I trust, Mr. Speaker, that there was not a bolt in 1893 as well as in 1896. I presume that the Governor General in Council made this appointment, and if my hon. friend from South Lanark was not present in council, and was not consulted in the matter, he would not presume to say that the hon. member for North Toronto
(Mr. Foster) was not consulted, lie being the minister for the pronvince of New Brunswick at the time. Many instances have been cited here to-day of the promotion of puisne judges to chief justiceships, because of the eminent fitness which they have shown for the higher position. That practice has been fairly well established in this country. Many instances have been mentioned here to-day, not only in Canada but in Great Britain. If I mistake not, the Hon. Mr. Justice King, a gentleman than whom none better or brighter ever adorned a court, was promoted from the Supreme Court of the province of New Brunswick to become a judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, on the recommendation, I presume, of the hon. member for North Toronto, who was at that time the minister from the province of New Brunswick. We might go on giving other instances; but, after all, the question whether a judge should be promoted from an inferior position to a superior one, is a question whether he possesses those eminent qualifications to fit him for the higher position.
I regret that the hon. leader of the opposition to-day endeavoured to create a distrust and disrespect in this country for the Railway Commission. He stated that two of the appointments to that commission had been made for political exigencies and for nothing else. Well, Mr. Speaker, that commission is a semi-court of this country, and we should endeavour, it seems to me. to inculcate the idea in the minds of the people that that court is one which knows what it is doing, and will hold the scales of justice even as between all parties. When the commission -was appointed, the Hon. Mr. Blair was made its chairman. Mr. Blair, I believe, was eminently fitted for that position. No man on the other side of the House up to to-day has ever risen to say that, from his knowledge of law and his experience in this House in connection with the Railway Act, he was not fitted to be chairman. The government, I know, were blamed, even by their own supporters, for appointing a man who had differed with them on a very important question ; but the government rose to the occasion, and, though he did not agree with them in regard to the transcontinental railway project, they decided to appoint him. because they believed him to be the best man for the position ; and my hon. friend 1he leader of the opposition did not complain of the appointment. But the time came when Mr. Blair suddenly, in the twinkling of an eye, while many cases were standing for judgment, resigned his position ; and my hon. friend asks the government to-day for an explanation of Mr. Blair's resignation under these circumstances. I think the answer to the question, why did Mr. Blair resign, should be given by these hon. gentlemen. The government cannot explain it-there is no question about that. It is beyond explanation on this side of the House ; but our hon. friends on the other side, who formed a partnership with a gentleman who said that he had persuaded Mr. Blair to resign, should explain to this House and to the country why it was that their political agent, their partner in political crime at that time, made that statement.
But no explanation comes from the other side. Mr. Blair was appointed by this government because they considered him the best man to fill the position. But why was he persuaded to resign, and how comes it that he did resign at so opportune a moment for hon. gentlemen opposite ? What are the facts, as near as we can gather them, and no doubt they will all be public within a few months. The facts are that these hon. gentlemen opposite knew of Mr. Blair's resignation before the government were aware of it. They proclaimed to the world that inside of a certain forty-eight hours be would take the stump. Why was it that the chief Tory organ in the Dominion, the 'Montreal Star,' proclaimed that Mr. Blair would take the stump. How comes it that the 'Star' knew of Mr. Blair's resignation even before the government knew it. These are questions which hon. gentlemen opposite should answer in order that the people may be on their guard against similar political bombshells that may be sent out in any future campaign. But when Mr. Blair did resign he was elevated by these hon. gentlemen to the highest of political fame. They proclaimed him the saviour of Canada. They sang his praises ad nauseam. This country was made blue by their fulsome eulogies from one end of the country to the other. Not only did they sing his praises upon every platform and in every Tory newspaper in the land, with perhaps the possible exception of the ' Toronto World.'