March 2, 1909

CON

Edward Arthur Lancaster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LANCASTER.

The Minister of Justice said that.

Topic:   SUPPLY-ESCAPE OF CONVICT BILL MINER.
Subtopic:   AN INQUIRY MUST BE HAD.
Permalink
LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM.

Did he say that ?

Topic:   SUPPLY-ESCAPE OF CONVICT BILL MINER.
Subtopic:   AN INQUIRY MUST BE HAD.
Permalink
LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie

Liberal

Mr. McKENZIE.

I did not understand that there was any alleged conspiracy between the officer who held the inquiry and any person in connection with the investigation. If there is I will ask my hon. friend to produce it or an evidence of it.

Topic:   SUPPLY-ESCAPE OF CONVICT BILL MINER.
Subtopic:   AN INQUIRY MUST BE HAD.
Permalink
CON

Edward Arthur Lancaster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LANCASTER.

I do not produce it in the shape of using the word 'conspiracy.' I pointed out that the Minister of Justice said in answer to questions that a number of visits had been made improperly and that they should only be made with the consent of the inspector.

Topic:   SUPPLY-ESCAPE OF CONVICT BILL MINER.
Subtopic:   AN INQUIRY MUST BE HAD.
Permalink
LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald

Liberal

Mr. E. M. MACDONALD.

The Minister of Justice did not make the statement attributed to him, and if the hon. member for Lincoln (Mr. Lancaster) will look at ' Hansard,' page 1227, where the whole statement of facts from the Justice Department is contained, he will find a direct denial of that statement.

Topic:   SUPPLY-ESCAPE OF CONVICT BILL MINER.
Subtopic:   AN INQUIRY MUST BE HAD.
Permalink
CON

Edward Arthur Lancaster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LANCASTER.

Is that to-day's ' Hansard ' printed already ? I heard the Minister of Justice say it to-day.

Topic:   SUPPLY-ESCAPE OF CONVICT BILL MINER.
Subtopic:   AN INQUIRY MUST BE HAD.
Permalink
LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald

Liberal

Mr. E. M. MACDONALD.

He did not make the statement to-day either.

Topic:   SUPPLY-ESCAPE OF CONVICT BILL MINER.
Subtopic:   AN INQUIRY MUST BE HAD.
Permalink
LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie

Liberal

Mr. McKENZIE.

I have followed the answers of the Minister of Justice with a great deal of care and I am satisfied the position I took here is perfectly clear, that nothing of a wrong character has been brought home to the official who held the investigation. There was nothing that would disqualify him in my judgment or that should disqualify him in the judgment of this House or render him not a proper tribunal to try the charges in connection with that institution. Had there been, I certainly would not place any weight or base any argument on the investigation which he held. But I submit again that this investigation having been held there is nothing here presented that would justify us in asking the case to be reopened and a new trial to be held-and I submit that this investigation is more important than many a new trial would be.

I fully agree with the hon. member for South Cape Breton (Mr. Maddin) that it is a deplorable fact that party strife or squabbles should take place in this House or anywhere over the administration of justice. We are all proud of the administration of justice in Canada, we are proud of the respect which our people have for the law. It is one of our proud boasts, and

Topic:   SUPPLY-ESCAPE OF CONVICT BILL MINER.
Subtopic:   AN INQUIRY MUST BE HAD.
Permalink
LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie

Liberal

Mr. D. D. McKENZIE.

I am sure no person should attempt to make cheap political capital out of this matter even if a mistake had been made in connection with the administration of justice. The hon. gentleman who has just spoken said that the blame if blame there be does not come within a thousand miles of the Department of Justice or the learned gentleman who is to-day at the head of that department. That is the statement he has made. But supposing there was something wrong, there is tiot contention that the Department of Justice is in the slightest way implicated. It is said that officials of the penitentiary in British Columbia should not be called upon to do anything towards the capture of this individual. Miner, until they had instructions from Ottawa. I think that is a very unfair assumption to make, and it is dangerous to have a report go abroad from this House, that all we expect officials to do is to sit down and do nothing until directed from Ottawa. I take it that very much the same relationship exists between the Minister of Justice and the officials of the penitentiary as exist between the Attorney General of a province and the jailer or sheriff of a county. What would you think of a jailer or sheriff of. any county in Ontario who would sit down and twirl his thumbs if a prisoner es caped from a jail until he heard from the Utorney General of Ontario or got his directions ? We have a right to suppose that every penitentiary is well equipped with officers and that they have men to act in emergencies. Why should there be any necessity for communicating with Ottawa in order to capture this man? There were officers on the spot whose duty it was to take immediate action, and the officials of the penitentiary had at their beck and call all the resources of the government of British Columbia, who are interested equally with the government of Canada in the administration of justice. Therefore there is no point in saying that some time may have elapsed between the sending of the telegram and its receipt here. I submit there is not a particle of evidence upon which to base a further inquiry. We on the government side, as far as I know, have nothing to conceal. If any gentleman has evidence of a reliable and substantial character to lay before the government or the Minister of Justice, let us have it.

And, after that is done, if the Minister of Justice will not act upon it, there is some ground for fault finding. But, until that is done, I submit, an investigation having been held, the department is satisfied, and the Hr use, I think, should be satisfied, too, that everything has been done to ferret out the truth, and this question should not be made a means of gaining party advantage. The hdn. member for South Cape Breton

l

(Mr. Maddin) declared that this should not be made a party question. He is a fairly regular attendant in this House, and knows how the party spirit was imported into the question. He knows that this was made a party question by his friend from New Westminster (Mr. J. D. Taylor) when the Solicitor General (Mr. Bureau) was putting his estimates through this House ten or twelve days ago. The hon. member from New Westminster knows that it is not a difficult matter to stir up party feeling in a body such as this House where the party lines are clearly marked. It is said that in the west there is a breezy honesty and sense of fair play. I am glad to know it. But I must say that I have not discovered any extreme measure of it in the hon. gentleman who has been bringing up this question from day to day. It is a well-known principle of British justice that no man may be attacked in our courts without giving him some notice of what is to be charged against him. I can tell my hon. friend from New Westminster that it is not fair to attack a man without giving him intimation so that he may have an opportunity to answer. We are told that the administration of justice outside this House must be extremely pure. I do not know that there is one kind of justice outside this House and another inside this House. I submit that if the reputation of a man is valuable outside this House, it is equally worthy of defence here. I submit also that if a man would be laughed out of court for presenting a case based upon an old newspaper and on a humdrum story and using this means to taking away the reputation of another man, he should be all the more laughed out of this House when he attacks the reputation of a minister of the Crown and a department of government on such evidence. The hon. member for South Cape Breton said that if a matter of this kind arose in England in connection with the Department of Justice, hon. gentlemen on both sides would get together and quiet1 inquire into the matter. We have strong men on both sides of this House. We have a competent lawyer leading the opposition, and we have a competent Minister of Justice. There should be no difficulty, according to the rule laid down by my hon. friend, for these two gentlemen to get together and quietly discuss this matter and find out if there is anything to investigate. I am sure that if the leader of the opposition would, in this quiet way, convince the Minister of Justice that there was something wrong, there would be no difficulty in getting an inquiry. But I submit, without impugning the motives of any person, that this would not suit the purpose at all. This could not get flaring headlines in the papers of Nova Scotia; we could not have the Jekyll and Hyde act in the newspapers and in this House if this quiet way were adopted. It suits the purpose very much better to carry

on the talk that we have heard. We have not been allowed to wait even until the papers come down. If the papers were down and we had the facts before us, possibly it would be [found that there was nothing to talk about. The great thing is to make a great hullabaloo about the matter and work up a lot of newspaper notoriety, get the matter before the public regardless of considerations of fairness; and hoping it will have some injurious effect upon the administration of justice and upon this government generally. My hon. friend from South Cape Breton knows very well the trick of the jury lawyer who tells his story to the judge: 'I want to prove so and so; I want to get in such and such evidence.' He knows that the judge will tell him that he cannot get in that evidence, but his object in telling the story is that the jury may hear it, and, no matter whether the judge admits it or not, the story will have more or less effect upon the minds of the men in the jury box. That is the scheme of these gentlemen-to get this story before the public right or wrong,- truth or falsehood does not make so much difference, so long as the story may have some effect on the jury and make a little cheap political capital.

Topic:   SUPPLY-ESCAPE OF CONVICT BILL MINER.
Subtopic:   AN INQUIRY MUST BE HAD.
Permalink
CON

Glenlyon Campbell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GLEN CAMPBELL (Dauphin).

Unfortunately I am not a lawyer, as are many of the gentlemen who have discussed this question, but, as this is a question relating to the west, I may be forgiven if I say a few words upon it. I shall not take up time in discussing the legal points involved. But, in fairness to the hon. member from New Westminster, I take exception publicly to the usage that the hon. gentleman (Mr. J. D. Taylor) received at the hands of the Minister of Justice (Mr. Aylesworth). The Minister of Justice arraigned the hon. member for New Westminster on the strength of some articles that appeared in a paper published in British Columbia. The hon. member for New Westminster rose in his place and corrected the minister, yet the Minister of Justice did not have the'justice to acknowledge

'decency' is the word suggested by a friend beside me, did not have the decency to acknowledge-the fact that he had made a mistake. An apology was due from the Minister of Justice to my hon. friend from New Westminster. But the minister did not offer it. I hope the hon. minister will think again, and, later on, will tender to the hon. member for New Westminster the apology he owes him. The right hon. First Minister (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) took it upon himself also to reprimand the hon. member for New Westminster. It was a reprimand worded as such a reprimand can be worded by only one man in this House-the Prime Minister himself-in the most courteous terms possible. It showed the steel hand in the

velvet glove. But even such a reprimand was not due from the First Minister of the great Dominion to a new member of this House. The First Minister accused the hon. member of discourtesy to one of the ministers in not officially notifying him that this discussion would be brought up. He left the impression that a rule of the House had been broken by my hon. friend from New Westminster (Mr. Taylor). I want to tell him and to tell this House through you, that no rule of this House was broken, there is no rule of ^ that _ kind. If the First Minister wants to shield himself by any supposed rule of that kind, let him amend the rules of the House and provide that when a discussion of this kind comes on notification must be given. There was no notification necessary, because the last few weeks this matter has been a live question in the House. It was brought before the Solicitor General on the 11th of JFebru-ary last, and he showed on that occasion that there was one Bureau at least in the government of Canada where one could apply for information and not get it. Therefore I say the question is not new, it was something that the Department of Justice already had in hand. A motion had been passed by this House at the instance of the hon. member for New Westminster, calling for the papers pertaining to this inquiry to be laid on the table. That motion was passed over two weeks ago, and yet the Solicitor General to-night stated, through the mouth of the hon. member for Pictou (Mr. Macdonald) that there was no motion for papers. Why, Sir, he cannot be attending to his business, because it is his duty as Solicitor General to prepare those papers when they are asked for by the House.

I was somewhat surprised to hear the defence which the hon. member for Pictou made of the Minister of Justice. He told this House that the Minister of Justice was the greatest lawyer in Canada, the finest lawyer in Canada. Well, Sir, if beclouding the real facts of the case by a display of verbosity constitutes a great lawyer, then I want to tell the hon. member for Pictou that I absolutely agree with him; but if that is the duty of the greatest and finest lawyer in Canada, I have only to say that thanks be, I am only an old farmer. The hon. member for Pictou found fault with the members on this side of the House discussing this great issue before the papers that were called for had been brought down. I suppose he acts on the old axiom that the exception proves the rule, and therefore he went to work to discuss the question himself. But in his discussion of the question he showed, I think, in the opinion, not only of the members on this side of the House, but in the opinion of the members on the other side, that if any man in the House had no right to get up and discuss this question it was the hon. mem-Mr. CAMPBELL.

ber for Pictou himself, because he showed absolute ignorance of it. Let me point out to that hon. gentleman that in future when he desires to, discuss a question that is brought up in this House, it would be well for him to be in his place looking after the interests of his constituents, instead of running round the country doing all the mischief he can. The very fact that the hon. member for Pictou was called upon to deliver the speech he did to-night shows conclusively that he was called in as a forlorn hope. He has always been called upon as the leader of a forlorn hope, in committees and everywhere else, the last two sessions.

I hope this House will take his remarks at their true value, and take that particular matter into its consideration.

I do not intend to speak at length on this question, as it is one relating to a criminal matter that is foreign to me. My only object in rising is to pour oil on the troubled waters. The facts, as I understand them, are these: This man Miner was captured, tried and sentenced to the penitentiary for life, for one of the gravest crimes that had ever been perpetrated in Canada. After being incarcerated for a certain length of time, he escaped. An investigation was held, and as a result of that investigation, one of the minor officials was fired, or perhaps I should say suspended, for since then he has been taken back to work. Another man, as the hon. member for Pictou improperly said, was suspended, or was asked to send in his resignation. I said ' improperly,' and I use the word advisedly. This man was not asked to send in his resignation, he sent it in of his own accord. He asks for superannuation and gets it. Nobody has been punished, among the officials of the penitentiary at New Westminster, for inefficiency and neglect of duty. Nobody in this country, whether Liberal or Conservative, doubts for one moment but that some one was to blame. If any member of this House, in the conduct of his private business, finds an employee to blame, he punishes that individual. It is up to the government, it is up to the Department of Justice, to punish some one in regard to this matter, because the worst criminal that Canada has had in the clutches of the law for the last decade, has escaped, and nobody has been punished. The government supporters are handing put boquets to every official who could be biamed. The man who -was in charge, this man Bourke, was allowed to resign and got his full pension; the government did for him all that it could do to any man who had performed his duty with the utmost fidelity. _ _

Now what are we asking on this side of the House, and what every decent man in Canada ought to be asking is: that the truth shall be made known. An investigation was held and held by an official who

is the object of a certain degree of public suspicion, who held the investigation himself, who tried his own case and who was practically his own judge and jury. That investigation has resulted in nothing, looking at it from the standpoint of justice. Certain things have come out since. There are rumours possibly but there never was smoke without fire. Certain rumours have come out. There is more perhaps than mere rumour. The deputy warden, who was allowed to retire and who was superannuated as if he were the finest official in the service of the government, has come out in different papers over his own name with a specific statement, amounting almost to a charge, to the effect that if he were brought before an impartial tribunal he would give evidence which has never been adduced and would do something to clear the atmosphere in this regard. It has been proved that the hole in or under the wall, through which this man Miner was supposed to have escaped, would not have accommodated a man of his size, and that it was absolutely impossible for him to have made his escape in that way. It has come out further that this man Miner has been permitted against the law, that is administered by the Minister of Justice, to grow a moustache-somebody said whiskers-and also hair to the length of three-quarters of an inch in a limited time. Three-quarters of an inch is a respectable growth of hair particularly on the top of the head, and I will submit to the judgment of the hon. Solicitor General upon that point.

Topic:   SUPPLY-ESCAPE OF CONVICT BILL MINER.
Subtopic:   AN INQUIRY MUST BE HAD.
Permalink
LIB

Jacques Bureau (Solicitor General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. BUREAU.

What about the Minister of Justice?

Topic:   SUPPLY-ESCAPE OF CONVICT BILL MINER.
Subtopic:   AN INQUIRY MUST BE HAD.
Permalink
CON

Glenlyon Campbell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAMPBELL.

I would tell my hon. friend that in my youth I was taught to respect gray hairs and even if the gray hairs are not on the top of the head I still have to respect the hon. Minister of Justice, and therefore I shall not refer to them. But those are facts that have been brought out since this so-called investigation was held. On this side of the House we take no exception to what was brought out at that previous investigation, but what we say is that the points that I have brought forward were not disclosed at that investigation and that all western Canada, and British Columbia particularly, believes that there was some collusion or that the intervention of influential corporations or parties, led to the letting out of this man Miner. These points have been brought' out, but they were not brought out at the investigation, and we ask the government to give us an investigation, or some kind of independent tribunal, that' will go into these matters and see whether or not there is any truth in them. On behalf of the government themselves I appeal to them to adopt this course. I want to tell the right hon.

Prime Minister (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) that the suspicion is all over Canada to-day that there is something crooked in this matter, and on behalf of the Canadian people and also on behalf of the great Liberal party, it is up to him to insist on having a free, independent tribunal that will bring Bourke before them and will not only bring Bourke before them but will bring one of these three convicts who escaped along with Miner and who has since been recaptured, as I heard it stated in the House, and who will give evidence to show how he got out and whether there was any collusion. We only ask it in the spirit of fair play. We only ask it to clear and not to damn the fair name of the Minister of Justice. We want the minister to have his name as clean as it ought to be and as I believe it would be did he give us this investigation. I have here, sir, if it will be any benefit' to the House, a picture of Bill Miner. I understood the other night that the Solicitor General said that about a month ago they had news of the whereabouts of Bill Miner? Am I right?

Topic:   SUPPLY-ESCAPE OF CONVICT BILL MINER.
Subtopic:   AN INQUIRY MUST BE HAD.
Permalink
LIB

Jacques Bureau (Solicitor General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. BUREAU.

I beg your pardon.

Topic:   SUPPLY-ESCAPE OF CONVICT BILL MINER.
Subtopic:   AN INQUIRY MUST BE HAD.
Permalink
CON

Glenlyon Campbell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAMPBELL.

I understood the Solicitor General, on the 11th February, sitting on the front benches, to say that he had news of the whereabouts of Bill Miner and expected to get him in a few days. Has he anything further in reference to that to communicate to the House?

Topic:   SUPPLY-ESCAPE OF CONVICT BILL MINER.
Subtopic:   AN INQUIRY MUST BE HAD.
Permalink
LIB

Jacques Bureau (Solicitor General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. BUREAU.

I said I was informed that it was expected that they would capture him.

Topic:   SUPPLY-ESCAPE OF CONVICT BILL MINER.
Subtopic:   AN INQUIRY MUST BE HAD.
Permalink
CON

Glenlyon Campbell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAMPBELL.

In closing I just want' to make this appeal, and I want to make it to the right hon. First Minister. We are not speaking here to-night, we have not done so to-day or upon any other occasion when the matter came up, for partisan purposes. We are all Canadians, whether we be Liberals or Conservatives. There is a blot of suspicion on the fair name of Canada, with reference to the administration of justice. It is a little matter, a matter of very little moment with regard to the question of expense, it would not cost much to appoint a committee, or whatever you like to call it, an independent tribunal, who will investigate, who will bring this man Bourke, who will bring this prisoner who was taken the other day before them, get from them whatever information can be got and clear up this business for ever and a day. It is only justice that we are asking.

Motion .agreed to and House went into Committee of Supply.

Trent canal-Construction, $1,000,000.

Topic:   SUPPLY-ESCAPE OF CONVICT BILL MINER.
Subtopic:   AN INQUIRY MUST BE HAD.
Permalink
CON

Thomas George Wallace

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WALLACE.

As I understand it the appropriation for the work on the Holland river is included in this vote for the Trent

canal, although the former work has nothing to do with the Trent canal at all. 1 do not think those two votes should be put in a lump sum, but at all events we should have some information as to how much it is intended to expend on the Holland river.

Topic:   SUPPLY-ESCAPE OF CONVICT BILL MINER.
Subtopic:   AN INQUIRY MUST BE HAD.
Permalink
LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Hon. G. P. GRAHAM (Minister of Railways and Canals).

In including these twu votes in the one appropriation we are following the precedent of last year. We will spend about $200,000 on the Holland division. I have stated that it would cost $600,000 but I believe that it will cost much more than that before it is completed.

Topic:   SUPPLY-ESCAPE OF CONVICT BILL MINER.
Subtopic:   AN INQUIRY MUST BE HAD.
Permalink
CON

John Allister Currie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. A. CURRIE.

I do not want to delay the passing of the estimates, but this is going to be a contentious matter and as there are several returns on the Order Paper with respect to it which have not yet been disposed of I would ask that this vote be deferred.

Topic:   SUPPLY-ESCAPE OF CONVICT BILL MINER.
Subtopic:   AN INQUIRY MUST BE HAD.
Permalink
LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM.

I do not think there is any return asked for, but there is a question on the Order Paper with regard to it.

Topic:   SUPPLY-ESCAPE OF CONVICT BILL MINER.
Subtopic:   AN INQUIRY MUST BE HAD.
Permalink

March 2, 1909