June 5, 1908 (10th Parliament, 4th Session)

LIB

David Alexander Gordon

Liberal

Mr. D. A. GORDON (East Kent).

Mr. Speaker, the innocence of hon. gentlemen opposite is certainly most notable.
I think the time appropriate to discuss at some length the question of obstruction so that we may see where these hon. gentlemen stand. Before I finish, I will take opportunity to refer to the rules that have been adopted in the British parliament, and I think it will be seen that hon. gentlemen opposite stand in exactly the position in which the Minister of Finance has put them to-day so far as their relation to the voting of supplies is concerned. I fully realize my inability to discuss this question from either a legal or technical standpoint, but must content myself with viewing it from the standpoint of the plain, ordinary business man dealing in simple parlance with the organized tactics that are daily pursued by hon. gentlemen opposite for the purpose of obstruction. It is a time-honoured custom, on going into Supply, for an hon. member to discuss any question affecting his constituency or the country at large, to air a grievance or complaint. This rule is a most salutary one and, particularly in the earlier part of the session, the greatest latitude of debate in this respect should be allowed and should be taken advantage of by members on both sides of the House. This is consistent with free speech, as it affords ample opportunity to discuss questions of importance. On this freedom we pride ourselves. But we should jealously guard our discussions and in no way permit them to interfere with the transaction of public business. When this good rule is broken, when freedom of debate is taken advantage of, not to discuss matters of urgency or importance, but simply to delay or block

the despatch of legitimate business in the House, then, Sir, I submit, the freedom which is so abused should be curtailed in some way. It is my humble opinion that, after a certain stage in the session, such discussions as I have referred to should not be permitted on more than one day in the week, and even then only for a limited time-at most for an hour or two.
Although the government, as is well known, was ready with its work at the opening of this session, practically nothing has been done to date; in fact, any reputable business house in the country could transact in six weeks' time as much business as we have put through here in six months. Generally speaking, I believe the average voter throughout the country feels disposed to hold the government responsible for the delay, not understanding clearly our methods of procedure, not realizing that a dozen men-or two men, for that matter-can hold up indefinitely the voting of supplies or the transaction of the country's business. Under such conditions, it becomes, in my judgment, our duty to find such a solution of this difficulty as will effectually overcome the evil we have to face. We are sent here to legislate for the country's benefit and generally to assist in the transacting of the country's business. We believe it to be our duty to assume any responsibility necessary to attain these end's and to render an account of our acts not to the opposition in this House but to the people we represent.
Mr. Speaker, I desire to put myself on record as advocating the adoption of such rules as will enable the House to proceed with the business of the country, giving that business preference in all eases, and shutting off the long, windy speeches, which, at best, are only for party purposes and cannot serve the best interests of the country in any sense. Year after year the length of the session is growing greater. In order to make the comparison clear, yet as brief as possible, I have made up the figures in 10-year periods.

Topic:   SUPPLY-CHARGE OF OBSTRUCTION.
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