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Wednesday, 12 October 1921

The PRESIDENT - It is; and if the honorable senator is suggesting that I had anything to do with it, if he is even so much as suggesting that it was in any way framed with my assistance or at my direction, or that I put forward any proposal or observation with respect to determining the matter, I can only say that Senator de Largie is mistaken. As Mr.

U'Ren is here now in the chamber, I shall say, on his behalf, that I actually deprecated his taking so much notice of the whole affair as to consider the incident worthy of a memorandum. However, Mr. U'Ren insisted, for his own protection, and, as he thought, in fairness, that he should put his statement upon record at the time. Now, this admirable young man of whom Senator de Largie is so ardent a champion is not quite the character that even his warmest advocate may believe him to be. Recently a night watchman was appointed in connexion with the care and oversight of the parliamentary buildings. Among his duties it is required of him that he shall go the round of the premises several times through each night. Recently he reported that, in one of the rooms on the other side of the House, after 11 p.m., and when the buildings had been closed and no one was supposed to be within them, he found Denholm waking up from a drunken sleep. When the latter was charged by the night watchman with being illegally on the premises, Denholm had the meanness to say that he had been brought there by an officer of the House, and he named the officer.

Senator de Largie - If you are going into the matter of the use to which the private rooms of the parliamentary buildings are put, I shall have something to say of your room. I shall give you the same treatment as you are giving to Denholm.

The PRESIDENT - Every official of this Parliament has the fullest right to use the rooms allocated to him as he deems fit and proper ; but a stranger has no right to be within the precincts after hours, and after the Parliament buildings have been locked up.

Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear !

The PRESIDENT - These are the facts relating to Denholm.- As Mr. U'Ren'. report has revealed, before he had -ever been placed in charge of the lift, Denholm was adversely reported upon by the steward concerning the manner in which he carried out his duties while he was employed as a casual waiter. Despite the terms of that report, however, Denholm was re-employed. It would be interesting, perhaps, to learn what influences could have been brought to bear to give to that amiable and entirely suitable young man re-employment after he had been reported upon as being emphatically unsuited.

Senator de Largie - Who were those influential parties ?

The PRESIDENT - I do not know. I have no notion.

Senator de Largie - Neither have I,.

The PRESIDENT - But some influences must, undoubtedly, have been at work in the face of such strong condemnation of the character of his services. Only strong influences could have secured his re-employment.

Senator de Largie - Denholm was appointed, I think, during the period of your control, Mr. President. You ought to be able to give honorable senators all the facts.

The PRESIDENT - I did not appoint him.

Senator de Largie - Then, who did ?

The PRESIDENT - The head of the Department. I neither appointed nor dismissed the youth. I have not the power under the Act to do either; and, if the honorable senator claims to know the provisions of the Act, he should be aware of that fact.

Senator de Largie - I do know the Act, and I know how you administer it.

The PRESIDENT - Only a little while ago the honorable senator displayed a most lamentable ignorance of its provisions.

Senator de Largie - You have displayed something which is a great deal worse in respect of the whole of it, as revealed by your administration of it.

The PRESIDENT - Senator de Largie is wrong in asserting that I pursued Denholm with the utmost venom. Indeed, I acted in exactly the reverse manner. It was pure leniency on my part - and for that, perhaps, I am deserving of all that has followed - in having overridden the decision of the head of the Department. For, had the purpose of the responsible officers been secured, Denholm would not have remained so long in service in these buildings. When Senator de Largie practically says that I told a deliberate lie, in my statement that Denholm's mother wrote a certain letter regarding the boy, and that he has in his possession an affidavit affirming that assertion, I can only say that if Senator de Largie really wanted to be fair- had he even so much as mentioned the matter to me, or to Mr. Monahan, or to Mr.. U'Ren - there were three or four persons who could have been called as witnesses, and' who would have been willing to go before the Committee and swear that they had seen and perused such a letter.

Senator de Largie - Why did you try to burke Denholm's evidence at every turn, and up to the very last I

The PRESIDENT - The young man should never have been called as a witness, seeing that his position and his case did not come within the purview of the Committee's inquiry.

Senator de Largie - It was very inconvenient for you, no doubt, that he should have attended and given evidence.

The PRESIDENT - It did not matter a straw to me. The honorable senator obviously knows so little of the rules of Parliament that he cannot be expected to be aware of the irregularity of the procedure attaching to the calling of this young man before the Committee. But I again assert that there were three persons, at least, who could have, and would have, sworn, if they had been called, that they had seen and perused the letter in question . . I have nothing to say against Mrs. Denholm; I do not know anything or desire to know anything concerning the lady. Such a letter, however, was unquestionably written. It was not written to me, but it was shown to me. I read it. It was grossly unfair on the part of the young man concerned that he should have deceived or have attempted to deceive his mother. She wrote bitterly complaining that he had been kept on duty for such unduly long hours, and had been so badly dealt with, indeed, that his health had become impaired.

Senator de Largie - I would accept the word of the mother and of the son against yours every time.

The PRESIDENT - It is not a question of weighing my word' against that of Mrs. Denholm and her son.

Senator de Largie - Then, produce the letter !

The PRESIDENT - I reiterate that it was not written to me; therefore, I cannot produce it. But it was written, and I read it. As for the innuendo that either I or the responsible officers of the Senate had any motive for our actions towards and treatment of Denholm, I dan assert that we had no motives. I feel rather strongly upon the whole subject, because I believe that it is due to personal animus that these continual attacks have been made upon me. They are such that I can only stigmatize them as being derogatory to the dignity of the Senate.

Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear!

The PRESIDENT - It is within the competence of Senator de Largie, or of any other member of the Senate) now, or at any time, if he is of opinion that I have failed in my duty as Presiding Officer, or in my task of continuing to act in consonance with the dignity and in keeping with the business requirements of the Senate, to have me removed from my office. That can be brought about by way of a simple motion. I call attention to it as being a straightforward test and procedure for Senator de Largie to adopt. I venture to say, however, that he will not put the test into practice. I challenge him- here and now. If he will move a. motion, or place one upon the business-paper of the Senate, in conformity with the suggestion which I have just made, I shall be prepared readily to submit to it. I would suggest that the honorable senator should also, similarly, and at the same time, place his official position in this Chamber open to the decision of the Senate.

Senator de Largie - I suggest to you, Mr. President, that you should not be too free with your challenges; otherwise I shall be moved to throw some light which will not prove creditable upon you and your actions, and, particularly, upon the matter of how you got the billet which you. are now filling.

The PRESIDENT - There is nothing which the honorable senator can say or reveal which I fear. I defy him to say anything ha may care to utter.

Senator Crawford - If this business comes before the Senate again it will be thoroughly and effectively dealt with. I can promise that, so far as I am. personally concerned.

The PRESIDENT - If I am to be subjected to continual attacks by the Government Whip, I shall want to know what the Government have to say about the matter.

Senator Duncan - Hear, hear! It amounts to an outrage upon the Senate.

The PRESIDENT - It is not in con. sonancewith the dignity of this Chamber that the Government should lend countenance to continual venomous attacks upon the Presiding Officer of the Senate. So long as I remain here, and in occupation of the office of President, I must continue1 to regard myself as the guardian of, and, indeed, as embodying the dignity and honour _ of, the Senate. From that moment in which. I shall have failed to retain the recognition of honorable senators as the repository and guardian of the dignity of this Chamber, I shall refuse to remain in this chair.

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