministers of the Crown lost their temper, and I am glad that the First Minister of the government of Canada saw fit to give them a very just aud very merited rebuke. The violence of the Minister of Railways was such, that although I understand he is a prominent counsel, I would have wanted nothing better than that he should make such a exhibition befoie a judicial tribunal, if I were arguing the case against him. But, after all his violence and after all his proclaiming that he had nothing whatever to fear, that he was scathless, harmless, and innocent, he wrapt himself up behind the committee and said :
I won t let you know anything about these accounts. When the Minister of Finance Mr. LENNOX.
commenced his speech I thought we were getting back to a deliberative assembly again. He began in a very mild way and said it was a pity that we could not approach this little matter of procedure in a quiet, calm, and business-like spirit, but he had not proceeded far in his speech when he outdid the Minister of Railways in violence. If the violence of the Minister of Railways echoed to the roof, the thunders of the Minister of Finance went loftier still. Is that his idea of the discussion of a business-like question in a calm and judicial spirit. What is the meaning of such conduct on the part of the ministers, when all that we on this side of the House ask is, that we shall have an opportunity of ascertaining how the money of the people of this country was expended. And who is asking for this right V Why, the Minister of Railways grows eloquent, and if he does not grow eloquent he grows violent, in declaring that the members of the committee, who demand, shall not have an opportunity of examining Mr. Archibald. The Minister of Railways asks : who is this Mr. Archibald V I will tell him. Mr. Archibald is not a hireling of the government. He is an independent man who can have no motive for prevaricating or colouring his evidence one way of the other, and he it is whom we want to examine. The Minister of Railways tells us in effect that no member on this side of the House, that even the whole opposition have not the right to call Mr. Archibald as a witness. Well, we differ from him in that. We may have no right per se, but we are the representatives of the people of this country who want to know how their money has been expended, aud as the representatives of the people we have that right. I can tell these hon. gentlemen opposite that whether or not they vote down this motion, the people of Canada will know how this money was spent. The First Minister told us that there was not sufficient record upon which to order a reference of this ihatter back to the committee. Let us see if there is not. In the first place it is known to all the members of this House, that when such a motion is made in the committee the reasons alleged in its favour by the mover or seconder are not taken down in the reporter's notes. That was very fully explained the other day in the committee.
But do we want any further record than we have ? Mr. Speaker, we have this record : We have the fact that the public accounts are being investigated ; that is the first step in the record. We have it on record that witnesses are being called to give evidence on those accounts. We have the further fact that the hon. member for Pictou (Mr. Bell) asks that a witness be called. For what purpose ? For the purpose of throwing light upon these accounts. Is not the hon. First Minister splitting a hair, endeavouring to draw a red herring across
tlie trail, when he tells us that we have not a sufficient record of the transaction ? I have the greatest respect for the hon. First Minister-great respect for him as one of those gentlemen that can get around a corner by plausible and eloquent language about as well as any one I ever knew ; but I had not to-day such profound admiration for him as a counsel learned in the law. When I listened to his special pleading-that nice skill which not only splits the hair, but if necessary walks along the hair without disturbing it in the slightest degree-my admiration for him as a lawyer of the old school, which flourished in those bygone days when special pleading was in vogue, rose very high indeed.
I say that the people are waiting for us to get to work to investigate these accounts and let them know whether they are correct or not. Not that we want to try to make out that they are false or fraudulent; but we want to know whether they are correct or not; and that being the case, hair-splitting comes with bad grace from the hon. First Minister. Hon. gentlemen opposite want to know what it is all about. I will tell them. We have admittedly an enormous deficit in the transactions of the Intercolonial Railway, at a time when we should not have expected it, when the circumstances of the country and the buoyancy of trade justified us in expecting the reverse ; and in the face of that fact the necessity is imposed upon us of inquiring whether there is any leakage. When we come to investigate these accounts, what do we find ? We find that at the time the general elections were coming on there was a most unprecedented purchase of ties-ties to bind the voter and the government together. There were 1,300,000 ties purchased at a time when^ve had a surplus of 127,237 ties on hand from the previous year, making in all 1,427,237 ties for the financial year ending June 30, 1901. These ties were bought at twenty-eight cents apiece. The estimated requirement for the year was 650,000 and the actual requirement was 495,000. Thus we had a surplus of 932,237 ties over what was necessary-not a surplus of the ties which were necessary to bind the public to the government at that time, but unnecessary for the purposes of the Intercolonial Railway. We have the fact, therefore, that there was a purchase of three times the actual requirements of the railway ; and, that being the ease, and an enormous deficit occurring at the time, is there not good reason for saying that the people should be on the alert, and that we of the opposition would be recreant to the trust reposed in us by the people of this country-and we represent the very best people in this country- if we did not say, we will investigate until we find out the facts ? Now, we have found out a great deal. Hon. gentlemen opposite talk about fishing. I think it was a gentleman from Yarmouth who talked about fishing. I suppose there is a good deal of fishing down there. But I think we have fished to some purpose. We have this fact, that in the face of this surplus of ties on hand, a contract was made with the New Brunswick Coal and Railway Company for 2,000,000 ties at twenty cents apiece. By this first transaction, therefore, the government incurred a loss of $80,000 of the money of the people of this country.
Now, with regard to the question whether Mr. Archibald should be called or not, he is a man who has had a large and valued experience in connection with railway matters. We have already elicited the fact in the committee that that large purchase of ties was a very unwise transaction, because a great many of those ties are now being worn out without being put into use, and because a very large proportion of them were not suitable for the purpose. For the edification of the House, I will read a portion of a letter received from a gentleman at Camp-bellton who knows the facts to which I am referring. Speaking of the ties he says :
So many ties were got out during the last campaign th it they are now, and have been ever since, piled up along the Intercolonial Railway between Campbellton and Moncton as a monument of mismanagement and corruption. A large proportion of them are of no use except for firewood.
They have served their purpose, I presume, pretty well.
Is that letter from a defeated candidate ?