June 22, 1926 (15th Parliament, 1st Session)


Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)


I have tried at least three times to explain, and I am most unfortunate in my expression if my hon. friend has not grasped the point, that this investigation has only touched the fringe of the ground to be Covered. I also said to my hon. friend a moment ago, if he will recall, that the practice regarding this liquor which we are talking of now was prevalent on the Atlantic, on the Pacific and on the Great Lakes. There is no question about it. It is general throughout the whole length of the country, but the investigation of four months and a half, an experience that I do not think any member of the committee wants to repeat, uncovered only certain limited areas. And regarding Rock Island, I want to say in justice to the Rock Island people I think it is perhaps there more pronounced than anywhere I know of. It exists also at Windsor and Niagara, and perhaps at other places, but at these two points I suspect the condition is not very much better.
Now then I want to proceed. Gregory George seems to be the chief executive head of this group of companies. He appeared before the committee during the early days of the investigation, and after perjuring himself left for Europe taking with him all the vital records of this group of companies. In spite of his evasion and of the loss of vital records, the auditors have uncovered ample evidence to warrant a prosecution of these people for the return to the treasury of a million dollars of revenue.
This man Cooper, who is reported to be a multimillionaire, and his wealthy associates, have made most of their wealth by defrauding the governments of Canada and the United States of revenue and by evading the laws of a friendly neighbour. I ask the question, is Ihe minister likely to prosecute these people?

Customs Inquiry-Mr. Stevens
Will he prosecute them? Can we entrust to him, in the light of the evidence of his intimacy with them, the serious task of prosecution? Who was it, Mr. Speaker, who bought from the minister,-who must now prosecute him-the alcohol seized from the barge Tremblay? None other than W. J. Hushion, the political genius of the group, he of the "missionary" spirit, who came to Ottawa as a missionary for this gang. Will the minister dare to prosecute Hushion for selling this alcohol without having paid any excise? He will not, or, if he entered action at all it would be doomed to failure before its inception. Their defence will rest in acts of the minister himself.
Allow me, Sir, to review the facts and let the House judge for itself: In the late autumn of 1924 the barge Tremblay was apprehended by officers of the Quebec Liquor Commission while in the act of landing liquor contrary to the laws of Quebec. A few hours after this action, a customs officer, Duval, a mere tool of Bisaillon, appeared on the scene and seized the vessel and the liquor in the name of the customs of Canada.
The alcohol, some 16,000 gallons originally
24.000 gallons, was then placed in the king's bond at Montreal and remained there until December 1925. During the autumn of 1925, Mr. Wilson, the chief preventive officer, wrote to a number of firms for bids for this alcohol. He received some offers which were unsatis-fadtory and continued hie efforts to make a sale in a regular and proper manner, as was his duty and he carried that duty out faithfully and well. During December 1925 the minister opened private negotiations with W. J. Hushion, ex M.P., who, according to his own evidence, was acting as a "missionary" for the notorious Cooper-George gang. During December, the minister closed1 a private sale of the alcohol to the Dominion Distillers for 36 cents a gallon. The customs law declares that all seized goods should be sold at not less than duty paid value, which in this instance would equal $10.50 per gallon, instead of 36 cents per gallon, otherwise it would be condemned to be destroyed.
That there is a large market for this alcohol within the law, is evidenced by the reports of the Quebec Liquor Commission, which showed that they handled at a price of $14.85 per gallon, 382,000 gallons in 1923, 359,000 gallons in 1924, 315,000 gallons in 1925; also it is in evidence that the department, when untrammelled by ministerial interference, had on a previous occasion sold approximately
7.000 gallons at $15.60 per gallon.

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