March 24, 1927

LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I should like to

test the feeling of the House. It seems to me that this particular practice is abhorrent to the good sense of all the members who have spoken on the section. I do not believe we are justified in encouraging other people to do what we ourselves would refuse to do. Let me quote the explanatory note:

Informers, particularly with regard to offences against the liquor laws, take great risks of property and even life, and it is believed that if prompt awards could be paid as provided by this amendment the receiving of information would be facilitated.

This simply means that if we put up a larger reward we encourage those unfortunate individuals to take greater "risks of property and even life." In my own city a few years ago the police magistrate refused to take the evidence of informers, and their use was finally abandoned because it was found to encourage men who were essentially criminal in character. Therefore I move:

That all the words after the word "repealed" in the nineteenth line to the word "forfeiture" in the twenty-sixth line be struck out.

It simply means deleting paragraph (n).

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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

In reply to the remarks

made by the hon. member for Labelle, I do not think any new principle is being introduced by recognizing in terms an informer and the payment to him of a certain portion of the penalty. This is recognized in our Criminal Code in express terms in section 1041 and 1042. They provide that a moiety

of any penalties imposed shall belong to the informer or person who sues for the same, and the other moiety to His Majesty for the public uses of Canada. I quite realize in common with other members that the informer engages in a rather undesirable job, but I do not think we are going outside our legislative purview in this instance. We are simply providing that whereas now the informer is paid only a portion of the penalty after the conviction, new regulations may be made under which he may be paid an amount based on the value of the goods seized.

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IND

Joseph Henri Napoléon Bourassa

Independent

Mr. ROURASSA:

There is a radical

difference between the case quoted by the hon. minister and this case. The former is a rather rare type of case and is surrounded by all the protection afforded to the accused person under the criminal law; but here you disregard all the principles incident to the trial of an accused person. You put him in the most unfavourable position with respect to the burden of proof and the discretion of the court, so that he can hardly defend himself ; and then, having discarded all the guarantees given to the accused before he is found guilty, you invite thousands of individuals from the Pacific to the Atlantic to interest themselves in the application of this law in order to make money.

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LIB

James Alexander Robb (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. ROBB:

Mr. Chairman, the government has been making an honest effort to correct some of the abuses which were hrought so forcibly to the attention of the House last year, and is quite sincere in its desire to stop smuggling. But it is now twenty minutes to midnight, we have been debating this question for over an hour and apparently the committee are somewhat divided. I for one feel that we have done a pretty good day's work, and I am going to ask my colleague the Minister of Customs to report progress. Probably on reflection hon. members will realize the propriety of the clause as presented.

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CON

Hugh Guthrie (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

Mr. Chairman, my hon.

friend the Minister of Finance who is now leading the House says that the government has a sincere intention of passing this bill and improving the customs law.

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LIB

James Alexander Robb (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. ROBB:

The bill was presented with the sincere desire of putting a stop to smuggling.

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CON

Hugh Guthrie (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

He will realize that the

objections to the bill have not emanated from the Conservative opposition. We on this side have used every effort to assist the passage of this measure.

Old Age Pensions

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LIB
CON

Hugh Guthrie (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

The reason it has not been passed1 is that hon. members opposite, supporters of the government, dbjeoted.

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LIB

William Daum Euler (Minister of Customs and Excise)

Liberal

Mr. EULER:

Mr. Chairman, I resent what has been said from this side of the House that this measure is fathered or assisted or initiated by anj'one on the other side. The charge is not fair. The language used by the hon. member for Labelle that the hon. member for Vancouver Centre is the acting minister of customs is not worthy of the generosity of the race from which he comes.

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CON
LIB

William Daum Euler (Minister of Customs and Excise)

Liberal

Mr. EULER:

I am not going into the

merits any more than to say that no new principle whatever is introduced in this clause. The informer has always been recognized. It is merely an effort to carry out the recommendations made by the parliamentary committee last session. The opposition that has developed is more or less of a surprise to me. I beg to move that the committee rise and report progress.

Progress reported.

On motion of Mr. Robb the House adjourned at 11.40 p.m.

Friday, March 25, 1927.

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March 24, 1927