Mr. ANDREW ROSS McMASTER (Brome) (Resuming) :
Mr. Speaker, I
must first thank the Minister of Justice (Mr. Doherty), who, in the temporary absence from the Chamber yesterday of the Prime Minister (Mr. Meighen), was leading the House between half past five and six o'clock, for his kindness in calling it six o'clock when it was only 5.45, in order that I might have a better opportunity of connected discourse.
I think it must have struck the members of this House and the people of this country that no serious attempt has so far been made by speakers on your right, Sir, to advance any argument against the amendment to the Address proposed by the leader of the Opposition (Mr. King). We had yesterday, as I have already said, a most interesting and inspiring address upon the League of Nations, but really no attempt was made to answer the resolution which preceded from this side of the House. So I am therefore driven back to discuss the remarks made by the Prime Minister, and this to the best of my poor ability I shall endeavour to do.
The Prime Minister takes this position. He says: This House was elected by a
majority of the electors some few years ago; we have a majority in the House, and as long as we have a majority in the House, elected by a majority of the constituencies in this country, I propose to carry on. That, as I understand it, is the constitutional position which he takes. Now, first of all, this vote will show, and not until the votes are counted will it be demonstrated whether the Prime Minister has a majority of the votes in this House. That is something yet to be ascertained.
Secondly, has the Prime Minister a majority of the votes in this country? Why, just before the last election there was an Election Act passed for the purpose of disfranchising all those who might be suspected of political tendencies against the Prime Minister and his party, and of doubling up all those votes that would likely be in their favour. Soldiers' wives, soldiers' mothers and soldiers' sisters were all given the vote to the exclusion of other people just as deserving, and I remember in my riding noting with some amusement that soldiers' sweethearts were not given the vote, because although a soldier under our law can have only one wife he might have, and often had, many sweethearts. But that, after all, although important, is not as important an another point which I propose to prove before the House, and which I believe will be accepted by all .unbiassed minds, whether in the Chamber or outside of it.
The proposition which I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, is this: That there was
at the time of the last general election an undertaking made by and on behalf of the Government that it would, if returned to power, only hold office for the time of the war and during demobilization. There was ' the agreement made, and I propose to prove it out of the mouths of ministers of the Crown at that time. Hon. Mr. Carvell, who now occupies the position of chairman of the Railway Board, was a Unionist minister from the province of New Brunswick. During the course of one of the sessions of 1919 the question of the formation of the Union Government came up, and this is what Mr. Carvell said:
I can only say that when I entered this Government-I am not going- over the very, very long and somewhat unpleasant conditions which existed between the month of April and October 1917, possibly another occasion may arise when they can be discussed-I did so after the most mature deliberation, which many of my good old friends know all about, and nobody
knows so well as does my hon. friend for Shelburne and Queen's-I did so for one specific purpose and for a specified time. The purpose I am happy to say, has been achieved! The time has not yet expired. During the election in the Province of New Brunswick 1 issued a letter to my constituents and to the people of our Province setting forth the fact that the Government was to be of an equal number of former Conservatives and former Liberals, for the purpose of carrying on the war and finding recruits for our army, and that it would continue for the duration of the war and a reasonable time thereafter for demobilization. Demobilization has not yet been completed, and so far as I am concerned my contract has not expired.
Just as soon as demobilization was completed Mr. Carvell resigned from the Government because he regarded his contract as having expired.
Subtopic: ADDRESS IN REPLY