March 18, 1903 (9th Parliament, 3rd Session)


William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. W. F. MACLEAN (East York).

Mr. Speaker, in the discussion which took place this afternoon we heard a good deal about the loyalty of a member of the cabinet to his colleagues and to his chief. But there was something else which was not referred to, but which I think is equally important, and that is the loyalty of the head of the cabinet to a former member of his cabinet. If there was ever an exhibition of disloyalty to a former' colleague, that exhibition was made here this afternoon. An attempt was made, in the explanations offered to the House, to show that, in some way the Prime Minister had dismissed a colleague, when the facts go to show that that colleague the late Minister of Public Works (Hon. Mr. Tarte) had tendered his resignation to his chief and that the chief had asked him to hold his resignation in abeyance, that the hon. gentleman (Hon. Mr. Tarte) went on

a journey, and that opportunity was taken to make it appear that he had been dismissed. I think that is one of the most discreditable things in the history of cabinet government of this country. And not only have we seen an exhibition of disloyalty on the part of a chief to his colleague, but we have also seen a case of disloyalty manifested by one member of the cabinet to another. It comes to this, that, as between the late Minister of Public Works and the Minister of Finance (Hon. Mr. Fielding) on the question whose view is to be accepted, I am inclined to take the view of the Minister of Public Works instead of that of the Minister of Finance (Hon. Mr. Fielding). The late Minister of Public Works has this in his favour-that he resigned to maintain a principle, while the other hon. gentleman holds his position through a lack of principle. There is no possible explanation of his position before us to-day except that he is a free trader by profession and a protectionist by practice. Let me show the evidence on which 1 charge the Minister of Finance with being unfair to the late Minister of Public Works. The late Minister of Public Works says that it was clearly understood in the cabinet when he was a member of it that there was to be a revision in it and that revision was to be on the lines of protection. The hon. Minister of Finance (Hon. Mr. Fielding) says that that is not the case. The late Minister of Public Works makes of his case but he is not the only witness that we can call. We have the hon. member for Alberta (Mr. Oliver) also. That hon. gentleman himself is not here, but we have his words, and I propose to read these words. On March 21st, last, discussing this very declaration of policy which the leader of the House says is their policy, the hon. member spoke as follows :
Therefore when the Finance Minister speaks of changes, he is not referring to changes brought to his notice by the low tariff friends of the government, and consequently he must refer to those asked for by their high tariff friends
* Those of us then who are In favour of a low tariff are in a serious position, and I would like to say to the Minister of Finance that in making the announcement which he did, in his presentation of the budget, he has placed every supporter of the government, representing a constituency in which the low tariff idea predominates, upon the defensive in his own constituency before his own friends. It is, therefore, necessary on thiS' occasion that members holding that position should make themselves understood, so that whatever misunderstanding there, may be as to the intentions of the government, there should be none as to their position with regard to those proposed changes.
I cite that statement of the hon. member for Alberta as in every way confirmatory of the statement of the late Minister of Public Works. And, above all when we have the fact that the hon. gentleman (Hon. Mr. Tarte) sacrificed himself for principle
while the man who disputed his position refused to sacrifice himself for principle, the weight of testimony is altogether on the side of the late Minister of Public Works. And, if the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance are guilty of being unfaithful to a colleague, they are guilty also of this-that they sacrificed a colleague because he was a protectionist. That is a thing that the people of Canada will be interested in and will take into account-namely, that a member of the cabinet was sacrificed because he had declared in favour of a policy of protection. The hon. gentleman, so far as we can gather to-day was sacrificed to duplicity. He was a member of the cabinet in which two views were held-in that cabinet there were both protectionists and free traders. The duplicity with which he was treated is far from creditable to the government, and the people of Canada will not lose sight of it. And what about the Minister of Murine and Fisheries (Hon. Mr. Prefon-taine) who has lately come into the cabinet? Is he to be sacrificed also ? If what the hon. member for St. Mary's division (Hon. Mr. Tarte) tells us is correct, the hon. Minister of Marine and Fisheries is liable to be sacrificed any day, for he too professes to be a protectionist. He told the people that he believed in adequate protection. He is not only liable to be dismissed, but he is liable to be treated by the leading paper of the Liberal party as the late Minister of Public Works was-and that paper called the hon. gentleman ' The Busy Izzy of the Cabinet.' And what were the relations of this so-called ' Busy Izzy of the Cabinet ' to the lender of the party ? If ever there was a man who saved his party and carried his province for the support of his leader, it was the late Minister of Public Works. Yet the reward he gets is that he is sacrificed because the charge is laid against him that he is a protectionist. The Prime Minister this afternoon appealed to the record of Mr. Gladstone and to the record of Sir Robert Peel. We know that both these gentlemen changed their opinions on the tariff question. And the right hon. gentleman (Rt. Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier) claimed that he had changed his opinion. But there is this difference-that when Sir Robert Peel changed his opinion or when Mr. Gladstone changed his opinion, the whole world knew exactly where he stood. I defy any man to say where the right hon. gentleman is. I ask any man who sits behind him to-day to say where the right hon. gentleman is, whether he is a protectionist or whether he is a free trader. He is everything, he is both, he is nothing, he is what circumstances happen to require. The government is nothing but a cabinet of latitudes and longitudes. The greatest latitude, apparently, was to be allowed to every man on that question. The late minister took the opportunity to avail himself of that latitude.

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