January 17, 1916 (12th Parliament, 6th Session)


Michael Clark



I think the most antediluvian horse was found in Nova Scotia. I have very little appetite, Mr. Speaker, for this class of politics; very little appetite indeed, and I do not know that in the midst of a war our people have a keen appetite for it, but when things like those that were exposed last year in the Public Accounts Committee, are pushed under their noses, they would not have been human if they
did not ask themselves this simple question: Is the Government making the best use of the enormous sums of money which Parliament has voted for the purpose for which it was voted, that is, for the purpose of terminating this war at the earliest possible moment? That question is being very widely asked. I would be the last man to approach Parliament with rumours, I would be the last man to approach Parliament with statements which were not authenticated facts. I quite realize that there must be inquiry into all these matters and I am sure that the Government realizes it too, and I have not the least doubt that their attitude towards the appeal I am making now will be precisely what it yas last year, and that they will hail an investigation; that they will hail the fullest possible inquiry as to the way in which these appropriations are being used. They would be unwise in their own interest, as well as unwise in the interest of the Empire, if they did not hail such an investigation.
As far as we on this side of the House are concerned, our attitude is unchanged. While we believe and endorse to the full the policy of the Government we do not by any means pledge ourselves to support the details of that policy, nor do we mean to condone for one moment any diversion to the private pockets of individuals of the public funds that should be given to the killing of Germans and the termination of this war. With this reservation our attitude is to-day what it has always been, one of hearty, thorough, and sincere support of the Government in providing the last man and spending the last dollar that Canada can afford for the legitimate purposes of this war.
I am going to claim, before I sit down, Mr. Speaker, that from the time the first shot in this war was fired until the present moment, there has been no citizen of the British Empire, there is no citizen of the British Empire at this moment, of whom tlie whole Empire has more reason to be proud, of whom it is more proud, than my right hon. friend who leads the Opposition (Sir Wilfrid Laurier). With not a drop of British blood in his veins, he has never ceased to be an admirer and supporter of British institutions and an exponent of the highest statesmanship which has guided the destinies of the British Empire whether in the old land or in the new. From the beginning of this war his attitude has been that of a man who was impressed with the

magnitude of the issues of the war and who was able to rise above all considerations of partisanship or of personal advancement; who has afforded to the world and to the Empire an example of a patriotic statesman who believed in British institutions and was prepared to do his best in defence of them. Need I recall the fact that during this last summer, when under the disadvantage of great physical pain and illness, he was game enough, he was British enough, if you like, to resume a speech in which he had to take a momentary rest, when most unfortunately, the hon. Minister of Trade and Commerce (Sir George Foster) had missed his train and did not get to the meeting at all? Then I have noticed po one in the province of Ontario, not even a minister of the Crown, who has been more assiduous in season and out of season in attending patriotic meetings, than has my hon. friend from South- Renfrew (Mr. Graham), and in varying degrees we, the followers of my right hon. friend and his chief lieutenant, have nothing to regret in our record in this respect. Our attitude to-day is' what it has been throughout this war.
The major portion of the speech from the Throne is taken up with the expression of two sentiments on the part of the Government, of the Parliament and the pedple of Canada, sentiments which received admirable expression in the eloquent speech of my right hon. friend the Prime Minister this afternoon.
The speech in the first place asks us to express our admiration -for the efforts which have been made by our soldiers at the front along with the other soldiers of the Empire and of our Allies. We on this .side of the House desire to claim our full share of that admiration. Upon the fields of Festubert, St. Eloi and others too numerous to mention, these sons of Canada have, by -sacrifice of blood and of life, performed deeds of wthich the glory will never fade away. There is -no one on the opposite benches who admires their deeds more than we do.
The Speech expresses not only admiration, but what i-s much more-necessary at the present moment, and that is determination. And once more, Mr. Speaker, I desire to say that we here also claim our full share of the determination which is expressed in the Speech, that no effort shall be wanting on the part of Canada, so far as we can speak for any portion of it, to bring this war to a successful termination. Whether the blood that flows in our veins is English, or Scotch, or Irish, or Welsh, or Norwegian, or French,

aye, or even German, there are few Canadians to-day, Sir, who do not know in their heart of hearts that we live under a flag which, wherever it floats, spells liberty, which in this fight spells succour to the oppressed, help for the small -against the great, for the weak against the strong, that this flag to-day floats over a fight which is justified on the part of the Allies, if ever a fight was justified in this world. We on this side of the House hold these things as strongly as hon. gentlemen opposite, and in addition we hold no pessimistic v-iew-s as to the future. We have no shadow of a doubt, any more than hon. gentlemen opposite lhave, that this flag will finally float over a complete and dicisive victory, because above this flag stands the god of justice, liberty and truth.
On motion of Hon. T. C. Casgrain (Postmaster General) the debate was adjourned.

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