May 17, 1904 (9th Parliament, 4th Session)


William Humphrey Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)


I do not think the general public realize the character of the legislation now before this House. There is a pious belief among the electors, that parliament is a representative body of men sent here to legislate, and that the supporters of the government of the day are not as the hon. member (Air. Wade) would describe them, just a number of jaclcs-in-the-box ready to jump when the government pulled the string. Relying on their success in the past the government have ventured to introduce this measure. The Yukon Railway Bill possessed many similarities to this. On the eve of parliament the government made the Yukon Railway deal, and having implicit confidence that their supporters would swallow anything, they threw it at them and told them to vote for it, and vote for it they did. Again in the case of the Intercolonial Railway extension to Montreal, the government made the deal, submitted it to their docile supporters, told them to vote for it, and vote for it they did. Why, the electors of Canada might as well send proxies to this parliament, in the same fashion that the electoral colleges conduct their business in the United States. . The member for Annapolis has intimated that as the government have brought down this contract it must be assented to by the Liberal majority in this House as a matter of course. I remember that when the Intercolonial Railway deal was up in the Senate, and when one of its absurd propositions was being discussed, Senator Cox ip the innocence of his heart believed that parliament was a debating and thinking body and he suggested that the clause in the Bill should be changed. I suppose Senator Cox has since changed his opinion about the functions of parliament, I suppose he has come to the conclusion like many others, that the supporters of the government are to be regarded as a machine to carry out the wishes of the cabinet ministers ? We heard some talk in this House yesterday about factious opposition and delay, but whatever delay there is must be attributed to the Grand Trunk Pacific Company and to the government, for if they had perfected their legislation last year, we would not be here discussing it to-day. Last year the Grand Trunk Pacific people made propositions that goodness knows everybody thought were sweeping enough, but they found the government so easy and their followers so docile, that they thought they would come back and get more. There was a time when some of the members oil the Liberal benches were cautious about the expenditure of a few thousand dollars, but here to-day they are ready to squander millions, and this paltry one million and a quarter that my hon. member from Peel mentions in his amendment, they hardly deign to notice. This is not a time to consider thousands; this is a time when this high and mighty government can spend millions by the hundreds. I am surprised at the moderation of the Grand Trunk Pacific

Company when they found the pliable putty they had to deal with-

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