February 2, 1926

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Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order.

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CON

George Brecken Nicholson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. G. B. NICHOLSON (East Algoma):

I think you, Sir, will agree that parliament today is faced with an entirely unprecedented situation. I am perfectly aware that precedents have not counted for very much in this parliament; but I question whether jyau can find an analogy for what is presented to us to-day in the history of parliaments! anywhere. We have a government, or what professes to be a government, calling parliament together in terms such as these: " For the despatch of business, to treat, do and conclude ''-and so on. This parliament was called to meet on January 7, but in order that we may get a background for the manner in which it was summoned and the reason of its being called, perhaps I may be permitted to go a little farther back in retrospect.

The last parliament was dissolved about a year and a half before its time when there was at least another full session ahead! of it had the government desired to carry on. Parliament was dissolved on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, and I have under my hand the Prime Minister's own statement as to the reasons why the last parliament was dissolved, and the necessity with which he and his government were faced for a fresh appeal to the people. I do not intend1 to go into those reasons at any length more than to say that the Prime Minister himself, in setting them forth, dteclared that Canada was confronted with three outstanding problems of the greatest importance-problems that he

and his government could not cope with, problems such as parliament itself as then constituted could not deal with. These were transportation, immigration and the fiscal policy.

At the moment I am not going to enter into a consideration of either of these three problems, beyond pointing out that because these problems could not be solved, according to the Prime Minister, without a new parliament, the last parliament was dissolved and an appeal taken to the people. What happened after that appeal it is unnecessary for us to go into, but hon. gentlemen sitting on what is left of the government benches know the facts perfectly well. Subsequently a series of statements was issued to the Canadian people by the defeated Prime Minister as to the course he intended to pursue, and afterwards we were called here under the terms set out in the proclamation in the Canada Gazette summoning parliament. Parliament met in due course and a speech was placed in the mouth of His Excellency the Governor General, which speech is presumed to outline the programme with which parliament is supposed to deal. We have been here now almost four weeks, discussing this programme-this so-called programme-of proposed legislation; and we have reached the point where the government comes to us to-day and says, "Notwithstanding the fact that, we called parliament together from the four corners of this vast Dominion

brought members here from the Yukon, from British Columbia, from the Northwest Territories, and from the Maritime provinces at very considerable expense and trouble to themselves-notwithstanding the fact that we have set in motion all the machinery of parliament, notwithstanding the fact that we are presuming to continue to function as a government, we cannot proceed beyond this point. We must have an 'adjournment, we must have a period of delay in which we can dicker and deal as we may, in order that we may put a little new flesh around our naked bones and enable us to carry on a little further." And what reason was given for this? The Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe) speaking in the House a few days ago, said that he considered it only fair that the Prime Minister should be given some opportunity to form a new government. How long is it going to take the Prime Minister to form his new government? That government was shot all to pieces on October 29 last. Has he himself recovered from the shock he received in North York, or is he still in such a haze of thought that he has found it impossible to make up his mind as to what kind of government he is going to form?

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Is not three and a half months sufficient time to enable the Prime Minister to determine whether he is going to have a government or not? Mr. Speaker, if we will look dispassionately at this whole matter, we will find the real reason why parliament was called. It never was the intention of hon. gentlemen opposite that parliament should come together on January 7th and deal with the Speech that was put into the mouth of His Excellency the Governor General. I make bold to say if the catch resolution proposed by the Minister of Justice on the day this parliament assembled had been accepted by the House, had it been possible for the hon. member opposite to have had that resolution passed, the Speech from the Throne would not have been considered at all. No, that was not the purpose. The purpose in bringing parliament together, as I said a moment ago, is being disclosed! in the resolution today, and it is very manifest to anyone who has been following the course of events ever since parliament assembled. What was it? It was simply that by sophistry or by any other means they liked to employ, they might extract a vote of confidence from parliament that they were unable to get from the people on the 29th October last. They wanted to put Mr. King in this position; that he could go into the far-off constituency of Prince Albert, in the northern part of Saskatchewan -not daring to open a constituency in his native province of Ontario or Prince Edward Island where he last had a seat in this House, not daring to open a constituency in New Brunswick, or in Manitoba or in British Columbia or in any of the other provinces-but in order that he might go into that constituency, not as a defeated Prime Minister, not as a candidate who had been refused endorsation by the constituency of North York, but as a Prime Minister who had1 freshly thrown over his shoulders the mantle of confidence that he had extracted from the members of this House by the promises in the Speech from the Throne.

Now, Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member for West York (Sir Henry Drayton) asked a moment ago: Have any of these pressing problems with which the country was facedl on the 5th September last, when the Hon. Mr. Mackenzie King was speaking in North York, been solved? Has parliament given its attention to any of the things pressing upon the Canadian people? Has the transportation problem been solved? Has the immigration problem been solved)? Has the fiscal problem been solved? Are we on the way to solve any of these problems? On a motion

such as is before the House to-day I am conscious of the fact that it is not in order that we shall discuss these things, more than to say that the transportation problem is still pressing. The people of Canada are getting day by day further and further away from the possibility of ever making the Canadian National Railways a success, because of what is taking place and has been taking place on account of the inefficiency of the government which has occupied the seats on the other side of the House. The immigration problem has not been solved, but the emigration problem is being intensified because of the fact that our own Canadian citizens cannot get employment in their own country. Mr. Speaker, we have heard a great deal in the last two or three weeks in regard to the improved conditions throughout the country. There is no Minister of Labour on the government benches; there is no Minister of Immigration and Colonization, so far as we are able to tell, and no government to which we can appeal; there is no Minister of Railways and Canals, and I would challenge any member of the remnant of this government, or any member sitting on the other side of the House, I care not who he is or where he comes from, to point to a single village, town or city, in this vast Dominion from North Cape Breton in the east to Vancouver Island in the west, where a dozen Canadians can go to-day or to-morrow with a reasonable assurance of getting honourable employment. And yet hon. members say conditions are as they should be in this country, that there is no further necessity for parliament to continue in session, and that we do not need now to consider the problems which the Prime Minister said were so pressing.

We have seen and have heard some strange things within the last three weeks in this House. We have heard it stated for example that the expressed will of the Canadian people in a general election need not be given consideration, that it is the right of parliament, of members of the House of Commons, to come to this House, and, in direct violation of the expressed will of the people, take whatever course they chose. We have seen the Minister of Justice standing in his place, pointing his hand to members on this side of the House and saying, "We will be able to carry on with your co-operation, but if you are not prepared to co-operate we will carry on in spite of you.'' We have heard of the Minister of Customs and Excise going to Montreal and telling the people there that this government will carry on if they get the support of parliament, but that they will

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carry on whether they get that support or not, and that nothing but a vote of the Canadian people will cause the government to resign. Taking such a position, they have not only flouted the country, but have thrown back into the faces of the Canadian people the verdict that they rendered when they defeated the government at the polls and declared that Canada required a new government. Now they come and say, "We have no further use for parliament. It is true we brought you here and asked the members to come and conduct the people's business, but parliament is an inconvenient thing for a government such as this." You know, Mr. Speaker, that when parliament is in session the government may have to answer questions, and that there should be a government to answer these questions. When a programme of legislation is submitted it is necessary that there shall be a government or members of a government, to take direction of and responsibility for that programme of legislation. These hon. members know there is no such government. They know that in reality there is no government that can take direction of or responsibility for this legislation, and consequently they want to get rid of parliament. They want to send the members of the House back home and take a further six weeks, which will bring us to the Easter recess, without parliament having done one thing towards enacting any of the legislation they submitted to parliament, or without having made one single step towards solving the problems they said they had to solve. It is true that only a few days ago one of the ministers sitting on the government benches, speaking with regard to one of these problems said, "How can a parliament constituted as this is, or how can a government in a parliament such as this, solve a problem of that character?"-referring to the transportation problem, repeating what the ex-Prime Minister has said in announcing the dissolution of parliament. At the time of dissolution he had a clear majority in the House of Commons of members on his own side, and he was consistently supported by sixty-three or sixty-four members in the Progressive group during the whole session of parliament. But he said, "I cannot depend on this kind of support. These are not the members of parliament the government should have behind them if they are going to solve such problems." In other words he said, "We want members of parliament who are capable of dealing with problems of this character." Now they come back and say, "Notwithstanding all that we have said, notwithstanding our condemnation of this group as a menace to

the public life of this country,"-to use his words as expressed in Regina and Saskatoon- "if we can extract from them by any means whatever a vote of confidence that will make it possible for us to ask parliament under these circumstances to carry on, we will endeavour to do so."

During the weeks that have passed one thing has been made clear, and perhaps the government has accomplished one thing that it set out to do. As far as we can learn, it has been able to establish a definite, offensive and defensive alliance with the hon. member for Brandon (Mr. Forke) who leads the Progressive group and such of that group as he is able to bring in behind him and in support of this government. Notwithstanding the bitter things that were said with regard to myself and other members in this group by the hon. member for Rosetown (Mr. Evans) in his speech of a few days ago, I have no objection to the hon. member for Brandon entering into any alliance that he chooses with the Mackenzie King government, or with Mr. Mackenzie King himself, or with those who sit in the gallery and direct from there the course that this government shall take. But it might be interesting for the House just to have put before it the terms under which this alliance has taken place or is to take place. On January 11, the Ottawa Citizen, the special organ of Mr. Mackenzie King, and proclaiming itself as the special organ of the hon. member for Brandon as well, had this to say:

The Progressives can co-operate with the Liberals, just as Labour members can co-operate with the Progressives, without sacrificing one iota of political independence.

I question very much whether the hon. member for Brandon would have to go very far in making sacrifices if his independence were called in question in connection with this matter. The Ottawa Citizen continues:

At the same time, it will need to be whole-hearted, effective co-operation. . . . There is, of course, the sad tale of the young lady of Riga, who rode on the back of a tiger, and there is also the story of the spider and the fly; but radicals and Progressives who feared to attend a Liberal caucus, lest they suffered a like fate, would label themselves as frail young persons or silly flies.

This is the conclusion:

There is this question to be taken into consideration, however: Unless the government has the assistance of Progressive members in caucus, to help to enlighten members of the Liberal party, or to interest some indifferent members, how can ministers be expected to shoulder the burden of putting the desired measures through parliament? The government must be assured of effective co-operation.

The writer in the Ottawa Citizen need not have worried as to that. The government, or such members of the government as were

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left at that time, had no thought of shouldering any responsibiliy for putting any measures through parliament as parliament is constituted to-day.

Just a few days later, on January 15, the hon. member for Brandon made this statement as reported in the Toronto Star:

There will have to be some means of co-operation. We can't sit on the fence and simply pass judgment. We will have to agree to co-operate with the government in putting through that legislation which they have promised.

There is the other side to the contract. The conditions were laid down in the Ottawa Citizen under date of January 11: That the

Progressives should go into caucus; that they should enlighten the benighted members on the Liberal side of the House, and the terms of capitulation were outlined in the statement given to the Toronto Star. Following on a little further, we find this statement on January 28:

The legislative programme of parliament was under discussion at a lengthy conference which took place between Premier King, members of the government and the executive of the Progressive party to-day.

I wonder which members of the government are referred to. Were the Montreal and Toronto wings of the government there? At this point, may I say that members on this side of the House have the utmost sympathy for hon. gentlemen who are endeavouring to carry on as the government in this country. It is not an easy matter, nor a pleasant task, for members to foe faced day by day with problems such as are likely to come up in a parliament constituted such as ours is, and to find it necessary to go to the gallery or to some room in this building to consult with Mr. Vincent Massey, or to go down to Montreal to consult with Mr. Marler now that the so-called head of the government has hied himself to western Canada. The article continues:

The conference lasted for two hours and Progressives attending in addition to Mr. Forke were Miss Agnes MacPhail, -Southeast Grey; H. E. Spencer, of Battle River, chief Progessive whip; Robert Gardiner, Acadia, Alberta, and J. L. Brown, of Lisgar, Man. Mr. Spencer made no statement following the conference.

At the conclusion of the conference, Robert Forke, Progressive leader, said that the discussion had been harmonious. Present indications were that the Progressives would be able to co-operate with the government-

Under the terms set out in the article published in the Ottawa Citizen on January 11 under which they were to go into this caucus, to enter into these conferences. In other words, they were to surrender themselves. It is just as well that that should be made clear. As I said a moment ago, I have no objection, I have no right to urge any objection in this

regard. The hon. member for Brandon is master of his own destiny and master of the destiny of what is left of his party.

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Mr. M AVI ON@

The master of the government as well.

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CON

George Brecken Nicholson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. NICHOLSON:

As my hon. friend says, he is master for the time being of the government itself. But if he considers and if the government considers that that is a good position for this country to be 4 p.m. placed in, there are on this side of the House members who do not agree with them. Members of parliament have some responsibility. The people of Canada, when they voted for the men and the one lady who constitute the members of this House, knew that they were faced with serious situations and real problems. They did not send us here lightly. They did not expect that we were coming here simply to while away our time, to go back and forward between Ottawa and our homes at our own will and without any regard to the public interest. There are some of us who do not feel that we should do that sort of thing. I feel it to be my duty to put every obstacle that I am capable of putting in the path of this government carrying on as they are attempting to carry on now, in the first place, flouting the will of the people and, in the second place, bringing parliament into utter and complete contempt. That is the position in which we are placed to-day. Parliament was summoned to Ottawa four weeks ago. What for? As the terms set out-to enact a programme of legislation; to deal with the country's business. We have been here for four weeks, and we have witnessed during the last four days a scene never before presented, when a government afraid to carry on and to face a division has continued putting up one speaker after another.

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Some hon. MEMBERS:

What are you

doing now?

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CON

George Brecken Nicholson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. NICHOLSON:

Never mind what I

am doing now. When some hon. members on the other side have the grace to answer what I have said, they can say what I have been doing. What I have been doing and what I intend to continue doing is to point out the utter and complete impotence of this group of men who call themselves a government, and I intend so far as I am able to lay before the people the exact situation. Let me repeat, Mr. Speaker, I conceive it to be my duty, I conceive it to be the duty of every member of independent mind, to say to this government: Bring on your

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programme of legislation, put before us the things that you asked us to come here to deal with. We are prepared to go on, and you have no right to ask for this adjournment. If you could not form a government in the last two or three months, what opportunity have you for success in the next six weeks? So far as I am concerned, I am ready to stay here and see this programme of legislation carried out.

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LIB

Alexander MacGillivray Young

Liberal

Mr. YOUNG (Saskatoon):

Mr. Speaker,

I rise to a question of privilege. The hon. member for East Algoma (Mr. Nicholson) has told the House that Premier Mackenzie King said in Saskatoon that the Progressive party was a menace to the public life of this country. I desire to say that I was present-

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Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Mr. Speaker, the hon.

gentleman has said enough to indicate that his point is anything but a point of order.

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LIB

Alexander MacGillivray Young

Liberal

Mr. YOUNG (Saskatoon):

I was present

at that meeting on the public platform with the Premier-

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CON

George Brecken Nicholson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. NICHOLSON:

Bring Mr. Mackenzie King here to make his own apologies.

Mr. .PETER MoGIBBON (Muskoka-Ontario): Mr. Speaker, it is very hard for

me to say anything disagreeable about the government. For four years they have been so hopelessly incapable, so hopelessly incompetent and so hopelessly weak that they have my sympathy. But sympathy apart, this government should not be allowed to adjourn parliament even for one hour. They have no right to because they do not possess the confidence of the country; they never did possess it. They do not possess the confidence of this House. What is worse, Sir, they have no confidence in themselves. But over and above that, they have lowered the political morality of this parliament, and they should be chastised for it. They should tender their resignation. We have seen a spectacle that I believe has never before been witnessed in any legislature of the British Empire. A Speech from the Throne was presented to parliament which the press from one end1 of the country to the other designated as a piece of bribery to the members who sit to my left. That is the universal verdict of the press of the Dominion concerning the legislation which is foreshadowed in the Speech from the Throne.

But worse than this, Sir, we have had the Minister of Customs and Excise (Mr. Boivin)

proceeding to Montreal and there making a set speech, in the course of which he stated in effect that the government would flout the will of this House and would only consider an adverse verdict of the people a sufficient reason for resigning from office. Moreover, he used a threat to hon. members to my left -and right here let me say that I rather admire his courage. He is one of the few examples of courage that I have seen from his side of the House. He told them as plainly as the English language could express his meaning that the Progressives had to vote Grit or face another election. I repeat, I rather admire his courage. If his government has sufficient courage to back up that statement, undoubtedly it will get that support; there is no question about it in my mind. I do not wish to be considered at all disrespectful to hon. members to my left when I say that if they were found voting with me, I would probably be defeated in the next election. I won my election last October on certain principles-I won it by standing for protection for the farmers, for the labouring men and for the manufacturers of this country. The people of my constituency know very well that that is not the political creed of hon. gentlemen to my left, and I say again that if they were to link up with me and the other members of my party, I would probably find my 3,600 majority transformed into a minority at the next election.

This government never did possess the confidence of the country. This government was forced to the people last fall by the volume of public opinion which was expressed against it from one end of the country to the other. I repeat, Sir, the government did not have the confidence of the people at that time, and still less have they it now. I say it is nothing more nor less than an affront to the electorate for this debilitated, exsanguinated, weak government to ask for an adjournment in order that its members shall proceed to try to build up another government in the next six weeks. I tell them, it cannot be done. I have in my time stood by the deathbed of a great many patients, I have put into their veins the strongest stimulant known to medical science, but it failed because the human battery was discharged. As I look at this government in its weakness 'and in its impotence trying to transfuse some blood from the Progressives into its veins, I see how hopeless the case is. It is simply impossible, because you cannot revive a political corpse. When the death card is made out, Sir, there will be no doubt about the cause of death,

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there will be no need of a post mortem to tell the country why this government went down and out. It met its fate simply because it failed to do its duty.

The duty of a government, as I see it, Mr. Speaker, is to improve the condition of the people, to make them more happy and more prosperous. Will anyone who has surveyed the Dominion for the last four years tell the House that the condition of the people has been improved, that they are happier and more prosperous than they were before? Why, Sir, we stand to-day as the fourth highest taxed country in the world; only Germany, Great Britain and Japan are paying more taxes than Canada. The taxes taken out of the people to-day for federal, provincial and municipal purposes -amount to $25 in every $100. Yet this government has stood by for four years and has not done a single thing to relieve that burden of taxation; in fact, the burden has been made heavier, as everybody knows.

Now, I say again that this government has not the slightest right to ask parliament for an adjournment for even one hour. The business of this country must be looked after. We have a great army of unemployed workingmen who hardly know where they are going to get their daily bread, and if this government remains in power much longer the people will be coming here and praying, not to heaven but to the government: Give us this

day our daily bread. I say that the business of the country must go on; this government or some government must function. This government has proved itself absolutely incapable of carrying on, and some other government must be put in its place. Speaking for my constituency, we demand the resignation of this government. We refuse longer to give them the right or the mandate to even call themselves a government. They never were a government and certainly in the dying hours of their existence they cannot be called such. So I say the business of this country has to be carried on, the business of this House has to be carried on, and some little deference should be paid to members of parliament who neglect their business and come here expecting to do what they are called to do. But we come here and are told that we can go home again for another six weeks. If the hon. members of the government have nothing to do, if their time is of no use either to themselves or to the country; they must not think every member of this House is in the same position.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. R. B. BENNETT (West Calgary):

Mr. Speaker, there are certain matters which it seems to me might be taken as axiomatic in a discussion of this kind. We had a general election in this country on October 29 last, and following that election the supporters of the now opposition numbered more than did those of the administration. Parliament was called for December 10 and subsequently for January 7, and we convened here with a Speech from the Throne. The government challenged its fate very early in the session. That motion was not proceeded with, and the opposition moved an amendment which resulted in the government being sustained in their views by a majority of three-or, owing to the absence of one member of the opposition, more properly by a majority of two. Last evening the government was sustained by a majority of ten. The government has asserted its ability to function as a government; it has contended by meeting parliament that with the aid of a certain group it will be able to carry on, and on the two questions which have been raised the government has commanded a majority.

But let us see the terms upon which they have challenged their fate and the terms upon which they asked this House to meet them as a government. I was rather curious to observe the language of the Speech from the Throne. Without in any sense discussing it in detail, it will be observed that measures are there suggested which are ready to be considered by this House at this very moment. That is, the government has said that they propose forthwith to do certain things. They have asserted1 that they have measures ready to be considered by this House. I do ask, and I put it to my learned and hon. friend the Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe), if that is conducting the affairs of this country in accordance with the principles of modern democracy. The government promised to the people of this country and their elected representatives, in the Speech from the Throne, that if they were given the confidence which they sought and did obtain on two votes, they would function as a government and proceed with certain measures. That is what the government promised. Is there any doubt about that? Can there be any question about it?

Now, look at another part of the Speech from the Throne. I observe, for instance, that they say certain of the departments of the public service will be consolidated with others, and government services more effectively coordinated. There is a statement

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of a fact, or of an intention, at least, to implement a promise by legislation. I submit that this , legislation must be known to this government; they must know now, they must have known when they asked His Excellency to meet this House; they must have known at that moment what departments were to be wiped out, and what departments were to be coordinated. Therefore that legislation must be ready for this House to consider. Is it right, or just or fair; is it consonant with sound and decent principles of integrity that they should1 ask this House to adjourn now in the face of that direct promise with respect to legislation? I ask my hon. friend then what departments of the public service will be consolidated, and if the legislation is ready. If he cannot answer that question he should not have put those words in the mouth of His Excellency when he met this parliament. They either know or they do not know. If they do know we should be told; if they do not know they have deceived parliament and the people of this country. But they go further. They say they have formulated and put into operation a comprehensive immigration plan. They do not say they will formulate, but that they have formulated this plan, and having done so, why should1 not this House know what [DOT] that plan is? Having formulated that scheme in the Speech from the Throne, why should they break faith with this parliament?

Then they proceed a step further and say that a measure will be introduced offering wide facilities for rural credits. Where is the measure? I could quite understand my hon. friend asking for an adjournment if he had said "We have not our legislation ready; we have a legislation programme which we have not included in the Speech from the Throne; or do not know what we may ask parliament to pass, or what statutes they may be required to enact." But in the face of these statements, in the face of the declarations to this parliament contained in the Speech from the Throne, in which they say these things are ready, how can they expect the people of this country to believe that government is other than organized hypocrisy?

Then I proceed further, reading from the Speech from the Throne:

A tariff advisory board will accordingly be appointed forthwith.

Not next week nor the week after, but forthwith. It therefore follows that they are in a position to enact that legislation and to place upon the statute books, .if it be necessary, such enactments as may be essential for the purpose of giving effect to that

promise. Surely it requires no adjournment for that. May I remind this House that they ask for an adjournment until March 15 at a moment like this, when tax returns have to be made, when we have business in the spring beginning to anticipate the new ventures into which men will enter with their capital for the year, and we find these words appearing in the Speech from the Throne:

In the opinion of my ministers the improved conditions warrant further substantial reductions in taxation.

Why should that be deferred? Why should the people of this country be kept until the fifteenth day of March, and then beyond that, without knowing what is to be done? Why should instability, insincerity and doubt prevail in this country when-this government has said that these things should be done?

Further we find in the Speech from the Throne that there are trade agreements with the British West Indies, Bermuda. British Guiana and British Honduras which will be submitted for the approval of the House. All these things are ready, so why should this parliament be deprived of the opportunity of discharging the duties resting upon it as the legislative body for this Canada of ours, merely because it suits the convenience of some ministers or someone who alleges that he is the Prime Minister?

Then go a step further. The Speech from the Throne says:

My government propose to submit provisions for the completion forthwith of the Hudson Bay railway.

And a royal commission for the Maritime provinces. All these things were to be done forthwith. They went a step further and said that certain amendments were to be made to the Dominion Elections Act, and that legislation was to be submitted for the purpose of handing over its natural resources to the province of Alberta. The legislature of Alberta is about to meet; it has been called, I believe, to meet at an early date. Is the legislation of that province to be held up, are we to be deprived of the opportunity of putting this legislation and the other measures outlined in the Speech from the Throne upon the statute books at an early moment, merely to suit the convenience of a gentleman not in this House? I name these things for this reason, because they indicate clearly that if this government was sincere-and I use that word not offensively-if it meant what it said by the language put in the mouth of His Excellency when it met this parliament, then they have a legislative programme ready for this House to consider. If they have no legislative programme ready, they should have

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said so; but if in saying they have a legislative programme ready they have deceived us, then I submit they are not entitled to an adjournment under any conditions.

I am not unmindful of the difficulties to which my learned and hon. friend referred the other day, but they are difficulties, I submit, under the authorities, that are not known to a government such as this. This is not a new administration that comes to take office from predecessors who have resigned or have been driven out of the seats of the mighty. This is a continuing administration. It has sought the confidence of this House as a continuing administration. It obtained the confidence of this House as a continuing administration. It had a majority of three and again of ten given it 'by this House of Commons to carry on as a continuing administration, and not as a new administration. If, indeed, it had been a new administration, the authorities are plain and simple; they could then have come here and asked for an adjournment until such time as the new ministers could have obtained election in their several constituencies. I said some days ago, and I merely remind the House now, that in 1868 when Disraeli resigned and Gladstone took office, Gladstone was not able to sit in the House of Commons, and when parliament met in pursuance of the call sent out before Disraeli resigned, there was no ministry on the treasury benches at all, and parliament adjourned to enable Gladstone to come back to the House, which he shortly did. But no such condition obtains in this House. Here a continuing administration asserts and alleges that it is in office; it asserts and alleges it is the government that sought a mandate from the people, and says it obtained a mandate from the people to continue in office and carry on the business of this country. We on this side of the House have joined issue with them on that point. It is true that, thanks to the support given to them by the gentleman from Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Woodsworth), by the gentleman from North Winnipeg (Mr. Heaps), by the Independent gentleman from Labelle (Mr. Bourassa), and by the gentleman from Brandon (Mr. Forke) and his followers, they have retained office, but they do not retain office because the government was elected as such by the majority of the constituencies of Canada. They do it because they have been able to manipulate-I do not use the word offensively-the constituencies and the members in such a manner as to be able to retain office. But having retained office, hav-14011-41

ing met this House, it is their duty, it is their obligation, nay, it is more that that; it is more than an ordinary duty and an Obligation, it is a greater duty still to bring down their legislation, because they have made the representative of the crown in the Speech made to this House use language indicating that a legislative programme was prepared for our consideration, which programme they could submit to this House without the necessity for an adjournment. All this leads, then, to this: Had it been a new administration coming back and assuming office, the members of which had to seek re-election in their several constituencies, it is clear that under the par-* liamentary practice that ordinarily affects the conduct of political parties, they would have been able to ask for and obtain an adjournment; but when they say, "We are the government"-and the very language used by my learned friend when he submitted his motion to the House on the first day of our meeting indicated that he was seeking confidence in the government, not in a new government, but in the then existing government, confidence for the continuing administration, and that confidence he obtained in another manner than the manner in which he sought it at the moment-under these circumstances, I submit to this House that this government has made out no case, they have not sought to make out any case, that entitles them to an adjournment of this House. My hon. friend who leads the House did not see fit to give any reasons why there should be an adjournment. Probably it will be done in due course, but I do submit that so long as you have a legislative programme, and the Speech from the Throne indicates there is legislation ready for consideration, if there is business to be transacted in this country, it is the duty of this parliament to continue and transact it. That is the position.

My hon. friend said the other day, and very properly from his standpoint, it seemed to me: We have difficulties; we want to

reorganize our government. But this parliament has a right to know in what manner it is proposed to reorganize this government before an adjournment is granted. The language used in the Speech from the Throne contemplates that being done, but it has not been done, is not being done, and therefore I submit this adjournment should not be granted.

Let us go a step further. An adjournment is sought until the 15th day of March. Within a few days after that, or perhaps at that very time, the people in the west will begin to

Adjournment of the House

become interested in crops. I am not concerned, it is true, about the attitude of my friends to my left, as to whether or not they regard their duty on their farms in the west as being as important as their duty to come back here, but this I do say: There are

men in this House who have many things to do; there are members of this chamber who are busy men, and when parliament is called for the purpose, as the proclamation summoning it said, of despatching business, and when the representative of the crown in a solemn speech stated what .that business was and is, when further in that Speech it is stated that ' the government are ready with their measures, then I submit that comity and courtesy require that those matters should be submitted to the House for their consideration without further delay. It is- not a sufficient excuse, much less a reason, to say that some men who want to be here are not here; therefore, we cannot do these things. This government made no such excuse when it sought the confidence of this confiding Chamber; it made no such excuse when it sought the support of gentlemen to my left. They, for good reasons known to themselves, and which I do not question as it is not my concern, gave their confidence and support to this administration; but I ask them if the people of Canada sent them here for the purpose of bartering away six weeks of good time in useless delays. That is a matter which doubtless they can settle with their constituents, but I know mine did not send me here to sit, then to adjourn for six weeks, and come back when the spring is here and the summer months coming on, when men grow listless in the discharge of their duties; but rather they sent me here at the season and time parliament is called upon to function to discharge my duties to the best of my ability. I believe that is what my constituents expect me to do, and I believe the constituents of my friends to my left expect them to do the same thing. So much for the practical, ordinary side of the question.

I try to put myself in the position of my hon. friend, to recognize his difficulties and understand them, but after all, there must be some regard paid to parliamentary practice and usage. If a programme is ready-you cannot deny it, because if you do, you have put something in the mouth of His Excellency that was not true and have deceived the people-if you have your programme ready, proceed with it. There is business enough to engage the time of this parliament till the Prime Minister comes back. There are trade

treaties to consider, the reorganization of departments, and surely we do not require his massive eloquence for the purpose of enabling us to pass this legislation. Surely this House can function in his absence with respect to these measures, which are not in some sense highly contentious. Surely in the next six weeks we can get much work done that must be done before we leave here.

May I for a single moment look at another side of it? May I venture in all seriousness bo direct the attention of my hon. friends opposite to the fact that parliamentary institutions in this country are at a very low ebb in public opinion? I say that in no offensive way, because I am at the moment a member of this Chamber, but I realize, as many men must realize, that there is abroad a feeling in this country of almost contempt for our parliamentary institutions. That is nothing to cheer for, nothing to applaud about. It marks a decadent people when these institutions, which have been created by the struggle and the toil of the majority of the Canadian people, have fallen into such contempt that men look upon them with suspicion and use language with respect to them that will not bear repetition. That is what is taking place in this country to-day. Part of it is attributable to the fact that the great mass of the people having voted by an overwhelming majority against the men who are now upon the treasury benches, realize that no combination of forces, and no chicanery and no bargaining that keeps them in power is consonant with the true principles of enlightened and uplifting democracy. We realize that, for instance, when we hear the winning sentences of the hon. member for Labelle (Mr. Bourassa) in favour of democracy and then see the hon. gentleman vote for the combination of circumstances that makes possible this almost fraud upon government, this bringing into contempt of our institutions, this holding on to power by the government by the skin of their teeth, to use, I think, the language of Scripture. In view of these things I ask myself, and I ask my hon. friends, whether or not it is desirable now to abandon further opposition and let this House continue to function. I put this to hon. members: In all seriousness what are the people of Canada saying about this? They say this is an arrangement made between the hon. member for Brandon (Mr. Forke) and somebody else by which this House is to have a holiday for five or six weeks. They ask: What is the reason? The reason, they say, is because Mr. King is not here.

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An hon. MEMBER:

And Mr. M'assey.

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Richard Bedford Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

They may say Mr. Massey as well, but nobody takes him very seriously; he is probably more concerned about reparations than he is about parliament; and so far as regards another defeated member of the ministry from one of the Montreal constituencies, if one is to judge from the election addresses, he is more concerned about his exalted social position. However, leaving that for the moment I ask my hon. friends opposite to say if they consider what the effect of these proceedings is upon the public mind. I do not argue for a moment that hon. gentlemen opposite have not just as high regard for public opinion as I have, I do not arrogate to myself any monopoly of virtue in that respect, and I ask them seriously, as men entrusted with power and responsibility, as to what the effect of these proceedings is upon the public mind. 1 do not know that in my life I have ever observed anything that I regard as a more serious blowT to democratic institutions than is to be found in the correspondence set forth at page 560 of Hansard. This is the correspondence that took place between the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mir. Woodsworth) and the Prime Minister of this country. Ah! sirs, let us think of it. A majority of three. With one of the opposition absent, a majority of two members, and the hon. gentleman (Mr. Woodsworth) was not slow in asserting out of this House that he and his colleague from North Winnipeg (Mr. Heaps) controlled the destinies of Canada. Now, Sir, five days ago, five short days ago, the Prime Minister of Canada in a letter refers to an interview he had with the hon. gentleman who represents Winnipeg North Centre and his colleague from North Winnipeg, and he merely says this: " What you ask you get Have parliamentary institutions fallen so low that our Criminal Code is to be amended, that a government may remain in power? Has democracy sunk so low that the Immigration Act and the Naturalization Act are to be amended to enable a government to call itself such? That is the aspect of the matter which I put to hon. gentlemen. Read that paragraph from Mr. Mackenzie King's letter to which I have reference:

With respect to amendments to (a) the Immigration Act, (b) the Naturalization Act, and (c) the Criminal Code, which were referred to at the time of our interview, I would say that having since taken up the proposed amendments with the ministers concerned, I feel I am in a position to assure you that legislation on these matters will also be introduced in the course of the present session.

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Donald Sutherland

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SUTHERLAND (South Oxford):

What is the date of the letter?

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Richard Bedford Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

It is dated January 28,

five days ago. Let me put this to my hon. friends opposite: Did the Liberal party decline to become a party to that legislation for the last four years? Yes or' no? The answer is, it declined. Has it now agreed to it? The answer is, it has. When? Five days ago.

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An hon. MEMBER:

No.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

My hon. friend says

"no," but I happen to know that the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre-that not then being the name of his constituency -pressed for such amendments as are involved in the Naturalization Act and the Criminal Code without success. To-day he has the promise of the Prime Minister of Canada that he is going to get them. Now, I do ask my hon. friends opposite, whose love for this country is quite equal to that of hon. gentlemen on this side-they love their country, they are patriots, they love its institutions, they respect and honour them-I ask them to consider this: In all seriousness do they for a moment think that to ask this House to adjourn for six weeks for the reasons given, under the circumstances stated is to do other than to bring into still greater contempt than they are now held, the institutions under which democracy flourishes in Canada.

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Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

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February 2, 1926