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


William Humphrey Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. W. II. BENNETT (East Simcoe).

Mr. Speaker, in the month of November last past, the newspapers of this country were crowded with information in reference to the withdrawal of the then Minister of Public Works from the cabinet and there was great diversity of opinion as to whether the minister had been dismissed or whether he had by his own free will, quitted the administration. It is quite true that the Liberal press of the country stood to gain by making out that the late minister had been driven from the Laurier government and to that end every means, of course, was taken. In the great province of Quebec, from which both of these hon. gentlemen come, there was a great diversity of opinion as to what the facts really were. I am free to say that after the discussion that has ensued to-day and the statements that have been made by the right hon. leader of the government and the late Minister of Public Works the general public will be as much in the dark to-day as they were then. On the one side there is the clear cut statement of the right hon. leader of the government that having been, as he had been, in the old country, that having been acquainted with certain facts relative to the conduct of the late Minister of Public Works the decision brought about by himself, namely, the dismissal of the minister was arrived at upon his return to this country.
Now, the statement of the Prime Minister is lacking in definiteness. He told us that some one supplied him with newspapers whilst he was in Europe, but he neglected to tell us who they were who were caballing against his colleague (Hon. Mr. Tarte). The Minister of Railways and Canals (Hon. Mr. Blair) and the Minister of the Interior (Hon. Mr. Sifton) were on this side of the water then, and the pointed remarks of the ex-minister (Hon. Mr. Tarte) to-day would lead us to think that he had these two ministers of the cabinet in his eye. It is an accepted theory that there can be no effect without a cause, and considering the relations which have existed between the Minister of Railways and the ex-Minister of Public Works since they were thrown
together in the cabinet, it might fairly be said that these relations were somewhat strained. The Department of Railways is intimately associated with the Idea of transportation in which the great province of Ontario is deeply interested, but I will be bound to say that the Minister of Railways (Hon. Mr. Blair) might promenade through all the towns and cities in Ontario without causing a ripple, while, if the Minister of Public Works appeared anywhere his presence would be the event of the day. From the first there seems to have been animosity between these two gentlemen. We all remember when the Minister of Railways came to the committee in connection with the Kettle River Talley Bill and there announced that the policy of the government was that the Kettle River Company should be granted its charter. But shortly afterwards the Minister of Railways was forced to admit that he could not get the followers of the government to support him-the reason being because the ex-Minister of Public Works was against the policy of the government thus announced and so the Minister of Railways was defeated and his colleague (Hon. Mr. Tarte) triumphed. We saw what happened in connection with the Intercolonial Railway deal. It was first introduced by the Minister of Railways but it was soon dropped by him and relegated to the ex-Minister of Public Works, who took it in hand. I am fairly within the judgment of the House when I say that in regard to the question of transportation which has been engaging the serious attention of the people of Canada, the Minister of Railways played only a second part. Where was the Minister of Railways when the ex-Minister of Public Works announced the policy of the government as to the construction of the canal system by way of the French River V Sir, it is patent to us all that a deep gulf separated the friendly relationship which ought to exist between these two ministers.
Sir, the Minister of the Interior made a certain amount of capital for himself in the North-west by his advocacy of a lower tariff, and while the Minister of the Interior was advocating that gospel in the west the ex-Minister of Public Works was busily engaged propagating the high tariff theory in the east. The Minister of the Interior found it necessary to be interviewed by the Winnipeg ' Free Press,' and in it he announced that his policy would in the end prevail against the policy of his colleague (Hon. Mr. Tarte). But if the Minister of Railways and if the Minister of the Interior wei-e placed in an unenviable position, what have we to say of the humiliating position into which the cabinet ministers from Ontario were placed. Last year after the session, when it was announced to all deputations that came here that they might hope for tariff revision, throughout the whole province of Ontario boards of trade and cor-

porations of one kind and another held meetings at which they wished to obtain the views of ministers upon the most interesting of public questions. My hon. friend from South Ontario (Mr. Ross) was to have a demonstration in the town of Oshawa in his constituency. In Oshawa there is a large carriage establishment, one of the largest not only in the province but in the whole Dominion, and to the humiliation of the cabinet ministers from Ontario, especially the Minister of Customs (Hon. Mr. Paterson), who, one would think, had a special interest in the matter, they were placed aside by the member for South Ontario, they were not invited, and in their stead the member for South Ontario brought forth the Hon. Mr. Tarte, because that minister held a larger place in the public eye. The hon. member (Mr. Ross) passed over the Minister of Customs and the Postmaster General, and he invited the ex-Minister of Public Works to perform the interesting ceremony of laying the corner stone of an addition to the factory of McLaughlin Bros. At the public meeting which was held the hon. member for West Durham (Mr. Beith) and the hon. member for South Ontario (Mr. Ross) were side by side with the ex-Minister of Public Works, and as if to add eclat to the occasion, the Hon. John Dryden, minister of tlie Ontario government, came along also. Now, what passed on that occasion

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