January 11, 1926

REVISED


into the field of speculation and to suggest a solution. I prefer to look at the amendment in perhaps a different light. In essence, the amendment, if it is carried, means that we vote no confidence in the Liberal government; that is the point of view we must take with regard to it. It means that we shall either have another election or put a Conservative government in power. We may talk around it and we may use varying phraseology, but in substance that is what it amounts to. If the amendment as proposed carries, this House decides that it has no confidence in the Liberal government and we are faced, as I say, with one of two alternatives another general election or government by the Conservative party in this House. If on the other hand the amendment is defeated what will be the situation? What does its rejection signify? It means that by our vote we declare that we have confidence in a defeated government; we say virtually that we have confidence in a group that has been defeated in the country. I do not think I need enlarge that statement. The fact that 101 members have come back to represent a party which originally comprised 117, and the fact that nine -ministers of the crown went down to defeat, coupled with the further fact that the Conservative group received 200,000 more votes than the Liberal -group, is evidence sufficient to show that the Liberal government was defeated 'in the last general election. So that the defeat of this amendment just means that we in this House are, so to speak, flouting -the will of the people as expressed at the polls and voting confidence in a defeated government. As a member of this Progressive group I have been compelled to consider very seriously what my vote would mean if given one way or the other. If given against the amendment it -means that I, a Progressive, am attempting by my vote to bolster up a shattered party ini this country. That would imply that we defy public opinion las expressed in a majority vote. Is it any wonder that some of us in this corner of the House 'have considered this matter very gravely? We have put in hours, nay, days of thought on the question. The fate of our future government depends upon the decision of the Progressive group, perhaps upon the decision of a few members of this group. I look at the rituation not so much ini the ligiht of the possibility of either one group or the other enjoying the "sweets of office " or " the fruits of office " or party election advantages, much as these things may be cherished on either side. I do not choose to look at this phase of it. These considerations may appeal to some hon, members who


EDITION


Government's Right to Office either are on the treasury benches or are aspiring to get there. I prefer to look at the far-reaching effect which the division on this question will have. Each of the two major groups in this House has had a policy, presumably at least. It is recognized that the Liberal policy is one of either free trade or freer trade. At any rate, prior to an election that is the policy. The Conservative government, in season and out of season, has preached and practised1 a high tariff policy. I am not go sure, Mr. Speaker, that in this House the two old-line parties are so very far apart on that policy. I have had the privilege of sitting in this chamber for the past four years, and so far as tariff concessions given us by the Liberal government go, we would not need a very large suit case to carry them all home. But in profession at least there is a difference between the policies of the two major groups. Therefore if any such policy were put into force, it would have a far-reaching effect, an effect that would extend from one end' of the Dominion to the other, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Business conditions throughout the country are affected by whichever course is taken in this House. Now, in order to give an intelligent vote on this question it is necessary that we look at different phases of it. The Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe) made his motion in reference to the Speech from the Throne, and an amendment has been moved to that motion. It is perhaps necessary, then, that we glance hastily at the Speech from the Throne and see what is embodied therein, because if a group proposes a legislative programme our vote is perhaps going to be largely influenced by such programme. I find in the legislative programme as outlined in the Speech from the Throne a clause embodying rural credits. Now this is something that is of vital importance to the portion of the country from which I come. Western Canada is vitally interested in the question of rural credits. We have out there not only hundreds but thousands of struggling agriculturists with a load of debt upon their shoulders, a debt upon which they are paying eight, nine, ten and) even twelve per cent interest, running into thousands of dollars, and in many cases it is impossible for them to carry that load. Some of them are getting from under it one way or the other; it is absolutely necessary in the case of a great many of these people that something should be done to relieve them of that burden. Here we have in the Speech from the Throne a definite promise that a rural credit scheme is going to be given us. Well, I was a member of the Banking and1 Commerce committee dur- ing the past four sessions. I recall that in the session of 1924, after considerable debate, we passed a resolution calling upon the government in the session of 1925 to implement by legislation the suggestions contained in Dr. Tory's report. I recall in the session of 1925 what a strenuous time we had in the Banking and Commerce committee to get a resolution before this chamber to the effect that such legislation should be proceeded with. I recall particularly the stand of many hon. members from the province of Quebec, and I was given to understand in the last session that the representatives from that province did not favour rural credits for Canada. Well, when I look across at the treasury benches and I see, or pretend to see, 61 members from the province of Quebec out of the 101 government supporters, I wonder how the change of heart came about. I wonder whether it is a real conversion or merely a bait handed out for Progressive support. In the session of 1925, after repeated urgings on the part of members of the Banking and Commerce committee from this group, we succeeded in having a semblance of legislation introduced, but it was not brought down until the dying days of the session, and it was well known that such legislation would never be enacted. Then, following that, we have in the Speech from the Throne another clause stating that the government proposes forthwith the completion of the Hudson Bay railway. Very good. I am sure that a great sigh of gratitude arose from western Canada when they read that statement. But looking back over the last four sessions-and it is rather unfortunate for the government benches that we do not forget all the things that happened in the last four years-I recall that the then member for Prince Albert, Mr. Knox, persistently and insistently brought forward a resolution urging the completion of the Hudson Bay railway. Each session-in 1922, 1923, 1924 and 1925- that resolution was brought forward. We had 117 members sitting on the government benches and we had something over 60 members in this group; it would have been an easy matter to introduce legislation and carry it through if there had been any desire to do so. But what did we find in the last parliament? When we took a division in 1924, only 20 members voted for the completion of the Hudson Bay railway, and four others were paired-a total of 24 votes cast in favour of the scheme in that House of 235 members. Now, I am led to ask myself: Whence came this change of heart on the part of those on the government benches? I recall that the hon. member for Queens-Lunen- Government's Right to Office burg (Mr. Duff) had a pocketful of snapshots that he used to slide around this chamber to enlighten us as to the impossibilities of that route, showing huge ice floes, and fields of ice, and vessels marooned in the ice. I wonder if he has destroyed them-or may we look for them again? Then, in addition to those two items, we have a tariff clause. Well, there is nothing very definite in that paragraph. It says that a general increase in the customs tariff would prove detrimental to the country's continued prosperity. That does not tell us that there will not be some minor increases or some particular increases; it ju9t says that a general increase would prove detrimental. This is one question upon which; I am not just sure what kind of opinion to form. I recall that in the last parliament the then member for Brantford, I believe it was Mr. Raymond, a very estimable gentleman-I am not sure that he did' not go to the slaughter-asked this question of the right 'horn, leader of the opposition (Mr. Meighen) when he was speaking on his tariff resolution: "If you should become Prime Minister, would you restore on agricultural implements the duty thalt was taken off during the previous session?" If I remember correctly, the right hon. leader of the opposition said: "Most certainly I would."


?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

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PRO

Archibald M. Carmichael

Progressive

Mr. CARMICHAEL:

I am not sure what

to infer from that applause, but I know that the people of western Canada do not want any further tariff on agricultural implements. It is true that the reductions were very trifling; it is true that the prices of agricultural implements were not very considerably lowered, but it was a slight step in the right direction. It was supported by this group in the hope that at the next session a longer stride would be taken in the same direction, but we hoped in vain; no such 'action followed. I rather fear the occupying of the treasury benches by a group headed by a leader who has definitely pronounced himself in that respect, except from this point of view: he

There is one other clause in the Speech from the Throne in which the government 14011-3J

congratulate themselves, or rather "congratulate you," on the growing prosperity of this favoured land. Then they further state: "This increased prosperity and advancement have been aided by the policies of the government." It would be far more appropriate to give Divine Providence the credit.

There is one other matter that is not embodied in the Speech from the Throne, and it is a matter of vital importance to the section of. the country from which I come. It is a matter upon which I have heard the leader of the opposition (Mr. Meighen) express himself in no uncertain terms in this House-indeed I believe he did in the country also-and that is the matter of the statutory rates as existing under the Crowsnest agreement, that old bill of rights that was given us in western Canada away back in the year 1897, and to which the average westerner looks for protection. That agreement has all been thrown in the scrap heap with the exception of the rates as respecting grain and flour. I do fear, according to the statement as expressed, that an effort might be made to wipe out the rest of those rates, and I do fear the result of such action. I am satisfied that western Canada would not stand for the wiping out of the rates on grain and flour.

One of the reasons why I would like to have seen the debate carried on by members from each of the larger groups is that such questions as these might be enlarged upon and definite pronouncements made upon them. I am not going to say that the right hon. leader of the opposition should reverse his decision, because I do not think he would do so; I have that opinion of him, that his opinions as expressed are usually lived up to, but if his expressed opinion in regard to this one subject is to be carried out, I fear there is not much western support back of it.

The Progressive group in this House has come into being in a rather unique way. We are not a party in the sense of the Liberal group or the Conservative group, though we may be called a party, and some may look upon us as a party. We are really a group of individuals representing public opinion. The origin of the Progressive group, so far as western Canada goes, dates back to the year 1901. The action as taken among western Canadian farmers at that time was for economic advantage, but they found later on that it was necessary to take political action in order to reap the economic advantages at which they were aiming; and so we found in the year 1919 that a few members of this House started what was known as the Progressive group. I do not know where the

Government's Right to Office

name came from; there is nothing in names anyway. We might as well be called the People's group, or the Woman's group-because we have in this group the only woman in parliament. Call us anything you like; the name signifies nothing. The fact of the matter is we are here, and we are here as a protest against partyism in Canada. I am not so sure that we have the best system of government obtainable. 1 followed the remarks of the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Woodsworth) last Friday, and if I gathered what he was proposing, it was to the effect that a committee of this House representative of all the groups in this House should function as government. I am not sure that that would be a very bad thing for the country. Surely in the present situation it might be a way out of our dilemma. It is possible we may come perceptibly nearer to that proposal than we are at the present time. Personally I do not see any reason why we should be divided into two camps deadlocked as we are now. I do not see why there should be such a difference between legislation pertaining to our Dominion affairs and legislation pertaining to our municipal affairs. It has been my privilege to sit in a council chamber for some twelve years, watching the deliberations of seven men elected from nine townships and carrying on all the legislative affairs pertaining to those nine townships. There was no such thing as two or three groups or more; there was only one group of men elected by the people to represent them and carry on, and my ideal would be a similar situation for the Dominion of Canada. But it so happens that Canada has become steeped in partyism, and it is very hard to get away from it. As a matter of fact a Conservative outside of his party is very human in his make-up; a Liberal also outside of his party traditions is a very likeable person, but either one of them in party harness is an altogether different animal. The constituency which 'I have the honour to represent has said time and again that it is tired of partyism. A part of it provincially has sent forward a representative elected in a similar way to its representative for the Dominion House.

The population of my district is some thirty thousand. Let us look at the vote that was

jast in that constituency in the last federal election. We had a three-cornered contest. The Liberal standard bearer was a very estimable gentleman. He had occupied the position of representative in our provincial House for eight years, and during four years of that period he 'held the exalted position of

Speaker of the House. I would' take it, then, for granted that when the people were expressing their opinion at the polls they certainly would be influenced his way if an estimable gentleman had any influence over them, and yet on October 28th last he received only 2,614 votes. The Conservative candidate received 1,218 votes, and the votes cast for the Progressive amounted to 3,631. The combined vote, therefore given the Conservative candidate and the Progressive candidate amounted to 4,849, or nearly two to one against the Liberal candidate. Now whatever interpretation anybody else might place upon that, I interpret it as a vote of want of confidence in the Mackenzie King government. My opinion is that so far as my constituency has expressed itself, that vote was a mandate against the Liberal government.

But when I come to the question of my personal attitude in the matter I find it very difficult indeed. I find that I am between the deep sea and a certain individual with an unsavoury name that I care not to mention, and I am not just sure which will be the better way to go.

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

Which is the deep

sea?

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PRO

Archibald M. Carmichael

Progressive

Mr. CARMICHAEL:

I am not certain

whether the deep sea is in Ontario or Quebec. We have the Liberal proposals and they are very generous-in fact there has been held out to us almost all that could be offered, unless it were a turkey for Christmas; and western opinion is in favour of such a programme. On the other hand we have the amendment by the Conservatives, and the thought of majority rule; and thete is the expression of opinion as given by this country at large and by my own constituency. Certain persons in the country -yes, and certain newspapers, and representatives or correspondents of newspapers-choose to throw out the rather small insinuation that the Progressives are .thinking more of their sessional indemnity than of anything else. We have heard that stated throughout the country. Well, I should like to say to all such that the Progressives in this corner of the House can perhaps come back here with greater ease than any other hon. members. The constituency that I have the honour to represent, without, or with very little, organization and practically no funds, sent their member here at a (total cost of less than $500, 4 p.m. nearly all of which they paid themselves. It is not a very difficult thing for a representative to enter parliament when the people come forward and put him here, and I am quite sure that what has been done already may be done in the

Government's Right to Office

immediate or more distant future. Personally I am not worried very much about any such suggestions. I am anxious to decide aright on the vote that will be taken on this question.

I should prefer that we have a definite pronouncement in regard to certain questions that have 'been raised. I should like to be assured that some of these matters, such as rural credits, will be satisfactorily dealt with. I notice, by the way, that there is on the order paper a notice of motion standing in the name of the hon. member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Stevens) which deals adequately with the question of rural credits. I should like to know that -that question will be satisfactorily dealt with. I should also like to know that some of the other points raised will be satisfactorily handled-for instance the Hudson Bay railway and the matter of the Crowsnest pass rates on grain and flour.

I cannot say definitely just now how I shall cast my vote in the light of what further debate is likely to bring forth. The opinions I am expressing are not necessarily the opinions of this group; -they may not represent the opinions of any other members of the group, but they do represent my own. We enjoy the privilege here of expressing our opinions and convictions without fear of any party whip or leader, and in what I have said to-day I have expressed what is my own personal opinion. If during the remainder of the debate the questions to Which I have alluded are dealt with in such a manner that all doubt shall be removed from my mind and I can be convinced that the best interests of the country I represent will be served, by the bringing about of a certain result, I will cast my vote one way. If I am not thus assured I will cast my vote another way.

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CON

Robert Smeaton White

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. S. WHITE (Mount Royal):

Mr. Speaker, I crave the indulgence of the House while, for a short time, I endeavour to state some of the reasons why the amendment which has been placed in your hands should be adopted. That amendment is a bald narrative, a recital of plain, unvarnished facts, and there is no hon. member who can successfully controvert any statement in it from beginning to end, except perhaps in respect to the concluding paragraph. No one disputes the fact that a large majority of the ministerial candidates went down to defeat on 29th October last; that nine ministers of the crown, including the first minister, were beaten; that the Conservative party came back with its strength greater by 120 per cent; and that the popular vote was cast against the government. It is in such a situation that this House meets, with a defeated, a decimated, a discredited, a degraded government endeavouring to carry on the affairs of the country.

I followed with attention on Friday last, and have since read with great care, the speech of the Minister of Justice (Mt. Lapointe) in which, fortified with many precedents, he endeavoured to sustain the view that the government as presently represented in this House is justified in carrying - on. I trust the hon. minister will not think me offensive, because such is far from my thoughts, if I refer to -the heading of one of those delightful papers of Addison in the Spectator: "Very busy about

nothing and out of breath to no purpose."

Sir, there was not one single citation of a precedent frpm British constitutional history made by the Minister of Justice which has the slightest appositeness to the amendment that is now before the House. -Everybody knows-and -those who do not know will have learned' from his speech-that governments in England have resigned after defeat at a general election without waiting the meeting of parliament, and that, on the other band, governments have awaited the meeting of parliament after defeat at the polls before resigning from office. One of the latest examples-not very re-cenit either, as it happened nearly sixty years ago-was that of the Disraeli government in 1868, which having a minority in the House was permitted by grace of the majority to carry on until the constituencies Were reorganized and a general election could be held, and Todd, one time Librarian of this parliament and -a recognized authority on constitutional law and- procedure, used this language in reference to that situation:

This prolonged the unseemly and unconstitutional spectacle of a ministry holding office by sufference and unable to exercise any effectual control over the proceedings of the House of Commons; a condition of things which, it need scarcely be said, was palpably at variance with the first principle of parliamentary government.

But Sir, another instance occurred in 1892, when the Salisbury government, having gone to the electors, and having been defeated at the polls, decided to continue in office until a vote of want of confidence was had in the House. In both those cases, and in every case cited by the Minister of Justice, there was a prime minister, but, sir, the minister has not cited one case-because there is no precedent-Where a government decimated as this one has been-, without any regular channel of communication between the House of Commons and the crown undertook to meet parliament and carry on the affairs of the country.

Now perhaps it is an act of impertinence on my part to tender any advice to the third

Government's Right to Office

party, but I may point o-ut to them, as well as to eveiy other hon. gentleman in this House, that the amendment upon Which the vote is to be taken is not an amendment upon party politics. It is a declaration as to constitutional principles. I see my hon. friend the Minister of Finance (Mr. Robb) smiles, because he realizes that doubtless if this amendment should receive the approval of parliament it would follow as a matter of course that the first minister should tender his resignation. Suppose he does so, Whiat is the situation so far as the Progressive party is concerned? If there was a change of government to-morrow, the Progressive party would exercise in this House identically the same power, $ie same influence and would be in the same position as it is to-day. But the amendment is to vindicate the principles, yea the sanctity of our constitutional system, in our parliament. As to the fate of the Prime Minister and his colleagues who, in face of a reverse at the polls in a general election, cling with slippery hands to office, it is a matter, of course, of taste. There is an old text which tells us that "the letter killeth but the spirit giveth life." These gentlemen have reversed the order, and with them it is the spirit of the electorate that killeth and the letter which giveth them life. Now if evidence is needed that this government ought not to continue to direct the affairs of Canada, I can produce an authority that at least should command some respect at the hands of hon. gentlemen opposite. I refer to their leader, the late member for North York. We are all familiar with that long blaze of apologies which he made at Richmond Hill When he said among other things-time does not decently permit me to quote more than one of them, perhaps two:

Is it sufficient that as a government we should continue in office, drawing our indemnities and salaries as members aaid ministers and enjoying the other fruits of office, when great national questions press for solution with which, for want of an adequate majority in parliament, we are unable satisfactorily to cope.

Now that was a gem of purest ray. What a lofty position he took on that occasion. Can he occupy that position to-day? iMort assuredly not.

The hon. member for Kindersley (Mr. Carmichael) who has just addressed the Chair, has dealt with portions of the Speech from the Throne. I do not intend to treat of that Speech beyond saying this, that it is one long list of concessions to a party without whose support the government would not last one hour. Death-bed repentances are frequently subject to suspicion; political deathbed repentances, always.

IMr. Carmichael.]

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

The Hamilton speech,

for instance.

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CON

Robert Smeaton White

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WHITE (Mount Royal):

The Hamilton speech does not embarrass me in the slightest. At the appropriate time I am prepared, frankly, candidly and in no unmistakable language, to express my opinion upon that speech. It may become a subject of debate before this session is very old, but I do not think it is particularly pertinent to the amendment that is now before the House. The Minister of Justice declared in somewhat resonant tones-

We all desire the situation to be regularized in order that we shall have a government with full moral and political authority for the tasks, domestic, imperial and inter.naitiional that lie (before it.

That is what the Minister of Justice desires. This is what his chief and leader believes:

All sufficient as these reasons-said Mr. Mackenzie King-may be for not attempting another session of parliament before a general election, there are other reasons of even greater weight. I refer now to allimportant national problems that are pressing for solution, and which cannot be solved in a parliament constituted after the manner of the parliament elected in 1921, or by any government which does not command a substantial majority in the House of Commons.

Which horn of the dilemma do hon. gentlemen propose to take? They cannot have both, and I imagine either one is somewhat embarrassing. I should like, for a moment- and I hope I am not digressing beyond the four corners of the amendment- to say a word as to the Conservative party in the province of Quebec from which I come.

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An hon. MEMBER:

Mr. Patenaude.

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CON

Robert Smeaton White

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WHITE (Mount Royal):

Mr. Patenaude, when he was selected as chief of the Conservative party in the province of Quebec, caused a shiver to run through the ranks of the Liberal party. Mr. Patenaude has not yet run his career, and if life is spared him, he will yet sit in this House to promote, promulgate and support Conservative doctrine and Conservative principles.

If without seeming to indulge in too much liberty, I may tell the House a little story, it is this. Years ago in the good old city of Quebec When the Irish relatively to the French were larger in numbers than they are to-day, it was the habit of the Irishmen on the 17th of March, in the absence of their hereditary enemies in the north of Ireland, to come out and give battle to the French-Canadians. On one occasion an Irishman who had sallied out with his shillalah early in the morning to vindicate his rights and the superiority of his race, returned home at an unexpectedly early hour with two lovely

Government's Right to Office

black eyes, a bruised body and a generally battered up appearance. His wife said to him: "What is the matter?" and he laconically replied: " Tliim Frinch is improving." In the province of Quebec the Conservative party is improving. In 1917 we had three members. We had not a single one in 1921. We have now four in this House; but more than that, we have increased the popular vote for Conservative candidates in that province by about one hundred thousand.

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LIB
CON

Robert Smeaton White

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WHITE (Mount Royal):

If the hon.

gentleman wishes to know, I think it was the late member for North York. The Minister of Justice pronounced a fulsome eulogy upon his leader, informing the House that he possessed the confidence of the Liberal party in greater degree than ever before, and I noticed in the press that at a caucus of that party a resolution of confidence in their leader was passed. A late member of the government-I was going to say a member of the late government, but a late member of the government, Mr. Marler, formerly of St. Lawrence-St. George, Montreal, delivered a speech in the Reform Club of Montreal on New Year's day when he out-Heroded Herod by declaring that when Mr. Mackenzie King had finished his public career, he would go down in history as the greatest Prime Minister Canada had ever had. Poor old Sir Wilfrid Laurier! If his shade had been present in that Reform Club on that New Year's Day it might well have exclaimed in the language olf Rip Van Winkle when he came down from the Catskills after his long sleep and found himself unrecognized, unknown, his name not even a memory in his native village; " My God, how soon are we forgot."

Now, Sir, I fear that the quotation I gave from Addison might fittingly be applied to myself in the rather rambling remarks I have made. But I come back to the whole pith and point and core of the amendment, namely, that the position of the government is a violation of constitutional principles and of parliamentary practice. And it is upon that point and that point only that this division is to take place. You have doubtless read, Mr. Speaker, a recent book written by Lord Ullswater, better known as the Right Hon. James W. Lowther, for more than fifteen years Speaker of the British House of Commons, who was gracious enough to come to Canada to present to this chamber the chair which you, Sir, so admirably adorn by your courtly manner, your fine ability and your strict impartiality. Lord Ullswater's book entitled "Commentaries of a Speaker" is interspersed with amusing anecdotes, one of which it seems to me is very pertinent to the situation of at least two parties in this House. It refers to an advertisement which appeared in the lost column of a London newspaper and which ran like this: 'Lost-a spaniel dog called "Ben"; answers reluctantly to "Damn you, come here." '

I hasten, Mr. Speaker, lest I offend the decorum and proprieties of this House, to withdraw the strong expletive and substitute the milder term "dang," even at the risk of weakening the point of Lord Ullswater's story. As I read it, however, the analogy occurred to me between this government and the Progressive party, who actually and absolutely dominate the ministry,, and without whose support the gentlemen on the treasury benches cannot carry through this House any important measure whatever, and Ben and his master. Their position towards the Progressive party is that of the abject animal called Ben towards his master, and I think it not inappropriate that this government should be termed the "Ben" government and go down in history as such.

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LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Hon. E. M. MACDONALD (Antigonish-Guysborough, Minister of National Defence):

We have just listened to a very interesting address from a veteran in the political life of this country (Mr. White, Mount Royal), and I desire on behalf of those who sit on your right, Mr. Speaker, to welcome the distinguished gentleman once more to this parliament, which he adorned in other days by his position and ability. I am sorry that my hon. friendl, while he indulged in a good deal of denunciation, Saw fit in his speech to evade altogether the real question at issue in this particular amendment. He promised that he would lift the veil and let us know what was going on in Quebec in connection with the position of the Conservative party, and that would have been a very interesting story had he gone into it and related all the events of the last election. We should all have been pleased to know where Mr. Patenaude stood in relation to the right hon. gentleman (Mr. Meighen) who leads the party opposite, and where the right hon. gentleman himself stood in relation to Mr. Patenaude; and it would have been more interesting still if my hon. friend who has just taken his seat had gone further and told us where he personally stood in relation to both these gentlemen. I happen to have under my hand a newspaper report of a meeting during which that question was asked our distinguished friend. The meeting in ques-

Government's Right to Office

tion was held in Victoria Hall on October 10 and the report to which I refer appeared in the Montreal Gazette of October 11. A voice from the gallery asked the distinguished gentleman the question:

Are you a Meighen Conservative or a Patenaude Conservative?

And what do you suppose my hon. friend answered? He said:

I am a Conservative upholding Conservative principles and call no man master.

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Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

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LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD (Antigonish-Guys-borough):

Hon. gentlemen opposite are

applauding because their confrere was so successful in evading an important question. Now that my hon. friend comes to the House and undertakes to lift the veil from the situation in Quebec he is just as enigmatic as he was at that meeting: we do not know whether he is for Patenaude or for Meighen. The real issue before the House, however, is the question as to whether the proper constitutional practice has been followed by this government in regard to the situation that was created by the general election. That is the point which is raised directly by the amendment moved by the leader of the opposition, and that is the point I want to discuss. I want to face it frankly and fairly and I want the House to realize that what we are considering here is simply the question whether or not the proper constitutional course was pursued by this government in the circumstances in which it found itself after the election. What does my right hon. friend opposite say? He has ia resolution in which he makes certain assertions. The first two paragraphs I pass over for the time being, but the third paragraph makes the statement that Jiis party had the largest popular vote and that it has now substantially the largest number of members of any party in the present House. The right hon. gentleman supplemented that statement on Friday last when he declared that we should have resigned immediately after the election and that we had no right to carry on. Let me submit to the House the authorities on the question of a government's continuing in office after an election. Assuming that there was a party in existence to whom could be committed the task of carrying on the government an a parliament * constituted like ours-and there was no such situation-this is what Todd's Parliamentary Government in England, at page 130, has to say on the point:

The verdict of the country having been pronounced against ministers at a general election., it is, nevertheless, competent for them to remain in office until the new parliament has met, and given a definitive

and final decision upon their merits; for the House of Commons is the legitimate organ of the people, whose opinions cannot be constitutionally ascertained except through their representatives in parliament. It is necessary, however, and according to precedent, that in such circumstances the new parliament should be called together without delay.

There the constitutional rule is clearly laid down. My right hon. friend himself speaking on this matter the other day said:

To their coming (the government) and facing parliament there can be no legal objection.

That is to be found on page 14 of Hansard. But he said:

But there is a constitutional objection.

Now, if we are legally here I would like to see any hon. gentleman on the other side produce evidence of where there is any constitutional authority which nullifies our legal right. Mark you, there is no statute regulating this procedure either here or in England. I want to give you another quotation on that point. Keith, on Responsible Government in the Dominions, says:

There is no fixed rule in the colonies, just as there is hardly yet one in England, as to whether a ministry should resign when a general election turns against them, or wait the meeting of the House.

There are two definite, positive authorities. There is no Statute upon the subject, as I have said; we have to go by precedents and we have to go by authority. We are in this position and having our heritage from the Motherland we can say with Tennyson that-we are:

A land of settled government,

A land of just and old renown,

Where freedom slowly broadens down From precedemt to precedent.

That is how parliamentary government has developed in Great Britain, and how it has developed here. The rule which I have quoted from two authorities, a rule which cannot be questioned, indicates that in a situation such as we had to face after October 29, we took the proper constitutional course. We called parliament together at the very earliest possible moment, and I want to give the House the situation in regard to that. It was thought at first that we should meet on December 10, but then it was ascertained that the return of the writs could not possibly be made by that time. On December 10 the return came from Springfield; from Yukon on December 11; from Bagot on December 17; from Peace River on December 23, and from North Huron December 28. So that less than two weeks after the last return came to the proper authorities this House is in session. We have not hung on to power or attempted to deal with this situation in any way contrary to

Government's Bight to Office

what was our just right, but we as a government come to this parliament and ask the members of all parties to determine at the proper occasion, when it arises, whether this government has the confidence of this House. For the moment the determination of the issue raised by this amendment is simply and solely whether or not we followed the proper constitutional practice. That is the only issue, no matter what the result of the vote may be.

Now, Mr. Speaker, if we have the right and it was in accordance with proper constitutional precedent to say that we proposed to meet parliament and submit our programme to them, then I want to say further that our position in regard to the absence of the Prime Minister from the House is also fully justified by precedent. Before I leave that phase of the subject, however, let me remind hon. gentlemen who talk so glibly about there being no precedent, that at so late a day-and I am re-quoting what my hon. friend the Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe) quoted, I am putting it before the House again so it may be clearly understood-

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Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

Mr. MACiDQNALD (Antig onish-Guysb or-ough): Repetition won't hurt. My hon.

friend is not worrying.

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CON

January 11, 1926