January 27, 1914

CON

Louis-Philippe Pelletier (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. L. P. PELLETIER (Postmaster General):

In the first place, Mr. Speaker, I desire to offer my congratulations to the hon. member for Rouville (Hon. Rodolphe Lemieux) for the marked difference which I observe between his speech of yesterday and some of his former speeches during the last two sessions of Parliament. Every one will remember that my hon. friend was very angry at times during the last session and the session before; that gentlemen outside of this House of the highest respectability were traduced by him on the floor of this House without their having an opportunity to reply, and that ministers and members of the Government were very severely attacked. Evidently my hon. friend has adopted a new course of procedure. He discussed public questions yesterday from a public point of view, quoting at length from economists and Blue Books, and making an argument which was in no way a personal one. If he will not refuse them, I think that congratulations are in order. Perhaps my hon. friend has become wiser, but I have no doubt that the recent election in Chateauguay has had a quieting effect upon him. I shall endeavour to follow my hon. friend's course, and try to discuss public questions from a public point of view.

The hon. member for Rouville, in the beginning of his speech, expressed the hope that the hon. member for Dundas (Mr. Bro-der) having made such a witty speech, would be promoted to the Senate; he wished him God speed in that respect, and hoped that the day might soon arrive. In the next breath, however, my hon. friend, with remarkable lack of logic, told us that we should not appoint any more members of the House to the Senate, thus invalidating the wish to which he had just given expression in regard to the hon. member for Dundas.

I am going to pass very quickly over the preliminary remarks of the hon. member, because, as I said last night when I moved the adjournment of the debate, I do not intend to speak for three or three and a

half hours. The hon. gentleman next referred to the spoils system, meaning the dismissals made by the present Government. In that respect I desire to say that before the Government of my right hon. friend came into power in 1896, the dismissal of public officials had not amounted to very much. The Mackenzie Government and the Sir John A. Macdonald Government had not indulged in the dismissal of officials to any considerable extent. But in 1896 there was a debauchery of dismissals in all the branches of the public service and the example then set by the preceding Government was such that our own friends thought it was only fair that the people who had been thus unfairly and unjustly dismissed should be reinstated in their places and that the policy which had been followed in that respect by the preceding Government should be followed by our Government. Human nature is human nature, and when our friends all over this country witnessed the dismissals en bloc which had been made on the Intercolonial, in the post office, almost everywhere in the public service, it was only fair and natural that these people should ask us to follow that policy. After these dismissals had taken place and while they were still taking place at the hands of the late Government, the House of Commons passed a resolution, moved by Mr. Lake, who was then a member of this House, defining the conditions under which these dismissals should take place and saying when they should take place. This motion, after debate, was accepted by the right hon. the leader of the Opposition, who was then Prime Minister, and it was agreed to unanimously in this House. I say that this having been accepted by both pai'ties as the policy to be followed in that respect, the present Government were quite right in acting along the lines of that policy as outlined in this motion by Mr. Lake. That is what we have done and when our hon. friends say that we have made dismissals, I say that we have made them under those conditions and on those lines; and so long as the public service is improved in that respect, so long as new governments come in and are in the position in which we are ourselves, I think that, with the example set in 1896 and the following years, it is unfair for our friends on the other side of the House to tell us now that we should not have done what they themselves have done as being the right thing under the circumstances.

Whilst in the one sentence we are told that we are making too many dismissals, we are in the next told that we do not make enough. I was told on the floor of the House by the hon. member for Edmonton (Mr. Oliver) the other day that I should have dismissed one of the most important officials in my department. I was told last year that my Deputy Minister, even, had so exercised his duties that he ought properly to have been dismissed. On the one hand we are told that we have dismissed too many and on the other hand we are told that we should dismiss more. The middle course is the right one. I do not think we should dismiss people simply because they have been appointed by a preceding Government; but if these officials come within the four corners of the resolution moved by Mr. Lake and adopted by my hon. friends I do not think that the hon. member for Rouville (Mr. Lemieux) or any other member of the House has a right to tell us that we have adopted the spoils system.

The next argument made by the hon. member for Rouville (Mr. Lemieux) was that the Finance Minister was wrong in stating that money had become easier, that the banks were lending money very freely. He said that if this was true in Ontario and the other provinces, money was not as easy in Quebec as elsewhere. En passant, I might say that if we are to believe certain reports which are published in a certain newspaper now, money is pretty easy in Quebec. But then, joking apart, I know as a fact that in the province of Quebec, as elsewhere, money is much easier than it was and we are certainly on the eve of the day when we shall see the business of this country restored to the place where it was several months ago.

We were told by the hon. member for Rouville (Mr. Lemieux) yesterday that there were some very bad things which might be expected in the Redistribution Bill and he insinuated or rather said that the hon. member for St. Antoine division of Montreal (Mr. Ames) and myself had been conspiring about this and had been preparing some kind of a redistribution which would rot be fair. Let me tell my hon. friend that he is mistaken in his facts. We were told that Sir John A. Macdonald brought in a Bill which my hon. friends called a Gerrymander Bill; that it was all wrong, that Ontario was carved in a certain way in order to gain political advantage; but

that, on the other hand, the right hon. the leader of the Opposition (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) adopted an entirely different method and came before Parliament with an absolutely fair proposition. That was *o present the Bill, leaving the schedules in blank, refer the Bill to a committee of the House and then adopt what my hon. friend said was the unanimous opinion of the House about the redistribution which should take place. I want to inform my hon. friend that what he said about that was not exactly right. I looked up the debate and I find that the report of the committee was not a unanimous report; without going very far it will suffice to quote what the right hon. the leader of the Opposition, then Prime Minister (Sir Wilfrid Laurier), himself said and which I find in the debates of 1903, September 9, at page 10852. He said: .

So far as I have read it, I will approve of the disposition of the representation as made by the report of the majority until I am shown by the discussion that I am wrong.

Now, those are the facts. My hon. friend from Kouville said that the principle of district boundaries was a sacred principle which should be kept in all cases, and he told us that under the Bill of 1903 that principle was respected in all cases. I have before me the Bill of 1903, and I find that in no less than twelve cases in the province of Quebec alone, parishes and townships were taken from one county and placed in an adjoining county. It is useless for my right hon. friend to say no, because I have the Statute right here in my hand.

The parish of I.avaltrie shall be transferred from the electoral district of L'Assomption to the electoral district of Berthier.

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

That is not

a transfer from one county to another.

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CON

Louis-Philippe Pelletier (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PELLETIER:

The parish of Laval-trie was taken from one county and put in another one.

The Indian village and 'reserve of Caughna-waga is transferred from the electoral district of Chateauguay to the electoral district of La Prairie and Napierville.

The parish of Lacolle shall be transferred from the electoral district of Mississquoi to St. Johns and Iberville. The parishes of Notre Dame de Stanbridge and Notre Dame des Anges de Stanbridge shall be transferred from St. Johns and Iberville to Missisquoi.

That is another one. There is a case in point and my right hon. friend will remember that this was done in order to try and defeat the Conservative candidate in Bagot.

The parish of St. Pie which gives a majority of 200, was taken from the county of Rouville, where the Liberal majority was supposed to be all right, and transferred to Bagot in order to make sure of electing one of the supporters of my right hon. friend. The parish of St. Marcel was transferred from Bagot to Richelieu. The parish of Ste. Helene was transferred from Bagot to the district of Drummond and Arthabaska. Everybody knows why that was done. The parishes of St. Guillaume d'Upton and St. Bonaventure d'Upton were transferred from Drummond and Arthabaska to Yamaska. The parish of la Visitation de la Bienheureuse Vierge Marie was transferred from Drummond and Arthabaska to Yamaska. The parish of Ste. Flore was transferred from the district of Champlain to the district of Three Rivers and St. Maurice.

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

I affirm

here that all these parishes, with possibly the exception of Ste. Flore and St. Guillaume were transferred back to their proper places according to their county limits. Lavaltrie, which had been from 1854 part of Berthier was, by the Act of 1892, made a part of l'Assomption. St. Pie, which had been a part of Bagot was in 1892 put into the county of Rouville. All the changes of 1892 were put back to the counties to which they belonged with the possibly exception of Ste. Flore and St. Guillaume. In 1873 St. Guillaume was placed for judicial and also for local electoral purposes in the county of Yamaska. So that in mentioning all these changes, my hon. friend only affirms the principle which we stand for and which is the principle of adhering to municipal and county boundaries.

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CON

Louis-Philippe Pelletier (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PELLETIER:

The municipal boundaries had been fixed by anterior legislation in so far as this Parliament is concerned. My right hon. friend found these parishes in certain counties and he took them from those counties in order to put them into other counties.

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

They were put there by the Redistribution Act of 1892, and we objected to that.

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CON

Louis-Philippe Pelletier (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PELLETIER:

Yes, and we shall see with what result. I am not on my feet at this moment to tell my right hon. friend, or this House, that we intend to proceed in this or the other way; that is a matter which wrill be decided later on.

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

I am speaking of the past only.

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CON

Louis-Philippe Pelletier (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PELLETIER:

But I am going to

speak of the future for a minute. Nobody has said that I know of that we shall not refer this Bill to a committee of the House. Nobody has said that it will not be done, and I only ask my hon. friends to wait until the Government has moved in this matter and not bring in their reproaches before that method which the Government may adopt has been adopted. We have been told that the method of presenting a Bill with blank schedules is the proper way. I do not say that it is or is not, but let us not condemn the Government in this respect before the Government has moved at all. The reproaches will fall flat if perchance the Government were to move on the same lines as my right hon. friend himself did when he was Prime Minister.

I would like to call the attention of the House to a very important fact in so far as my province is concerned. I have just stated that certain parishes were taken from the counties to which they belonged and put into other counties. I would like to put before the House a few facts in this respect as far as the province of Quebec is concerned. For the last ten years, before the election of 1911, every one knows that the representation in the House of Commons of the province of Quebec was, as far as the Conservative party was concerned, reduced to a very small number. In 1904 the Conservative party had in this House eleven members and the Liberal party had fifty-four; in 1908 it was practically the same thing. In 1911 it was twenty-eight to thirty-seven. Let us see how that works out. The total Liberal vote in Quebec in 1904 was 147,239. The total Conservative vote was 109,821. In 1908 the total Liberal vote was 153,393. The Conservative vote was 129,364. In 1911 the total Liberal vote was 164,274, and the total Conservative vote was 159,292. If the redistribution of the province had been arranged in order to give fair play to both political parties there, instead of having eleven members for the Conservative party in 1904 and in 1908, the Conservative party would have had twenty-seven members and the Liberal party would have had thirty-eight. In 1908 the Conservative party would have had twenty-nine members and the Liberal party thirty-six, and in 1911 the Conservative party would have had thirty-two members and the Liberal party thirty-three.

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LIB

Edmond Proulx

Liberal

Mr. PROULX:

What about the Nationalists in 191IP

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

Where is Bourassa?

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CON

Louis-Philippe Pelletier (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PELLETIER:

We will come to

Bourassa by and by, but we will stick to this for a moment. I am not going to be taken away from my subject because somebody may speak of Bourassa. I am making a point and I think it is fair that I should be allowed to continue it.

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LIB

Edmond Proulx

Liberal

Mr. PROULX:

But you forget one party in 1911; there were three parties in 1911.

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CON

Louis-Philippe Pelletier (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PELLETIER:

I think I have forgotten more than the hon. gentleman ever knew. If you take the vote of 1904 and add up the Liberal vote with the Conservative vote it will give you 257,060. Then, if you divide that by the number of counties -sixty-five-you have a unit of 3,955, and as a result, if you take that unit and multiply it by the number of members which we should have had you have the test. To-day, in the province of Quebec, the counties are arranged in such a way that where we should legitimately have had twenty-seven members we had eleven, and where we should have had twenty-nine we had twelve.

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LIB

George Perry Graham

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

Has the hon. gentleman the figures for Ontario?

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CON

Louis-Philippe Pelletier (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PELLETIER:

I have not, but I have looked for my own province because we have felt the pinch in Quebec.

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LIB

George Perry Graham

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

We have felt the other

pinch in Ontario.

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CON

Louis-Philippe Pelletier (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PELLETIER:

I do not know how

well-founded may be the complaint of the hon. member, but at all events, if there is a bad case in Ontario that does not help to cure our bad case in Quebec. In view of these facts, I ask: Is it fair that one of the political parties in the province of Quebec should only 'have one-third of the representation it is legitimately entitled to? I may say, and I think I can speak for the whole Government, that we do not want to and do not intend to place such a Redistribution Bill before this House as will deserve to be called a gerrymander, but, on the other hand, our desire is to have a fair redistribution measure which will do justice to all parties. The facts I have given have been known for years in the province of Quebec and I am sure that both political parties will agree that the existing state of things should not continue. There may be complaints in regard to Ontario, as the

hon. member for South Renfrew (Mr. Graham) says, but when you remember that out of 73 members from that province, 60 were elected to support the Government, there cannot be much necessity for a gerrymander in face of such clear proof of the political sentiment of the whole province.

I join issue with my hon. friend from Rouville in his remarks with reference to transportation. He stated that under the Liberal Administration the crops of the western farmers were removed promptly to market, but I can tell him that one of the very first things the Conservative Government had to do when it assumed power in 1911 was to attempt to remove the congestion in freight traffic for which the Liberal Government was responsible. There were millions of bushels of wheat on the prairies which could not be moved to the head of navigation, and the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Foster) devoted much time and care and attention to remedy the evil conditions which we inherited from the preceding Government. Then in 1912, the hon. gentleman, with his well known ability to take care of such problems, succeeded in having the transportation of produce from the West handled with such promptness as to elicit the commendation of every member of the community. With reference to the question of unemployment in the country, I regret that hon. gentlemen opposite seem to desire to make as much political capital out of the existing situation as they can. It is unfortunate for the country that this should lie made a political question, and that instead of all joining hands to provide a proper remedy, men of standing in the House of Commons, should on the public platform, seem to take delight in telling the people of the world that we have 100,000 unemployed in Canada. With all due respect, I say that such a statement has not a- particle of truth to support it. When this assertion was first made, a newspaper in Montreal took the trouble to get into telegraphic communication with all the important centres in Canada, with the result that the total unemployed in the whole Dominion was found to be 17,000 or

18,000 instead of 100,000, We all know that the unemployment is not due to any question of tariff or of free food or anything like that; we know that 5,000 men were laid off by the Canadian Northern Railway Company when its line was completed between Sudbury and Port Arthur. We know that when the work on the Canadian Pacific railway between Toronto and Ottawa was completed a large number of men were laid

off; and we know that when certain construction was finished on the Canadian Northern between Toronto and Ontario and on the Transcontinental as well, men were thrown out of employment. But that is an ordinary and natural condition, and it is not a thing out of which any party should seek to make political capital. [DOT]

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LIB

Charles Murphy

Liberal

Mr. MURPHY:

Has the hon. gentleman the number of unemployed from any government source?

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CON

Louis-Philippe Pelletier (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PELLETIER:

No, but we have in this Montreal newspaper the statement of the mayors of cities and of the presidents of boards of trade throughout Canada, and I should think they know much more about that matter than we do. I accept their word as representing the true facts. Then, the hon. member for Rouville has referred to the number of unemployed in the city of Quebec, and he has stated that if the Government works were not going on there, there would be a great many people without work. In the first place, I direct the attention of the House to the fact that if we have succeeded to a certain extent in affording employment on Government works in Quebec to so many people during this rigorous winter, that would not have happened under the late Government by whom Quebec was entirely ignored. I regretted to hear the hon. member speak of people being out of work in Quebec on account o'f what he called a lockout in the shoe trade. Surely the hon. gentleman must see that it is absolutely unfair to accuse the Government for what has occurred in that respect. There is an unfortunate condition in the shoe trade in Quebec, a condition which every citizen of Quebec and every Canadian regrets. There are about 3,000 men and

3,000 girls employed in the shoe factories out of employment, and that is a matter of deep regret to me as it is to every true Quebecker, and as it should be to every true Canadian.

But when we come to examine the reason for that, it seems unfair and unjust to bring before the House this fact as one showing a lack of good administration on the part of the Government. The unemployed shoemakers in Quebec are not idle,, the factories are not closed, because of political conditions. Every one knows that a serious conflict has been going on for years in Quebec between the shoe manufacturers and their workmen. There has been strike after strike, and it has now come to a point where one of the contending parties has resolved that this matter

shall end, and forever. The men quit work because one of their number was dismissed, or because his job was taken away from him and given to somebody

4 p.m. else. The men left the factories in a body. Later they desired to come back, but when they did so the manufacturers told them: We have had so much trouble in the past that we are determined to settle this question here and now. If you want to resume your positions in our factories, you must sign an agreement binding yourselves to obey the rules and the bylaws which are established for the proper working of the factories. One and all the men refused to sign that agreement and went home.

I am not entering into any controversy as to who is right or who is wrong in this matter. In this case, as in many other cases, they might try to come to terms. It is out of my province, however, to discuss that phase of the question; but I say that these men are not out of work in Quebec because^ they are forced out of it by political or any other conditions, except that they are at war with their employers, and they want to win that fight for their union, whereas on the other hand the manufacturers want to win the fight for their union. These are the facts, and I hope and trust that the hon. member for Rouville will not have it spread broadcast throughout this country that this local trouble between manufacturers and workmen is one attributable to the way in which Canada is governed at the present moment.

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January 27, 1914