April 15, 1915

LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

On the 26th of March I had the promise of the Prime Minister that court proceedings in these matters would be taken. I called the attention of the Prime Minister and of the House to the fact that these men could not go to court; if they could they would have done so long ago, but it is wholly in the hands of the Government to bring these matters to couTt. I had a telegram from Mr. Cannon yesterday saying that to his knowledge these men have not been paid nor have proceedings been taken. Is that so, or is it not so? I have no opportunity to speak except on this occasion, for the House is to close in a few minutes. I ask, not as a matter of courtesy but as a matter of justice to these men and women, that, if the 'Government will not pay their claims they should be at once submitted to the court. That was promised on the 26th of March, and it is now the 15th of April, and still no understanding with these people has been reached.

Topic:   THE PURCHASE OF WAR SUPPLIES.
Subtopic:   REPORT OP PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE.
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

This is a matter that

comes not under my department, hut under the department of a minister who is out of

the House at present. From what information I have, however, I believe that the summonses have been issued, but considering the time that it has been before the Department of Justice, the matter could not be in court yet.

Topic:   THE PURCHASE OF WAR SUPPLIES.
Subtopic:   REPORT OP PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE.
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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

I have received the following telegram from Mr. Cannon:

Telegram received. Kept In house through sickness since eight days. As far as I know, Valcartier clients have received neither money nor information.

As I have said, I must hurry, because [DOT]time is precious. I wish to refer to the last report of the Committee on Public Accounts, which recommends that a system of purchasing should be established. My right hon. friend, speaking on this subject this morning, turned towards the hon. member for Kingston (Mr. Nickle), who, I understand, is the author of that suggestion, and said that mm could not be made honest by legislation. That is very true, but legislation, if it cannot make men honest, certainly can minimize the effects of dishonesty, and that is all we can hope for. One of the last things we discussed during the last session of Parliament was the patronage list. I am free to say that all Governments since Confederation have had a patronage list1; it is an evil to which my Government has to plead guilty, in common with all Governments before my time. The Government of Sir John Macdonald and that of Mr. Mackenzie had patronage lists. If there ever was a time when the patronage list should be dispensed with, it is the present; if ever *a Government should dispense with a patronage ildst, the Government of the day should dispense with it. This Government should have said to all those who wanted to do business with it that there should be no political partisanship thought of and that orders would be given to the lowest tenderer. That has not been done.

Major Genera] HUGHES: Does the right hon. gentleman know that it has not been done? I challenge him to name a Liberal in the Dominion of Canada who was ever refused an opportunity to tender, if he was qualified to do so.

Topic:   THE PURCHASE OF WAR SUPPLIES.
Subtopic:   REPORT OP PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE.
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LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD:

He was never asked.

Topic:   THE PURCHASE OF WAR SUPPLIES.
Subtopic:   REPORT OP PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE.
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Major General HUGHES:

I beg the hon. gentleman's pardon. Caldwell of Lanark and fifty other Liberals are contractors today.

Topic:   THE PURCHASE OF WAR SUPPLIES.
Subtopic:   REPORT OP PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE.
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CON

William Humphrey Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. W. H. BENNETT:

Let me tell the hon. gentleman-

Topic:   THE PURCHASE OF WAR SUPPLIES.
Subtopic:   REPORT OP PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE.
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Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order.

Topic:   THE PURCHASE OF WAR SUPPLIES.
Subtopic:   REPORT OP PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE.
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LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD:

In my county, if a Grit doctor certifies to the physical condition of a man going to the war he is driven from the job, and a Tory is put in his place.

Topic:   THE PURCHASE OF WAR SUPPLIES.
Subtopic:   REPORT OP PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE.
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Major General HUGHES:

The hon. gentleman refers to men who are only country practitioners?

Topic:   THE PURCHASE OF WAR SUPPLIES.
Subtopic:   REPORT OP PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE.
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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

I accept the

correction of my hon. friend the Minister of Militia, who says that there is no patronage list in his department at the present time.

Topic:   THE PURCHASE OF WAR SUPPLIES.
Subtopic:   REPORT OP PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE.
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Major General HUGHES:

Not since the war began.

Topic:   THE PURCHASE OF WAR SUPPLIES.
Subtopic:   REPORT OP PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE.
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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

Whether or

not there has been no patronage list in his department since the war began, everything has been worse since the war began. This is the report made by the Public Accounts Committee the other day, which was unanimously agreed to:

In view of the evidence adduced during the course of their inquiry into the matters referred hy the House to them, your committee desire to draw the attention of the House to the requirement for the inauguration of a system of purchase, inspection and audit that will adequately protect the country from irregularities and frauds.

It is the opinion, therefore, of the Public Accounts Committee that the system which has prevailed in the Militia Department since the war began does not protect the country against irregularities and frauds. That is enough to serve the purpose of my argument. We should have *a new system; whether it should be established by legislation or not I do not know. At all events, the opinion of the committee was that something should be done. The Prime Minister stated this morning that in order to meet these views he was going to have a purchasing agent; he did not say whether the commission would consist of one person or of three persons. Whether it consists of one or of three may not he material, though I prefer three. We have the right to insist that henceforth in the Department of Militia all purchases of supplies shall be made by calling for tenders, and that no favours shall be extended to anybody. If we are to gain anything from this discussion or from the report of the committee, that is what we ought to insist upon. I promised my right hon. friend that in view of the work which have to do I would abridge my remarks, and I intend to do so. Of course, it will

be necessary for me to omit many material things which I would have dealt with.

Topic:   THE PURCHASE OF WAR SUPPLIES.
Subtopic:   REPORT OP PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE.
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CON

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

Let me tell my right hon. friend that there is considerable time; he need not abridge his remarks too much.

Topic:   THE PURCHASE OF WAR SUPPLIES.
Subtopic:   REPORT OP PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE.
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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

Very good.

If there is considerable time, there is one thing which I should like to discuss for a few minutes. There has been consider-ble talk of an election. I persist in the position that I have taken all along in regard to this matter. I have no opinion or suggestion to offer to the Government with regard to whether or not they should hold an election; that is their own business. We on this side of the House have endeavoured during the present session to forget as much as possible that we are party men.

Some hon MEMBERS: Oh, oh.

Topic:   THE PURCHASE OF WAR SUPPLIES.
Subtopic:   REPORT OP PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE.
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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

Do hon. gentlemen believe that if we had not tried to avoid party controversy during this session we should be within half an hour of prorogation at this moment? There are many subjects which should have been debated, but we did not debate them. There are many matters which we should like to discuss on this very occasion, but we refrain from doing so because, though we are party men, we believe and have believed all along that the one thing which should engross our attention at this time is tne war in which we are now engaged. I repeat that I offer no suggestion to the Government in regard to an election; that is their own concern. My hon friend the Minister of Public Works the other day gave as a reason for going to the country the fact that the Senate chose, not to reject, but simply to amend or vary, a resolution, of this House. Nothing cou! 1 be more flimsy than such a pretense as that. The Minister of Public Works said that the people were demanding dissolution in a voice of thunder because the Senate had dared to amend a resolution adopted unanimously by this House. But my hon. friend did not tell us that the resolution which we were then considering had been amended not only by the Opposition in the Senate, but by the Government as well. I was not aware of that at the time, but on looking over the proceedings of the Senate of March 31,1 find that Hon. Mr. Lougheed moved, seconded by Hon. Sir Mackenzie Bo well:

That the said message be further amended by adding to the first section of the suggested enactment the following subsection :

Nothing herein contained shall affect the powers of Parliament under the British North America Act, 1886.

Here were two amendments: one suggested by the Opposition and one by the leader of the Government in the Senate. One of these amendments is considered to be treason, but .as to the other no adverse criticism is offered. This shows that the Senate took a nobler and broader view of their duty than gentlemen on the other side of this House .are disposed to do. The Senate discarded my opinion, as they discarded the opinion of hon. gentlemen on the other side of the House, and the senators have shown an example of independence rather than of partisanship. But what does it matter? What do our little difficulties matter in the face of the great issues with which w.e are now confronted in the present war? We are party men, but under the present circumstances what we on this side of the House insist upon is that the troops who are going to the front to defend as noble a cause as ever engaged the attention of man, as noble a cause as any for which men have ever shed their blood, shall be as fully equipped as Canadian money and Canadian science can equip them, so that they shall discharge their duty in a manner worthy of their .ancestors, take their full share in the struggle, and bring back peace and glory in the triumphant folds of their flag.

Topic:   THE PURCHASE OF WAR SUPPLIES.
Subtopic:   REPORT OP PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE.
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Major General HUGHES:

Nothing would delight my heart more than to have a short time in which to assist in the digestion of the utterances of the right hon. the leader of the Opposition; but, as there is an arrangement between the two sides of the House and prorogation is at hand, I am compelled to reserve my utterances for the public platform. But let the right hon. leader of the Opposition rest assured that I .shalll have no hesitation in stepping into his own province on any platform he may choose, to discuss these questions on any and every occasion that he may select. I will select them if he does not.

Topic:   THE PURCHASE OF WAR SUPPLIES.
Subtopic:   REPORT OP PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE.
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LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

Will Colonel Allison be along?

Topic:   THE PURCHASE OF WAR SUPPLIES.
Subtopic:   REPORT OP PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE.
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Major General HUGHES:

And Flint will possibly have my hon. friend retained. I will not take up the time of the House, as there is an understanding to secure

prorogation, and if I got started it is very hard to tell when I would stop. I shall content myself with telling the right hon. leader of the Opposition that I will take every opportunity of discussing these matters on the public platform throughout the length and breadth of the country.

Topic:   THE PURCHASE OF WAR SUPPLIES.
Subtopic:   REPORT OP PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE.
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LIB

Jacques Bureau

Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

I hope to see you in Three Rivers.

Topic:   THE PURCHASE OF WAR SUPPLIES.
Subtopic:   REPORT OP PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE.
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Motion agreed to.


April 15, 1915