Citizens' Meeting

From The Daily News, April 5, 1932


Monday, April 4, 1932

Meeting Demand Charges Be Investigated
Citizens Determine See Law Upheld

Quiet But Deadly Determined Meeting of Citizens Jamb Majestic Theatre and Overflow to L.S.P.U. Hall — Demand Charge re Minutes of Council Be Investigated

Mass Parade This Afternoon To The House of Assembly

The Majestic Theatre last night was filled to overflowing, when the chairman, Mr. J. M. Howell, called the meeting to order to consider certain resolutions which were moved by Rev. W. E. Godfrey and seconded by Mr. H. A. Winter, K.C. Mr. J. H. Devine acted as secretary. An overflow meeting was held at L.S.P.U. Hall where loud speakers were installed, the whole proceedings being broadcast from the Majestic.
On the platform amongst others were Rev. W. E. Godfrey, Rev. H. L. Pike, Rev. Fr. J. F. Pippy, Rev. C. H. Johnson, Rev. J. W. Winsor, Hon. C. P. Ayre, Messrs. F. O'Mara, Mac Chambers, Dr. Sharpe, Dr. O'Reilly, Dr. Roberts, J. J. Maher, Gordon Ash, Toby Jackman, F. W. Bradshaw, R. G. Winter K.C., Cluny Randell, Dr. N. S. Fraser, T. Sexton, T. Pope, Dr. T.M. Mitchell, A. S. Wadden, Lt. Colley, McCormack, W. P. Shortall, W. Gulliver, C. B. Carter, J. O'Driscoll, T. S. McGrath, J. J. Maddigan, C. H. Hutton, K.S.G., K.M. Blair, Michael Bennett, S. R. Penney, J. H. Adams, E. A. Bowring.
Hon. C. P. Ayre moved that Mr. J. M. Howell take the chair. Mr. Howell said that there is a clarion call to arms, and a challenge to the manhood and womanhood of Newfoundland. No longer can the people delay from protesting against the mal-administration of laws by those controlling the country. The country is nearing the breakers, and it will need wiser heads than those controlling the country today to save it. He pointed to the feast of Belshazzar, when panic-stricken by the handwriting on the wall, he called for Daniel, who foretold the doom of the king. That night Belshazzar was slain. Today, he said, this same handwriting is everywhere throughout the country, and if the country is to survive it must be correctly interpreted. He called on Rev. W. E. Godfrey to introduce the resolutions.
Before introducing the resolutions, Mr. Godfrey said in part, “I have been intimidated, threatened and abused to keep away from this meeting, but I have taken the only course that an Englishman could take under threats. Last night I received from my Maker His approval. I found it in the first lesson of the service in my church, in the last verse of the 54th chapter of Isaiah, 'No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgement thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, said the Lord.'
“There is a duty that I owe to my church and congregation. I do not say that I represent them. I stand here as an enfranchised citizen, and there is not to say me nay in that right.” Referring to his Liberal forebears in politics he said, “In the paths of rectitude and righteousness the Liberals have a claim on me.” In conclusion, before reading the resolutions he said he would “render to God the things that are God's and to Caesar the things that are Caesar's.”
He then read the resolutions as follows:
WHEREAS at the opening of the present session of the Legislature certain charges of a most serious nature were preferred by a former member of the Executive Council against the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State,
AND WHEREAS the said charges alleged facts which, if proved, would constitute not merely criminal offences of the gravest kind but the breaches of duty by persons in the highest positions of public trust and responsibility,
AND WHEREAS motions in the House of Assembly for a full enquiry into the said charges have been repeatedly rejected notwithstanding that one of the most serious among them has been corroborated by another member of the Executive Council.,
AND WHEREAS without such full inquiry, it would appear that appropriate legal action with regard to the said charges would be either impossible or at least delayed and seriously embarrassed,
BE IT RESOLVED:
First, That in the opinion of this public meeting of citizens the matters above recited, and the position resulting from them, affect the honour, dignity, welfare and safety of the whole country, and threaten to undermine the legal and political structure of its society;
Secondly, that this meeting places itself on record as deploring and protesting, in the name of justice and morality, against the matter aforesaid;
Thirdly, that, in order to give effect to such protest, a Petition be forthwith drawn and presented by this meeting, and such other citizens of the country as may be of the same mind, to the House of Assembly, now in session, humbly praying that it take such steps as may seem to it necessary or desirable for the full and proper consideration and investigation of the said charges, to the end that they be finally and conclusively proved or disproved and such other action be taken thereon, as justice and the dignity of the people may require.
“That is a very grave document, a very agonizing one. I doubt if there ever has been framed such a document. I cannot think that is so. Grave and serious charges have been made by certain parties against certain individuals holding high office under the Crown. Before God and my conscience, I am unmoved as far as penalties are concerned, but God and my conscience make me protest. I protest against the charges, be they true or not true. The keynote is 'prove or disprove'. Nothing could be more necessary or more simply asked. It is a right, that if denied in any other country would cause riot and bloodshed. People of Newfoundland, you are a long-suffering people. I am here to supplicate, beg, plead that the charges be proved or disproved.
“I am a father of sons, a teacher of youth. The boys and girls, following their elders, are calling legislators 'crooks, liars, thieves'. Scepticism is permeating youth, and their statements are that these men will get away with it. Can these things be true? I wonder. I wonder. There is a more serious charge against the Church of Christ, and that is that we are afraid. By God's grace, I can at least plead that I am not guilty of that charge.
“My guide book says that out of the mouths of two or three witnesses let it be established. In asking this meeting to endorse the resolutions, I am afraid that there is a depression worse than economic. That is that nothing can be done. Something can be done. Something must be done. I beg my hearers to see that something is done. Newfoundland and her people are destined for nobler things. You in blood are more purely British than any other part of the Empire. What we need is a purer political atmosphere. Not yet in old England has the sceptre given place to the whitewash brush.” He then quoted from James Russell Lowell's works. “Once to every man and notion comes the moment to decide.” “Mr. Chairman, not with pleasure, but with pain, I move the adoption of the resolutions, and by God I can do no other.”
Mr. H. A. Winter, K.C., said in part, when seconding the resolutions: “It is a painful duty to perform. We are in effect to pass a vote of censure on the highest elected officers, and the supreme body in the state. I will speak on the legal and constitutional issues. What is this issue, which has summoned to the platform all ranks and all shades of opinion and thought? The essence of the issue is in the resolutions. I propose to give an analysis, and present it in three ways — legal — moral — worldly or material. The government should strive to act lawfully, honourably, wisely. It should be taken for granted that law has been observed and honour not impugned or slurred. I have made this classification because for our purpose it is the order of importance.
“Law is fundamental. Like a foundation of a house, the owner assumes that it is safe, but if a crack appears, the owner takes notice. There are cracks and fissures in our foundation. It may be said that I am making storm in a tea-cup. In some countries, breaches of the law go unpunished. Witness Russia, look at Italy under a dictatorship, look at the great republic of the United States, and its appalling lawlessness, where crime is organized. These outside things do not affect us.
“What are the legal and constitutional points? They are contained in what is called the Rule of Law. The law of the land is supreme and universal. This is peculiar to the British Empire. Mr. Godfrey has mentioned one of the ways in which the Rule of Law is exemplified. A British subject enjoys the right of personal liberty — freedom of speech — to express his views and publish them. He enjoys the right of public meeting. Our present administration, with its patent disregard of the law, will admit this. Just as law is supreme so are all men equal, all amenable and subject to it. None is outside of the law. A Queen of England was impeached before the House of Lords some 250 years ago.
“All bodies are subject to the law. Is parliament subject to the law? Perhaps under certain circumstances. What about the next body in importance, the Committee of Council? They are certainly not above the law. They are responsible to parliament, at least I thought so until the present session. Almost every day, vain protests are made in the House of Assembly against breaches of the law by the Government by illegal expenditures of money. I will take one charge of Mr. Cashin — reparations money. I would remind you that the clamor is concerned so far with the question as to whether an order in council was in due form. Supposedly the minute was passed properly. In my opinion, that payment was illegal in any case. I see no lawful authority for it, and is directly against the Minute of Council authorizing the Reparations Account.
“To you war veterans I say that this shall be investigated, and I say also that if it be shown that I am right, every cent is going to be paid back to the fund to which it belongs. I would have thought that that fund was sacred.
“To illustrate that law is no respector of persons, take the case of Lord Kylsant, a peer of the realm, who was sent to prison last year, not for having put something wrong in his annual report but for leaving something out, whereby investors were deceived. Compare his with the alleged offence we are considering. I can proudly say that the law provides a remedy where there is a wrong. Here we have the same system as in England. Let us be thankful that we have a Supreme Court to uphold our positions.
“If law is supreme, why cannot it be used in this case? My answer is that it can be done, and as a lost resort it will be done. There are two objections. The whole dignity and honour of the people is slandered and only the House of Assembly can remedy it. Supposing that legal action is taken, and the guilty convicted, would not a shadow over the House of Assembly be the result? The second is technical, the secrecy of debates, but I do not think that insuperable. This matter of the secrecy of the debates should be removed before a trial takes place. The machinery of the law lies idle, and those that should enforce it say — hands off. It is a question of the abuse of the law against the demand for it. I have to say that learned writers and students must revise their works. We will then read, 'Law is supreme in every part of the British Empire. Footnote: Except in Newfoundland. Law is no respector of persons, except in Newfoundland. No one is above the law, except the Prime Minister of Newfoundland.'
“Mr. Cashin made certain charges on the opening day of the session in the House of Assembly. Did the men jump to their feet and deny them? The Opposition made a motion for enquiry and the men accused had the effrontery to stay in the House. As to the action of the Speaker, if such had happened in the British House of Commons, the only work the Speaker would have had to perform would be to quiet the uproar. Not only did these men stay in the House but had the audacity to make a motion. The men that framed this motion knew that such an enquiry would be abortive. The Opposition were not then daunted, they made a motion for revision which was defeated on a party vote. The government is determined to defy the whole country. There is a tribute due to those who broke away from the government. The Opposition has drawn whatever was metal out of the dross and rubbish against it. I charge that the actions of certain members of the House of Assembly amount to a serious offence, that is obstructing the course of justice.
“Under the circumstances, when charges cannot be investigated — what? I answer that there is no longer any law. It is not the people but the representatives of the people that are at fault. Only one thing remains, that is to assert with force. By force I do not mean violence. I am convinced that what is done tonight and tomorrow will be sufficient for our purpose. Members of the House of Assembly are your servants, no your masters. They have defied the law.
“There are pessimists abroad who will say that the country will not respond. All the country wants is to be led by men, upright and unafraid. Which of us looking at England today and remembering all, are not proud of her standing conspicuous amongst the nations. Surely there are enough of us to look towards the light. Nobility and strength of a nation is rather in the hearts and spirit of the people. Let us pass the resolutions, and go to the bar of the House of Assembly with humility and the righteousness of our cause and present out petition.”
The following afterwards spoke: Messrs. K. M. Blair, Michael Bennett, S. R. Penney, J. H. Adams, E. A. Bowring, Gordon Ash, Mrs. Archibald Macpherson, Weston Dicks, J. M. Dempsey.
Mr. J. M. Howell, chairman, before presenting the resolutions, asked that all listeners in and their friends take part in the parade to the House of Assembly today, Tuesday, to present the resolutions at the bar of the House. The resolutions were unanimously adopted by a standing vote.
Mr. Wilfred Canning moved the following, which was adopted:
“That copies of the resolutions be sent to the following outport newspapers: Hr. Grace Standard, Bay Roberts Guardian, Bell Island Miner, Fisherman's Advocate, Twillingate Sun, Western Star and Humber Herald.”
Mr. W. A. Mackay commended the action of the committee and moved a vote of thanks which was endorsed.
Before the National Anthem was sung, the chairman announced that all supporters would meet at the Majestic Theatre this Tuesday at 2:15 p.m. prior to marching to the House, via Queen Street, Water Street, Prescott Street, Gower Street, Cochrane Street, and Military Road.



From The Evening Telegram, April 5, 1932

The People Demand Justice and Truth
Monster Gathering in Majestic Theatre Protests With one Voice Against Government's Conduct
Resolutions Unanimously Passed Calling for Thorough Investigation of Charges Made —Citizens Decide to Go En Masse to House of Assembly

A monster public meeting held last night in the Majestic Theatre, decided by unanimous vote to march to the House of Assembly this afternoon and present a petition demanding that the charges made against Sir Richard Squires and the Secretary of State be either proved or disproved.
The meeting was called to begin at 8 o'clock, but nearly three-quarters of an hour before that time there was not a vacant seat. Hundreds who came before the meeting opened were unable to get in and had to return home or to a neighbour's house to listen-in over the radio. Never before was there a gathering under one roof so representative of life of the city.
Amongst those on the platform were over sixty citizens, including Hon. C. P. Ayre, Dr. T. M. Mitchell, Dr. N. S. Fraser, Mr. Eric Bowring, Mr. Tobias Jackman, Dr. Roberts, Dr. Sharpe, Dr. O'Reilly, Mr. Gordon Winter, Mr. T. Hallett, Mr. P. McCormack, Mr. T. S. McGrath, Mr. C. B. Carter, Mr. Gus Wadden, Mr. J. Maddigan, Mr. Samuel Penney, Mr. J. Devine, Mr. W. S. Monroe, Mr. Llewellyn Colley, Mr. Charles Hutton, Mr. Ken Blair, Mr. Frank Bradshaw, Mr. T. Pope, Mr. P. O'Mara, Mr. James Maher, Capt. Herald, Mr. John O'Driscoll, Mr. C. E. A. Jeffery, Mr. C. Randell, Mr. Michael Bennett, Rev. J. Pippy, Rev. H. L. Pike, Rev. W. E. Godfrey, Rev. C. H. Johnson, Rev. J. W. Winsor, Mr. Gordon Ash, Mr. W. Canning, Mr. J. H. Adams, Mr. H. A. Winter.
The Guards Band was in attendance.
On motion of Mr. Ayre, the chair was taken by Mr. Jas. Howell.
Mr. Howell, in his opening remarks, said the meeting was a clarion call to arms, a challenge to the men and women of Newfoundland that could no longer be delayed it the country was to be prevented from being precipitated into ruin. The meeting was called to protest against the maladministration of the country's affairs by the Government in power.
The force operating in our midst today if allowed to continue would surely bring the country amongst the breakers, yet he felt that whilst the sails may be in ribbons, the heart of the ship was sound, and she could be saved, but wiser and more sincere men that those in power were required to bring her back on the course of her destination (applause). He had at a public meeting in May last proclaimed that his native land was in danger.
As at the feast of Belshazzar, the handwriting of doom was on the wall. That handwriting comes to us today with disturbing frequency. It could be seen on the walls of the banking houses, the business houses, and the factories.
It was amidst the thunderstorm applause that Mr. Howell concluded, and called on Rev. Godfrey to introduce the following resolutions:
WHEREAS at the opening of the present session of the Legislature certain charges of a most serious nature were preferred by a former member of the Executive Council against the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State,
AND WHEREAS the said charges alleged facts which, if proved, would constitute not merely criminal offences of the gravest kind but the breaches of duty by persons in the highest positions of public trust and responsibility,
AND WHEREAS motions in the House of Assembly for a full enquiry into the said charges have been repeatedly rejected notwithstanding that one of the most serious among them has been corroborated by another member of the Executive Council.,
AND WHEREAS without such full inquiry, it would appear that appropriate legal action with regard to the said charges would be either impossible or at least delayed and seriously embarrassed,
BE IT RESOLVED:
First, that in the opinion of this public meeting of citizens, the matters above recited and the position resulting from them, affect the honour, dignity, welfare and safety of the whole country, and threaten to undermine the legal and political structure of its society;
Secondly, that this meeting places itself on record as deploring and protesting, in the name of justice and morality, against the matter aforesaid;
Thirdly, that, in order to give effect to such protest, a petition be forthwith drawn and presented by this meeting, and such other citizens of the country as may be of the same mind, to the House of Assembly, now in session, humbly praying that it take such steps as may seem to it necessary or desirable for the full and proper consideration and investigation of the said charges, to the end that they be finally and conclusively proved or disproved, and such other action be taken thereon as justice and the dignity of the people may require.
Rev. Mr. Godfrey said:
“Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen — In rising to move the resolution that I have in my hand, there are one or two preliminary remarks that I wish to make.
“I have been intimidated, threatened, abused, in an attempt to prevent my coming here, but I have taken the only course that an Englishman could, or would be likely to take under such threats. My determination grew stronger, and my justification more insistent. And without cant or humbug, let me say that last night, I received from my Maker His confirmation and approval of my action, in the following manner. The appointed first lesson in the evening service was Isaiah 54. I had to read that lesson, the last verse read: 'No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.'
“There is now a duty I owe to the church and congregation to which I belong. I have to say that I do not come to this meeting claiming to represent the views of the people of that church, nor its Rector. I have no means of ascertaining, nor would I try to find out their opinion on the matter, and with regard to the Rector, I did not consult him or think it necessary to ask his advice.
“I stand here as an enfranchised citizen. I am as St. Paul gloriously claimed, “free born” with the right of free speech as part of my heritage, an heritage fought for, struggled for, and obtained by us, by true liberalism, and sealed to me in my Christian names of the greatest of all Liberal names, Gladstone. A Liberalism whose apparent eclipse is only so, because its tenets and principles have been absorbed and assimilated by the whole British Nation and largely by the Empire.
“Mr. Chairman, there is none to say me nay to that heritage of freedom of speech, and certainly not those who call themselves Liberals. In the paths of rectitude and righteousness Liberals will always have first claim on any poor services I may be able to vendor, for I haven't a drop of “blue blood” in my veins. Though it is a good red, I render to God the things that are God's and to Caesar, King George, the things that belong to him, and among those things the defence of those priceless possessions “Justice and Truth”, priceless alike both to his revered and honoured Majesty and to every loyal subject, and exercised and enjoyed without fear or favour, or as our prayerbook has it, “impartially” administered.”
Having said this much by way of introduction, Rev. Mr. Godfrey proceeded to read the resolution, and at the conclusion said:
“Mr. Chairman, that is a very grave document, to me almost agonizingly so. I doubt whether there has, in the long and glorious history of British institutions ever been framed a document of so serious a nature. Has it ever been possible? Has there ever before been the need under the British flag for such action? I believe not, I cannot think so. Let us consider this document from the highest possible moral standpoint, and since I take it you know the circumstances well, I shall not dwell on them except by way of synopsis.
“Grave and serious charges have been made by certain individuals against certain other persons holding high office under the Crown, charges affecting the whole moral life and tone of the community of which we are all units and members. If one part of the body politic suffers, the whole becomes sick.
“God and my conscience, as far as I am concerned is the final court of appeal. (I am unmoved as regards penalties) God and my conscience demands that I must protest, that I must raise my voice either against these wicked, terrible slanders, if such they be, uttered in public and broadcast over the whole world, or that alternatively I protest and raise my voice against the crimes in the said charges.
“How do I, how can I know against which?
“It should not be difficult, it ought to be easy. As far as I can see, there is nothing too intricate in the matter.
“Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, for simple-minded folk, the key words in this motion are, prove or disprove, nothing could be more necessary, nothing more fairly asked. It is the solemn undeniable right of every citizen to know whether these allegations are false or true. It is a right which if denied in almost any other country, would be to court riot and bloodshed in a determination to find out.
“Mr. Chairman, I am trying to avoid harsh words and terms, so I will say that I am here to supplicate, to beg, to plead, that especially for the sake of the youth of the country, these charges be for ever disproved, or that they be proved. I am a father with sons growing up. I am a teacher of youth. I am a preacher of brotherly love and its implicates, I have made myself responsible under God (failing I know sadly sometimes) for the training of those He has placed under my charge
“The boys and girls of our country following their elders, are calling our political leaders 'crooks', 'rogues', 'thieves', or they are calling them 'liars' and 'slanderers'. Scepticism of a most dangerous kind is permeating the thought of youth. These men, they say, 'will get away with it', just because they hold the positions they do. Others say that 'slander is part of the political game'. Can these things be true? I trust not, and yet, I wonder, I wonder. Is it not a perfectly appalling state of affairs, if roguery is to be regarded as a light thing by our young men and women?
“There is another thing. For some time past, there has been almost as serious a charge laid against the Church of Christ, and I have blushed even at the suggestion, that no definite voice is uttered against these evils, that we the Church leaders do not heed, or that we are afraid. By God's grace, I can at least plead not guilty to this, but there are times when the man in the street asks me what I think of these charges, it is no use saying, “I don't know”. I cannot forever, as I am now trying to do, suspend judgement. My Bible says, “At the mouth of two or three witnesses let it be established”. And unless these charges are denied and disproved, what can the average man do, but accept them in view of the evidence given?
“Mr. Chairman, I do not wish to say too much or to delay this meeting longer than I can help, but in asking this meeting to support and endorse the motion, I do so for the additional solemn and serious reason. I am afraid that there is a growing depression that is far more harmful in its effects than the present economic one, it is the moral and spiritual depression that is spreading over the country, consequent on the belief that nothing can be done. That is the Devil's pet lie, under such circumstances. Something can be done, something must be done.
“I beg you, hearers, near and far, give the lie to the thought that we must accept the present un-Christian, unmoral state of affairs as the standard of life for this country. It is not. Newfoundland and her people are destined for nobler things. Believe me as one who has traveled widely and knows well you, the people of Newfoundland, are in blood more purely British than any other part of our common glorious empire, with instincts of like richness. At the moment there seems to be a kind of poison in the blood, and you are somewhat emaciated and thin of purpose; you need a fresher, purer, moral and political air; get out into it, breathe deeply and fill your lungs when the fresh breezes blow.
“Demand that, through which alone these breezes can blow, demand with an insistence which cannot be denied, JUSTICE AND TRUTH! And you will get it, for not yet in old England has the sceptre given place to the whitewash brush, believe me.
“May I, in closing, quote the words of James Russell Lowell, in his “The Present Crisis”: Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide, In the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side: Some great cause, God's new Messiah, offering each the bloom or blight, Parts the goats upon the left hand, and the sheep upon the right, And the choice goes by forever, twixt that darkness and that light.
Hast thou chosen, O my people, on whose party thou shalt stand, Ere the doom from its worn sandals shakes the dust against our land? Though the cause of Evil prosper, yet 'tis Truth alone is strong, And, albeit she wander outcast now, I see around her throng. Troops of beautiful, tall angels to enshield her from all wrong.
They have rights who dare maintain them; we are traitors to our sires, Smothering in their holy ashes Freedom's long lit altar fires.
“Mr. Chairman, not with pleasure but with pain, I move the motion, and by God's Grace, I can do nought else.”

Mr. H. A. Winter in seconding the resolution made a brilliant analysis of the situation, in which he made it stand out clear and irrefutable that the representatives of the people were at fault, and that when law was uncertain there was no longer any law.
Mr. Winter pointed out that the meeting was called for the painful duty of passing a public vote of censure upon the highest elected officer and the supreme body in the state. He asked what was the nature of the occasion which called together such a gathering with men of all ranks and all shades of opinion on the platform? “It must be something of transcendent importance”, he added, and then said the essence of the question was contained in the resolution, the substance was only too painfully in the minds of all during the past few weeks.
The whole matter presented itself to him in three aspects, viz, constitutional, moral, and material. Put another way, governments should strive to act lawfully, honourably, and wisely. It was altogether deplorable that they should move to discuss any other than the last mentioned. It should be taken for granted that the law had been observed, that honour had not been impugned. It was, however, because of the latter that the meeting was held.
In his analysis of the constitution, Mr. Winter pointed out that the law is fundamental, and he likened it to the foundation of a house, which ordinarily the owner assumes is secure, troubling only if cracks or fissures appear. It was so with our foundation; cracks and fissures had appeared and repairs had to be made. All knew that in other countries breaches of the law may go unnoticed and unpunished. Look at Russia; at Italy under a dictatorship; look nearer to the great Republic of the U.S.A. with its gangsters, where crime was organized and made a profitable business.
Turning to the legal aspect of the question, Mr. Winter pointed out that the law of the land is supreme and universal. It admits of no authority beyond it. It is unique to the British Commonwealth of Nations, and just as the law is universal, so all men are equal under it. No man from the King to the humblest subject is above or outside the law. Parliament in reality was amenable to the law, and most certainly the officers of the Executive Government are not above the law. (applause)
“They are responsible to Parliament or at least, I thought they were until the present session,” declared Mr. Winter.
Turning to the matter of expenditures under contingencies, Mr. Winter pointed out that a coach and four were being driven through the Audit Act and the Auditor General protests in vain.
Continuing, he said, almost every day vain attempts are made in the House of Assembly against breaches of the law by the Government. “I will take one charge of Mr. Cashin — Reparations money. I would remind you that the clamour is concerned so far with the question as to whether an Order in Council was in due form. Suppose the minute was passed properly. In my opinion that payment was illegal in any case. I see no lawful authority for it, and it is directly contrary to the Minute of Council under which the Reparations account is administered.
“The Government has said in effect that this charge and others will not be investigated, and if the charge is substantiated, every cent will be put back in the fund to which it rightly belongs. One would think that that fund was sacred.”
Continuing his analysis of the law, Mr. Winter, to illustrate that it was no respector of persons, referred to the case of Lord Kylsant who was sent to prison last year for issuing the prospectus of a company of which he was chairman, which was true in substance, but which left a false impression with investors because something was omitted. Would such condign punishment be inflicted on this side of the water, he asked. He was proud to say we have a system here where the law can be carried out with the same impartiality and swiftness. We have the Supreme Court — let us be thankful we have a Supreme Court to uphold our rights. And why cannot the law be carried out? he asked. The answer was — it can be done, and will be done.
But at present there were two serious objections. There were more than breaches of the law to be considered. The dignity of the law is blemished and slandered, and only the House of Assembly can remedy it. Supposing that legal action was taken and the defendants found guilty, could it not be said that the House of Assembly endeavoured to shield offenders against the law?
The second objection was the matter of the oath of secrecy of the Executive Government. Mr. Winter said he felt that this should be removed before a general trial in court could take place. The machinery of the law stands, he said, and its custodians say, “Hands off”. It is a question of the abuse of the law against the denial of it.
Were such conditions allowed to continue, he said, new text books would be needed in which it would be declared:
That the law was supreme in every part of the British Empire — except in Newfoundland;
That no one was above the law — except the Prime Minister of Newfoundland.
If offences were committed, the machinery would swiftly be set in motion — except in Newfoundland.
Continuing his remarks, Mr. Winter reviewed the events which took place since Mr. Cashin made the charges on opening day of the Assembly — until the matter was carried before the Governor by an amendment, which those who carried it knew would make the enquiry abortive.
Mr. Winter publicly charged that certain members of the House had not only abused their trust, but that they were obstructing the course of justice. In summing up, Mr. Winter pointed out that under circumstances where charges cannot be investigated, and where the law of the land could not be set in motion, it meant that theoretically there was no longer any law. It was not the people that had overstepped the bounds. “Only one thing remains,” he said, “and that is for the people to assert their will by force. Not by a resort to violence — but by the power which they possessed.” He felt convinced that what was being done by the meeting would be sufficient for the purpose.
The men charged were the servants of the people, and not their masters; they had defied the law, and had shaken the foundations of society.
In conclusion, and amid thunderous applause, Mr. Winter urged that the resolutions be passed, and those assembled march to the House and present the petition to the bar of the House.
Mr. K. M. Blair, as a business man, followed in support of the resolution. Mr. M. Bennett as a workman, also spoke urging the people to take the matter in their own hands. The charges had been met with silence, and to him the silence meant guilt.
Mr. S. R. Penney delivered a very forceful speech in support of the resolutions. He said that no man in the world would trust the present administration with a dollar. The time for remedial measures was long over due. The Government was bankrupt of ideas as well as of money. He compared the situation to that of a person led by a guide to the edge of a dangerous precipice. And he asked would not one feel like throwing such a guide over. He was convinced that if the present administration was submitted to a vote of a people it would be condemned by an overwhelming majority.
Mr. J. H. Adams, speaking as one who put principle before money in 1914, said: “There is the principle of British rights and British justice at stake in our country today. It is not for me to say whether certain ministers of the Crown are guilty or innocent of certain charges of forgery, or falsification or have been paid for attending their duties as port doctors or not. But I will say the principles we fought for in 1914 are not being upheld today, and I contend that my country's welfare is of just as much importance to me now as it was then. Because right is right, 'twere wisdom to follow right' — in spite of consequence, and 'twere wisdom to prove or disprove those terrible charges. This is the duty of Newfoundlanders.
“I contend that if an officer or officers on the battlefield were charged with misdemeanors of such a serious character, he or they would demand to be tried at the orderly room or by a field general court martial, and if proved guilty, they would stand before a firing squad and be shot — and their names posted outside the Orderly Room of every unit in France — I have seen that done and you comrades of 1914 have seen the same. On the other hand, if those charges were proved false, I hate to think what would happen to the people who made them.
“I am not concerned in party politics, I have no political aspirations. I do not know the politics of my employers. I do not know whether I shall lose my job tomorrow for what I say tonight, but I do know that I am a British citizen and fought for British rights. I shall ask to be allowed off tomorrow to attend this parade. If I am refused — I shall attend just the same, in spite of consequence.
“Only a week or two ago I had occasion to fight for my disabled comrades' rights in regard to their pensions. I am receiving my pension from the Canadian government — like many Newfoundlanders — I had nothing to lose — but gentlemen, friendship and comradeship was forged in a furnace of agony and suffering, and those links of comradeship were wielded in blood, that comradeship to individual, political party or Prime Minister will never break.
“I notice in the Fishermen's Advocate a letter which termed the soldier pensioners paupers. Well, if doing one's duty and being literally blown to bits is pauperism, I am prepared to be called a pauper. I see on the platform clerical representatives of the church which gave birth to the C.L.B., C.C.C., Highlanders, and Guards. I ask you, gentlemen, is the type of justice which is being administered in our country today what you boys fought for? It is not! Very well, we fought and they died for British right and justice.”
Mr. Eric Bowring in supporting the resolution pointed out that in 17 years of operation of the Patriotic Trust, $223,000 had been distributed, and the cost of the whole administration was $2,900, little more than fifty percent of the last payment received by Sir Richard Squires for a few months work in the distribution of a portion of the $200,000 of the Reparations Fund.
Mr. Gordon Ash also gave his support to the motion in a vigorous speech in which he declared himself strongly against the conduct of Sir Richard Squires. He felt that when the next Government gets in power it should compel all those who had obtained money by fraud or false pretences to return it to the Crown. He declared, politicians can rob thousands of dollars and get away with it, but if the common man stole a flour barrel it meant he had to go to jail. He advised all to take constitutional steps to bring about a remedy, but he said if it has to be a revolution, let it be a revolution.
Mrs. Archibald Macpherson, Mr. Weston Dicks and Mr. J. M. Dempsey also spoke to the resolutions.
The Chairman, Mr. Howell, before putting the resolutions, asked that all listeners-in and their friends in the city take part in the parade to the House of Assembly today, Tuesday, to present the resolutions at the Bar of the House. The resolutions were unanimously adopted by a standing vote.
Mr. Howell made a very fine address in closing.
On motion of Mr. Wilfred Canning the following resolution was passed:
“That copies of the resolutions be sent to the following outport newspapers: Hr. Grace Standard, Bay Roberts Guardian, Bell Island Miner, Fisherman's Advocate, Twillingate Sun, Western Star and Humber Herald.”
Mr. W. A. Mackay commended the action of the committee and moved a vote of thanks which was endorsed.
The meeting closed with the National Anthem, in which all joined to the accompaniment of the Guards Band.

Bibliography


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