House of Commons, 10 March 1870, Canadian Confederation with Manitoba

[...] weight, and he thought that the building might be finished in a cheap and substantial manner.
Hon. Mr. Langevin said the Government were fully aware of the difficulty of completing the library according to the original intention, but when the estimates came down he would be prepared to explain the intentions of the Government.


Mr. Scriver introduced a Bill intituled: "An Act to incorporate the Montreal and Champlain Junction Railway Company".


The Public Accounts Committee submitted their second report.


Mr. Pope introduced a Bill intituled: "An Act to incorporate the St. Francis and Megantic International Railway Company".


Mr. Mackenzie called the attention of the House to the fact that some newspapers had published correspondence with respect to the Red River affair, including also the names of parties interested, notwithstanding the injunction recommended some days ago.
Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald said his attention was drawn to this matter last night by the hon. member for Châteauguay, and he had told the gentleman that he regretted very much that the papers had been published. However, he was determined to enquire into the circumstances.
Mr. Mackenzie said the publication was exceedingly unfortunate.
Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald—Yes, it was.
Mr. Mackenzie said that while, personally, he would wish to extend to the Press all facilities for obtaining information, still, in a matter of this nature he thought that the public papers should show some regard for the public interests, and should have refrained from publishing those documents. If this matter were to be considered at all, he would suggest to the leader of the Government that there was a Standing Committee to which it could be 338 COMMONS DEBATES March 10, 1870 referred as a question concerning the privileges of Parliament.
Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald said the whole thing depended on ascertaining the sources whence the information was derived; the writers of this correspondence might have to be removed from the Press, in order to procure information on that point.
Hon. Mr. Holton said the peculiarity of the published correspondence was that it purported to be drawn from the report laid before the House.
Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald—I see that.
Hon. Mr. Holton—If the Committee finds that the information comes from extraneous sources, what course is there to be followed?
Hon. Sir. A. T. Galt said the chief indiscretion was in allowing the suppressed parts to appear. If it should turn out that the correspondence laid before the Committee had been given to the press from the Committee, then there would be shown a gross breach of privilege.
Hon. Mr. Howe said he never saw a copy of those papers till he saw them that forenoon. The publication of the papers could only be accounted for on the grounds that a person who had figured in them had shown them to the press.
Mr. Blake suggested whether it would not be better to refer the investigation to another Committee than the one which had had the papers before them.
Mr. Scatcherd observed that it was a question whether the House should proceed to investigate an isolated case. If a rule were to be made to apply, then it should be to all cases.
Mr. Mackenzie said that the press ought to get all the returns that were brought down, where nothing injurious to the public interests was concerned; but the peculiarity in that case was that the press were informed it would be imprudent to publish those papers until laid before the Committee. It was this circumstance which constituted it an offence to publish the papers. When the leader of the House solemnly declared those papers should not be printed because it would be dangerous to the public interests, then they should not have been published.
Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald moved that the Committee, to which was referred the North- West correspondence, should be revived with power to enquire into the improper publication of the correspondence.—Carried.


Canada. House of Commons Debates, 1870. Edited by P.B. Waite. Ottawa: Queen's Printer, 1979. Original scans accessible at: http://parl.canadiana.ca/.



Selection of input documents and completion of metadata: Gordon Lyall.

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