Edward LeRoy Bowerman
Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
I believe he cited a papal encyclical a moment ago. Would he be kind enough to give me the title and the date of the encyclical?
This encyclical, Mr. Speaker, was issued in 1931 by Pope Pius XI. I presume with the intelligence the hon. member has he will be able to find that particular encyclical.
I should think he had read
it by this time.
I think he has.
Quite a number were
issued in 1931. May I have the title of it?
You may look it up; I have not the title of it here.
I should hope you had read it by this time.
Mr. J. M. DECHENE (Athabaska):
Mr. Speaker, as I rise to ask you, sir, for the privilege of the. floor in this august assembly I am reminded of a piece of advice that I heard some years ago given to a lot of our young men in what was at that time and
The Address-Mr. Dechene
still is our wealthiest and most populous city in Canada, Montreal. I believe it was in 1928 that I had the opportunity of visiting that city for the first time in many years. I was invited by a friend to attend a church gathering to hear one of the' great pulpit orators who at that time was addressing the young men of that parish during the lenten season, the season we are in now. He was speaking to thousands of young men, whom we called the golden youth of those days, the sons of families who were then mostly millionaires on paper, during the great stock boom from 1926 to 1929. It was only a few years after that that many of these same millionaires were gone, only a memory.
I heard this great orator accuse these young men of killing time. They thought their future was assured. They thought they did not have to press their studies with the same vigour as the sons of poorer men. This orator said to them, "Now young men, remember that the time that you kill will not die without taking its revenge". I commend this thought to some hon. members who at times appear to some of us to be killing a lot of time. I had this thought in mind when I was debating whether I should take the floor this afternoon, but I decided that I had a duty to perform, one, sir, that I felt might be performed either on the orders of the day or prior to the orders of the day, on a question of privilege, because I consider that the ability, the character and the orderliness of the members sitting in this chamber were being attacked and that it was the duty of someone to stand up and defend our institutions at this time when the curtain is again descending upon a country which until a few hours ago was free, when every institution that we love is facing the greatest trial ever seen. I felt that when those institutions in which we believe, and which all of us have been sent here to serve, are about to perish unless we are very careful, some comment should be made on the attitude of some of our public men and some of the press who go about this country stating and publishing that the character and the merit of the House of Commons of Canada, and its ability, are not to be compared with these qualities as displayed in the past.
When the assertion is made that the same ability does not exist in this parliament as was evidenced in the past, I think it is the duty of someone better qualified than a humble backbencher from the far north of Alberta to stand up and refute the statements of one man and all those who like him are doing their best, unthinkingly but effectively nevertheless, to lend support to those elements
in our country who are at this moment active in an effort to destroy our democratic institutions.
If you listen to the noise as I do in my humble way, you can hear the rats gnawing at the foundations of the edifice that we have erected in this country. I would have kept silent if the statement made by one man who is very much in the public eye, the chief editor of one of our great daily newspapers, had not since been reprinted in two other newspapers, one circulated in Ontario and one in western Canada. I thought, however, that for the honour of this house I had better stand up here and point out the danger of this kind of propaganda. The article to which I have reference, as reported from Toronto, January 13, states that Mr. Grattan O'Leary, associate editor of the Ottawa Journal made this statement:
One of the things that impresses me over the years is the steady decline in the quality of parliament, and with it a decline in its authority.
When business and professional men refuse to join a political party or go to a nominating convention, then it is inevitable that you get a weak parliament. When you get a weak parliament, you get a weak executive, and when you get a weak executive you get a strong bureaucracy. That is the most disturbing trend at the present time.
I never read speeches in this house, Mr. Speaker, because I think my speech sounds better when I do not read it, but I should like to read what I said over the radio in reply to this statement by this gentleman. I spoke over the radio, addressing an audience in the city of Edmonton, and I believe it is of vital importance, if we do not wish to be behind the curtain ourselves in a few months- and do not feel any too safe about it-that someone should reply to a statement such as this.
I do not know about now, but a few weeks ago meetings of communists, fellow travellers and believers in the communistic policy of Russia, some of them members of the civil service, were being held in the city of Ottawa, preparing to sabotage the service in case a call should come from overseas if the occasion arose. That is not far-fetched. You will therefore not be surprised at what I said on March 17, 1947, when I read an article of the same kind, making the same kind of pronouncement on the part of public men in this country, who were talking about how poor we in this parliament were.
I have been in public life for many years. I was a member of the legislature of Alberta, which at one time was led by a man who was considered one of the most brilliant that ever
The Address-Mr. Dechene
came from western Canada, except perhaps the right hon. the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner). I have had the honour of a seat in this house, Mr. Speaker, associating with members who have listened to me courteously, and therefore I think I have fair enough judgment in matters of this kind. I have belonged to town councils, village councils, and school boards, and I am prepared to say that I am proud to be associated with the members of this house, of all parties.
We are proud of you.
I am proud to be here to serve my country in my own humble way. This is what I had to say on the occasion to which I have referred:
I have always been surprised at the attitude of a lot of our people in Canada and of an important pTess in their attempt to belittle our parliamentary institutions and the ability of the men who represent the nation at this time. Some of these criticisms coming from, for instance, the Conservative press, are difficult to understand as they lend comfort and support to a class of the imople who by their insidious teachings and agitation are doing their utmost to bring about the destruction of these very institutions on which depend the security and prosperity of Canada. These subversive elements take advantage of these unwise statements. In the opinion of men and women V'ho have been acquainted with members of parliament for many decades, this one is undoubtedly one of the ablest ever elected by the Canadian people. It is untrue and unfair to state differently. No less an authority than the present clerk of the House of Commons, whose experience extends1 over so many decades and whose knowledge of parliamentary institutions and of the men who have represented them is unequalled, is on record as supporting the declaration just made. The character of the men and women charged with the onerous duties of representation in this difficult period of after-war adjustment, is undoubtedly of the best and should stand high in the esteem and regard of the Canadian people.
I believe that the time has come for some member of parliament at least to raise his voice in protest against this propaganda which, it will be admitted by all real Canadians, is of a nature to do a great deal of harm, particularly when the young men and women are just emerging from the terrific experience of the bloodiest and costliest war that has ever afflicted humanity. I can only express the hope that the present parliament will be allowed to live its allotted time and that, whenever an election is held, the calibre of the men and women elected to office will be equal to that of those in the present one. I repeat with emphasis that in that lies the salvation of the parliamentary institutions that we have built up with such care and with great- sacrifices and the ceaseless efforts of
many great men; and I say to the young men and women who soon must pick up the burden that the enfeebled shoulders of the old, like myself, will no longer have the strength to carry, that they need have no doubt as to the value of parliament to the people of this country and of the opportunity that it provides for these young people for the continued advancement and betterment of our great Canadian nation.
In my estimation this is vital and I voice the sincere hope that writers and speakers will keep in mind the danger to the oncoming generation of lending ear to those who would convince them that there -are better systems of government evolving elsewhere in this world. Do we ever stop to think that this nefarious idea is being spread throughout the world by some nations with a form of government and an ideology born only yesterday in strife and in bloodshed; that its application to the government of men is of very short duration and is taught and broadcast by men whose experience in that line of endeavour amounts to only a few years and from a country which has a very limited conception and knowledge of what is involved in the glorious words liberty and freedom? How can anyone attempt to teach our young Canadians that the work and endeavours of generations of free men in Britain, the United States and Canada is of no account as compared to this alleged superior knowledge of men who only yesterday were living in a state of ignorance and slavery? As I have said, Mr. Speaker, I am one of those who must pass the burden from my enfeebled shoulders to those of the young men and young women of this country. Oh, that my voice were eloquent and loud enough to reach all of them and to teach them the beauty of the democracy we have evolved in Canada, copied from that of the mother country; to tell them that it is wrong to say that this parliament is not equal to those that have preceded it. There might have been a greater star here and there, but I doubt it.
Before I move the adjournment of the debate-because I have something else to say-I want to repeat that I personally am convinced-and this is borne out by the opinions of those who have seen other houses in session in Britain and elsewhere; one of my sons some years ago attended the sittings of the congress of the United States and reported to me that we in this parliament do not have to bend the knee or take off our hat to any other organization of its kind in the world.
The Address-Mr. Dechene
I have a few more minutes, Mr. Speaker, and since my remarks tomorrow will be confined to what I wish to bring to the attention of parliament and to the country with regard to the tremendous possibilities of Alberta and what I think we ought to do in order to develop those resources which [DOT]will make us independent almost of any other [DOT]country I wish to remind the house of something I have had in the back of my mind for over forty-two years. On September 1, 1905, Sir Wilfrid Laurier in Edmonton, on the old fair grounds down the hill, launched Alberta-as he did Saskatchewan a few days later-on its political course as a sister province of this dominion. The setting was magnificent. I can still envision the old Hudson Bay fort which we unfortunately allowed to be demolished since then. I can still see the big house on top of the hill, a few feet from the assembly house in Edmonton. I knew that big house well. As a boy I played there many a time. It was built by Chief Rowland of the Hudson Bay Company, a great man. He was known all over the west. When he erected that three-story big log house, it was known all over the west as "the big house." It stood there when Laurier was addressing the gathering. Just below flowed the magnificent Saskatchewan river bringing water from the glaciers of the west and prosperity to the great plains which it watered. Twenty-five thousand people had come to town. There were not many motorcars in those days; I believe there were only three in Edmonton. People had come in from all over by train, by horse, some even by oxen. I shall never forget the message that this man of vision brought to Alberta, and I am asking myself how it is that our
public men, businessmen and farmers have not yet succeeded in bringing about the thing he predicted, namely, that some day the coal from the western plains and from the foothills would heat the houses of the country as far as the city of Montreal and would provide fuel for the manufacturing machinery in Ontario and Quebec; that the gas and oil-and how he knew of those things in those days may be seen by perusing the reports of the old department of the interior-would one day make Canada independent of any other nation.
Just one last word. I can still hear the echoes of this vast crowd composed' of our Ukrainian friends from the first settlements,- from Star, Shandro, and Wostok as far as Vegreville-the French Canadians from north of Edmonton and the south, Anglo-Saxons from all over the province, cheering to the echo the message of hope that the leader of Canada in 1905 had brought to newly-born Alberta.
On motion of Mr. Dechene the debate was adjourned.
Is it the intention to proceed tomorrow with the debate on the address?
If that is finished, what
We shall go on with the measure of the Minister of Finance.
At six o'clock the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to standing order.
Thursday, February 26, 1948