The Address-Mr. Macdonald (Kings)
time Canada is not enjoying the prosperity which it should enjoy.
No one can have failed to notice the drastic changes in policy enunciated in the Speech from the Throne from the policy set forth by the Prime Minister at Richmond Hill only a few months ago. Those two policies are so widely different that there is scarcely any similarity whatever between them. In face of the changes which the government has shown it is prepared to make in the short period of a few months in respect to vital national questions, it is impossible for business people to have any confidence in the stability of the administration or in the permanency of the tariff, and consequently the whole country is suffering. If a board of directors, elected at the annual meeting of a corporation, turned right about face on the policy they had been entrusted to carry out, immediately the shareholders would bring them sharply to account. Yet this government went to the polls last autumn with certain very definite pledges, and inside three or four months it presents to parliament a Speech from the Throne outlining policies entirely different from the pledges given to the electorate.
May I say a word to our Progressive friends? I have been speaking to some of them casually and I gather that they are very strongly in favour of the group system. I believe that as a rule they are thoroughly honest in their belief that this system is much better than the two-party system. But when we survey the field it is very difficult to see how a group system can work successfully in this country. It might be possible in a small, compact country for a number of groups to function fairly well as a government, but for such a vast area as Canada and with so many diverse viewpoints and so many varying sectional needs, one group here and other groups there will never be able to get together and reconcile their viewpoints so as to secure a majority in the House. What Canada needs is what it has had in the past-two large parties containing representatives from every part of the Dominion. Each party having among its members representatives from the Atlantic to the Pacific can consider the problems facing the country and treat them from a national instead of a merely sectional viewpoint. Only in that way will the great problems confronting this country get proper consideration, and only in that way will each section find its local ..needs attended to in a way consistent with the national welfare. Mr. Crerar recognized that last year after his retirement
from politics, when he pointed out how the Progressive party in parliament had failed in that regard. While I believe, as I say, that our Progressive friends are sincere in their convictions, I am sure they are making a very serious mistake, and I think that ultimately they will realize that these sectional groups cannot be of any real value in our political life. The group idea, especially as we have it here, is sectional, and its views are sectional. That is perfectly natural, in fact it could scarcely be otherwise. One of the reasons why we have heard in this House charges of bids, of auctioning, and so on, is that this group has not come out fairly and squarely at any time and told the House what it proposes to do under present conditions. In 1923 when the general election in Great Britain resulted in a return of a majority against the Conservative government, although the Conservatives were still the largest party in the House, Mr. Asquith, speaking as head of the smallest group, announced that his party would support the Labour party to form a government. That settled the whole difficulty. These gentlemen have never yet stated that they would support either one party or the other in office. I submit that that is not a fair position for them to take, for undoubtedly it adds to the uncertainty of the parliamentary situation, and I think in fairness to the country and in justice to both historic parties they should come out and declare unequivocally just where they stand. That "would at once obviate any charges of bids, purchasing and so forth, which are very detrimental to the dignity and honour of our parliamentary life.
The question of Maritime rights has been dealt with already, and I do not wish to discuss it at any length.