John Babington Macaulay Baxter
Hon. J. B. M. BAXTER (St. John City and St. John and Albert Counties) (Translation) :
Mr. Speaker, allow me to offer you my congratulations upon your elevation to the Speaker's Chair. You do honour to your race and il therefore join with others who have spoken in congratulating you. I regret not being; able congratulate you. I regret not being able to perfectly understand the French language when it is spoken. I have read the speech of the hon. member for Westmount and St. Henri (Mr. Mereier) and I congratulate him on his eloquence.
Mr. Speaker, I have tried, though in an imperfect way to signalize at the first opportunity I have had of addressing this Chamber, that great wealth which I think
pertains particularly to the Dominion of Canada in that it is so much richer than the rest of this continent in possessing the,
I hope, united efforts of two great races, with two great languages, and, one might almost say, two great philosophies, and two great aspirations. I trust that we may so conduct the business of this Parliament that any shadow of difference that may have existed in the past may be dissipated and that we may go forward with a more happy vision of the future of Canada, our own Canada, which can only be great in proportion as her sons and her daughters know one another and respect each race, each creed, each portion of the country for that which is best in its aspirations and ideals.
I speak, too, from the standpoint of a party which is by no means yet dead in this country, even though its strength in this House does not proportionately represent its strength in the country. I speak as the member of a party that looks back to those great men, Macdonald and Cartier, who in an infinitely more powerful way than I could do, put before the people of Canada the things that I shall humbly try to express to-day. That spirit still lives in the Conservative party, and the country will yet see its strength, because we are a party that holds true to the old aspirations, a party with a definite and a fixed policy, so that the man or woman in this country who is asked to pass judgment upon our professions knows exactly what those professions are. They do not vary with the longitude and the latitude of the place where they are expressed.
I do not wish to detain the House very long; I merely wish to pass briefly in review some of the things that have impressed me in the debate so far as it has gone. I think that there developed during the discussion three principal questions. The main question seemed to be the railways; second, the revenue required to meet our obligations; and third, possibly incidental to one of the others, the reflection upon that general depression of business which unfortunately prevails and the distress which is actually consequent upon it in some localities. I heard my right hon. leader (Mr. Meighen) call attention to those matters in his discussion of the Speech from the Throne and I awaited with interest the reply which would be made by my hon. friend (Mr. Mackenzie King), the leader of the Government. I expected that there would be a fuller disclosure of the purposes of the
Government than naturally would be made in the speeches, excellent as they were, made by the mover and the seconder of the Address in reply. I expected an amplification of the Speech from the Throne. But, what did I find? I have tried to summarize honestly and fairly the topics touched upon by the leader of the administration. I do not know whether it would be in answer to the comments of my right hon. leader on this side of the House upon the railways, upon revenue, or upon business conditions, but the leader of the Government made as his first important statement, "Quebec is not the only province you lost." Now, really, I do not see how that can dispose of any important question. The people have spoken and this party must, as it does, accept the verdict of the people, and does, as it shall, build for the future to convince those people that they should give a more favourable verdict upon another occasion; but I fail to see how the mere assertion that the party of which I am a member lost the support of any province in the Dominion helps the people of this country to solve the question of the management of the national railways, or tells them particularly what the future of the revenue will be. It may be very good tactics from the purely party standpoint, but it seems to me that this House would perhaps 'be quite as ready to welcome a discussion of the vital matters of to-day, matters which those on this side of the House have been sent here to discuss, matters which have caused unrest among the people, and which must be dealt with, and dealt with rightly and successfully, if our country is to have a future such as we desire. If the leader of the Government wished to place the discussion upon the plane of party politics, if he wished to place it upon the plane of-one might almost say, with all respect-stump speaking, he might at least have balanced the account by informing the House how many actual supporters he himself has from the three Western provinces; and it might not be out of place to make an analysis of the reasons why my hon. friend has not a larger following from these provinces. It is true, members supporting this side were not elected there, but has my hon. friend been. successful? The leader of the Government did enter into a calculation based upon the election returns, a calculation in which,
I think, his arithmetic has betrayed him into a slight error; because if you apply the principle of proportional representation,
as was suggested, I think by the hon. member from Marquette (Mr. Crerar), or some other hon. member during the debate, it will be ascertained that the Conservative party is entitled to a very much larger representation in this House than it pcs-sesses at present. My hon. friend said that the entrance of a third party gave tae Conservative party in many cases the opportunity for victory; but he will find that in many constituencies which his own party carried, their success was very largely due to the same fact-I am told, his own constituency, for example. I do not know whether down by the sea it is only a wraith of political mist, but something drifted to us there in the atmosphere- perhaps it came over from Prince Edward Island-that there would not have been entire sorrow or great heartburning in my hon. friend's party if there had been a minority instead of a majority for him in North York. This appears to be the first point that my hon. friend made in answer to the leader of the Opposition.
The second point he made was when he told the leader of the Opposition: Oh, we should not take campaign literature too seriously. I trust, Sir, that that statement was meant in a jocular sense. If my hon. friend was in earnest it will be well worth the time of this House, and the time of the country, to analyze the statement and to consider what it really means in the political life of Canada. To-day if you go into another chamber in this building you will see upon the walls representations-somewhat crude it is true but still representations-of the power of the printed word; and every member of this House knows that there is nothing more potent in electoral contests than that which appears in the periodical press and in the pamphlets that are issued by the respective political parties. Now, Sir, if it has really come to this, that we should not take these things seriously; if the pamphlets and the newspaper publications issued in behalf of a party are mere trash, and wind, and idle show, then what sincerity can we expect in political life? I will say this, Mr. Speaker-that so far as the literature issued in the last campaign on the part of the official Opposition is concerned, it said exactly the thing that we meant. We put before the people that for which we were standing and what we proposed to do if we were returned to power. It is because of that in a large part of the country we did not get sufficient votes.
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