Humphrey MITCHELL

MITCHELL, The Hon. Humphrey, P.C.

Personal Data

Party
Liberal
Constituency
Welland (Ontario)
Birth Date
September 9, 1894
Deceased Date
August 1, 1950
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humphrey_Mitchell
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=48fe0415-1454-43d8-a242-1562dedacc97&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
machine operator, union officer

Parliamentary Career

August 10, 1931 - August 14, 1935
LAB
  Hamilton East (Ontario)
February 9, 1942 - April 16, 1945
LIB
  Welland (Ontario)
  • Minister of Labour (December 15, 1941 - November 15, 1948)
June 11, 1945 - April 30, 1949
LIB
  Welland (Ontario)
  • Minister of Labour (December 15, 1941 - November 15, 1948)
  • Minister of Labour (November 15, 1948 - August 1, 1950)
June 27, 1949 - June 13, 1953
LIB
  Welland (Ontario)
  • Minister of Labour (November 15, 1948 - August 1, 1950)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1247 of 1247)


February 15, 1932

1. Has any financial assistance been rendered by government funds to the Canadian Pacific Railway during the last six months?

2. If so, for what purpose and amounts?

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY-FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE
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February 11, 1932

Mr. MITCHELL:

I wish to point out that I do not think the Prime Minister read a letter from the Trades and Labour Council.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   PROPOSED REFERENCE TO PRIVILEGES AND ELECTIONS COMMITTEE OF QUESTION OF ELECTION FUNDS
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February 11, 1932

Mr. MITCHELL:

It was the president of the Trades and Labour Congress who sent me a personal cheque.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   PROPOSED REFERENCE TO PRIVILEGES AND ELECTIONS COMMITTEE OF QUESTION OF ELECTION FUNDS
Full View Permalink

February 11, 1932

Mr. HUMPHREY MITCHELL (East Hamilton) moved:

Whereas during the session of 1931 a special committee -was appointed to investigate the "Beauharnois power development" and

Whereas it was shown that enormous sums of money had been contributed for political campaign funds,

Be it resolved: That, in the opinion of this house, it is desirable that the committee on privileges and elections consider and report upon the question of election funds and draft such amendments to the elections act as may be considered necessary.

He said: Mr. Speaker, it was not -my intention to speak so early in the deliberations

Elections Act-Mr. Mitchell

of this house, 'because the experience I have gained from other deliberative bodies is that it is desirable first to gain some background and understand more fully the rules and procedure which govern. During the recent campaign in which I was successful one of the outstanding issues was the Beauharnois scandal and its relationship to campaign funds. The evidence in that regard is definite. I quote from the Toronto Globe of August 18, 1931, as follows:

Mr. Sweezey's evidence summed up the campaign contributions as follows:

Dominion Liberals $720,000

Ontario Conservative party.. .. 125,000

Quebec Conservative party.. . . 30,000

Ontario Liberal party 2,000

or 3,000

Mr. Leslie Bell, Montreal Conservative member 6,000

From this I think we can all readily agree that the Child rests upon the doorstep of both the Conservative and Liberal parties.

The resolution which I have the honour to move is definite in its terms. It reflects the driving force of public opinion, not only in the province of Ontario and particularly in the constituency which I represent, but throughout the whole Dominion. It should be remembered that apart from the hon. member who moved the address in reply to the speech from the throne (Mr. Bourgeois) I come most directly from the people of this country, and I carry a message which interprets their desire that this problem of campaign funds must be confronted and that an honest effort must be made to prevent its recurrence in the political life of this country. I am glad to say that as a representative of Labour I received the support not only of the working people but also of the middle classes and the more well-to-do. These people were amazed at the magnitude of this scandal, which, after all is said and done, strikes at the very roots of democratic government. Many men spent last Christmas within the confines of Kingston penitentiary who had done less than these gentlemen have done, many of whom no doubt spent the holiday season surrounded by the comforts of a first class hotel.

I submit that we have come to a sorry pass when these financial highwaymen can influence indirectly the votes of the people of this country. Money is still an influence in the elections of Canada. Some time ago a well known politician was discussing an election campaign with me. Like all other candidates I expressed the belief that I was going to win, but he replied, "Humphrey, we have the dough and you have the enthusiasm, but we

will win." What chance have men with progressive views to win an election when they are pitted against conditions such as this? It is my experience that men with progressive views are generally poor, and being poor economically and socially, they have a terrible struggle to maintain their existence.

I remember well the campaigns which brought into existence in the province of Ontario what I consider to be the greatest public ownership project upon the face of this globe. Up until recently any Canadian, irrespective of the province from which he came, could go to any part of this world and speak with pride of that public ownership proposition. Electricity is one of the greatest civilizing forces in the life of this country; but what chance has this project when it is confronted by something similar to this Beauharnois business? All hon. members who are farmers by profession, whether Conservative or Liberal in politics, must realize that electrical power is the greatest Jersey cow in existence-it is easy to milk.

I know something of the problems which confront a Labour candidate during an election. In many cases he is forced to go on earning his livelihood; money is not coming in very fast and all the problems which confront the average candidate are intensified. If this condition is allowed to continue, what chance have the democratic institutions of this country? Frankly, I believe the Dominion could give a lead to the world on the question of the conduct of elections so far as the financial aspect is concerned. I believe we could pioneer in this regard and show the world that elections can be won on principle and not on the driving force of selfish financial corporations.

Briefly, what are the facts? We all agree that campaign funds are necessary; we all agree that they are desirable, and I think that on a consideration of the evidence we all agree that some of them have been contributed by people who have axes to grind. Let me ask the house: is this a satisfactory way of influencing public opinion? In connection with that, I should like to read an account of an incident which took place, I understand, in the last provincial election in Quebec, where one of the candidates accused another of taking $325,000 from the Beauharnois corporation. This is the reply of that particular candidate:

I hereby state with all the force at my command that never directly or indirectly did I receive a cent from that organization.

He went so far as to charge the candidate who made the accusation as "a vulgar liar

136 COMMONS

Elections Act-Mr. Mackenzie King

and a public calumniator." These were not two highwaymen talking to one another. One was Mr. Gagnon and the other was Mr. Taschereau. Another instance that is worth while quoting I take from the Toronto Globe of Tuesday, August 18, 1931. It reads:

Nor can the general question of campaign funds be kept in the background. At the meeting where Mr. Taschereau flung his challenge to Mr. Gagnon, Mr. Laetere Roy, former member for Levis, discussing the political contribution of the Beauharnois company made this statement:

"During the last federal election the Conservatives had $2,500,000 at their disposal. You know yourselves that in Levis they had barrels of money. And do you know where that money came from? A good part from a railway corporation, and the larger amount from the manufacturers. Mr. Bennett then raised the tariff which allowed them some return for the sums they had advanced."

I am an Englishman, and I am proud of the fact. Of course we are not responsible for our nationality; we had no control over that. Possibly if some of us had, we would not be here now. My attitude in life towards the human family anyway is that we are all human beings. I want, however, to bring up this point: the only argument I know of

in favour of titles is that you can get some rich people to pay for titles half a million dollars which go into the campaign fund of a political party, but in this democratic country of ours, they are repaid not in titles but in cold cash.

In conclusion, I appreciate the complexity of the problem that will confront the committee, but I believe, after what has arisen out of that investigation, the house owes a duty to the people of this Dominion to see to it that as far as is humanly possible there shall be no recurrence of the present scandal in the public life of this country. Even if this should mean a distinct and possibly radical departure in connection with the operation of elections, it is the duty of the house to see to it that that departure is made forthwith.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   PROPOSED REFERENCE TO PRIVILEGES AND ELECTIONS COMMITTEE OF QUESTION OF ELECTION FUNDS
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