March 19, 1902 (9th Parliament, 2nd Session)

CON

Adam Carr Bell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BELL.

by these lion, gentlemen to be at their elbow and keep them straight. They have been working away but they have not made much progress. They have been looking into the accounts, but they have not seen anything that would be likely to be of service to them and they have come to the conclusion that the sooner they get their friend, this amicus curiae, the better it would be for the cause they have at heart. That is wholly the situation in which this matter stands. No person has said, the committee have not said, that if, at a future period, it was found necessary that Mr. Archibald, or anybody else should be brought here, he should not be summoned. The committee have not said that if it should be considered later, after we get the officers here, after we get the men who have made the expenditures here, after they have explained what they have done, if it is deemed necessary to go outside into the highways and the byways, the roads and the streets, to drag some one who may have something to tell before the committee and put him on the stand, it shall not be done. But, until we advance a little farther into the inquiry than we have yet gone, I submit that no sufficient case has been made out, that no sufficient reason for such a request as this can be furnished, and I do not wonder that my hon. friend (Mr. Bell) has been unable to find a precedent for it. Hon. gentlemen opposite would be the first to laugh to ridicule any proposition on our part made under such circumstances as these. If any one ever had the coolness, or the effrontery to make such an application before a committee on a previous occasion and it was refused, I do not wonder that it did not come before this House, because any one would know that the House would not, under such circumstances, allow the name of the committee to be used, for such a grossly improper, irregular and unprecedented purpose. As Minister of Railways and Canals I say that I am not afraid of any investigation which my hon. friend desires to make. Let him think what he pleases and try what he dares, I will be found, as a member of that committee, ready and willing to afford every facility for bringing before the committee all persons who have any knowledge of the dealings and transactions under consideration at first hand and not depending altogether on hearsay for what they may know. I am perfectly willing to have this ' enormous expenditure,' as the hon. gentleman characterizes it, thoroughly investigated, and I think I may prophesy that after he has exhausted his energies in this investigation, whatever mistakes he may find have been made by my officers, or by myself, he will be unable to attach any criminal wrong-doing to any of the men who have been filling these re-sponsibile positions in the government service. He may be able to show that we have not exhibited the capacity that we should Hon. Mr. BLAIR.
have exhibited, that we have not been able to watch in detail every item of expenditure, but he will not be able to show that the responsible officers of the railway, from those at Moncton to the head of the system, have not exercised their best judgment and capacity in the management of that railway system. Let me appeal to the House and to ask it whether it would be possible to conceive of anything lamer than the application which this hon. gentleman has made and the motion which he has founded upon it. Are we going to lay down this precedent in this House that any hon. member of a committee may jump up in his place, or that any three or four hon. members who want some friend of theirs brought here to attend any investigation that is going on and who cannot get along without outside assistance, and ask that anybody may be brought before that committee ? Are we going to establish a precedent that all these gentlemen have to do is to get up in the committee, call for somebody to be summoned and that the committee has nothing to say as to the time or occasion or manner of their appearance ? Whatever may be the hon. gentleman's hopes in regard to the passing or the refusal of this motion, I have no doubt we will hear a great deal in the public press about stifling investigation.

Topic:   PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE.
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