June 29, 1920

L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

My hon. friend did not

favour the increase of the indemnity in 1905. For fifteen years, .against his wish, with those strong principles that he advocates and that make him ashamed of both sides of this House, he has kept in his pocket $15,000 of the people's money, which he claims we robbed, and he robbed with us. Consistency! Why Mr. Speaker, if there is any consistency in the hon. gentleman that $15,000 ought to be in the coffers of the country. May I exclaim: Consistency, thou art a jewel! Furthermore: Honesty, thou art not a vain word!

I want to show that some of these gentlemen who come here and pose as angels and models of virtue by saying that they do not want the indemnity, have been taking it and using it. There is not a dissentient voice in this House as to the desirability .and the need of having this indem-

ity. My hon. friend from North Renfrew (Mr. Maekie) admitted that it was necessary, but on one 'Condition-there is .always a "but"-divide Canada into zones; let the Western members have $4,000, and let those who are in close proximity to Ottawa have less. That is a good idea, he thinks. It may be a good idea, but I do not share his views, and every man is entitled to his own views on the question. If it is good for the man who lives west of lake Superior, it is equally as good for the man who lives east of the Ottawa river. What is the difference? We are all on the same footing. Men who live west of lake Superior do not render greater service to their country than men who live east. The western men make greater sacrifices, I admit, as they are away from their families and their business. Every one admits that the principle of the thing is good, and every one says the increase has become a necessity.

The hon. member for Marquette (Mr Crerar) says: I am willing that the law regulating the increase of the salaries of the ministers should take effect now, but not the law regulating the increased indemnity to members. I must confess that I do not see the logic of the position taken by him and by other hon. members. If the thing is as good as my hon. friend from Red Deer and others say it is, let us put it into force at once. A good thing cannot be placed on the statute book too soon. I have expressed my views on that. I have had occasion, Mr. Speaker-and I say it with all deference, for we do not share the same views-of criticising bad laws that have been placed on the statute book. But when I see a good law going on the statute book I am glad to give it my support.

Now a word en passant. I think I have never complained about statements made by the press, but in this case I think we have been misrepresented. The motives of the gentlemen of the press I do not discuss. It is their business to enlighten public opinion. But I think before they impute motives to others, before they tell us that we should have some self-respect, those gentlemen ought to make a little examination of their conscience. I remember when anxiety was on every face in this country, when we were at the most crucial moment of our history. You talk about returned soldiers who have fought at the Front; I bow to them and they have my admiration; but I remember when the fate of civilization was in the balance; we wanted money, and we wanted men; we had to advertise for loans and we had to advertise for re-283

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cruits. The papers were full of patriotic sentiments. Did these gentlemen give space in their papers for nothing? We had a return from the Minister of Finance that every advertisement for those loans was paid for. Let the gentlemen of the press examine their consciences and talk about self-respect when they give us an explanation of the reason why, when this country was at that crucial moment of her history, they did not care to refuse the money that was paid to them. I ask the Minister of Finance: have any of those gentlemen paid back that money to the public treasury? I do not know if they have, but the last return that came to the House showed that they had not. Another point my hon. friend from La-prairie made. He said: if you are not satisfied with $2,500, stay at home. Why, the country can better afford to lose my hon. [DOT]friend from Laprairie than it can afford to lose the man who thinks he is worth $4,000 and who should come to this House and initiate good legislation. We had an example of what my hon. friend's services are worth. On Bill 218 this afternoon he started to argue on Bill 219-an evidence of the deep interest and the close watch he keeps on the legislation that is being considered. He had to apologize for his oversight. If cmy hon. friend is always off the trail like that, I think he had better give pilace to a four-thousand-dollax man. My hon. friend from Frontenac (Mr. Edwiards) gave advice to my hon. leader. I think I may tstate that I know what the position and the intentions of my hon. leader are, and I may tell the hon. member from Frontenac that he may hold his peace, for be certainly will not receive the difference in indemnity if it does not go into the pocket of my hon. leader. I think, Sir, we ought not to try to teach lessons to anybody on this thing. I am going to support the bill in toto. I support the increase of salaries to the ministers because I think they deserve it. If there is anything that I reproach myself for it is that when we were in power we did not tackle this question of increasing the salaries of the ministers. They are very much underpaid as are hon. members also. If I have -any Objection to urge against the resolution-and I will be candid-it is that the increase of indemnity does not go far enough. I believe that men who sit in this House; men who are willing to work for *their country although that suggestion was challenged when I made it before- ought to get $5,000. My hon. friend made


EDITION.


a comparison with the United) States. He pointed out that while the United States senators are getting $7,000, plus an allowance for a secretary, the United States has a much larger population than Canada. But that is not a proper comparison to make. Let us make a comparison of the indemnity to memhers of the Federal Parliament with the indemnity to memhers of provincial legislatures. The province of Quebec, with eighty-two members, pays its provincial representatives $2,000, although, as the right hon. leader of the House pointed out to-day, the sessions of the legislature last only four or five weeks -six weeks at the most. That is the proper basis upon which to make comparisons. Now, I shall say no more. I could say a good deal more, but if I become carried away with the force of my convictions on the subject I shall occupy too long the attention of the House. I take this position conscientiously; it is what I firmly believe; I am ready to stand by it; I am willing toi defend my position before any body of intelligent electors. My hon. friend from Laprairie has threatened to take the stump in the province of Quebec and to denounce our attitude on this question. Well, I extend to him a special public invitation to come down' to the city of Three Rivers and to the town of Shawini-gan, and we will give him a whoop of a reception.


L LIB

Roch Lanctôt

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LANCTOT:

Pardon me for a moment, Mr. Speaker. I will say this to the hon. member for Three Rivers: I am willing to go into your.county-

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UNION
L LIB

Andrew Ross McMaster

Laurier Liberal

Mr. ANDREW McMASTER (Brome):

Mr. Speaker, I had intended to postpone the remarks I hoped to make upon this Bill until it got into committee, but some things have been said quite recently in connection with it which make it advisable, I think, for me to say a word at this stage.

I very seldom envy the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Borden), but I must say I envied him to-day, because he has received fresh light so recently upon a dfficult subject-. A few days ago I listened to the right hon. gentleman when he stated that he thought that although the indemnities should be raised, the present time was not an opportune time to raise them. I thoroughly concurred in what he said, and I thought that the whole question was settled. I was -somewhat interested the other night and to-day to listen to a very

strong speech from him in support of an increased indemnity. What I sincerely regret is that I have not received any information with regard to what led the Prime Minister so completely to change his mind. It is contrary to my nature and certainly to my disposition and desire to be hesitating about a question, and certainly this is a question on which there is so much to be said on both sides that any one who -speaks should, I think, be charitable -to those who do not take the same position as he does.

Now, I believe, and believe -most emphatically, that -the indemnity paid to members of this House is too low. The member who- honestly carries out his duties in this House is not indemnified by $2,500. There are some, of course, who pay little attention to the work of the House, but I do not think that those who do their duty should suffer through that fact. The people of Canada should not expect them to do so, because it is the people's fault if those in the House are not of the proper calibre to fulfil their functions a3 legislators. But there are other considerations, and just for a moment let me briefly touch upon them.

In addressing the House on this occasion I do -so in a spirit of the greatest moderation. I differ from others on this question, not on a matter of principle but on a matter of expediency. I know that some of my friends will be shocked at that, because I have endeavoured not to be guided by expediency in what I have done in public life. I hesitate to express my views on this subject, because I know how generous has been the service, how sincere the devotion, how great the ability that has been lavished upon the country by many members who support the Government in this present proposal. But let me answer the argument addressed by the member for Red Deer (Mr. M. Clark). He said: "Now is the accepted time: now is the day of salvation." Might I reply to him in the words of the great apostle that although all things may be just, yet "all things may not be expedient", and that we should be careful to see that even our good be not evil spoken of.

Now, why do I support the view taken by my honourable leader (Mr. Mackenzie King)? I do it for this reason; because although I am thoroughly convinced that the indemnity is too low, the information that I have from the electors whom I represent in this House is to the effect that they would prefer to have an opportunity of discussing the matter before it

becomes law. In other words, they think that this increasing of indemnity should not take place until after a general election. Now, that may be wise or unwise on the part of those electors, but when

9 p.m. the matter is one in respect of which those whom I represent are on one side and I as the proposed recipient of an increase am on the other, it seems to me that in such circumstances I must resolve every doubt against myself. Let me suppose that I am acting on a yearly retainer for a client and under that yearly retainer I have the right if I desire, to raise my own remuneration. I would not like to do so without consulting my client and giving him an opportunity of setting forth his views. It may be a matter of sentiment; it may be quixotic, but so far as I am concerned, glad as I would be to have the money, I do not wish to increase my own indemnity without giving the electors who elected me in the past and whom I hope to go back to in the future an opportunity of making their wishes known.

The member for Red Deer said; "How will an election settle the question?" Well, an election will settle the question in this way. In an election in this country, especially in the rural parts, candidates go from country school-house to country school-house; the minglle freely with the electorate; and every opportunity would be given to the electorate to state to the candidates whether they were in favour of or against an increase in the indemnity. There are two ways in which this might be done. Of course,-the best way-and I desire to impress this on the Government-would be to pass the legislation and forthwith go to the people for approval of their legislation in this matter as well ais in all matters. That would be one way to do it; the other way would be to have the indemnity become effective after the next general election, when the next Parliament is summoned1.

An hon. MEMBER; It was not done that way in 1905.

Mr. MdMASTER: That may be. I am not saying that members who do not agree with me are wrong. This is a matter in which honest men, sincere men, unselfish men, may take one side or the other. But I say we must not forget that the financial position of the country to-day is very different from what it was in 1905, and that, therefore, still greater care is required.

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UNION

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEIN:

How does that affect the principle?

Mr. MeMASTER: I do not know whether it affects the principle, but it affects what you might call the sentimentalities of the situation. The Prime Minister shrugs his shoulders and smiles. He may be quite right; but if he was quite right to-night, he was quite wrong the evening before last. I do not, however, want to discuss this matter with any heat. I quite realize that my view m'ay be mistaken; that those who hold different views from mine may be right; but after all a man has to follow his own irisiinct in a matter of this sort, and my instinct is to consult my electorate before I raise my indemnity.

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L LIB

Gustave Benjamin Boyer

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BOYER:

By what means will the hon. member consult his electorate?

Mr. MoMASTER: By an election. I follow the leader of the Opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King), although this is not ia party question at all, in the view that the electorate should have an opportunity of declaring themselves before this legislation goes into effect. There is, however, this consideration which I wish to bring before the House. I am quite convinced by arguments which have been advanced An this debate and also from information that has come to me from other sources, that there are in this House members, especially those who live in remote parts of this country, who absolutely need the money. The cost of living has increased very substantially since we were elected in 1917, certainly since some of us were nominated early in 1917. Under those circumstances I would apply the same principle as has been applied to the Civil Service, and I think it would be proper and fitting that a bonus be granted. I would not be too niggardly in regard to that bonus. Those are my sentiments honestly expressed, I trust, expressed without heat, and with no desire to make political capital nor to hurt the feelings of any one.

Let me close by referring to a remark made by the hon. member for Three Rivers (Mr. Bureau), who reproached an hon. member because, after having been against .the last rise in indemnity, that member had taken the larger sum. I do not think that is a just or a generous criticism.

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L LIB

Roch Lanctôt

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LANCTOT:

There was no opposition at all.

Mr. McMA'STER: Whether it was opposed ot not I do not think that is a generous or just position. We are here as members of a deliberative assembly; we discuss matters, and the rule is that the

majority mast prevail. Therefore, after the majority has decided, it seems to me that it is the proper thing for every one to fall in line and accept the position carried by the majority, unless it is a matter of strong principle against which a man should battle and battle evermore, and I dp not believe this question is Of that nature. I trust I have submitted these considerations with sobriety and quietness. I do this in a spirit of absolute cordiality with every one; I realize quite frankly that I may be wrong, but I would not have felt comfortable in this debate had I not expressed my views which I honestly and sincerely hold.

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L LIB

Georges Henri Boivin (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Laurier Liberal

Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER:

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UNION

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Rt. Hon. Sir ROBERT BORDEN (Prime Minister):

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L LIB
UNION

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

*Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

Just one or two words with regard to some arguments that have been put forward. The hon. member for Renfrew North (Mr. Maickie) has supported another Bill in 'this House, the Bill with regard 'to judges, and he is prepared to support the provisions of this Bill with regard to rfiinisters' salaries. But as regards himself, he .accepted nomination and election upon a certain basis, and he thinks that basis, should not be disturbed during the term for which he was elected. I should like to. point out to my hon. friend .and other hon. gentlemen who have advanced the same view, fhiait precisely 'the same .argument might be made with Tegard to judges .and ministers. Every one of those judges accepted appointment to the bench at a certain salary, and if the argument which has beer put forward is good so far as members are concerned, then it is equally good with regard to judges. It would apply also to ministers, because we all accepted the positions which we now hold upon a certain scale of remuneration. If the argument advanced were carried out in practice it would never be possible for any ministry to make a proposal to the House of Commons for the immediate increase of salaries; any increases would have to be restricted to future judges and future ministries. Some other hon. gentlemen have apparently reached the conclusion that any such question as. this should be submitted in some way to the electorate. May I say to my hon. friend from Brome (Mr. McMaster) that he did not very fairly quote me in referring to my remarks of the other evening. What I said to the House was this-I siaid it this afternoon and I say it .again- that before coming to .a conclusion in regard to this proposal the House ought carefully and seriously to consider the question as to opportuneness of time. But I said also this afternoon that the question whether this was or was not an opportune time, was not in my opinion an absolutely controlling and determining factor. I am inclined, after listening carefully to the debate, to concur in the view of those who have urged that when once you admit that the indemnity of members of this House is too low you have given the whole case away. Not much else remains to be said with regard to it. How do you propose to make this an issue at an election?

Does any hon. gentleman in this country seriously propose that an election should be held in Canada upon the question as to whether members of Parliament ought to be paid an indemnity of $2,500 or an indemnity of $4,000? The idea seems to be preposterous. You could not make this an issue at an election. Surely so long as the Canadian people have the vision, the outlook and the intelligence which they possess today, and devote their attention to the great issues of public affairs as in the past, they will find some bigger issue .at any general election than that which I have just .stated. So that you could never make any question of this kind .an issue at a general election. In fact, as the hon. member for Red Deer (Mr. Michael Clark) has well pointed out, this is the first occasion in the history of this Parliament when a proposal of this character was postponed until the third session.

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Some hon. MEMBERS:

The fourth.

Sir ROBERT iBORDEN: Yes, the fourth; one of the sessions, however, was very short. The hon. member for .Laprairie and Napier-ville (Mr. Lanctot) held hie peace in the first session after the general election of 1904. At that session, the very first session after a general election, the indemnity of members of this House was increased from $1,500 to $2,600.

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L LIB
UNION

June 29, 1920