March 13, 1922

CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I wish to state again, that the hon. gentleman has failed to quote such language from any statement of mine, and I was no party to such an arrangement.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Let me then

say what will be familiar to many hon. members of this House, that after the Imperial Conference the Prime Minis-

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ter of South Africa, General the Right Hon. J. C. Smuts, having read the statement I have just quoted from the Prime Minister of Great Britain in which the latter says that it had been agreed at the Conference that His Majesty's Government would represent the whole Empire at Washington, made the declaration that, so far as South Africa was concerned she did not propose to return to the colonial status, but was going to maintain the status which she had won at the Peace Conference at Paris at the conclusion of the great war, and that South Africa would not be represented by a delegation to be named by the British Government to take its instructions from the British Government but that she would be represented by one of her own delegates acting under instructions from the government of South Africa, representing South Africa as one of the countries belonging to the British Empire, or not be represented at all. If Canada was fortunate enough to be represented at the Conference at Washington by her own representative we have to thank the Prime Minister of South Africa and not the late Prime Minister of our own country for the fact that we had that representation. I might add by way of confirmation of what I have just said, that in a cablegram of October 8th Lord Curzon, British Minister of Foreign Affairs, said bo the British Ambassador at Washington:

We leave to the sole discretion of the United States' Government what powers are to be invited.

He went on to say later:

His Majesty's Government would now prefer to include the Dominion point of view.

So that as regards representation at Washington there seems to have been thpee stages. First the understanding arrived at during the conference of Prime Ministers in which it was apparently agreed that representation at Washington would be by the British delegation appointed by the British Government, receiving its instructions from the British Government and reporting to the British Government, Canada to come in or not to come in according to the decision of the British Government. Then there was the second stage.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I rise to a point of order. I have made a statement on the subject to which the hon. member continuously refers, a subject within my own knowledge which he persists in contradicting. He has no

right to do so. I stated I was no party to any such arrangement at the Imperial Conference that Canada should be represented merely by a delegation appointed by the British Government, taking its directions from the British Government, nor was such an arrangement arrived at while I was a member of the Conference. Our negotiations took place in this regard by correspondence, and from the first I insisted that we should name our delegate and that that delegate should take his instructions from us.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I have no

desire in any way to contradict my right hon. friend, hut I confess that when the Prime Minister of Great Britain makes a statement which he gives to the entire world, which was accepted in South Africa and which was accepted in Australia as being a correct statement, I find it somewhat difficult not to accept that statement as correct.

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CON
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order, order.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I would remind the hon. gentleman that I was not there to the end of the Conference.

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LIB
LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I think if my hon. friend is pleading that he was not present, he should not be so emphatic as to what took place.

Mr. MEIGHEN- I am emphatic as to what I was stating.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order, order.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I am responsible to what I was a party to and only that.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order, order.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I do not know what my right hon. friend is responsible for, hut I do know that we prorogued this House in time to ah low him to be present at the proceedings of the Conference, and I am sorry that he has to make the statement that he was not present at one of the most important meetings of the Conference.

May I pass to another matter which my right hon. friend felt somewhat sensitive upon, and that is the statement in the Speech from the Throne in reference to the revision of the Customs Tariff? My right hon. friend, in the course of his remarks,

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repeatedly said to the hon. members of the House that they should not take too seriously what appears in the Speech from the Throne, that probably before the end of the session they would be considerably disappointed. I have here his exact words. In one place he said that the optimism excited in the Speech from the Throne would probably be "greatly depressed" before the session was over, that the Speech from the Throne was apt to be made up in part of forgotten promises and pledges. He referred in his graphic way to the Speech being "an aggregation of the letters of the alphabet". I am not surprised that my right hon. friend has the opinion he has of declarations in the Speech from the Throne, when one considers how he carried out the pledges which were made in the Speech from the Throne as presented to this Parliament last year. May I, for the purposes of making clear the point of view of the present Administration, quote to my right hon. friend the respective paragraphs in the Speeches from the Throne of this year and last year in regard to this important subject of the tariff? The Speech from the Throne of this year as presented by the present Government reads:

You will be invited to consider the expediency of making some changes in the Customs Tariff. While there are details of revision, the consideration of which will require time and care that are not at present available, there are features of the tariff which it is felt may properly be dealt with during the present session.

My right hon. friend characterizes this paragraph as "pallid and barren." Those are the words he applies to the reference in the Speech to the subject of tariff revision. I am quite prepared to admit that the language of that paragraph is not overdrawn. But let me contrast with it the language of the paragraph in the Speech from the Throne of last year which my right hon. friend was responsible for having presented to this House. Here is his reference on the subject of the tariff:

My advisers are convinced of the necessity for revision of the Customs tariff. In order to secure the most complete information a committee has conducted an extensive and thorough inquiry and has secured the views of all parties and interests in every province. The hearings necessary for this purpose have now been completed, and the conclusions founded thereon will be submitted to you in due course.

That paragraph may not be pale, pallid, barren; but I much prefer the one to which my right hon. friend has taken exception,

which means what it says, to a paragraph that proved to be without any meaning and wholly untrue, and that has never been fulfilled in any particular.

My right hon. friend asks: what are the changes that are to be made in the tariff. He knows very well that the occasion of the debate on the Address in reply to the Speech from the Throne is not a time to discuss tariff changes. I think he may feel well assured that the pledge made will be carried out during the course of the present session, and I think that not only he, but hon. members of this House and the country generally, will rejoice that they have, in the person of my hon. friend the Minister of Finance (Mr. Fielding), the one man above all others, in this Dominion, in whom the people of Canada, irrespective of party, have the utmost confidence in dealing with financial and tariff matters.

My right hon. friend seemed to be grieved that during the course of the campaign, in touching on tariff matters, I had made use of a little simile which served to describe my attitude in relation to the management of public affairs and to the tariff in particular. He seemed to think that in dealing with these important public matters, I should not have spoken of a chart and compass, and he sought to convey the impression-at least I thought he did- that in some way or another I had resorted, during the course of the campaign, to an attitude which was wholly new, and which was giving me some means of escape from dealing with tariff matters other than that which I had previously taken. He referred to the convention of the summer of 1919 and intimated that at that convention a platform had been drafted to which I was necessarily obligated, and that in some way I was betraying that whole convention, in the recent campaign, in not going forward with that platform in hand and saying that regardless altogether of existing conditions or the language therein contained, I was supporting it exactly as expressed. In order that there may be no doubt as to the position I took at the time of the convention of 1919 in reference to the platform as laid down, let me read the words which I addressed at that time to the assembled delegates. I have in my hand a copy of the proceedings of the Liberal Convention, and at page 199, my right hon. friend will find the following:

I should he unworthy ot any measure of the confidence you have so abundantly bestowed were I not fully conscious of my own

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lack of Parliamentary experience, my own lack of training in public life, my own limitations in a thousand and one directions adequately to meet the obligations of this great duty, this great honour, which you have conferred. I should despair altogether of being able even to attempt to discharge its obligations were it not that I know that one who is called upon to accept the office of leadership must first and foremost be the willing servant of all, and that in seeking in the spirit of service to meet the wishes of those who have chosen him as their leader, he may look for guidance and counsel to the great forces

assembled about him I hope you will

feel that in seeking to do the work of the Liberal party in the way I believe the Liberal party would wish it to be done, I shall rely upon the counsel of those who are outstanding in the ranks of the party, the Liberal members of the Senate, the Liberals in the House of Commons, the leaders of the party in the several provinces, the representative men who are gathered together here; and that in this way I shall find a compass which will point the direction that ought to be taken, and will point it aright.

If more is needed, that more is to be found in the platform which has been laid down by this Convention. That platform, ladies and gentlemen, is the chart on which is plotted the course desired by the people of the country, as expressed through the voice of the Liberals assembled here. So, with this chart and this compass, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, let us press on from this moment, a great, a united, a mighty force, making ever for new liberty, for wider freedom, for greater righteousness, in the public affairs of this nation; press on, ever more zealous and united, till we have reached the goal where the principles and policies laid down on this historic occasion will have become, through legislation, part of the law of our land.

That was the position which I took on the occasion of being honoured with the leadership of the Liberal party at the convention of 1919. That is the position which I took during the recent campaign, and that is the position which I take at the present time. I look upon these questions of Government, not as questions to be decided by any one man, but as matters requiring the most mature and careful consideration which it is possible for men of many points of view, assembled together, to give to them, and as long as I have the privilege of being entrusted with the responsible position which I at present enjoy, I shall ever look to the able men who are associated with me for the guidance and direction which I need in regard to these all-important public questions.

May I pass on from this subject, because the question of the tariff will come up at an appropriate time and need not be dealt with further at this moment, and speak just for a minute in reference to

the subject of railways which was also alluded to by my right hon. friend? The leader of the Opposition stated that there was no need for having any reference in the Speech from the Throne to the subject of railways because it did not involve legislation. I am sure that if my right hon. friend looks over previous speeches from the Throne with the preparation of which he has had to do, he will find references to many subjects which do not require legislation one way or the other. The reference may not have been necessary on the ground that it did not involve legislation; but it was necessary that the country and Parliament should be informed at the opening of Parliament exactly as to the purpose of the ministry with respect to the National railroads which are in our possession at the present time, and the most appropriate place to make such . a declaration was in the Speech from the Throne. The statement of the Government's position has been made, I think, with sufficient clearness to be intelligible to all hon. members of the House; but I would remind my right hon. friend that the proper person to discuss railway policy is the Minister of Railways (Mr. Kennedy), and I would prefer, until he has had an opportunity of addressing members of the House, to defer saying anything further with respect to the meaning of co-ordination as set forth in the Speech from the Throne. I think the language must be perfectly clear to hon. members. If there is any doubt as to what is in the Government's mind, that doubt will be dispelled by the hon. Minister of Railways and Canals (Mr. Kennedy) himself.

I cannot however, let pass what my right hon. friend said in reference to the present position of the country and its railways. As I listened to his remarks it seemed to me that they implied that when the Administration of which he was a member took office the country was overburdened with railways, and that that was the reason why we have the serious railway problem we have to-day. If what my right hon. friend says is true, that when the Administration of which he was a member came into office the country was, to use his expression, over-railroaded, I am at a loss to understand how he can defend the extent to which railway construction was carried on after 1911. Let me read from a report which I think he will quickly recognize and not be apt to dispute. I have in my hand the report of the Royal Commission to inquire into Railways and

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Transportation in Canada, made by Sir H. L. Drayton and Mr. W. M. Acworth.

I think the former gentleman is the hon. member who sits to the left of the leader of the Opposition. What does the hon. member for West York (Sir Henry Drayton) say in that report? To quote from page 10:

In 1901, with a population of 5.371,315, Canada had 18,140 miles of railway in operation ; roughly a mile of railway for every 300 inhabitants. In 1911, the population had increased 34 'per cent to 7,206,643, while the mileage had increased by 40 per cent, to 25,400 miles; a mile of railway to every 284 inhabitants. Since 1911-

Which was the time that the Administration, of which my right hon. friend later became a member, took office,-

Since 1911 the population has, it is understood, not much increased, but the railway mileage open and under construction has grown to 40,584 miles. In other words, Canada has to-day-

That is, 1919.

-taking the present population as 7,500,000, only 185 inhabitants to support each mile of railway. *

In addition to that statement I have also here the evidence of a gentleman who was called before the Select Standing Committee on Canadian National Railways and Shipping at the last session of Parliament, the evidence of Mr. A. J. Mitchell, one of the directors, and vice-president, of the Board of Management of the Canadian Northern Railway system. At page 107 of the report of that committee the following appears from his evidence:

For the year ending June 30th, 1914, the Canadian Northern Railway system had an operating mileage of 4,563 miles, with gross earnings of $23,781,328. Last year, for 1920, the mileage was 9.788 miles in operation, and the gross earnings were $68,541,393. In other words, there was over double the mileage in 1920 that there was in 1914. To be exact, 5,225 miles were added to the Canadian Northern Railway for operation since June 30th, 1914.

Let my right hon. friend reflect that 1914 was the year the war commenced. Then, if at any time, we should have ceased railway building. He will surely begin to see the extent of the responsibility of his Government in permitting the continued building of railways. We were already over-railroaded, as my right hon. friend says, yet we continued to build to the extent of 5,225 miles. My right hon. friend fails to place responsibility for the railway situation where it properly belongs.

The position we are in to-day is due in large part to this excessive construction

during a period when construction should have been discontinued altogether. It is due further to the fact that the government which succeeded the government of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, instead of seeking to carry out in a sympathetic way the large vision which prompted the construction of the Grand Trunk Pacific, a vision which foresaw a great national highway connecting the waters of the Atlantic with those of the Pacific in a manner which would serve to unite this country, industrially, politically and commercially,-instead of seeking to realize that vision sympathetically, the government of which my right hon. friend was a member did all in its power to make that project a failure.

My right hon. friend had a good deal tc say this afternoon as to the success of government operation depending upon whc was administering national affairs. I could not help thinking that at the time he was speaking of the fulness of his heart and knowledge. He has had to do with the administration of the Grand Trunk Pacific and the other railways and he knows, perhaps better than anyone else in Canada, how a road can be made a failure if you do not wish to make it a success. So far as this Administration is concerned, I will not for one moment accept any of the insinuations or suspicions of my right hon. friend in regard to its intentions in administering the national railroads. We intend to give government ownership of the National system, which as the Speech from the Throne states now extends through all the provinces, the fairest trial under auspices the most favourable it is possible for a government to secure. We go into it with all sincerity and in the hope that we may make it a success. I will say with perfect candour that there are hon. gentlemen on this side of the House, as I know there are hon. gentlemen on the other side of the House, who doubt very much whether public ownership can be made the success which private ownership might. But there are others who believe that it can be made a success, and so far as it is possible for this Government to demonstrate what can be done under government ownership, it is our intention to see that it is done.

Now, Mr. Speaker, my right hon. friend had something to say in regard to the marketing of wheat. He took exception tc the fact that there was no mention in the the Speech from the Throne of the method which the Government proposed to adopt as respects marketing facilities for this

The Address

great commodity of Western Canada. If there is an omission in the Speech in that particular, it has been made designedly. I think I am right when I say that the right hon. the leader of the Opposition has one view, which he has expressed, as to the way in which wheat should be marketed, but that view does not accord with the view which my hon. friend from Marquette (Mr. Crerar) holds. I think there are others who hold yet another view. If I am correct, there are three main bodies of opinion a-s to the manner in which the marketing of wheat may best be carried on. The first may be described as the compulsory wheat board method, such as we had in Canada in 1919. The second is the voluntary wheat board method, such as my right hon. friend advocated during the campaign. The third is the farmers' own co-operative method carried on by the cooperative companies, such as the United Grain Growers, of which the hon. member for Marquette is president, and the Saskatchewan Co-operative Company, they holding the view that these co-operative companies should handle the crop themselves. Here are three bodies of opinion, each of which is entitled to consideration. The Government is anxious in this matter to do the best it can to serve the interests of Western Canada. Under the circumstances, is it possible to devise a better method of ascertaining what is likely to be of most service to those interests than that this question should, during the present session, be referred to the Select Standing Committee of Agriculture, with power to go carefully into the whole matter and report to the House as to which if any of the three methods it would recommend, or what course it thinks can be taken with most advantage? I may say that the Government has decided that that course will be adopted with respect to this important question. I hope that on that committee we shall have representatives from all groups in this House so that the policy ultimately adopted will be based upon the best information that can be obtained.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I think I have touched on most of the points which my right hon. friend dealt with in the course of his remarks. He made some reference to the reduction of freight rates, but I think I will leave that matter also until my colleague the Minister of Railways (Mr. Kennedy) has occasion to speak on the subject. I might point out, however, that while it is perfectly true, as the leader of the Opposition has said, that the Board

of Railway Commissioners has power to regulate the railway rates, there is nothing which precludes the Administration from using its influence to bring together the different railway companies with a view to their taking, of their own accord, a course which should result in a reduction of freight rates on basic commodities in the best interests of all parties concerned. That step has already been taken and we hope that the railway companies will see the wisdom of speedily bringing about a reduction on basic articles. If it is not successful, then it will be for Parliament to consider other methods which will, perhaps, be more effective.

My right hon. friend concluded his address by making reference at considerable length to negotiations that took place prior to the formation of the present Administration. A little earlier in the course of his remarks he taunted me with having given a somewhat broad interpretation to the word " Liberalism indeed, he went so far as to say that I had made the word almost synonymous with "political dishonesty." Well, may I say to my right hon. friend that at least I have never been ashamed of the name of the party with which I have been connected. When my right hon. friend was in power in a previous Administration, it was first of all, I think, the "Liberal-Conservative" Administration. That name became questionable, and my right hon. friend was one of those who helped to give the new Administration the name of "Unionist." That name lasted for a short while, but it became even worse, and when mr right hon. friend's predecessor went out of office, my hon. friend took it upon himself to insist that the party should have a new name and gave it the name " National Liberal and Conservative "-whatever that meant.

That was his first act in becoming Leader of the Government. I nov understand that my right hon. friend's party has just held another caucus, and that this time he has insisted on another change. He calls his party once more "Liberal-Conservative." Well, I do not know what interpretation may be placed upon the word, "Liberal" in that case, but if I am to judge the meaning of the word by hon. gentlemen who surround my right hon. friend at the present moment, for my part, I should never stretch the word " Liberal " sufficiently to include any of them. Speaking of "political dishonesty," if he wishes to avoid the charge, I think my right hon. friend should come right out

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and call his following what it is-"Tory"; a Tory administration of the old type. May I suggest to my right hon. friend that when he is criticising others in the language they use he should be a little more careful. If there is one gentleman more than another in this country who is apt to use extreme and at times offensive phrases, it is my right hon. friend.

Let me say, Mr. Speaker, with respect to the negotiations which preceded the formation of the Government, that I have nothing to conceal; indeed, I am only too happy to have opportunity to repeat on the floor of the House what I have already said publicly. I do not know that there is any obligation upon the leader of a Government to explain any of the negotiations relating to the formation of a ministry; on the other hand, I am quite willing, if only to satisfy the curiosity of my right hon. friend, to give him the fullest and most candid account.

When I was called upon to take the responsible step of forming a government, I naturally, Mr. Speaker, looked over the situation as it presented itself as a result of the elections. I saw that in three of the western provinces the representation in this Parliament was for the most part Progressive, with two or three exceptions it was exclusively such. During the campaign I heard, and I read also in a number of papers, declarations made by candidates to the effect that as Progressives they were really Liberals ; that their point of view was a Liberal point of view. I was perfectly sincere when I said, and I repeat it here, that I believe many of the hon. members who belong to the Progressive Party regard themselves, if you like, as Progressive Liberals. May I say that in so far as the word " Progressive " indicates an attitude, my hon. friends of the Progressive party will find the present Government wholly in sympathy with them. The word "Liberal," to my mind, has always stood and will ever stand for progress. To the extent to which my Progressive friends use the word " Progressive " as indicating an attitude to be taken toward questions which come before Parliament for discussion; to the extent to which that word is synonymous with " Liberal," they will find this Government wholl ' in sympathy with them. So far as the word may have any meaning which relates it to Class, there may be a difference between us; because Liberalism implies a point of view which embraces not merely one class but is broad enough to include representatives of

all Classes Who take a like attitude upon public questions. The fact which confronted me when I was forming the Government was the circumstance I have just mentioned, that in three of the provinces, the representation was almost exclusively Progressive representation. To my mind there can be nothing more unfortunate for this Dominion than that any part of it should have cause to feel that it is not to have its voice in the councils of the country. I feel that the whole purpose of Confederation itself would be menaced if any great body of opinion, any considerable section of this Dominion of Canada, should have reason to think that it was without due representation in the shaping of national policies and in the carrying on of our public affairs. I was anxious,therefore, that so far as the Government I was endeavoring to form was concerned, Western Canada would never be able to say that the Liberal Party adopted other than a generous attitude toward those who opposed some of its followers. So, Mr. Speaker, I made it known to gentlemen who, I believed, were representative of Progressive thought and opinion that I was prepared to consider taking into the Government members of the Progressive Party who enjoyed its confidence; but I made it quite plain that I would1 only consider that representation on the basis of its coming into a Liberal Administration. I was quite sincere When I said during the course of the campaign that I thought coalitions were a mistake. We have only to recall the Government of which my hon. friend was a member to realize how costly coalitions are, to realize how full of compromise and how inefficient they are. What the country needs most, and I believe British parliamentary practice has gone far to prove it, is an administration sufficiently of one mind and sufficiently strong to be able to adopt policies of great national importance and carry them through in a way that will help to make for good and strong government in the country. That was the position which I took in regard to our western friends in the formation of the Government. I take that position to-day and I will always take it as long as I have to do with the affairs of the government in this country. Any body of opinion in Canada which represents itself as Liberal will be entitled to a place in the councils of this country, but it must be for gentlemen themselves to say whether or not they wish to have their views regarded as Liberal, or as of some other point of view. All I wish to

Grain Commission

make plain at the moment, Mr. Speaker, is this: If we are to have a happy, a united and prosperous Canada, we must seek at all times to give, so far as it may be possible, representation to kindred bodies of opinion in the work of the administration of our country. I am sorry that we have not in the Government at the present moment representation from that large Western group. I say it in perfect frankness, and I say it simply because I feel that the more united those of us are who are opposed to Toryism, the more likely wt are to secure the enactment of Liberal policies. But what we have been unable to do as a Government, I hope we shall be able successfully to do in this Parliament. In other words, I hope that it will be possible for this administration to make it plain to hon. members that the Cabinet regards itself not as some group of supermen imposing their will upon the House of Commons, but as a committee of the House of Commons, responsible to the House of Commons, anxious to get the freest and fullest discussion of all public questions, and willing to carry out the will and the wish of the House of Commons to the best of their ability.

May I say, and with this I wish to conclude, that I agree with the hon. mover of the Address (Mr. McMurray) that the people of this country are greatly indebted to the sister province of Quebec for having through one of its constituencies afforded a place in this Parliament and in the Government, to a gentleman who for many years held the position of Prime Minister of the province of Alberta. I think my friends from Alberta sitting opposite to me will agree that he enjoyed the confidence of the people of that province as few men have ever enjoyed it, also that, notwithstanding circumstances which limited followers of the Government so far as Western Canada is concerned to the numbers they are, that in the choice as Minister of Agriculture of this Dominion, of my hon. friend from Regina (Mr. Motherwell), -who for thirteen years was Minister of Agriculture in the province of Saskatchewan, and in the choice of the hon. Minister of the Interior (Mr. Stewart), who, as I have just mentioned, was for many years the Premier of the sister province of Alberta, western opinion is represented at the council board and there is reason to feel that full consideration will be given at all times to the needs and to the rightful aspirations of the Western provinces.

We have a great country, but we can only keep it great as we have all parts united and contented. That; Mr. Speaker, above all else will be the aim of the present Administration, to see that every shade of opinion, other than that to which we are diametrically opposed, every shade of Liberal and Progressive thought is duly considered in the shaping of the policies of the Government and in the carrying out of those policies. In that way I believe, now that we have a new Parliament and a new Government, we may look forward to a new era of prosperity, contentment and happiness and, above all, of unity in our Dominion.

On the motion of Mr. Crerar the debate was adjourned.

On the motion of Mr. Mackenzie King the House adjourned at 9.58 p.m.

Tuesday, March 14, 1922.

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March 13, 1922