February 19, 1915

CON

John Douglas Hazen (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HAZEN:

If we find that we have not the power, we can ask for it later.

Amendment agreed to and motion as amended agreed to.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   FEBRUAR Z 19, 1915
Permalink

CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT.


Mr. JOHN H. SINCLAIR (Guysborough) moved the second reading of Bill No. 40, to amend the Criminal Code. He said: When introducing this Bill I took occasion to explain shortly its provisions. Perhaps the simplest way for me to proceed now would be to read the two clauses of the Bill. They are as follows: Every person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for two years, with or without' hard labour, or to a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars, or to both imprisonment and fine, who knowingly with intent to defraud, sells or delivers, or causes to be sold or delivered, to His Majesty or to any officer or servant of His Majesty, any defective military, militia or naval stores of any kind or description, whether such stores are for His Majesty in the right of His Government of Canada or in the right of any other of His Majesty's dominions, or who in any way commits any act of dishonesty, fraud, or deception upon His Majesty or any of His Majesty's officers or servants in connection with the sale or lease or purchase or delivery or manufacture of such military, militia or naval stores. If any offence referred to in this section is committed by a body corporate, every director and officer of such body corporate who has taken any part or share in such fraud, dishonesty or deception, or who knows or had reason to suspect that such fraud, dishonesty or deception would be committed, or knows or had reason to suspect that such fraud, dishonesty or deception has been committed, and does not at once inform His Majesty thereof, shall be liable to the penalties imposed by this section in all respects as if such offence was committed by said directors or officers themselves, and every such body corporate, director or officer convicted of such offence shall be thereafter incapablp of contracting with His Majesty or with any of His Majesty's officers or servants, or of holding any contract or office with, from or under him or them, or of receiving any benefit under any contract so made. The necessity for such a measure as this will, I think, be admitted by the Minister of Justice and by every member of the House. I was looking over the criminal law to ascertain whether we really had any provision for punishment of those who defraud the Government in the sale of military stores, and I was unable to find that Parliament had legislated on this question at any previous time. There is a-large number of provisions relating to military affairs; for example, we have imposed penalties for persuading soldiers to desert, for concealing a deserter, for attending a drill without lawful authority, for obliterating the marks on military stores, for being in possession of stores without lawful authority, for receiving clothing, etc., from a soldier or deserter. We have a large number of provisions in the code that relate to minor offences of that kind, but no provision that punishes a contractor who deliberately and with intention of fraud palms off shoddy goods on the Militia Department. We know that at a time like this, when there is great excitement and when everybody in the department is busy with matters of great importance, the dishonest man is also busy. It is his opportunity to get contracts, to supply articles that are not up to the standard, and in this way to deceive the Government, and so do far more damage to the public interest than could be done by men who might commit the minor offences to which I have referred; but at the same time no provision has been made for such cases. 1 do not know to what extent these things are carried on, but if we are to credit the press we must believe that they are carried on to some extent. The press of Great Britain has made reference to them. The London Times, even, has discussed the question of -the character of some of the supplies that have been furnished to the Canadian soldiers. I have seen frequent references in the press to this subject, and what startled me most was the reference of the Minister of Militia himself, who in Vancouver said that he would like to have authority to shoot the dishonest contractors who were imposing upon the Government in this way.


CON

John Douglas Hazen (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HAZEN:

Does the hon. gentleman propose shooting as a penalty under the Bill?

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT.
Sub-subtopic:   SALE OF MILITARY STORES.
Permalink
LIB

John Howard Sinclair

Liberal

Mr. SINCLAIR:

I do not. I propose two years' imprisonment, which is a much milder form of punishment; but it will be fqr the Minister of Marine, if he thinks the penalty is not severe enough, to ask the House to add to it.

In the Ottawa Evening Journal of the 12th of January reference is made to a letter from a prominent Canadian officer at Salisbury, whose name for obvious reasons is withheld, in the course of which he says:

Outside of certain discomforts, we get plenty, and all that money can buy, but I would ask you to appeal to the Government contractors with a view to touching their sense of honour. It seems to me that all they care about is to produce some kind of article that has appearance. They evidently do not stop to consider that these sons of Canada are roughing it for the specific purpose of fighting, and sacrificing their all In order to defend these same contractors' factories and personal liberty. The principal trouble has been in boots, and it is not fair to the soldier to allow these contractors to reap a harvest at his expense. An officer is in a position to purchase his own equipment, but the man behind the gun must take what he is served out with. Of course, there have been some good boots issued, which have been manufactured by a certain two firms, but the others are absolutely unserviceable after a few days' wear.

No later than yesterday morning I myself received a letter from a person who wished me to inform the inspector of military stores that shoddy blankets were being manufactured for the Government at Toronto. I do not know whether that is true or not, but the person who wrote me said it was true. I did not know who the inspector was or to whom I should go. It is well, I think, to have these contractors understand that while they may be able to deceive the department and sell them shoddy and useless stuff for the present, there is a day of reckoning ahead, that these things generally come out; and, that when fraud is discovered they will be liable to criminal prosecution. I think that such a provision would deter many people from undertaking a crime of that kind. All the money that we spend should be well spent at a time like this. Money, as we all know, 20

is the sinews^of war. The Finance Minister has his own troubles in securing enough cash to carry on our share of this dreadful conflict, and every dollar should be used to the very best advantage. Everybody remembers the scandals in Europe at the' time of the Crimean war. The soldiers suffered in the trenches before Sebastopol because defective clothing, blankets and boots were furnished to them by worthless contractors in Great Britain, who were reaping a rich harvest from contracts. The facts all came out later on. People ought to be punished for a crime of this character in connection with military affairs. The German spy who secures information for his government and is paid for it suffers death; but he is a gentleman compared with the Canadian contractor who, when his country is engaged in such a desperate struggle as the present, when the life and the future of the Empire and of civilization are at stake, plots and schemes to defraud the Government by selling shoddy blankets or boots, or a spavined horse, or something of that kind.

I think that no penalty is too severe for men who do these things, and I hope the Minister of Justice will aid me in placing either this provision or a provision of this ' kind on the Canadian statute-book.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT.
Sub-subtopic:   SALE OF MILITARY STORES.
Permalink
CON

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. C. J. DOHERTY (Minister of Justice):

I do not think many of us will hesitate in agreeing that persons guilty of offences such as those referred to by the hon. member should be condignly punished.

I have great deference for the,hon. gentleman's statement that he has not been able to find in the existing criminal law any provision that will cover the cases he suggested. Inasmuch as he has carefully gone into it, I have some hesitation in suggesting that there may be some provision to cover such a case as he speaks of. It seems to me surprising that there should not be some such provision. If there be any doubt upon that, under the method I propose to suggest we shall be able to make it quite clear. For the reasons I gave last evening with regard to the Bill introduced by the hon. member for Saskatoon (Mr. McCraney), I propose to move that this Bill be referred to the committee which, in accordance with what was said last evening, is to be constituted to take in to consideration suggested amendments to the Criminal Code. I suggested last evening the reasons that led us to the conclusion that it was desirable to proceed in that way.

I am quite willing, therefore, having it

4

understood that by doing this we are not necessarily accepting the principle of the Bill, to have the Bill go to a further reading, and then I will move that it be referred to the committee I have just mentioned.

Motion agreed to and Bill read the second time.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT.
Sub-subtopic:   SALE OF MILITARY STORES.
Permalink
CON

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

I understand

that we have gone through the entire order paper, and would move that the House adjourn.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT.
Sub-subtopic:   SALE OF MILITARY STORES.
Permalink

Motion agreed to, and the House adjourned at 4.56 p.m. Monday, February 22, 1915.


February 19, 1915