March 2, 1920 (13th Parliament, 4th Session)


Ernest Lapointe

Laurier Liberal


Also minister of elections.
Mr. MeKENZIE: If we ask him why he left the party he would refer us to his letter of resignation which we all remember very well, and which appears on Hansard, in which he said that he was leaving because he wanted to get from under the crash that was coming in this country, due to the inaction and lack of ability in the Government of which he was a member. That was the reason he gave for leaving. In the face of that evidence I would ask my right hon. friend who leads the Government if it is not time he took serious thought as to whether this Government is such a substantial structure as he would seem to think it. If it is my privilege and my duty to address this House, it is also my duty and my privilege to warn my right hon. friend that this structure with which he is so satisfied is but a house built upon the sand which, when the storm comes and the rains descend and strike upon it will fall, and great will be the fall thereof. If he chooses to stay in that house after I have warned him, and prefers not to dig around a little and put stones under the corner to prop it up a little, when the crash comes and he loses his political life he will not be able to blame me.
Referring a little further to the speech of my right hon. friend, he was very sore,
very sorrowful, and in great pain apparently, about the lack of sympathy in this country with public men, and particularly with prime ministers. As he was speaking I could not help asking myself, Is this a real Damascene conversion or is it a mere moment of weakness? I remembered, as we all remember, that there were times when he was not so sympathetic with prime ministers as he is now. Be that as it may, it was somewhat peculiar that from speaking of the lack of sympathy with prime ministers he immediately turned to birds and eggs in a nest. I presume, however, he will sometime explain how these thoughts were conceived. Now, there were some remarks in the Rt. hon. gentleman's speech with reference to ministers, and it is only well that his observations should be fai"ly and properly answered. He brought the leader of the Opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King) severely to task for suggesting that ministers of the Crown should be in their seats. There may be, and I am sure there are, occasions when the business of the country demands that ministers shall not be in their seats but shall be attending to matters of importance elsewhere. I cannot conceive, however, of any circumstances that can render it impossible for a minister of the crown at some part of the day during the session of parliament to give some time, half an hour or an hour, to the proceedings of the House, particularly in the early stages of the sittings, so that any hon. member who was desirous to ask questions of the minister might have an opportunity to do so, in order that all necessary information might be vouchsafed the public. That is all that the leader of the Opposition meant, and I think it is only fair, if we are to have responsible government at all and if the operations of government departments are to be known to the public through the proper channel, that at some time during the day-not every day perhaps, although that would be highly desirable if it were possible-ministers of the crown should be in their places to answer such questions as might be properly put to them in regard to the administration of the affairs of their departments. Now, in regard to the position of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Borden) possibly my right honourable friend (Sir George Foster) did not quite clearly apprehend the observations of the leader of the Opposition, and I feel that some explanation is necessary concerning his remarks anent the absence of the Prime Minister. I am sure that I myself, as a Nova Scotian,

have always had the greatest possible admiration for the Prime Minister and I sincerely regret his enforced absence from the House. The same regard, I have not the slightest doubt, is held for him by eveiy hon. member on this side of the House; and I think that nothing could be more unjust to the leader of the Opposition than to imply for a moment that he was finding fault with the Prime Minister because of his absence in the exigencies of the occasion. What the leader of the opposition suggested was that the leader of the Government should, if possible, be in the House, he being the man who is responsible to the people and on whose shoulders the people have placed the burden of conducting the Government. Under the present circumstances it seems that this is not possible. But there are various rumours in regard to the Prime Minister's desire to be relieved of his office. 'We have no other means of obtaining information in this country-on our side, at all events-than through the medium of the newspapers and reports which go abroad in the press of the party to which the right honourable gentleman belongs; and when those reports, purporting to come with authority from headquarters, stand uncontradicted, we have the right to believe the statements they contain. From these reports we learn that the Prime Minister was willing and, indeed, anxious to throw off the responsibility of leading the government, by reason of the state of his health, and that pressure was brought to bear upon him to renounce this privilege. He was cruelly prevailed upon by his friends to remain in his position regardless of the effect his enforced stay in office might have upon his health, and this, in order to prolong for a few years the life of a decayed, a decrepit, and a marked-for-death administration. These are the observations which the leader of the Opposition expressed, and I cannot entertain the idea that the right hon. gentleman who leads the Government would purposely put a false construction upon this his words. He may possibly have misunderstood what was said, but I want to make it perfectly clear to him and to the country at large that the Prime Minister has the deepest possible sympathy of his friends on this side, and that whatever time may be necessary for him to spend away from the House in the interests of his health, no matter what inconvenience it may involve, we shall concede him ungrudgingly; for it is our common desire on this side to see the Prime Minister re-
stored to his former vigour. I hope that this will satisfy every one within the sound of my voice that the leader of the Opposition had nothing in mind but the opinion to which I have just given expression.
We trust that we shall hear from the hon. gentlemen who have gone as plenipotentiaries from the Government to meet the Prime Minister in that most holy city of New York, where, it seems, every great thing appertaining to this country of ours must now transpire. Halifax is the capital of Nova Scotia and has for a long time been regarded as a highly loyal city. The Prime Minister was there. Why did not the representatives of the Government choose that city as the place in which to interview the Prime Minister? No. They had to ignore Halifax and bestow on the city of New York the honour which belonged to the capital of Nova Scotia. However, we hope that they have good news to bring us, and that the Prime Minister will come back and some day before long resume his position at the head of the Government.
Now, there are several points in the speech of the leader of the Government to which I might refer, but I do not think that it is necessary that I should deal with them at all. There is one point, however, upon which I must touch. The leader of the Opposition charged the Government and its supporters with not having been elected to the House on a proper franchise, on the ground that the War-time Election Act was not the proper, democratic and free kind of franchise that we should have in this country, it having deprived a great many citizens of the right of passing judgment upon the Government. We are told that if Parliament being allowed to exist for another year through extending its constitutional limit it could do just as it pleased. I join issue sharply with the leader of the Government on that point, and say that when the end of the five years came for which we were elected, those who were in a position to elect members to this House should not, by reason of an extension of the life of Parliament for another year, have been deprived of that right. If one year was added to the life of Parliament for war purposes that did not authorize the Government to change the jury that would pass upon it and impanel a new one. It is as if, during a criminal trial, the jury should be changed when things began to look bad for the accused. On the charge and on the evidence, the jury in the box would have to find him guilty but they turn him out, let him

loose in the town and give him the privilege of finding a jury that will bring in a verdict in his favour. That is what was done in this case. The Government took to themselves the right of cutting off the vote of every man that they thought would be opposed to them, finding a panel that they were perfectly sure would vote for them and bringing in a verdict in their favour. After having found that panel they wrote out a verdict in their own favour and got the foreman of the jury to sign it while, in regard to the distribution of the votes, as was told yesterday, bundles were put here and batches there, designed, placed and arranged all in accordance with the wish of the Government and where it was thought they would do the most good. That was not democratic or fair, nor did it secure a proper expression of the will of the people of this country. That is the position we take and that is a position which has not been answered by the right hon. the leader of the Government who says that although there was a year added, that year was to be made use of in the same way as the rest of the parliamentary term for which members were elected.
The leader of the Government claims great credit for what has been done in. regard to technical education. The right hon. gentleman knows very well that the technical education policy of this country did not have its origin in anything that was done by this Government or by the old Tory Government. He knows that it is the product of the policy of the Liberal party, that we pressed this policy upon them day in and day out and that they made no move until at last they had to do something to meet the demands that were continually being pressed upon them. I must submit that so far they have not done much to carry out the ideas which were formulated by the Liberal party in connection with this matter.
The same thing is true of shipbuilding. Every member of this House knows that during the Liberal administration, under the premiership of the late right hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier, we had a shipping and naval policy in this country. It is well known that during the first four or five years of this present Administration, and up to the time they started shipbuilding, *we were pressing upon them, day in and day out, the necessity of carrying out such a policy. They left it until the very last days of the war and until the cost of shipbuilding had gone up to a point four times
what it was when they came into power. Ships are costing this country at the present time four times what they would have cost if the policy of the Liberal party had been carried out and if this shipbuilding programme had been carried forward at the time when it would have done the most good and entailed the least possible cost to the country. These are things for which the hon. gentlemen opposite are trying to get glory to-day.
The Union Government is trying to get glory for having encouraged agricultural production. If there is any credit due to anybody for the policy of the present Administration in connection with agriculture, that credit is due to the present Minister of Customs because in 1912 he brought in a vote of .$ 10,000,000 which passed this House and received the support of Liberals and Conservatives. The right hon. gentleman has such hard scratching to find some reason for his existence to-day that he has to go back to 1912 and patch up a claim that this Government has had something to do with an agricultural policy with which the present Administration has had nothing whatever to do.
He says that they have done great things for the returned soldier and that the returned soldier is satisfied. I want to join issue with my right hon. friend there and to put in the witness box the returned soldier himself. If my right hon. friend reads the literature that is published in this country from day to day and month to month of the leaders of the great body of returned soldiers, he will see what they think of the Administration. The leader of the Government has been deluged with requisitions, petitions and demands asking him to dismiss the minister who had charge of this work. That is the way in which the returned soldiers are satisfied with the conduct of the Government. The Government, if they are doing good things, are most unfortunate in the way in which their acts and favours are received by those upon whom they are professing to bestow them. They have not one friend among the returned soldiers and if to-morrow 4 p.m. they sought their opinion by means of a plebiscite, they would be wiped out of existence, horse, foot and artillery. That is where they stand with the returned soldier.
Then, they claim that they are entitled to credit for the great things that they have done for the Civil Service. There has never been such a muddle in this country, or in the whole world, as there is in con-

nection with the Civil Service to-day. Let toy right hon. friend ask those who sit around him from Ontario and from Nova Scotia, but particularly from the great province of Ontario. We have heard members from Ontario expressing themselves here as to what they thought of the Civil Service and its administration. The hon. member for West Toronto (Mr. Hocken), the editor of the newspaper called the Sentinel, has expressed himself in this House time and again and he has said that the legislation in regard to the Civil Service is the most stupid that was ever put upon the statute books of this country. That is the opinion which prevailed to a very material extent among hon. gentlemen supporting this Government in so far as they have support from anybody except by force of circumstances. These are matters, Mr. Speaker, for which this Government claim great praise and credit and I think 1 have stated clearly that they are not such as to satisfy the requirements of any well balanced or sound thinking administration or that there is anything in the reasons put forward by the right hon. the leader of the Government which would justify him in thinking that all is well with the Administration that he for the present leads.
I wish to say a few words about the general policy of the Government as well as the general policy, on trade and other matters, of the Liberal party. We are questioned as to what our policy is. We are told that we disagree amongst ourselves. All we have to do is to recall the history of that great party from 1896 down to 1911 when it had charge of the affairs of this country in every phase, every line, of Government and to ask the people of Canada to put the confidence in the Liberal party that they reposed in it in those days. As we made a success of the Government during those days and built up the country in a way in which it had not been built up before, we ask the people to place the same confidence in the same men, with the same policy, the same principles and the same desire to honestly and well serve their country.
That is what we say about our policies to the people of this country. When we met in convention in this city last August we confirmed those policies, and they are today the policies of the Liberal Party from the Atlantic to the Pacific. We have not one policy for the Maritime provinces, another policy for Quebec and Ontario, and still another policy for the West. Our policies -are intended for one united people,

*and we refer t-o our -past record a-s an *earnest of how we propose to carry out those policies in the future.
The right hon, gentleman who leads the Government tells us that what we read in *the newspapers is idle gossip which we cannot believe. I do not go that far with him, because the newspapers containing those reports stand very faithfully behind him *and his Government and give the very best possible account of whatever redounds to his -credit, and therefore he has no reason to give ia black eye to the press by calling their reports idle twaddle or gossip which nobody can believe.
The newspapers tell us that the Minister of the Interior (Hon. Mr. Meighen), recently .made -a speech in Quebec in which he said the -country would have to be protected to the hilt; then he moved towards the West, and at Winnipeg found be had to change his tune, -as we in coming from the Maritime provinces to Montreal have to change our watches to have the correct time. When the hon. gentleman reached Winnipeg he found he had to put a new record in his gramophone, -and the burden of his address was no longer protection to the hilt, but only moderate protection. I suppose had he continued further West by the time he got to Saskatchewan -and Alberta there would have been no trace of protection at all in his speeches. I would warn my hon. friend to be careful lest some day he puts on a Quebec record at Calgary or Edmonton and finds himself in a bad mess indeed, because the Quebec record which he played to the shoe manufacturers will noit do for the Free Traders of the West, So far as the Liberal party is concerned, we have no occasion to change our tune, for the simple reason- that from the West to the East we have only one sound policy to commend to -the attention of -the people, and we believe that when they -see fit to -restore us to power that policy will bring back to this country the same prosperity that it enjoyed during the fifteen years the Liberal -party wa-s in control, and w-ill revive in the people that faith in- the Government which was once so -strongly entertained by them.
It is true, Sir, (that we have not the great leader of the past years. Men die, but principles never, -and we hop-e on this side o-f the House -that, as we have been faithful in the past to the leadership of the great man who has left us -and to the principles which he espoused, there is enough Liberalism in the -country to give effective support -to t-ho-se -same principles

and to compel the same success which we had while proudly marching forward under the leadership of the great man who has left us. We have to-day as our leader a man chosen in ia democratic way by >t)he whole country, a man who- is in touch with the people, and who is willing and capable to carry forward those policies that will meet lyith the approval of our great democracy.
Before closing, Sir, Where is one matter I wish to point out to the right hon. gentleman who leads the Government. He found great amusement yesterday that any one could suggest for a moment that anything about tariffs should he mentioned in a speech from the Throne. A great many of our people, much to their sorrow, will remember that- in the years gone by the right hon. gentleman himself bad something to do with the finances of this 'country, 'he having been Minister of Finance in the year 1894. In the speech from the Throne at the opening of Parliament in that year, prepared under the eye of the right hon. gentleman Who now leads the Government and who ia.t that time was an important member of the Government, we find the following passage:
At an early date a measure will be laid before you having for its object the revision of the duties of customs,-[DOT]
It is a most extraordinary thing that the leader of the Government found such a fund of merriment yesterday in the suggestion that anything iabout customs should be mentioned in the speech from the Throne.
-with a view to meet the changes which time has effected in the business operations throughout the Dominion. While my ministers do not propose to change the principles on which the enactments on this subject are based, the amendments which will be offered for your consideration are designed to simplify the operation of the Tariff and to lessen as fa.r as can be done, consistently with those principles and with the requirements of the Treasury, the imposts which are now in force.
That, Sir, was prepared and put in the speech from the Throne in that year by the right hon. gentleman who made such fun yesterday of the suggestion tbait the people who aTe groaning under the present heavy taxation and the high cast of living, and who are looking earnestly and anxiously for some relief from the Government and Parliament, could expect any expression of opinion of that kind in the speech from the Throne. We had a right to expect it, we bad a right to believe that an effort would be made to better the condition of the people and to make Canada a country easy to live in and attractive to the proper kind of immigration from all parts of the
world. Do not let ug forget, Mr. Speaker, that while we have a population of only some 8,500,000, we have a country extensive enough to support over 100,000,000 or the same population as that of the United States. Therefore it is the duty of whatever Government is in power to make conditions such as to invite the right class of people to come here.
Talking about trade questions, I am willing, Sir, that we should have the freest possible intercourse with every country in the world.
Let me say this to the Government and to the country

and I am not particular in what way it will be understood; in fact, it can only be understood in one way-that while I am anxious for the widest possible trade with foreign countries, I would not trade to the extent of one five-ceDt piece with any country which will not recognize my Canadian dollar to the full face value of that dollar. If this country is loyal to itself, loyal to its principles, loyal to its institutions, it will stand by Canadianism in the matter of having any trade with any country that will not recognize the Canadian dollar at its full face value as international currency. I am not in favour of any restriction of trade, but I am in favour of Canada's trading where there is fair trade where she is properly treated. If there is any reason why any country is willing to sell goods to us and yet will not recognize the face value of the dollars with which we pay for them, that reason should be clearly stated. Although this condition of things has existed for some time and has caused the loss of millions to the people of Canada, not a word has come from the Government with regard to the making of any effort to bring about better conditions or to relieve the people of Canada of this great drain upon their resources. I am not saying whether or not the Government could do anything, but surely they could make an effort; surely they could satisfy the people, if it is possible to satisfy them in that regard, of what should or could be done concerning the adverse exchange conditions which have prevailed during the last few months.
I again thank you, Sir, and the members of the House for the patient attention with which my remarks have been received. I hope I have made it clear to everybody in Canada that the Liberal party has only one standard, only one principle as applied to all of Canada. That principle, which admits of no place for sectionalism or anything of that kind, is Canada first, Canada last and Canada always.

Mr. HERBERT M. MOW AT (Parkdale): Mr. Speaker, in interjecting a few remarks at this stage into an interesting and vivacious debate. I take the place of other hon. gentlemen who were to have spoken at this time, and my remarks will have the virtue of brevity.
As the extending of congratulation to the mover (Mr. Cronyn) and -the seconder (Mr. McGregor) of the Address (has not become trite at this early stage in the debate, it is not out of the way for me to say that we have in the mover of -the Address (Mr. Hume Cronyn) an example to most of us in this House. The hon. member for London is a reader of books and a thinker along the lines of that which he reads, and although he has not troubled the House-or, (rather favoured the House-with many remarks during past years, he is able, when called upon, to bring the mind of a cultured student to bear upon the subjects dealt with, and to deliver a speech which is an occasion of pleasure to all who hear it and which will go down in the records of the House as one of the best that at all events the younger members have heard.
In the member for Pictou (Mr. McGregor) we have another kind of speaker, namely, the business man who deals in a concise way with the questions that he is so well capable of dealing with and with which he is perfectly familiar. The hon. member for Pictou, when he tackles a business question, is like the description of his celebrated forbear spoken of by Sir Walter Scott, Rob Roy, when he said: "My foot is on my native heath; my name, McGregor."
It gave pleasure on this side of the House to see the unmistakable warmth of the reception accorded to the Leader of the Opposition (Hon. Mr. Mackenzie King) by his own friends. He contributed a speech which was able from a debating standpoint; perhaps in only one respect did he transgress the amenities of debate. The fact that he was warmly applauded by his supporters is readily accounted for, because this is the first time that he has taken his position in the House as Leader of the Opposition. It is natural that when he took his first flight his supporters should be there heartily to applaud him.
But I must say that in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition there are some things to which I cannot give support. During -the last few years we have learned a great deal in this country about the principles of "safety first." These words have been placed before the people on bill boards and in any place where there is a possi-
bility of danger, with the result that the people have become more cautious and accidents have become less frequent. If ever a safe motion was introduced to this House, a motion which was absolutely innocuous to my hon. friend and his supporters, it is the amendment which he has offered to the motion for an Address in reply to the speech from the Throne. Of course, every one who is beaten wants to have a new election. That is a well recognized principle of human nature; the man who loses the race always wants to have it run over again. In a certain game on which I am not at all an authority I have been told that the man who has been losing all the evening is the man who wants still another round of jackpots when everybody else wants to go home. My hon. friend and his supporters know very well that there is no possible chance of such an amendment carrying.
But I want to go further with my hon. friend. I want to point out to him that he is not prepared for an election. If he will go to the province from which he comes and will consult the party leaders there, he will be told straight that he is not prepared for an election. When my hon. friend says that he wants an election, does he mean that he is prepared for an election in the constituency of North York, where he has been invited to become a candidate instead of in his temporary sanctuary in Prince Edward Island? If that is what he means, then I tell him that if he expects to be elected there he never was more mistaken in his life.
My hon. friend has not been here regularly. Where has he been during the war? For he seems not to have learned the great lesson of the war that no campaign, no sortie, can be successfully carried out unless ample preparation is made. The most successful leaders in the war were those who knew their details; those who had for weeks and months made their preparations so thorough that nothing was left undone to ensure success. That is the great lesson of the war. That being so, I ask my hon. friend to inquire into what took place not very long before he came into this House. Has he heard at all of an election in a celebrated constituency in Saskatchewan, known as Assiniboia? If he has, he will know the danger of being unprepared. His friends sent to that constituency two of his present supporters who have attained a respectable position in their party.
But of these two one was the father, if I may so state the position of a motion in re-

gard to absolute free trade, a motion which, from what I can hear, from his previous remarks and from his proclivities in his province, I imagine, was not concurred in by the hon. gentleman (Mr. McKenzie) who has preceded me in this debate, not concurred in by the hon. member from Sherbrooke (Mr. MeCrea), and' not concurred in by some others whom I see sitting opposite to me and who are smiling as I now speak. But he was the person sent to Assiniboia to support the Liberal candidate there against the farmers' candidate. He was so unprepared and these gentlemen who went out as his emissaries were also so unprepared that they were like the "Babes in the Wood;" they were apparently absolutely without any protection and comfort, and the result was the election of a man against the candidate of my hon. friends opposite to the tune of a majority of about four thousand.

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