February 15, 1938

THE UNION JACK

DISPATCH FROM COLONIAL SECRETARY REFERRED TO IN DEBATE ON A CANADIAN FLAG


On the orders of the day:


CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Right Hon. R. B. BENNETT (Leader of the Opposition):

Would the Prime Minister

(Mr. Mackenzie King) be good enough to lay on the table the dispatch from Colonial Secretary Harcourt to the governor general concerning the flag to be flown in Canada, to which reference was made last evening?

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LIB

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

Liberal

Right Hon. W. L. MACKENIE KING (Prime Minister):

Yes.

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CANADA SHIPPING ACT, 1934 SICK MARINERS AND MARINE HOSPITALS-LEVY, COLLECTION AND REMISSION OF SHIP DUES


Hon. C. G. POWER (Minister of Pensions and National Health) moved that the house go into committee to consider the following proposed resolution: That it is expedient to amend the Canada Shipping Act, 1934 (part V, sick mariners and marine hospitals), in respect to the levy and collection, and in certain cases the remission, of ship dues. Motion agreed to and the house went into committee, Mr. Johnston (Lake Centre) in the chair.


LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

The bill to be based upon

this resolution will cover minor amendments to the section of the shipping act which deals with sick mariners. One amendment will clarify the definition of the word "voyage" in order that it may be quite clear that vessels shall not be compelled to pay dues twice during the same voyage. The second amendment deals with scows or barges which carry no crews and which hitherto had been charged dues for the benefit of sick mariners. This latter amendment applies particularly to British Columbia.

Resolution reported, read the second time and concurred in. Mr. Power thereupon moved

for leave to introduce Bill No. 23, to amend the Canada Shipping Act, 1934.

Motion agreed to and bill read the first time.

Topic:   CANADA SHIPPING ACT, 1934 SICK MARINERS AND MARINE HOSPITALS-LEVY, COLLECTION AND REMISSION OF SHIP DUES
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CORRUPT ELECTORAL PRACTICES-AMENDMENT TO MOTION OF PRIME MINISTER


Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister) moved that the house go into committee of supply.


SC

René-Antoine Pelletier

Social Credit

Mr. R. A. PELLETIER (Peace River):

Mr. Speaker, before you leave the chair I desire to move an amendment to this motion, but before reading my amendment I have a few remarks to make. The amendment deals with the question of levies or alleged levies made in connection with Canadian National Railways contracts. I hasten to add that I am fully aware of the fact that the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) appears to believe that I am rather insistent upon this point, but he may hold that opinion simply because I have never yet had the opportunity of expressing exactly what I have in mind, and that I propose to do now.

I am introducing an amendment at this time because there should be absolutely no delay with reference to so grave a matter. Just picture the situation: an hon. member declares to the house that he knows that certain levies are being made in connection with contracts of the Canadian National Railways. Before making that definite statement he had said that political corruption was never so rampant in Canada, and it was while emphasizing that particular point that he mentioned the Canadian National Railways. To anyone who desires to know the truth, what do these statements mean?

I believe we should refer again to what has been said in this house in order to get a clear picture of the situation. For example, we find this statement:

Never in the history of this country has corruption been so rampant electorally as it is to-day. It is not a case of $5,000 or $10,000 in a constituency, but it is a case of large sums of money for corrupt purposes.

We go on a bit further and we find this:

When an organizer goes to a contractor and says that he wants one or ten per cent, that is a levy and not a contribution. What is more, I say that it threatens the very life of this state at this moment. .

And further on we find this:

In view of what I know of the character of the methods by which contributions are made -they are no longer contributions but levies-

I pause here to underline the words "no longer." When a member makes a statement

Corrupt Electoral Practices

to the effect that these are no longer contributions it conveys the idea that some time in the past things were different. He is saying that to his knowledge at the present time things are no longer what they used to be-they are no longer contributions, but levies. Further, he says:

I say the time has come when we must provide methods under our electoral law which will not permit such a situation to continue.

Further on we find these words:

A contribution is one thing, but a levy of

a certain per cent is another. The time has come when this must stop because the contractors themselves are complaining.

If this does not imply that the right hon. member who made the statement knows definitely whereof he speaks, then my knowledge of the English language is not as perfect as I think it is. But in order to prove definitely that he really meant a good deal, we find the Minister of Transport (Mr. Howe) saying to the right hon. leader of the opposition :

The right hon. gentleman has said either too much or too little.

And at that very moment, as all members of the house will recall, there arose an anxious cry throughout the house for the government to set up a committee, and my hon. friend from Cochrane (Mr. Bradette), whom I do not see in his seat at the moment, was the very first one to say: Let us have one "right now." Therefore at that particular time it was definitely understood that there certainly was something very wrong. Let us see what the Minister of Transport said:

Mr. Howe: As one who places a great many contracts for this government I ask the right hon. gentleman to give me a specific instance of a levy.

Mr. Bennett: I can give the minister as

many as he wants, but I am not going to do it here and now.

Then here is the important part. The leader of the opposition went on to say:

What is more, I know of levies being made in connection with Canadian National Railways contracts.

Further on we have the right hon. leader of the opposition saying this:

It can be threshed out any time you want any committee of this house that you desire to appoint to go into the matter.

It was then that the hon. member for Cochrane interjected, "right now."

It may be all right, Mr. Speaker, to try to hide behind words, but when I heard those statements of the right hon. leader of the opposition-and I have gone over them very carefully-I had the definite impression that

a certain meaning was to be attached to them, and I know definitely what meaning the people of this country are attaching to them. When the right hon. leader of the opposition makes a statement to the effect that ward bosses and political organizers have developed such a boldness'of approach that their demands are no longer simply demands but amount to levies upon contractors, then I think it is time this house looked into the matter.

But the right hon. leader of the opposition did not stop there. He even named the amount of the levies in a case he knew about, and he said they had reached such proportions that even the contractors themselves were complaining. Now, those words of his are perfectly clear. They mean exactly what they would have meant if said outside this house or if printed elsewhere than upon the pages of Hansard.

When I heard those statements, Mr. Speaker,

I did the only thing I thought I should do. I got up in the house and asked the Prime Minister if it was his intention to set up a committee to investigate the charges, and in a prepared statement the Prime Minister replied in this vein. He first reviewed the various statutes of Canada under which charges of alleged political corruption may be investigated. He pointed out that parliament had made statutory provision for the investigation of corrupt practices at elections. There was the Dominion Controverted Elections Act, chapter 50, revised statutes of Canada, 1927, under which, he said,

-any person who has the right to vote may present a petition to a judge of a supreme or superior court, setting out these practices, and, if a deposit of $1,000 is made, an investigation may be held.

That is one method which the Prime Minister said could be followed to investigate the charges of the ri^ht hon. leader of the opposition. There was also a second way, Which the Prime Minister outlined as follows:

Under the Corrupt Practices Act, chapter 51, revised statutes of Canada, 1927, twenty-five or more electors may present a petition to the House of Commons charging the existence of such practices, and, if a deposit of $1,000 is made-

Again I point to the SI,000-

-the house may direct the government to appoint a commission for the purpose of making an inquiry. The commisison in either case must submit a report to parliament and under standing order No. 79 it is provided that if it appears that any person lias been elected by corrupt practices the house will proceed with the utmost severity.

Before pointing out these steps that might be taken the Prime Minister was very careful to remark that as I was a young member of

Corrupt Electoral Practices

the house possibly I was not familiar with the procedure in connection with charges of this kind. In reply I simply state, Mr. Speaker, that it is possible to know everything and yet understand nothing. I am not concerned with questions of law, nor do I propose to permit legalities to stand in my way. I cannot consider that such legal steps must be necessary or even advisable when all that needs to be done is for the house to appoint a committee of inquiry into the charges of the right hon. leader of the opposition.

Furthermore, we already have our standing committee on privileges and elections, and we all know that any question, whether concrete or academic, may be referred to a committee of this house fully empowered to investigate it.

It might also be suggested that the public accounts committee could very well look after this matter. But I say, Mr. Speaker, that we are not now dealing with one particular charge, as was mentioned by the Prime Minister; we are dealing with something which is undermining the political life of our dominion, and the scope of the public accounts committee is too narrow, in my opinion, to enable them to investigate a matter of this kind as it should be investigated.

I would also ask this question: Why should the responsibility be placed upon the public? In order to clear away this stigma on the house it seems to me that the Prime Minister and the government should move heaven and earth to find a method by which these charges can be cleared up. I know the Prime Minister to be a man of honesty and courage. I know him to be a man who does not hesitate to perform the task before him, but sometimes I think he might flinch and be reluctant to take action in a matter of this kind because he sees upon the horizon, perhaps, the shadow of another Beauharnois. I do not know, but if such should be the case, knowing the Prime Minister as well as I do, I am sure he realizes as everybody does that these charges have gone out to the country and to the people who have sent us here, and I think that the Prime Minister will help me out and do all he can to see that the people of Canada are well informed in the matter.

If the Prime Minister sees these threatening shadows upon the horizon, may I say to him that I sympathize with him and will do all I can to help him ward off any blows that may come; but if blows should come, let us face them fearlessly, let them fall where they may. I sympathize with the Prime Minister because he is not only the leader of the Liberal party but also the prime minister of all the people of Canada, and should corrupt practices be found to exist elsewhere than in

the Liberal party I know that will grieve him just as much as if they were found within the ranks of his own party. If we allow these clouds to remain over this house, great will be the people's wonderment; they may begin to ask themselves whether we in this parliament have lost in a cloud of personal fear, the traditions of those who came before us. and they may lose their last glimmer of faith in our political life.

What of the youth of this country? The allegations made by the leader of the opposition have been read right across Canada and have definitely left an impression on the minds of the young people. Are we going to smash the idealism which they possess at the present time, destroy their faith in our institutions and our political life by hushing up these charges and letting them go untried? We should not be doing our duty towards the youth of this country if we permitted such a thing to continue.

I do not intend to discuss this question at great length-

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

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SC

René-Antoine Pelletier

Social Credit

Mr. PELLETIER:

-because I feel that it is unnecessary. Some hon. members say "hear, hear." Perhaps that is the way they feel about it, but I believe they thereby indicate that they do not fully recognize their duty to those who sent them to this house. They should be more ready to support me in a matter of this kind.

I have a plea to make to-day. I make it on behalf of the people in general but especially on behalf of the youth of this country, and even in the interest of those who have to pay the deficits on the Canadian National Railways. I ask the members of the House of Commons to see to it that the stigma which clouds this house at the present time is swept away. Before we begin to look after somebody else's business affairs we should see to it that our own skirts are kept clean, and make it clear that we know what we are talking about. Therefore I take pleasure in moving the following amendment:

That the motion be amended by leaving out all the words in the motion after "that" and the following be inserted:

This house is of the opinion that charges of levies in connection with Canadian National Railways contracts as well as statements concerning electoral corruption should be referred to a select committee of this house with power to send for papers, persons and witnesses and to take evidence under oath and to report to this house.

Corrupt Electoral Practices

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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. J. H. BLACKMORE (Lethbridge):

On February 1, I spoke against corruption. I pointed out that money and propaganda were used to deceive the people; that consequently the will of those who were struggling to have their desires expressed in and carried out by their governments was being overridden by secret, hidden influences that were apparently drawing their support from the wages of corruption; that red herrings were being dragged across the trail in a great many constituencies throughout this country, with the deliberate object of confusing the people. Among other things, I condemned the People's League for its activity in Alberta last summer. I pointed out with reference to the Lethbridge by-election that, strange as it may seem, the People's League was able to hold together until the election was achieved and that then the leader of the Liberal party immediately withdrew; and everybody who has been thinking at all about that matter has wondered why in the name of common sense the Liberal leader did not give the people of Lethbridge a ghost of a chance and make his statement three days before the election instead of three days after. This thing has offended and disgusted to a greater degree more people than hon. members have any conception of, because the object of the whole intrigue-shall we call it

was so manifest.

I believe that hon. members would be interested in a further development of the Lethbridge by-election. I am going to read to them, in case they have not seen it, a passage from the Lethbridge Herald of February 5, 1938, page 4. It is an editorial, and I am quoting it because it indicates the kind of thing with which we in Alberta are confronted all the time.

Perhaps the advertisements appearing in the Herald on Wednesday setting forth the campaign expenses of Doctor Campbell and A. J. Burnap in the recent by-election tell the true story. Perhaps they are a little misleading. The figures show that Doctor Campbell's committee spent $1,049, while Mr. Burnap's committee spent $237.

The figures of course do not take into account a few rather important facts.

Before I read further may I ask hon. members to weigh quickly in their minds, as I know they can do, the principles which the Lethbridge Herald is laying down in the following words:

They do not show how much it cost the taxpayers of Alberta for Premier Aberhart to make two trips to Lethbridge and spend practically a week here during the campaign.

Are we to assume that the premier of a province is not supposed to go out and do what he can towards enlightening the people as to his point of view?

No doubt Mr. Aberhart was drawing his salary of some $200 a week during that time. No doubt also Hon. Mr. Low, Hon. Mr. Tanner, Hon. Doctor Cross, Hon. Mr. Maynard and Hon. Mr. Manning, who receive from the taxpayers of Alberta some $150 a week, also drew their salaries while they were campaigning here.

I wonder if there is not an intimation there that these gentlemen were not going to do a full year's work because, upon the invitation of the people of Lethbridge, they spent a few days in the constituency.

Mr. Speaker Dawson and Mr. Popil, two members of the legislature, also helped in the campaign. No doubt the expense accounts of the various members of Mr. Aberhart's ministry would show that they had very important business in Lethbridge during the election campaign.

The insinuation is obvious.

We leave it to the people of Alberta to judge whether the social credit campaign in the by-election cost only $237.

In view of such remarks as were made by the leader of the opposition (Mr. Bennett), and in view of such evidence as comes pouring in from a wide variety of directions, to strain at a gnat and swallow a camel, as is indicated by this editorial, must strike any calm mind as being utterly revolting and disgusting.

So much by way of beginning. I should like once more to make it perfectly clear, as I endeavoured to do in my speech on February 1, that I am in favour of election reform. At that time I pointed out the way in which, since 1921, Alberta has grappled with this problem, teaching its citizens to form great people's organizations and contribute the money with which they fought their campaigns; to keep an open account in order to show where the money came from, how much they had, how it was spent and all those matters which are so necessary to keep an electorate informed and satisfied that those who are chosen to represent them are not in the pay of certain big interests. As I also pointed out, it repels us to think that, after all the effort we have put forth, which cost the people of our province an incalculable amount in anxiety, in money that they could ill spare, and in various other ways, the results should be overborne or nullified by people who are assisted from nobody knows where.

I contend that what the leader of the opposition implied is, as regards this country, absolutely true. If democracy is to continue in

Corrupt Electoral Practices

Canada, we must have wholesale, genuine and thoroughgoing repentance on the part of all the leading organizations who stand for election to the governing bodies of this country as well as on the part of all who stand behind the organizations. In what I have to say there is nothing personal and nothing partisan. Both parties must change. I am not deceived into thinking that because the leader of the opposition made the charge, or the intimated charge, the other side is therefore the only one that is blameworthy. I think it is a fairly good illustration of the old saying about the pot calling the kettle black. I believe that the history of both sides going back a few generations in Canada will reveal a sufficient number of unsightly incidents to make each party very reticent about levelling charges against the other. And I say this realizing fully that the present leader of the opposition and the present leader of the government may be completely innocent; indeed, I am inclined to believe that they both are. It is not their desire in any way to condone this sort of thing. What we must do, however, is to make matters different so that they will have a chance to lead the country without such intimations being thrown out and such unsightly things occurring.

It seems to me that there is a giant octopus hidden somewhere, and it is nourished somewhere near the centre of Canada. It extends long, hidden, treacherous tentacles wherever the people begin to get any sort of insight into the truth and any sort of idea of what to do about it. Whenever that happens it quietly and clandestinely strangles any movement which the people have built up. What is the cause of this? There is little use in our railing against the malady unless we seek the cause. Railing against the malady until you learn the cause and endeavour to remove it is as profitable as trying to cure smallpox by painting over or scratching off the pimples. Let us see if we can find out what the cause of the difficulty is.

Personally I believe that the first cause of the trouble is bewilderment. There exists uncertainty among the people of Canada. As a new member of parliament, I judge that it is because of the great amount of misinformation that exists everywhere throughout the country, and the misunderstanding, delusion and prejudice. If any hon. member of this house thinks he can successfully challenge the statement that throughout Canada there exists a great amount of misinformation, misunderstanding, delusion and prejudice, then it will be interesting to hear his defence. On top of all this and aggravating the whole situation there is selfishness everywhere at work

confounding the confusion. Each party is in a false position. I believe it was the hon. member for The Battlefords (Mr. Needham) who last year read a letter that was rather interesting. I am not saying that I entirely agree with what was in that letter, but there was in it a thought-provoking passage. The writer said that the Liberals have been false to true principles while the Conservatives have been true to false principles. The result is that, of course, the country has suffered all these generations.

Inasmuch as I am of Liberal tendencies myself, and inasmuch as I find that in consequence the Liberal members of the house have been and are now, shall I say, more congenial- or perhaps I understand them better-may I talk to the Liberal members for a few minutes. In the first place, are the Liberals to-day false to true principles?

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

No.

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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

Let us not answer the question too readily. It is easy to answer it at once; but, are they? Let us discuss the question for a moment or two. Someone asks, who is to judge? Well, before you decide who is to judge, the first thing to do is to fix upon a standard of judgment, and that is what we shall have to do now. In the first place, Liberals for some generations have, at least ostensibly, committed themselves to the principles of laissez-faire.

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LIB
SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

If they have not committed themselves to the principles of laissez-faire let us acknowledge it frankly before the people so that everyone will know exactly where the Liberal party does stand. One of the chief reasons for the difficulty that faces us to-day is that no one knows where either party stands, and apparently each party is studiously and assiduously endeavouring to prevent everybody from finding out.

Let us deal with the question of laissez-faire. Laissez-faire involves four fundamental principles: first, free trade; second, free export of capital; third, no interference with contracts between employer and employee, or free association; and fourth, a metallic currency.

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

Whose definition is that?

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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACKMORE:

What Canada is

waiting to hear is a definition from someone in the Liberal party-a definition other than this. It only illustrates what I said a moment ago. We want to find out where these parties do stand; we want to know what the difference is between the Liberal party of to-day

Corrupt Electoral Practices

and the Liberal party of fifty years ago. When we know that we shall be in a position to judge.

Let us consider to what extent the Liberal party to-day agrees with these four principles and to what extent the principles themselves can be accepted. The first is free trade.

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February 15, 1938