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.
Subtopic: ADDRESS IN REPLY.