June 21, 1923

LIB
PRO
LAB
LIB

SENATE AND HOUSE OF COMMONS ACT AMENDMENT

LIB

Lomer Gouin (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Sir LOMLR GOUIN (Minister of Justice):

I understand that the bill to amend the Senate and House of Commons Act has been distributed. If the House is willing, we might consider this bill now.

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Some hon. MEMBERS:

Carried.

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LIB

Hewitt Bostock (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

When this bill was called this afternoon its consideration was fixed for the next sitting, and unless the House agrees to revert to that order the bill cannot be considered to-night.

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Some hon. MEMBERS:

Carried.

Sir LOMER GOUIN moved that the House go into committee on Bill No. 232 to amend the Senate and House of Commons Act.

Motion agreed to and the House went into committee on the bill, Mr. Gordon in the chair.

On clause 1-Sessional allowance.

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LIB

Georges Henri Boivin

Liberal

Mr. BOIVIN:

Mr. Chairman, I desire to

say that after discussing this clause with a certain number of hon. members of the opposition and ministers of the Crown it has been decided to amend it to meet the objection -which was made the other day upon the motion for concurrence in the report of the committee, by the hon. member for Swift Current (Mr. Lewis) . He pointed out that if a session of fifty days or more did not exceed sixty-five days, some hon. members might receive a full sessional indemnity, whereas other hon. members who were unavoidably absent for only a few days would only be paid at the rate of S25 per day. There is a genera! desire to meet any legitimate objection and I therefore move to substitute for the word "fifty' in the second line of section 32, the word "sixty-five."

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Amendment agreed to.


PRO

Agnes Campbell Macphail

Progressive

Miss MACPHAIL:

Mr. Chairman, all

last session and this session we have heard economy preached in this House not only by one particular group but by all groups. Unfortunately no economy can be practised without hurting somebody; it must stop works which would give employment to people, or less wages must be paid. Yet it would seem that at the rate at which expenditures are increasing and the earning power of a great portion of the people decreasing, something will have to be done in the way of rigid and painful economy. I believe that economy, like charity, should begin at home. Possibly it would hurt the other (fellow less, he who has been practising economy until it does hurt, if we here practised a little economy of our own. The Minister of Finance (Mr. Fielding) on May 23, 1922, said:

I must to-day present two thoughts which ares of paramount importance. The first is as to the need, the deep and earnest need, of economy. That means that we must appeal both to members of parliament and to the people to pass what I may call self-denying ordinances.

I believe that when the indemnity was increased in 1920 the chief argument in its favour was that the price of everything had gone up. If that argument was good then, it is surely true that the opposite argument is good now, because the cost of living is surely, if slowly, becoming less. Farm products have almost lost their value. I have heard members in this House admit that last

Senate and House of Commons

year they took part of their indemnity to make up the deficiency on their farms. That makes me wonder how the man is getting along who has a farm but no indemnity.

I intend to move an amendment to this clause which will ask members to place upon themselves a self-denying ordinance. If we do this we shall then have much more weight in explaining to our constituents that it is bad policy to ask for what might be called "grab" improvements for any particular constituency. There is no need to dwell upon the severe economic depression through which we are passing. Some believe that we are through the worst of it, and I hope they are right, but at least it can be said that Ontario agriculturists to-day are suffering more acutely than for many years past. I am led to move this amendment because I know a great maDy people have been forced this year to do without telephones and daily pape;, not because they are luxuries, but because they must do without something in order to make their income and their expenses meet.

The real reason however, that I am anxious to amend this clause is that those who are suffering because of the rigid economy which they must practise would be helped in spirit by us here passing upon ourselves a self-denying ordinance. Of late years the impression has gone abroad that members of parliament are more concerned about themselves-which would include their pay-than about anyone else. This is not a desirable condition, and possibly if at great suffering to ourselves we decreased our pay, ultimately this suspicion would be removed and our selfdenial 'would really do a great deal towards putting heart into the people who to-day are suffering.

Now possibly it will be said, or at least it will be thought by a great many members that it is expensive to be a member of parliament, that we are supposed to give to all charitable and all sporting and all literary needs in our constituencies. My own opinion is that generous giving to many things in a constituency is a subtle way of buying popularity. I do not mean by that that we should be robbed of the privilege as individuals of giving where we think we should, but this wholesale sort of giving that one associates with politics and politicians is, I am convinced, bad for the giver and bad for the receiver of the gift. That is one thing on which I took a rigid stand during my campaign. I carefully explained that I would not give to people who came begging for gifts, and I have lived up to that, with I believe no disastrous results either to myself or those

asking for the gifts. It is true that a member of parliament between sessions because of an awakened and interested electorate works much more strenuously now than in days gone by. I think that sort of thing should be increased and encouraged. I for one intend to cover thoroughly as I did last recess my riding, but I do not think the cut which I shall ask at the conclusion of this speech will prevent any member so inclined from meeting his electorate.

I believe that another one of the chief pleas that was put up by the members of the government of 1920 when this' increase was made was that it would do away with the party fund, that if the members were given $4,000 a year they would not be slaves to the party nor to the party fund. The best proof that that is not true is the voting as we have witnessed it in this House. Then is it asking too much-

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LIB

Thomas Vien

Liberal

Mr. VIEN:

Would my hon. friend allov

me a question? Does she mean that we are voting to-day in this House because we are dictated to by those who subscribed the electoral funds? Is that what my hon. friend means?

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PRO

Agnes Campbell Macphail

Progressive

Miss MACPHAIL:

The hon. member who asked the question knows the answer better than I do.

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LIB

Thomas Vien

Liberal

Mr. VIEN:

Then, Mr. Chairman, I protest, and I rise to a point of order. I am extremely sorry to call my lady colleague to order but I cannot bear either her or anybody else to say tha; my vote in this House is being dictated by those who contribute my electoral funds. I for one received no electoral funds from anybody under the sun either in my election of 1917 or my election of 1921, and I would like to know how much my hon. friend received hersrif from the associations who support the party that sends her here. My hon. friend in committee and in the House-

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PRO
LIB
LIB

George Newcombe Gordon (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

It is the point of order that is being discussed.

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LIB

Thomas Vien

Liberal

Mr. VIEN:

My hon. friend in committee

as well as in the House is prompt to say that our votes are dictated by the powers that be or by big interests. I for one at least protest against that habit, and I for one at least may say that my votes are dictated only by my conscience. I trust that the votes of my hon. friend are the same.

Senate, and Home of Commons

I think, Mr. Chairman, that I have the right to ask my hon. friend to withdraw that aspersion.

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LIB

George Newcombe Gordon (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

Does any other hon.

gentleman desire to speak on the point of order? Does the hon. member for Southeast Grey (Miss Maephail) desire to speak on the point of order?

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June 21, 1923