William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)
I feel disposed to keep my eye on the hon. member for South Oxford (Mr. Sutherland) when I touch upon this somewhat delicate subject. However, we all appear to be in pretty good humour now, and possibly I can get the desired information to the committee and escape the danger point.
I may say that last year I was impressed with the idea that possibly there had been a miscarriage of justice somewhere
I mean in equity not in law; I think Mr. Alderson got all that was coming to him in law, but, as has been said, that sometimes that falls short of equity. At least I was understood to have said that. After the House prorogued last year I took some steps to investigate the matter further. In the meantime Mr. Alderson took the case to the courts, but not having a case in law he fell down; he did not, as he thought, get justice. My deputy sent to Toronto and got a copy of the evidence that was taken in the proceedings, reviewed it very thoroughly, and tried to get at the bottom of the matter. I had understood that there were certain strictures made by the judge with respect to certain witnesses, but if so they did not appear in the copy of the evidence we got. But I can see where Mr. Alderson fell down. He sought to prove there was no disease in his herds but unquestionably there was disease present; it could not be proven that it was attributable to other causes than uncooked garbage. I received a communication from Mr. Alderson after that asking me if he might have an opportunity of discussing the matter with me, and, as I naturally wished to see the gentleman over whom there had been so much discussion, I immediately made an engagement with him. He came down and we had a long talk, and I was very much impressed with Mr. Alderson's sincerity and
Su-pply-Health of Animals
truthfulness. I am confident that he felt that he was abused and that he was telling me a true story. So much so that I arranged for a conference in my office between Mr. Alderson, one , of his sons, and aneighbour, and three or four of my
staff, including the deputy, and myself. I suppose we were there for an hour and a half, or possibly two hours, going into this complex question, and endeavouring to secure a solution that would deal with the matter from the standpoint of equity. We thought we had secured a solution. I felt that if such a thing as compassionate compensation-shall I call it?-could be given to Mr. Alderson, that should be done. I felt in my heart that it should be done; but I am not a legal authority, and I was informed by the Auditor General, when this was attempted to be done, that under the law we could not pay compassionate compensation. The law is there for the purpose of compensating the owner of animals that have cholera. On the other hand, it was found that the bulk of the evidence went to show that, while cholera was present to a very restricted extent, a considerable number of animals had been slaughtered that were not diseased at all. That was the situation. Mr. Alderson slaughtered thirty-three head of animals, which under examination proved to be all right and fit for food. In view of that, the evidence seemed to indicate that a considerable number more had been slaughtered that would have proved to be all right if they had been salvaged. I think Mr. Alderson should have been allowed to salvage either the entire bunch or none at all. I was not in charge at the time; I do not know what the regulations were, and I have not gone into them intimately enough to know whether a mistake occurred or not. I think, however, the veterinary inspectors felt they went far enough when they allowed Alderson to salvage thirty-three. But having salvaged thirty-three, Mr. Alderson came to the conclusion that they had not cholera at all and that if the rest had been salvaged, he could have got the value of them on the market. There is, however, no question at all that cholera was present, and, further, Mr. Alderson could not prove that it had been contracted by any other means than by garbage. Therefore, on the cholera-affected animals, he was not entitled to any compensation, and the ruling of the department and the officers of the department is strictly and legally right.
As regards the animals that were slaughtered and salvaged, and that proved to be all right, there is presumptive evidence that if more had been salvaged, they would have proved
to have been fit for human consumption, and that is the place where I feel an injustice was done. Whether that was due to wrong regulations or to regulations not being carried out according to the instructions given, I do not know. All I know is that immediately I became familiar with the facts, instructions were given that, in future, owners of all herds of this nature must be allowed to salvage anything that did not show any clinical signs of disease. Then the post mortem, after the animals were slaughtered, would indicate whether or not they were fit for human food. That is the situation. If my hon. friend has any suggestions to make with regard to the matter, I should be glad to have them; I have made an attempt to meet the situation. The hon. member for South Oxford made such strong representations and came back so frequently in regard to this case, that I came to the conclusion that his action was not to make a noise, not mer^y to play the game or to indicate that he was active on behalf of the interests of his constituents, but because he believed in his heart that justice had fallen short somewhere. I will give the hon. gentleman credit for that, and it was for that reason that I pursued the investigation further. I then ran up against the stone wall of the Auditor General who, in effect, intimated that no such thing as compassionate compensation could be paid under the provisions of the law.