February 25, 1921

UF

Oliver Robert Gould

United Farmers

Mr. GOULD:

I am too good a business man to do such a foolish thing, and I should like the hon. gentleman to have that conception of me also, because while I did see in the West one man who might have applied his participation certificates in that way none that I possessed were used in that manner. In fact I collected my full forty-eight cents a bushel on every one of them. I was very pleased and I was very surprised because I did not ask

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UNION

Walter Davy Cowan

Unionist

Mr. COWAN:

How did the hon. member have those participation certificates if the Wheat Board was not in existence at the last election? .

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PRO

Michael Clark

Progressive

Mr. M. CLARK:

He got them at a later date.

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UNION
UF

Oliver Robert Gould

United Farmers

Mr. GOULD:

That is beside the point.

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UNION

Walter Davy Cowan

Unionist

Mr. COWAN:

The hon. gentleman is all tied up.

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UF

Oliver Robert Gould

United Farmers

Mr. GOULD:

I am producing evidence

to prove that I was consistent; that I told those people, a good many of whom were Conservatives, in my electoral district, who did not believe the participation certificates would be any good, that they would be worth something-I was unable to say what. As I got more information, I kept every one of my own. That shows the faith which I had in them. I always advised those Conservatives who wanted to get rid of their certificates that they would be worth something if they kept them long enough. The point I want to bring out is this: We

wanted the Wheat Board last year, and we appealed to the Government to give us the Wheat Board. Enabling legislation had been passed, but no attention was paid to our cry. .

Then in connection with freight rates, particularly as they effect the West, and this is the question that was raised the other day by tbe hon. member for Centre Vancouver (Mr. Stevens), the three men comprising the Railway Commission seemed to have the power to bring an indictment

against the country that was more important at that time than our whole tariff inquiry. Inside of a week they imposed upon this country a heavy burden, and it rested more heavily on Western Canada than on any other part, because at that time thousands and thousands of tons of freight, representing our export of wheat were moving along the railways. We said that it was inequitable and unfair to us.

The question was raised in our associations and we passed resolutions, and pleaded with the powers that be to suspend the order, but no attention was paid to our appeals. The result was that the West paid approximately a million dollars a day extra in freight rates because of that order.

The people of the West were fined that amount, and our Government stood by and let the Railway Commission take this money from us. No excuse can be offered by the Government for allowing the commission to issue that order. It is no use for the Government to say that the commission has vested powers and rights, because I remember when the Board of Commerce proposed to place an embargo on sugar they were quickly advised by the Government that the embargo must not go into effect and sugar was allowed to come down in price.

I repeat, these are particularly western questions, and the West will call this Government to account because of these things.

The hon. member for Centre Vancouver stated the absolute truth very distinctly the other day when he said that an injustice was done to the West in that respect, and I say, Sir, that the West, not in any spirit of revenge, but in the belief that justice should prevail in this country, will record its dissatisfaction with the apathy shown by the Government on these two questions so vitally affecting that part of the country.

I believe, Sir, that the Advisory Council of Scientific Research can do a greater work possibly than it is doing at the present time. It is a well-known fact that on our western plains we have been afflicted ' with rust for a very long time, and it occurred to me that perhaps the Scientific Research Council, if money were voted for the purpose, could bend their energies towards finding a remedy for this rust evil, because all who come from the West know that in areas where rust prevails, inside of a week crop can be cut down from a twenty-bushel to a ten-bushel crop by this disease. That is a national loss, and I would be most willing to support a vote of money to the council for the purpose of

investigating this disease and trying to find a remedy for it.

I should like to say a few words with regard to the address which was made in the House the other day by the hon. member for St. Hyancinthe-Rouville (Mr. Gauthier). He said he could not join the Progressive group, because he feared there was communism in our platform. There might be some excuse for the hon. gentleman arriving at that conclusion if he had not studied our platform, but if he had studied it he could not possibly have arrived at that conclusion. He speaks of there being 63 per cent of alien population in the West. Why should he charge the West with that? Did he not support a Government that for fifteen years was largely responsible for the influx of immigration to the West? Why did he wait till this hour to proclaim this fact? I believe, Sir, that the people of Canada are big enough to assimilate the immigrants that have come in there, and I think hon. gentlemen on the Government side of the House will bear me out in saying that Western Canada does not feel that there is any evil in having these alien immigrants within her borders. On the contrary, we feel we are making good citizens out of them. Even if it were true that we had 63 per cent of alien population, we of the West did formulate and build the platform of the Canadian Council of Agriculture, which constituted, the guiding principle of the great Liberal party at their convention here in August, 1919.

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UNION

Norman Lang

Unionist

Mr. NORMAN LANG (Humboldt):

Mr. Speaker, before discussing any of the more important matters, 1 should like to refer briefly to the amendment that is now before the House. I can well remember that on many oocasions when legislation has been brought down in the House, the people of Canada have disapproved. For instance, at the time the Drug Act was being amended, I recall, although it seemed a minor matter compared with a general election, how the telegraph boys were going about here with armfuls of telegrams. The same thing has happened on many occasions, both when the House was in session and during the recess. When the price of sugar was liable to be affected, I believe the Government was bombarded with telegrams from every nook and corner of Canada, although I would think a few cents a pound on sugar a minor affair compared with a general election in this country.

IMr. Gould.]

We know that the people of this country express their views in this way, but although we have been discussing this amendment for nearly two weeks, I have failed to see any evidence that the supporters of this amendment have received' much encouragement from outside the House of Commons. As a matter of fact,

I think the desire for a general election at this time is pretty well confined to one side of the House. I believe the people of this country are not very much concerned about it, or they would have availed themselves of the opportunity to advise us as to their views. I would like to assure the right hon. Prime Minister, the Chief Whip, and all the other whips, that so far as I am concerned they need not worry about me for I shall try and be in my seat when the bell rings, ready to vote against the amendment that is now before the House.

I want to mention briefly a few things that, very properly, I think, interest the people of the West particularly. I think the members from the eastern part of Canada are quite capable of looking after the interests of the East, so I shall try and confine my remarks to matters that affect our western country, and affect it very, very seriously. In the first place, I want to endorse most strongly the remarks of my hon. friend from Macdonald (Mr. Henders) in regard to the necessity of the Government's appointing a commission to thoroughly investigate the wheat trade.

I think that it is the most important question that has been discussed in this House this session. It has been a subject of complaint in the West to my knowledge for over thirty years. I think the investigation has been delayed too long now and that the Government should take means at once to enquire thoroughly into the entire grain trade, from the time the grain leaves the farmers' wagon until it arrives on the markets of Europe or elsewhere.

I do not wish to convey the idea that I am a pessimist. I have great faith in the West, and I do not think that there is a place in the world where development has been so rapid as it has been in the province of Saskatchewan during the last fifteen years. In the summer of 1903 you could travel from Saskatoon to Yorkton and see nothing but foxes and antelopes, but now the country is entirely settled and the virgin prairie has been converted into productive farms. Thousands upon thousands of farmers have done well out there. They arrived in this country with

very little capital and now have comfortable homes, very good buildings, farms well cultivated and fenced; but they would have been much better off if the conditions for the marketing of their grain had been such as to give them a fair return for their product.

As in every other country in the world, it is not all sunshine on the prairies. Some districts have wonderful luck for several years, and then comes a series of bad years. In a great many districts in Saskatchewan we have bad luck now for five years. I can briefly describe what actually occurred. In 1915 we had a bumper crop in all the three provinces. In 1916, however, we had a tremendous amount of hail. Indeed, the hail storms were so severe that the Municipal Hail Insurance Company were only able to pay 40 cents on the dollar; the balance has never been paid and never will be. The following year was somewhat better but there wras not a heavy crop. In 1918 we had an unusually severe frost on the morning of July 24th, and it destroyed the grain in patches which meant that the whole field had to be cut, stooked and threshed at a very great expense and many farmers operated at a loss that year. In 1919 the season was very dry, with the result that there was crop failure in a great many places. Last year there was a similar condition in a number of districts. Therefore, I think it is very necessary that the Government should do everything they possibly can to improve marketing conditions.

Possibly some hon. gentlemen will think that a great deal of this trouble has been due to poor farming. I will admit that there is still room for improvement, and there always will be; but I must say that there has been a wonderful advance in the last few years. The land has been much better cultivated; in fact, some of the farmers have over-cultivated, with the result that the soil has drifted badly. However, considering the shortage of suitable help and all the adverse conditions, the people have struggled manfully to meet their obligations and to develop the country.

But the prospects are not good at present. Spring is rapidly approaching, and what is the outlook? We are told by the implement dealers that prices are going to be higher. We do not know what wages are going to be, and with the exchange situation as it is, we do not feel that there

is very much prospect of a market for our 1921 crop in Europe. With the German mark at about one cent and a half, only the millionaire classes can possibly buy grain from us. The United States farmers complain that their markets are flooded. Now, I always try to look on the bright side of things, and while I do not desire to be charged with being pessimistic, really at present conditions are not very good, and I think that \the Government should get busy at once and try to improve the situation.

There is no room for gamblers between [DOT]the producer and the consumer. We have far too many middlemen in all lines of trade as well as the gamblers on the Winnipeg Grain Exchange. We all know that the Wheat Board was not appreciated at the start. However, every one realizes now that it was the best method of disposing of our surplus wheat, and I was very glad to hear the hon. member for Assiniboia (Mr. Gould) corroborate my statement that the Wheat Board is very much appreciated at the present time. Indeed, it has been appreciated ever since it became known that it was going to he a success. I feel that the best solution of the difficulty is to re-appoint the Wheat Board on a slightly different basis. The organized farmers are trying to decide on a wheat pool. I do not want to discourage them in any way, but I doubt if any scheme could be a succes that was not endorsed by the Federal Government and the banks. If a wheat pool is the best scheme, let us all get behind it; but if it is not workable, then I should like the Canadian Council of Agriculture and the organized farmers to announce that they are not able to go ahead with it, so that we might have time to formulate some other plan to take care of the 1921 crop. I have had very little news recently regarding what has been done by the organized farmers and the Canadian Council of Agriculture, but I noticed a paragraph touching this matter in the press this morning which is of some interest, and I would like to read it to the House:

Delay Obtaining Wheat Pool Charter.

Winnipeg, Man., Feb. 24.-No application will be made this session to the Manitoba legislature for a charter in connection with the formation of the Wheat Pool Association, according to George Langley, minister of municipal affairs for Saskatchewan, who is in the city to-day.

In explaining the delay, Mr. Langley said the formation of such an association, to which thousands of farmers belong, constituted an undertaking of gigantic magnitude meriting

mature consideration. Another matter which would have to be dealt with at some length was the question of determining the status of farmers in the association, who, though possessing no financial interest in the organization were entitled to consideration in its direction.

I must say that this does not look very promising. For my part I would like to see the Government appoint what I would call an "Improved Wheat Board" on a voluntary basis. We all object to compulsory legislation but I think if the Wheat Board were re-appointed and authorized to handle not only wheat but oats, barley and flax as well, and if it were optional whether a man shipped his wheat through the, Board, got his advance and waited for the balance, or sold it to the elevators, it would be to the advantage of the farmer. It is not easy at the present time for the Government to do anything until the organized farmers agree on what they are going to do. As I have already said I do not want to do anything myself to discourage them. If their plan appears to be the best, let us all get behind them. If it is not, then we want the Government to take immediate action, in order to see what can be done in regard to the 1921 crop.

Mr. Speaker, I have great confidence in the West. The West is all right. The people of the West are all right. What is needed is a better understanding between the East and the West. You in the East need us as much as we need you. I blame the newspapers a great deal for the mistaken impressions existing, caused by the misleading reports published every day. A great many eastern people have an idea that western people spend the summer riding about in automobiles and spend the winter in California, and many western people imagine that the Federal Government and eastern people are not at all concerned as to whether they sink or swim. If anything can be done to improve conditions for any class of people in Canada it is our duty to do it. If nothing can be done, the facts should be made known. Most of our people are reasonable and will be perfectly satisfied if this course is adopted.

Now, Mr. Speaker, while I have the floor I should like to mention, briefly, one or two other matters which affect my constituency as well as other parts of the prairie. We realize more and more, as the years go by, the necessity of raising more stock and the importance of good stock, but at present a large proportion of the cattle thrown on the market are in poor condition. This is partly due to the fact that the farmers have not had suffifMr. Lang.]

cient experience in stall feeding steers before the stock is marketed. Very often they are sold for a trifle simply because it is imperative that the owner should get a few dollars and the manager of the local bank'refuses to lend him any money. I do not know if removing the embargo in England would help matters or not. I would certainly like to see the embargo removed, but I have more faith in refrigerator cars and ships than I have in shipping live cattle. If the steers are properly finished on grain and roots before they are slaughtered in Canada the beef will be in first class condition when it arrives on the market in London or Paris. Prices are low at present, but raising good beef and pork is going to be profitable in the future.

I would also like to mention the fact that we will need extra help in harvest, and I think we should encourage people to put in their winter supply of coal in summer. In that way we might get a great many of the miners to help with the harvest. This would also increase the number of cars available for wheat. We have the same experience each year; there is a great rush to haul coal, lumber and everything else just when the cars are needed for wheat, with the result that many of the farmers are forced to be on the road hauling wheat when it is not fit for a dog to be out.

Just while I am on this subject I wish to address a word to my friend the hon. Minister of Railways and Canals (Mr. J. D. Reid). I do not want to say anything unkind, because I realize that both he and the contractors have had difficulty in getting any construction work done during the last few years. Nevertheless, I want to remind him that we have some short pieces of line the construction of which has been dragging for the last fifteen years, and which must be completed this year. I think it would do a lot of good if the Minister would come out to Saskatchewan with me and make one trip in winter on a load of wheat, from Kelving-ton to Wadena. He would then realize that such a trip is not only hard on the men but hard on the horses as well. I certainly hope the Minister will make a desperate effort this year to complete some of these branch lines. If we cannot secure men in Canada to do this work, we will have to import a few ship loads of labourers from China, or some other country.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I must again point out to the Government the absolute necessity of doing everything possible to improve marketing conditions in both grain and stock. What we want is some action. With us actions speak louder than words, and if the Government get busy and prove that they are anxious and willing to help us, they will find that thev have more friends out on the piai-ries than they think, especially if they carry on and maintain a stable Government until after the census has been taken and the redistribution Bill, which will entitle the West to about twenty more members, has been passed,

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UNION

Levi Thomson

Unionist

Mr. LEVI THOMSON (Qu'Appelle) :

Mr. Speaker, if I do not take the same time in congratulating the right hon. the Prime Minister (Mr. Meighen) upon his accession to office at so early a period in life as other speakers have, I trust he will not consider it any reflection upon him. I hope he will permit me to say that the remarks that have been made with respect to him by gentlemen of the group angularly opposite, as he calls it, are vdry heartily reciprocated by me. We are very pleased indeed that the right hon. gentleman has scored such a success in public life, and we wish him a happy future whether it be as leader of the Government or leader of the Opposition. It is customary in this debate to refer to various subjects, and I trust I may be excused if I make reference very briefly to a few matters that have not been dwelt upon by hon. gentlemen who have preceded me.

I want to" refer first to a subject that has been frequently discussed in this House in the past and which will undoubtedly be frequently discussed in the future until it is settled in a different way from what we have attempted so far; that is the question of our obligations to our citizen soldiers who served so well in the great war. No other body of Canadians at any time in our history have done so much to bring honour to Canada or to raise her name so high in the esteem of the world. We paid our privates in the trenches considerably less than we paid inexperienced labourers at home. This cannot be allowed to be the final disposition of this matter, and it will never be settled until it is settled in the right way.

In discussing this matter with one man and another, I find that the financial position of the country is always raised as an

objection to doing anything further for our returned men. Well, I am glad to say that Canada is able to pay her debts, and there is at least a moral debt due in this case, and we will have to settle it some time or other, the sooner the better. I noticed that when hon. members asked for an increased indemnity last session the financial situation of the country was not allowed to stand in the way of granting their request. I think there was an obligation on the country to increase the sessional indemnity, but I think there was and still is a greater moral obligation to give something further to our returned men than they have yet received.

Fortunately they have a strong and active organization in the Great War Veterans Association of Canada. The sanity and reasonableness of our returned men generally-I do not speak of a few exceptional cases-is well exemplified by the style of men that they send here as central officers.

I believe that some settlement inust be made with our returned men that will be satisfactory to the Great War Veterans' Association, and it seems to me that in any settlement the association should be consulted, and an arrangement concluded which will be final and satisfactory.

I am sorry that my hon. friend from East Algoma (Mr. Nicholson) when he speaks on this question, seems to think it necessary to make some very offensive remarks to those hon. members who looked on the question of conscription in a different way from what he and I x'egarded it.

I had as much interest as my hon. friend from East Algoma in the conscription issue and I sacrificed quite as much, I thought as he did in my desire to see that the men at the front were supported to the utmost. But I cannot forget that many others who took a different view of 'the question were just as conscientious and just as much interested as I was. For instance, the hon. gentleman who used to represent a constituency in Quebec-I refer to Mr. Power-opposed conscription as strongly as I supported it. But he had three sons fighting in the battle line. I have no right to say that he was not as sincere in his desire to help the men in the trenches as I was, and neither has the hon. member for East Algoma any right to pass such reflections. The sooner we drop that sort of talk the better it will be for the credit and honour of this House and the country at large.

The hon. member dealt generally with another matter which was more particularly discussed by the hon. member for Centre

Vancouver (Mr. Stevens). It seems that some hon. gentlemen deem it their duty to sling all the mud they can at the United Grain Growers, Limited; but if he and other hon. gentlemen would stop to consider what is influencing certain people to urge hon. members to make these ridiculous charges they would soon drop them unless they were the paid agents of the big interests which have been interfered with by that organization.

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UNION

Matthew Robert Blake

Unionist

Mr. BLAKE:

I would like to know what charges the hon. member refers to.

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UNION

Levi Thomson

Unionist

Mr. THOMSON:

We are hearing them

all the time, and my hon. friend cannot fail to have heard them. I refer to the slurs that have been cast at the United Grain Growers, Limited. Now, what is the offence of that organization? Its offence is that it stepped in when conditions were all wrong, when we believed that we were being robbed on all sides in connection with the marketing of our grain. That organization' stepped in and handled the grain business so well and so economically that to-day it has secured a very large poi'-tion of the business. No new organization can get the business of the country unless it does that business better than the older organizations did. That is the reason for the success of the United Grain Growers, Limited. I have grown grain long enough to know what the conditions were before we had that organization, and even before we had the Manitoba Grain Act. I have sold first class wheat at 35 cents a bushel, and I have no doubt the middlemen got more out of the transaction than I did. Those conditions have been changed, and the people who used to get those big profits do not get them now, and consequently they are stirring up this terrible row. That is the reason why they are so anxious to get as many hon. members as possible to cast some slurs at the United Grain Growers, Limited. And why do they find fault with the buying and retailing of different kinds of goods by that organization? Simply because the United Grain Growers, Limited are doing that work more cheaply than it was ever done before, and have cut down the profits of the older concerns. The United Grain Growers, Limited, handle farm implements, and some time ago a very good supporter of the present Government, who has been in the implement business for some years, assured me that since the United Grain Growers, Limited, started into the business they have sold implements on less than half the commission that was previously charged.

fMr. Thomson.]

1 hat is where all the trouble conies in, that is the reason of the noise we hear and of the mud we see slung at the United Grain Growers, Limited. Those other people have had to cut down their profits, and naturally they are very much aggrieved.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we have in the past in this House and in the provincial legislature adhered pretty closely to the two party system, in fact, our whole election machinery and procedure is framed to suit the two party system. That we are getting away from that system is plainly seen in the late elections, not pnly the by-elections for this House but the recent provincial el?c-tions. Whether the group system is right or wrong I shall not discuss at the present time, but we have to face the fact that we are departing from the two party system and getting into the group system Therefore, we should frame our election machinery and our procedure for the conduct of the business of this House with a view to the altered conditions, for it would be folly to attempt to ignore the change that is taking place.

I wish to say a word in this connection with regard to proportional representation. It seems to me that we should arrange at as early a day as possible to have the principle of proportional representation adopted in our cities and other congested areas where its application is practicable and desirable. I agree that in the more scattered settlements the adoption of the principle might be difficult, perhaps unsatisfactory, but there is no reason why in our cities and in our more densely populated agricultural areas the principle of proportional representation should not be put into effect. I think that with the adoption of proportional representation the results of contests in cities would undoubtedly be much fairer. We know that our labouring people are becoming very much alive to the political situation; whether we like it or not, it is the fact. We have extremists among our labourers, although they are a very small proportion of the mass, and it seems to me that for our own safety we should see that every opportunity is given to the labouring classes to be properly represented in this House.

Let me take as an illustration the city of Ottawa. It is quite probable that after the next redistribution the city of Ottawa will have three members. I do not know how the city is divided on party lines, but it is quite possible that Government supporters, supporters of the Liberal party, and supporters of the Labour party may be nearly

equal in numbers. Let us suppose that in Ottawa, entitled to three representatives, there should be 38 per cent of one party,

34 of another, and 28 of another. The most reasonable thing would be that each party should have one representative; that would be the only possible way in which you could have the city fairly represented. But it would be quite possible to cut up the city in such a way that instead of one representative being elected for' each of the parties, the party 38 per cent strong would get the whole three representatives. That would be quite likely to happen; but would it be fair that 38 per cent of the electors of the city should have three representatives while the other 62 per cent should have no representative at all? I do not propose to deal with that any further at present.

Another question which might very well be taken up in this connection is that of the transferable vote in single constituencies where there are three-cornered contests, or live-cornered contests, as was the case in West Peterborough. It seems to me that the idea of adopting some such principle is worthy of our consideration if we are to legislate in the best interests of the country. It is not well that we should have minority representation to any greater extent than is absolutely necessary.

There is another .thing in connection with this change from the two-party system to the group system that has been referred to on different occasions in this House. Under the present system the Government feel that if there is an adverse vote they are, in most cases at any rate, bound to resign. I think it is in the interests of the country that we should make such arrangements for carrying on the business of the House that every member may feel that he is at all times in a position to vote on any question that comes before the House, on its merits. If the majority in the House, voting on a question on its merits, are obliged to vote in opposition to the Government, and at the same time do not wish to defeat the Government, there is no reason why they should not so vote and the Government still remain in office. I merely refer to these things by way of making suggestions; I shall not dwell upon them to any great extent.

With reference to the amendment, I agree with the hon. member from Marquette (Mr. Crerar), my leader in this group, when he says that the present ministry are not usurpers in the position they take and that their course is constitutional. I cannot agree, however, with my hon. friend from

Macdonald (Mr. Henders), when he intimates that it is inconsistent on the part of the leader of this group to start out with different premises from those adopted by the leader of the Opposition and still arrive at the same conclusion. I do not think my hon. friend was very logical when he made that suggestion; nor do I think he will be logical if he says that I may not start from different premises than those adopted by the leader of the Opposition and still arrive at the same conclusion.

If my hon. friend reviews his own conduct he will find that he has sometimes started from different premises from those upon which some others with whom he was associated were working, and yet arrived at the same conclusion. If my recollection serves me rightly, when we were discussing the amendment to last year's Budget resolutions, my hon. friend, who has very different fiscal ideas, I think, from those held by the hon. member for North Simcoe (Mr. Currie), and the hon. member for Brantford (Mr. Cockshutt), started from very different premises in considering those questions, yet landed in the same place. When you, Mr. Speaker, uttered those magic words: "Call in the members," and my hon. friend from North Grey (Mr. Middlebro) went out to rustle his flock, my hon. friend from Macdonald was rustled in along with the hon. member for North Simcoe and the hon. member for Brantford. They came in together and they all slipped down into thf same berth. The "bairnies all cuddled doon thagither;" there was no kicking at all, no trouble. They started from very different premises; they had very different views as to what the tariff should really be, but they landed in the same , place. 1 do not see, therefore, why my hon. friend should not accord to the hon. member from Marquette and to myself the privilege that he extends to himself. What is fair for one is fair for another.

While I do not look upon the present Administration as usurpers, and while I agree that they may have the confidence of this House-or, at least, it is quite possible that a majority of this House may feel that they are bound to express confidence in them-and I would not question their sincerity in doing so-it seems to me that when any one in this House says that he believes the present Administration enjoys the confidence of the country, he must intend it as a joke. It would be a reflection on the intelligence of any member of this House to say that he be-

lieved anything- of the kind, and I do not like to reflect on the intelligence of hon. members. Anyway, the thing is too absurd; it is utterly impossible.

We have heard a good deal about the by-elections. Apparently some supporters of the Government are able to get some rays of comfort out of those by-elections. Well, I have heard of the time when there was a company formed to extract sunbeams from cucumbers, and it seems to me that that would be a more reasonable task and one more likely of accomplishment than for any supporter of the Government to endeavour to get any comfort from any of the by-elections, even the best of them.

Before I deal further with the question of the by-elections, I wish to remark that some of the hon. gentlemen following the lead of the Prime Minister seem to think the Opposition is just as much on trial as the Government is. I never heard of such a doctrine. If we in this group support the amendment, it does not mean that we are voting confidence in the regular Opposition-not for one moment; we are not doing so. The only question before us is whether we have confidence in this Government or not. That is undoubtedly what this amendment means. By voting for or against this amendment we are voting either want of confidence or confidence in the Government; we have no other course open to us. The supporters of the ^lovernment seem very anxious to becloud the issue by reference to what has happened to the opposition in the by-elections. That is not the issue; but if it were, I think they will get very little comfort from that, because the odds are tremendously in favour of the Opposition in comparison with the Government. Since the war there have been sixteen by-elections. Four of these seats were formerly held by the Opposition and they still hold them.

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

What constitutionally must happen if the amendment carries?

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UNION

Levi Thomson

Unionist

Mr. LEVI THOMSON:

I have nothing

to do with what happens. My duty is to vote on the question before the House in the way in which I believe I should vote.

Mr. MEIGHEN; Without regard to the consequences?

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UNION

Levi Thomson

Unionist

Mr. LEVI THOMSON:

My right hon. friend is endeavouring to lead me away from what I was at. I have sometimes preached in this House the doctrine which

I have preached amongst the people at home and which has been favourably received there, namely, that when any question comes before this House, we must use our best judgment and vote on that question in the way we believe to be right, and let the consequences take care of themselves. When I voted with my right hon. friend on the question of conscription, I had not the slightest idea what the consequences might be. I believed my right hon. friend was right, and I voted with him regardless of the consequences.

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

If my hon. friend does not object to my interrupting, I should like to follow this out a little further. Does he not think that he and I were agreed as to the consequences then? Does he not think the consequences of a vote enter into the question whether it is right or wrong?

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UNION

Levi Thomson

Unionist

Mr. LEVI THOMSON:

To a certain

extent they do, but not in all cases.

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I think they do in all cases.

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UNION

Levi Thomson

Unionist

Mr. LEV I THOMSON:

The consequences of this may be that the Prime Minister may resign.

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

What happens then?

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UNION

Levi Thomson

Unionist

Mr. LEVI THOMSON:

The consequence then may be that we may have a general election which, I think, will be a God-send to the country.

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February 25, 1921