He used those words, "a deed of the blackest political infamy." Now it is not in the hands of anybody, even if he is the Prime Minister or the whole Government of this country, to say whom a constituency shall send to Parliament. I say that that would be absolutely reversing the whole of our democratic institutions. Any man, whether he be the Prime Minister of this country or anybody else, who will come and tell the free people of any electoral district in this country whom they should send to Parliament, or whom they should not send, is arrogating to himself something that belongs to no man in this country, because under our constitution it is for the people themselves to select their representative.
It has been tried time and again in the Old Country, and invariably the will of the people in the selection of their candidates is what regulates their parliamentary representation. Those words were so terrible to me-I have never had worse applied to me in my short existence on this terres-tial sphere-that I began to think a little. I began to ask myself what I would consider a deed of the blackest political infamy. Well, I suppose we all have different ideas of politics and the science of government, and I am sure those ideas have been enunciated from all points of view in this House, but what made me take my first active interest in politics I think was this: I believed that at the very root and foundation of our liberty was the freedom of our parliamentary representation, that a man's vote should be free, and if you follow through the various successes of the Liberal party you will see that it was to obtain that liberty and preserve that right, to give to each constituency the absolute right to send whom it pleased to parliament, that our battles were fought. We look upon that as our greatest liberty; it is the foundation of our whole parliamentary system; it is the foundation of our freedom; it is the foundation upon which the power of the British Empire has been carried through the world; it is a right that has been bought for us by the blood of our ancestors, and therefore as a work of man I revere it as something sacred, this liberty of the people with regard to the franchise and the selection of their representation in parliament. Then if that be so, if you agree with me, can you think of any deed of blacker political infamy than an act that would take away from the men of this country, men who were out fighting in the field and shedding their blood in our defence, fighting our battles abroad for the freedom we prize so much-can you think of a deed of blacker political infamy or anything more malignant than that their franchise should be taken away from them and cast to the winds? Can you think of anything blacker or more iniquitous on the statute book of any free country than the War Time Elections Act of a few years ago? That, Sir, was my idea of a deed of the blackest political infamy, and I believe it would be the opinion of the people of this country. At all events, I say it with pride, it was the opinion of the electors of the constituency of Brantford. They resented that act, and that is why I am here.
With regard to the attitude of the manufacturers of Brantford I would just like to say this: If the sentiment expressed by the hon. member for Marquette, that our laws should be on the basis of equal justice to all with special privileges to none, is endorsed by his followers or by the majority of them, I can freely and frankly and fairly appeal to them to agree with my position upon the tariff. In brief it is this-I do not intend to take more time in stating it than is necessary-I think we must admit that the tariff is a tax. We on this side claim it is a tax, but placed for the purpose of giving revenue; it is so put that it gives such incidental protection as is possible to our manufacturers. However, regard it how you will, any tariff is a tax. Well then, granting that it is a tax, should it be possible that one section of the community should escape the tax while other sections of the community have to bear their taxation? In other words in the case of implements, tools, etc., used by the farmers, would it be fair to ask that they should come in free to this country while the tools that are used by mechanics-moulders, carpenters, masons and others-in other industries come in taxed?
Topic: THE GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH ADDRESS IN REPLY