Mr. ARTHUR GILBERT (Drummond and Arthabaska).
(Translation.) Mr. Speaker, allow' me to beseech the indulgence of the
House so that I may find it an easier matter to get through my maiden speech. My intention is to be courteous towards all, to utter only loyal words as regards Canada and the empire. At the same time I do not wish to deviate from the stand taken during the campaign, or to break faith with those who returned me.
I was selected as candidate, I agreed tq run, and was returned for Drummond and Arthabaska as a protest against the refusal of the government to grant a plebiscite, to protest also against the refusal of the government to take heed of petitions forwarded by the people, and especially from the people of Drummond and Arthabaska.
In Drummand and Arthabaska, we love our country, and we believe that in regard to a question of such importance as that of the navy-a new departure-the people should be consulted. In the county of Drummond and Arthabaska, we have full faith in the wisdom of the province of Quebec as well as in the wisdom of the province of Ontario and of every province in the Dominion. When we suggest that an appeal be made to the people, we do so as regards all the provinces in the Dominion, in behalf of all those living on Canadian soil. We are opposed to the Naval Bill believing that there is in the provisions of that Bill certain things inimical to our autonomy. In the county of Drummond and Arthabaska, we are anxious to preserve that autonomy which has been secured to us through the efforts of all our public men since confederation; we are anxious to preserve it for the benefit of all those who live in the land, for the benefit of Frenchspeaking Canadians, as well as for the benefit of English-speaking Canadians, in a word for the benefit of all those who breathe Canadian air.
In Drummond and Arthabaska, we are anxious to develop the resources of the country, we are anxious that things be so arranged that the Canadian people may have a fair return for any expenditure they make. Let us suppose I am the owner of some property and I put some one on the property to develop it and take care of it. Well, all I can require that man to do is to prevent any trespassing on that property and to enjoy any returns he gets from it. As long as I am confident that he is ready to defend it at the price of his life, I cannot exact any more from him. It is in such manner that I propose fulfilling my duty towards Canada.
When selected to run in that election, the farmers in the constituency were among those who requested me to accept the candidature, so that the farming community might have one more representative in this Parliament. I appealed to the farmers for their vote; when in sympathy with the farming community, one may boast of being in sympathy with all classes of society, for
on that class rests the welfare of the country as a whole.
I was returned to protest against the Naval Bill and to declare in favour of an appeal to the people.
Such was the position I took during the campaign. I have explained it to the electors as they wanted me to do. I wished to be the people's servant. During the campaign I said I was a Liberal. In fact, I am a Liberal, but I do not consider myself bound to- this party such as the hon. member for Montcalm (Mr. Lafor-tune) claims to be. He is a lawyer. I was twenty-one years old and I did not know how to write, but I understand that a Liberal is a free man, and I will have lost everything on the day I will have no right to think, to believe or to act.
I will vote for the amendment of the hon. member for Jacques Cartier (Mr. Monk) because I think it is more generous and would allow Canadian people to give their own opinion on this Naval Bill and militia question.
Hon. Mr. FISHER (Minister of Agriculture. (Translation.) Before going over the subject now in discussion, I wish to congratulate the hon. member for Drummond-Arthabaska (Mr. Gilbert) for his maiden speech to-day in this House. I do not approve of his politics on which he has just pronounced himself, nor do I share his views on the subject, but being myself an old member of this House, I wish him personally a hearty welcome.
I would not have undertaken to speak at this late stage of the debate were it not that there are one or two things in the speech of the hon. member for Jacques Cartier (Mr. Monk) which deserve some notice, and ought to be corrected. Before, however, dealing with those matters, I wish to draw attention to the reference which he made to a pamphlet published in the Drummond-Arthabaska election, and which, if I remember rightly, was said to have been published by Liberals. When speaking a few minutes ago the hon. member referred to a certain journal called ' La Gazette d'Arthabaska ' as a Liberal newspaper.