May 15, 1931

CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; Minister of Finance and Receiver General; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

The hon. gentleman's observations have not added anything thus far to this discussion. The reason he is there and I am here is perhaps apparent from that, if that is what he is asking for.

Just let me proceed a step further. It is easy to criticize the observations of public men as reported in the press in that way when such observations may be said to be but a passing joke. I happen to know the Sackville-West incident very thoroughly, and it just crossed my mind from a criticism I had been reading of the high commissioner. He had been joking with me because of something that had transpired, and he said he might be back here with his carpet bag or his valise, or something of that sort, and I said, "Do not forget Sackville-West." That is all that was said, and that was the basis of that remark.

'.Mr. Bennett.]

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
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CON

Charles-Philippe Beaubien

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BEAUBIEN:

The Prime Minister was smiling at the time.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; Minister of Finance and Receiver General; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

It is the gentleman who

is now high commissioner that I am speaking of at the moment. I do not propose to-night to enter into any elaborate defence of Mr. Ferguson. He needs none at my hands. He is a very well-known Canadian, and the principal difficulty that seems to be experienced by most hon. gentlemen opposite is that he contributed to their discomfiture on more than one occasion.

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LIB
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; Minister of Finance and Receiver General; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I think that is a fair

statement, and its truth is generally recognized. I am quite willing to agree that the hon. member for North Waterloo would not be greatly discomfited because he thinks so nearly as we on this side of the house think with respect to the great fiscal policies of this country. The high commissioner is rendering great and useful service to this Dominion. The Englishmen with whom I speak have no criticism to make of his observations and remarks in England. They regard him as an 'admirable incumbent of that office, and one whom they are delighted to honour and for whom they have the warmest regard. That is the information that I receive, and I regard it as equal to the information that has been given to this house as to the high regard in which our neighbours to the south held the former minister to Washington. I can assure the house that I have seen no Englishmen or residents of Great Britain who have not spoken in the highest terms of our high commissioner.

I should like to make one further observation with respect to Mr. Massey. I did not bring about the discussion of the circumstances under which Mr. Massey resigned. That was asked for. I would gladly have refrained, in view of what I said at the last session, from discussing the interview that took place between us. He came to see me, not privately, but as the Prime Minister of this country. He asked me to make an appointment; I did so, and he came. I discussed frankly, as I told the house this afternoon, the circumstances to which I then ailluded, and Mr. Massey wrote his resignation. I said that I was informed that the right hon. leader of the opposition had written it. He says that that is a false statement, and I gladly accepted his statement.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

It certainly is. Mr. BENNETT: But Mr. Massey left

the hotel and went to visit the leader of the opposition that evening, as was his right and

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as one would expect he would. I believed, therefore, when the information was given to me, that he discussed the matter very fully with the leader of the opposition, and it did not seem unreasonable that the right hon. gentleman would have assisted him in connection with what was written. I did not make that statement in any censorious sense or as not being within his rights. The right hon. member says that my information was not correct, and that is quite satisfactory so far as I am concerned.

I accepted Mr. Massey's resignation, having first given him the reasons for the attitude which I took in connection with that office. I have not changed my opinion with respect to it. I still say that that office is an office in which the high commissioner represents Canada as a whole, but owing to the peculiar language used in the statute and the obligations that rest upon him in connection with the administration of the day, charging him with ministerial responsibilities of administration, he cannot discharge those responsibilities unless to the fullest possible extent he enjoys the confidence of the administration, and the administration gives him its fullest confidence in the same sense.

I think it was not quite worthy to suggest that I believed the office of minister to Washington was one in which the discharge of social duties and obligations was the only obligation upon whomever held that office. I do not think that is quite in keeping with the tenor and character of this debate. No one knows better than I that that is not so, and no one knows better than I that Mr. Massey left what you might call the administrative features of that office largely to others and himself attended to what I called the addresses made to universities-a volume of which has just been published, excellent, too, in every way-and to the great social duties of his office. I do not think that Mr. Massey would be the man to take care, for instance, of the situation arising out of the St. Lawrence waterway. For the very same reasons I do not think either by training or experience or otherwise he would undertake the duties in connection with it. When I say that I think it is not quite worthy of hon. members to suggest that I had that thought in mind in view of the appointment which I made to that office. I think the house is perhaps getting into an attitude of mind with respect to it that does not reflect the highest ideals of public service in connection with an institution such as this. But I am content to leave that criticism to those who read it.

I can only repeat that when we came into office we found that, three weeks before, Mr. Massey had been appointed High Commissioner for Canada in London. He sought for and obtained an appointment with me, not privately, but in my public position. I did not conceive, as the leader of the opposition has said, that it was a private discussion. Mr. Massey did not suggest it was. He may have said since that it was, but he did not so indicate to me. I stated as clearly and emphatically as it is possible to do in the course of a conversation just what my views were. I got the statute and showed it to him, and then he admitted, at least, in this sense, that if my views were as I indicated it was quite clear that he was not in accord with them, and he sent me his resignation. That is the story.

I give it to the house because it is entitled to receive it. I put it on Hansard last session, on the second last day before the house rose,

I think. I repeat, that if similar conditions again arose I would regard it as my duty to do what I did at that time because I do not believe it is possible to maintain the office in London except on the basis I have indicated. I assure the committee that had the letter of recall not been issued, Mr. Massey would still be minister at Washington as Mr. Marler is at Tokyo and Mr. Roy is at Paris.

As to the increase in this particular item, it is accounted for by the reasons I have given. It is quite apparent that with freedom from income tax a rich man can afford anywhere from three to four hundred thousand a year in connection with that office, but a man of moderate means or a poor man cannot afford to do it.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Let us examine for a moment what my right hon. friend has just said as to what he would have been prepared to do about having Mr. Massey returned to Washington.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; Minister of Finance and Receiver General; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

No, no; he would not have been removed from Washington.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

He would not have been removed from Washington had the letter of recall not been issued. I asked my right hon. friend, and I ask him again now, whether the letter issued by His Majesty for the recall of Mr. Massey has been presented to the president of the United States up to this time.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; Minister of Finance and Receiver General; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I say, no.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

So the fact is that at this moment, while we are discussing this matter, His Majesty's letter recalling Mr. Massey has not yet been presented to the president of the United States.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; Minister of Finance and Receiver General; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

It was signed on the 7th of August.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

My right hon. friend is trying to have this house and the country believe that he had no other object in view with respect to Washington than to have kept Mr. Massey there provided the letter of His Majesty asking for his recall had not been issued. I say that if my right hon. friend had wished to use the letter of recall as a means of keeping Mr. Massey at Washington, he could quite easily have taken advantage of the fact that at the time the letter of recall had not been presented to the president of the United States; up to the present time it has not been presented, and until the letter has been presented Mr. Massey has not been recalled. The position at the moment is that Mr. Massey has not yet been recalled from Washington. My hon. friend however has made another appointment. Before we have completed the discussion concerning the minister to Washington no doubt he will give the house the reason for the appointment. When he tells the country that his reason for not leaving Mr. Massey at Washington is because of the letter of recall, I think the country ought to know that the letter of recall has not yet been presented and will not be presented until the gentleman whom my right hon. friend has appointed presents it in person to the president, of the United States.

So far as Mr. Massey being the best of all persons to fill that position, I do not think we need repeat what has been said concerning Mr. Massey's extraordinary fitness for the post. The press of all shades of politics not only endorsed Mr. Massey's appointment to Washington and the manner in which he discharged his duties while there, but also in the strongest terms endorsed his appointment as High Commissioner for Canada in London.

_ May I say, as it may be a matter of interest for hon. members to know, that at the time of the death of the Hon. Mr. Larkin when the government was considering the appointment of a successor I had a long distance telephone conversation with the Hon. G. Howard Ferguson, the then Premier of Ontario, with respect to a matter on which negotiations were pending. In that conversation Mr. Ferguson said to me, "If I may be

permitted to do so, I would like to make one suggestion, that you appoint Mr. Massey to London as high commissioner. No better appointment could be made." The view held by Mr. Ferguson at that time was one held by gentlemen like Canon Cody and others high in the ranks of the Conservative party. I venture to say that with the exception of my right hon. friend, and that for the personal reasons he has mentioned to-night, almost everyone in Canada who has been interested in the representation of Canada in Great Britain would have been quite content and more than pleased to have seen the appointment of Mr. Massey continued.

My right hon. friend has not yet indicated his views with respect to the utterances of Mr. Ferguson in London which I have read this evening. My right hon. friend said I had referred to Mr. Ferguson's speeches in Canada and in London. To-night I have not referred to any speeches made in London, but before this item is finally passed I intend to do so. I hope to get from the Prime Minister some expression of his views as to how he regards the various opinions being expressed in Great Britain by the high commissioner. Having relation to the time of Mr. Ferguson's appointment, his speeches may be divided into three classes. There are those which took place before he was formally appointed, those which took place after his formal appointment and before he left for England, and those which have taken place since he has been in England. I have read only from one address *which he delivered after he had received his formal appointment and before he went to England. I think the first public utterance made by Mr. Ferguson in regard to the appointment was an announcement made before the Prime Minister himself had informed the country about the appointment. I do not know whether that announcement was made in accordance with the views of my right hon. friend, but if the high commissioner was not checked up for that indiscretion, I must say the attitude of the Prime Minister toward his London representative must be very different from his attitude toward most people.

I have been attempting to discover why my right hon. friend will say nothing with regard to Mr. Ferguson's speeches in London, and in particular nothing with respect to the speech to which I have just referred in which the high commissioner stated his views concerning the people of the empire. I think I have the reason; it was given very plainly by the high commissioner himself in his first speech after reaching the old country. The high commissioner served very prompt, notice

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on the Prime Minister that if the Prime Minister ventured to criticize him a resignation would be handed in and he, Mr. Ferguson, would again be back in Canada. I do not think there are many who fail to perceive that there is hardly room for both these gentlemen in Canada at the same time, and the purposes of my right hon. friend for the present are served very well by having the Hon. G. Howard Ferguson on the other side of the ocean. Speaking at the Canadian Club in London on February 10, Mr. Ferguson said:

The moment I have to keep silent about the British Empire, that moment will my resignation be received by the Canadian government.

. . . 1 hope not only to proclaim my faith,

but, if it is necessary, to proselytize any doubting Thomases.

Is it the view of my right 'hon. friend that it is the duty of the High Commissioner for Canada in London to spend his time proselytizing doubting Thomases in regard to empire matters? We all know that the speeches which have been made in Great Britain by the present high commissioner have been in the nature of what might be termed proselytizing speeches by an imperial missionary, a missionary of empire. At this point may I draw the attention of hon. members to what appears to be a very marked difference between certain policies advocated by the Prime Minister of Canada in Canada and the policies advocated in Great Britain by the high commissioner, his representative in Great Britain. In Canada we hear from the Prime Minister a great deal about "Canada first"; in Great Britain on the part of his political associate it is "Empire first." In Canada the Prime Minister speaks about "Canada first" and his Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Stevens) publishes highly priced advertisements containing the following words, "Buy Canadian-made goods." In Great Britain the High Commissioner for Canada finds fault with the British people because in that country there is an advocacy to buy British goods. Let me quote from a speech delivered on March 10 by the Hon. G. Howard Ferguson before the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in London. This is an Associated Press despatch which appeared in the Evening Citizen, and also on the same day in other newspapers of Canada:

When I see in England such slogans as "Buy British goods made in England by British labour" it seems to me to be forgotten that goods of Canada and other parts of the empire are equally British. Imperial consolidation cannot be effected on the lines of discrimination.

I ask the Prime Minister if that statement by the high commissioner reflects the policy of the present government? Is that the attitude of the government towards British goods? Are we to have one doctrine in this country of buying Canadian goods made by Canadian labour to the exclusion of British goods, and at the same time are we to have the people of Britain told that when they suggest the buying of British goods made by British labour they are discriminating against Canada and working against empire consolidation?

Referring to the coming Imperial conference at Ottawa the high commissioner is quoted indirectly as follows:

It was not expected that the recent Imperial conference would produce more than the development of a certain atmosphere, he said: The problem involved the whole reconstruction of the economic fabric of the empire.

I would ask hon. members to notice those words:

The problem involved the whole reconstruction of the economic fabric of the empire.

"Reconstruction of the economic fabric of the empire." That is the policy of the Canadian government in Britain: "Canada first" is the policy of the same government here.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
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CON

Armand Renaud La Vergne (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

The CHAIRMAN:

I would draw the right hon. member's attention to the fact that it is now eleven o'clock.

Progress reported.

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At eleven o'clock the house adjourned without question put, pursuant to standing order. Monday, May 18, 1931.


May 15, 1931