Mr. ROBERT GARDINER (Acadia):
Mr. Speaker, I rise to a question of privilege, arising out of an article appearing in the Montreal Star under date of Monday, February 28. This statement reflects upon the honour of a certain group in this House, and is supposed to have been made by the Deputy Speaker (Mr. Johnston). Before I read the article permit me to remind the House that it is necessary to have certain officers here in order that the business of parliament may be conducted with despatch; some of these officers are appointed while others are elected. Those elected officers, the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker, are responsible to the House alone, and not to any party or group in this House, because of the fact that it is absolutely essential that these officers be strict in their impartiality as between the different members and sections in this House. The article in the Star is as follows:
Western Visitors' Outlook Widened Fred Johnston, M.P., Sees Benefit In Inspection of Plant
"The fifty members of parliament who viewed one phase of eastern industry Saturday, as the guests of Sir Charles Gordon, are returning to Ottawa with a better understanding of the problems that face the working people in a great city," Fred Johnston, M.P., Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, stated before boarding the special train for the capital.
"No matter how broadminded a man may be potentially if he lives in one environment for a number of years, he is bound to become narrow and lose any faculty he ever possessed of seeing, problems as they affect Canada as a whole," Mr. Johnston continued. "The members from the wide open spaces on the prairies spent the day studying the conditions under -which workers in the manufacturing industry labour, and I am sure they all felt that a sixteen hour day behind the plough with a sunny sky overhead would not take as much out of a man as a nine hour day in a factory.
"I was particularly pleased that the U.F.A. members of parliament from Alberta saw the men and women at work earning their livings in the Dominion Textile Company plant. It would be a great thing for those gentlemen if they could be taught to see our problems from the national viewpoint.
"The U.F.A. members are selfish," Mr. Johnston asserted. "The prairies are getting four-fifths of what they asked for, namely: revaluation of soldiers' lands, farm loans, old age pensions, and there is an item of $5,000,000 in the estimates for the Hudson Bay railway. Now they are trying to befuddle the brains of the people they represent by raising a hue and cry for lower, tariff. It is generally recognized that this is the only way in which they can justify their existence. It is good for the west to meet the east. Westerners are prone to forget that the east has pressing problems of its own, and that there must be compromise on the part of all if Canada as a whole is to progress and prosper".
Hon. Charles Stewart, Minister of the Interior; Hon. Charles Dunning, Minister of Railways and Canals; Hon. W. R. Motherwell, Minister of Agriculture, and Hon. Robert Forke, Minister of Immigration, who are in- the party are all from the prairies, and like the Deputy Speaker are practical farmers.
The question I wish to bring before the House particularly Mr. Speaker, in regard to this article is contained in the following:
I was particularly pleased that the U.F.A. members of parliament from Alberta saw the men and women at work earning their livings in the Dominion Textile Company plant. It would be a great thing for those gentlemen if they could be taught to see our problems from the national viewpoint.
The inference in that statement is that the U.F.A. members in this House are the only ones who have not got a broad national outlook, but that all other members in the House, no matter from whence they come, possess that broad national outlook which Mr. Johnston thinks is essential. Now the
statement that we take further objection to is that the U.F.A. members are selfish. We maintain, Mr. Speaker, that we are not more selfish than any other class in Canada, and it is not fair for any member of the House to make such a statement-that members here representing a certain group, or class, or organization are more selfish than the members of any other class or organization. The statement goes on to say further:
Now they are trying to befuddle the brains of the people they represent by raising a hue and cry for lower tariff.
I think, Mr. Speaker, that hon. members who have been in this House as long as the U.F.A. members, namely, since 1922, will admit that we have always stood very strictly for certain principles. We have never deviated from those principles and one of them is the principle of a lower tariff. The statement goes on to say:
It is generally recognized that this is the only way in which they can justify their existence.
We take exception to that statement also. Our position is justified by the organization that nominates and elects us. The program which that organization lays down for our guidance is the program which justifies our being in this House and no other.
I quite recognize, Mr. Speaker, that there may be some question as to whether this statement was actually made by the Deputy Speaker. It is true it is only a newspaper report, but I would say at this moment that I think the Deputy Speaker should be given an opportunity of saying whether this report is correct or not. If the report is correct it would mean that the Deputy Speaker is occupying a position that he has no right to occupy and the occupancy of which he cannot justify because he has not shown the impartiality which is necessary to that position.