July 20, 1917

LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

The letter concludes as follows:

But if by any possibility he does get it then we need the evidence to meet him here.

I presume the evidence will not be available in printed form for some time. If he gets a copy I hope you will see that several copies are made at the same time and that we get one or two here.

I have not seen full report but what I have seen is pretty straight goods.

Tours very truly,

(Sgd.) G. E. Foster.

That is the letter written by my highhanded friend the Minister of Trade and Commerce. When the matter came before the House it was on a motion made by my hon. friend, my Christian friend, the present Minister of Labour (Mr. Crothers). He brought the matter before the House, and if any hon. gentleman has the curiosity to read what took place, I would refer him to Hansard of 1909, at page 5645, and so far as my reply is concerned, concluding upon page 5755. I assure the House that I am not going to read the hundredth part of what took place on that occasion. My hon. friend the present Minister of Labour (Mr. Crothers) proceeded to remark that this report had been made, and it seriouisly reflected upon me, and at page 5655, referring to the evidence which was then under consideration by the present Minister of Labour, I made these remarks:

Mr. Pugsley: I wish to correct the statement of my hon. friend. I was not the managing director of the company.

Mr. Crothers: I am simply making my

observations based upon the judgment of this court.

Mr. Pugsley: My hon. friend must pardon

me. I say that there is nothing whatever in the evidence which would justify a statement of that kind, and the statement is absolutely untrue.

Mr. Crothers: I am not here for the purpose of discussing the evidence in this case.

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Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

Mr. Crothers: Mr. Speaker, I do not propose to discuss the evidence in the case.

Mr. Pugsley: I am not surprised at that.

Mr. Crothers: I am here standing on the judgment of a court.

Mr. Pugsley: If my hon. friend can find anything in the evidence which will justify some of the statements in the report, I shall be greatly obliged if he will refer to them.

Mr. Crothers: As I said a moment ago, I am not here for the purpose of discussing the evidence in this case. I am standing on the judgment of a court.

Further on he said:

Mr. Crothers: I submit, Mr. Speaker, in accordance with well established practice in English speaking communities, that the first thing for the hon. the Minister of Public Works to have done, when that judgment- was pronounced against him by a court so constituted, was to step aside and resign his position as Minister of Public Works.

Now you sbe by that, Mr. Speaker, that leaders of the Conservative party at that time were seeking to drive me from the Government, without any opportunity of discussing the evidence, or having this

House pronounce upon the evidence. I, desire to say, Sir, that I appreciate to the fullest extent the desire of my hon. friend the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Rogers) that he shou.ld not be condemned upon the judgment of Mr. Justice Galt, without some opportunity being afforded, either to this Parliament or to a committee of this Parliament to review and to consider the evidence upon which that report is founded. That is the right of the present Minister of Public Works. He has a right to demand'-[DOT]

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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

The hon. member is surely exceeding his right. He must confine himself to a denial of the matters complained of, but I shall not be unduly restrictive. - '

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LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

I will endeavour to do so. What I say is that the Prime Minister gave to this House the impression that my leader and I were seeking to prevent an examination of the evidence.

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LIB
LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

That is what he told this House, and I see the report in Hansard puts it beyond the shadow of a doubt that the hon. gentleman was mistaken in that assertion.

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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:

Which assertion?

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LIB
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LIB

'JO, 1917


without an opportunity to go fully into the evidence and form my [DOT] wn judgment with regard tp it.


CON
LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

I am free to say that,

I do not hesitate to say it. Perhaps it was because my experience was so painful that I entertain .strong views upon it. The only safe thing to do is to look to the evidence and see whether it forms a proper foundation for the report and, as I said, when we came to the examination of this report and evidence, I was able to show that in twenty important particulars there was not a shadow of evidence to support the findings.

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Sir SAM HUGHES:

Does my hon. friend refer to the commissioners in his particular case, or commissioners in general?

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LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

My hun. friend, I trust, will be able to draw a reasonable and proper conclusion from what I have said.

I have had a sorry experience. Whether all commissioners might act in the same way I would not say but, if there is danger that they might, the only safe thing in my judgment is to have the evidence and to investigate the whole matter before the high court of Parliament, or before a committee of Parliament, or in some other way. There is no appeal from the court; it is not a judgment in the sense in which the Minister of Labour. sought to put forward that it was a judgment, and it seems to me that this Parliament would have the right and would be the proper tribunal to investigate the evidence as was done in 1909, a fact which my right hon. friend must have forgotten when he made the statement which he did. He must have forgotten that the evidence was fully gone into in this Parliament in 1909 with the full consent of my right hon. friend and leader and entirely with .my approval, and against the suggestion of the Speaker that it was hardly the proper time to take up the matter or to enter into the motion proposed by the Minister of Labour.

When the Prime Minister states that I referred to the Hon. Mr. Justice Landry in infinitely stronger language than the Minister of Public Works reflected on Mr. Justice Galt, my right hon. friend is wrong. The reflection that I made upon that occasion was upon the report, not upon the individuals. I took up the report, and from the fact that it disregarded the evidence in many particulars, from the fact that it was absolutely contrary to the evidence in many particulars, I argued that it showed

partisanship; it showed a reckless disregard for the truth; it bore upon its face evidence of a determination to drive me from public life if it were possible to do so. The strongest language which I used-and I had a right to use it, just as every litigant who has a case before a court has a right to criticise in very strong language the judgment if it is absolutely contrary to the evidence, or if it ignores the evidence.

Of course, it is one thing to characterize a report as unsupported by evidence and as evidently showing a lack of desire to get at the truth, and it is quite a different thing to criticise the judge individually. The strongest language which I used will be found on Hansard, page 5700. That is the only one of the twenty instances in respect to which the report was false with which I desire to trouble the House. That had reference to a matter of the greatest possible consequence. It had reference to the guarantee by the province of $250,000 of bonds for the New Brunswick Railway Company. By the statute power was given to guarantee on behalf of the province these bonds as each section of the railway, if I remember rightly, was completed. The Royal Trust Company were the trustees for the bondholders. The bonds were deposited with the trust company of which Mr. Shad-bolt was manager, and from time to time, as the company became entitled to have them guaranteed, the secretary would endorse the guaranty upon the bonds. Up to a certain period there were $111,500 of bonds guaranteed for which there was provision by Act of the Legislature. These commissioners made a report-and this is what I referred , to in very strong language on Hansard, page 5700-that it was conclusively proved that $250,000 of these bonds had been guaranteed by the province without any legislative authority.

If that had been done every man connected with the provincial government, myself included, was liable to criminal prosecution and might have been sent to the penitentiary. It was of the most serious character. Yet that report was absolutely contrary to the evidence. Those commissioners say in their report it was conclusively proved that this guarantee h.ad -been made. Surely characterizing that part of the report as false, and characterizing it as made with a reckless disregard of the truth, was not making a charge against the commissioners any stronger than that which my hon. friend the Minister of Public Works (Hon. Robert Rogers) made against Mt. Justice Galt. His charge against Mt.

Justice Galt was against him personally, not showing it by the evidence, but expressing his belief that the report was made with malice, etc. Let me read the language which I used:

I wish to invite attention to another s'.ate-ment which I think is of great importance/ and which no member of this House should have been prepared to practically support by bringing this matter before the House unless he had made some inquiry and satisfied himself of its truthfulness. I find, on pages IS and 19 of the report of the commissioners, a very important statement, and I am going to press this with a great deal of force if I can press any point with force. I am going to urge upon the consideration of this House, the fact that not only is the statement to which I am about to allude false, but that it is, I am obliged to say, either knowingly or recklessly false. It has been made either knowing that it was false or with an utter disregard of the facts of the case. On page 18 they say:

"Notwithstanding this fact, it appears conclusively from the evidence that the whole $260,000 par value of these 3 per cent bonds had been guaranteed and delivered to the company up to the 6th day of August, 1903."

That is a charge of the most serious character to make against the provincial government. That is a charge that we, in violation of the statute, in violation of our duty, when1 we had no legislative authority to do it, prior to the passing of the Act of 1904, which extended the powers as far as the guaranteeing of bonds was concerned, prior to the 6th of August, 1903, guaranteed the whole of this issue of $250,000 of three per cent bonds and that they were delivered to the company. They say that that appears conclusively from the evidence. I say it does not appear, not merely conclusively from the evidence hut* that it does not appear at all from the evidence and that the evidence is entirely contrary to that statement. So far from the1 whole $250,000 having been guaranteed prior to the 6th of August, 1903, the total amount which was guaranteed was $138,500, a difference of $111,500, between what was actually guaranteed and the statement which these commissioners make as the amount having been guaranteed. There is no excuse fori that and it cannot be a typographical error either.

As I have said, taking up that important item, and sho wing that it was mode without any evidence whatever to support it, I think making the charge which I did against 'the commissioners is a very different thing from the charge which my hon. friend the Minister of Public Works makes. Yet because I used that language with reference to the report, my right hon. friend the Prime Minister has asserted in this House that I made a charge against Mr. Justice Landry infinitely stronger than that which the Minister of Public Works made against Mr Justice Galt.

I will detain the House a few minutes longer while I call attention to the fact

that my hon. friend the Minister of Marine and Fisheries (Mr. Hazen), who sent these reports to the Minister of Trade and Commerce to be acted upon by this Homse, knew from the report of the Government counsel that that statement was- .false and that when this report was presented here-

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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

I must ask the hon.

member to desist from pursuing his present line of argument. The hon. gentleman has made his denial very fully, and has been given ample opportunity to do tso. I think he is going too far on a question of privilege. -

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LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

I have made the statement that there was no evidence to warrant those commissioners making the report they did in reference to the guarantee of those $250,000 of bonds. Do you not think, Sir, that it would strengthen my position infinitely if I were able to show from the report of the Government counsel, Mr. Powell, that it was unsupported by the evidence, and that it was in that respect a false report, and that my hon. friend the present Minister of Marine and Fisheries (Mr. Hazen) knew it was false? Some people might doubt as to whether I was right or whether the commissioners were right, but if I can show from an official document transmitted to the Premier of New Brunswick that this report of the commissioners was false, surely my position is stronger. If you will let me do that, I will drop the matter.

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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

The hon. gentleman has made his denial, and ha-s stated his position very fully. To bring evidence from another person to support his denial would not be permissible on a qiuestion of privilege.

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LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

But, how many people

might say it was just the statement of Mr. Pugsley against the report of Mr. Justice Landry. If I corroborate my statement by showing that the Government's own counsel, Mr. Powell, reported to Mr. Hazen before thi-s report was sent here and before it was acted upon, and before this Parliament was asked, to approve it, that the report was wrong, surely it is only fair I should be allowed to do so.

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July 20, 1917