April 1, 1903

LIB

Dominique Monet

Liberal

Mr. MONET.

(Translation.) Is that the opinion of the government ?

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The MINISTER OF MARINE AND FISHERIES.

(Translation.) That is altogether out of the question, and I once more draw your attention, Mr. Chairman, to the words ' spoken of ' clearly. I was repeating what had been reported by the newspapers which had referred to the gentlemen I just referred to as about to be appointed members of that Commission. I do not see the use of quibbling in such matters.

As to what I said in connection with the prorogation as going to take place about the end of July, I take the liberty of quoting again from the report of ' La Patrie.'

(Translation.) All the forecasts point to an era of prosperity and progress. In the House of Commons, they are railroading parliamentary business. The opposition members, so far, have hardly indulged in any criticism worth mentioning and we are in hopes that, before the month of July next, the whole programme, as announced in the speech from the Throne, will have been disposed of.

This is, no doubt, the statement to which the hon. gentlemen opposite have taken exception, and yet, I had no more idea of wounding their feelings than the man in the mcon. I am, indeed, very sorry to have offended my hon. friends opposite, when stating that, so far, they had not yet addressed themselves seriously to the task of criticising the government programme.

At all events, what I said in Montreal, I stated with a full knowledge of the facts, after having carefully weighed my words.

There is, then, in a nutshell, the whole matter; and the House now may realize that there is nothing in what I said that was calculated to be offensive to anybody.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK (Jacques Cartier).

(Translation.) Let the hon. gentleman, I pray, keep cool and be serious in such matters. I want the minister to inform us whether it is a fact, as reported by the press, that lie stated at the meeting referred to that

there would be a readjustment of the tariff, if necessary, and that such readjustment would be made by a committee of the government, as was done in 1897. I want him to tell us whether that report is correct. We have, surely, the right to be informed whether the statement made by a member of the government is correct, chiefly in view of the fact that such statement was re-| ported in the same way by all the French and English papers of Montreal. And when we ask the hon. gentleman to tell us whether in making that statement he was the echo of the government, he shelters himself behind the French language and refuses to give us a direct answer, but resorts to quibbles and jokes.

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The MINISTER OF MARINE AND FISHERIES.

(Translation.) Let the hon. gentlemen opposite also keep cool. Here is the statement referred to, as reported in ' La Patrie ' :

Should we find it impossible to do justice to all concerned, during this session, some means might be devised, as in 1897, whereby a subcommittee of the Privy Council would be appointed to hold an investigation into the complaints of manufacturers and workingmen.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

(Translation.) Is that a correct report ?

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The MINISTER OF MARINE AND FISHERIES.

(Translation.) It is absolutely correct, but, I ask again, is there anything objectionable in that statement ?

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

(Translation.) That is not the question; all we want to know is whether that report is correct or not.

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The MINISTER OF MARINE AND FISHERIES.

(Translation.) Absolutely correct. What do you find as being objectionable in that statement ?

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

(Translation.) That is not in question; the question is this : is the report correct ?

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The MINISTER OF MARINE AND FISHERIES.

(Translation.) I repeat again, the statement is absolutely correct. I said that we could proceed in the same way as in 1897. If the hon. gentlemen are not satisfied that I have told the truth and that I have said something unreasonable, I cannot help it. I quite understand that the hon. gentlemen feel rather disappointed, but, again, I cannot help it.

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CON

William Humphrey Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. W. H. BENNETT (East Simcoe).

A short time ago, the attention of the House was called to the fact that the hon. Minister of Railways and Canals had committed the government, by an official utterance, to the policy of aiding the construction of a transcontinental line. It is quite true that when the ex-Minister of Public Works (Hon. Mr. Tarte) read the interview attributed to the Minister of Railways and Canals, that hon. gentleman promptly repudiated it. What

then happened ? No sooner was the denial of the hon. minister published than the correspondent who had written up that interview, declared over his own name in the newspaper in which it appeared, that the Minister of Railways and Canals had given him the interview reported. From that day until this, the hon. minister has not dared to rise in his place and deny the statement of the reporter. What followed ? The right hon. the First Minister simply ignored the action of the Minister of Railways and Canals, although the statement made by him was one of an official nature and of great moment to the country. But that was not the only case of the kind. The hon. Postmaster General (Sir William Mulock) went to Toronto a week ago and there made a strong statement which is reported In the Toronto ' Globe ' of March the 24th, with reference to the same matter as that concerning which the hon. Minister of Marine and Fisheries (Mr. 1'rei'ont.aine) gave an interview in Montreal. It is true, if we are to judge by the report of the latter interview, that the Minister of Marine and Fisheries was more explicit, frank and plainspeaking than the Postmaster General. But none the less the Postmaster General led his audience in Toronto to believe this government stood pledged to aid some railway-lie did not particularize it by its name- that was to be built from one ocean to the other. Let me read what the hon. Postmaster General is reported to have said :

We have other railways built partly with public and partly with private moneys, but owned by private corporations, not by the state. Public opinion to-day appears to be more or less against subsidizing railways. Is there any prospect ol capitalists out of their own capital alone building a line over the thousand miles of country to which I have alluded, which for many a year will fail to supply any reasonable return on the capital invested ? Capitalists are not philanthropists, but expect a return upon their investments. Shall we proceed to subsidize the various railways that are now proposing to extend their lines to Manitoba

Or shall we fold our arms, shrink from discharging our proper responsibilities and let the country drift ?

There is the third, a more broad minded, progressive, enterprising and patriotic section of the people, and ' Onward Canada' party in effect, who, recognizing the unparalleled progress our country is making to-day, demand that instead of checking the movement by inaction we should take occasion by the hand and wisely and masterfully grapple with, and if possible successfully solve, the problems growing out of Canada's great and unprecedented development. One of the most serious cf these problems is the railway question to which I have alluded.

What other inference can we draw than that the Postmaster General intended to impress his hearers with the belief that the government was going to assist one or more of these railway schemes now in contemplation.

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CON
LIB

Peter Macdonald (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER.

Does the hon. gentleman intend to discuss this matter much further ? He is not in order.

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CON

William Humphrey Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT.

1 was about through, and as this discussion has been proceeding on the same lines, it seems to me that I am justified in making these references. However, if necessary 1 shall move the adjournment before I close. It must be clear to everyone that both the Postmaster General in Toronto and the Minister of Marine in Montreal intended to give fair notice to the Canadian public that subsidies would be granted by this government to some of these lines of railway. The only difference between the two is that the Postmaster General has perhaps shown a little more tact than did his colleague the Minister of Marine. In trying to explain away his interview, the hon. Minister of Marine said he was simply repeating the current gossip of the newspapers regarding the Transportation Commission. Well, it has no doubt been frequently reported in the public press that Sir William Van Horne was to be a member of the commission, but I challenge the hon. minister to produce a single newspaper which has given in that connection the name of Mr. John Bertram or Mr. Harold Kennedy.

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The MINISTER OF MARINE AND FISHERIES.

You have not read the papers.

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CON

William Humphrey Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT.

I challenge the hon. gentleman to produce a single newspaper which gave, before this interview, the names of those gentlemen in that connection. As regards changes in the tariff, it is pretty evident that the hon. Minister of Marine and Fisheries, made a slip and an unguarded statement. The hon. Minister of Finance has endeavoured to side track the question by stating that anything not official is not to be charged to the government as a whole, that the government are not responsible for anything that appears in the press, except in the official publication of Canada-the Official Gazette. But the hon. Minister of Finance knows very well that the reason which his right hon. leader gave for dismissing the ex-Minister of Public Works (Hon. Mr. Tarte) from the cabinet was that lie had read the reports which appeared in the different newspapers from time to time of the utterances of his ex-colleague. It will not do for the Minister of Finance to treat the matter in the cavalier way he has done. The fact of the matter is that the Minister of Marine and Fisheries was unguarded in what he said in Montreal the other night. He was among his friends, and he wished to show his friends that he knew something of the inner cabinet secrets-as no doubt he does-and he wished to show the other ministers too, probably, that he had leave and license to take more rope than has been allowed to the ex-Minister of Public Works (Hon. Mr. Tarte). That lie has

taken plenty is apparent, and that he has not hanged himself is also apparent. The cabinet cannot afford to dispense with the services of the Minister of Marine and Fisheries, and he is free to say what he will where he will. I will move the adjournment of the House.

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CON

Albert Edward Kemp

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. A. E. KEMP (Bast Toronto).

I would like to ask the hon. Minister of Finance a question. The report of the speech of the Minister of Marine and Fisheries in the Montreal ' Herald '-and I am informed that practically the same report appears in the French papers-says :

If it is found that a revision of the tariff was necessary or that legitimate industries required protection, the right thing would be done. If it appeared that full justice could not be done during the session, the government might name a committee from the cabinet to secure the opinion of the country as was done bv the present ministry in 1897.

I would like to ask the Minister of Finance whether this is the policy of the government or not ?

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The MINISTER OF FINANCE (Hon. W. S. Fielding).

The policy of the government in tariff matters is usually announced in the budget speech, and I do not feel at liberty to make any announcement in advance of that.

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CON

Albert Edward Kemp

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. KEMP.

Then the Minister of Marine and Fisheries had no authority for making that statement.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. T. S. SPROULE (East Grey).

I extremely regret that the government have so far departed from the custom of that great type of parliaments and governments, the British parliament and the British cabinet, in making its announcements to the world. There are two channels through which announcements usually come, and one of these is by speeches made by prominent ministers at great public functions, at which they practically declare their policy to the world, and that announcement is regarded as quite as authoritative as though made on the floors of parliament. Now, if we believe the report to be correct, the Minister of Marine and Fisheries in this case did exactly what an English cabinet minister would do. And one great reason why we were .Instilled in taking that as an official announcement of the government, is the fact that for several days, although that specific statement was made in a prominent daily paper in the great city of Montreal, a daily paper that was friendly to the present government. tli>

lion, minister did not think it worth while to deny it or say that it was an incorrect version of his statement, until he was challenged here in the House. And now' that that is done he takes shelter under the plea of an incorrect report. The whole public, in the meantime had come to the conclusion that the minister's statement was an official announcement of the government. I say it is very regrettable that the present gov-28

ernment have so far departed from the well-understood methods that obtain in Great Britain, and that they tell the people of the country that the only thing we can believe with regard to this cabinet is what appears in the ' Canada Gazette ' unless the statement is made by the Minister of Finance or the First Minister on the floor of the parliament. I am afraid that is rather discrediting the personnel of the cabinet and the cabinet as a whole, if we are not free to take the announcement of a prominent minister at a prominent function as indicating the policy which the government intend to follow.

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April 1, 1903