May 25, 1933

LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

In 1917 I ran

in North York which, -in the preceding election of 1911, had returned a Conservative and which was a Conservative constituency at the time. Not only was it Conservative at the time but, as hon. gentlemen know, the government of Sir Robert Borden, which had been formed to carry through the conscription measure, had supporting it a large number of Liberals as well as Conservatives. I knew there was very little chance, no chance in fact, of succeeding in North York when I accepted the nomination, but I believed it was a battle that should be fought, and that Sir Wilfrid Laurier should have at his side from Ontario men who felt and believed as he did, whether it meant defeat or success. I decoded to stand by him and to fight for him, and I am glad I did so. And may I add this further fact, that if there was any doubt at all regarding the position I was in when I fought in North York in 1917 it would have been removed-

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CON
LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I hear the

insulting remark of the hon. member. It is no surprise coming from him.

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CON
LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

May I say that in 1917, when I ran in North York, I was told by more than one of those in the confidence of the Union government, that there was no use contesting that riding seeing that there were sufficient votes allotted to North York, out of the ballots of the soldiers overseas, to make absolutely sure of the defeat of any candidate who might oppose the Union gov-tMr. Mackenzie King.]

eminent. I was told moreover, by one of the leading members of the Liberal press, that members of the press of Ontario, at a meeting of a large number of representatives fiom both parties, had made up their minds that no one who opposed the Union government would receive support from the press should he ever seek to get back into public life. Those were two grounds urged upon me in 1917 by some of my Liberal friends as reasons why I should not run in North York constituency as a supporter of Sir Wilfrid Laurier if I had any regard for my future in the political life of the country. I give the statement concerning the press as made to me by one prominently connected with one of the largest papers in Canada. I give it in the words in which he gave it to me at the time. I know nothing of the facts myself. Parliament is also a place in which regardless of consequences, battles have to be fought which involve principles fundamental in the protection of individual rights and liberties, and a battle fought for the preservation of what one regards as right is infinitely better even if lost than a battle won in which no possible sacrifice is involved on the part of him who^ enters it. That was my first experience m North York. I was defeated there in 1917 and I am proud of that defeat.

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

We were too.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

The hon. gentleman says, "We were too." Well, I would much rather owe my position as head of my party to-day to the fact that I stood by my leader, even though it meant defeat; fighting for principles for which he stood, principles which have been vindicated a thousand times since, than to a victory or many victories gained in any other way.

In 1919, at the Liberal convention of that year, I was chosen to be the leader of my party.

I had not at the time a seat in the House of Commons but there was a vacancy which had been occasioned by the death of the sitting member in Prince county, Prince Edward Island. The Liberals of that constituency invited me to run in the constituency of Prince, and by that means I was enabled to come back into the House of Commons to fulfil in parliament the duties of leader of my party and leader of the opposition in this House of Commons. I cannot help but contrast in my own mind the attitude taken by the Conservative party of that day with respect to that seat, with the attitude which hon. gentlemen opposite are taking to-day with respect to the seat I now hold in Prince Albert. When I

Redistribution-Mr. Mackenzie King

accepted the constituency of Prince, the Right Hon. Sir Robert Borden, then Prime Minister, and his colleagues, together with the Conservative members of the constituency of Prince, agreed that there should be no contest, but that I should be allowed to reenter the House of Commons without opposition. I came in unopposed, and I am pleased to have this opportunity again to acknowledge in this House of Commons that act on the part of the then Prime Minister of Canada, and those who were then associated with him.

Prince constituency was considered at the time a very safe seat for a Liberal candidate. Being the leader of my party it was of some importance to the party that I should have a safe seat in order that I might be able to devote the time which a leader is supposed to devote to the country at large. When the general elections of 1921 came on, Liberals, not only of Prince but of other parts of Canada made repeated overtures to me to run again in Prince. I was told that there would be no doubt in the world about my reelection there, and it was urged I would be able to give my whole time without concern to speaking in other parts of the country. Did I accept that offer? I chose instead to run again in North York where I had been defeated in 1917, amongst other reasons to see whether or not the people of that constituency believed that I was right in the stand I took in 1917. I ran in North York and I carried the constituency by a very considerable majority, 1,055 in fact. That was not choosing the easy path to the House of Commons. It is true that in 1925 I was defeated in North York by the means I have shown to the committee to-day, and by other means of which the hon. member for North York to-day, and by other means of which the hon. member for North York (Mr. Lennox) no doubt could tell. I was defeated in 1925; but how much time may I ask had I to devote to the constituency of North York? I was during the entire campaign in the constituency but a part of a week. A leader has to choose between what is his duty to his party as a whole and his duty to his constituency, also between his duty to his constituency and what may be his own personal interests. Whenever the interests of my party have conflicted with anything else, I have stood or at least sought to stand by the interests of my party; whenever my personal interests appeared to run counter in any way to those of the constituency which I represented, I have sub-ordinated them or sought to subordinate

them to the interests of the constituency. May I say that, in that particular election, had I been able, like my opponent, to spend my entire time in the constituency I think I would have given him a run which would have surprised him.

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CON
LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

The reason I did not stay there was the one I have just given.

I owed a duty to my party to speak in all parts of this country, and that duty had to be carried out whether or not it involved my personal defeat. May I tell the hon. member and hon. gentlemen opposite that in any future election with which I may have to do, I intend, whatever it may involve, to put the interests of my party as a whole before any personal interests.

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CON
LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Someone says, "you do not care about the country?" My party is fighting for the best interests of this country, and when I speak of my party I speak particularly of the policies which it has supported and is supporting and which I believe are for the best interests of Canada. The people of Canada are coming to see pretty clearly that Liberal policies are in the best interests of this country.

Having been defeated in North York, in 1925, several hon. members in this house without any solicitation offered me their seats. Mr. Charles McDonald, who had been elected that, year in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, was foremost among the number. He was insistent that the constituency he represented would welcome the Liberal leader and would be prepared to allow him a considerable amount of freedom at times of election to visit other parts of the country as well as to reside in Ottawa while carrying out his duties as leader of his party, and as was the case at the time, leader of the government. He said the electors of Prince Albert would understand the situation and would be quite prepared to make allowances for the more or less continuous absence from the constituency which might be involved. I accepted the kindly offer of my friends in Prince Albert and I was elected in the constituency. Here again may I refer to something which seems to be characteristic of a change that has taken place. Notwithstanding the fact that Mr. McDonald had won his election after a considerable fight, that the constituency had

. . . COMMONS

Redistribution-Mr. Mackenzie King

been carried by the Liberals in the federal elections, notwithstanding the fact that Mr. McDonald was giving up his seat to his leader in order that he might take his place in the House of Commons, the Conservative opposition of the day and its supporters were not _ prepared to see that an election was avoided. In that particular contest a Conservative candidate was put in the field to oppose me. I was opposed, but the decency, the good sense and the chivalry of the electors of Prince Albert was shown by the fact that they gave me a majority of 5,621. That is how that majority came to be the size it was. I was supported in the constituency by men and women of all parties. May I contrast the attitude mentioned with what took place when Sir Robert Borden, at the time leader of the opposition, was defeated m a constituency in which he ran. Sir Robert Borden was chosen leader of his party, I think it. was m 1901. Could my right hon. friend give me the exact information?

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CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

My memory is that it

was around about 1901.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Sir Robert

was defeated in Halifax in 1904. It is interesting to observe that practically all the leaders of political parties in Canada-my right hon. friend says that he was defeated,

I thmk twice, but he was not then the leader -have been defeated at one time or another. This is almost inevitable, unless fortunately they are in very safe seats, due to the fact that they have had to give their time to the country as a whole rather than to their personal interests in their own constituencies. That is what happened to Sir Robert Borden in 1904. The hon. member for Carleton (Mr. Kidd) offered Sir Robert his constituency. Carleton was regarded as a safe seat for a Conservative leader, but did Sir Wilfrid Laurier and his supporters arrange to have a candidate oppose him? Not a bit of it; Sir Robert was allowed to be returned by acclamation. This is what any one at all fair-minded would have expected would be done. Later on Sir Robert Borden returned to the constituency of Halifax and was reelected there.

I need not go further with regard to my own record in this matter of elections, save to mention that in 1930. I was again returned to this house as member for Prince Albert by the handsome majority of 1,192. I would not have said what I have except for the fact that the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Weir) has seen fit to insinuate that no constituency was prepared to retain me for very long as its member. Before touching

upon what the minister had to say with regard to the constituency itself, may I just add that, especially where one is in the position of leader of his party, I believe those he represents are quite sensible enough to entertain the view that the place at which they need representation is in the House of Commons at Ottawa and not necessarily in the constituency itself. It is a very fine tradition in the old country that a man may be free to reside in one part of the country and represent a constituency in another. I hope that that tradition will never fade from our parliamentary life because it offers the only means whereby many men who ought to be in public life can be brought into public life. If the tradition ceased to exist anything of the kind might no longer be possible.

It is true I have been unable to spend much time in the constituency I have the honour to represent in this parliament. This unfortunately has been equally true of the other constituencies I have represented. Although I have not been privileged to spend the time I would have liked to spend in Prince Albert, I do not think I have been neglectful in any particular of the interests of that constituency. I think hon. gentlemen opposite will find out that the good people of Prince Albert understand the situation pretty well, and will not be found lacking in appreciation of what I have endeavoured to do on their behalf.

Here is what the Minister of Agriculture said on Tuesday last with regard to the Prince Albert constituency. I will quote the passage in full, because I think it ought to be carefully preserved:

The right hon. leader of the opposition made one statement referring to the will of the people to which I take exception, and if the committee will bear with me for a few minutes i think I can show that he is not correct in his statement. The last redistribution made it impossible for the people in the federal constituency of Prince Albert to express their will. I have before me the results of the last federal elections and they show that poll after poll in the northern part, and especially in the city of Prince Albert and the districts in the neighbourhood of Prince Albert, returned majority after majority against the right hon. gentleman. This is what happened m the Anglo-Saxon and French speaking part of the constituency and the only thing that enabled him to carry the election were the votes of a large block of people of German descent who had been left in the southern Part of the seat in the last redistribution. I am not making any inference that these people should not be given every opportunity to exercise their franchise. They are of German descent. I had the privilege and pleasure of working throughout that whole district for years as a school inspector. Under the redis-

Redistribution-Mr. Mackenzie King

tribution which was in force during the last elections a large block of these people in the southern end of the Prince Albert constituency and another similar block to the north of Saskatoon, totalling in all about forty-five thousand progressive Mennonite farmers by being thus divided were practically denied the opportunity of nominating one of their own people so that this very worthy part of the Canadian population would be unable to express its opinion in this house. I know many of these people personally and they take second place to none, but this is what happened because of the work of scientific and highly specialized political racketeers. I do not think it was the work of the leaders of the Liberal party as we like to think of Liberalism. I believe it would have been a distinct gain if we could have as a member one of these people of German extraction who had made such a success. But that was made impossible because of the block left in Prince Albert constituency, evidently just to affect a vote of the people in the northern part of the constituency. By doing that, both these peoples have been practically disfranchised. The right hon. the leader of the opposition and his followers have therefore made it impossible for these people to express their will.

First of all let me say a word about people being disfranchised. What the Minister of Agriculture evidently had in mind was the Wartime Elections Act under which all the Mennonites were disfranchised, and under which, in some of ithe western communities, nearly everyone who happened to be of foreign origin was disfranchised. He just unconsciously let slip what was in the subconscious area of his mind-the thought of disfranchisement of Mennonites and others. There was no disfranchisement in 1930; everyone had a vote; everyone was entitled to vote as he thought best. What the minister could have meant by speaking of disfranchisement, unless unconsciously this thought crept into his mind, I am unable to understand, but what is interesting in connection with the minister's statement is this. He says that they were disfranchised, as he calls it, because the boundaries of the constituency had been so arranged as to bring these Mennonites and others into contact with the Anglo-Saxon people of Prince Albert; that the part of Prince Albert which votes Conservative was placed alongside this part of the constituency which votes Liberal. He says that this was "the work of scientific and highly specialized political racketeers." That, I shall show, was pretty hard on his own party, and on its past and present leaders.

I have taken pains to look at the redistribution of 1924 as it affected Prince Albert constituency. The Minister of Agriculture has sought to have it appear that this bringing together of these two elements and what

he calls disfranchising them, in that way, was the work of political racketeers, and he has tried to apply to the liberal party in 1924 that offensive designation. May I tell him that the constituency line of Prince Albert which determined that all these people shall be in the one riding, the Mennonites and the Anglo-Saxons, was the line laid down by Sir Robert Borden in the redistribution of 1914, a line moreover to which the present Prime Minister agreed, and for which he is part responsible. The southern boundary of the constituency of Prince Albert was left by the Liberal party in 1924 exactly where _ Sir Robert Borden and the present Prime Minister placed it in 1914.

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CON

Franklin White Turnbull

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. TURNBULL:

Is it not a fact that the statement which my hon. friend has just made applies only to the eastern part of the present constituency of Prince Albert and does not apply to that part west of the third principal meridian?

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I am speaking of the part referred to by the Minister of Agriculture.

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CON

Franklin White Turnbull

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. TURNBULL:

The Minister of Agriculture referred to the whole constituency.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I am speaking of the constituency of Prince Albert as it is now, and I say that the southern line was fixed by the government of Sir Robert Borden. It was agreed to by Liberals and Conservatives alike and the present Prime Minister was himself on the committee that determined it. I say that it was a right and proper line in 1914; I say that it was a right and proper line in 1924 and I say that it is the right and proper line for 1933.

I want to take direct issue with the view that the aim of a redistribution should be to segregate the different elements of our population. I believe in all our efforts with respect to the public life of our country and the making of a country, a nation, we ought to regard the citizens of Canada as Canadians, and Canadians only, irrespective of what their origin may be. The more we can get the different groups and classes which compose the nation to intermingle and understand each other, the more united and happy our country as a whole will be. I take direct issue with the Minister of Agriculture when he says that simply because some people happen to be bom of a different origin from his own, that an effort should be made in redistributing constituencies to have them placed in another district, so that they will in no way come into contact with those who happen to be English

Redistribution-Mr. Mackenzie King

speaking; I do not think such a view is manly or British, or has anything to be said in support of it.

Let me say, with regard to the Mennonites

to whom the minister refers in the way he has, that there is no finer community of people to be found anywhere. As to their having the right to choose whomever they may wish as their representative, may I say that when in 1908 I was first nominated as a candidate for parliament, in the constituency of North Waterloo, the man who nominated me was Mr. Leander Bowman and the man who seconded my nomination paper was Mr. Henry Hostetler, each of whom belong to that community which my hon. friend said should be entitled to name a representative of their own for parliament. These gentlemen were outstanding citizens of North Waterloo, the constituency represented in this parliament at the present time by my hon. friend the exMinister of National Revenue (Mr. Euler). Is there any finer class of citizens to be found anywhere in Canada than is to be found in North Waterloo? Many of the Mennonites in the part I am speaking of in Prince Albert constituency come from the county of Waterloo itself. May I add this further fact, that when I was opposed in the by-election in Prince Albert in 1926, whoever was responsible for the choice of the Conservative candidate in that constituency chose Mr. J. G. Diefen-baker, to oppose me. It would seem he was of foreign origin. This gentleman, or at all events, his father whom I knew years ago, strangely enough came from the same county of Waterloo as I do myself. It ill becomes any minister of the crown to seek at this or any time to stir up racial strife and differences in this country.

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An hon. MEMBER:

The right hon. gentleman has done a great deal of it in his life.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

It is all right for the Tories opposite to do it, but the minute a member of the opposition takes exception to their action, it is wrong so to do.

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CON

George Douglass Stanley

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STANLEY:

That is pretty small for the leader of the Liberal party.

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May 25, 1933