March 29, 1932

LIB

Paul Mercier

Liberal

Mr. MERCIER:

Unquestionably, it is illuminating. It is in the records of days gone by that I find what is best in our Canadian institutions. To my mind, the story of the past revives an era of self-sacrifice to which we owe the great men in our history. If, one day, the gag was forced upon Sir Wilfrid Laurier, we of the opposition, are afforded this day the same privilege of figuring-

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CON

Charles Napoléon Dorion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DORION:

In history.

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LIB

Paul Mercier

Liberal

Mr. MERCIER:

-in the gallery of those who were gagged, with the expectation, however, of securing ultimately the approval of the people.

Mr. Speaker, what did Sir Wilfrid Laurier say at that time?

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Mr. DORION' (Translation): At what page?

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LIB

Joseph-Alexandre Mercier

Liberal

Mr. MERCIER (Translation):

You are fond of reading the speeches delivered by Sir John Macdonald. He was a great man. One is apt to take his inspiration from his own authorities; as for us, we belong to the Laurier school; his teaching is still paramount and is bound to prevail in after years, for Laurier just as Macdonald, in former days, was considered a bright light-while at the same time respectful of the constitution.

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CON

Charles Napoléon Dorion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DORION (Translation):

What page

is my hon. friend quoting from now?

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LIB

Joseph-Alexandre Mercier

Liberal

Mr. MERCIER (Translation):

I will tell you. At page 7435 of Hansard for the 191213 session, vol. IV, Sir Wilfrid Laurier said:

As I have said, there are some occasions on which there is a cleavage between the majority and minority, and then there is an easy remedy, an easy solution. The remedy is not closure; it is not the application of brute force. The remedy is an appeal to the people. The people, after all, are the judge and the jury. The people, after all, are the parties to pass judgment as between the government and the opposition, as between the majority and the minority; and, sir, the most I would have expected on such an occasion as this was that the government of the day would have adopted that remedy, and not have resorted to closure. I am sure it was not a pleasant task that my right hon. friend performed to-day; and for my part, when I compare my conduct with his conduct, I am proud that I resisted all applications for closure, and that, when the time came I appealed to the neople, as I did on reciprocity.

Now, Mr. Speaker, it is well that I should quote the concluding words of Sir Wilfrid Laurier. I am speaking in French now and I do so as a tribute to my own people_____

Mr. BRASSET (Translation); To the hon. member for Quebec-Montmorency (Mr. Dorion).

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LIB

Joseph-Alexandre Mercier

Liberal

Mr. MERCIER (Translation):

-to my province, to the land of Sir Wilfrid Laurier. But, so that I may be understood by everyone in this house, I shall use the English language for my concluding remarks.

I should like to conclude my remarks in English in order to be understood by everyone. The words I intend to utter are not mine; they were spoken in the past, and I have secured them from the library of this House of Commons, which I commend to every hon. member. On the shelves of that magnificent library may be found many jewels of literature, often expressing the exact situation with which hon. members may be faced in this house, I refer to volume 4 of the debates of the House of Commons for the session 1912-13, in order to quote the conclud-

ing words of Sir Wilfrid Laurier in connection with the discussion which then took place on a closure motion, that crippled child which we do not see very often but which comes to life once every twenty years or so in order to show that it is not absolutely lifeless. Sir Wilfrid Laurier said:

My right hon. friend has not forgotten the words of Shakespeare:

this even handed justice

Commends ith' ingredients of our poison'd chalice

To our own lips."

The poison that he offers to us to-day will come to his own lips at some future day. We are in the minority; we can be gagged; we can be prevented from expressing our opinions; they can trample upon our rights. But, sir, the day of reckoning will come, and it will come as soon as we have a dissolution of the present parliament.

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CON

Pierre Édouard Blondin (Speaker of the Senate)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

The hon. member has

spoken for twenty minutes.

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LIB

Maurice Brasset

Liberal

Mr. MAURICE BRASSET (Gaspe):

(Translation): At the very outset of his

speech, when he spoke the other day on the resolution now before the house, the right hon. Prime Minister waxed eloquent on what he termed the victory won in connection with the election held in Athabaska. He claimed, -to use his own words-that a great victory had been achieved by the government and that, therefore, the majority should rule. I have no official returns concerning that election; I simply have press reports which we can assume to be fairly reliable. According to these reports, 4,914 votes were cast in favor of the Conservative candidate in Athabaska, while 10,31)8 votes were polled against him. That means that 4,631 votes actually went to the Liberal candidate-

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CON

Charles Napoléon Dorion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DORION (Translation):

Is that a

provincial or a federal contest?

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LIB

Maurice Brasset

Liberal

Mr. BRASSET (Translation):

It is a

federal election. My hon. friend does not read the papers, or he cannot read at all. The United Farmers who, as my hon. friend from Quebec-Montmorency (Mr. Dorion), must know, are dissenting Liberals, secured 3,434 votes, and another united farmer, a member of the Farmers' Unity League, polled 2,303 votes.

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CON

Charles Napoléon Dorion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DORION (Translation):

Are these official figures?

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LIB

Maurice Brasset

Liberal

Mr. BRASSET (Translation):

If my hon. friend will only bear with me another five minutes, I shall give him some interesting information in a few moments. I trust my hon. friend will rise, when I am through, and speak

Unemployment Continuance Act

himself for twenty minutes; the privilege is his in common with any member on this side of the house.

I therefore submit, Mr. Speaker, that the constituency of Athabaska has not sent to this House a representative of the majority since more than twice the number of votes cast for him went against him. The right hon. Prime Minister made a rather strange statement a few moments later when he said that, in this house as well as elsewhere, the majority must rule. As I said before, the member for Athabaska who is to take a seat in thi3 house, shall not be the elected representative of the majority, and should the right hon. Prime Minister dare bring forward any anticonstitutional measure, he would not have the support of the actual majority of the people. When a government introduces a fair measure and when they are backed by a majority of the people, we may say that the majority at their command in the house is a real majority. But, when the Prime Minister has recourse to a majority,-I do not like to use the adjective I have in mind,-that is ready to stand by him on every occasion, in order to secure the passage of all kinds of anticonstitutional measures, whether they be in the interest or not of the people, I say that he should not rise in this house and talk about majority or government by majority.

Why are we opposed to this measure, Mr. Speaker? We oppose the measure for several reasons.

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CON

Charles Napoléon Dorion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DORION (Translation):

We should

know them by this time.

An hon. MEMBER (Translation): You do not understand anything.

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LIB

Maurice Brasset

Liberal

Mr. BRASSET (Translation):

The hon.

member for Quebec-Montmorency must be deaf for he has been told many times, and he does not know yet. For his own benefit I will try to restate these reasons, and I hope that this time he shall pay attention.

We do not want to confer unlimited powers on the government. The other day, the right hon. Prime Minister attempted to define the powers he is asking for in the following terms:

Without restricting the generality of the terms of the next preceding section hereof, and notwithstanding the provisions of any statute or law, the governor in council may:

(a) Provide for the construction, extension or improvement of public works, buildings, undertakings, railways, highways, subways,-

Very likely it means a tunnel under the citadel at Quebec, an undertaking such as would interest my hon. friend.

-bridges and canals, harbours and wharves, and any other works and undertakings of any nature or kind whatsoever;

(b) Assist in defraying the cost of the production, sale and distribution of the products of the field, farm, forest, sea, river and mine;

(c) Assist provinces, cities, towns, muni-cipailities, and other bodies or associations, by loaning moneys thereto or guaranteeing repayment of moneys thereby, or in such other manner as may be deemed necessary or advisable.

Such powers, Mr. Speaker, are unlimited and I believe that use could be made of them in order to secure the passage of any measure the government may introduce. I even think that, under that blank cheque, the government could proceed with the St. Lawrence Waterway Project, in which case, knowing as I do how my hon. friend from Quebec-Montmorency stands on the matter, I am safe to say that he would be bound to vote against the government.

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CON

Charles Napoléon Dorion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DORION (Translation):

You are mistaken.

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LIB

Maurice Brasset

Liberal

Mr. BRASSETT (Translation):

The government would be enabled to spend enormous sums of money,' do what they please, indulge in any extravagant expenditure, for any reason, simply under the guise of relief to those who are in distress. We too, are quite willing to give relief to those who are hungry and to alleviate distress among the people; but we refuse to let the government resort to that measure in order to have their own way. Let the government say just what they intend to do, let them state the amount to be expended and we shall be the first to cooperate with them, to give them authority for such expenditures as are called for.

I submit the government are indulging in extravagance at a time when they preach economy and solicit a blank cheque for the purpose of reckless expenditures. On this side of the house we have our misgivings as to the manner in which the government may use the funds at their disposal. "L'Evenement," a newspaper that has the approval of the hon. member who is so fond of interrupting me, has this to say:

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CON

Charles Napoléon Dorion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DORION (Translation):

This is quite an event.

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LIB

Maurice Brasset

Liberal

Mr. BRASSETT (Translation):

In a few days from now, the Minister of Finance shall announce the extent to which he shall raise the tax rate, in the hope of making good the deficit of the administration for the coming year. That increase in taxation will

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affect every taxpayer proportionately to their families and fortunes. At a time when the people already experience so much trouble in balancing their own budget, who shall come to their aid? They will be compelled to cut down their expenditures and deny themselves quite a number of the necessities of life. But why the government should not themselves reduce their expenditures ?

That is what we hear throughout every province in Canada. We are willing to cooperate with the government and help them to cover up their deficit; we are ready to cut down our own expenditures, but let the government set the example themselves in the matter of economy. We contend that the government, in carrying out an unsound policy of economy, should not discharge their own employees after fifteen or twenty years of service, and at times more; we protest against the government's own employees being made the first victims of that policy. Such is the contention of the province of Quebec as well as of every province in this Dominion. What we want is a government that will practise economy, not a capitalistic government, and above all, not a government ready to spend the money without giving us any information as to its destination.

What would all the provinces of Canada, what would those who sit in this House, either on this side or on the Government sidie, think should the municipal council in a small town empower the mayor, for a whole year, to spend money at his own will and manage the public affairs without the advice of any one? Would the electors of such a municipality have cause to be pleased with their mayor, and could, in the name of common sense, a municipality endorse such a policy, simply because it may be necessary for the good government of the town? For a long time, we have always had, every year, and in every town in the province of Quebec and elsewhere in the Dominion, a certain number of unemployed for which the municipal authorities had to provide.

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CON

Charles Napoléon Dorion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DORION (Translation):

To be continued.

At six o'clock the house took recess.

After Recess

The house resumed at eight o'clock. PRIVATE BILL

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March 29, 1932