June 29, 1920 (13th Parliament, 4th Session)


Robert Lorne Richardson



I had frequent intercourse with both these gentlemen, and I could see that they were not satisfied because this correspondence had not been laid on the table of -the House, especially as it furnished an explanation for partial failure to- accomplish as much as was expected. Parliament had called for it; all the circumstances, including the Hugg letter, and the arrangement to secure the resignation of all, had, I understand, been stated in the correspondence, and these two commissioners -were dissatisfied; they seemed unhappy; they got the impression, rightly or wrongly, -that they were not being properly treated. They believed that if Judge Robson had betrayed the board in the manner that they had -suspected and that, to some extent at least, seemed to be revealed by the correspondence-, that correspondence should have been made public, and if Judge Robson had done wrong, he should1 have taken the consequences of his acts. My judgment has always been that the Government made a mistake in not presenting that correspondence to- Parliament. I.t is after all ektremely significant that the judge should have appealed -to the Government that it would be unfair and an injustice to him to 'publish the correspondence. I understand that he represented that these men were at enmity with him; that they were actuated by extreme malice, and that he thought under the circumstances it would be unfair that this correspondence should be made public. I am satisfied that the Government had1 no improper motive in withholding the correspondence. I do not think they had; I

believe they were actuated with the idea that perhaps after all it was not fair to Judge Robson to publish the correspondence. I think they sincerely 'believed that Judge Robson, who enjoyed1 such an enviable reputation for honour and probity, had done nothing in connection with the board inconsistent with that fine reputation. I believe the Government entertained that view sincerely. I do not assert that the Hugg letter which is before us is proof that the judge was guilty of any wrong act, but to say the least it is a suspicious circumstance. The Government certainly had no reason that I could ever see for withholding the publication of the correspondence. I repeat that I believe the Government would have been -well advised to have laid the correspondence promptly upon the Table of Parliament and let Judge Robson take whatever consequences might follow.
Now, I talked quite frequently with Mr. Murdock, and I cannot help thinking that he did the public a service when, in his resignation, he presented the correspondence to the people of Canada. Mr. Murdock sincerely believes, so far as my judgment goes, that Judge Robson has betrayed the board. I believe that was Mr. O'Connor's view also; and they naturally felt that the Government should have made the correspondence public and sustained the board. When Judge Robson resigned, it is true, a reference was being prepared to the Supreme Court. But so far as the public knew,, the constitution of the board was perfectly natural and legal. It was my judgment that, from the public expectation, from the fact -that there was so much to do, and the fact that profiteering was still rampant in the land, the Government would have been well advised to appoint immediately a successor to Judge Robson and let the board proceed as far as it was able to. I believe it is still the Government's intention to do that, and it would be a profound mistake if a new board were not appointed. I believe that two or three- virile, honourable business men of probity can be -secured in this country to continue the work that the Board of Commerce was designed to perform.

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