February 28, 1910 (11th Parliament, 2nd Session)


William Melville Martin



Mr. Speaker, I desire to call the attention of the House to an 137
incorrect report which appears in the edition of the Toronto ' World ' of February 25 lafit. The statement reads as follows:
Ottawa, Feb. 24.-(Special.)-If the Naval Bill is not withdrawn and held over till next session, it will not be the fault of a couple of western Liberal members, who are to-night circulating for signature a petition to Sir Wilfrid Laurier to do one of two things- either bring this naval debate to a sudden conclusion so that they can get to their homes by Easter or withdraw the Bill.
It is impossible, of course, under the present conditions, to limit this important debate, and at the present rate the House cannot rise before June, even although future Wednesday evenings will now be requisitioned for the work of the Commons. Therefore the petition narrows itself down to a request for withdrawal of the Bill.
Western Liberals in common with western Ontario Liberals are not enamoured of the Bill, and would gladly see it dead.
This statement contains only a semblance of truth. It is a fact that there was a petition circulated amongst the members of both sides of the House; it was not prepared by western Liberal members, but was prepared by Liberal and Conservative, members who sit on both sides of the House. There was nothing stated in the petition as to the bringing of the debate on the Naval Bill to a conclusion before Easter, nor was there any statement with respect to the withdrawal of the Naval Bill. The petition was simply got up by a number of members on both sides of the House for the purpose of bridging the attention of the right hon. leader of the House (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) and the hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. R. L. Borden) to the desire of a great many hon. members of this House to get home by Easter, if possible, and to prevent them from being required to come back after the adjournment. I have in my hands part of a petition that was signed and which is a very harmless document. It is simply a request to the two leaders of the House that steps be taken to ensure the prorogation of the House before Easter. There is no attempt shown in the document to prevent proper discussion of the Naval Bill or any other matter of general public interest, and that the petition! did meet with general favour by members on both sides, is, I think, demonstrated by the fact that the part of the petition which I hold in my hand was signed by seventy, members on both sides of the House.

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