May 20, 1901 (9th Parliament, 1st Session)


Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)



proposed increase is likely to better that representation. For my part, I am inclined to think that it will, or at least continue it as it is at present. As as has been pointed out by the right hon. gentleman, if we are to expect the best element of this country to be represented in parliament we must get them from the active business life of the country. '
The men whom we want in parliament are men who have business interests of their own. And it is? well known to all of us- well known to most of us by experience- that to participate in the public life of this country involves a very great sacrifice to the business interests of any man who has any real business to attend to. That being the case, is the proposed increase wise or unwise ? The indemnity was fixed, as the right hon. gentleman says, in 1873. I have looked carefully over what record there is of the debate in that year ; I have looked carefully over the record of the debate in 1885 with respect to the special increase for that year, and over the debate in 1891 wiiu respect to a similar matter ; and I believe that if any hon. gentleman takes the pains to look at these debates, he will undoubtedly say that when the indemnity of $1,000 was fixed in 1873, it was fixed upon the basis that sessions of parliament should not extend beyond the period of three months. Now, what is likely to be the duration of future sessions of parliament ? I am inclined to think that the business of this country cannot be done by parliament in any such length of time. I believe that in the future-looking to the next twenty-five years-the business of parliament will require four months if not five months. Let us look at the record of the present session. I think that no hon. gentleman in this House will be disposed to say-I think that no reasonable person in the country will be disposed to say-that during the present session any considerable length of time has been unprofitably used in discussing the business of this country in this House. On this side of the House we have honestly endeavoured, as far as we could, to expedite the business of the government. And the result is that this session will run to at least three months and a half. Moreover, it has not been to any extent a controversial session ; very little controversial matter has been introduced. And we may expect in the future, during the next session and during the following sessions, that the business of the House will necessarily occupy a considerably greater time than lias been occupied during this year. Now, if this country fixed the amount that I have spoken of in 1873 having regard to the business which had to be transacted then and having regard to the length of time which was then necessarily occupied, it does not seem to me that, twenty-eight years afterwards, we are unduly departing from any principle then laid down if we say that the sessional indemnity

should now be increased to $1,500. In doing that, I believe we are fixing the amount of the indemnity for a great many years to come, we are fixing it with a view to the necessarily longer sessions of the future, and we are doing it in view of the enormously increased business of this House, business which must continue to increase during the next twenty-five years, unless we are all very much mistaken as to what the future development of this country will be. I have, therefore, to say, Sir, that, so far as I am concerned and speaking for myself, I am inclined to support the resolution now before the House, for the reasons that I have placed before you.

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