January 31, 1912 (12th Parliament, 1st Session)


Alfred Henry Clarke


Mr. CLARKE (Essex).

Mr. Speaker, for the purpose of discussing this matter I move that this House do now adjourn.' The matter to be discussed is one, I submit, of urgent importance to the interests of this country, namely, the vacancy which has existed in the representation in this House for the electoral district of South Renfrew for nearly two months, and the delay, for which some person must be responsible, in the issuing of the writ in order that the electors of the riding may have their undoubted right to a representative in parliament. It seems to me that the long delay of this matter is a direct violation of the spirit, and I am inclined to think, of the letter of the law in this respect. When we refer to the House of Commons Act, section 5, the procedure is very plain, so plain, one would think, that the writ would issue in a case of this sort almost automatically. That section provides that:
In case of a resignation the Speaker shall forthwith

I emphasize the word ' forthwith.'
-address his warrant to the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery for the issue of a writ for the election of a new member, and the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery shall issue the writ accordingly.
With commendable promptitude, upon receiving the resignation, you, Mr. Speaker, did issue your warrant to the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery on the 7th December last, and so notified the House that you had issued your warrant to the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery for the issue of a writ. I am sure that if the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery had been supplied with the information required from another source he also would have been commended for his promptness in this .respect, but instead of that we have gone nearly two months and the writ has not yet been issued. The reason is one arising in consequence of the Act which provides the

duty to be done by the government before the writ can be issued and that duty is to fix the nomination day and name the returning officer in order that the writ may be issued. That has not been done.
Hon. gentlemen opposite realized that for a breach of the law it would be necessary to give some reason. Two reasons, if they may be called reasons, have been given for this great delay. The first Tea-son was given by the bon. Minister of Customs (Mr. Reid). He went up into the riding of South Renfrew. He could not very well afford to say: We are doing this for the purpose of keeping this riding open; he found and realized the necessity under the law of giving some reason why the electors had been deprived of their rights and why the government had not done their duty in enabling them to send a representative to this House. I only need to refer to the reason, or the pretext, which he gave and I will take it from the organ of the hon. member himself, the Renfrew ' Journal.' This is the reason which that paper reports him as giving:
Dr. Reid said the Liberals had been unfair and ungenerous in regard to the acclamation of Mr. Borden in Carleton county some years ago. They had held back the issuing of the writ until after the House met so as to keep the Conservative leader out as long as possible.
A statement more conspicuous for its reckless disregard of truth, I think, it would be difficult to find. But, as I said before, the hon. gentleman realized that he must give some reason and he had to resort to this which he calls a reason for the extraordinary delay. What are the facts in regard to that? He cites as a precedent the matter >of Ciarleton in the year 1905. In that case Mr. Kidd, who had represented that riding since the general election, tendered his resignation in this House and it was accepted on the 20th day of January, 1905. The by-election was held on the 4th February following, and the hon. member (Mr. Borden) was introduced into the House on the 7th day of February. So that, within eighteen days of the time the resignation was placed in the hands of the Speaker the hon. gentleman took his seat in this House. If that precedent had been followed in this case, after this House had resumed at the close of the Christmas vacation, south Renfrew would have had its representative sitting here in parliament. I have always thought that when a new government was elected it would be an improvement upon its predecessor, that instead of copying the vices and errors of its predecessor it would avoid those and imitate its virtues. That has not been the case with the present government. We have had it in other instances, in the Mr. CLARKE (Essex).
matter of patronage and in the matter of advertising for tenders. When they are pressed for reasons they give as their precedent what they call the vices of the former government instead' of what they *call its virtues. It seems to me to be a true saying that the evil which men da lives after them, and that me good is often interred with their bones; so that it would appear that if there were any evils connected with the former government those evils are living after them and are being imitated by their successors. It is all the worse in this particular case because, on account of the fewness of the vices of the former government, the hon. Minister of Customs has had to resort to fiction in order to procure some vices. Not only does he base it upon facts but he invents a condition of affairs and then follows that invention which is not founded upon the facts when he says that ho is imitating a state of facts that never did exist. I have been wondering who the prototypes of the members of the present government were. Most statesmen have some prototype, some great exemplar, that they are proud to follow. I know that my right hon. friend the leader of the opposition (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) has chosen the late Mr. Gladstone. He has often referred to him. I have searched through the history of many statesmen and there is only one that I have discovered that I think I might call the prototype of the present government. He was a Secretary of State many years ago. His name is Nicholas Machiavel. He had doctrines. I cannot say that I have found many men who have adopted the doctrines of that Secretary of State. . But it is quite evident we have some followers of that gentleman in the present government. What were some of these doctrines which are being followed? One was that when a new prince was created he should immediately, by fair means or foul, put out of existence any person who might stand in his way. That is being followed. A man who ought to be in this House, a man of experience in this House, but who might be in the way of some hon. gentlemen is proposed by a majority of the people of that constituency but hon. gentlemen opposite immediately adopt the doctrine of Machiavel and try to put him out of the way.

Full View