July 19, 1917

CON

John Hampden Burnham

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BURNHAM:

I am not aware that it is different from that for the men. In many eases it has happened that officers, well up, good men in good health, have got away to the front and have done nobly. Their eagerness has excused (their age. Other officers, whether non-combatants or otherwise, who have been most willing and determined to go to the front, did not get to the front because of being beyond military age. Other officers again, who did not want .to go to the front, did not get to the front, but remained in Canada, and those men are occupying preferential positions to which they are not entitled.

I am prepared to excuse, and I am sure all hon. members will excuse, the Administration in this regard, because no remedy is provided. I am bringing the subject up in ordeT that this House which, so far as I am aware, is theonly authority which can provide a remedy may provide one. This means more or less the adoption of an amendment to the Army Act which, as hon. members are aware, is adopted every year by Parliament in order to incorporate it in the law, since no longer is there a standing army in England or in the British Empire. The condition of affairs I have described has caused great and perennial scandal. Here are men and officers who know full well they will not be available, but they are occupying positions, whether as noncommissioned officers or as commissioned officers, drawing good fat pay which they could not get in other callings and blocking the way so that other men cannot rise to those positions. There are numerous cases of men who should be brought back from the front and put into those positions that are occupied by men in Canada who are not entitled to them, and who know full well they are not entitled to them. They

may be high up, but they do not intend to go to the front. They will plead their age just as soon as it suits them and as soon as they require a stop-gap, but in the meantime they are floating about, and they are doing this country and this Government a great wrong. I have many times thought of bringing up this subject, and I hoped some one else would bring it up in the House; but since this military legislation is about to pass, I do not think it would be excusable longer to delay in bringing this matter to the attention of the House; nor do I think it would be excusable, after this legislation has passed, to bring it up again. Nothing is so much antagonizing the young men of the community and, indeed, the people generally, as seeing those men taking pet positions who have no intention of going to the front. I beg the Government to put a stop to this condition of affairs in the interest of recruiting and of the country.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I think the motion passed to reconsider section 6. 'That being the case, I am pleased to accept the amendment moved by the. leader of the Opposition (Sir Wilfrid Laurier), I have worded it slightly differently, and perhaps it would be better if I made a motion amending the section. I, therefore, beg to move:

That the following be inserted as clause (5) of section 6, and that the present clauses (5) and (6) be numbered (6) and (7) respectively :-

(5) Each member of a local tribunal shall unless he be a judge make oath or affirmation that he will faithfully and impartially perform his duties as such member. Such oath or affirmation may be made before a judge, a justice of the peace, a commissioner for taking affidavits or before such other person as in any special case the minister may direct.

There is no change at all except in the last part of the sentence. It has occurred to me that there may be remote places where it would be a great inconvenience to compel the parties to travel to any of the officials named, and consequently, it was felt better that the minister m such case might direct some one else, such as the mayor or reeve of the town or village, to administer the oath. In this regard I may direct the attention of the committee to section 12 which provides that the Governor in Council may by regulation prescribe forms for the keeping of records. Consequently, it will doubtless be provided by regulation that a definite form will be sent to each tribunal, and also that a record of the oaths so made shall be kept. Amendment agreed to.

Section 6 as amended agreed to.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

I desire to draw the attention of the House to section 16, as I propose offering certain amendments thereto for which I think there are very good reasons. This section provides penalties for interference with the work under the Act. Subsection. 3 says that any newspaper, book, periodical, pamphlet, or printed publication containing matter prohibited by subsection 2 may be summarily suppressed.

A newspaper, which is a business organization, and which involves a large investment of capital in many cases, is in a very different position from a book or pamphlet. The suppression of a book or pamphlet because of its containing objectionable matter merely destroys the investment made in the production of the bo6k or pamphlet, but the suppression of a newspaper or periodical amounts to the confiscation of the established business of that newspaper or periodical. I submit the conditions are so different between the newspaper and the book that they should not be placed in the same category as to suppression. While I do not think there is good or sufficient reason for the presence of this provision in the Act, still as the Government in its wisdom has decided to include it, I suggest as an amendment that instead of the business of the newspaper being summarily confiscated by suppression because it has been found to contain objectionable matter, the single issue of the newspaper or the periodical containing the objectionable matter might fairly be placed on the same level V book or. pamphlet, and the single issue of the newspaper or periodical might be suppressed summarily, as is provided in the section. The newspaper property should not be destroyed until after the owners have been given fair opportunity to argue their case and to bring whatever evidence they may see fit in support of their position, or in protection of their interests, just the same as any citizen is entitled to do in the protection of his personal liberty against the provisions of this section.

I move, seconded by Mr. Graham, that section No. 16 be reconsidered.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
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Motion agreed to.


LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

I move, seconded by Mr. Graham:

That section 16 he amended by striking out subsection 3 and substituting the following: "Any issue, edition, or number of any newspaper, periodical, book, pamphlet or printed publication containing matter prohibited by subsection 2 of this section, may be summarily suppressed, and further printing or publication of the said matter in any future issue of any newspaper, periodical, book,

pamphlet, or printed publication, may be prohibited for any term not exceeding the duration of the present war, provided no action shall be taken under this subsection or under subsection 2 of this section without the approval of the Central Appeal Judge.

That replaces subsection 3 as it stands now, and provides only for the suppression of the single edition or issue of the paper or periodical. Then I would add, as subsection 4:

Any newspaper or periodical containing matter prohibited by subsection 2 of this section shall be deemed to be. a person within the meaning of said subsection 2, and shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable upon indictment before a Superior Court of the province in which the newspaper or periodical is published to be summarily suppressed by order of the presiding judge, and further printing and publication thereof may by such judge be prohibited for any term not exceeding the duration of the present war; provided that the editor, manager, or such other person as may be so designated by the owner or owners thereof shall be deemed by the judge to represent in person such newspaper ,or periodical in any proceedings that may be taken under this subsection.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I am sorry my hon. friend (Mr. Oliver) did not give me notice of so important an amendment as this- an amendment involving consideration line by line. Subject to my inability to grasp the full effect of the amendment exactly, arising the moment he sits down, I would say that the amendment to clause 3 provides only for the suppression of the single issue which contains matter prescribed by the previous clause. I cannot see any value at all in the suppression of an issue of a newspaper after the contents of that newspaper have reached the Central Appeal Judge, because when the contents have reached the Central Appeal Judge and he has been able to come to a decision, the matter has reached everybody else in the country, and all the harm is done, and the newspaper would not care a fig whether you suppressed that issue or not. Under this amendment one might suppress until one was tired, and it would not do any good.

Then the amendment provides that the same matter which was objectionable in one issue must not be published in a future issue. I should not think it would be. Newspapers do not publish the same thing over and over again.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
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LIB
LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

May I suggest that this relates to the publication of the objectionable matter by any other newspaper.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

But, that is forbidden anyway. What is the good of forbidding it

over again. Previous sections forbid the publication of the objectionable matter even by the first newspaper. Consequently, it is forbidden to the second newspaper or the third. It is repeating what the Act says before. It provides that thb same matter stiall not be published by any other newspaper or by the first offending newspaper. As far as it affects the other newspapers, such forbidden matter is already forbidden, and more language is merely surplusage. In so far a"s it affects the first offending newspaper, there would be no object in publishing the same thing over again. They would change the verbiage, but the effect would be the same, and they would pursue their course unmolested. As soon as their newspaper gets into the hands of their readers it is like snow in May, it is gone, the work is done, and suppression after the first offence is a purely futile punishment.

Now, as to clause 4; it says that once a newspaper commits this offence and publishes this objectionable matter, that newspaper is subject to prosecution just as a person is subject to prosecution under the previous section, and is liable to such punishment as befits a corporation or company. If the first clause were to remain, and if we were to adopt the futile methods which that clause prescribed, the second might be of some value rather than having nothing at all. But, inasmuch as in my judgment the first clause cannot remain, and we must retain the power of suppression or retain no effective power at all, then, of course, the fourth clause is of no value. So long as we have the power of suppression, there is no value in proceeding against the newspaper publishers as a company or as a newspaper. The power of suppression is quite sufficient. We have to retain that power of suppression or we have no power that is of any value for such a purpose at all. Let me draw attention to this fact: right up to this date, and ever since the war began, or since shortly after the war began, we as a Government have been empowered under the War Measures Act to take the proceedings which we ask to be authorized to take in this particular case. Under the War Measures Act, we have been authorized by Parliament to do that all along. Acting under the authority of the War Measures Act, we -have passed an Order in Council that enables a minister of the Crown, that enables the chief censor, on the authority of the Secretary of State and the Minister of Justice, to suppress a newspaper which contains matter in vio-

lation of that particular Order in Council. We have had that power all along, and we have had it unrestrained by any provision requiring us to obtain the approval of any central appeal judge or of a judge at all. Parliament felt at the opening of the war that that trial was necessary, and gave it to the Governor in Council. The Governor in Council passed an Order in Council enabling the Minister of Justice [DOT]and the Secretary of State to do this. Up to the present day no one has unjustly suffered and there has been no restraint. Unless we proceed by suppression we cannot proceed effectively because if we must proceed through the courts, a newspaper might conduct its objectionable campaign until the whole purpose of the Act, in so far as it was in its power, was defeated. Then, perhaps, we might get -a decision of the court. It is an ineffective remedy as applied to this particular violation of law. If we are going to. suppress this particular violation of law the remedy must fit the offence. It will, of course, be exercised most sparingly. Any power exercised under the Order in Council up to this date a regards these matters has been exercised very sparingly, every hon. gentleman will admit. The power will be exercised under the most definite restraint that a judge of the Supreme Court must first approve of its exercise, and I think Parliament may rely upon it, and it does rely upon it, that no iudge of the Supreme Court will harshly, hastily or without sufficient reason, suppress any newspaper in this country and thus bring great loss upon its owners. I think the protections, are sufficient. Experience has shown they are sufficient, and the essential features of the case show that the power is necessary.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
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LIB

George Perry Graham

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

People always feel more secure if they have m their defence a statute rather than the protection of even an honest and painstaking Government. If they have a law on the statute book which says they are protected by certain action that must be taken, they feel a little more secure even if taking of the action is altogether left to the discretion of the Government.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
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CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

It is not left in this case

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
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LIB

George Perry Graham

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

My hon. friend the Solicitor General points out that to suppress the issue of a newspaper would be no punishment, as the barm had been done. That is very true in a large measure, but the

same argument applies in a certain degree to the suppression of a book.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

A book is a more permanent form of literature.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Permalink
CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

The difference

is very plain. The newspaper is read every day and the reading of a book may extend over months or years.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
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LIB

George Perry Graham

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

I said in a certain degree. The contents of the Tbook aTe not known until the book is circulated quite freely. The suppression of the book does not recall the harm that is done; it only provides against the harm being continued in the future. As far as the suppression of a book is concerned, m the first instance, no good accrues because the damage has been done, just as in the case of the newspaper in a measure. My hon. friend from Edmonton (Mr. Oliver) yesterday called attention to a certain book that had been suppressed. Every member of this House had a copy in his possession. As far as influencing members of Parliament is concerned, that seems to have been one of the objects, the harm had been done and the suppression of the book did not cure that harm. As far as the issue of this book was concerned, the suppression was no punishment at .all to the publishers. May I make the practical suggestion to the Solicitor General that in case a paper offends the issue offending be suppressed, and if the paper offends again between the time of the publication of its issue and the time of the trial before the judge, the censor would have the power of suppressing the paper altogether. That would be a medium course to take and the cause of the war would not have been prejudiced, because between the time of the publication of the first issue and the trial by the. judge, this paper would be precluded altogether from publishing, anything else of the same nature. I make that suggestion to the Solicitor General as a way out of the difficulty with full protection, I believe, to all parties. It is a little stringent to say that the goodwill in the entire business may be confiscated for the mistake of some individual on the staff, perhaps without the knowledge of the proprietor at all. It does seem a little harsh that the censor should have the arbitrary power t6 confiscate all the property.

Suppose that a farmer or any other citizen issued a .seditious circular or made a seditious speech, would he not think it harsh that the censor should have the right

not only to punish him for the speech but to confiscate his farm or other property as well? All the property the newspaper publisher has1-and the great majority have not full equity in that-is found in his newspaper plant, and under this Act he can be punished individually for what he says in his paper, and his entire property can be confiscated. Great offences require drastic remedies I admit, but in this case I think it is not unfair to say that suppression should not take place until the newspaper and the proprietor of that newspaper have had an opportunity to have a trial before a judge to see whether the matter complained of is seditious or not. The suggestion I make to the Solicitor General is, I think, not unreasonable, that the issue in which the seditious matter is found shall be suppressed and the newspaper restrained from publishing any seditious matter between the time of the first publication and the time of the trial before the judge. It strikes me that every interest would be protected if that could be done.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

The suggestion of the hon. member is not at all open to the same objection as the former one. At the same time, it would hardly be an improvement. It really amounts to this, that the first offence goes unpunished, and only after a second can punishment be imposed. There is no such thing as suppressing an individual issue of a newspaper.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Permalink
LIB

George Perry Graham

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

My hon. friend says it goes unpunished. But if it is proved before the trial judge that the article did properly come under the ban, the law takes its course.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Permalink
CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

That fuiure punishment remains under the Bill. But, in so far as effective action is concerned, it goes unpunished, because suppression is purely nominal as applied to a single issue. You simply cannot suppress a single issue. There would arise cases where it would be proper to warn a newspaper, and I do not think there has been one case where a newspaper has been proceeded against without previous warning. Often there have been repeated warnings, and that will undoubtedly continue to be the practice. It is quite conceivable that a case might arise of brazen, flagrant ' defiance of the whole Military Service Act, when the punishment provided in the Act should be properly applied. It would not be applied except in such cases. I do- not think it is fair to ask that the hands of the Government be tied in this regard, and that the

paper should be permitted to flagrantly, openly and defiantly declare its intention of violating this Act consistently, the -Government's only power being to say: Well, you have done it now, we invite you to do it once more. The amendment would leave the Government practically helpless in the face of such a situation.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
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LIB

George Perry Graham

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

My hon. friend forgets

his old friend " su'b judiee " in this matter.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
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CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

No, we have the judex there.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917.
Permalink

July 19, 1917