February 14, 1929 (16th Parliament, 3rd Session)


William Irvine

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. WILLIAM IRVINE (Westaskiwin):

I will not make the speech I had prepared, because the remarks of th-e Minister of Railways (Mr. Dunning) render it more or less unnecessary. It is unfortunate that the minister did not take the opportunity at an earlier stage of the debate to indicate, as emphatically as he has just indicated to the house, how he regarded the resolution, and how members of the cabinet stood on the question at issue. I am quite sure that if this had been done there would not have been any of the hysteria to which reference has been made by a previous speaker. However, I wish to comment on this feature of the discussion. It is a simple matter for any member of parliament to speak upon an issue so guardedly that he may be placed on that side of the fence which discretion may subsequently render advisable, or, in other words, he may so protect himself by language that when he discovers how public opinion is going he can run for cover in either direction.
We owe a great deal to those hon. members who have -been characterized as hysterical for 78594-8i
having brought so clearly and plainly to the parliament of Canada and to the people of the country the absolute absurdity of this whole business. I am glad that the Minister of Railways has -been so emphatic, and I am glad, if for no other reason than for the sake of those very hon. gentlemen-no doubt they are rare-who hold this medieval appellation regarding which so much discussion has been taking place. These men are almost the laughin-g stock of the general public, because the whole titular performance in Canada is looked upon as absurd. Indeed, I have known some good men who were lowered in the opinion of the general public because they had accepted the appellation. If they are big enough they do not need any distinction of that kind; and if they are not big enough then the stamp does not lend dignity to them. The title is only the guinea stamp: "The Man's
the gowd for a' that." To those who wish to have honours conferred, let me say that the men and women of our time, as of other times, who are great enough to receive honours, are so great that we are unable to recognize them, and they will be long dead before we can tack letters on to their names, and as for the men who are so small as to require the stamp in order to appear honourable-well, they are far better off without them. As I say, I am glad that it is not necessary for me to make the speech I had intended making seeing that the matter has been buried by the emphatic statement of the Minister of Railways. I trust that for the last time we are burying this question m Canada, and I think we should bury it in the way the old lady buried th-e cat-face and nose downwards so that, if it ever comes to life again and starts to scratch, the more it scratches the deeper it will go.

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