Then, Mr. Speaker, we will not offer any objection to its being read the third time at the present moment. I think, however, that the moment is appropriate again to protest against this system of rushing legislation. The rules of the House provide that every Bill should have at least three readings on three separate days. We protested last session over and over again against the habit into which the Government had fallen of introducing legislation at the eleventh hour and then rushing it through without giving hon. members of this House of Commons opportunity to deliberate thereon. This is the first piece of legislation brought forward this session, and lest the present procedure is to be construed as a precedent we might as well point out at once that strong exception will be taken to a repetition of anything of the kind.
Perhaps this may be an opportune moment to direct the attention of the Government to the fact that the amendments which we to-day have been called upon to pass are amendments to a section of the Elections Act which was considered at the very close of last session, when members of Parliament were obliged to sit far into the night and on into the morning, and when there was very little opportunity afforded for mature consideration of any legislation before the House. Had there been time for mature consideration, this neglect or oversight of the Government might not have occurred. May I further point out that at the end of last session we urged strongly that Parliament should be called at an early date this year. If Parliament had been summoned at an early date, which would have suited the convenience of all hon. members, it would not have been necessary to alter the regular procedure as has been done in this case and to rush legislation in this manner. In a few weeks' time the present fiscal year will have come to a close and we shall then be confronted, I presume, with a request from the Government that we consider granting some measure of supply without the House having any opportunity of looking at the Estimates. Let me inform the Government at once that it will
be to their own interests to bring down the Estimates as speedily as possible, because we on this side of the House will not consent to the passing of estimates without having an opportunity carefully to consider what we are called upon to vote in that connection.
We shall take careful note of all that my hon. friend has said. It is hard to break off old habits all at once, and if he will allow this to go through we will reform so far as succeeding ones are concerned.
Motion agreed to, and Bill read the third time and passed.
THE GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
ADDRESS IN REPLY
Consideration of the motion of Mr. James Mclsaae for an Address to His Excellency the Governor General in reply to his speech at the opening of the. session, and the proposed amendment thereto of Mr. Mackenzie King, resumed from Thursday, February 24.
Mr. Speaker, in rising to offer my contribution to the debate on the Address in reply to the speech from the Throne, I wish to congratulate the mover and seconder of the motion on the excellent speeches delivered by them on this occasion. I wish also to congratulate our Prime Minister (Mr. Meighen) on his elevation to the high office which he now holds. As he is an honest man and one who is not fishing for compliments, I do not think he will suffer in any way by reason of the lack of deference shown by the hon. member for Chambly and Ver-cheres (Mr. Archambault) in his failure to congratulate him as other hon. members of the Opposition have done. I am satisfied that when history records the present period the work of the right hon. gentleman who now fills the office of Prime Minister will rank equal with the best achievements of his predecessors. This Government has been subjected to undue, unjust, and unwarranted criticism by many in this country during its term of office; but while that criticism is subsiding in the country in the light of the work of the Government, we cannot say that ma-
terial help in alleviating the present unrest has been contributed by the Opposition. The Opposition, as they did all summer, are still indulging in criticism and stirring up unrest in the country. In the old days, when over half of the population elected a Government, the majority stood behind that Government through thick and thin; and it did not matter what the Government might do or what measure might be brought forward, that majority supported the Administration unflinchingly. The shaking-up that took place in the forming of a new party in 1917 left every person free, independent, and unfettered to any party, and that being the case every one felt at liberty to criticise the Government. Hence a great deal of the present criticism. Fortunately the people of Canada are now settling down again. They thoroughly appreciate the good work which the Government has done and are beginning to applaud with much enthusiasm the splendid deeds which it has wrought. One outstanding issue, as has frequently been stated on the floor of this House, was presented in the pre-election platform of the Government-the vigorous waging of the war and the reinforcement of Canadian troops at the front. No one can deny that the efforts of the Government along these lines were most successful, for at the conclusion of the war the Canadian division stood at the very spearhead of the Allied armies. That division was undoubtedly the finest fighting corps in the Allied armies at that time and made the best record of any division. The Government deserves the highest praise for keeping the Canadian army at the fop notch of efficiency, and for prosecuting its work in that direction so effectively. The achievements of the Government were, in fact, so notable that at the end of the war Canada could easily have laid claim to the full status of nationhood. I think it was the member for Red Deer (Mr. Clark) who said in one of his speeches when Parliament was meeting in the Museum building that no previous Government in Canada could lay claim to have fulfilled so many of its pre-election pledges within six months after the contest. The fulfillment of its pledges is one thing that must certainly be put down to the credit of the Government.
I believe it was the mover of the Address in reply to the Speech from the Throne who made the point that the trade of Canada per capita had expanded to a greater extent than that of any other country in the world. The expansion of Canadian commerce has not been slow and steady; year by year it
has advanced by leaps and bounds. The conditions in the country over which the Government have control must be excellent or such an unparalleled expansion of commerce would not have taken place as has taken place during the regime of the present administration. I think it can be truly stated that we have better industrial conditions in Canada than in any other country on the face of the globe. There is far less unemployment in this country and better relationship and a better understanding between capital and labour. We can only attain the progress that we should achieve in the next few years by continuing to maintain such good relations be-tweeen the two; labour realizing that capital is as necessary to its wellbeing as labour is as necessary to the wellbeing of capital. In the matter of industrial relationships this country is a model for the world at large. Our mercantile marine which has been so severely criticized made money last year, the hardest year it will ever have to encounter. This too despite the war conditions which shook up the trade routes and brought about the disorganization in the traffic that has been going on during the past few years. Our ships now sail the seven seas and sail them successfully. Our mercantile marine is a credit tc Canada.
In the re-establishment of the returned men no one can deny that Canada leads the world. In the Soldiers' Land Settlement we have trained, are giving loans to or have in training, some 64,706 men. Up to November 30, 1920, the number of veterans in communication with the Soldiers' Settlement Board was 100,000, and the number who applied for the privileges of the Settlement Act was 58,811. The nufmber of veterans qualified but not yet located was 21,975, whilst 916 were in training under supervision of the Board, and 1,444 had completed training. To those who were in training the sum of $165,150 has been paid out as pay allowances during the time they were taking the course. Under the Department of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment some 50,788 men were under training up to February 19, 1921. A careful record is kept as to the disposition of graduates. These are followed up by department officers for a period of at least four months after discharge from training, and where employment has been constant for a period of four months after being placed in employment, the same is considered permanent and the cases are closed. Up to January 31, 1921, the following information was available with respect to cases considered
closed. The total number at that time was 26,891. Of this number 19,137 or 71.6 per cent were in employment along the lines for which they were trained; 5,604 or 28.84 per cent were in employment along other lines. The total graduates in employment represented 92 per cent. Of the remainder 205 or 1.76 per cent were out of employment; 844, or 3.15 per cent, could not be traced; 749, or 2.78 per cent, had left Canada; 233, or 1.94 per, cent, were ill; and 99 or .37 per cent had died. The number of ex-soldiers on the strength of the department for treatment on February 5th, 1921, was 6,231.
I shall not bother to give the figures with respect to the disabled men who have been looked after. That information is available at the Department of the Sol- ' diers' Civil Re-establishment at any time. But I am satisfied that in the matter of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment Canada has led the world. She started her methods before any of the other Allied countries and progressed in these respects, with such rapidity and effected such excellent organization that men were sent from the United States and Great Britain to Canada to study the methods employed by the Department of Soldiers' Civil Reestablishment. Some 29,084 men have found employment in the Civil Service, making a total of 144,578 that have been looked after by the Government. It thus appears that nearly one-third of our army have been provided for in some way or other under the plans of re-establishment.
The provision of Soldiers' Insurance should not pass unnoticed. Under it soldiers can take out insurance without examination within a limited time. Canada leads the world too in the matter of payment of pensions. She is paying higher pensions than any of the Allied countries.
If the administration of this Government had not been so successful there might be some ground for the demand for an election. Hon. gentlemen opposite insist that the people are calling for an election but I have not heard anything whatever with respect to any such call.
The leader of the Opposition sought to make out a case against the Government where in reality no case exists. The tariff question has been made a political football for years and invariably at election time it is surrounded by a lot of camouflage. But really all are agreed on it. The speeches delivered during the West Peterborough election show the members of the Opposition to be in favour of reasonable protection. Even the leader of the Agrarian party is reported in one of his speeches to have pronounced in favour of reasonable and adequate protection. Although other issues have been raised at successive general elections the real big issue presented on every occasion has been the tariff question.
When the Liberals were elected in 1886 they reduced the tariff by .74 per cent. I find that when protection was taken off barbed wire and binder twine our Canadian manufacturers of those commodities went to the wall; and the only reason that cream separators, which were also made free, continued to be manufactured in this country was because they were being manufactured by Canadian branches of American institutions. If we had free trade to-morrow on all commodities, and two thirds of our industries went to the wall, Canada would soon regret having adopted the policy that has been put forward by the Opposition. However, I do not think the people have any fear of the Opposition ever putting their expressed policy into practice, because it is merely a platform to get in on but not to live by.
The hon. member for Marquette (Mr. Crerar) said yesterday that the prices of agricultural products were fixed in the markets of the world. Of course, and that is why Reciprocity failed, because the people appreciated the fact that Liverpool set the price of wheat irrespective of our fiscal relations with the United States. Therefore the chief plank of the hon. member for Marquette falls down, for it would be of no benefit to the Western farmer in disposing of his produce.
The hon. member also mentioned that both provincial and Federal economy was a pressing necessity if we were to improve our financial condition. Well, probably we all remember the talk that the hon. member for South Winnipeg (Mr. Allan) would give in the corridors along this line. I wonder whether the hon. member for Marquette has recommended administrative economy to the Government of Ontario. Although the chief platform of the members of that Government when appealing to the province for support was Greater Economy, the increase in the debt of Ontario since they came into power has been alarming. For example, although $6,000,000 was spent on their roads last year, I am told my hon. members from Ontario that there is practically nothing to show for that enormous expenditure. But that Government seems to be going ahead with the same lavish expenditure, probably ac-
celerated over last year's, and I think my hon. friend from Marquette would be well advised to visit Toronto now the Legislature is in session and advocate greater economy to his friends there.
He also stated that we should do more trade with the United States. But I do not see where we would benefit by that increase. At the present time we are buying very largely from the States; for example, for the ten months ended January 31, 1921, we imported goods to the value of $743,707,196, or 69 per cent of our imports and on that huge business I am told we were fined on the average 15 per cent, representing the difference in exchange. One of the prominent officials of the provincial government in Manitoba said to me after hearing the Premier speak in Winnipeg a year ago that if we had free trade the Canadian dollar would have fallen to fifty cents in a week. The more trade we do with the States the more is our dollar held at a discount, so the less trade we do with them the better. I would advocate doing less with them. I think an embargo on all manufactured articles from the States until exchange rights itself would be a very profitable thing, for then we could not be fined as we are when we do business with them, although they admit that we are the best customers they have. A greater buying of home products would make for a better condition in the Dominion. If a farmer sells $1,000 worth of products off his farm, and in return buys $1,000 worth of material, he is not getting his debt paid off. The sooner we appreciate the fact that we must buy less abroad the sooner we would be in a position to pay off our debts. .
I have the figures of our imports for the ten months ended January 31, 1921. We imported from the United States $743, 707,196, or 69 per cent of our total imports; in the year 1919-20 we imported 75 per cent from the United States, so we are working along the right line, having already dropped down 6 per cent. From the United Kingdom we imported $185,817,499, or 17 per cent; in the year 1919-20 we imported 11 per cent, which is an improvement on our Empire trade. From other British possessions we imported $43,029,240, or four per cent; it was four per cent the year before. From other foreign countries we imported $103,034,785, or nine per cent; it was eight per cent the year before, so there is not any improvement there. The total imports amounted to $1,075,587,720. Our exports for the ten months ended January 31, 1921, were as follows: To the United States,
$491,075,856, or 45 per cent, against 39 per cent the year before, which indicates an expansion of trade along the right line; to the United Kingdom, $281,275,105, or 26 per cent-the year before the figures was 38 per cent, and the reduction is largely attributable to British exchange, which militated against our export trade with her; to other British possessions, $80,334,417, or seven per cent, as against five per cent the year before; to other foreign countries $221,959,676, or 22 per cent, against 16 per cent the year before. Our total exports amounted to $1,074,645,054, or almost balancing our imports. I do not see how the hon. member for Marquette can urge further trade with the United States in view of the exchange rate and the resultant disadvantage against us, especially when he admitted that the prices of farm products are fixed in the markets of the world and not in the States.
The hon. gentleman (Mr. Crerar) stated that he would appreciate a flat declaration of policy from the Government. Why die he not make one himself? "Last year wher the Prime Minister and the leader of tht Opposition were touring Western Canadf I remember reading an illustrated article in Maclean's magazine by J. K. Munro, and one of the illustrations showed the leader of the Farmers sitting at home calmly smoking a big cigar with a wide brimmed straw hat on his head; and that is where he sat most of the summer, instead of coming out and giving us a flat declaration of policy. I think he has changed his policy two or three times since he became the leader of the Agrarian party, and still he is not prepared to give to the people that clear expression of policy which he demanded from the Government, I do not see how he could read the previous speeches from this side of the House without gathering from them a flat declaration by the Government in favour of reasonable and adequate protection-the same as he is willing to offer himself, and the same as the Opposition at Peterborough were willing to offer. The trouble is there is only one platform and everybody is struggling to get on it.
I join with the hon. member for Macdonald (Mr. Henders) in pressing for an investigation into the grain dealing of the West. The report of Price, Waterhouse & Co., and the other reports we have got since on the elevators of there being something over 1,000,000 bushels of overages calls for investigation. It is admitted that the United Grain Growers and the various grain companies in the Farmers' organiz-
ation handled about 25 per cent of the grain of the West, and therefore they must have shared to a great extent in the overages which came from the pockets of the farmers. I know they are allowed a certain percentage of overages, but
those percentages could not have
amounted to anything like the amounts that were found in the elevators.
Whether these are the total overages or not, God only knows; they might have shipped out a great deal of it beforehand. When the leader of the Agrarian party organized the grain growers, it was for the ostensible purpose of giving the farmers the full benefit of the sale of their produce-to give them a better price than they had ever received before and to make sure that there would be no thefts from them in the matter of shortages of wheat at the elevator. It was recognized that in the country elevator in the old days the man who could steal the most was the most valuable employee. I would like to know, and I think the country would like to know, Mr. Speaker, whether the grain business in the West is being run as accurately and as honestly and as properly as it should be. I want to press most strongly for an investigation. If the leader of the Agrarian party and his various lieutenants have nothing to hide, they will welcome an investigation and support the Government until that investigation is held. If, on the other hand, they have any fears in the matter, of course it will be their policy to turn the Government out with the utmost rapidity-that is, if they are able. I doubt very much their ability to do that.
The people are looking for performances, not for promises only. This Government has handed out performances along the lines I have indicated; they have not hesitated to do what they considered best for the country. I think it was Lord Randolph Churchill who, speaking to Viscount Morley, said: "You and Balfour believe in the solution of political questions." This Government believes in the solution of political questions; the Opposition believes in beclouding them
in pretending that the country needs an election, although there is no cry for an election at all. That cry is dying down, and everybody who has kept his ear to the ground, who has kept in close touch with his constituents, must know that-every member of the Opposition must know it.
The leader of the Opposition said that he heard everywhere in the West a call for a general election. I can speak for
Winnipeg, Mr. Speaker, and I can tell you where he heard the call for a general election in Winnipeg. The hon. gentleman issued a broadcast invitation through the press to all those opposed to the Government to meet him in Winnipeg, and then held a drawing-room in the Fort Garry Hotel. I suppose those whom he invited- that is, all those opposed to the Government-would include the O.B.U., all the agitators who might be found in the land, and a few disgruntled Liberals. One can imagine his lining them up against the wall, as a schoolmaster would his pupils, and saying to them: "Now, boys, what does the country need most? Say, 'A general election' ", and with one accord they cry out, "A general election". The leader of the Opposition did not hear from Premier Norris or his cabinet a cry for a general election. He did not hear from Mr. Edward Parnell, mayor of the city of Winnipeg, a cry for a general election. He did not hear from Frank Fowler, Isaac Pitblado or Isaac Campbell a cry for an election. All these were stalwarts of the Liberal party in Manitoba-from not one of them did he hear a cry for a general election. The only persons from whom he heard it were those opposed to the Government, which he picked up from every direction and invited to his drawing-room.
The leader of the Opposition has for nearly two years been obsessed with this idea of holding a general election and his becoming Prime Minister of this country, and that idea has become so thoroughly soaked into his cranium and into his system generally that he reminds me of some of the things which I have read in the Confessions of an Opium Eater. The Opium Eater says: "How came any reasonable being to subject himself to such a yoke of misery voluntarily, to incur a captivity so servile, and knowingly to fetter himself with a sevenfold chain?" The hon. leader of the Opposition, obsessed with the idea of obtaining power, feels that he should fetter himself with the sevenfold chain and that he should call for a general election. The Opium Eater boasts himself to be a philosopher. The leader of the Opposition puts me in mind of the old chap in the Taming of the Shrew who, when he found himself in bed, surrounded by luxury, and was assured that he was a lord, said: "And so I am a lord indeed." It is the same with the leader of the opposition; he thinks that he is a lord indeed, or is going to be as soon as he can get a general election. Last year many of his followers told me they did not want a general elec-
tion, and I do not think any of them want it this year. The Opium Eater also speaks about "creating an artificial state of pleasurable excitement." I suppose it is pleasant to the hon. leader of the Opposition to exist in a great state of excitement in connection with the idea with which he is obsessed, and to make big speeches in the House and throughout the country calling for an election. The Opium Eater also says "I do talk nonsense, not upon principle, but solely and simply because I am drunk with opium." The leader of the Opposition must surely be intoxicated with the idea of power and with the vision of himself on the pedestal as the leader of the country, or he would not talk the nonsense of a general election in the face of the general unrest in the country and the other conditions which at present exist. The Opium Eater also speaks in his dreams of foundations that were never to support a superstructure. That describes accurately the platform of the Liberal Party of 1919. He speaks also of getting into "An exalted state of irritability." Having regard to the last page or two of the hon. gentleman's speech as reported in Hansard, he must surely on that occasion have been in an exalted state of irritability. The Opium Eater also makes reference to his efforts to cut down the opium, and says that when the effect passed away he had terrible pains in his stomach. After the next general election the leader of the Opposition will find that many of his ideas have evaporated, and he will have these pains, too.
It has been said that the crucial defect in a politician is lack of fibre. Neither the leader of the Agrarian party nor the leader of the Opposition has had sufficient fibre to come out with a motion supporting his platform and laying down his policy. We on this side, during this session or at any time, would welcome any such motion on the part of the hon. gentlemen. If they have the fibre of politicians or statesmen, let them come forward and show the country what they stand for. Hon. gentlemen opposite, however, go from one constituency to another with a new story for each place; as the member for Halton (Mr. Anderson) has said, they were a veritable political Santa Claus-handing out something new in every constituency they came to. Mr. Gladstone called faint-heartedness the master vice. I think that faint-heartedness is a characteristic of both of these leaders, for neither has come forward with a motion laying down the platform of his party.
Topic: THE GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic: ADDRESS IN REPLY
Hon. gentlemen can get that in Quebec over the week-end. By Monday we may expect them to have it.
Canada stands to-day on the verge of the greatest era of prosperity that she has yet witnessed, but she can only progress by showing to the world a united front. We cannot go forward if we stir up class hatred and class prejudices. But I am satisfied that the people are willing to forget these things and to settle down to sound and stable government which make for the building up of the Canada that should be. We shall have that, not by our dealing with or trusting to vague and indefinite theories and promises, but by a united, happy and prosperous Canada pursuing, with slight modifications, the same path which, during the last forty years, has built up out of the forest a virile and energetic young nation.
Topic: THE GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic: ADDRESS IN REPLY
Mr. Speaker, not desiring to cast a silent vote on the question now before the House, I wish to engage the attention of hon. gentlemen for, I trust, but a very short time. I rise particularly for the purpose of discussing briefly the question of the tenure of this Parliament, a subject which has already been very ably and comprehensively discussed by preceding speakers. I realize fully that I must traverse a road that is now well worn, but that is unavoidable.
I trust the House will pardon a slight digression from the discourse which I have outlined for myself. Since the close of the last session of Parliament the right hon. gentleman who leads this House (Mr. Meighen) became Prime Minister of this country, and it is only natural that I should seize the first opportunity of extending to him my sincere and hearty congratulations. In 1868, when Disraeli succeeded for the first time to the office of Prime Minister in England, upon being congratulated, he said: "Yes, I have reached the top of the greasy pole." His most recent biographers have stated that no one more than he realized the difficulties of maintaining himself in that precarious elevation. It is in the loftiest peaks that we find the clouds and the snows. My right hon. friend arrives at his exalted position at a time when the political atmosphere gives a very low visibility, and I am sure that none more than he realizes the difficulties attaching to his position. Nevertheless,
I suppose many of his friends and admirers -and I concede he has many-will hope he has a reasonably secure hold of his high position, and on the other hand I suppose it is quite true that there are in this country many others who trust and hope his downfall is imminent and sudden. 'Twas ever thus and ever shall be, I suppose, in the politics of this and every other country.
As is well known to hon. gentlemen in this House, in 1917 I became a member of the Ministry of that day which was known as the Union Government. I do not in the slightest degree regret the action which I then took, and I only trust that, in the judgment of those who were associated with me, I honourably lived up to the obligations which the acceptance of that position implied. I cannot forget that, during two years or more, at an important time in the history of this country, I was associated very intimately with the Prime Minister as a colleague in the public service, and I feel I would, perhaps, be failing to perform a simple duty if I did not say, as an old colleague of the Prime Minister, that, in my observation and experience, he always carried to the discharge of his public duties, industry, capacity, talent, and, I believe, a sincere desire to render service to the State.
The amendment to the address is in the nature of a motion of want of confidence. The leader of the Opposition ( Mr. Mackenzie King) may have had many reasons for moving this amendment other than those which were contained in his remarks at the opening of the session. I have read, with some little care, his speech in support of his amendment, and I perceive in it but one basic reason upon which
5 p.m. he asks for the support of hon.
gentlemen, and that is that, under the Parliamentary system obtaining in this country and under the peculiar circumstances under which the election in 1917 took place, a dissolution of Parliament should take place at an early and appropriate time in the future. Whether I apprehend correctly or not his reason for moving the amendment, that, at least, is my position, and upon that ground I desire to support the amendment. I should have preferred, possibly, that the amendment had expressed definitely, but in general terms, the reasons which the leader of the Opposition gave in his remarks supporting his amendment. I suppose that is not, after all, very important.
I am not particularly interested in demonstrating one way or the other whether
the Government at the present moment holds the confidence of Parliament or of the Canadian electorate. If it could he demonstrated to me with some reasonable degree of conclusiveness that the Government did possess the confidence of the electorate, I still would adhere to the position which I have just stated, namely, that a dissolution of Parliament in the early future is desirable. I am not interested either in deciding whether the occupancy of office by the Government at the present moment is properly or accurately described as being a usurpation of office. I have heard it described as being analogous to the position of an overholding tenant, but I am not very much interested in deciding whether that aptly describes the situation. The precise view I wish to give utterance to is that there was an express or implied understanding with the electorate that the present Government was to be a war Government; that the present Parliament was a war Parliament, and that its life was to be measured by the petiod of the war, supplemented by such further period as reasonable men should accord it, or by such further period after the conclusion of the war, as the exigencies of time and circumstance demanded. Personally I feel obligated to that position; because at the time of the election of 1917, I committed myself in that direction. I, therefore, feel I must at this stage implement the position which I then took upon this important question. I do not care what other members of Government may have said at the same time or what it has been alleged they have said. I speak merely for myself in this matter, and I rest my position absolutely upon what I said myself, and upon the obligations to which I committed myself. I repeat, Mr. Speaker, under the system of Parliamentary and responsible Government obtaining in this country, and under the practice as we know it and have known it for many years, and in view of the unusual circumstances attending the last Federal election, it is eminently proper and desirable, in the interests of the country, that a dissolution of this Parliament should take place at an early date and at an appropriate time. At the last session of Parliament the leader of the Opposition proposed an amendment intended to have the same result as the amendment now before the House for consideration. At least, it involved the principle of the dissolution of Parliament. On that occasion I voted against the amendment. I did so with deliberation. I believe I had good
cause to support the position that I then took. I feel I am quite competent to give, anywhere, and at any time, ample reasons justifying my vote on that occasion. Involved in that, however, would be matters , more or less personal, which at this time would not interest the House in the slightest degree. Therefore, I do not intend offering to the House any defence for the position which I took last year. I think I was perfectly justified in voting as I did, and what others may think of it is of little interest to me.
Mr. Speaker, I admit quite frankly that it is quite a difficult task to induce members of any parliament to consent to a dissolution before the end of the constitutional term. Discussing a similar question on one occasion, Mr. Cobden used the following words:
I have never been able to discover what was the proper moment according to members of Parliament for a dissolution. I have heard them say they were ready to vote for everything else, but I have never heard them say they were ready to vote for that.
I realize the force of that statement, and I suppose to a greater or less degree the difficulty exists to-day, and confronts any one who attempts to argue for the dissolution of a parliament before the end of its constitutional term. In discussing this matter and supporting this amendment, I must revert to past political events, as my reasons for supporting the amendment had their source in political events of three or four years ago. Hon. gentlemen will remember that in the year 1917 the Military Service Act was passed, and that was the primary cause of the organization later on, of a coalition ministry. Without that legislation, I fancy, there would have been no unusual movement in this country away from the ordinary political and party alignments. That coalition ministry was composed of members of both political parties. Many members of Parliament and many citizens of this country were of the opinion that after the adoption of the compulsory Military Service Act it was quite natural and proper there should be a coalition ministry, and that the carrying out of legislation of that character should be in the hands of a ministry that was not composed solely of members of one political party. There is a great deal to say in support of that view. The very fact, however, that in consequence of the passage of the Military Service Act there did come into existence a coalition ministry gave the impression to a large body of the people of
fMr. A. K. Maclean.]
this country that its life should be circumscribed by the period of the war, and for perhaps a reasonable time thereafter. That impression was very prevalent at that time, and, to a very large degree, it has since continued. I do believe that in the minds of a great many of the most intelligent and respected electors of this country there rests the belief that upon this ground, if upon no other, an early dissolution of Parliament might well be contemplated by the Government.
Another section of the Canadian electorate believed then, and still believe, that in an exhausting and protracted war the administrative affairs of this or any other country should be committed to a coalition ministry. There is much to say in favour of that view. In fact, I believe it was the dominant view in this country. In the abstract, I believe, it was the universal view of the electors of Canada, and the only criticism that was made of that suggestion was that it came too late and should have been adopted at the beginning of the war, so that from the beginning to the end of that awful struggle we should not have had any evidence of extreme partisanship in the administration of our public affairs.
Mr. Speaker, I do say that when the election of 1917 came, statements were made' by newspapers, by candidates, by public men, and by private citizens, to the effect that the election was in the nature of a war election, and that the Parliament to be elected was to have certain limitations, and I submit it as my judgment, that it was not unnatural that the people of this country generally accepted that impression so given by the persons and individuals I have mentioned. It is not therefore unreasonable or unexpected, I say, to find in Canada to-day a large body of public opinion supporting a dissolution of Parliament in the early future. I do not think it is very important whether the Prime Minister made an express declaration on that point or not. I do not think it is very important what ministers of the Crown said or did not say. The important question is, what was the general impression left on the public mind from all sources, what was the general belief and understanding of the public in respect to this matter and if there was any real and substantial foundation for this belief or understanding. What was the understanding of the electorate? I submit that that is the important question, and if we can reasonably ascertain what that under-
standing was, I say it should be respected, and our course of action should present no very practical difficulties. It is, of course, difficult to present to Parliament concrete evidence upon this one way or the other. I merely wish to express what my own view of the matter is, namely-and I feel strongly and clearly in that view- that it was the belief of the Canadian electorate in 1917 that the Government elected at that time should have limitations and that the life of this present Parliament should also have distinct limitations altogether determinable by the period of the war. I have already stated that the fact that the Military Service Act was introduced in 1917 alone affords some justification for my reaching that conclusion. As a matter of fact, it was the only issue in that election. The members of the Administration of that day, I remember well, said repeatedly in Parliament that it would be the only issue. Indeed, there was no other issue; it was so entirely personal in its effect and application that in its very nature it precluded any other issue appearing in that election. And no other issue did come before the electorate on that occasion. The mere fact, I submit, of an election being confined to one issue, which issue could only exist so long as the war lasted, is a tremendous argument in favour of the placing of limitations upon the life of this particular Parliament. I cannot see how one can escape that conclusion, and I repeat again that I believe that this was the conviction of the Canadian people at that time, a conviction that still exists and that should, I think, be respected. There is another circumstance which, I think, justifies the position I now take and which affords further evidence in support of the statement I made some time ago that it was the belief of our Canadian people that the life of the Parliament elected in 1917 should have defined limitations. I refer to the War-time Elections Act. In 1917 I opposed that legislation, and a portion of my remarks upon the same have since been frequently quoted in Parliament, particularly while I was a member of the Ministry. I do not know whether these quotations from my remarks were made for the purpose of confirming my wisdom in respect of this Bill, or whether they were made with a view to demonstrating some inconsistency on my part. I might say, although it is altogether irrelevant at the moment, that I have not changed my mind in the slightest degree in respect of the War-time Elections Act. I am utterly 21
incapable of apostacy upon that point. 1 think to-day exactly as I thought then. While I considered that this legislation was mischievous and possibly dangerous, yef late in 1917 when I became a member of the Ministry, I believed that I was justified in the circumstances in subordinating my views upon this matter to a more important principle. I do not regret the views which I expressed in relation to the War-time Elections Act. I do not refer to it now for the purpose of discussing the merits of the Bill; no good purpose whatever would be served by that. I refer to it only to demonstrate the position which I seek to establish, namely, that it was a circumstance creating and determining in the minds of the people of this country the conviction that the Parliament to be elected partially under this Franchise Act was to have limitations. Now, there are certain sections of this Act which I wish to recall to the minds of hon. gentlemen. First it will be remembered that certain citizens of Canada-naturalized citizens-were disfranchised. I am merely, I say again, referring to the effect of certain provisions of the Act, and not by any means for the purpose of raising any discussion as to their merits. That was one of the provisions of the Bill. Another provision was that of temporary and arbitrarily enfranchising another section of the community. It is also to be remembered that under that Act certain classes of women were enfranchised; and I assume that every hon. gentleman who listens to me is perfectly aware of the class of women who were so enfranchised. Now, I say, these provisions of the War Time Elections Act to which I have referred by themselves alone afford a powerful and almost unanswerable argument for the view that the Parliament which enacted this legislation, contemplated limitations to the life of the next Parliament, and that its term of tenure was not to be left to the constitution nor to the determined will of the Executive of the country. For what purpose was the War Time Elections Act enacted. There need be no doubt about this. If one refers to Hansard it will there be found stated very clearly and explicitly, I think by the present Prime Minister (Hon. Mr. Meighen), and by the present Minister of Trade and Commerce (Sir George Foster), that the purpose of the additional enfranchisement afforded by that Act was to secure the adoption and enforcement of the Military Service Act. The war has ended; the Military Service Act has been repealed and has been taken
root and branch from the substantive law of this country. The War Time Elections Act has been repealed utterly, and the special enfranchisements granted under that Act have been removed. I think the disfranchising provisions of that legislation have also been repealed. Almost every condition which one could imagine as dominant in that election has been removed; every possible issue that could have prevailed in that .election contest has ceased to exist. I do submit, therefore, that it is my sincere judgment that, all these things having transpired, it is but a fair and just conclusion to reach that this Parliament was intended to have and should have limitations. That, I believe, was the intention of the preceding Parliament, and I believe it to be the judgment of the people of this country. Only a great emergency could justify such legislation as the War-time Election Act and the provisions contained in that measure. I remember that the members of the Government of that day in charge of the Bill declared openly and frankly that only a war condition could justify the legislation and they openly and frankly, as I have already said, declared the purpose of it. That purpose having been accomplished; the Military Service Act having accomplished what it was intended to accomplish, or partially; the war itself having ended, there is but one conclusion, for me at least, to reach-namely that the life of Parliament should have limitations. I wish to say further, Mr. Speaker, that I do not quite accept the theory that the termination of the life of this Parliament is a matter solely resting with the Government. In my opinion it rests just as much with every member of Parliament; I think every member must settle between himself and his electors the question whether or not, under the circumstances to which I have referred, he is entitled to vote either for the early ending of this Parliament or for its further continuance.
An argument I believe has been advanced, in this House, although I have not heard any of the speeches myself-certainly it has been raised in the press and outside of Parliament-that a re-distribution of seats should precede a general election. I quite understand how a contention of the kind might arise, particularly in certain sections of the country. My own view about it is that if there are good grounds for the early dissolution of Parliament, then the re-distribution of the seats of Parliament is not an important or relevant matter. I think the contention, or suggestion, lacks every
element of conclusiveness, and in the circumstances I cannot conceive it a sound reason for delaying dissolution.
Topic: THE GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic: ADDRESS IN REPLY
My hon. friend may have an early opportunity of conveying that message himself and probably it would be accepted with as much grace from him as from myself. The Constitution, Mr. Speaker, makes provision for the redistribution of seats after the coming census, and we have always abided by the Constitution in this respect. Therefore I say, that when the Constitution provides for the condition we might well leave the Constitution to operate as it was intended to operate, and as it has operated in the past. The Constitution, providing for the redistribution of seats, there cannot possibly be any injustice done to any province or any section of this country. If as a general principle an election should take place before the end of the Constitutional term of this Parliament there can be no sound reason for postponing that until after a redistribution, because, as I say, the Constitution of the country makes ample provision for the event. Further, it was never intended by the Constitution that an election should absolutely take place immediately following redistribution. As a matter of fact, and as a matter of principle as well, the makers of our Constitution abstained deliberately from making any such provision. It is not a part of our political system to have fixed periods for elections; the very opposite is the case. True, the Constitution fixes a maximum period for the existence of any Parliament, but that is an altogether different thing from having fixed election periods. There is a great deal to be said in favour of having a fixed election period such as they have in the United States. It may be, that political parties in this country shall become so rigid, inflexible and autocratic that the only way to safeguard the due and proper protection of public interests, and to ensure some independence on the part of members of Parliament will be to have fixed periods of election. That, however, is beside the matter I am discussing for the reason that under the British system fixed election periods have been deliberately abstained from, and have not been incorporated into
our Constitution. I remember further the fact that in 1891, in 1900, and, in 1911 elections immediately preceded redistribution. There was no protest on the part of the Canadian electorate against such dissolution; no serious protest was heard subsequent to the election so far as I can recall; and therefore I say that it seems rather unusual to introduce the argument that redistribution should precede dissolution at the present time, particularly when there are outstanding so many strong and powerful reasons, such as I have tried to indicate, for the dissolution of Parliament within a reasonably short time. If redistribution of the parliamentary seats was within sight, I admit the contention would have force, but it is quite a distance forward.
Further, Mr. Speaker, if in now seeking to postpone an election until the redistribution we were seeking to establish and to place in the Constitution a principle that would remain there to guide us in the future and that should be enduring, perhaps there might be some force in the contention that redistribution should precede a dissolution of this Parliament. But the suggestion does not invoke any such principle. This Parliament, or the Government, might decide that redistribution should precede an election, but it would not follow that in 1931, or in 1941, or in any of the decades following thereafter, the same principle would prevail. Therefore I submit, Mr. Speaker, that little could be gained by adopting this contention as a principle at this time, unless there was some certainty that the practice would be followed by succeeding governments after following census taking and redistribution. Consequently, there being no enduring principle in the suggestion, I question the soundness of the idea that dissolution should be postponed in order to follow the next redistribution measure.
Again, we might ask: Are there any practical advantages or disadvantages in accelerating or retarding the election so that it may precede or follow redistribution? I think not. It is suggested that the Western provinces would in the event of redistribution obtain a greater representation than they now have. If that is correct, it follows that some of the other provinces will lose a certain amount of representation, for one section of the country cannot gain without the other losing. If it is sound for Western representatives to say that dissolution is to be determinable by the fact that they are to obtain greater
representation under the next redistribution and that this election should be postponed on that ground, it would be equally sound for the losing provinces to say that dissolution should precede the application of the next Redistribution Bill. If one is right the other would be right; but I say they are both wrong.
Topic: THE GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic: ADDRESS IN REPLY
No. I say that redistribution will come at the proper time and according to the period fixed by the constitution, and that shall alford ample protection for Parliament and for the people. Whether there should come dissolution earlier than redistribution is determinable on other grounds and principles.
Now the statement that the next redistribution should absolutely precede a dissolution disregards other factors, and is suggestive of territorial predominance or strength which is hardly desirable. It is suggestive of the theory that only through might is right obtainable. I make bold to say, Mr. Speaker, that notwithstanding the expressed views of some hon. gentlemen from the Western provinces, that this view does not convey the real opinion of the Western country. It would be strange if at this particular period there should be manifested so strong and inflexible a view in the Western provinces for redistribution that they would forego the early acceptance of a principle which seems to be strongly asr '"ted there by all classes, namely, th? there should be an early election. It ,/ould seem strange that they would forego the early application of that principle for an advantage in electoral representation which after all would not amount to so much, and which in any event will soon come.
I think it also might be said in very truth, that no western interests, nor the interests of any other section of Canada, will suffer by reason of the fact that an election might possibly take place before dissolution. I am sure no province really suffers from under-representation. I do not think any hon. member would have the hardihood to say that the representatives from the Western provinces are so unduly modest that they refrain from giving expression to western thought, western aspirations, and western wants. I think they are as aggressive and as insistent as representatives from the other provinces in placing before Parliament what they
conceive to be the interests of their particular section of Canada.
In closing, Mr. Speaker, I do wish to emphasise once more that if upon any possible principle there should be a dissolution of Parliament considerably ahead of the end of the constitutional period, then the contention that we should await a redistribution after the census which is about to take place, is one which has no firm or sure foundation and should not be invoked as an answer to the demand for an early dissolution.
I shall not detain the House any longer upon the amendment or upon the motion. I think I have said substantially what I intended to say when I arose to my feet. I have necessarily been covering ground which has been stated and restated several times during the course of the debate. My only purpose in engaging the attention of hon. gentlemen for a little time this afternoon was to enable me to place before them the reasons which move me to support the amendment, and having done this, my remarks are concluded.
Mr. FRANK S. SCOTT (South Waterloo) : Mr. Speaker, I desire to join with others who have preceded me in this debate in extending my congratulations to the mover and seconder of the Address in reply to the Speech from the Throne for the excellent speeches which they delivered. So much has been already bestowed upon them in the way of eulogy that I feel it is unnecessary for me to go further in this direction.
I wish also to join with the other speakers in extending to the Prime Minister my congratulations upon his being called to the high office which he now occupies. I feel that the people of Canada already know that he has splendid qualifications for the position, and I believe that in the fulfilment of his duties he will live up to the best traditions of Canadian statesmanship.
I should like, Mr. Speaker, to say a word or two with regard to the speech delivered yesterday afternoon by the hon. member for Marquete (Mr. Crerar). In his opening remarks he stated that he saw no constructive ideas in the speeches of the leader of the Government and the leader of the Opposition. If I were to endeavour to sum up the speech which he himself delivered, it seems to me that I could with almost equal force say that after all it contains very little that might be described as constructive. It is true that he alluded during the course of his remarks to quite a number of questions that are attracting attention
throughout the country at this time, but I fail to see where he introduced anything into the discussion of these questions that was at all constructive. If I were to pass an opinion upon his speech in a general way I should say that it was most pessimistic in its tone and that it was given over almost entirely to fault-finding.
The hon. gentleman made some reference to the railway situation, but he did not offer anything in the way of constructive suggestion or express any particular view as to how the present situation should be met. It is true that he did say that at no very distant date we should have a revaluation of our railways. But I think that in one of the first speeches delivered in this House by the present Minister of Finance (Sir Henry Drayton) he said that that was one of the things that might in the future require the attention of the House. But a revaluation of our railways at the present time would not alter the present situation one iota. Our national railways are not earning sufficient to pay operating costs, and it makes no difference whether the capital cost of our railway system is $200,000,000 or whether it is a one dollar bill. There is not a great deal, therefore, in a contention of that kind.
The hon. gentleman also tried to bring it home to the House that there had been a lack of economy in the administration of the public affairs. With that suggestion I do not at all agree. I am satisfied that the Government has in every way tried to practise economy in the administration of the different departments. But I should like to offer one suggestion to my hon. friend, the member for North Winnipeg (Mr. Blake) made an allusion to it. The member for Marquette was one of those who were instrumental in bringing into power a Farmers' Government in Ontario. I join with the member for North Winnipeg in suggesting that the member for Marquette get in touch with the Premier and the leaders of the Ontario Government and that he have a heart-to-heart talk with them regarding the financial situation. I know that political opponents very often attempt to take advantage of a situation like this, but I do not speak of the matter from the political standpoint. I want to assure the hon. member that financial men are to-day very deeply concerned about the manner in which the Farmers' Government in Ontario have been administering the financial affairs of that province. This problem is one of the most serious ones
that at present confront the people of Ontario.
The hon. member also said that what we required in Canada at the present time on the part of the Administration was a policy of vigour, determination, efficiency and courage. I am sure that we all join in that sentiment, but these words, coming from the lips of the member for Marquette, mean more than would seem on the surface. They mean, in the first place, that the present Government are lacking in these very desirable attributes and that if the leader of the Agrarian party were called upon to administer the public affairs he would be able to supply that deficiency. Now, I have no desire to detract from the ability of the member for Marquette. He at one time held the portfolio of Agriculture in the Government, and I have no reason to suppose that he was anything else than a very capable administrator. But I am not prepared to say that among the hon. gentlemen who were with him at that time in the Government he was such an outstanding figure or was a man of such superior ability that he can now offer to this country an administration such as it requires. I admit his capability, but great as it may be, I do not think there was anything in the administration of his department while he was a member of the Government that would justify the people in thinking that he is the man who should in the future take charge of the administration of the country's affairs.
As I listened to the hon. member's remarks it occurred to me that the situation which confronts us at present is similar to that which existed in Ontario just prior to the last election. Hon. gentlemen will remember that there was a great deal of class feeling and class consciousness; that we heard a great deal about the grievances of the farmers and were told that when the farmers came into power they would remedy those grievances. Now, a Farmer Government was returned in Ontario, and for a considerable length of time has been carrying on the affairs of that province. They have had one session of the legislature and they are now having a second. But notwithstanding the fact that thejr represented themselves as a class suffering under great disabilities and having many grievances awaiting only the opportunity for their adjustment, up to the present not a single Act has been passed in the legislature, much less any measure introduced, having for its object the amelioration or
lessening of any grievances under which the farmers were alleged to have been suffering. For myself, I have no sympathy with the idea that everything is bad in the two old political parties. But I am confident that if the hon. member for Marquette and the Agrarian party were by any chance called upon to carry on the affairs of this country they would not, as was the case with our friends in Ontario, when faced with the responsibilities of office, be able to carry things on very differently.
During the course of this debate we have heard a great deal about the Government's mandate to carry on the affairs of the country. This afternoon we heard from the hon. member for Halifax (Mr. A. K. Maclean), who is a lawyer and who arrived at one conclusion. We heard this same question discussed by the hon. member for Marquette (Mr. Crerar), who was, like the hon. member for Halifax, at one time a member of this Administration, and we find these two gentlemen, both no doubt well posted and thoroughly conversant with public affairs, arriving at two entirely different conclusions. The hon. member for Marquette says that the Government has a mandate, while the hon. member for Halifax says that the Government has no mandate. I am not a lawyer; but I have my idea regarding this question, and if I were to sum it up briefly, it would be this. I was a candidate for Parliament in 1917, and there was absolutely no conditions or reservations in that candidature. I was elected for a Parliament, and I consider it my duty to continue in my seat in this House until the Government of the day sees fit to dissolve this Parliament. Having heard the opinions of legal men on both sides of the House,. I may say that this debate might be continued throughout the entire session, but I am convinced as regards my position and that is all I need satisfy myself about at this time.
For some time past we have been hearing about the necessity for a general election. The hon. member for Halifax (Mr. Maclean) says that there has been and is a widespread demand for an election. Speaking once again only for myself, I must disagree with him; my experience has been that the people with whom I have come into contact in my part of Ontario, and more particularly the business people of that province, are strongly opposed to a dissolution of Parliament at the present time, and for a very good reason. We all know that business conditions in this country during the past year have not been what we would like them to be. Business
has been bad, very much disorganized. Canada, like all other countries in the world, is now passing through that period of reconstruction that we all expected. Unemployment exists; in many places our industries are idle, and the feeling in Ontario is this, that it would be nothing short of a national crime for the Government of this country to precipitate a general election at this time.
At six o'clock the House took recess.'
The House resumed at eight o'clock.
Topic: THE GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic: ADDRESS IN REPLY