I take it I have the hon. member's consent.
Subtopic: REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE-MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE AND AMENDMENTS THERETO
I take it I have the hon. member's consent.
You may proceed, if you have the consent of the hon. member.
When the report mentioned in the motion just agreed to is laid on the table it will be found that nothing is excluded from it, and everything is printed in the proceedings of the committee.
Will the Duncan report appear in full in those proceedings?
It will, and it appears in full in the report of proceedings which is now in the hands of hon. members.
And the evidence?
Produce the evidence.
We will have to defer our decision on that to some future occasion. The facts as far as I am aware are as I have stated. I do not propose to go into all the details of the case because they have been pretty well laid before the House by previous speakers. It suffices to say that the chief offender in all these disclosures would appear to be a former Minister of Customs, the Hon. Jacques Bureau. It would also appear that when the condition of affairs within the Customs department became revealed to the country, the government rewarded the Hon. Mr. Bureau for his services in debauching the department by appointing him to a senatorial position and placed in charge of the department a young and active minister in an effort to clean up that department.
I am not one of those who will readily condemn the present Minister of Customs (Mr. Boivin). I have a good deal of sympathy for him. He inherited much of the present situation from the former chief of that department. The whole Customs department was debauched previously and perhaps it was too much to expect that the new Minister of Customs could set things right almost immediately. Therefore I say that I am prepared to be quite tolerant in my judgment of him. I shall be frank in saying that if there were no sins levelled at the government be-
5016 COMMONS Customs Inquiry-Mr. Campbell yond that of the charge against the present Minister of Customs, I would be prepared to say to the minister, "Go and sin no more," and to vote confidence in this government. But the facts would prove that there is a good deal of responsibility on all, or nearly all, the colleagues of the minister besides the responsibility that is placed upon himself. I am not prepared to make him the sacrificial goat for all' the inherited sins of the party or the iniquities of that particular department. One of the things that I would hold against the minister-indeed I look upon it almost as his cardinal sin-is the fact that he would rise in his place in this House as a minister of the crown to defend the forme' Minister of Customs. If I was rather surprised at his action a few days ago, I was amazed when the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) did the same thing yesterday. I think the least we might have expected was that these two hon. members should have dissociated themselves from the former Minister of Customs and been prepared to admit that a mistake was made in appointing him to the upper chamber.
Mr. MACKENZIE KING:
May I say to
my hon. friend: if he will read my remarks in Hansard, as he may have heard them yesterday if he was listening, I made no defence of the former Minister of Customs whatever. I made an explanation with respect to the circumstances attendant upon his appointment and I asked that the former Minister of Customs be allowed to make his defence before a judicially constituted tribunal. I made no defence of him myself.
I have no desire to enter into an argument with the Prime Minister about this because his remarks are a matter of public record and anyone can read them in Hansard. The principal responsibility which I would place upon the government is that of putting the former Minister of Customs in the upper chamber when, according to all the evidence, conditions in that department, the debauchery of that department by that minister, were a matter within the knowledge of most of those ministers.
Mr. DENIS (Joliette):
Would my hon.
friend allow me a question?
I would prefer that
my hon. friend should wait until I have finished.
On February 2 when the hon. member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Stevens) brought this matter to the attention of the House, he levelled a direct charge against the government. I am going to read the remarks of
the hon. member for Vancouver Centre as found on page 681 of Hansard. This is what he said:
What I am accusing the government of is this: that for a year the Prime Minister, the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Customs, the ex-Minister of Customs, the Acting Minister of Customs, the Minister of Marine, the present minister,-no, I will stop with the others-they knew that this condition existed. The Minister of Customs learned it when he entered office. The Solicitor General entered the government with a knowledge of these things.
Mr. Lapointe: I deny that entirely.
Further on the Minister of Justice continued :
Mr. Lapointe: If what my hon. friend says is true, and I do not think it is true, I deny entirely the knowledge of any such thing and I throw the charge back into his teeth.
The Solicitor General interjects:
Mr. Cannon: If my. hon. friend will allow me, following my leader, I do the same.
Further on the Minister of Justice again states:
Mr. Lapodnte: Even that I deny. Anything my hon. friend has said as to my knowledge I deny entirely.
Further on the Minister of National Defence as reported on page 713 makes the following statement:
Mr. Macdonald (Antigonish-Guysborough): As a
member of the government I want to say that T have not heard of the hon. gentleman's story.
On referring to the report of this committee, I find in the sworn testimony of Mr. Sparks he refers to a letter dated June 23, 1924, addressed to the Prime Minister and although it is rather long perhaps it is important enough for me to weary the House by reading it. It reads:
Dear Sir,-Confirming the writer's conversation with your secretary, Mr. McGregor, we would respectfully ask the opportunity for a delegation representing this association to lay before the government certain matters in connection with the wholesale smuggling of various classes of goods into Canada.
We think it would be desirable, should you grant this request, that the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Customs and the Minister of Justice might be present, as the matters which we wish to lay before you affect these three departments.
We believe the Minister of Finance wrould be interested in the statement of our opinion that the loss of revenue will exceed $10,000,000 per annum.
As the prevention of smuggling comes under the Customs department, certain very important facts which we propose to put before the government in reference to the ineffectual methods now adopted by the Customs department will be of interest.
We shall also call attention to the fact that conditions in the ports, particularly in Montreal, are such that smugglers are practically immune from punishment.
The whole question of smuggling has become a national problem. It is seriously affecting business, and, as pointed out, causing a tremendous loss of revenue. This association for more than a year has studied this problem, and we would like to lay before your government a comprehensive statement covering the matter.
Customs Inquiry-Mr. Campbell
We would respectfully suggest that, if you are able to fix a date, it should be at least a week or ten days forward, as representatives from various parts of the country will require to be notified of the date set.
Trusting you will see your way clear to meet this delegation, and awaiting your early reply, we remain, Yours respectfully,
Canadian Association of Garment Manufacturers, per (Signed) R. P. Sparks,
This is addressed to the Prime Minister under date of June 23, 1924. In the sworn evidence Mr. Sparks states that the deputation appeared before the government on the 6th August, 1924. When asked what ministers were present he answered as follows:
Right Hon. Mackenzie King, Hon. Jacques Bureau, Hon. Mr. Lapointe, Hon. Mr. Macdonald, Hon. Mr. Graham and Hon. Mr. King.
Yet, Sir, we find a number of these ministers denying absolutely on February 2 last that they had any knowledge of these conditions. To my mind that is amazing.
I am not going into many details but in my opinion the government had one opportunity to vindicate itself before the country, and I took occasion to point that out to the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) privately. I even quoted an analogous instance in which the Scott government in Saskatchewan some years ago took action to clean up a corrupt state of affairs which was brought to their attention. A great deal of corruption had prevailed among members of their own party and among the civil servants, and the Saskatchewan government took steps to have the whole matter investigated. Did that government evade the issue? Did their members in the legislature stand up to a man and defend the malefactors? Not at all; the Premier said, "We want the fairest and fullest investigation, and we want everything that is wrong exposed."
By a royal commission.
It does not make much difference what means they took. They got all the facts and punished every man who was found guilty. Among those who were punished were three members of the party supporting the government and they served terms in jail for their crime. The result was that the Scott government was vindicated before the people of Saskatchewan, and when the next election came around they were returned by a larger majority than before. I as a supporter of that government felt proud to be of the same party. Now I say that this government lost an opportunity of vindicating itself by not going on record as being prepared to face the situation fearlessly 140-11-3181
and courageously. As I have told the Prime Minister, had he taken that course, I would have been prepared to vote confidence in his government and would have been glad to see them still in the treasury benches. If the government -had faced the situation as they ought to have done I would have felt that the ends of justice were being satisfied.
Now we are considering to-day an incomplete report; I say incomplete because it is a well known fact that the members of the Conservative party on the committee wanted to add an appendix to have certain recommendations embodied in the report, but the majority of the committee declined to accept that proposal. It is equally true that the hon. member for Peace River (Mr. Kennedy), representing the Progressive group on the committee, desired to have certain recommendations added to the report. His representations were also refused by the majority of the committee. For that reason I say that the report we have received in this House is incomplete.
The hon. member for Vancouver Centre, in order to represent more properly the point of view of the whole committee, moved what I consider a very moderate amendment. If I were to find fault with the amendment I would say it erred on the side of moderation; and I think it expresses, if not in words at least in substance, just what the member for Peace River, the representative of the Progressive group on the committee, wanted to add as an appendix to the report. We in this section of the House have confidence in the hon. member for Peace River. We realize that having sat on the committee and heard all the evidence he is in a better position -than any other member in this group to understand the situation, and so far as I am concerned this amendment, meeting as it does in substance, as nearly as we could get it, the actual recommendations of the hon. member for Peace River, our representative on that committee, I feel I can do nothing but support the amendment.
So far as the hon. member
for Peace River is concerned, I agree with every word the hon. gentleman has said.
But I want the hon. member who has the floor to speak for himself and not for the Progressive group.
I may frankly state
that the hon. member for Brandon (Mr. Forke) has never been able to speak for the Progressives and is not able to speak for them to-day.
Customs Inquiry-Mr. Campbell