February 18, 1926

CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

Mr. Speaker, I was referring

yesterday to the possibilities of my action at some future time when certain measures were before this House, in certain contingencies, and I certainly shall abide in such case by the rules of the House and abide by any decision

which Your Honour may make. The hon. Solicitor General proceeded to state:

But do not let him waste public money in the way he is doing this afternoon.

I wish to reiterate again that I defy the hon. gentleman or any other hon. gentleman in this House to show in what way and to what measure we are wasting public money in this House. I wish to state to the hon. gentleman, and he knows it is true, that so far as this House is precluded from dealing with public business, it is due to resolutions introduced by the leader' of the House and accepted by a majority in the House, that we are precluded from proceeding at the present time with the public business of the day. We have had laid on our tables to-day an order paper containing some 56 pages of printed matter, dealing with a great volume of public business, proposing resolutions affecting the vital interests of this country, but under the resolution which the leader of the House has had passed by his majority it is impossible for this House to consider one of them. More than that, I repeat that the leader of the House cannot at the present time state that he has .one single public measure ready to submit to this House. If he has such a measure, and if he is willing that this House shall proceed with the despatch of business. I for one am prepared to ask the leader of the opposition (Mr. Meighen) and those supporting him to assist in rescinding the resolutions of which the hon. gentleman has secured passage, because there is nothing in the rules or the practice, of the House, there is nothing in the dicta or precepts of parliamentary procedure, which prevent the government from proceeding with the despatch of business, proceeding with their public measures, and holding in abeyance for the time being or postponing to a future time in the session the further consideration of the Address.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

Will the hon. gentleman allow me a question? He has asserted this afternoon, as he did yesterday, that I am responsible

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CON
LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

-for this debate going on because of the resolution which I moved that the Address should have precedence over other matters until disposed of. Of course my hon. friend knows that is the usual motion, but my question is to this effect: He says this resolution of the leader of the House was accepted by the majority of the House. Does he not know that it was agreed to 'by the unanimous vote of the House including himself?

The Address-Mr. Cahan

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CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

In reply I wish to say to

the hon. leader of the government that if he is now willing to rescind that motion

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

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CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

-the real dart of which was in a subsequent motion which we opposed, the real crux of which was disclosed when he by a majority secured the passage of a further resolution declaring that upon the adjournment oif this House after the close of the debate on the Address this House would stand adjourned to March 15, and if he is now prepared to amend or to reconsider the position which he then took-a position which we endorsed when we had no knowledge of the further motion which he was about to propose-I can assure him-

Mr. STEiWART (Edmonton): Does the

hon. gentleman ever read the newspapers?

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CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

I do, although I do not

accept all that is said in them. But I read the newspapers to this effect

that hon. gentlemen opposite are endeavouring to disseminate in their party press that we who are addressing the House on this motion are thereby obstructing public business-

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

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CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

-thereby rendering necessary an expenditure which -under other considerations would not be necessary. And I say that those statements, which are also expressed in the short, riiarp interruption of the hon. Solicitor General as I was about to close my address for the time being at six o'clock last night, are -not in accordance with the facts, and that the verities Should be known.

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Mr. GANNON@

Mr. Speaker-

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order.

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LIB

Lucien Cannon (Solicitor General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. CANNON:

Will t'he hon. gentleman-

Sonne hon. MEMJBERS: Hear, hear.

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CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

I am sorry that my very

pleasant remarks act as a pin prick upon the conscience of the hon. gentleman.

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LIB

Lucien Cannon (Solicitor General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. CANNON:

Mr. Speaker-

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Sit down.

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CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

The position in which we

find ourselves to-day-

Some hoon. MEMBERS: Louder.

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LIB

Lucien Cannon (Solicitor General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. CANNON:

Mr. Speaker, if hon.

gentlemen opposite have any sense of fairness-*

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LIB

Hewitt Bostock (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

If t'he hon. member for

St. Lawrence-St. George does not wish to be interrupted that is his privilege. The rule is well known. An hon. member addressing the House and -not wishing to be interrupted is within his right in declining to yield the floor.

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CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

I 'have no objection to

feeing interrupted in the ordinary course of events, but when the hon. gentleman propounds questions for the mere purpose of creating a turmoil and disorder almost unprecedented in this assembly I ignore his interruptions.

On the issue between myself, and those who are of the same opinion as I, and hon. gentlemen opposite, we on this side are unanimously agreed that this government is utterly incapable of carrying on 4 p.m. the public business of the country.

It has demonstrated that clearly by refusing day by day, and week by week, to introduce one public measure -for our consideration. Furthermore if there were any doubt in the mind of any hon. member here, if there were any doubt in the mind of any person in this country as to the utility-and not only the utility but the absolute necessity-of this parliament functioning while the special committee investigating into the administration of the Department of Customs and Excise is conducting its inquiry, I think it ~was disclosed here to-day how absolutely necessary it is. It is absolutely necessary in order that there may be a full investigation into those matter's which resulted-according to the estimate I think, of the right hon. Prime Minister a year ago-in some $50,000,000 of defalcations in the public revenues of Canada. Therefore I say that hon. gentlemen *opposite will not meet wiitlh very substantial support from the public of Canada when they talk about the expense into which we are plunging the country in continuing this debate, and in continuing to consider the -matters which were presented to us by His Excellency the Governor General in his Speech from the Throne.

When parliament w-as convened there was a phrase in the message received from His Excellency the Governor General which was in accordance with (the tradition and practice of -parliament for all time. It was that phrase in which he announced, through his deputy, that he did not see fit to declare the causes of his summoning the present parliament of Canada (until (the Speaker of the House of Commons should -have been chosen according to law. He then indicated to this parliament that upon our choice of a Speaker to

The Address-Mr. Cahan

preside at our assembly, he would, in accordance with ancient practice and tradition, declare the causes of his summoning the present parliament of Canada. Unfortunately His Excellency the Governor General may speak only such words as are committed to him, by the Prime Minister of Canada for expression, and when we met we had the declaration by hon, gentlemen opposite that parliament was convened, for what? Did they declare that parliament had been convened in order that the assembled members might decide whether the government, in the shattered condition in which it was, Still had the confidence of this parliament? The one thing which is absolutely necessary in our governmental institutions is that the Prime Minister shall deal with absolute frankness with His Excellency the Governor General and this parliament in all matters that are placed on the lips of His Excellency. Therefore, that statement, if properly presented, we agreed, might have been a matter upon whidh this House might decide, upon which., if there were any doubt about- the matter in the minds of hon. gentlemen, they might call upon the members of this House to decide. But no such intimation appears in the Speech of His Excellency to parliament. It was not even intimated that parliament was asked to decide upon that question, and if there -were any doubt about the matter, the Prime Minister had no authority whatever to present to this House a .Speech from the Throne until that preliminary question had been decided by the House. That was very clearly stated by the hon. member for West York OSir Henry Drayton) when he referred to May's Parliamentary Practice, twelfth edition, at page 143, and showed that the proper practice, in case the House was convened to enable parliament to decide whether or not the government woluld be sustained, was to 'postpone the' delivery of His Excellency's Speech and to invite the House to decide that question upon the government's record and not upon the entirely new promises set forth in the Speech from the Throne. Hon. gentlemen opposite abandoned the precepts of the constitution and they introduced a new message which is now before us.

I took some pains yesterday to read to the House at great length the official declaration made by the Prime Minister of -the considerations which he had presented to His Excellency when asking for a dissolution of parliament. I also gave from the mouth of the Prime Minister a complete and detailed statement of the issues upon which he appealed to this country. He also stated, in those addresses at Richmond1 Hill and Erindale, that 14011-71

he was prepared to appeal to and to abide by the decision of the people on the issues which he then -presented. But when c(ur hon. friends who now form the remnant of the government became parties to the presentation to this House of an address, under the circumstances under which they presented it, they omitted every single consideration which had been presented by the Prime Minister bo His Excellency as a reason for dissolution. They omitted every ground upon which they had appealed to the people before, and by abrogating, annulling and refusing to follow the proper parliamentary practice, they came in with their bids for political support on grounds that they had never before dared to place before parliament and the people of this country. I told hon. gentlemen the other night some of the' evils which were bound to flow from Such an utter disregard of the precepts and practice of the constitution, and the result is this: They -have themselves introduced anarchy into this House and they cannot complain if, within the rules, members on this side show that it is impossible for this mutilated' government to function.

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February 18, 1926