My friend the hon. member for Maisonneuve-Rosemont says, "Who is next?" The same question is in my mind. Every time that the Conservative party has chosen a new leader they have beat the drum for his election, describing each one of them as a semi-god, and all others were puny people compared to the new Moses who was to lead them to the promised land. The only one who did so did it during four or five years of depression, but afterwards, in spite of his bags of gold, he was rejected by the Canadian people. I know something about that, because I had my share in discussing public questions with him in the House of Commons.
The Conservative party now has a new leader, and one who has something in common with the Prime Minister because each of them has a charming wife. They are great ladies, but the social question is entirely apart from the programs of the parties and from the pronouncements that are made by the respective leaders. The reason I give my unqualified support to the Prime Minister as leader of the Liberal party, and as Prime Minister, is the reasonable and sensible way in which he has been acting as leader of the party, leader of the house, and leader of the government since he assumed office in the late summer of 1948. It is most important that the leader of the government should be well versed in the law. As you know, our primary purpose in being here is to pass legislation which affects every man, woman and child in the country. Therefore the one who leads the government, who is the first
citizen of the land, should be thoroughly conversant with the law and with the effect of the law, so that no one in the country will be prejudiced by the law. The Prime Minister is one of the most prominent lawyers in this country. He knows and understands the law, and that is one reason for supporting him. I pay the same compliment to the Minister of Finance (Mr. Abbott), to the financial critic of the official opposition, the hon. member for Muskoka-Ontario (Mr. Macdon-nell), and many others.
Each party should have a definite policy, and should not cater to other groups for support. There is nothing that will appeal to the people more than a red-blooded Canadian policy. I can see the day, although it may be distant, when the Canadian people will no longer have an inferiority complex, when they will consider themselves to be the equals of any in any other part of the world. It is unfortunate to realize that up to the present time there have been those who call themselves Canadians but who are no more Canadians than Chinese or Africans because of their inferiority complex in connection with the British empire or the so-called commonwealth.
I consider myself-all hon. members of parliament should be in the same position- the equal of any sitting member in the House of Commons at Westminster or in any parliament in any part of the empire. It is only by the acceptance of all public men in Canada, or at least a majority of them, of a conception of equality, that we can have a truly Canadian policy. We are gradually going forward to that conception.
When Mr. Bennett announced the slogan of "Canada first" he was simply trying to fool the people. After his defeat, and when he was leaving for the shores of Great Britain, he said, "I am going home." He forgot that he had been born in New Brunswick. He forgot the support he had received from the Conservative party, a party that had been very good to him.
I have many friends among the different parties and groups in this house. I have no complaint to make about individuals, but I disagree entirely with some of the policies of the Conservative party. There is so much bluff in the pronouncements that are made at times by those in charge. They speak of bureaucracy, but what will they do to stop bureaucracy? Where will they start? Nothing is said. They are denouncing abstractions. They are denouncing straw men that they set up themselves. Then they dare to say that those who are Liberals at heart, those who are good Canadians, can be compared to the straw men that they burn in effigy in their own imaginations.
We shall go forward. I am ready to forget the errors that have been made by my party in the past, provided that the Prime Minister continues with the policy he announced west of the lakes; provided that that is the policy that he will preach in each province, city, town and hamlet of Canada where he will be invited to speak and where he will be greeted by our own people.
The Conservative party cannot expect to have the confidence of the majority of the Canadian people as long as they keep a large painting of Arthur Meighen in their caucus room. They should break with the past and go forward. They should stop denouncing evils that do not exist. They should make constructive criticisms that will be helpful in the good government of this country.
What are the prospects for the next election? An able journalist who accompanied the Prime Minister on his trip through the west has said that the chances of the leader of the opposition and his party west of the great lakes are nil. Then what do we read in one of the best papers of Canada, the Montreal Gazette, under the signature of one of the ablest members of the press gallery, about the trip of the leader of the opposition to Newfoundland? He is a man of culture; he knows the Einstein theory. I never could understand Einstein's theory. One day I asked a learned mathematician to tell me if it was of practical use, and he answered that it served in the discovery of the undulation of light. I asked him if the undulation of light was a practical thing, and he said, "Not yet."
When the leader of the opposition went to Newfoundland he spoke in the birthplace of one of his great grandmothers, but he spoke a language that was not understood by his audience when he referred to dominion-provincial relations. In his article this able correspondent of the Montreal Gazette said that the explanations of the leader of the opposition about dominion-provincial problems were just as clear as Einstein's theory- or, in simple language, just as clear as mud. If the leader of the opposition thinks that he will have any success in getting the support of the good people of Newfoundland by using, perhaps purposely, such nebulous language, he is labouring under a delusion.
Let us look at the maritime provinces. By all reports the Liberal government in Nova Scotia will be returned by an increased majority. The government in Nova Scotia is strong. Then we come to the central provinces of Ontario and Quebec. I am sure that when the Prime Minister goes to Toronto and Hamilton he will have the same reception he received when he went to Windsor and Oshawa. He will be greeted not only
with sympathy, but with affection, by the Canadian people, who will have the advantage of meeting him both before and after the meetings that he holds there. I am not afraid of the province of Ontario. My contention has always been that since I have been elected as a member of parliament I am responsible to my electors for any information they request from me concerning dominion business. If they wish some information, they have a right to have an answer from their member. When it comes to provincial business, however, it is entirely different. I say that a member of parliament is responsible to his electors for any action taken in parliament, but is an entirely free man with regard to provincial matters. He becomes an elector, and he speaks and votes in provincial elections, not as a member of parliament but as a private citizen. He does so as an elector who is on the provincial electoral list.
What would be the objection if any one of the old supporters of Mitchell Hepburn or Conant, the old Liberals in the province of Ontario who put Mitchell Hepburn in power and who voted for the Liberal government in Ottawa, voted provincially for another party? Most of those who elected the present leader of the opposition as premier of the province of Ontario were precisely those who had elected Mitchell Hepburn. They were Liberals who for the time being changed their minds about provincial business, but always gave their support to a large number of Liberal candidates for Ottawa. A larger number of them will do the same thing at the coming election.
Speaking about the province of Quebec, I know in my own constituency many persons who have voted for the Union Nationale in the provincial election but who will nevertheless vote for the sitting member for Temi-scouata. Why is that necessary distinction not made? Personally I have great respect and sympathy for the present premier of Quebec, who is a lifelong friend of mine. Owing to the fact that the dominion and provincial jurisdictions are entirely different, I see no reason why the majority of the people of the province of Quebec cannot make that elementary distinction and consider provincial problems when they are called upon to vote in provincial elections, and consider dominion problems when they are voting in dominion elections. Well, sir, that is that.
I rely on the people of my province because I know them well. Because I know them well, I respect them. The reason I have had their generous and unqualified support for so many years is that I always tell them the truth. I have never hidden the truth
from them. I consider them my friends. They know very well that when anyone in my constituency, whatever his political colour, is in trouble, he may come to me for help, and I am always ready to do what I can for him. In this post-war period, when difficulties have arisen for which the government cannot be held responsible, it is important to have at the head of the state, as the first citizen of the land, a good Canadian who can be relied upon in the grave decisions he has to make quickly for the benefit of the country and the welfare of our fellow citizens.
Having said that much, I am sure that the Liberal party will come to power with a large majority after the next election.
Subtopic: QUESTION OF REOPENING JARVIS, ONT., AIRPORT