August 28, 1917 (12th Parliament, 7th Session)


William Erskine Knowles



The Prime Minister's statement must be accepted, of course. The fact remains, however, that the ^public mind is convinced that the Minister of Finance is where he is because he is a pet of those interests, and the Minister of Finance would better preserve the name which he has reason in many ways to be proud of, if he were the last person to force through Parliament a measure of which Mackenzie and Mann are going to be the beneficiaries. I make that statement in all friendliness and in all manliness.
I desire to say further, that there is a suspicion throughout Canada that this Government is extremely close to the Mackenzie and Mann people and to the Canadian Northern. That is not a belief of a day's growth, but has been in the public mind for some years. There has been a strong belief in the public mind that in the Minister of Finance the Canadian Northern have a very close friend; I do not say an improper friend. It is also a common belief that in the late
Minister of Public Works they have a very close friend; I do not say an improper friend. It is also a common belief that in the late Minister of Militia and Defence, and in the present Minister of Railways and Canals the Canadian Northern have very close friends. In view of the public belief that this is in many ways a Canadian Northern Government, it is unfortunate for the Government that they should force this measure through Parliament without a fair opportunity for discussion being permitted to those who desire to criticise the Bill. I would go further and say that the suspicion in the mind of the people will not, unfortunately for the Government, be at all lessened by the choice that they have made of an arbitrator. It is not for me to discuss Sir William Meredith in any personal way. I am in the habit in a humble way of appearing before judges, and I am not going to take advantage of my position in this House to say anything with regard to a judge that is unfair or in any way ungentlemanly or unmanly. But I will say this : that once a man accepts an appointment like this in connection with a transaction that is generally looked upon in Canada as a shady transaction'-and Sir William Meredith knows that-he becomes a fair subject of examination and criticism. In the public interest we must ask ourselves: Is Sir
William Meredith an arbitrator of whom we on this side of the House can approve? Speaking for myself, I say without any hesitation that Sir William' Meredith is an arbitrator of whom I do not approve absolutely and entirely, for many reasons.

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