the purpose of which, so far as I could judge, was to crowd as many of the offences which he charged against us as could possibly be crowded into the compass of his own twenty minute speech. In the course of his preparation there was one resource which he very distinctly omitted. While emphasizing the dfetermination of his government, which he himself calls a trunk, a chunk and I know not what, to carry on by force of majority-which, by the way, is not its party's majority at all-he became very enthusiastic over the rule which he now invokes. Hon. members who were within parliament prior to four years ago will remember that, of all hou. gentlemen opposite in numbers then almost what they are to-day who condemned this rule, its principle, its initiation, its application, who condemned it day and night with bell,
book and candle, the most vociferous was himself the then hon. member for Kamouraska. He declared that the application ofj this rule was the gag and the disruption of a free parliament. As time is very precious I cannot quote much of what he said. If I could quote . it all, I would piece together from the speeches of the then hon. member for Kamouraska, the present Minister of Justice, a better speech than he delivered this afternoon but one wholly on the other side of the case. He said on the 16th April, 1913, when this very rule was under review:
I wish to enter my solemn protest on behalf of my constituents which I have the honour to represent in this House against this infamous proposal of the government.
This infamous proposal which he now adopts as his own in the House to-day:
When I hand over my mandate to .them, I will be in a position to say: "You are free citizens and you have returned a free representative; I was desirous of fulfilling niv duty, my whole duty; but it happened one day that brute foroe prevented me from doing so, I was gagged.
Who is the parent of brute force this afternoon? Who is the gagger now? He continued :
But, Mr. Speaker, .there still remains with us two sources of energy which cannot be gagged; faith in the righteousness of our cause and the nobleness of o>ur aims.
At another point he declared that by this rule parliament had debased itself and that mails or mail bags could be robbed, and all sorts . of 'crimes could be committed. The people's representatives could never intervene; the freedom of parliament was gone. The hon. member was not alone in that respect. The hon. member who now sits behind him stood up and in a voice fulll of pathos declared that he was sorry to have to admit that he rose for the last time in a free parliament, that parliament had been robbed of functions of which it had boasted for generations. There was scarcely an hon. gentleman 'opposite, indeed not one of those who were in the House at that time, who did not denounce the closure rule, denounce its principle, its application and everything about it, and declared that it was alien to British institutions. One after another rose in his place and said: "The Conservatives want to restrict trade and now also they want to restrict discussion. We are for freedom on both counts of the indictment, and in the cause of freedom we are prepared to suffer and die." The hon. member will recall those words from the mouth of the then member for Red Deer, who excelled in eloquence, if not in vituperation, those who represent the Liberal party
The Address-Mr. Meighen
to-day. Now they have abandoned both free trade and free discussion.
I do not object to closure. I believe the closure rule is essential in all free parliaments. This doctrine I preached in 1913, and this doctrine we on this side of the House sought to drive home to hon. members opposite. This doctrine they repudiated and they declared that parliament debased itself by the adoption of such a rule. Has any explanation come from the Minister of Justice this afternoon of his change of front? Is there anything left for this government to swallow of all its professions throughout all its history?
The closure rule has been open to adoption by hon. gentlemen opposite from the beginning. By the rules of the House we always loyally abide. By this rule, as by every other rule, we are prepared to abide. What is to be thought of a leader of the government who, afraid to use the rule, afraid to resort to perfectly proper remedies at his disposal, sits in his seat for days and weeks, and complains of members on this side of the House?
The hon. minister comes forward and tell3 us, "Oh, we just called parliament together on the 7th January for one purpose and only one purpose, namely, to find out which party had the confidence of parliament, whether the government of the day or some other party. Is that why they called parliament? Does toe leader of the government reaffirm now his statement that that is why he called parliament together? He told us when parliament met that such was the reason. Why then did he put a long succession of misrepresentation and deceit in the mouth of His Excellency in the form of an Address, if parliament was called together for the sole purpose of deciding who was supreme in parliament? If the minister now speaks the truth, that purpose should have been the sole constituent in the Speech of His Excellency presented to the House of Commons. That was what ought to have been the sole feature of the Speech, but the hon. gentleman knew that if he came honestly before this House and stated the purpose of calling the session he could not get a majority in this House. The hon. members knew that on the record of their four years they could not get a majority in the House, and the hon. Minister of Customs (Mr. Boivin) admitted this truth in one of the debates in the House this session. After all these blandishments have been held out by way of bribe and nothing else to hon. members to my left-matters that were entirely foreign to the purpose of calling parliament together-the Minister of Customs, speaking for the government, knowing well that on their record they could not be
sustained, looked across to hon. members to my left and said: "If you vote with us on
this vote of confidence you do not vote support of us or approval of us on our record." And furthermore, he declared that the government would not accept the vote as one of confidence entitling them to the rights of a government at all. By that assertion a farcical and artificial loophole was offered to hon. gentlemen, through which they could escape and through which they could, to the. satisfaction to the government at least, justify the support of the administration. By virtue of such conduct they have gathered round them the support, temporarily, I hope, of the hon. members to my left, and not one of those hon. members will rise in 'his place now and say that for any other reason on earth he supports this government at this time.
This government, the moment they faced a motion of confidence, declared that those who Would vote for them would not be voting confidence in them at all. On the assertion of the Minister of Customs on behalf of the government it was to be no vote of confidence. Can any member of the .government dare say that parliament has voted confidence in them to this day? The government is directing its efforts now to see that the House gets no opportunity to vote on the question of confidence. The government invokes what it declared for ten years to be an infamous closure rule, in order to make sure that parliament never gets an opportunity of voting want' of confidence. In this they have the co-operation" of at least certain hon. members to my left. In this they have the active "co-operation" of the hon member for Nelson (Mr. Bird). After resolutions expressive of what we believed to be fundamental faults in government policy were disposed of, this House was about to have presented to it, as hon. gentlemen knew, as the hon. member for Nelson knew, as every member of the Progressive party knew-
Subtopic: ADDRESS IN REPLY