Mr. A. B. COPP (Westmoreland) :
Mr. Speaker, at the adjournment of the debate last night I was referring to the amendment that had been moved by my hon. friend the leader of the Opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King). That amendment may well be divided into two parts: first that the present Government has not the confidence of this House; and second that it has not the confidence of the country. Though the leader of the
-Opposition might well have had a certain degree of confidence in his statement that the Government no longer enjoys the confidence of this House, the hon. gentleman having been out of politics for a number of years, he may not have given close attention to the traditions of the Tory party in these recent days. It is the old story-What we have we'll hold," and it is quite true of the Tory party of this Dominion. They are holding power to-day because of the election in 1917, of which election and the manner in which it was conducted much has been said during the progress of this debate. My right hon. friend the Prime Minister (Mr. Meighen) in reply to the leader of the Opposition said: We stand upon the letter of the constitution and will continue to hold office until the expiration of the full term of five years. I reminded my right hon. friend last night that there were two elements in our constitution- the written law and the unwritten law. 1 grant that my right hon. friend is justified in arguing from the letter of the constitution that he is entitled to carry on for the full term. I submit that unless the Government is convinced by reasonable evidence that it has the confidence of the people as well as the confidence of Parliament, it is their duty to appeal to the people at the very earliest opportunity. That, to my mind, is the essence of responsible Government. It is all very well for my hon. friends opposite to say1 that they have a majority in Parliament, and that, therefore, they are legally entitled to carry on, but having regard to the moral aspect of the situation, they must come to the conclusion that the people are not satisfied with the present Administration and that they should have an opportunity of saying so by their vote.
My right hon. friend says: We shall be
guided by the letter of the constitution. If he stands only upon the letter of the constitution, he might as well have said, in the formation of his cabinet: I will
select all my cabinet ministers from Ontario; I will carry on the Government of the whole country with a ministry selected from one particular province. But that would not be according to the unwritten law of our constitution; it would not be according to the moral law of our constitution, because the understanding is that each Prime Minister shall select the members of his cabinet from the different provinces of Canada, not from one province only. We
must, therefore, consider both the letter and the spirit of the constitution in connection with the question which is now before the House.
My hon. friend the Minister of Militia (Mr. Guthrie), who spoke yesterday afternoon, took an attitude entirely different from that of the right hon. gentleman who leads the House: He said that this Government has nothing whatever to do with the government that went out on July last; that a new Government was formed, and that that Government is responsible only for what it does from now until such time as it appeals to the people. Apparently my hon. friend did not hear the remarks made by the Prime Minister in this debate, nor could he have done the right hon. gentleman the honour of reading his speech. The Prime Minister took exactly opposite ground. He said: We are the same old
Government; we are carrying on as part of the government which existed prior to my acceptance of office. These two hon. gentlemen, therefore, are in direct disagreement in regard to the constitution and the character of the Government.
Besides being responsible to this Parliament, the Government must be responsible to the people. I am bound to say that it is not very strong evidence for a member on the other side to say: I have consulted
my constituents, and I know they are not in favour of an election; or for a member on this side to say: I have consulted my
constituents, and they are in favour of an election. You cannot come to any very definite conclusion in a matter of this kind if that is all the evidence that is forthcoming. But when you travel over the country from east to west and from north to south, and hear nothing else-on the trains, in the hotels, in the church yards, or elsewhere-but condemnation of the present Administration, it seems to me that the state of public feeling thus disclosed must be admitted. I have been able during the recess to interview a very large number of the electors of my constituency and of my province. I have heard a great many people speak about this matter. I have read the papers of our part of the country, and I find that whether the paper is Liberal or Conservative, the opinion is that we should have an election to clear up the situation that has been brought about by this conglomeration which is found in, the seats on the other side of the House.
We should, Mr. Speaker, have a general election on any occasion when a matter of
very great moment arises upon which the people should have the right to speak. We have a limited term of Parliament; at certain intervals the people must be consulted. But when any particular emergency arises -a change of policy or a change in the personnel of the Government-the people should have an opportunity to say whether or not the Government have their confidence. In 1911 an occasion of that kind arose, when the Parliament had been in existence only three years. A very important question came before the House-the reciprocity agreement that had been entered into between the Government of this country and the Government of the United States. When the agreement was brought down a debate arose and continued for many weeks and months. From the speeches delivered during that debate, which I have read, I think that no one offered stronger arguments in support of the reciprocity agreement than the present Minister of Militia (Mr. Guthrie), who addressed the House yesterday afternoon. His speech on that occasion, Sir, is worthy of the perusal of any hon. gentleman, disclosing, as it does, what his ideas were at that time with regard to a downward tread in the tariff. What has brought about the remarkable change of mind on the part of my hon. friend? Surely it has not been the conditions? Surely, Sir, it is not because he believes that the people of Canada are more opposed now to a downward trend in the tariff than they were in 1911? Surely not, because we are getting the answer day by day and week by week; the results of byelections held during the recess have shown that the people of Canada insist upon a tariff which shall be characterized by a downward trend. My hon. friend surely must know that that is the feeling which prevails in the country at the present time.
In the elections of 1911 Sir Wilfrid Laur-ier, who appealed to the people on the reciprocity question, was defeated, and from that day until the present we have had no reasonable appeal to the people on the question of what government should control the destinies of this country. My hon. friends say that we had an election in 1917, and that is true. A question has arisen in regard to that election that we cannot decide here; everyone must have his own opinion in regard to it. But we have some evidence that the election which was held after the formation of the Union Government, was not an election upon the policy of the Government; it was what was
known as a war election, and the Government was a war government. The formation of that government came about when the ex-Prime Minister (Sir Robert Borden) decided to appeal to the people.
The year 1916 was the year in which, according to our Constitution, the elections should have been held, and the Conservative party of that day, realizing then, as I believe they realize now, that they had not the slightest hope of carrying the country at that time, asked the leader of the Opposition to consent to an extension of Parliament for one year. The war was then in progress, and the situation in Canada was very serious, and not a single word was said in regard to Union Government when the Opposition permitted our Conservative friends to carry on. In 1917, a change came about. My hon. friends, then seeing more clearly than they did in 1916, that it would be impossible for them to carry this country, came with their hats in their hands, knocking at the doors of Liberal members and asking them to form a Union Government to carry on the war. A number of our friends joined them. With the same degree of assurance that has been shown by hon. gentlemen who left the Liberal party in order to join and support Union Government, I could give equally good reasons for the stand I took in not giving my support to Union Government and its successor. I did not believe Union Government was necessary at that time; I do not believe it is necessary now. I have no quarrel with our friends who left the Liberal party and joined the forces of the Government; their action is a matter for themselves to consider. While that Union Government remained in existence, it was a matter for themselves and their conscience what they should do with regard to it. Now that Union Government has absolutely gone, now that it is dissipated into thin air and a new Government has been formed, it is entirely up to them and their consciences to say what their duty is in regard to the changed situation.
I have listened with a great deal of interest and pleasure, and, I may say, with amusement, to some of the arguments adduced by hon. gentlemen .opposite in regard to the situation. A number of speakers who have delivered addresses on this subject have told us, and, through Parliament, have told the country, why they are supporting the present Administration. For instance, the hon. member for Brantford (Mr. Cockshutt) said that
he was supporting the present Administration, because the Prime Minister (Mr. Meighen) had nailed his colours to the mast and was standing for the continuation of high protection in this country. He was followed by the hon. member for Frontenac (Mr. Edwards) and a number of other hon. gentlemen, whose speeches I have before me, but I do not want to take up the time of the House in quoting from them. One group of the supporters of the Administration say: "We are supporters of the present Administration, because it is the Government and party of high protection, of continuing in force in the Dominion the highest possible protection in the interest of Canadan manufacturers;" but the hon. member for Fort William and Rainy River (Mr. Manion), who occupied the attention of the House the other day, told us that he was supporting the present Government because it was a Government of low tariff in this country. He quoted page after page to show that the tariff of the present Administration was lower than that of the old Liberal party, and he said that he was a Liberal and was supporting this Government because it was bringing into force a Liberal tariff and platform in Canada. What is true of the hon. member for Fort William and Rainy River is true of a number of other hon. gentlemen who spoke in this debate. Through different courses, different arguments and different avenues, these hon. gentlemen came to the one conclusion, namely, that the best course was to keep the Government, and, therefore, themselves, in power for another year or two, whereas if they went to the country, they would not come back.
At the time Union Government was formed, a number of very estimable gentlemen joined that Government; a few of them still continue with it, and the others have retired. One of the first to retire from that Government was the hon. member for Marquette (Mr. Crerar). I have no doubt that he, along with other hon. gentlemen who had formerly been allied with the Liberal party, joined that Government, according to the evidence that has been given by himself and other members who have since retired, for a certain purpose and a certain definite length of time. When that time expired, they concluded that their contract had expired, and they left the Government. Ever since that hon. gentleman conscientiously left that Government, as I believe he conscientiously entered it, the guns of criticism
of my hon. friends opposite have been levelled at him because, as they say, he did not do anything and did not continue to carry on in the interest of the people while he was a member of the Government. That is a most unjust and unwarranted criticism of the hon. member for Marquette. Soon after his retirement, the then Minister of Public Works made up his mind that he could no longer remain in the Government led by the ex-Prime Minister (Sir Robert Borden), and he retired and took a position as chairman of the Railway Board. Another hon. gentleman, one who had taken a very prominent part in the administration of affairs of this country-and personally I want to give him credit for the great work he did as Minister of Finance in the Government at the time-worked with and remained in the Government until after the war, and then made up his mind that he would retire. He delivered an address in this House, a sort of valedictory, and he wound up that eloquent speech by saying to his friends: "In so far as I am concerned, I am going out of the Government, but I advise you, my friends, to carry on, carry on."
That expression has since become a byword in the Dominion of Canada. My hon. friends opposite did not require any advice from the hon. member for Leeds (Sir Thomas White) to carry on; it was their intention to carry on until the people, when an opportunity arose, kicked them out of office. My hon. friend, when he was advising his friends to carry on, retired himself and took no further responsibility as regards the Government. His action reminds me of the story of that eminent general who, after he had ranged his soldiers all in line when a battle was imminent, gave them this instruction: "You must face the foe and remain until your last shell is fired-and then run for your lives. I, being a little footsore and weary, will run now." My hon. friend, when he gave his advice to his friends to carry on, had not the hardihood, the courage, to face the people of this Dominion, to attempt to carry on the Government, when he knew the people of Ontario and the other provinces were absolutely opposed to the Government carrying on and that the Government' did not have the confidence of the people in carrying on.
The ex-Minister of Militia and Defence (Mr. Mewburn) also withdrew; so did the hon. member for Halifax (Mr. A. K. Maclean), and the hon. member for Durham
(Mr. Rowell). If we can believe the interviews as reported in the press, the hon. member for Durham has withdrawn from this House entirely except that he will be here to guide my right hon. friend when international matters are before the House.
I am sure my hon. friends must appreciate the assistance that is promised them by the hon. member for Durham, and I suppose that after this session the hon. member will be able to retire, having sufficient confidence in the ability of the Minister of Justice to deal with international affairs when they come up in the House. These hon. gentlemen have all retired. Now, the question at once arises: if these gentlemen were right in retiring from the Government, were right in the statements they made in regard to the situation, were right in saying they had fulfilled their contract, are not the other gentlemen who went into the Government under the same contract staying beyond their contract? Are they not overstaying tenants, and should not the people be given an opportunity of speaking on the question whether they should remain or not?
My hon. friend from Brantford used the argument that he was not going to support this amendment because he did not believe in letting old things go for something new. He did not believe in letting go of power, and letting anybody else come in to govern the affairs of this country. He did not believe in giving the people an opportunity of speaking their mind. He wanted this Government to carry on as long as possible, without giving the people an opportunity of deciding upon the very question that is before this Parliament. My hon. friend says: We are in power now, and I want the Government to hold on to power; the people should be willing for us to do so. My hon. friend must know that the people of this Dominion are simply crying for an opportunity to let this Government go. Perhaps my hon. friend has heard the story of the two Irishmen who went out to catch wildcats. One decided to go up the tree and drive the cat down, leaving the other man on the ground to catch the cat. Well, he drove the cat down, and the man below grabbed it. After a while the Irishman up in the tree says: "Do you want me to come down and help hold it?" "No," said the other, "come down and help me let it go." That is exactly what the people of this country want; they want to let this Government go, and I believe they should be given the opportunity at an early date.
Hon. gentlemen opposite have differed considerably in their reasons why they
should support the Government. One says he will support it because it is a government of high tariff; another says he will support it because it is a government of low tariff; another says we should not go to the country now because owing to the very strong feeling of unrest and dissatisfaction in the country, the people would not be sufficiently sane to cast a reasonable vote in an election; another hon. gentleman says, the government should not go to the people, because it has guided the ship of state so well during its term of office that there is no unrest in this country, and therefore we do not want an election. That is how my hon. friends differ in their reasoning, but the reasoning of them all leads to the same conclusion, and that is to hold on to office.
A responsible government, as its name implies, must mean responsibility to the people, and no government is justified in carrying on the affairs of the country without having reasonable cause to believe they have the support and enjoy the confidence of the people of the country. The ministers who occupy seats in the Cabinet should represent the feelings of the people of their constituencies and the provinces they represent. Let us see for a moment whether or not the members of the present Administration can have any hope or reason to believe they enjoy the confidence of the people and the sections of the country they represent.
Let me take first my right hon. friend, who represents a western constituency, and hon. the Minister of Immigration and Colonization (Mr. Calder). Is it possible that either of these gentlemen would have the courage to say that they represent the feeling of the people of the West on the tariff question in this country? Is it possible that my hon. friend the Minister of Immigration and Colonization could say he represents the present feeling of the people of Saskatchewan in regard to public affairs in this country? In view of the reception he got when going through his native province a few weeks ago, where in spite of the high positions he had occupied in that province for so many years he could not get a hearing to discuss the problems of the day, is it possible that he would have the courage to stand up in this Parliament or elsewhere and say that in the government of this country he expressed or reflected the feeling of the people of Saskatchewan? Not so, and therefore I say that if my hon. friend understood
what I believe to be his moral and bounden duty under our constitution he would go back to his province and hand in his resignation saying: I served you during the war, as I promised, but now you have not confidence in the Government I am supporting, and therefore I cannot continue in office any longer. That would be the brave and courageous thing to do. But no, my hon. friend is tenaciously hanging on to office, in spite of his friends in the province of Saskatchewan or anywhere else in this Dominion.
Would my hon. friend from Yarmouth (Mr. Spinney), a gentleman for whom I have the highest respect, say that in his position in the Government to-day he reflects the majority view of the people of the county of Yarmouth in the old province of Nova Scotia? Does he say, or would any one believe from his actions, that the people of the county of Yarmouth are satisfied to see my hon. friend supporting this Tory government when he for years was a part and parcel of the Liberal party in that county? While my hon. friend was elected to suport the Union Government I am very much mistaken, from the reports I hear, if he reflects the majority opinion of the old Liberal county of Yarmouth in supporting this present Tory Administration.
Let us take another example. Would any one in this Dominion or wherever the English language is used or known, say that for one moment the Postmaster General (Mr. Blondin) enjoyed the confidence of the people of the province of Quebec? Not a constituency in the province of Quebec would elect the hon. gentleman; yet, according to the letter of the constitution, that gentleman is forced upon the people of the province of Quebec and has to be their representative in the government of this country. It is absolutely opposed to the unwritten law of our constitution, and it should not be tolerated for one moment in a democratic country or in a free parliament.
Now I want to say a word or two about my hon. friend from the city of St. John, the Minister of Customs and Inland Revenue (Mr. Wigmore), who, I regret, is not in his seat. It was very unfortunate for the province of New Brunswick, of which province I have the honour to represent one constituency, that it was so long without Cabinet representation. The interests of the Maritime Provinces were disregarded for many, many months by this
Government until there was a very strong agitation down there for increased representation in the Government. My hon. friend from St. John was selected. Personally, I have no fault to find with the hon. gentleman, although I may say that after being elected for the great city of St. John, where, for the purpose of carrying the constituency, he promised everything in the way of harbour improvements that could possibly be thought of. He is not satisfied with that but goes down to thesister city of Halifax, and in a day or two builds a new railway station at the terminals in that city.
He flits away to Cape Breton, nationalizes the Port of Sydney, and on his way back stops off for Sunday afternoon in the garden city of Moncton, where he builds a post office. Elsewhere in New Brunswick he evinces great interest in the public welfare. I sincerely wish my hon. friend every success in his endeavour to do something to further the interests of the Maritime Provinces, and in some degree to compensate for the negligence that has been shown in regard to that part of Canada during the past few years by this Government. One would naturally suppose that I should compliment my hon. friend and say that at least one member has the support and confidence of his own constituency in the province of New Brunswick. I regret, however, that the hon. gentleman is only a living example of the proverb that evil communications corrupt good manners. He has been only a few months in the company of his colleagues opposite, and we find now that the people of New Brunswick, and particularly of the City of St. John, have lost confidence even in himself. I regret that fact very much, because I had hoped that my hon. friend would make a strong minister, would bring light to bear upon the Government, and would see to it that the province of New Brunswick and the Maritime Provinces as a whole would get some reasonably decent treatment from the Government in the way of expenditure on public works.
But, Sir, I have in my hand a newspaper clipping which I shall read to the House. I have no desire to detain the House at any length reading newspaper extracts, because I have not always the highest regard for what newspapers say, particularly on political matters, for the reason that one party paper will say one thing and another something different; and if I were to quote from a Liberal newspaper, notwithstanding
the truth of the statement I might cite, I should not expect it to have very great effect in this House or in the country. But I hold in my hand an article clipped from a newspaper which my hon. friend the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Sir George Foster) must realize has been for a great many years one of the strongest influences in the province of New Brunswick along Conservative lines and in the interests of the Conservative party. From the time my hon. friend occupied a seat in Parliament and graced it as one of the representatives of the province, that newspaper has been a Conservative advocate; and while it is under a new title it is but the same newspaper that always gave strong and hearty support to the Conservative party. It gave considerable influential assistance to my hon. friend at the by-election held in St. John a few months ago. But how quickly changes come about! How quickly the people are beginning to see that the Government no longer has the confidence of the Canadian electorate! If hon. members knew the St. John Standard as well as I know it, they would almost blush to think that it should criticise, even in the slightest degree, my hon. friend who now occupies a seat on the Treasury Benches. But it is not satisfied with criticising the Minister of Customs; it goes further and takes to task the Prime Minister himself (Hon. Mr. Meighen) for his conduct of the affairs of the country. Let me read, if I may, an editorial taken from that newspaper under date of Thursday, February 17, only three days after my hon. friend who was elected in the City of St. John took his seat in this House. This editorial is headed: "Indifference or Dishonesty?" You will note the interrogation. It proceeds:
Individual experience is the sure foundation on which may be based any opinion of the business integrity of an individual or organization. And on such basis The Standard has tried and has found wanting those in the employ of the Federal Government, who control the business affairs of this country. Our experience may or may not be a criterion of the whole administration, but it is sufficient to create, in our case at least, a decided impression that the business principles of those now in charge are neither honest nor honourable. Possibly the circumstances leading to such a conclusion are due entirely to the apparent attitude of subordinates in the executive offices. This, however, is difficult of belief, in view of the fact that the circumstances have ben made known in detail to at least three present ministers of the Crown, and that, so far as The Standard has been able to learn, not one of these has taken any definite action toward the application of the first principles of fair play. Apparently these ministers and their subordin-
ates are content to violate their own written contracts, to defraud a business house of payments due on such contracts, to take shelter behind obsolete legislation which can apparently be disregarded for the financial gain of the Government, and by red tape and departmental delay to prevent the transfer to the Court of matters in dispute. The Standard to-day charges the Borden-Meighen administration through its subordinates with violation of written contracts, with unfair and dishonest retention of money due for services performed, and it charges the Secretary of State and the Minister of Railways with failure to perform the duties of their respective offices in bringing to a settlement matters which have repeatedly been referred to them for attention. It asserts, too, that the Premier himself, and the Minister of Customs have been negligent in the same matter, and are, from the experience of The Standard, responsible, though in a lesser degree, for the dishonesty and dishonourable neglect of their subordinates.
If, as is suspected by many, the departmental offices at Ottawa are filled with employes who spend their time in attempting to discredit the present Government, the matter is easy of solution. This, however, is' difficult of belief in view of all the circumstances. And it is increasingly hard to understand-by this paper at least-how such a Government can lay claim to popular support, when its own routine business affairs are marked by such a lack of ordinary honesty or integrity.
If the Premier or any members of his Cabinet are desirous of further information or evidence along this line, The Standard will be pleased to furnish it.
As I said, this editorial is from the leading Conservative newspaper in New Brunswick,-not merely one of the leading newspapers, but the newspaper-and that is the condition of affairs in that province at the present time. If I were so inclined I could take the same paper during the last week or two and read columns of criticism of this Government. I do not purpose to do so, because it deals with a personal matter between the Conservative party and the appointment of an hon. gentleman to the other House. I am not here to criticise the appointment in any way whatever, but I do say that the present Administration has lost the confidence of the people of New Brunswick, as is palpable on every hand and as is fully reflected in the editorial I have just read.
We have been told during this debate that there should be a general election, and many reasons have been advanced in support of this contention as well as against it. Precedents have been cited by hon. gentlemen on both sides, by those, on the one hand, who claim that an election should be held and, on the other hand, by those who argue that an election is unnecessary at the present time. Hon. members have referred for precedents to Eng-
land, to Australia, to New Zealand, and to other Parliaments in their endeavour to convince this Government that they should appeal to the people. I do not intend to go far afield for precedents in this matter; I need not go further than our own Dominion, for the precedent that has been established in our own country is quite good enough for me. It impresses me and must impress hon. gentlemen on both sides of the House that the time is now ripe for a general election. Let me review just for a moment the condition of affairs in the Dominion of Canada from the year 1891 to the year 1896. There we had, after the death of Sir John Macdonald, a succession of governments being formed almost every week or every month, and you did not know from day to day when a new government might be formed. But, quite in keeping with Tory doctrines and traditions, they insisted on carrying on from one year to another and in one session, I think in 1896, the very day Parliament was opened seven ministers resigned from the Cabinet simultaneously.
They decided to carry on, and to carry on at all hazards. During those years, and particularly the years 1895 and 1896-any person who remembers that period wiil recall the facts, and if they do not remember all they have to do is to read the history of that time-hard times prevailed, there was unrest, and dissatisfaction. And, Sir, what happened? As my hon. friend from Red Deer so well expressed it yesterday, in 1896 the Government were at last driven to the people-and having been in office fourteen years eleven months and thirty days-one day before the expiration of the term for which Parliament was elected. They were forced to the people, and on the twenty-third of June, 1896, a general election took place. Sir Wilfrid Laurier came into power as a result of that general election. Immediately afterwards the people settled down and went to work, and, follow ing 1896, we had the most prosperous times that we have ever had since Confederation.
Sir, the situation to-day in Canada is absolutely on a par with what it was in 1896 when the Tory government of that day were driven to the people. When they appealed to the electorate the people took great pains to drive them out of office and I believe the same fate will befall my hon. friends opposite when they follow that example in the very near future. Now, Sir, you do not want any stronger or any better precedent than the one I have cited. The
people of that day were despondent and discouraged until the opportunity was given them of changing the administration. Irrespective of what the result would he if an election were brought on at the present time, it is principles that count. The Prime Minister says the leader of the Opposition thinks the people of Canada are pining for him to come into office and carry on the affairs of government. Let me say to my right hon. friend that Canada might get along without much pining if he were not in office. It might exist if any hon. gentlemen were not in the House at all. It is not men that count but principles, and the people of Canada at the present time are awaiting the opportunity of expressing their opinion upon principles when a general election takes place.
The Prime Minister says there is no demand for a general election. My hon. friends opposite say: We have consulted our constituents and they do not want an election. They shudder at the thought and raise their hands in holy horror of the idea of an election being brought on at the present time. Well, Sir, there is one class of people that has made no concealment of its feelings in regard to a call for a general election, a class of people whose sentiments should appeal above all others to our patriotic friends opposite-I refer to the returned soldiers. They are demanding an election at the present time. In 1917, when the soldiers in the trenches were calling for assistance, hon. gentlemen opposite placed the Military Service Act upon the statute books of Canada. Instead of the provisions of that Act being carried out as intended, the opposite was the case. A better title for it would have been the Exemptions Act, because instead of securing recruits for our military forces exemptions from service were the order of the day. However, the fact is the returned soldiers are now calling for a general election and surely hon. gentlemen opposite will heed the call. They will not turn a deaf ear to the demand of some four hundred and fifteen thousand men that they should be given an opportunity of expressing themselves at the poll. I hold in my hand, Sir, a copy of a telegram that was sent from this city on the twenty-seventh of May, 1920, by Mr. R. B. Maxwell, Dominion President of the Great War Veterans' Association. The press despatch from which the telegram is taken says:
R. B. Maxwell of Winnipeg, Dominion President of the G.W.V.A. who has been here several days investigating the .political situation, tonight issued the following message to the 776
branches of the Association throughout the Dominion.
The telegram itself reads as follows:
From knowledge gained of political and economic conditions in Canada during three years' effort on the part of the Great War Veterans Association to obtain equitable reconstruction legislation, I deem it my duty to urge upon you the necessity of an early general election. The time has arrived for the people to declare themselves on the vital questions of the day. I therefore call upon you in defence of the basic principles upon which this Association was founded, to assemble in mass meeting with your fellow citizens and secure without delay an unmistakable expression of the wishes of the people in regard to the necessity of a general election.
That message, Sir, went from the President of the Great War Veterans Association who represents seven hundred and seventy-six branches of that organization. Of the five hundred thousand men who went overseas unfortunately some fifty or sixty thousand did not return but the other four hundred and forty thousand, or approximately that number, are back in Canada and they have been knocking at the door of the Government for reasonable treatment. They claim that they have not received the treatment they should have received from the Government, and as a last resort the President of the Association comes forward and sends out his telegram asking the whole of the branches of the organization to get together and demand a general election so that they may have an opportunity of expressing their views through the ballot box, a privilege they have not had for many years in Canada.