Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Leader of the Opposition):
Mr. Speaker, I rise to a question of personal privilege. The press of yesterday and to-day in reporting the proceedings before the select standing committee investigating the Beauharnois project has in certain quarters placed its own interpretation upon the evidence which was given there. I have in my hand one publication bearing the following heading:
Beauharnois paid bills of ex-Premier King. Mackenzie King's jaunt to Bermuda with Senator financed by Beauharnois.
I just wish to say Mr. Speaker that no bills of mine were ever paid by Beauharnois. I
had no connection whatever with Beauharnois in any way, with respect to any matter of travel or anything else, and also I did not make the trip to Bermuda with Senator Mc-Dougald, as one might infer by reading the headings of articles appearing in some newspapers of yesterday and to-day.
The statement upon which these articles are based is a voucher presented yesterday to the committee which reads as follows:
April 30, 1930.-Expenses of trip to Bermuda Hon. W. L. Mackenzie King and self, hotel Bermuda, $288.53. Fares Montreal to Bermuda and return, $395.04. Hotel, New York, $168.75. Total, $852.32.
If one were to read this voucher without reading the evidence given yesterday by Senator McDougald, there might be some justification for headings which would seek to place upon the matter the interpretation to which I have referred. Senator Mc-Dougald's evidence given yesterday however makes perfectly clear the facts that this voucher was one which was put in, if not by himself by some one connected with his office, that it should never have been put in, that it was not a correct statement of his expenses and that it was in fact wholly erroneous.
May I say that at Easter of last year I paid a visit to Bermuda. On the way through the city of Montreal I saw Senator McDougald. He came into my car for a moment and spoke to me there. I did not see him again until I arrived at Bermuda, and when I was leaving I found that Senator McDougald who had been there during part of my stay had in part settled the account of myself and Senator Haydon who accompanied me on the trip. Senator McDougald left Bermuda before I did, and I did not accompany him to New York. I saw him in New York. I stayed one night at the Ritz Carlton hotel. The senator himself was not in New York at the time; I had received word that he had reserved accommodation there for Senator Haydon and myself and we stayed that night in the hotel. On the following day Senator McDougald came to the hotel with his wife with whom he had been in Atlantic City, and took up the accommodation he had reserved for himself. Senator McDougald did not pay any expenses whatever of either Senator Haydon or myself for transportation from Ottawa to Bermuda either by land or water, nor did he pay any transportation whatever from Bermuda back to Ottawa. All he did was to pay, himself, some of the hotel expenses while he had been a guest with Senator Haydon and myself.
Privilege-Mr. Mackenzie King
May I say, Mr. Speaker, that any attempt to draw an inference from the fact that on an Easter vacation I went to Bermuda with another member of this parliament and was met there by a second member, and that this meant that in any way I was violating any matter of honour in any particular is an inference which cannot be drawn by anyone who has an honourable mind. My purpose in going to Bermuda was twofold: I had in mind first of all the need of some vacation at the Easter recess. As hon. members know, whoever is filling the office of Prime Minister in Canada when parliament is in session is on certain occasions very much in need of rest. I took very few vacations during the time I was Prime Minister, and last year when the house was having the Easter recess I visited Bermuda. The primary object in my mind in going to Bermuda was this: In the government we had been discussing the terms of what is known as the Dunning budget, under which it was proposed to increase the duties against the United . States on fruit and vegetables. It was further proposed to reduce the duties under the British preference, and I was anxious to ascertain whether in the event of fruits and vegetables being made free from Bermuda and the West Indies there was a possibility or a probability of Bermuda and the other islands reciprocating by lowering their duties on some of our commodities going into those countries. While in Bermuda I discussed this matter with several members of the legislature and received assurances that if Canada did lower her duties on fruits and vegetables they were quite sure the islands would respond speedily by reducing some duties in our favour. That step was taken very shortly after our return.
Had I been thinking of enjoying a vacation at the expense of anyone I might, I suppose, have interpreted the trip-had I so desired to do, or been of a mind to do that kind of thing-as one which was associated with public business. I was so scrupulously careful however to avoid anything which might even remotely resemble anything of the kind that I regarded the entire trip to Bermuda and return as a vacation, and not a cent of money was charged against any account of the government or of any other organization or corporation of which I have any knowledge whatever.
I just wish to make that statement, Mr. Speaker, repeating that I am in no way responsible for any bills that may have been submitted by Senator McDougald to the Beauhamois company. I had no knowledge
whatever of any such bills being submitted. I was horrified when I learned of the voucher that was presented before the committee; so much so that I immediately went to the Prime Minister and told him of my trip to Bermuda and the circumstances surrounding it. I fail yet to understand how any such voucher could possibly have been put in. I want the house to understand that any bills that were put into the Beauharnois company were not put in with my knowledge or with my consent; they were not put in by me or on my account, but were put in by Senator McDougald with respect to expenses which he himself had incurred.
May I add this further fact, which possibly I should have mentioned at the outset: That I had no knowledge that Senator McDougald had settled the hotel account at Bermuda until I was about to pay my bill, when the clerk informed me that the Senator, before leaving, had paid the account-for the most, part, not in its entirety-and that therefore there was no further charge to be made in connection therewith.