New Brunswick. Royal Commission Concerning Timber Limit Charges.

Abstract: Report of the Royal Commission Concerning Timber Limit Charges

Barely a year after the Commissioners of the Branch Railways in New Brunswick accused Premier James Kidd Flemming of extortion and influence peddling, the Royal Commission Concerning Timber Limit Charges was struck to examine the accusation that Flemming, along with William Berry, Chief Superintendent of Scalers of the Crown Land Department, had extorted money from large lessees of Crown Timber Lands.

The details of the administrative structure of the Crown Lands Department are very involved, though dealt with thoroughly in the lengthy introduction to the Commission. Commissioners McKeown, Wells, and Fisher, the same men who had investigated Flemming the year before, presented a survey and explanation of past legislation dealing with the subject. But, the real drama of the Commission lay in the resolution of the accusations against Flemming and Berry, the former not only Premier but Minister of Lands and Mines.

The report was clear: "having in view the testimony given by the different contributors the only conclusion that seems possible to us is that the money was actually extorted." The only other question dealt with was assignation of guilt. William Berry was unassailably guilty. As Chief Superintendent of Scalers, it was Berry who personally collected the illegal contribution of the Province's lumber companies. The guilt of Flemming was less clear.

All the circumstantial evidence pointed to Flemming's guilt. The report stated that he could not have possibly been ignorant of Berry's activities. It is also clear that once the illegal monies were collected, Flemming directed their expenditure. Nonetheless, the Commissioners could not produce enough corroborative evidence to prove that Flemming was directly involved in the extortion scheme, and, as a result, was found not guilty by the Commissioners.

h.c.

Commissioners:
Harrison Andrew McKeown
W. Wilberforce Wells
William Shives Fisher

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