March 2, 1920


Alfred Thompson



Or what they would not drink; it told the newspapers what they would print and what they would not print, and it told the newspaper writers what they would write and what they would not write. Can a government be popular and do these things? Of course it cannot. This Government was not elected to do popular things; it was elected to do unpopular things, and I glory in its consistency. I am sure that the Canadian people who elected this Government to do unpopular things will stand behind these men who have fought the good fight.

The unkindest cut of all from the man who leads the Opposition, and who some day hopes to sit in the seats of the mighty and to lead the Government of this country as Prime Minister, is when he attacks the present Prime Minister (Sir Robert Borden) because he is away seeking health. Could partisanship go farther?


William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)



I am sure my hon. friend would not wish consciously to misrepresent my attitude. If my remarks yesterday were in any way capable of the interpretation which he is placing upon them, or if by any turn they would lend themselves to such an interpretation, I am extremely sorry. Nothing was further from my thought than that I should reflect in any way on the Prime Minister. When I spoke of the desirablility of the Prime Minister being in his seat to speak of matters of policy, I had reference to the principles underlying parliamentary government. I was speaking of the desirability if possible of having the leader of the Government in the House to deal with matters of public policy. The reference was followed immediately by a remark in regard to the Prime

Minister's health in which I said that 1 shared the feeling of regret of everyone in the House that the Prime Minister was not able to take his seat. I was glad to-day to hear that the Prime Minister is so much better that he hopes to be back in this House again before very long. I cannot be too emphatic in saying that any reference that was made to the Prime Minister in that connection was made to the office of the Prime Minister and not to Sir Robert Borden who happens unfortunately to be prevented from being in the House at this time.


Alfred Thompson



I am not only glad to give my hon. friend (Mr. Mackenzie King) an opportunity of making that explanation, but I am extremely glad to hear it from his own lips. My hon. friend from Cape Breton (Mr. McKenzie) in extenuation of the impression that had been made by the leader of the Opposition yesterday took occasion this afternoon to refer to the incident. I do not wish to impugn the motives of any man or to put wrong words in his mouth, but I have looked at the resolution and I am going to read one or two words from it. I accept without reservation the statement of my hon. friend, but in justice to myself I desire to quote this sentence. In the amendment which my hon. friend moved and which my hon. friend from Cape Breton seconded he regretted the "protracted absence of the Prime Minister, the widely accepted belief that it is not his intention to return to the duties of his office." I took it from that that he was not expected to return by my hon. friend and his friends and that they were trying to force him out of public life. I felt indignant, but I am glad to have the explanation from my 'hon. friend and I accept it. I hope the right hon. the Prime Minister will return soon in the full flush of health. Of the Prime Ministers who led Governments from the beginning of this war in other belligerent and allied countries, in so far as I know, there were only two living and in office at the end of the war and of these two one has since died. I refer to General Botha, the Prime Minister of South Africa. The other man is the Right Hon. Sir Robert Borden, our Prime Minister, who has carried a giant's load all these years, and who now, after four or five years of Herculean effort, is broken in health and has gone away for a brief respite from the onerous duties which bear heavily upon him as Prime Minister of this country. I am sure that I voice the sentiments of hon. members on both sides, Mr. Speaker, when I express the hope that he 6

will return, and return in good health this session. But whether he does or not, I am satisfied that the great majority of our people hope that he will stay away until his health is completely restored.

Now, Mr. Speaker, whether this Government wins or loses in the next campaign is in the lap of the gods, but whatever happens I am satisfied, as one of the members of this House and as a supporter of this Government, that Union Government has justified its existence. And, furthermore, I believe that when the work of this Government has been properly placed before the people it will stand a better chance of securing a majority of the seats in this House than any group existing at the present time, including that which is presided over by my hon. friend the leader of the Opposition.

Mr. J. E. S. E. d'ANJOU (Rimouski) (translation): Mr. Speaker, I shall first take up some remarks which the hon. member from the Yukon (Mr. A. Thompson) just made. The hon. gentleman fervidly upheld the Government, and it is no wonder because it is owing to this fatherly Government for which he pleaded with so much force that he is privileged to hold a seat in this Parliament. So the people can understand why the hon. member who just resumed his seat was upholding with so much assurance, if not with great conviction, the moribond Government that are still the arbiters of the future of this country.

The hon. member from the Yukon found fault with the hon. leader of the Opposition for not having in his remarks touched upon the tariff question. My experience in public life has been short, still it seems to me that the Government, not the opposition, is called upon to draw up a political program. Last session, the Government named a commission which was to investigate tariff matters. The commission was to report so that the question could be settled during this session. In the Speech from the Throne there is nothing to show that the commission has done anything. Like every commission created by this Government, that commission did nothing and nothing has been put before the cabinet. As I said, it is the duty of the Government to outline a policy, and the leader of the Opposition is not bound to show his hand. While touring the country and specially the Maritime provinces, the leader of the Opposition had occasion to state his policy in

that connection, and that policy is known not only to the members of this House, but to the whole country. When the Government sees fit to raise that question,, the leader of the Opposition and all those who are proud to follow his lead will be here to uphold the Liberal programme which always was that of the people and opposed to the program of trusts and combines which is that of the Government now swaying the destinies of Canada.

The hon. member from the Yukon said that the leader of the Opposition regretted that the province of Quebec was unrepresented in the Canadian ministry. Sir, that province is not represented, and somuch the better. For my part, I venture to state that I do not wish that the province of Quebec should have representatives in such an administration. It will be represented when the people is called upon to bring the Government to trial and when a Liberal administration rules this country. At that time, when the people has faith in the Government, when the country is led by honest and enlightened men who do not wage their political battles against the province of Quebec, who do not make the most of racial and religious prejudices in order to remain in power, we shall be proud of seeing representatives of that province in such a Government.

From 1896 until 1911,, the province of Quebec was represented, and legally represented, in the Canadian administration, for we had as leader of this country the greatest man who ever lived in Canada, the one who has departed and whose memory shall live forever, the one who inspires the present leader of the Liberal party and his followers. When we have a Government of that stamp to head us, a Government composed, I shall not say of men as worthy as Laurier,, but of men who strictly adhere to his political principles, his respect for every race and every creed, of men who will avoid offending not only the one province, but any province in the Dominion of Canada; then, gentlemen, we shall be proud of being represented in such a cabinet.

Some contend that the hon. Mr. Blondin represents the province of Quebec, as a member of the Government. Some hon. gentlemen on the other side of the House have stated that the hon. Mr. Blondin had been defeated in the province of Quebec, only because of his having supported the Government enforcing the Conscription Act. That is not the only reason. He was

defeated, because, along with many others, in 1911 he had outrageously misled and deceived the people of that province.

The hon. member for the Yukon, who is always at the fore to defend the cause of the administration, sang the deeds of the boys at the front. Now that the war is over,, and that peace has come in, it were high time that a stop were put to that music which grates on our ears. The winning of the war was the Government cry to remain in office or to get a new lease of power; they should like to keep up that war cry and that the war were still going on. It served so useful a purpose for the hon. gentlemen that the war should go on. Unfortunately for them and happily for the people the war is concluded and I hope that a majority of votes will be cast in favour of the amendment so that- the Government may be forced to the country. On the Opposition side, we want the people appealed to, without the least fear as to result; we want the people freely to choose their representatives; we want the country to come back to British institutions, to responsible Government; we want the liberties that have been secured to us to be respected.

During the war, all laws and rights were suspended and crying abuses crept in. The present Government was the first to infringe the law, and not so long ago, our prisons were crowded with young men who had not reported for duty, and they were thrown into prison, because it was contended that they had violated the law. The guilty parties are the hon. gentlemen opposite. Those axe the men who should be packed like sardines in jail, and not these young men who often acted through ignorance or because they considered that it was better for the country that they should stay behind and remain steadily at work on their farms, to increase the production of foodstuffs, for our own people and our soldiers overseas.

Although the debate is nearing its conclusion, think it my duty to congratulate the mover and seconder of the Address who have so well discharged the task entrusted to them. But I cannot extend my congratulations to the Government itself, the Government has once more ignored the rights of the French language, a fault which has grown into a habit. At the opening sitting of the session, it is true, the Acting Prime Minister was kind enough to say a few words in French; but neither the mover nor the seconder of the Address have said a single word in French. The right hon.

the Acting Prime Minister in referring to the amendment moved by the leader of the Opposition queried whether it was not a fine bit of strategical camouflage. Let me tell him that it was his remarks in the French language, at the opening of the session, that could be styled a fine bit of camouflage; for, had he been honest, he wields enough influence over the Cabinet, as he is the substitute of the Prime Minister, to make his followers realize that the rights of the French language should be respected in this Parliament and that the mover or seconder of the Address should at least be able to express themselves in French. This is the third occasion on which I register my protest in this House in the name of my constituents. It is not enough to make speeches in French, but the constitution must also be respected. The two languages are' official and the rights of the French should be upheld. The mover or seconder of the Address, under the tradition, has always been a French Canadian or at least a Canadian conversant with the French language. Moreover, during the preceding sessions, I availed myself of the opportunity of saying that there is an hon. gentleman on the Government side who is fully qualified to move or second the Address in French. The hon. member from Edmonton (Mr. Maekie) is quite competent perfectly to perform that task. He has shown himself proficient in Parliamentary oratory, and is eminently gifted in the art of expression in the French language. Were the Government anxious to respect the rights of the French language, they could have, this year, entrusted him with the task of moving or seconding the Address.

From the very opening of the session, all the talk is about national unity and a better understanding; about making love and offering incense to Quebec.

In 1917, Quebec was not coaxed. The main thing was to win an election. The Unionist government saw fit to enforce conscription in order to discredit that province in the eyes of the other provinces, to get them at loggerheads with her and so to win the election and remain in power. It is two late now to cajole Quebec. They see to-day that they cannot be elected without the help of our province, and after vilifying her and treating her in the most outrageous manner, they are intent in making peace with her for political purposes. Well, Sir, Quebec is beautiful, great, noble in her loneliness. There is peace in that province; her government has assured prosperity to her people who live happy. The fault is Gi

not ours if the other provinces do not enjoy the same conditions.

It is rather late to flatter Quebec for, I repeat it, during the political campaign of 1917, that province has been used as a scape-goait; everywhere they have fanned the racial and religious prejudices and roused the other electors against her. It has been said: Quebec will not do her duty; the French Canadians refuse to enlist; conscription must be imposed upon them.

Sir, the French Canadians have too chivalrous an ancestry to warrant such aspersions, and the 22nd regiment have distinguished themselves overseas. For the third time I shall say that in Rknouski county we have two Victoria crosses, lieutenants Brillant and Raeble who were killed in action. We are not the descendants of cowards but of a chivalrous race. We wanted to fight, but freely, as men. Sir Wilfrid Laurier said in the electoral campaign that if the Government had been sincere, if they had used the necessary means to boost voluntary enlistment, conscription could have been dispensed with. Moreover, in other British Colonies, in Australia, for example, one of the most important colonies after Canada, conscription has been pooh-poohed. Consequently, it is neither more nor less than a political game against the Liberal party, in order to rouse the other provinces against Quebec with a view to remaining an power.

The address is particularly interesting for what it omits mentioning. The only important thing found in it is the plan of a new Franchise Act, It is obvious that the Government are not at all anxious to go to the people, but they are cautiously feeling their way. Why should we not keep the old Franchise Act, the one we had before the war? Owing to the war-time Elections Act, the country is spending monstrous amounts and, if I am not mistaken, the government have decided to maintain the system of enumerators in the making of the electoral lists which were previously the work of the municipal councils, the said lists being used for the federal as well as the provincial elections. They were fair and just to everybody and the country had nothing to pay. But, with the present system of enumerators,' those lists cost enormous sums of money, and besides they favour all kinds of frauds which profit to government candidates. I hope therefore that the Government will not exceed the bounds of decency and that if they introduce in the House a Franchise Bill its

principle will be more acceptable than that embodied in the War-time Elections Act and that all those entitled to vote shall have their names on the lists.

In the elections of 1917, a great number of citizens who for twenty years past had exercised the franchise, were denied their rights under the War-time Elections Act, because they were suspected of being opposed to the Government of the day. If the Government earnestly wish to put an end to the unrest in the country, they are bound to enact a Franchise Bill which is fair to everybody; they are hound to go to the people at once in order that the electors of Canada may choose their own representatives.

I am satisfied that when the people pass sentence on the present Government they will 'be anxious to appoint another one which better safeguards the country's interests, that is a Liberal government, worthy of the Canadian nation and the Liberal party, 'as the one we have had from 1896 to 1911, for the happiness and prosperity of the people.

Besides, the present Government have never represented public opinion. It is no use to say that the Unionist Government were elected to win the war-such was and is still their claim-but these gentlemen have no right to say that they have a mandate from the people, for this mandate was juggled away from them by means of the law of Elections in War time -and of the manipulation of the soldiers' vote overseas. I therefore say that the iGovernment have no right to say to the country and to the House that they have the support of the people, that they were elected to win the war iand to save the Empire. If the Government are so confident in the success of their 'administration, if they are so sure that the people are behind them, why do they not appeal to the people, why do they not go and ask them for a renewal of their mandate, not by means of an election that may be juggled away as in 1917, but in an election carried on as they were in 1896 and 1911, when the people were free 'to express their opinion on the choice of their representatives? When the Government decide to go before the people II .am sure of the verdict that they will obtain, and the Government themselves, well .aware of what that verdict would be, will do every thing 'to defeat the amendment proposed by the leader of the Opposition.

I. said a moment ago that 'there is unrest *in the country, an unrest largely due to the present Administration, but also to the high

cost of living. During last session, dt seems to me, a commission was .appointed to inquire into the high cost of living,, to examine how to remedy the situation; but unfortunately nothing has been done by this commission. The most efficient remedy with which the Government might meet the high cost of living would be overproduction and the lowering of the duty on agricultural machines and on all the articles needed by .the farmer. Overproduction is being all the time preached to the farmer; he is everywhere begged to produce and produce always but he is not given the means to produce any more than he does. Were the Government sincere, they would amend the tariff, they would modify it so as to relieve from duty all agricultural implements and all articles of first necessity to the farmer. In this way the farmer could produce more and at much less expenditure, and the consumer would benefit thereby. It seems to me quite important that- the Government should, during the present session, take measures to change 'the situation, to lower the cost of living; and this could be done by an intensive production, fostered, I repeat it, by a lowering of the duties on the agricultural implements and on the articles of first necessity to the farmer.

I would like, by the way, to say a word about the dismissals which are at present taking place in the 'Printing Bureau. As you know, employees .are being dismissed by fifties at least in the Printing Bureau. The reason given is 'that their services are not required and after these men are gone, longer hours are in certain offices imposed upon those that remain. If it is necessary to increase the working hours it must mean that these men were not useless. I have been told that these men were French Canadians, were old men, and that they were thrown on the street without pension, without any .compensation. This surely cannot be called measures of patriotism. As every one knows, the Government hardly practise economy; they spend lavishly, too lavishly even. Why not keep these men in the Printing Bureau? The Government pretend that these employees were dismissed for reasons of economy. If they were sincere let them begin by practising economy themselves. I .protest with energy against these dismissals.

Now, why have Americans been called here to effect a reclassification of the Civil Service? You remember that in 1911, the slogan of the opponents of the Liberal party, the slogan of the Tories, was, "No truck,

no trade with the Yankees". And yet, today, when anything or anybody is needed,, the Government apply to the United States, when we can have here what is needed, when we have Canadians who can do the work with as much intelligence and 'at less cost to the country. When this reclassification was to be made, why were not the chiefs of the departments taken to do it; they knew the situation much better than the Americans called to do the work and to whom fabulous sums were paid for the insignificant labour 'they have performed. I protest against this .abuse.

II again protest against the dismissals I have referred to, and |I hope that the Government will at least see to it that the men thus turned out be treated with justice. Old men of sixty, of seventy, were discharged; I hope that the Government will come 'to their help and will grant them such pensions as they deserve.

Before concluding, I would like to answer some of the remarks made by the hon. member for Peterborough (Mr. Burnham) and by the hon. member for Parkdale (Mr. Mowat), concerning the Liberal party. The hon. member for Parkdale used to be a Liberal, he bears a great name, that of a great Liberal, but I see that he has degenerated and he does not honour that name to-day. He stated that the Liberal party existed no more, that is was extinct in this country and that true Liberals could be found, not on your left, Mir. Speaker, but among those who crossed over to the other side and who are supporting the Government to-day.

The Liberal party is just as alive here as it is in Great Britain and the hon. member for Parkdale must have heard, a few days ago, of the splendid victory won by -the leader of that party in England, Mr. Asquith, in the constituency in which he was nominated for election. He too had been cast -aside because he had refused to compromise on the question of Liberal principles and because he would not follow Lloyd George and enter the coalition. He stayed away, but, to-day, the English Liberals who are just as true to their principles as we are to ours here, rejoice over his return to the British Parliament; I hope he will make it as hot for the coalition Government as the hon. leader of the Opposition has -started to do as regard this Government.

In closing, I must say that I support entirely the amendment introduced by the hon. leader of the Opposition. If the Government feel that they have a record worth

submitting to the people, if they ,are so sure of their re-election, why do they not go and face courageously the electors? Why do they not ask the Governor General for the dissolution of Parliament, in order to submit immediately their political record to the people? Personally, I am anxious for it, because we would be able to again demonstrate to the people of Canada that the hope and future welfare of this country are still with the Liberal party and the leader it selected in the great convention, held in August 1919. That -convention at which the hon. member for Prince was elected as leader, was really democratic, because all the different parts of the country were represented thereat.

With so distinguished a leader, ia loyal disciple -of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the bearer of a great name, and -a descendant of a proud -and noble stock, I a-m convinced that when we shall go before the people, they will recognize their true friends once more and place at the head of the country the eminent leader of the Liberal party, who, I am sure, will do justice to the Province of Quebec and restore in our country the happiness and prosperity which we emjoyed from 1896 to 1911.

On motion of Mr. L. J. Papineau (Beau-harnois), the debate was adjourned.



-Sir GEORGE FOSTER: Mr. Speaker, with the consent of the House, I desire to lay certain documents on the Table.


Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)



Sir George Foster desires, with the unanimous consent of the House, to lay certain documents on the Table.


George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)


I lay on the

Table copies of communications that passed between myself and the Chairman of the Board of Commerce in connection with the resignation of the chairman. The correspondence is as follows:

Board of Commerce of Canada.

Ottawa, 23rd February, 1920. My Dear Sir George.

It is impossible for me to continue further in the office of Chief Commissioner of the Board of Commerce. I trust the Government will select a successor at an early date. This may be treated as a formal resignation if you so wish or I will 6end a more formal document.

As I previously informed you I could not see my way to removing my home to Ottawa and I am under the necessity of returning to

Winnipeg at once. Under these circumstances I should make way for another appointment.

Sincerely yours,

H. A. Robson.

The Right Hon.

Sir George E. Foster, P.C., G.C.M.G.

Board of Commerce of Canada.

Ottawa, February 23, 1920. The Rt. Honourable

Sir George E. Foster, P.C., G.C.M.G.,


My dear Sir George,

My short experience on the Board of Commerce in the administration of The Combines and Fair Prices Act, has led me to views which make it improper for me to hold a position on that Board. The fact is that I am out of sympathy with the Act, and it is my duty to inform you thereof.

The general idea was that the Act was calculated to reduce the cost of living. That impression was largely erroneous. The primary idea of the Act was control of profits on sale of necessaries. To some extent that might affect the cost of living, but high prices and small profits may and in fact do very often coincide.

It is only the thoughtless that imagine that prices should have been brought down and that such was the function of the Board.

The economic policy of the country should be towards high prices and against low prices. Numerous governmental agencies, at the expense of the people of Canada, are doing their best to get the highest world prioes for Canadian produce. In view of this, any machinery to reduce prices of this produce is simply abortive.

But taking the Act as merely profit regulating, in my View it is largely fruitless, also because of the fact recited above, that the producer will find the highest market and the highest profit, and if these are abroad he will send his goods there. Once again I remark that the governments encourage him to do so.

It is futile to think of trying to bring down prices or profits on necessaries in view of above facts.

Dealing with it as a measure to repress profiteering, I have further objection to the Fair Prices part of The Combines and Fair Prices Act (which is the important part of that Act) in that it picks out for profit regulation those classes of producers and traders who deal in the necessaries of life. This regulation does not apply to the great number of other branches of business and occupation. We restrain and discourage the citizen who supplies food and clothing but leave free to profiteer as he pleases the man who deals in nonessentials, or luxuries. We do not touch any excessive charging for service involving mechanical or professional experience. There can only be one effect, i.e., to discourage persons from entering into the production and distribution of the necessaries of life.

There is, to my mind, further objectionable discrimination in- that the measures for controlling the selling prices of the retailer are in terms fairly effective, while those for reaching the manufacurer are not so.

A profiteering measure to reach the distributing class should, in my opinion, be local in its character and be administered locally. Federal machinery cannot reach the grievance effectually throughout all Canada.

[Sir George Foster.)

It seems to me further that the Act actually contains a provision which removes the last chance the consumer had to do anything for himself in reducing the cost of living. There never was before the Act anything to prevent a group of consumers from co-operating in the purchase of necessaries. They took their chance of being able to buy. But a declaration of parliamentary policy crept into the Act, and a manufacturer or wholesaler is not bound to sell to classes who were not accustomed to purchase from such manufacturers and wholesalers. This was designed to head off cooperative movements, which were likely to make progress for the benefit of consumer members and, as I say, restricted a remedy which elsewhere has been of some effect in price control.

I might also add1 that I think the provincial authorities should have been left with power to prosecute combines in any case where they might see fit, without being bound to first apply for a finding of the Board. The inquisitorial provisions of the Act, while of a nature useful in war time for ascertainment and control of food supplies and other necessaries, do not, in my opinion, fit ordinary conditions and only harrass and discourage business men.

I do not wish to be understood as saying that I do not think there is a legitimate and useful field for the Board of Commerce. Great good can be accomplished by the spread of information and by careful administration of investigating machinery. Publicity itself as to the reasonableness of cost and profit will to a substantial extent benefit the consumer. He may thereby know at least whether or not he is being imposed on. My idea is that a Federal body of general character working in with provincial authorities who would enforce anti-profiteering laws would be beneficial. But that is a matter which requires discussion and some re-casting of the Acts. My opinion of them as they now stand is stated above.

I am, yours sincerely, H. A. Robson.

Prime Minister's Office, Canada.

Ottawa, Ont., Feb. 25, 1920.

My dear Judge Robson,-I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 23rd February, in which you say it is impossible for you to continue further in the office of Chief Commissioner of the Board of Commerce and ask that your resignation may be accepted at once. I have brought the matter before Council and an Order was passed to-day, accepting your resignation. Let me express personally my regret that you have found it, for reasons expressed in your letter, impossible to remain any longer in the position of Chief Commissioner or member of the Board.

Yours faithfully,

George E. Foster,

Acting Prime Minister. Hon. H. A. Robson, K.C.,

Board of Commerce,


Ottawa, Ontario,

February 26, 1920.

Dear Judge Robson,-I beg to acknowledge your letter of the 23rd February, in which you give yeur views as drawn from your experience in the operation of the Board of Commerce ad-

ministration and your suggestions as to might he done in the way of amendments to make the machinery more workable and to tetter effect the purposes had in view when the Board of Commerce Act was passed ny Parliament. I thank you for the suggestions, which will be carefully considered by the Government.

Tours faithfully,

George E. Foster,

Acting Prime Minister. Hon. H. A. Robson, K.C.,

Board of Commerce,




Governor General's Warrants; Statement of Expenditure on Account of Miscellaneous Unforeseen Expenses; Statement of Temporary Loans Issued and Outstanding Since the Last Session of Parliament; Annual Report of National Battlefields Commission ; Annual Report of Ottawa Improvement Commission; Statement of Receipts and Expenditure, Royal Society of Canada; Financial Statement of Montreal Turnpike Trust; Report of Superintendent of Insurance, Business of 1918-Life, Fire and Miscellaneous Insurance Companies; Statement of Civil Service Insurance Account; Statement of Superannuation and Retiring Allowances; Public Accounts.-Sir Henry Drayton. On motion of Sir George Foster, the House adjourned at 10.07 p.m. Wednesday, March 3, 1920.

March 2, 1920