March 8, 1911 (11th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Lloyd Harris



That is am easy question to answer. A man always has a mandate to oppose anything he has not a mandate to vote for. I have been a little surprised that no authorities have been quoted on this subject. I have been looking up the question, and I find in. a work entitled ' The Government of England,' by Lovell, who, I believe, is a recognized authority, under the head, ' The Doctrine of Mandate,' the following:
Another sign of the times is found in the doctrine, now sanctioned by the highest authority, that parliament cannot legislate on a new question of vital importance without a mandate from the nation. The theory that the individual representative is a mere delegate of his constituents, so that he is hound to resign and submit to re-election if he changes his views, has long been a subject of discussion; but the idea that parliament as a whole exercises a delegated authority in the sense that it is morally restrained from dealing with questions that have not been laid before the people at the preceding general election would formerly have been regarded as a dangerous political heresy. Yet during the recent agitation in regard to fiscal policy, Mr. Balfour, while repudiating the suggestion that the existing parliament, having been elected on the single issue of the South African war, ought to be dissolved when peace was made, refused to grant time for a debate on free food on the ground that it would he constitutionally improper for parliament to act on the question until it had been submitted 'to the people at a general election, and that it would he unwise for the House to discuss a subject on which it could not act. I
I think we are wasting time in discussing this question, because we have not any mandate from the people of this country with regard to it.
My second reason for opposing it, is the method of doing it. If the government had a mandate, the method would have been quite correct, but the government having no mandate, the very fact that we in this House, who have been elected by our several constituencies to represent the people of this country, have never even been called into consultation, that we have never been asked to express our views on a measure which is perhaps the most radical departure in policy that we have ever had in this country, and the fact that two men went to Washington and made this arrangement and have come back to this parliament and aTe practically trying to force this measure through the House, is a method which I, personally, cannot support. Let us consider for a minute the procedure in the case. It has not been brought out in the debate, I think, up to the present time, what tppIIv has happened. As I under-Mr. HARRIS.
stand it, a year ago representations were made by President Taft through Mr. J. A. Macdonald of the Toronto f Globe,' to this government, that he found himself in a difficult position, owing to the Payne-Al-drich tariff having in it a clause which required him to penalize Canadian importations into the United States. I do not know whether it is known or not, but I have heard, and I think it is quite correct, that this clause in the Payne-Aldrich Tariff was copied from the Canadian tariff. We had such a clause in our tariff for some dime. We had it several years ago when Germany found it necessary to- .attack us in its tariff, and what was the answer that Germany got? We simply put the Act into force as it was, and we said to Germany: Very well, if you want to penalize us, we will penalize you, which we did; and I think that action had the support of everybody in this country. And when the United Slates made representations that it was necessary to have legislation put through at Ottawa to save the president of that country, I think we should have given them the same answer that we gave to Germany. Now, what consideration has been given to this arrangement? I have been very much interested in these negotiations ever since they commenced; and as far as I can find out, the two ministers returned from Washington on a Wednesday, and at that time apparently the other members of the cabinet, or at least those that I spoke to, knew no more about the conditions of this compact than I knew myself. The council evidently met on Thursday for an hour-if I am wrong in this, I hope I shall be corrected; this proposal was evidently considered by the council for one hour, at three o'clock this House met, and at 3.30 the hon. Minister of Finance came in and laid the agreement before the House. "I am ..only speaking for myself, but personally, I do not think that any man should be asked to support a measure which is forced through in that way, and which means so much to this country.
The third reason which I have for opposing it, is the one to which I attach the most importance. No donbt all of the hon. members of this House have had the same experience that I have had while these negotiations were in progress. I had letters and interviews, and when I went to western Ontario, I met a great many people who expressed their anxiety that something might happen which would effect them or their interests adversely. To one and all of such requests for information, I said: You need have no fear whatever, because there will be no revision or alteration of the tariff of thisi country without a thorough investigation. I want to state my reasons

for having given that -answer, -and if I make a longer quotation from ' Hansard 5 than I would like to do, I hope the House will bear with me. The right hon. the Prime Minister, on the second day of this -session, speaking in the Debate -on the Address in reply to the speech from the Throne, referring to his visit of last summer to the west, made this statement-:
The people of the west are now asking for a reduction of duty on certain articles which they consume. That is a very proper subject of investigation, and we intend to investigate it- Bnt at the proper time. My hon. friend (Mr. It. L. Borden) is very impatient. We who have been in office for a certain number of years know that if there is one thing more than another essential to the business prosperity of a country it is stability of character. And my hon. friend from North Toronto (Mr. Foster) who has special charge of these matters on his side of the House will not dispute this, although when in office he was delinquent on this point-he tinkered with the tariff year after year. But with the warning before us given by his course, we were particularly careful not to fall into his error. It has been our policy to have a revision of the tariff periodically, hut not year after year. I stated to the people of the northwest during my recent trip that it would be ou-r duty to consider their requests and to deal with them in the spirit in which we have always dealt with requests from the people. And I repeat that now. I stated, and my hon. friend (Mr. R. L. Borden) quoted my words, that we would have a ccmmission of investigation before we undertook a revision of the tariff. I noticed that that-evoked a cheer on-The-part of hon. members on the other side of the House. And may I be permitted to say without offending my hon. friend, and with every hope that he will pardon my pride in the matter, that the parts of his address that were most applauded were his quotations from my speeches. I trust that this flattery will not make me vain; I mention it only as a fact which is within the knowledge of all who heard the hon. member's speech. The statement made by myself and quoted by the hon. gentleman that we would have an investigation by commission before we altered the tariff called forth a special cheer from hon. members opposite. Does any hon. member on the other side take issue with the promise I made? Would any of them advocate rushing into a revision of the tariff without previous investigation?
That I consider a statesmanlike utterance. I was perfectly satisfied1 with it. I took it as a distinct and definite promise, and I made other promises on the strength of it.
The fourth reason that I have, is one which may not perhaps appeal to some members of the House, but I do not think we should look upon this reason in too light a way. It is that it has hurt the pride of Canadians. Some of my hon. friends laugh.
I think a glance over the history of Can-1544 -
ada since confederation will prove my point. For many years we felt that we were absolutely dependent on the United States, and we had these pilgrimages to Washington, for the purpose of negotiating free trade relations. But every time that we went wearing out our shoe leather, as one hon. gentleman has put it, what was the result? We simply met with one rebuff after another. Every time we knocked at their door, we were refused admittance; and the load we had to carry in Canada for a great many years seemed greater than we actually could bear.
Had we got, however, what we wanted at that time, the whole course of Canadian history would have been changed. We would not have had a country such as we now have. Our maritime provinces would have been connected by trade and commerce with the eastern states; Ontario would have been dealing entirely with the state of New York and the adjacent states and in the Northwest of Canada, I doubt if we would have built a railway around the north shore of Lake Superior. But not having been able to get what we wanted, we were forced to initiate a policy of our own, and that was to take off our coats and seek to bind this country together and create a nation. We have done this. We have done perhaps what no other country in the world has accomplished. You all know what it means for a man when he feels he has done something. It makes him a better in every respect. One of the good things That has come to us in recentr yeaTS is The knowledge that we have a separate and distinct entity. The word ' Canadian ' stands to-day for something. Years ago it did not stand for much. At present, however, it means that Canadians have done something that they have accomplished things, and that means a great deal to a people just as it does to an individual.
I claim that this measure-the method of doing it, and the measure itself-is one that will have far reaching consequences on Canada perhaps more than anything that has ever happened. I give these four reasons for opposing it, which perhaps will not be considered sufficient by my hon. friends on this side. But for these four reasons alone I have made up my mind that I cannot support the government in this measure. I propose now to deal with its economic features, and shall have to do that in my own way. Each one approaches all these questions from his own standpoint, but I think every one will agree that we should approach the discussion of a measure of such importance as this in a sane manner. I cannot say that some of the arguments and remarks of the advocates of this measure are made in that spirit. I was Teading in the Toronto ' Globe,' of March 4, an account of a meeting at Woodstock the other

night at. which the hon. Minister of Labour (Mr. King) was present. The article is as follows:

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