March 20, 1903 (9th Parliament, 3rd Session)

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The PRIME MINISTER (Rt. Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier).

I should think that, by this time, having been for some time in public life, my hon. friend (Hon. Sir Charles Hibbert Tupper) would cease to attach much importance to rumours. For my part, I am a little older than he is, and I have ceased to care what rumours may be. I do not think that parliament should care much or lose time in seeking to ascertain whether any given rumour is true or is not true. Governments have their own way of acting, and that is by official method ; and, so long as

no official action is taken by the government there is nothing to find fault with. But I see that my hon. friend, not having anything serious to criticise in the action of the government, wishes to criticise in advance. He wishes to know whether we intend to appoint a new minister, and, in case that may be done at any time, he indulges in criticism in advance. So far, nothing has been done in the way of increasing the cabinet, it seems to me he is simply borrowing trouble in worrying over the matter. I would suggest to him that he should not allow his sleep to be disturbed by matters of that kind. It will be time enough to worry when the government presents any such proposition. But, so long as they do not do so, I cannot see why he should criticise.
Hon. Sir CHARLES HIBBERT TUPPER, All this sounds very pretty, Mr. Chairman. But, of course, there is nothing in it. The Prime Minister, with the support which the country seems to be blindly giving him of late, can afford to be jaunty and light-hearted about these things, and to tell us that the people have no right to be curious. But it is not so long ago that such questions as I have referred to were made to do duty in the interest of the Reform party, so called. Take for instance the case of my old colleague, Col. Prior, formerly one of the members of this House from Victoria, B.C. He happened to join the Conservative administration and to hold the position of Commissioner of Inland Revenue, a subordinate position in the administration but not in the council. And the party which the right hon. gentleman then led made a great deal of capital out of the implied slight to the province of British Columbia-that it had been so long denied representation in the cabinet, and at last its representative had been given a position in the government but deuied a place in the cabinet. From that time on, the right hon. gentleman's representatives in British Columbia have been assuring the people there that it is only because of the Chinese immigration question, that it is only because the right hon. gentleman is so engrossed with this, that or the other question of, perhaps, great importance, that he has not been able to carry out his heart's desire, which, his lieutenants assure the faithful in that part of the country, is to have British Columbia represented in the cabinet. So, these are not altogether rumours, but are statements which do duty and make votes for the right hon. gentleman. This is the time to air the rumour, if the right hon. gentleman will allow me to refer to it as such, and have it either punctured or confirmed. Let us know whether these people who pretend to speak with authority have the slightest reason for that pretense, or whether they have been simply pleasantly spoken to by the right hon. gentleman, as I have been. Shall we tell them, when they
assure us that the province is to be directly represented in the cabinet, and that Senator Templeman's position without portfolio is an earnest of the intention of that government that soon there will be a member sitting at the head of a department, that there is nothing in it-that it is only rumour ? Or shall we say the same when we are told that the member for the Yukon (Mr. Ross) is to be the happy man ? I dare say it is embarrassing to the right hon. gentleman to be asked to take the House into his confidence. It may be very inopportune for him to explain the situation of the government now. But, surely, speaking as one of the committee on the country's business to the head of the government, I have the right to ask, and to press the right hon. gentleman to say whether there is anything in the statements that have been made and largely circulated throughout the country ; or whether they are, as he has suggested, mere rumours. If he wishes to convey the idea that these matters have been the subject of rumour and nothing more, that is an answer to the question I have put. And, if that be so, then are hon. gentlemen opposite prepared to make good their profession of reducing the number of ministers instead of increasing them ? If, on the other hand, they have been seriously considering the appointment of a Minister of Mines, whether in the person of a representative from British Columbia or of the representative from the Yukon, it is clear that they intend to depart in this particular, as they have in so many others, from their past professions.

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