June 24, 1904 (9th Parliament, 4th Session)


Samuel Hughes


Mr. SAM. HUGHES (North Victoria).

Mr. Speaker, in resuming the debate adjourned last evening, I may at the outset express my surprise at the conduct of the government in relation to this matter. Many of us felt, immediately after Lord Dundon-ald's speech had been delivered in Montreal and published through the country, that having been caught red-handed, as he undoubtedly was in the-I will not use so strong a term as crime-in the act of interfering politically in the appointments of militia officers in this country, the Minister of Agriculture (Hon. Mr.Fisher) would frankly confess to the Prime Minister (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) his fault and ask pardon from the people of Canada, and from the House of Commons, and from Lord Dundonald ; and if he had done so the incident would have been passed over and forgotten. But in-Mr. PREFONT AINE,
stead of that, Sir, we find that the government are hanging together, and as a government and individually, are glorifying in their conduct. Ever since the visit of the Minister of Agriculture to the Orient, a year or so ago, his friends have noticed the enlarged size of his head, and whether he had so impressed the people of Japan with the greatness of Canada, or whether he had led many of them to suppose that he was the Mikado, that he was the ruler of Canada, these people, I am told, actually fell down in front of him and almost worshipped him on some occasions ; and he has returned to Canada with his head abnormally enlarged, and seeks to secure from the people of the Dominion of Canada the same treatment that was meted out to him by the Japanese. In other words, he was regarded as a little tin god whilst in Japan, and on his return he is seeking to impress upon the people of Canada the same opinion.
Now, Sir, I may say that we were not surprised at the exhibition of the Minister of Agriculture ; but we were more than surprised at the exhibition made by the Minister of Militia last night ; and I am satisfied that when that hon. gentleman, in his calmer moments, reads over the remarks that he made in this House last night, and which have gone broadcast throughout the country, he will, deep down in his heart, be ashamed of the manner and the spirit which he displayed in this House last night. If there has been any act on the part of the Minister of Militia which would call for a rupture of the truce that has been extended to him ever since he was appointed head of the department, if there has been any act which would have called for a rupture of the truce that has been observed loyally towards him by the Liberal-Conservative party in this House and this country, it was the evidence that we had last night of his sympathy with the efforts of the Minister of Agriculture to introduce politics into the administration of the militia of this country. We did not expect anything better of the Minister of Agriculture. We knew it was his size to go down dabbling and meddling in the militia affairs of the eastern townships; but we did expect something better from the Minister of Militia than to back up the conduct of the Minister of Agriculture. I am satisfied that in his calmer moments he will apologize to this House and apologize to Lord Dundonald for the position he occupies in suppressing reports of the general, which, he says, are secret and confidential, and trying to blacken the character and reputation of Lord Dundonald, not only in this' country, but throughout the empire, on the strength of reports which the general issues, but which the minister, to suit his convenience, will not place before the people of this country. Now, Sir, I stand here to demand that" that part II. of the confidential report of Lord Dundonald b* given to this House and this country.

We have had confidential reports brought down to this House before. I myself asked the Minister of Militia some time ago in this House-the questions are in the ' Hansard ' if he disputes it-asked him the categorical questions : Was this a confidential report, was it a secret report ? And the answer 1 got was that it was confidential, that it was secret, and that it was not to be put before the House. I have Lord Dundonald's word for it that the report was neither secret nor confidential, any more than any other report between a general and bis minister is secret and confidential. The covering letter may have been marked ' private,' but according to the hon. Minister of Militia himself that covering letter was sent some days before the report reached him. We demand that that report be placed before the country. It cannot possibly be any harm to do so. The rumour has already got abroad, it is already in the air that Lord Dundonald has proposed some tremendous scheme involving an expenditure of millions, and it has been said that the Canadian border from the Atlantic to the Pacific is to bristle with forts. The organ of the right hon. First Minister, not the organ that was complained of last night by the - hon. Minister of Militia, not the Toronto ' News,' but the other Organ, has charged that Lord Dundonald's report involves an expenditure of from $35,000,000 to $50,000,000 for a line of forts along the border and for armaments that would turn this country into a regular hive of militarism. As I .understand Lord Dundonald's policy, it is the reverse of a regular military policy. He aims at the upbuilding of the militia of this country, not an aristocratic army, not an army controlled either by oligarchs or autocrats. The hon. Minister of Militia has admitted that because he has adopted almost in its entirety Lord Dunuonald's confidential report. Then, why cannot it be brought down ? I maintain in the interest of the country and in fair-play to Lord Dundonald that the report must be brought down. I do not see that Lord Dundonald needs to obtain any one's permission after the very cavalier manner in which he has been treated, but in case he requires to obtain any one's permission to publish that report, I maintain that it is Lord .uundonald's duty at the very earliest opportunity to publish that report broad cast to the world in order that we may judge whether the slanders that were heaped on that gentleman last night are justified or not. The hon. Minister of Militia last night undertook to read the House a lecture on constitutional history and constitutional law and he read extracts showing that the Secretary of State in the old country'and the Minister of Militia here, each in his proper place, is the superior of the Commander in Chief or of the General Officer Commanding. There is no child in the
fourth book in any of the ordinary schools but knows that, yet he and his colleague in iniquity in this instance, the hon. Minister of Agriculture, were endeavouring to read us these lectures. I may point out that a lesson was taught these hon. gentlemen long, long ago and I thank the hon. Minister of Agriculture for having profited by the lesson I gave him the other night. I promised him that if I took him in hand I would teach him something.

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