This gentleman is said
to have been disbarred. That evening, after the discussion, the leader of the opposition was kind enough to send to me the name of the individual. I did not know the man. I had never heard of him, as a matter of fact. Not having heard of him I was quite satisfied he was not in charge of the administration of anything. So I wired Regina in order to get the facts. On the night of June 12, 1936, I sent this wire to the Hon. T. C. Davis, Attorney General, Regina, Saskatchewan:
Mr. Bennett stated in house to-day that a member of the legal profession who had been debarred because of embezzling funds had held or now holds an important position in the administration of relief funds in Saskatchewan.
He also stated there were two other employed who were in the same unfortunate position. Kindly wire me any information possible. If such persons were employed, give details re time of debarring and present standing.
I received a reply to that wire from Mr. Davis. The wire is dated Regina, June 13, the following morning, and reads as follows:
Statements made by Mr. Bennett are not true and the facts are as follows. Former solicitor in employ of relief department in minor position of correspondence clerk at salary which barely provides existence. This man was at one time a practising lawyer but was accused of failure to account for some funds and was struck off the rolls of law society. Since then he has made complete settlement of claim against him and I am satisfied that if he applied for reinstatement he could secure it, but he has never had the funds wherewith to do this. No profession in this province more hard hit through depression than that of law. Two other former practising solicitors employed in connection with northern settlers' reestablishment in minor clerical positions. One is still solicitor in good standing.
I have had information since that this gentleman who was still a solicitor in good standing is not practising because his practice practically disappeared because of the hard times. The wire continues:
The other was suspended for three months for irregularities and subsequently voluntarily filed statement of non-practice with law society and therefore is not on the active rolls.
I am informed, on applying for further information, that this gentleman while not on the active rolls at present, was reinstated, had not sufficient practice to be able to get along in the community where he was, and then ceased to be a practising lawyer.
These three gentlemen have been given employment in very inferior positions, not in the administration of relief, but merely clerks in the office in charge of distribution. They are not handling any funds whatsoever. After a man in Canada has met with a difficulty which has been brought upon him by the situation through which our country is passing, after he has got into some difficulties that probably he would have been wiser had he not got into, and after he has had his punishment, whatever that punishment may be, is anyone going to say that that man is never again going to obtain employment in this country? Is any man going to say that governments must see to it that he is passed up every time he makes application for a job? Is anyone going to say, if that man can write letters properly and be a correspondence clerk, he must, instead of taking that kind of work, go into a relief camp or some other place to find an existence?
I do not think even the leader of the opposition would take that position. I can
quite agree with him that had any of these gentlemen been in positions such as the .eader of the opposition must have thought they were in from the correspondence he has obtained, he would probably have been justified in raising the question, but I think all of us, before raising questions about individuals who find themselves in difficulties in these days, should be very careful to get all the facts with regard to them; and if I had not all the facts with regard to these men, I would very much prefer to err on the side of not knowing all that is to be known about them than to err on the side of coming into this house as a representative of the people, even as a humble member attending his first session, and raising the matter on the floor of the House of Commons. I think we have much bigger matters to talk about, much bigger matters to discuss, much bigger problems to settle. I regret that the right hon. gentleman found it necessary to bring up this matter on three occasions in order to elicit some kind of reply to the question. I hope that the incident is closed.
Subtopic: AMENDMENT OF UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND ASSISTANCE ACT, 1936, TO ASSIST PROVINCES IN RESPECT OF RELIEF EXPENDITURES