May 22, 1923 (14th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)


No; I take the hon. member's word for it that he was not present at the vote; he was evidently conveniently absent. But this is not all. The very same year the Liberal party of the province of Alberta, headed then by the present Minister of the Interior (Mr. Stewart), met also in convention in the city of Calgary. This convention mark you was headed by the Minister who now tells us how different it is when you get into power. At this convention they adopted all the things adopted at the Liberal convention of 1919; but they did a lot more. Why, they said, there is no difference that anyone can see between the platform of the Liberal party, as professed and voted for in parliament, and the platform of the Farmers' party of Canada. And as it was necessary for them all to unite against the Tories, they voted for a resolution in which they quoted the whole Farmer platform and swallowed it line for line, declaring it to constitute the policy of the Liberal party of Alberta, headed by the present Minister of the Interior. But more. Their appetites were not satisfied even with the Farmers' platform. After quoting and adopting the whole Agrarian programme they added the following clause:
But this convention further asserts that free trade with Great Britain and the United States should be the ideal of the Liberal party, and that it is and shall oontinue to be the duty of Liberalism to earnestly strive to so regulate and direct the fiscal policy of Canada as to ultimately attain free trade with Great Britain and the United States.
Again I emphasize the abservation of the Minister of the Interior-it is very different when you get into power.
Yes, these western ministers say they struggle, they still believe, they still hope. Evidently there is to be the very same plan of campaign in the country in respect of this tariff and the new policy of the government, the same double dealing, the same two-
The Budget-Mr. Meighen

edged sword as there was when they were in opposition. In opposition the plan was to fly to the four winds of heaven the Farmer platform-the convention platform-to proclaim it in all the issues of their party literature, but at the same time through the mouth of the hon. member for St. Law-rence-St. George (Mr. Marler), through the mouth of the present Minister of Justice (Sir Lomer Gouin) and through the mouth of the hon. member for North Waterloo (Mr. Euler) to quietly assure all those interested the other way that they need not fear the Liberal party, that no matter what the platform said everything would be all right with them. Such was the method pursued, such seems to be the method still. The Minister of Finance stands up and says, "Here is the tariff of the Liberal party. Last year we shaved a little here and a little there, this year we shave a little here and we raise a little there, but now it is stable save only for exceptional cases." He told the whole business world of this Dominion that except in very exceptional cases, which he described, they could regard this as the permanent tariff of this country for some years to come. But the Minister of Agriculture says, "Oh, he did not mean that at all." He tells us that parliament can change the tariff next year. Well who does not know that? What we are discussing though, what the Finance Minister was pronouncing was the policy of this government. It has been proclaimed by the Minister of Finance.
The Minister of Agriculture will be encouraged to carry on his pillow fight and to dangle hopes before the western farmer, but from our experience of the past I do not think we will put the influence of the Minister of Agriculture against the influence of the Minister of Finance. In the cabinet combats last year and this the Minister of Agriculture had all the cards, and all the records, he had everything on his side. He could have said to the Minister of Finance and to every other member of this government who was in the House of Commons in 1919, "Why, gentlemen, you voted for these very things I am arguing for, you voted in 1919 for the resolution of the hon. member for Brome which called upon the late government to free the food of the people and to free as well all the instruments of production and all the spare parts entering into the same. You voted for this motion of the hon. member for Brome, you voted for free food when there was not one man hungry in this Dominion for five that are hungry now." He could have said as well, "Why, the Prime Min-

ister in 1920 quoted with approval and affirmed his fidelity to the statement of Sir Wilfrid Laurier at Hamilton in 1913 that the unalterable policy of the Liberal party was to have food free from customs duty for all the people." Yes, and he could have called forth the convention platform, that beautiful pamphlet, and said, "here is the book of the chronicles of the Liberal party, read it and behold our faith." All these arguments he had on his side. Then he could have come to the New Testament issued just before the election, with the photograph of the Prime Minister on the back and his signature inside, wherein it was declared that all those commitments of 1919 constituted the policy of the Liberal party still. All these weapons were in the grip of the Minister of Agriculture and in the grip of the Minister of the Interior. But how did they use them? What was the result of the contest? They lost all along the line. They did not win a single skirmish. So what is the hope for the future? Why, the Minister of Agriculture only makes a laughing stock of his friends. The Minister of Agriculture is an apostate to everything he has declared for in western Canada. The Minister of the Interior is the same.
Let me emphasize here that hon. members do not escape behind the "indigestibility," as described b}? the hon. member for Waterloo, of a convention platform. They voted for the same thing in this very parliament in 1919 -save the member for North Waterloo- he was honest enough to escape-and the hon. member for Sherbrooke (Mr. McCrea) ; they were the only two who had the courage of their convictions then; the rest, including the Minister of Finance including the Minister of Marine, including the Minister of Trade and Commerce, including the Secretary of State, including the Minister without portfolio (Mr. Sinclair) who sits in the seats of the mighty though I am afraid he does not exercise much of the power of the mighty-all these, indeed over half of the present government, voted in this House for the resolution in 1919 of the hon. member for Brome.

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