UNITED STATES POOD ADMINISTRATION WASHINGTON, D. C.
New York, January 29, 191S. Dear Mr. Iselin: I desire to confirm what I at once wrote to Monsignor Lavelle on the 18th instant, namely, that I much regret a statement I recently made in this city at a conference to consider Pood Conservation. My statement attributed to the Pope a measure of responsibility for the Italian disaster and for the disruptive propaganda which had brought it about. I repeated thoughtlessly and without previous reflection a rumor I had heard which I had not verified and which I am now convinced and believe was untrue. I have since read the categorical denial of Cardinal Gasparrl, the Pope's Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the denial of Cardina' Bourne in London, and I have also read the statement recently made by Signor Orlando, the Prime Minister of Italy, in the Italian Chamber of Deputies, as follows: "I deplore the accusations of a general character made by the Hon. Signor Pirolini against high ecclesiastical personages-accusations that tend to hurt the supreme spiritual authority-against priests and against the Catholic party. Such accusations are unjust and offensive, because as the public are aware, the Italian clergy, both high and low, have given noble and beautiful proofs of Italian sentiments, and the great mass of the Catholics have known how to reconcile the dictates of faith with their duties towards their country." I therefore feel that it is my duty to retract the statement I made in regard to the Pope, Which I do without reserve, and I would like to correct the unfortunate and erroneous impression my remarks tended to create. You may give this letter such publicity as your committee deems advisable to counteract the effect of my statement and its repetition by those who heard my remarks. May I take this opportunity to express the appreciation of my colleagues and myself of the uniform and effective co-operation which the National Pood Administration has received from our Catholic fellow-citizens and the Catholic clergy? [DOT] I am Very sincerely yours,
P. C. WALCOTT. ADRIAN ISELIN, ESQ.
Chairman Catholic Laymen's Committee, 36 Wall Street, New York. And, Mr. Speaker, if I have any further suggestion to make to the hon. member for
Durham it is that he should now be man enough to follow Mr. Walcott's example. Before dismissing this part of my subject let me pay a tribute to a class of citizens whom we of the minority are anxious should not be confounded with those who have been false to the Liberal party and the Liberal leader. By contrast with these promoters of sectarian bigotry and national hate, there stand out in noble relief the Protestant Liberals who withstood the gales of passion and prejudice, who turned a deaf ear to the taunts of friends, to the sneers of neighbours, to the insults of opponents, and amid it all remained true to their political principles and their party leader. These are the -men, who within my lifetime, have been unshaken and unchanged, while there raged about them the storms of a dual language agitation, of a Jesuits. Estates Act agitation, of an Equal Rights agitation, of a Ne Temere decree agitation, and, most recently, of an anti-French and anti-Catholic agitation. They are not only the pride of the minorities whose rights they have steadfastly espoused and defended, but they are the truest exemplars of Canadian citizenship and the only hope of the future -if hope there can be in the future of a country so race and creed-cursed as Canada is. If I have fault to find with others, I have only praise, and admiration and affection for them, and I deem this the time and the place to make such a declaration in their regard. Now, Sir, let me turn to another subject. While the War-times Election Act was under discussion in this House last session, many predictions "were made as to the irregularities and the crimes that would be sure to attend its operation. No matter how extravagant the prophecies may have seemed at the time, they fell far short of describing what actually took place in the election itself. With the exception of certain constituencies in the province of Quebec, there was no riding in Canada in which a contest took place that did not supply proof to justify all that was said about the War-times Elections Act by its critics in this House. In point of fact, irregularities and crimes -were committed which it was impossible to forecast, and the record of these will in due time be presented to Parliament. Meanwhile, let me cite the views expressed by Premier Martin of Saskatchewan, prior to the date of the election, with regard to this notorious piece of war-time legislation. In a statement published on December 8th, 1917, Premier Martin expressed himself as follows: In regard to the War Times Election Act, I have already expressed my opinion with respect to the disfranchisement of certain classes of our people. I regard this feature of the act as unBritish and un-demoeratic, calculated to create distrust and suspicion and to delay the Cana-dianizing of many of these people for a generation. Moreover, apart from the disfranchisement provisions of the election act, machinery is created which is in the hands of unscrupulous men and may be used in such a way as to win any constituency. This portion of the act renders possible the disfranchisement of any citizen living in western Canada. The Union Government should see to it that 'the election machinery provided is fairly used, they should see that every person entitled to vote is given an opportunity so to do. If they do not act honestly and fairly in the administration of their election machinery, my confidence in them will be shaken. They should also repeal the act at the first session of Parliament after the election. As the greatest care was taken to exclude that part of Premier Martin's manifesto from the Government-controlled press in eastern Ontario, I will ask the privilege, Sir, of reading that last sentence again, in case my friends from the Prairie Provinces may not have heard me when 1 read it first They should also repeal the Act at the first Session of Parliament after the election. While the views thus stated by Premier Martin were primarily intended for the benefit of his western friends, they attracted general attention on account of the fact that Mr. Martin had for several years been an honoured member of this House, and that many of his Liberal associates, particularly those who were intimate with him in this Chamber, regard him as a man destined to play a larger part in the affairs of the Dominion. That Premier 'Martin's fears as to the way the election machinery would be operated were well-founded will require only a few examples to prove. Let me take the first of these from a newspaper supporting the Government. The Evening Telegram of Toronto, in its issue of Monday, December 17th, 1917, thus referred to the way in which the Act had been applied in Toronto: Toronto's loyalty to the cause of Union Government was traded on by ward politicians. Patriots had temporarily overlooked the blunders or crimes perpetrated in the non-enrollment of so many disfranchised women. Laurier would have been aided by the public mention of these crimes. Mr. Speaker, that sentence is so delicious, as exemplifying the peculiar type of mentality that exists only in Toronto, that I will read it again: Laurier would have been aided by the public menticn of these crimes. The article proceeds: Laurier cannot now be aided by the fullest proclamation of the truth that the whole system of preparing a war-time voters' list in Toronto worked out as a disgrace to Union Government. The Union Government abolished patronage. That same Government was represented in Toronto by a small, incompetent organization. That organization left the Trail of the Serpent of Patronage over every move in the miserable game of playing with the manufacture of a wartime voters' list. The appointment of the returning officers was Patronage. The appointment of the enumerators was Patronage. Toronto is disgraced by the Tragedy of the «Var-Time Voters' List. The Joint authors of that Tragedy are the red-tape officials in Ottawa and the Patronage peddlers who pose as Conservative leaders in Toronto. The language of the Toronto Telegram that the whole system of preparing the War-time Voters' List worked out as a disgrace to the Union Government exactly fits the case in scores of other constituencies as well, and yet this afternoon the Right Hon. The Prime Minister in his speech said that "there never was an election in Canada conducted more decently and fairly." Now let us turn to the West and see what happened there. The most illuminating exposure of election misdeeds that has come under my notice was that contained in the speech delivered by the Hon. A. G. MacKay, of Edmonton, who spoke in that city in January last. That speech was published in full in the Edmonton Weekly Topics of January 11th, 1918, and it should be read by every person who is under obligation to familiarize himself with the possibilities of election crookedness under the War-time Election Act. It was followed by an article in the Edmonton Bulletin summarizing many of the details given by Mr. MacKay, and it will afford an idea of what went on generally among the election .officials if I read a few paragraphs at the beginning of that summary, which were as follows: The result of the polling in the electoral district of West Edmonton gives a substantial majority to the Hon. Frank Oliver as far as the home vote is concerned. This majority is entirely remarkable in view of the evident determination to disfranchise as many of the electors as would be necessary to win the election for the Government candidate. If he did not win it is only because the election officials fell down on their job. They could Just as well have put enough on or left enough off to do the trick. Their only failure was they did not think they needed as many as they did. There are various ways of disfranchisement. One is by statute direct. That was done. Another is by empowering the enumerator to enfranchise and disfranchise. That was done. Still another is to so place the polls that they are out of reach of the voters. That was done. Still another is not to provide enough ballots at polls known to be favourable to the opposition. That was done. To deal only with the two last mentioned cases: Grouard Poll No. 210. There were 183 votes polled at Grouard poll No. 210, 153 for Oliver, 28 for Griesbach, 2 ballots were spoiled. The polling division extended for ten townships from south to north, and eight from east to west, that is, it was sixty miles by lifty, not including a vast northern and largely uninhabited area. The. settlements within the area mentioned had been given seven polls at the provincial election last spring, and four in the elections of 1911. There were some 40'0 names on the voters' list. Whiteflsh Lake settlement, fifty miles by trail from Grouard, had been given a poll in the provincial elections, but no poll was given it in the recent election. Two voters traveled from Whiteflsh lake to Grouard and arrived in time to poll their votes, but five others who were on the way did not arrive until after the close of the poll owing to the day being very cold and stormy and the travel being consequently slow. The whole settlement, comprising about fifty voters, excepting the two mentioned, was effectually disfranchised by the refusal of a poll. From Indiana siding on the Dunvegan railway, where a number of fishermen were at work, the distance to the Grouard poll was over twenty miles. The conditions at McLennan were almost exactly duplicated at Grouard. First, the people were disfranchised by the refusal of polls, and in case that would not be sufficient they were not given enough ballots. Only 150 ballots had been supplied at Grouard, although there were upwards of 400 names on the lists. The 150 ballots were exhausted about 2.3,0 p.m. After some delay the deputy returning officer permitted the use of substitute ballots by duly qualified voters. Thirty-three such ballots were used before the poll closed, and were counted by the deputy returning officer. It may be mentioned that the Grouard settle-, ment sent a very large proportion of men to the war. Fahler Settlement, Polls 208 and 226. The Fahler case has been stated in full already, but a resume may .be given. Fahler settlement occupies the greater part of the townships 77 and 78, ranges 21 and 22, west of the fifth meridian. Upwards of 400 homesteads are taken and a large proportion of the settlers are in occupation. The Dunvegan railway traverses the settlement from east to west. There were five polls in the settlement in the provincial election of last spring. No poll was given in the settlement at the recent election. The part of the settlement in range 21 was included in McLennan poll distant from six to eighteen miles. Range 22 was included in the Smoky River poll, distant twelve to thirty miles. An old trail through the woods had to be reopened to allow the voters to reach the poll at the Smoky. There was no population at the .Smoky except two men at the railway pump house. A party of thirty-one voters of Falher left home on Saturday, cut their way through the woods, reached the poll at noon on Monday, and voted. Twelve others who left on Sunday failed to reach the poll on Monday. All these voters had to camp outside for four nights in bitterly cold weather. And in the face of that the Prime Minister this afternoon said: "Never was there an election in Canada conducted more decently and fairly." The article proceeds:
The vote was 31 Oliver, 5 Griesbach. The Griesbach voters were the railway pump men and the officers of the poll. The Falher settlers tried to secure railway accommodation but were refused it. The. settlers in range 21 started for McLennan on Sunday morning and most of them arrived on Sunday night. There were only 100 ballot papers in the box. When these were all used, substitute ballots to the number of 81 were issued by the deputy returning officer. These were used by duly qualified voters in the regular way, but on the authority of what he gave as a wire from the returning officer the deputy refused to count these ballots, and they have not been counted, although they are in the box. The 100 regular ballots were counted, 94 Oliver, 4 Griesbach, 2 spoiled. After all the hardships they had endured nearly as many voters were disfranchised by shortage of ballots at the McLennan poll as were allowed to vote. Such are a few of the examples of what happened in Alberta. The happenings in Saskatchewan were evidently -similar in character, as may be judged by a paragraph from the Regina "Leader. The Minister of Immigration and Colonization (Hon. J. A. Oalder) will be able to tell the House a little later .in the debate whether the Regina Leader is able to speak for What happened in Saskatchewan. The article reads: Now that the elections are over, and the results of the polling are fairly complete, one thing stands out with startling clearness, and that is, 'that not only was the War-Time Elections Act a huge mistake but It was absolutely unnecesary even as a political weapon. Perhaps no one Province in Canada was harder hit by that un-British and utterly disgraceful piece of legislation than was the Province of Saskatchewan. Nothing In the past political history of this country so aroused and antagonized our people, British-born and foreign-born, Liberal and Conservative, Protestant and Roman Catholic, as that "scrap of paper" enactment. Feeling over the defeat of Reciprocity by the eastern Tories was as nothing compared to the feeling existing in this western country against the War-Time Elections Act. And. later in the same article the Regina Leader proceed®: We repeat, the War-Time Elections Act was a mistake no matter from what standpoint It is viewed. It created hard feelings and division where there was no necessity of doing so and when no good object could be served thereby. It has given a serious, even dangerous, setback to the Canadianizing of our non-Englishspeaking citizens. It has shattered the confidence of these people in what was one of this country's greatest assets in securing immigration-belief in British justice and fair play and in the pledged word of all Governments under the British flag. Now that the elections are over and Union Government sustained, one of its first acts should be to wipe this stain off our country's honour. The people of western Canada expect this; they have a right to demand it. They do demand it. In view of the widespread condemnation of the War-time Elections Act and of the clear call for its repeal issued by Premier Martin and by other supporters of Union Government, I shall suspend further observations' on the subject until the Government shall have declared w*hat it intends to do in' the matter. Mr. Speaker, if I have devoted considerable time to a review of 'Some of the men and the methods employed to bring about Union Government, it is not because I think they are the Chief concern of the moment. They are not. The chief concern of the moment is that Union Government has been accomplished at the expense of the loss of the good-will and confidence of three millions of Canadians. Smarting under a sense of wrongs inflicted either through disfranchisement or through wanton attacks upon their religion, three millions of Canadians are to-day sullen and distrustful, and they are not to be reinstated in their former respect for constitutional Government by the huckstering that is going on in farm tractors, postmasterships, senatorships and customs collectorships. That sort of thing may be smart trading, designed to placate certain classes and individuals, but it i® not constructive statesmanship such as Canada needs at the present moment. While such is the need of the moment, the newspapers announce that the member for Durham (Mr. Rowell) and some other ministers are chafing to get away to a conference in London. Mr. Speaker, if these ministers are well advised they will pay attention to what needs very careful attention in Canada and they will let British statesmen look after Imperial affairs in London. It is idle to pretend that several Ministers have to run off to England to the neglect of pressing Canadian matters. The unity of this Dominion is of vastly more importance to us than the discussion as to where new boundary lines for some European country are to be laid down-a discussion at which Canadian ministers would, in any event, be mere onlookers. At present Canada is governed partly from London, but mostly from Washington. Only a few days ago we were called upon to acclaim the opening of a direct wire from Ottawa to Washington. Let none of my friends on the opposite side of the House grow nervous; for the sake of cabinet harmony I will not make any allusions to the no-truck-or-trade-with-the-Y ankee-cam-paign of 1911. What I desire to point out is that the people of this country elect their parliamentary representatives on the understanding that they will be governed from Ottawa; that Canadian public business will be transacted by Canadians in Canada. Hence, the duty of ministers, particularly at this critical period, lies in Ottawa and not in London; and if there be any business rn London that cannot be transacted by letter or cable surely the High Commit sionei can attend to it. Mr Speaker, it was an appreciation of conditions as they exist to-day that led Premier Martin to declare in his manifesto that There is a situation developing in this country which, if continued, will disrupt Canada. And it was his keen realization of the need of national unity that caused him to add this: While there are men in the Government who were parties to the measures and the conduct which have thrown Canada into disorder today, still I have sufficient confidence in my friends who have entered that Government to believe . . . that they will put forth every effort to see that Canada is properly governed during the period of the war. Before the present session shall have advanced very far it will be demonstrated whether or not the friends in whom Premier Martin expressed confidence will justify that confidence. If they do so by repealing the War-Time Elections Act, for which Premier Martin has specifically asked, and by adopting policies designed to bring people together rather than to keep them apart, they will have done much to repair the injuries from which the country is now suffering, and the continuance of which is alike inimical to national progress and to the part we all desire that Canada should play in this war. Not only to Premier Martin's friends in the cabinet, but to all the members of the Government, to all the members of Parliament-aye, to all the people of Canada- there may be offered at this moment as an inspiration to that form of public service which alone can unify the discordant elements in our population, the example of the venerable leader of the Opposition, who takes up his new burdens in the spirit that breathed through the words of Gladstone's last Midlothian address: "While Nature cries aloud for rest, I am buckling on the armour." Motion of Mr. Herbert M. Mowat (Parkdale), for an address to His Excellency the Governor General, agreed to. On motion of Hon. Mr. Reid, the House adjourned at 9.52 p.m. Wednesday, March 20, 1918.