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


Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. F. D. MONK (Jacques Cartier).

I doubt very much if the explanation given Mr. BENNETT.
this afternoon from the treasury benches will satisfy public opinion. It will not certainly in the great province from which I come. Will you allow me, Mr. Speaker, to say to the right hon. gentleman who leads this House that if he has passed the age of green boys, as he told us this afternoon, there are many green boys in the province of Quebec who will require something more than the explanation given by the Prime Minister to account for the retirement of the ex-Minister of Public Works. Let me briefly call attention to one phase of this singular question which was glided over very quickly by the right hon. gentleman, and to which none of his colleagues saw fit to allude. At the time when the dismissal or the resignation of the ex-Minister of Public Works was being prepared, the right lion., gentleman was in Europe. Who were those who denounced the ex-minister to the right hon. gentleman ? They were surely not men sitting on this side, and I would ask my hon. friends opposite, who are not on the treasury benches, if they will be content to remain silent under the suspicion of having, during the absence of the right hon. the first minister, unknown to the exMinister of Public Works, denounced his conduct to their leader, and denounced it so artfully and cunningly that the first minister, on his arrival in this country, came to the conclusion that a great constitutional principle had been openly violated by the hon. member for St. Mary's Division, which demanded his immediate dismissal. I doubt whether the public at large will accept the superficial explanations given this afternoon. They will believe that within the cabinet there were men who were plotting the destruction of the ex-Minister of Public Works. And what we are entitled to Know is who are those members of the cabinet who denounced the ex-minister. Who are those who, without giving the ex-minister a word or warning, saw fit, by correspondence and obscure denunciation-the secret of which we have not even now learned-to bring about his dismissal. Who are those men and why have they not to-day the frankness to explain their position and conduct ? The ex-Minister of Public, Works was not always in my province a persona grata with the mass of the Liberal party. My hon. friend the Minister of Inland Revenue (Hon. Mr. Bernier) was never very favourable to him, and my hon. friend the Minister of Marine and Fisheries (Hon. Mr. Prcfontaine) has been on such terms with the ex-Minister of Public Works for a long tune that he was known as one of those who anxiously desired his downfall. Is it in the province of Quebec, is it amongst certain clubs encouraged, maintained, helped along by hon. gentlemen opposite who occupy high positions in the Liberal party that this conspiracy was begun ? Or is it in the province of Ontario, where I find my hon. friend (Hon. Mr. Sutherland) the present

occupant of that position ? Is it through the influence of the ' Globe ' ? Is it through the influence of the Postmaster Genei'al (Hon. Sir William Muloek) ? Or is it possible that the heart of that conspiracy exists in the province of Manitoba and the Northwest, where, it is well known, by every means at his disposal, the Minister of the Interior (Hon. Mr. Sifton) sought to bring about the downfall and dismissal of liis colleague. Or must we leave the immediate vicinity of Montreal and go down to the city of Quebec, where, as is well known throughout my own province, the present Minister of Justice (Hon. Mr. Fitzpatrick) was ready to join those who were willing to make efforts to obtain the effacemeut of the Minister of Public Works. Surely, when the right hon. the Prime Minister tells us that he acted upon denunciations received by him when abroad and verified by documents sent him, we are entitled to know who are the members of this House who played the part of spies and informers on that occasion. After all, will it be propounded seriously here that the utterances of my hon. friend from St. Mary's division (Hon'. Mr. Tarte) were of such a character at that time as to make him so greatly at fault in regard to the constitution, to place him so gravely in error, that nothing but his immediate resignation upon the return of the Prime Minister could satisfy the ends of justice ? Why, Sir, what utterance have we had from the Minister of Finance (Hon. Mr. Fielding) and the Minister of the Interior (Hon. Mr. Sifton) ? Has not the latter of these gentlemen, time and again in the west, in public meetings and in the newspapers which served him as organs of publicity, declared that the tariff was out of politics and that it was not to be increased ? What authority had he for that declaration ? Have we not, quite recently, the speech delivered in British Columbia by the hon. Minister of Railways and Canals (Hon. Mr. Blair) declaring his approval of a scheme for a new transcontinental railway ? And yet have we the declaration from that hon. gentleman that, at the time he made that important declaration he had the authority of the Prime Minister or the cabinet ? I venture to assert, without fear of being contradicted, that, if we turn up the utterances of the Minister of Finance since he introduced the tariff in 1897, we shall find, year after year, in almost precisely similar language, declarations by that right hon. gentleman that for that year at any rate there would be no increase in the tariff. And, if we couple that circumstance with the facts that have been declared here to-day, and not contradicted as far as I am aware, that when that hon. gentleman as the minister particularly charged with the fiscal policy of the government, received a deputation he postponed till another session the satisfaction of their claims, can we blame the ex-Minister of Public Works for
having, when invited by his own political friends in the province of Ontario and elsewhere, proclaimed what was well known as his firm opinion, that the policy which he believed in was the one which was believed in in my own province, the policy of Canada for the Canadians and a tariff sufficiently strong and sufficiently high to prevent our being engulfed and ruined by our powerful competitors to the south and other countries ? Can we blame him, under these circumstances for having expressed his own opinion ? And will anybody familiar with the British constitution as it is to-day contend that under the circumstances of indecision wrhich have existed on the treasury benches for many years past and with the reasons which hon. gentlemen have given us this afternoon, he was not entitled constitutionally and equitably to make these declarations of his own belief ? No, Mr. Speaker, I think we must go a little further for the real cause which brought about the expulsion-if it was an expulsion-or the resignation-for they are two totally
different things, and the resignation was explained to us this afternoon by that hon. member-we must look a little further than the province of Quebec, and, no doubt, than the province of Ontario. We will look a little further for the real, true, and acting causes of that important movement.
Will you, Mr. Speaker, consider, and will this House consider, for a moment, what a strange position this administration occupies ? The very man who was called upon to replace the hon. member for St. Mary's division in the cabinet, in the constituency which he chose as the one in which he wished to be elected-the Maisonneuve division of the city of Montreal-in words of the very clearest character, in speeches reported verbatim in the paper which supported him in that contest, declared that, so far as the tariff was concerned, his position was too well known to require definition, that he was a protectionist and, if the tariff in its present form was not acceptable to those who had at heart the great industrial interests of our country, he pledged him-self-and I believe pledged himself in writ-ing-that he would be prepared to give a sufficient extension to that tariff to completely assure the protection required by our manufacturers in the city of Montreal. What kind of logic is there in such a position as that ? When we take the circumstance that, as stated this afternoon by the hon. gentleman (Hon. Mr. Tarte)-and, as we all know, for it is a matter of notoriety-that, as stated by my hon. friend from Simcoe (Mr. Bennett) when he visited the province of Ontario a simultaneous campaign was begun against him by the ' Globe ' newspaper, the Winnipeg ' Free Press ' and the Montreal ' Herald,' I tell you, Sir, it will be very difficult for the public at large to believe that it was the speeches of that hon. gentleman and nothing more that

brought upon him the visitation referred to this afternoon by the right hon. premier in giving his explanation. There is something in all this that cannot be joined logically and legitimately under the circumstances. Why, Sir, the right hon. gentleman, in returning from Europe, never, by reproof, by admonition or in any other way, called upon that gentleman to restrict his utterances or to give some explanation of them ; but, according to the statement made to us this afternoon, immediately asked for his resignation. The public at large will believe, as we all believe on this side of the House, that beyond that trifling circumstance-because I think I can qualify it as such-there were in the cabinet a set of men, and perhaps some others outside of the cabinet, I who had determined that on account of his public profession of these views the late Minister of Public Works should disappear. Sir, they went about it in a very singular manner ; and to the public at large I venture to say that it will appear strange that these men, whom we can suspect but whom we do not know, because they will not declare themselves-these men, instead of warning their colleague, instead of jointly calling upon him to moderate his utterances until the return of the Prime Minister, adopted instead a silent and hidden way of securing such a result that happened the moment the right hon. gentleman returned from Europe. I say that to a large section of the population it will appear that these men, who are probably better known on the other side than on this side, in proceeding in that singular manner, had something else in view than the preservation of a great constitutional principle.

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