January 11, 1926

LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD (Antigonish-Guys-borough):

Does my right hon. friend mean

to say he has no regard for the opinion of a paper of the standing of the Montreal Standard, especially when he has regard to who its proprietors are? I do not know whether the}' supported Patenaude or Meighen in the last election,, but they are always for the Tory party anyway.

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN (York):

Will the hon.

member tell us whether the journal he is now quoting is the journal that is discredited by the Montreal Herald in the circular I, in common with others, no doubt, got today?

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LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD (Antigonish-Guys-borough):

I do not intend to follow the

windings of the minds of my two journalistic friends who sit over there. I quote further from the Montreal Standard:

The debate on the question should be conducted with clue regard for the importance of the crisis in a manner deliberate and unimpassioned.

The victory in such a case not infrequently goes to -those who do not lose their heads.

The leader of the opposition lost ground when he displayed irritation. It is invariably the case in almost any contentious argument that to him who knows best how to govern his temper goes a decided advantage. . ,

The debate yesterday might have been intended as an attempt at instructing the Governor.

If it was so intended, it was a waste of time and energy.

The Governor General knows full well what are the rights of the parties, and what are the duties of a governor.

That statement, I submit, cannot be disregarded when we are considering the question of the proper constitutional practice in the present situation. If the amendment of my right hon. friend the leader of the opposition were adopted, we would be putting on record in this country and incorporating as part of our parliamentary procedure a practice which does not exist in England, and one that would be a most pernicious one.

Let me recall an instance which comes to my mind of a case where a minister of the crown remained as minister although he did not have a seat in the House. In December, 1845, the great Gladstone became Colonial Secretary in the government of Sir Robert Peel. He again stood for election after his appointment, and was defeated, but still he remained in the government as Secretary for the Colonies until June, 1846, when the government retired. The matter was mentioned and discussed in the English House of Commons, but no hysterical declarations were made such as we have heard here as to the constitution being torn to pieces, because they were simply following the ordinary practice. Then again, in the Lloyd George government, Mr. Montagu ran for election as a member of that government, and was defeated, but he remained in office for almost six months, when he ran again, and was defeated a second time. It was not until after his second defeat that he gave up his portfolio. These are illustrations of the practice which obtains in the Mother Country.

Now what does my right hon. friend the leader of the opposition contend? Where are his precedents in the face of the precedents given by my colleague the Minister of Justice and myself? Let us look at his amusing suggestion. He apparently suggests to the House and the country that we should have retired and the Prime Minister should have suggested that my right hon. friend be sent for. What are the facts? There was a great and well-known dividing line between the party of my right hon. friend the leader of the opposition and all the other parties running in the last election. This is a sample of the platform which my right hon. friend laid down. Speaking in Vancouver, my right hon.

Government's Right to Office

friend the leader of the opposition, as reported in the Vancouver Province, said:

What will we do when we take office? I will tell you. We will first address ourselves to framing a tariff policy. We will put our tariff wall right up to the level of the American tariff wall.

The great issue between the two parties in the last election was the tariff. I give tny right hon. friend credit for the manful way in which he stood by his guns and fought for high tariff.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Will the hon. member

permit me again? I have repeatedly in this House and elsewhere stated that I made no such assertion anywhere in Canada at any time.

Mr. MACDONALD (Antigonish-Guysborough): Then my hon. friend had better wrestle with the Vancouver Province, a paper which is friendly to him.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

It does not bother me.

Mr. MACDONALD (Antigonish-Guysborough): Then take the Canadian Press

despatch in the Montreal Gazette:

We would give Canadian industry such an advantage as would enable it to function in the markets of the world.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Hear, hear.

Mr. MACDONALD (Antigonish-Guysborough): Here it is given in another form

again in the Montreal Gazette.

He sought only to put Canadian farmers and manufacturers alike, on the same basis as their foreign competitor.

Some hon. MEM'BERS: Hear, hear.

Mr. MACDONALD (Antigonish-Guysborough): Hon. members may cheer. I am

pointing out what the platform of their party was, and apparently they are proud of it. On the other hand wherever our Progressive friends ran in the west they were opposed to such a policy; they did not want a high tariff.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Will the hon. gentleman permit me. Will he tell the House where he stands on the question of protection for iron and steel and coal?

Mr. MACDONALD (Antigonish-Guysborough): I am opposed to any higher

protection on iron and steel.

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An hon. MEMBER:

What about coal?

Mr. MACDONALD (Antigonish-Guysborough): Coal? We will deal with coal.

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Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

Mr. MACDONALD (Antigonish-Guysborough): In regard to coal I think the

present tariff rates are enough. There should be no general increase of duties throughout this country.

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

Did you not put up the duty on coal?

Mr. MACDONALD (Antigonish-Guysborough): In the last election I was opposed to the policy of my right hon. friend (Mr. Meighen) and to his high tariff policy. Here is the point, although my hon. friends opposite would like to get away from the issue. The situation was this: on one side was the Conservative party, with a policy for a higher tariff. On the other side were the Liberal party who were opposed to that policy. We, as a government have stated our policy in the Speech from the Throne wherein we promise to implement our views into legislation. I want to say further that to every item of policy declared in the Speech from the Throne this government, if it is sustained by the vote of the House, will adhere and will endeavour to place its policy on the statute books. My right hon. friend (Mr. Meighen) entertained the idea that the government was-so childish that it would come and say " Mr. Meighen has got 116 votes and we have only got 101 and we recommend that His Excellency send for him." In other words that we should place in the hands of Mr. Meighen and his friends who are in favour of a high tariff, when they were in a minority in the House, the opportunity of putting their policy into effect, and of putting into effect also the new Hamilton policy of my right hon. friend. I want to say that there is no intelligent member of this House who thinks that should have been done, and that we have followed the constitutional course. We have come to this House, the high court of parliament, and are prepared to abide by the decision of hon. gentlemen who represent the whole people of Canada. The duties of government are such that those of us who have had long experience of public life are not looking to have imposed on us further unnecessary duties or arduous performances. We are willing to do our duty to the country if the task comes to us, and in this matter we will abide by the decision of the House; and the government will stand or fall by that decision. But I must say this to hon. members: Do not let us be misled

by the issue as raised by this resolution. There is no hon. gentleman here, who has studied constitutional precedent, no hon. member who wants to do that which is right, and to follow the path which the statesmen and public men of Great Britain have blazed in

Government's Right to Office

regard to public affairs, who will be found voting for this resolution. Rather he will vote that it should be defeated and we will then proceed ito deal with the country's business and endeavour to advance its interests.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. R. B. BENNETT (West Calgary):

Mr. Speaker, I, in common with other members of the legal profession, recognize the soundness of the observations made by the hon. member for Kindersley (Mr. Carmichael) when he said on Friday last that he had much difficulty in appreciating the situation. For it is true that the matter involved is a more or less technical one. Nevertheless everyone who listened to the speech we heard this afternoon from that hon. member will realize that he is fully seized of the situation, and that what promised to be a complex and difficult question of law has, after the exposition made by the right hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Meighen), been clearly understood. I, for one could not fail to be impressed by the observations of the hon. member for North Centre Winnipeg (Mr. Woodsworth) when he inquired as to why we should follow British precedents. I am sure that we were all convinced, impressed with his sincerity and earnestness, but had he taken the trouble to look-and he is a very studious gentleman-he would have observed that the very preamble of our written constitution, the British North America Act, provides that the people of Canada were desirous of being federally united into one dominion, under the crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, with a constitution similar in principle to that of the United Kingdom. Hence it is that we appeal to the precedents of Great Britain and to the Mother of Parliaments rather than those of continental Europe for the purpose of determining our constitutional and parliamentary practice and procedure. I was struck also with his observations with respect to Lord Bryce s Modern Democracies. Now had my hon. friend taken the trouble to have turned over a few pages he would have observed these words:

Parties are inevitable. No free large country has been -without them. No one has shown how repre-.sentative government could be worked without them... Where there are small groups eaoh becomes a focus of intrigue, in which personal ambitions have scope. The -groups make bargains with one another and by their combinations, perhaps secretly and suddenly formed, successive ministries may be overturned, with injury to the progress of legislation and to the continuity of national policy. Since there must be parties, the -fewer and stronger they are the better.

These are the observations of Lord Bryce in the very volume to which my hon. friend

referred. While we were impressed with the earnestness of my hon. friend's observations we could not fail to realize that he in his suggestion that we should form a parliamentary 'Committee of this House, overlooked the historic fact connected with the Long Parliament when the Long Parliament, in days now forgotten, was organized into committees. That those committees were the prelude of the end of the Long Parliament is now a matter of history. Surely my hon. friend would not reproduce in Canada the Long Parliament's history with its committees. My hon. friend must also have forgotten that parliament does not consist merely of the popular House. It consists of something more than that, for in section 17 of the British North America Act these words appear:

There shall be one parliament for Canada, consisting of the queen, an upper house styled the Senate, and the House of Commons.

These triune factors constitute the parliament of this Dominion. It is not composed of this Commons House of parliament, nor yet of the Senate nor yet of the sovereign, because, thanks to the long development that has taken place in the years that have passed, the struggles of successive parliaments against the aggression of the sovereign, the struggle of the Commons against the Lords, the parliament of Canada now consists of the king, the Senate, the House of Commons. These three factors together constitute this parliament. And when it is suggested, as it has been, that a committee of this House should function as the government, it overlooks the essential fact that you have these three factors that make and constitute our parliament. I should like that essential fact to be borne in mind because it is at the bottom of our constitutional practice and procedure. We might answer the question, as to why we cling to British traditions and British precedents. In the language of Mr. Gladstone in his article " Kin Beyond the Seas ":

But there is no parallel in all the record of the world to the case of that prolific British Mother, who has sent forth her innumerable children over all the earth to be the founders of half dozen empires. She, with her progeny, may almost claim to constitute a kind of Universal Church in politics.

It is for these reasons that we adhere to British precedents andl to British authority; and when the hon. member for Labelle (Mr. Bourassa)-whose elegant language, no less than the manner of its delivery impressed the House-referred to the desirability of our independent action I was reminded of the statement of Burke that an independent member of parliament is usually a member not to be

Government's Right to Office

depended upon. I commend those words to the consideration of parliament because Burke was worthy of example by the members of other parliaments in matters of that kind.

Now, the fact is, Sir, that this parliament has met under circumstances that are without precedent in the British Empire, without precedent in the long history of constitutional government and practice that has come down to us. For never, Sir, in the history of parliamentary institutions has parliament met under those circumstances without the Prime Minister being in either one House or the other. My hon. friend said that he would produce precedents to show that the practice that has been followed was the correct practice. I shall deal in some detail with those matters, for if there is a precedent I shall be glad to know of it, and 1 will give it my support at once. If there is any precedent by which the Prime Minister, the head of the administration, the head of the government-without which indeed there can be no government, without which there may be ministers but no ministry, no government, no cabinete-if there is any precedent that my hon. friend can produce, be he layman or lawyer, I shall indeed be glad, because this act, properly termed usurpation on the part of my hon. friends opposite, is not one on which any constitutional lawyer can look lightly or regard without profound regret.

Parliamentary law consists not of statutes alone. I read a moment ago a section from the British North America Act; that is the lex scripts, the written law. But there are customs, there are usages and there are traditions. A long series of precedents bound in the journals of the Houses of Parliament have come down to us through the ages, and they govern us quite as much as does the ,written law. Hence it was the late Sir William Anson wrote of the Law and Custom of the Constitution, not of the law of the constitution as something written, the lex scripta, but the law in custom, the lex par-liamenti, not written in the sense that it is crystallized in the form of law, but embodied,

I say, in the usages, customs, traditions and precedents which have come down to us through the ages, representing the struggle of free peoples against the sovereign on the one hand and the lords on the other, in order that a free parliament might function.

I have besidte me a number of authorities which I doubt not many members of this House have recently been reading. I intended to refer to some of them, but I will not trespass upon the time of the chamber beyond saying that you have Todd's great book as an

authority; and it is a matter of pride with every Canadian to think that that book has been accepted as a great authority in every part of the world where representative institutions have been in vogue. We have many other great books. We have Dicey on the constitution, we have Anson on the Law and Custom of the constitution and many others. We have the journals and precedents of Speakers. We have all those things before us, and we have constitutional usages.

There is one other book to which I shall presently refer, and it is written foy a very eminent man, a man of great learning. He was a foreigner. I refer to ORedlich's book, The Procedure of the House of Commons. It is a book which will charm any reader, whether layman or lawyer. We have also the book written by Sir Erskine May, who was formerly Clerk of the House of Commons in England.

Custom and precedents have crystallized into law-not written law but the law of custom. So that at the present day we have a cabinet. In the days of King Charles we had a cabal. In days long prior to that they had a system of placemen; a number of placemen advised the sovereign, but the idea of a cabinet, a ministiy, a government, have been evolved from the necessities of the case. In the early days it was a committee of the king's privy council. Hon. members will recall that in our British North America Act there is a provision for the appointment of privy councillors-the King's Privy Councillors for Canada. In England and in Great Britain we had committees of the privy council. In time that became known as the cabinet, and later it became known as the ministry or the government of the day. I shall refer to some authorities with respect to that matter, because it seems to me to be of the utmost importance that this House should have a clear appreciation and understanding of what is involved in cabinet and cabinet responsibilities. I am sure if my learned and hon. friend who has just taken his seat (Mr. Macdonald, Antigonish-Guys-borough) had as carefully studied the precedents to which I shall refer before the meeting of parfiament as he did afterwards he would not have made the observations which he has just made. Parliamentary responsibility is really, so far as we are concerned, cabinet responsibility. Cabinet responsibility did not come easily. In the first instance, what had we? The king had favourites. Those of us who read Bingham's book on the Prime Ministers of England will recollect that the first volume deals with the chief ministers from' 920 to 1720; the second volume deals with the prime ministers from 1721 to 1921. He

Government's Right to Office

commences with Walpole in 1721 and deals with the prime ministers down to 1921, and points out how, under the development of the system of cabinet responsibility, the cabinet is a committee of parliament. It does not follow that all the members of the cabinet belong to the House of Commons, and indeed when I look at t'he composition of the present alleged government I find that two of them have been compelled to find their domicile and resting place-not only two but three- in the Senate. So that the cabinet is not entirely the creation of the Commons. It is not entirely composed of members of the Commons. It is composed1 of members of the Commons and the Lords. In the early days the monarch was able to govern for himself. George III tried to govern the country by himself. In the introduction to this book these words appear:

In England prime ministers are a comparatively modern institution. In the days of the Norman and Plantagenet monarchs the king himself directed and carried on the government of the country by the advice of his council. This he did through his own officer's and largely from his own revenues. Usually he chose these officers himself, though at times they were forced upon him. For the most part they were priests, the medieval ecclesiastics possessing considerable advantages over laymen in the way of education and of freedom from family ties. They often rose to great power and rivalled the King himself. Such were Flambart, Becket, Beaufort and Wolsey. Soldiers like de Montfort and Warwick were rarer and less permanent, while courtiers of the Gavcston or Despencer type had the least success. Most of these ministers, except occasionally the prelates, belonged to the nobility.

But after the Wars of the Roses nearly all the old families had disappeared. When Henry VII came to the throne the lay peers only totalled twenty-nine, one-third of what their numbers had been a hundred and fifty years earlier. The influence of the chureh was also diminishing, whilst two new classes, the landed gentry and the city merchants, were rapidly becoming literate and acquiring importance. The names of Howard, Seymour, Cecil, Cavendish and Russell now first rise into prominence, and the House of Commons is really beginning to count. After the commencement of Queen Elizabeth's reign there are only two instances of a bishop being Lord Chancellor or Lord Treasurer, while the Secretaries of State have ceased to be clerks. Nevertheless the sovereign is still paramount, presiding himself at his council and personally selecting his ministers.

Then we have further:

In 1688 another advance was made. The arbitrary power of the crown was definitely checked. Parliament became almost supreme, and a certain responsibility was compelled from the administration. King William, who acted largely as his own minister, took an active and constant .part in the government, but Queen Anne devolved more and more of her duties upon her councillors. Then came a fresh development. A foreign prince succeeded to the throne. Entirely dependent on the goodwill of a parliamentary majority, and speaking hardly any English, he could not effectively control that committee of the council which was gradually growing into a cabinet. He was averse to

political business and became attached to a single minister. The minister, who led the House of Commons, was also the leader of the Whigs and was supported by the great families of the Revolution.

Then I pass his discussion of the Prime Minister and how he came into being, but he continues :

The Prime Minister, besides being the leader of the government and of that house of the legislature in which he sits, is almost invariably the leader of one of the chief political .parties, or of a section of one.

There is no doubt that the sovereign no longer selects his ministers. That day is past. He selects his chief minister and his chief minister submits for approval to the sovereign or his representative the names of the members of his cabinet. As my learned and hon. friend says, they may be out of parliament for the moment. They are entrusted with the responsibility of taking action collectively or individually with the cabinet in council. The last case I know of a ministry resigning with one member, ^ an appointee of the sovereign, not resigning, was before confederation in Nova Scotia when a motion was earned by twenty-nine to twenty-two against the government and the premier resigned. All his colleagues went out of office except one, and that one, the selection of the representative of the sovereign, he had himself to dismiss. Hon. members will recall that in this House when t'he Minister of Railways resigned in 1907, he directed! his letter of resignation not to the representative of the sovereign, but to the Prime Minister for the time being, the late Sir Wilfrid Laurier. So it is that those who hold office under the crown no longer are the servants of the crown in the sense in which that term was used in the days of the Georges, but are now dominated, to use the language of the books, by the Prime Minister. He is the dominant member of the Cabinet. He must, from necessity, be a member of the cabinet. He must, from necessity, be a member of the Privy Council. But tlie other members that comprise and constitute that Privy Council are subordinate to him. The position is shortly put in these words in a book which was published l-ate last year:

The essential characteristic of the Prime Minister's position is his right to choose the other ministers, as the essence of his power is the indispensability conferred upon him by the turn of party politics.

Then the writer proceeds and I commend this to the consideration and attention of the House:

As in this latter respect, so in the former also, Pitt's career was of decisive importance. George Ill's efforts to control the composition of cabinets had won a great success in Pitt's accession to power; even at their least successful they had always been effective

Government's Right to Office

enough to secure the admission to the cabinet of at least one royal nominee, habitually to hold the Chancellorship, the most dignified of all offices, with a special relation to the king's person and a special need for more than party qualifications. The possession of these qualifications, combined with an unscrupulous subservience to the crown, had made Lord Thurlow a continual Chancellor, a blessing to his royal master and a curse to his political colleagues. In 1792 Pitt, determined to be cursed with him no longer, gave George the alternative of authorizing the dismissal of the Chancellor or accepting the resignation of the Premier. It was Thurlow who went, and though the crown's preferences have no doubt influenced the composition of later cabinets, yet since that time no monarch has made a minister.

That is the position with respect t-o ministerial! appointments. At chapter 5 the author proceeds:

In reliance on Bagehot, Morley, and Low I have taken the distinguishing marks of the cabinet to be these: responsibility collective as well as individual; dependence immediately on the House of Commons, and ultimately on the electors; political homogeneity, that is, selection from one party; subordination to a prime minister; secrecy; the function of effecting and controlling co-operation between executive and legislature.

Hon. gentlemen will observe these words: "subordination to a prime minister," and "dependence immediately on the House of Commons." For while the House of Lords in England may pass a vote of no confidence in the ministry, no vote of lack of confidence in the administration passed by the House of Lords is sufficient to divest that administration of authority, and so no adverse vote in the Senate house of parliament in this country can divest a government of its position as such. But you will observe, Sir, that it is propounded by all the books and authorities- by Mr. Gladstone in his Gleanings, to which reference might be made in his stately phrases, that while it is not essential in the inception that ministers should be members of parliament when they are called to be such, nevertheless, they must within a reasonable time find that position. When my learned and hon. friend referred, as he did, to the case of Mr. Gladstone in Newark in 18'45 and 1846, he overlooked the fact that Mr. Gladstone in his later years looked back upon that instance and believed it would not be possible now under our modem system of government. As regards the case to which my hon. friend refers, it was Mr. Masterman, not Mr. Montagu he had in mind, in Mr. Lloyd George's government. He was defeated twice, but he did not resign his portfolio because at the moment the nation was at war, and as has been said by constitutional writers whether in new editions of old works or new works themselves, you can draw no inferences worthy of authority from instances that happened during

the war. That is the position with respect to these matters.

Let us see, for the moment, what we have in common. First we have emerged from the twilight-the cabinet a committee of parliament. Then we have its responsibility to parliament, and thus it is that every department that we have in our public service provides for a minister. I was looking up the chapters of our revised statutes which provide, for instance, for a minister of railways, a minister of justice, a minister of trade and commerce, and each statute provides that the department shall ibe presided over by a minister and that minister shall be known and designated as the Minister of Trade and Commerce, the Minister of Railways or Minister of Justice. These need not be, and indeed in many instances they are not, members of the House of Commons. They may be members of the Senate house of parliament. But we have this distinct and clear principle established, that in Canada responsibility, so far as the life of an administration is concerned, is to the House of Commons, and, secondly, that a Prime Minister must be a member of either one house or the other.

Let us content ourselves with those two principles for the moment and see if we can find any authority or precedent that will warrant our concluding that when the Prime Minister took the course he did of meeting parliament rather than resigning, he was breaking with parliamentary practice and procedure established in parliament for nearly a century. Until this House met the other day without the Prime Minister his course was, in my judgment, legally sound. I have no hesitation in saying that the language employed by my learned and hon. friend the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Macdonald) as to the right of a Prime Minister to meet parliament rather than to resign is absolutely legally correct. My reading of history is that in 1868 Mr. Disraeli for the first time established the principle that after defeat in a general election he would not wait to meet parliament, but would resign, and so when parliament met a few days later after the return to the last writ had been made, Mr. Disraeli was in his seat as an ordinary member of parliament and the treasury benches were empty because Mr. Gladstone had not been able to complete his administration. Up to that point, then, Mr. Disraeli, according to all writers on constitutional and parliamentary practice, had established a new precedent. It did not follow that that course would always be pursued, although it has been pursued in Canada without question until the

Government's Right to Office

present time. Sir Charles Tupper and Sir Wilfrid Laurier both resigned office as, indeed, did the leader of the opposition (Mr. Meighen). These are the precedents that mark the situation in Canada. I do not, however, question at all the legal right of Mr. King if he so desired to advise His Excellency to meet parliament. And he has done so. But who was to meet parliament? That is the question. Who is it that should have met parliament? Mr. King ought to have met parliament. His advice to the sovereign's representative was that he would meet parliament, because without a head there is no committee of the House of Commons responsible to parliament. I shall go a step further and read from Gladstone, on this point, an opinion which will commend itself to the approval of every hon. member of this House. But let us see first how the present situation stands. Mr. King's death would dissolve his administration, as indeed the administration of Mr. Perceval was dissolved when he was assassinated on coming into the lobby of the House of Commons. And a government is dissolved also upon its resignation. But more still does the failure of a prime minister to find a place in either house of parliament, when he meets the people's representatives, dissolve his administration. And why? Simply because the essence of parliamentary government is responsibility both to the crown and to the people; and the only medium of communication between the houses of parliament and the sovereign is the Prime Minister. That principle is established by the very authorities to whom my learned and hon. friend referred. The Prime Minister and the Prime Minister alone is the medium of communication between the sovereign and this House and yonder House, The fact is so clearly understood that I do not think it need be discussed. Although it is the right of every minister, if he so desires, to see the representative of the sovereign and to discuss with him his personal attitude towards any policy, he must in so doing assume the responsibility of being possibly sometimes unconsciously disloyal to his colleagues. In such a situation he can speak only for himself. But the constitutional responsibility devolves upon the first minister of being the sole medium of communication between this parliament of Canada and the representative of the sovereign; upon no one else does that responsibility rest. It is true that we have a great deal of "acting'' in this House: we have acting ministers of trade and commerce, acting ministers of immigration and acting ministers of railways. There are all sorts of acting ministers. But there can be no acting prime minister within the constitution 14011-4 .

in this House. If Mr. King had found a place in the Senate on the day parliament met, then indeed the requirements of the constitution would have been met, for undoubtedly it was necessary that he should have a seat in one of the houses. But he found no place in this House, nor did he obtain a seat in the Senate. And why is it essential that as Prime Minister he should be here? Mr. Gladstone makes that point so clear that it need only be stated to be immediately perceived. The Prime Minister should sit here as head of the cabinet or the committee or council of parliament to be answerable to the House for the acts of his government. He is answerable to parliament; the responsibility is his. He it was who appointed the ministers of the crown, approved by the Governor General; he it was who asked these gentlemen to join him in the administration of the government, and he should therefore be here to answer for the conduct of the government which he led. The individual ministers, it is true, are here to speak for themselves, but the Prime Minister should be in his place in parliament to answer for the collective action of his government, to defend the policies of his administration, and to bear the responsibility of his office. The Prime Minister should be here to be questioned in order that the representatives of the people in the House of Commons or the members of the Senate might be able to obtain from him when necessary some explanation of the conduct of his government touching public matters. That is why the law, not the written law but the law of parliamentary practice and procedure of over half a century, has always contemplated the presence of the Prime Minister in one or other of the houses of parliament.

An important case which ought to be cited was entirely overlooked by my hon. friend, the case of Gladstone in 1874. I shall cite it for the information of the House; for the great name of Gladstone, when it comes to any question of the assertion of the rights of parliament, is still supreme. The name of Gladstone has long been associated purely with the (Liberal party, but in relation to the development of our parliamentary institutions that name is the common heritage of every man, Liberal or Conservative. Let me quote from the Memorials Personal and Political of Rounded, first Earl of Selborne, who was Lord Chancellor under Gladstone. His character and position were such that any observations made by him are entitled to the greatest possible consideration. He was perhaps Gladstone's closest friend, and so strong were his convictions that he refused

[DOT] 50

Government's Right to Office

the great office of Lord Chancellor for conscience' sake on one occasion, although he later succeeded to it. I now read from his persona] and political memorials, volume 1. page 326. While it may be a little tedious for the House to listen, I do crave its indulgence during my reading of the record of a transaction that more nearly touches the present situation than any other that I know of.

Late in January 1874, after parliament had been summoned to meet for business on the 5th of February, Gladstone resolved upon an immediate dissolution. I believe that the motive for then taking that step was the difficulty in which he found himself about his seat for Greenwich.

After the prorogation in August, some changes had been made in the distribution of government offices; one of which was the removal of Lowe from the Exchequer to the Home Office, and Gladstone's assumption of the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer, in conjunction with that which he already held of First Lord of the Treasury. Strange to say, this was done without considering at the time whether it would vacate his seat (by no means a safe one) or not. The law upon the subject was contained in two statutes, one of Queen Anne's reign, the other Mr. Disraeli's Reform Act of 1867. The earlier Act made the election of any member of the House of Commons void on his acceptance of any office of profit from the crown, and directed a new writ to issue as if he were dead, enabling him to be re-elected. The Chancellorship of the Exchequer was certainly an office of profit under the crown; and Mr. Gladstone drew half of its salary, in addition to that of First Lord of the Treasury. The later act enumerated in a schedule certain offices,- among them, those of Commissioner of the Treasury, and Chancellor of the Exchequer;- enacting that, when a person had been returned to parliament after the acceptance of any one of those offices, his subsequent acceptance from the crow'n of any other office or offices described in the same schedule, "in lieu of and in immediate succession the one to the other'', should not vacate his seat. Gladstone received the seals of Chancellor of the Exchequer early in August, and neither then nor ofterwards ceased to be First Lord of the Treasury; though, as usual in such cases, a new patent was issued, reconstituting the Treasury Board, with the omission of Lowe's name, and including Gladstone as Chancellor of the Exchequer.

My own impression was that the seat for Greenwich was vacated: I could not see how, continuing for every practical purpose to hold his former office, and now adding to it a new office (for which he also received pay), it could be said that the one was "in lieu of'', or "in succession to'', the other. I told him so, before I knew what any one else thought, on the 20th of August, when he was at Balmoral. In reply, he sent me a copy of a letter which he had written to the Speaker; by which it appeared that Sir George Jessel thought differently; and it was intended to obtain further adv;ce. His own view (which he supposed to be Jessel's also) was, that when the new patent, reconstituting the Treasury Board, was issued, there was an end of the office of First Lord, which he held under the patent superseded by it; and that "in lieu of", and "in succession to" it, he took a new commissionersihip, brought into existence by the new patent, in respect of which he again became First Lord; and that the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer was "attached by usage" to one of the Com-missionerships of the Treasury-so that the conditions of the statute of 1867 were satisfied. He was under

the impression that both Lowe and the attorney general (Coleridge) concurred in Sir George Jessel's opinion: and, later in the same month, he sent me a memorandum, drawn up by a permanent officer of the treasury, in support of the same view.

I am sorry, Sir, to be so tedious in reading this, but it is the one case that so nearly touches this that I think the House should have the benefit of it at any rate.

In the meantime the matter was undergoing public discussion: and I found that Lowe, who visited me during that autumn at Blackmoor, was far from being of Gladstone's mind; and that Coleridge also must have been misunderstood. Coleridge wrote to me on November 6, just after his nomination to be Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, that he regarded the question as "very serious," and suggested that he should meet myself, Sir Henry James, and Mr. Bowen, to consider it. And Lord Young, a most able jawyer, recently Gladstone's Lord-Advocate for Scotland, wrote anxiously from Edinburgh, expressing his opinion that the case could not be brought within the exceptions introduced by the Act of 1867 to the general rule: he thought the question "serious and alarming," and understood that it would certainly be raised when parliament met.

Now comes^ Mr. Speaker, what I conceive to be tlie most important -part of this matter:

I told Gladstone of these communications: it was for him to decide whether a meeting of myself and the law officers, as was suggested by Coleridge, should be held or not: he did not seem unwilling; but the matter never came to that point. It wras allowed to stand over until the time for the meeting of parliament drew near. It was at least sufficiently grave to require deliberate consideration from the House of Commons, and there was the risk of formidable penalties, if he sat and voted in the House when, in ,point of law, his seat was vacant. What was to be done? He was sensible of the difficulty (as he put it in writing to myself on September 19), of either taking his seat inthe usual manner at the opening of the session, orletting the Address be voted, an amendment (perhaps vital to the government) disposed of, and the necessary arrangements for business in the House of Commons made in the Prime Minister's absence. A dissolution was the only escape: and I have never doubted thatthis was the determining cause of the dissolution of

January 1874.

Mr. Gladstone, with his parliamentary majority behind him, felt that he could not permit parliament to meet and an Address ta be voted unless he was present in either house of parliament.

Now the late Lord Macnaghten once observed that in his time no man was more meticulously careful in his statements of fact than Lord Selborne, or Roundell Palmer, as he was known. We find Mr. Morley, in his Life of Mr. Gladstone, adverting to and referring to this circumstance. It is to Lord Morley that I now aippeal, because Lord Morley was clearly of the opinion that Mr. Gladstone could not possibly say that he had met parliament unless he was present as Prime Minister in either one house or the other. Mr. Morley puts it:

Government's Right to Office

Everybody knew that in case of an election Mr. Gladstone's seat was not safe, though when the time came he was in fact elected. The final state and the outlook could not be better described than in a letter from Lord Halifax to Mr. Gladstone (Dec. 9):-

. . . . Up to the meeting of parliament you clearly must act as if there was no doubt. If you do not, you almost admit being wrong. You must assume yourself to be right, that you are justified in the course which you have taken, and act consistently on that view. When parliament meets, I think the proper course would be for the Speaker to say that he had received a certificate of vacancy from two members, but not the notice from the member himself, and having doubts he referred the matter to the House, according to the act. This ensures the priority of the question, and calls on you to explain your not having sent the notice. You state the facts as above, place yourself in the hands of the House, and withdraw.

Now I put to the House, Sir, this position, that Mr. Morley was clearly of the opinion that it could not be said that the .ministry of Gladstone had met- parliament unless Gladstone himself was there. He himself felt that was so. And so in this case, Sir, it cannot be said under any circumstances that parliament has been met by the ministry, unless the Prime Minister-the alleged Prime Minister-is in his place in or a member of either house of parliament.

Now let us read a moment what Mr. Gladstone says himself as to the desirability of a member of the government finding a seat in one house of parliament or the other; I again quote him:

Soon after the session of 1816 began, it became known that the protectionist .petition against the Peelite or Libera! sitting member for Wigan was likely to succeed in unseating him, proposals were made to me to succeed .him, which were held to be eligible, I even wrote my address; on a certain day I was going down by the mail train. But it was an object for our opponents to keep a secretary of state out of parliament during the corn law crisis, and their petition was suddenly withdrawn. The consequence was that I remained until the resignation of the government in July, a minister of the crown without a seat in parliament. This was a state of things not agreeable to the spirit of .parliamentary government.

This is Mr. Gladstone:

And some Objection was taken, but rather slightly, in the House of Commons. Sir R. Peel stood fire.

Now proceeds Mr. Morley:

There can be little doubt that in our own day a cabinet minister without a seat in either house of parliament would be regarded, in Mr. Gladstone's words, as a public inconvenience and a political anomaly too dark to be tolerated.

The language of Mr. Morley is, "too dark", and he emphasizes the word "dark"

"too dark to be tolerated". That is exactly the position to which I am coming.

I have alluded to 1846 because my learned and hon. friend (Mr. Macdonald, Antigonish-Guysborough) seemed to attach some im-

14011-4i

portance to it, and I venture to point out to him that in his later years it is recorded that when Mr. Gladstone saw fit to refer to the incident he deprecated it, and Morley said that it would be "too dark to be tolerated." What was too dark for Morley to tolerate is not too dark for King to sanction. That is the position you must take.

Let us go a step further. An Address from His Excellency has been presented to parliament. Whose is it? It is certain that this parliament in the light of the observations made by Mr. Gladstone himself and by the Earl of Selborne, had a right to say that the Prime Minister should be at least in one house of parliament or the other in respect to that Address. The Address is supposed to be the emanation of the mind and brain of the Prime Minister. His colleagues assist, it is said, but he is responsible for the writing of it. I took the trouble this morning to look at the Canadian Almanac to ascertain who constitute the government of this country, and I find that op November 19 a record was sent to that publication that the government consisted of a number of gentlemen, some of whom are now opposite me, some of whom are in the Senate, but some of whom have a seat neither in the Senate nor the Commons. I refer to Mr Marler and Mr. Vincent Massey, who never were departmental heads. Are these ministers of His Excellency? Are they responsible for this speech? "My .ministers advise me", so and so. Are these the men who are responsible? To whom? To this House? To yonder House? Whom are these men responsible to who have no seat in either House? We are told that the former Minister of Railways, Mr. Graham, has no intention of remaining. We are told of the speech made by Mr. Marler to the Reform Club of Montreal on New Year's Day, in which he indicated the legislative programme of the present alleged administration. But who are these men? To the law they are strangers, in this House they are strangers. We have had placed before us a list of the members of the House of Commons and of the Senate. You look in vain for the name of King; you look in vain for .the name of Marler; you look in vain for the name of Massey; you look in vain for the name of Graham; you look in vain for the name of Low. And yet, Sir, I am told-I only know it from hearsay-that these men are the advisers of the sovereign.

Could anything be more disastrous to parliamentary institutions? .Never has parliament been flouted in this manner before-in Canada at any rate. What did Sir John A Macdonald do? Defeated in Kingston as he was

Government's Right to Office

not able to take his seat for Marquette, he went out to Victoria and ran in order that he might, as Prime Minister, meet the new parliament. Never has the authority of this parliament, never has the authority of the Commons or of the Senate been flouted as on this occasion. I, Sir, again defy any gentleman in this House or out of it to point to a single instance in the long centuries of British parliamentary history where there has been a meeting of parliament by a discredited and decimated administration asking confidence from the Commons, without the presence of a prime minister in either house.

The other day His Excellency opened parliament. He was met at the door of the Senate chamber by a member of the Imperial Privy Council. When his Speech from the Throne was read, at his right there was a right hon. member of that Privy Council. But, Sir, there was no Prime Minister. He who had been was simply a witness, as the judges and military officers were, of a great pageant. What is more, Sir, a few dlays ago I happened to observe that in London certain Radical members of the English House of Commons, desiring to clear the gallery and thereby, as they thought, retard business or prevent it being carried1 on, said, " I spy strangers." The cry was repeated, " I spy strangers," and the Speaker cleared the galleries, and if a privy councillor who met his Excellency the other day, and who stood on his right as a witness in the Senate house of parliament were in these galleries and strangers were spied, the galleries would be cleared and he could1 not remain within the precincts of this House. And yet, Sir, we are told that that is responsible government! We are (told that that is an observance of parliamentary practice and procedure. I know there are no men in all this parliament who care more for precedent and have greater regard for tradition than my hon. friend the Minister of Justice and those associated with him from the province of Quebec. Why? Because upon a true andl lasting regard for these things are built their rights and privileges and their very parliamentary life, I appeal to them, ad the custodians for the time being, of all that great body of tradition and parliamentary law that is unwritten to say whether or not they believe that under these circumstances parliament is properly functioning, when you have an Address and a Speech from the Throne without a government being properly constituted. Are we to create a precedent to bind posterity by asserting that parliament has been properly summoned

[Mr Bennett.]

under existing circumstances with no Prime Minister in either Chamber?

At six o'clock the House took recess.

After Recess

The House resumed at eight o'clock.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

When the House rose

at six o'clock I was inviting my hon. friends from Quebec to consider this matter from the standpoint of the effect upon our constitutional system of a disregard of conventions and customs. May I now ask them what they think the late Sir Wilfrid Laurier would have thought under similar circumstances? May I ask them what they think he would have done? I recall the circumstances-they are as fresh in my memory as if the incident had occurred yesterday-under which one Miller was brought to the bar of the House for the purpose of being sentenced for violation of the rights of the House in declining to answer a question that was asked him. I remember the casual if not flippant manner in which the subject was being treated by the members of his own party, especially by one of the most distinguished and resourceful members of the opposition. I recall that the leader of the opposition rose in his place-those of you who were members of parliament at that time and are here to-day will recall the circumstance- and spoke of the great traditions of parliament and how they must be observed. I recollect also speaking to Sir Wilfrid Laurier afterwards as to the effect which had been made upon my mind by one who had had his experience of parliamentary institutions stating that these great traditions must be observed and preserved. I feel quite certain, Sir, that if he had been leading his party now, if they had had the 'benefit of his sage counsel and advice, the situation would not have arisen that has developed here to-day.

I desire to repeat to you, Sir, and to the members of this House that what we complain of is not a violation of the law but a violation of those customs, conventions and practices under which our parliamentary institutions have been created. In that regard I will venture to trespass once more upon the time of the House by quoting from Redlich:

The history of -the rise of parliamentary ministry in England accounts for the further remarkable facts that to the present day the fundamental principle of its existence, the necessity that each of "His Majesty's servants" should be a member of one of the Houses of Parliament, has never been explicitly laid down, and that the "Cabinet" and "Prime Minister" are not juristic ideas incorporated in any positive statement of English constitutional law. In all these cases wTe are dealing with what Freeman has called the "Con-

Government's Right to Office

ven toons of Parliament," the fundamental principles and arrangements which parliament, after attaining a position of political sovereignty, lias worked out in the course of two centuries, and maintained by the unaided force of its practice. By custom alone, without any legislative regulation, they have been kept intact, and have become the veiy essence of the living constitutional law of England.

I commend those words to this House. It is because of violation of these conventions, customs, and traditions that we are presenting this amendment to the motion. May I illustrate the matter in this way? The British North America. Act is a statute of the Imperial parliament at Westminster. It is legally competent for that parliament to repeal that statute to-morrow. Only three weeks ago in an argument before the Privy Council, Lord Dunedin in discussing this same matter said "I suppose it would foe Competent for the parliament at Westminster to repeal the British North America Act?" And counsel had to answer at once: "Certainly."

But there is no chance of it ever being done. It would be a violation of all those constitutional rights that we have achieved; our constitution itself would then be abrogated. May I cite another illustration? In 1920, when the British government requisitioned this government with respect to ships, the Canadian government took the position that although it possibly might be legal for them so to do, yet by custom, by tradition, and by convention it would not be constitutionally sound to take such a course, and the imperial authorities yielded the point. I could illustrate it in other ways. That is what I meant this afternoon when I said to the House 'that the course taken by Mr. King was correct-meaning that he had the sanction trf law but not of that great body of custom, usage and practice that we call the custom of the constitution. It is the violation of this practice that we complain of and not the violation of law. That is the position I desire to make plain to the House?

I might go further in showing the value Of what these customs and practices have secured to us by reading from Todd's Government of the British Colonies a [reference to the fact that in 'the commissions issued to governors in the early days they were instructed that their ministers must have seats in parliament. For these reasons I ask the House to pause and consider fully what is meant by observing customs and traditions. I know, Sir, that the late revered leader of the great party that now sits to the right of the Speaker was one of the most profound students of our constitutional system and our parliamentary practice that ever occupied a, seat on the

floor of the House of Commons. I also know that the slightest disregard of that system and practice was by him looked upon as bad judgment never to be repeated or tolerated. I do, therefore, submit to my hon. friends who come from the province of Quebec that they should pause, examine, analyse, and consider carefully what is here involved. If they do this I am sure they will find that there has been a violation of British parliamentary custom, and practice as settled under the development of our institutions.

Now, Sir, may I place one other quotation before the House? I know how weaiy hon. members are of hearing these quotations, but I make this citation in answer to the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Macdonald) who said this afternoon, that there is no legal usage of this country which requires ministers of the crown to hold seats in either house of this parliament. That is true, but it is an incomplete statement of the situation. Gladstone, in his Gleanings of Past Years, said:

There as no statute or legal usage of this country which requires that the ministers of the crown should hold seats in the one or the other house of parliament. It is perhaps upon this account that, while most of any countrymen would, as I suppose, declare it to be a becoming and convenient custom, yet comparatively few are aware how near the seat of life the observance lies, how closely it is connected with the equipoise and unity of the social forces. It is rarely departed from, even in an individual case; never, as far as rny knowledge goes, on a wider scale. From accidentail circumstances it happened that I was a secretary of state between December 1845 and July 1846, without a seat in the House of Commons. This (which did not pass wholly without challenge) is, I believe, by much the most notable instance for the last fifty years; and it is only within the last fifty years that our constitutional system has completely settled down. Before the reform of parliament, it was always easy to find a place for a minister excluded from his seat; as Sir Robert Peel, for example, ejected from Oxford University, at once found refuge and repose at Tamwonth. I desire to fix attention on the identification, in this country, of the minister with the member of a house of parliament.

It is, as to the House of Commons especially, an inseparable and vital part of our system. The association of the ministers with the parliament, and through the House of Commons with the .people, is the counterpart of their association as ministers with the crown and the prerogative. The decisions that they take are taken under the competing pressure of a bias this way and a bias that way, and strictly represent what is termed in mechanics the composition of forces. Upon them, thus placed, it devolves to provide that the houses of parliament shah loyally counsel and serve the crown, and that, the crown shall act strictly in accordance with its obligations to the nation. I will not presume to say whether the adoption of the rule in America would or would not lay the foundation of a great change in the federal constitution; but I am quite sure that the abrogation of it in England would either alter the form of government, or bring about a crisis.

Alas, Gladstone has been dead many years. Had he lived he could have seen a Canadian

Government's Right to Office

government violating on a wider scale a principle which in his lifetime he said had never except rarely been departed from. Then he refers to his own case that my hon. friend (Mr. Macdonald, Antigonish-Guysboroughl mentioned this afternoon. He mentions how wrong the action then taken was, and says:

I desire to fix attention on the identification, in this country, of the minister with the member of a House of Parliament.

It is, as to - the House of Commons especially, an inseparable and vital part of our system.

Then comparing the American system he said:

I will not presume to say whether the adoption of the rule in America would or would not lay the foundation of a great change in the federal constitution; but I am quite sure that the abrogation of it in England would either alter the form of government, or bring about a crisis.

So if, Sir, we on this side of the House direct attention to the crisis in the nation's affairs, we are directing attention to a most vital matter. Gladstone in 1878, when writing to his kinsmen beyond the seas, said a departure from that rule would involve a change in the government in the British Isles or bring about a crisis. That is the reason we are so insistent in this matter and venture to reiterate it, because there is something more than t'he mere life of the government, more than the question of who should sit on the treasury benches. There is the making of a precedent which will be important for many years to come. We have the statement of Gladstone, which I have read, made in 1878 with all the wealth of his experience and vast knowledge of the working of the parliamentary system; and how can we lightly depart from the precepts and counsels that he has left behind him as landmarks to guide our steps in the making of our constitution? It is on this that I appeal to you. Far be it from me in any personal spirit to direct attention to these matters. I agree that we need not approach the matter in any bitterness of spirit. All we have to do is to lay before this parliament the precedents, usages, traditions and rules that have governed our institutions, and ask that they be considered in their bearing on the future of our country.

Gladstone went one step further-and I cannot resist the reading of this, because it is so important in determining the exact attitude we should adopt towards this question. He said:

Every one of its members acts in no less than three capacities: as administrator of a department of state; as member of a legislative chamber; and as a confidential adviser of the crown. Two at least of them add to those three characters a fourth; for in each Rouse of Parliament it is indispensable that one of the principal ministers should ibe what is termed its leader.

[Mr Bennett.]

He reports to the sovereign its proceedings, and he also has many audiences of the august occupant of the throne. He is bound, in these reports and audiences, not to counterwork the cabinet; not do divide it; not to undermine the position of any of his colleagues in the royal favour.

Then he points out this:

More it must be admitted, than any other, it leaves open doors which lead into blind alleys; for it presumes, more boldly than any other, the good sense and good faith of those who work it. If, unhappily, these personages meet together, on the great arena of a nation's fortunes, as jockeys meet upon a racecourse, each to urge to the uttermost, as against the others, the power of the animal he rides, or as counsel in a court, each to procure the victory of his client, without respect to any other interest or right; then this boasted constitution of ours is neither more nor less than a heap of absurdities.

Those are the words of that great Liberal statesman, and, Sir, may I venture to point out that good faith in the working of the constitution is the basis of its successful operation. Let us observe What has token place, and ask this question: can it be said for a moment

that if Mr. King can thus defy precedent and custom for four months he may not be able to do it for a year? What assurance have we in this House that this violation of constitutional custom may not continue for any term you will? What does it mean? My hon. friends yonder have not, it seems to me, grasped this, and I put it to them with deference, because it is a complicated, difficult matter. I do not say I can do it clearly, but I should like to have hon. members consider the question seriously. This House is asked, by the amendment which has been moved, to say before we enter upon any conduct of public business: "Mr. King, you have violated tlhe constitutional customs of the country;" and to declare, for these reasons, that he should not be permitted to grasp power and endeavour to rule this country by a. tritk. He Should not in bad faith be able to set at naught the constitutional precedents and the customs by which our institutions have 'been created. But what do those who sit to the right of the Speaker wish to d;o? They wish to substitute for the past the hope of the future. They, Sir, in the words of Gladstone, are like the jockey. They say, "Behold not what we have done in the pad. but look only to what we are going to do in t'he future. Give us a vote, not on what we have done in our violation of the constitution and departure from custom, but upon what we are going to do." It is as dear as noon-day. Try if you will to separate the past from the present and to see them only as those who sit in high places ready to dispense largesse. Instead of giving serious, calm and dispassionate

Government's Right to Office

consideration to a constitutional problem, they desire to substitute the promises of a railway and rural credit. They desire, instead of the mind of the House being directed to the violation of the constitution to practice and custom, to give attention to future tariffs. Instead of directing attention to the violation of all these conventions which we have secured through centuries of effort, they say "Behold not these things, think not upon them; let the hon. member for Brandon (Mr. Forke) look not on these things but think only of the fleshpots of Egypt of to-morrow."

Sir, there is a fundamental difference which divides us to-night. On the one hand the right hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Meighen), realizing, appreciating, understanding his duties, his obligations, his responsibilities to this parliament and the parliaments that are to come, is not content to be thought a bidder for power at an auction sale. He has no king's speech; he has not usurped power; he does not come down, at the instance of a rump of a former Cabinet, to ask members to give their allegiance to him for the future. No, Sir, we are not content to do that. We direct the attention of ithis parliament to what has been done in the name of law. We direct attention to the violations of the constitution, to the departure from custom, to the violation of precedent, and we have no bids to make.

One step further. I said this afternoon what I desire, with your permission, Sir, to make more clear to the House this evening. The Prime Minister, at the expiratibn of the election, should resign or meet parliament. Who could resign? No one but the Prime Minister. Who could meet parliament? He only who could resign, namely, the Prime Minister. Let me make that clear. Under our constitution no one but Mr. Mackenzie King could resign. My hon. friend the Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe) could not resign for him, but the Prime Minister could resign for my hon. friend. There is the difference with respect to that, and the alternatives are of equal value-resign or meet parliament.

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An hon. MEMBER:

That is what we are doing.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

No, you have confused

the point. You could not resign. Only the Prime Minister could resign, and as the Prime Minister only could resign, he only could meet parliament; the one who is capable of doing the resigning must be the one who accepts the other alternative, namely meets parliament. I want to make that clear, because. it seems to me, that is the basis of all

our constitutional position. That is the basis of what Lord Selborne referred to, the basis of the observations of Lord Morley and Gladstone.

The hon. member for Kindersley (Mr. Carmichael) this afternoon struck, it appears to me, a high note. Any man who is a member of this House must have been profoundly affected by his speech. In fair, dispassionate language he attributed blame to the one party and blame to the other. I am not at all conceding that I agree with his affixing blame or credit to either party. He impressed upon the members of his own group and, indeed, all the members of the House, the seriousness of the position that was occupied by the members of that group. Let me analyse the figures for a moment, and they are amazing when you look at them. My hon. friend did not half state them. My right hon. leader (Mr. Meighen) the other day did not give them in their entirety to the House. In my own province of Alberta, in the constituency of Acadia, 6,843 votes were cast against this administration and only 1,552 for it. In Battle River 6,701 votes were cast against the Liberal government and only 1,690 for it. In Bow River 6,690 men and women voted against King's administration and only 2,917 for it. In Camrose 5,611 men and women voted against the Liberal government and only 1,885 for it. In Macleod the enormous number of 9,182 voted against the administration and only 1,941 for it. In Red Deer we have 5,880 votes against the administration with only 2,462 for it, while in Yegreville, where there was a contest between a Progressive and a Liberal only, you find that the present hon. member for that constituency had 5,103 votes and the Liberal candidate 2,643. In Saskatchewan . in four constituencies the same tale may be told. In Manitoba in three constituencies the same is the record. With respect to Independents in Quebec and in Ontario the situation is very similar. In the light of those figures how could anyone fail to be impressed with the moving logic of the hon. member for Kindersley? How could he, representing in a democracy the will of a free people, come into this parliament and say: "I vote for King's administration?" After all it is love of democracy that influences the actions, conduct and practice of the Progressive party in this and in other parliaments and in local legislatures. How could one do other than the hon. member for Kindersley did to-day? How could one with selfrespect, voicing the sentiments and thoughts of his thousands of constituents, rise in his place in parliament and say: "I vote for Mr. COMMONS

Government's Right to Office

King who is not here?" How could that be done? Let each of us ask himself if he would do it. I appreciate the situation fully and I understand his difficulty as he unfolded it to the House. I am sure there is not a member of this House who did not appreciate and understand the situation as it was put before him.

There is another phase of the position of affairs to which I will refer. I remember in the city of Calgary, one portion of which I have the honour to represent, hearing one who is the titular Prime Minister of this country make a speech in which he referred to my right hon. leader (Mr. Meighen) then Prime Minister of Canada, as a usurper of power in 1921. He said that his continuing to carry on government was a usurpation of power. It is common 'ground that the government of that day had a large majority in this House. It was functioning, carrying on government; it had a substantial and powerful majority without assistance from another group behind it. Yet the then leader of the opposition in that city, as he did on other platforms, charged the government of the day with usurpation of power and authority. It must be remembered that my hon. and learned friend the Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe) also made speeches in the same sense. I find that in Hansard of 1921, volume I at page 461, he uses these words:

This government is no longer in harmony with public opinion and has utterly lost the confidence of the country. Indeed, it has not only lost the country's confidence; it has earned its contempt.

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Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

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Mr BENNETT:

I am glad to hear my hon. friends say "hear, hear," for I realize they now appreciate the applicability of this to themselves. (My learned1 and hon. friend continues :

No government has the moral right-

Now we are on the high ground of morality.

-to pass legislation under such circumstances.

Does he think so now?

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Richard Bedford Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Then resign. He goes on:

The result of the by-elections cannot be misread; they are bold, definite and unequivocal.

Unfortunately they do not permit us to have any at this juncture.

The Canadian people have made it clear that they want a new government.

Could anything foe clearer than that that is the case now? Not in an isolated byelection in any particular province, but in a

general election over the whole country the Canadian people, by a couple of hundred thousand plurality, have made it clear that they want a new government. These are the words of my hon. and learned friend in 1921. Again he said:

The electors of those various constituencies have clearly expiessed the determination of the people of Canada to restore true responsible government and to be ruled by men who are elected by the people in a normal and constitutional way.

Then he concludes.

Yet the Prime Minister states that he will not yield to this public intimation.

Why, it is clear that my hon. friend had a vision. He was speaking not of the then condition, but of that condition which was one day to arrive and in which he finds himself now. Then he proceeds further:

When it is obvious that a government does not command the support of a majority of the people, its decisions carry no influence it has no more authority.

Mark you, "a majority of the people."

It reduces the House of Commons to the level of a mock parliament, and patriotic statesmen have no right to inflict that on a great country. It does not make either for independence or freedom of action.

And now this mock parliament, which the hon. gentleman foresaw at that time, has come into being and he himself is championing in su!ch a parliament the actions of his mock government. But he did nob stop there; he went on to say:

I do not hesitate to say that the votes cast by many hon. gentlemen when a division comes will not mean confidence in the government so much as confidence in themselves' to retain a little longer seats which are already moving away from under them.

But he foresaw something more; he had a vision of a great future. Speaking with the inspiration of a John on Patmos, he had this to say:

Cabinet reorganization cannot be undertaken, the best men in the party cannot be called to the council table lest the dangerous adventure of by-elections conduces to a still greater reduction of that majority.

Then he strikes a higher note, as he often does. He asks:

Is it in the interests of the good administration of this country that a government should be so weak and impotent ?

Now I would venture to quote to hon. gentlemen from the great province of Quebec one more observation from their great leader the Minister of Justice-

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I am glad that the suggestion -meets with approval because I always like to see merit recognized.

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January 11, 1926