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


William Humphrey Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)


My hon. friend is thinking of Mr. Stratton when he talks about money having passed. This was Mr. Dryden who was present. Here was the exminister (Hou. Mr. Tarte), who was not connected with the Finauce Department or the Customs Department, who was not even an Ontario minister, here he was invited because he was an advanced protectionist and because the member for Soutli Ontario (Mr. Ross) believed that his presence would be acceptable to the people of the constituency. Judging by the report in the local papers and by the report in the ' Globe ' also, the ex-minister (Hon. Mr. Tarte) made one of his characteristic speeches prophesying high protection, and the newspapers tell us that that speech was cheered to the echo. The hon. gentleman (Hon. Mr. Tarte) pointed out that .fl,000,000 worth of carriages liad been imported to Canada the preceding year, and he told the people of Oshawa and the people from the rural districts there assembled, that if they had more protection for that industry more hands would be employed and greater prosperity would follow. And then we saw the Hon. John Dryden announcing that although he had been a free trader in the past, the light had come to him at last, and he was thoroughly in accord with every statement made by the Hon. Mr. Tarte-and the member for South Ontario applauded. After that there was to be a demonstration in your town of Goderich, Mr. Deputy Mr. BENNETT.
Speaker, and the Minister of Public Works was invited. I am sure that the gentleman in whose constituency Goderich is had something to do with the invitation which was tendered to the ex-Minister of Public Works. Again the Minister of Customs and the Postmaster General were overlooked. Why ? It was because they occupied such an inferior position in the public eye of their own province, that the hon. gentleman from West Huron (Mr. Plolmes) thought it better to invite the protectionist Minister of Public Works. At the Goderich meeting the Hon. Mr. Tarte was cheered to the echo. Then there was to be a large demonstration in the city of Brantford to advocate protection of the manufacturing industries. On that occasion there sat at his feet the hon member for South Brant (Mr. Heyd) applauding every statement to the echo. Why, Sir, these lion, gentlemen all know that their very existence in nine out- of every ten counties in the province of Ontario depends on this very question of protection. This was the unkindest cut of all administered by the citizens of Brantford, for this reason, that the hon. Minister of Customs was a very Islimaelite in that city, having been driven out from it by the electors, and to his mortification he had to suffer the agony of hearing the ex-Minister of Public Works applauded to the echo in the town in which he had lived almost his whole lifetime. But that was not the only place. In the town of Berlin the ex-Minister of Public Works was brought before the public and again applauded. But perhaps it was in the town of Orillia, which is in the riding that I have the honour to represent, that the Minister of Public Works received one of the greatest ovations given to him in the whole province ; and that must have been gall and wormwood to the hon. Postmaster General (Hon. Sir William Mulock), because he was overlooked and did not appear. Take up the public press of Ontario during the past year, look where you will, and you will find reports of receptions tendered to the ex-Minister of Public Works in almost every county in that great province. One can imagine the painful feelings of the hon. Postmaster General and the hon. Minister of Customs, under these circumstances, in taking up the public prints every morning and seeing how they were being sidetracked by their own supporters, while in almost every public demonstration an opportunity was afforded to the ex-Minister of Public Works to impress himself upon the public as the big. man in the cabinet, the power behind the throne, the one who could wield an influence. What happened ? Not only did they show that they were in accord with him, in public demonstrations, but where demonstrations were not held these gentlemen went out of their way to show that they were in entire harmony with the sentiments he expressed. The hon. Minister of Finance this afternoon tried to make out

that no intimation was given last session that there was to be a revision of the ta riff. Then the ex-Minister of Public Works mast have been extremely dense, because he does not seem to have arrived at a correct iitea of what the change in the tariff was to be. But I am going to read wbriT another hon. gentleman on that side of the House thought was the view of the ad-mi nisi ration and what was the promise made. He is a gentleman whose political existence in this House depends on protection being adopted by the government to a greater extent than it is to-day. The gentleman I refer to is the hon. member for South Wellington (Mr. Guthrie). In that hon. gentleman's riding the city of Guelph, a city of considerable proportions, depends for its very breath of life on the continuance of a protective tariff. That hon. gentleman as reported in the ' Globe ' of the 21st of October last, said :
There is no concealing, and there is no use in denying, that the province of Ontario is protectionist. There would be no sense in hurting ourselves by mere blind retaliation against the United States. What we must do is to frame our tariff for our interests, keeping in view the fact that from hard experience we are driven to conclude that our American cousins will hit us without hesitation whenever they think such a course to be for their own advantage. I am satisfied that in saying this I voice the general feeling of Ontario without distinction of party.
It will be for the hon. member for South Wellington to explain why he gave utterance to such an expression of opinion as this. Was it due to the fact that he had received an intimation, or had understood, as the ex-Minister of Public Works did, that there was to be a revision of the tariff ? If the cabinet intended that there should be no change in the tariff in the present year, would it not have been more honest and more decent on their part to have told the manufacturers long ago that they need not come here asking for changes ? That would have put an end to the whole business. But, according to the statement of the Minister of Finance to-day, the government stand convicted of giving those people to believe that they were going to make some changes in the tariff, while they intended to do nothing of the kind. Now, until this question is settled by a change of front on the part of either the first minister or the ex-Minister of Public Works, there must continue to be a strong doubt on the public mind as to which of these gentlemen is making statements in accord with the facts. The statement of the ex-Minister of Public Works is that there was a cabal instituted against him in the cabinet, that it has existed for a long time, and that it became so acute in the month of September last that he determined to sever his connection with the government. That statement is corroborated by a statement made by the hon. Minister of Marine and Fisheries (Hon.
Mr. Prefontaine) in an interview with a reporter of the Montreal ' Herald,' which I will now read. The hon. Minister of Marine and Fisheries said :
I unhesitatingly say that the removal of Mr. Tarte will make for the strengthening of the party, and especially in this province, where I verily believe Mr. Tarte has not a single partisan. You may remember the time that Mr. Tarte was taken into the cabinet. Well, I have been all my life on the best of terms with the financial and industrial interests of this country as a public man should who desired the prosperity of the country. When the Liberals were returned to power in 1896 these interests, or the representatives of these interests-expressed no me this feeling : ' We respect Sir Wilfrid, we believe him honest ; but there are certain elements in the cabinet which we distrust ; and this distrust has never ceased.'"
From this statement I think it is plain that the Minister of Marine and Fisheries was caballing against the ex-Minister of Public Works ; and I have seen a statement in 1 La Patrie,' charging the Minister of Marine and Fisheries with having without cessation done all in his power to destroy the influence of the ex-Minister of Public Works in that province. Taking the extrinsic evidence, I think it is plain that there did exist a cabal or mutiny against the hon. ex-minister in the province of Quebec. But be that as it may, there is no doubt that in the cabinet last fall there was not displayed that loyalty or fairness towards one member of the administration which he had a right to expect, and the right hon. first minister owes it not merely to the ex-minister, but to the House and the country to state exactly who the members of the cabinet were who made the complaint to himself with respect to the conduct of the ex-minister. Times have changed very greatly the relations between the first minister and the ex-Minister of Public Works. It will be in the recollection of the public, more particularly in the province of Quebec, that a strong bond of friendship formerly existed between these gentlemen. One recalls an attack made on the ex-Minister of Public Works some years ago by a certain club in the city of Montreal, I think the Letellier Club, which demanded the ex-minister's head. I think it was the Letellier Club which demanded the head of the Minister of Public Works. What did the right hon. the first minister reply ? He replied unhesitatingly that if Mr. Tarte had to go out of the cabinet, he would go too. 1-Ie raised no question then as to whether the Minister of Public Works was in accord with him or not, but made that reply without reserve. To-day the hon. member for St. Mary's Division (Mr. Tarte) has declared that a state of affairs was existing which the public will readily believe did exist. He declared that nearly a year ago at the Manufacturers' banquet at Montreal, he made a strong pro-

tectionist speech, and that the ideas and policy he then enunciated were not disproved by the right hon. gentleman, who was present. If the ex-Minister of Public Works committed an offence last year in making strong protectionist speeches throughout the country, why did not the other members of the cabinet bring these speeches to the attention of the first minister. Was it not their duty to have done so and had not the first minister a right to complain of this omission on their part ? The public were left in the dark last fall as to the reasons why the ex-Minister of Public Works left the cabinet, and their doubts will certainly not be dispelled by the ministerial explanations given to-day. They will have to look to the extrinsic evidence for a solution of the question. On the one hand, we have the antagonism existing between the ex-Minister of Public Works and certain members of the cabinet, and on the other hand we have the fact that these discontented colleagues took the premier by the throat and compelled him to give up the head of the ex-minister. But there is this to be said to the credit of the hon. member for St. Mary's Division, that when he found his chief to be in a poor state of health on his return, he acted towards him in a much more decent and commendable manner than did these other gentlemen. The ex-Minister of Public Works (Hon. Mr. Tarte) had under his control the party affairs in the province of Quebec and possession of the state secrets of his party. Not one of those secrets has he divulged to the public, but in every way has preserved them inviolate and respected his honour. But there is no doubt in the mind of anybody that, if he chose, he could bring before the public certain facts regarding the government which would damn it in public opinion. Here we have evidence of the loyalty of the ex-minister as contrasted with the braggadocia and swagger of those mutineers who went to the first minister and threatened that if the hon. member for St. Mary's Division did not go out of the cabinet they would no longer remain in it; and to relieve the first minister of the dilemma in which he was placed, the hon. member for St. Mary's Division handed in his portfolio to the right hon. gentleman. The enmity shown towards the ex-Minister of Public Works emanated, I believe, chiefly from Ontario. If it did not, there was certainly abundant reason for it, because if ministers were ever humiliated it must have been the Minister of Customs and the Postmaster General, both from the great province of Ontario, who were tabooed in every city of that province, while the exMinister of Public WTorks was brought into the field in their place and occupied a position far higher than these two gentlemen did together.

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