August 28, 1917 (12th Parliament, 7th Session)


William Erskine Knowles



Mr. Chairman, this measure is so far-reaching in its consequences that it is a. matter for regret that those of us who have not spoken before are by the action of our autocratic Minister of Finance limited to speaking for only twenty minutes. I suppose that quite fifty Liberals have not yet spoken on 'this Bill, which involves our embarking upon one of the greatest policies Canada has ever entered upon. There has been no unreasonable discussion of the Bill, yet the Minister of Finance takes it upon himself to say that the people's representatives shall be confined to twenty-minute speeches. His only reason must be that he fears open discussion of this measure. If he were anxious to have this measure fully discussed, he would not resolve in his heart that at least fifty of the people's representatives should be refused the opportunity of discussing it, because you cannot discuss a measure like this, involving the far-reaching principle of public ownership, in anything like twenty minutes. I do the Minister of Finance no injustice, but rather pay him a compliment, when I say that he

would be more highly thought of in Canada if he had encouraged discussion of this measure instead of endeavouring to apply the gag and forcing it through Parliament, and it comes with especially ill grace from the Minister of Finance, a gentleman for whom many of us have a high regard, for his ability and other qualities. The fact remains, and the minister knows it just as well as we do, that in the public mind he is very closely linked up in personal friendship and financial interest with Sir William Mackenzie. The people know that; they believe that such is the case, and as a friend of the Minister of Finance, I say that it is an unfortunate thing for him that he has chosen to choke off discussion of this measure, which involves the possibility of our paying out huge sums of money to Mackenzie and Mann. I know nothing about tne personal affairs of the Minister of Finance, aDd desire to know nothing about them, I am speaking of public matters, and I say it is a public belief in Canada to-day that the Minister of Finance is where he is because of the Mackenzie and Mann influence and the Z. A. Lash influence. I have been credibly informed that it was on the nomination of Sir William Mackenzie and the late Minister of Militia and Defence that the Finance Minister secured his appointment.

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