February 1, 1916 (12th Parliament, 6th Session)


George Perry Graham



I mean of more vital importance to the individual. This is not a matter to be dealt with lightly, and when people say, "We must not have an election, change the term of Parliament,"
I say in reply, the circumstances may warrant it. The serious position in which we find ourselves in thle great conflict in which we are engaged may possibly [DOT] constitute a reason for changing the constitution; but it must be understood throughout the length and breadth of the land that we are not discussing this question lightly, because it is a serious matter to change the constitution under which this young country was formed, and by the provisions of which minorities are protected and guarantees

that must not be broken are given to the smaller provinces. If necessary, I shall be prepared to discuss the matter when the resolution comes before the House, but I think it is not unreasonable to suggest now that the Government, wthen they present the resolution, have, ready the programme which they intend to give to the House. If we are to take to ourselves an extended term we ought now to be able to tell the country, before the press discusses the matter much, wfhlat we intend to do with the extra time that we are adding to our term. In what way do we intend to employ the extra days which we are arrogating to ourselves, and what value is the country going to get for the extra salary that we are voting ourselves? I do not think it is unfair that the people, early in the session, or even before the resolution is brought down, should have some information on this point. -
The next item in the speech is provision for the war. There is no man on either side of the House but is prepared to vote heartily for anything necessary in connection with the prosecution of the war. We have always taken that position; we propose to do so in future, and there need be no question about that.
Certain objections have been taken to criticism. There can be no real objection to criticism. The Government, through the Prime Minister, has invited us to criticise. Of course, when a man criticises you, you can not be the judge of what the critic is to say. I can not be the judge if he is criticising me. But when our expenditures are being doubled and trebled, when little regard is being paid to the value of money as long as we can get what is necessary for the war, criticism ought to be invited and administered. In the Old Land criticism of the most virulent type goes on day after day, and that in the face of the fact that the Government has taken a portion of the Opposition into its ranks. The British people are supposed to be united in the Government, and if criticism there is invited and indulged in, how much more 10 p.m. necessary is criticism in this House, and how much more readily ought it to be invited when the Government managing this great undertaking is all chosen from one side of politics and when half the people belong to the other? The people of Canada will laugh at any person who winces under criticism, or who says it is undignified or verging on disloyalty for the action of the Government
to be called in question at this or at any other time. True, I say, we must not lose sight of the great fact that, no matter what our differences or our criticisms may be,, or what errors or worse may have been committed, the prosecution of this war ought to be our first consideration. I was reading the other night something of the work of the censors, of which I believe some hon. members spoke. The newspaper business has been curtailed a good deal, perhaps necessarily so; but I have often wondered what the censors thought of theft interview or letter given out by Mr. Holt of Montreal.

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