July 1, 1926

CON

George Reginald Geary

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GEARY:

I suppose the right hon.

gentleman wants to hear himself say that. That is the only reason he is asking me about it. Todd also says: [DOT]

No minister of the crown should advise a dissolution of parliament unless he has a reasonable prospect of securing thereby a majority of members in the new House of Commons, who widl "honestly and cordially concur with him in great political principles".

I ask you, Mr. Speaker, and members of this House, if the late Prime Minister could have thought he had any reasonable prospect, if he had faced the country on that Customs report, of getting a majority of members in this House to support him? What are we asked to do to-night on this matter which has now arisen? We are asked to say that there should be recalled to 12 m. the treasury benches a government which just two days ago suffered the deliberate censure of this House and made its exit from office in disgrace. That will be found upon the records of this House. It is clear to every hon. member that this House has without any equivocation set the stamp of disapproval upon the carrying on of the business of this country by the late government.

The hon. member for Bow River pointed to a section of the statute, and I may compliment h'm upon his interpretation of it, with which I have no fault to find. Section 13 states:

Whenever any person holding the office of President of the Privy Council, Minister of Finance, Minister of Justice, Minister of Militia and Defence, Secretary of State, Minister of the Interior, Minister of Railways and Canals, Minister of Public Works, Postmaster General, Minister of Agriculture, Minister of Inland Revenue, Minister of Customs. Minister of Marine and

Fisheries, Minister of Trade and Commerce or Solicitor General, or any office which is hereafter created, entitling him to be a minister of the crown, and being at the same time a member of the House of Commons, resigns his office, and, within one month after his resignation, accepts any of the said offices, he shall not thereby vacate his seat, unless the administration of which he was a member has resigned and a new administration has been formed, and has occupied the said offices.

He may be sound in his interpretation of the law; but is there nothing to influence the mind of anyone to whom advice is given but the strict letter of some statute? Must he not consider the equities, and is it at all likely that when advice is given in a matter of this sort, equities will be left unconsidered and that the strict letter of the law will govern? Speaking of the general judgment of reasonable wayfaring men, can one conceive of these men saying that a short two days after a government is censured as the late government was censured, they could come back and occupy the treasury benches of this parliament as though such censure had never occurred? I think it is proper to say that this is the third device that has been tried in two days to prevent this government from functioning. The hon. member for Bow River has imagined the advice that was given by the Prime Minister. I know nothing about it whatever.

Mr, GARLAND (Bow River): May I suggest to the hon. member that the most sincere indication his party could have shown of a desire to govern would have been to solicit co-operation with those on whose support they must depend for government? They took no action in that regard.

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CON

George Reginald Geary

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GEARY:

I do not know about that; but I know that when wTe were at an impasse, so to speak, the then- leader of the opposition did ask across the floor of the House for some opportunity of discussion so that we could work out the business of this session, and he was curtly refused.

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PRO

Edward Joseph Garland

Progressive

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

Would the hon. member be kind enough to quote the reference? I would like very much to see it.

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CON

George Reginald Geary

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GEARY:

I have not the reference at

hand. What was the advice the hon. member for Bow River imagined was given by the Prime Minister? He imagined his going to the proper place and saying: I have a government that can carry on. If he said that, if that was the course the right hon. gentleman took, it certainly has been justified by events that have happened since then. The government has been able to carry on; the government wants simply to pass supply, close up the session's business and let some-

Supply-Formation oj Ministry

thing remain on the statute books as a result of this session. What is asked is not an indefinite running on of this government formed in unusual circumstances. It is simply to close supply and finish the legislation which only awaits the last touch.

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LIB
CON

George Reginald Geary

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GEARY:

No one has seriously raised the question of legality. The thing is perfectly legal. As I understand it, the question in dispute is the constitutionality of advice given to the Governor General.

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LIB
PRO

Edward Joseph Garland

Progressive

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

I have now the quotation to which reference has been made, and it verifies absolutely every remark I made. It reads:

The only statement I wish to make is this. I th:nk on the question of the completion of the session there should b-e a conference between the Prime Minister and myself, in which conference I am prepared to engage.

Not a word there about co-operation; it Is a conference between the then Prime Minister and the right hon. gentleman now acting as Prime Minister. What has that to do with the situation?

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CON
PRO

Edward Joseph Garland

Progressive

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

Why not confer with the force which is really of use to the right hon. gentleman?

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CON

Horatio Clarence Hocken

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HOCKEN:

In my judgment, the leader of the opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King) owed a duty to the country to close the session in an orderly manner.

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CON

George Reginald Geary

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GEARY:

A conference is not sought for the purpose of arranging a fight. One does not confer for that sort of thing. The object is to come to some understanding, and what does an understanding imply if not cooperation? It does not occur io me that we get very far by splitting hairs on the meaning of words.

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

In what capacity did the then leader of the opposition ask for a conference? He had not been summoned to form a cabinet at that time.

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CON

George Reginald Geary

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GEARY:

I do. not care whether or not he had any capacity at that moment, but there was an opening that would lead to a conference between two positions which were sure to be established in the next few hours, as events very soon proved.

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

He had been so nice to us all along that he wanted us to facilitate matters even before he was summoned.

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CON
LIB
CON

George Reginald Geary

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GEARY:

At all events the ex-Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe) wi'l not say now that the next day, when the Right Hon. Arthur Meighen was summoned to be Prime Minister, the present leader of the opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King) was prepared to enter into a conference.

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LIB
CON

July 1, 1926