February 16, 1921 (13th Parliament, 5th Session)


Daniel Duncan McKenzie

Laurier Liberal

Mr. D. D. McKENZIE (Cape Breton North and Victoria):

Mr. Speaker, now
that I am becoming somewhat of a familiar figure in this House and more or less of an old member, and having, of course taken part year after year in the discussions of the House, I would much prefer on this occasion that the duty of replying to the Prime Minister would fall to some more competent and capable hands. As, however, it is my duty to undertake this task,
I will set about to do it to the best of my ability and somewhat to the satisfaction,
I hope, of at least some of the hon. gentlemen on this side of the Chamber.
I must at once follow the time-honoured form of congratulating the mover and the seconder of the Address. It has always been desirable that this duty should be performed with ability and dignity becoming this time-honoured institution of Parliament, and I am pleased to be able to say that the gentlemen who had the duty in hand yesterday performed it at all events to my satisfaction. In the mover, (Mr. Mclsaac) we have a more or less experienced gentleman in this House, but I was pleased indeed that the seconder, the hon. member for Yale (Mr. MacKelvie), though unused to Parliamentary practice and discussion acquitted himself so well. I am sure that speaking in this House for the first time is difficult enough under any circumstance, but it is more difficult when one is put up against the very important job of seconding the
motion for an address in reply, as was the duty of the hon. member for Yale yesterday. I was sorry, however, to find some of the " old Adam " traditions handed down to the hon. member for Yale. I find that, while an excellent man in many respects, he has fallen victim to the pernicious effects of the apple as did his forefather many years ago. I am sorry to find that, while no doubt a free trader when he was watching the absolutely free-trade performance down in the Bay of Fundy, the tide going out and coming in on a waterfront unequalled in any part of the world-this would naturally lead one to be a free-trader with wide comprehensions of free trade-the hon. member for Yale in other circumstances, fell, as it was rather natural for him to do under the influence of the " apple " and the " apple tree." We hope however, that after he has been here for a while, he may forget those things and once more come back to the ideas which he inhaled by the seaside in the fair province of New Brunswick.
Let me further congratulate the Prime Minister (Mr. Meighen) upon the position of honour and responsibility to which he has attained. He is the successor of great men: he follows, in the same office and in the same chair in this great and free country, such men as the Right Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald, Hon. Alexander Mackenzie, the Right Hon. Sir John Thompson, the Right Hon. Sir Charles Tupper, the Right Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the Right Hon. Sir Robert Borden and others whose names are not so strikingly familiar. He will gain inspiration from consulting the record of those great men and I have no reason at all to doubt that with his ability, which is by no means small, he will do justice to the position which he now occupies.
I must also hasten to pay tribute to my own leader (Mr. King) for the very excellent speech which he delivered in this House yesterday. I am proud to say that we all realize more than ever, if that be possible, that we have a distinguished man at the head of the party, and most certainly he acquitted himself with the highest possible credit in the task which he had in hand.
Ever since the present Prime Minister came into this House, I have had a seat, part of the time on this side, and part of the time on the other side oL the House supporting the then government. I have watched with interest and satisfaction the right hon. gentleman's style of argument and presentmenti of a case, and I have

always found him to make the very best possible case out of the material at his disposal. But yesterday I was disappointed in his speech. I did not expect to like it, but I do not like it even as much as I expected. I thought that he did not answer the arguments put forward by the leader of the Opposition. It was possibly because they were unanswerable. I will do the Prime Minister the full justice of saying that if anybody at all on that side of the House or in his party could have answered the arguments put forward for their own disappearance from this House by my leader yesterday, he himself would be the man. Yesterday, however, he did not display his usual masterly ability, and certainly he fell short of answering the arguments put forward. It is perhaps natural for a man to desire to hold on to power and to the high office in which he might find himself, and natural also for a party to be desirous of holding on to power; but let me say to the Prime Minister and to the Government that it is not in accord with democratic principles. We in this country are proud of saying that we are democrats to the hilt, that our Government is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, and that the voice of the people must prevail. The moment there are indications that we have lost the confidence of the people and no longer truly represent them, all the satisfaction and pride which goes with being in power vanishes, and if we still persist in holding office, then office brings no honour to ourselves or to those whom we once represented. When that stage is reached, I think it is the duty of the Government and of an individual to place himself in the hands of the country and say: I am at your disposal; if you want me continued in office, say so; but if you do not want me and my colleagues continued in office you have also the right to say so, and we shall bow to your verdict. That, in my judgment, should be the conduct of public men in this country, but I am sorry to find that it is not the disposition of the present Prime Minister or his Government so far as their attitude was indicated in the speech of the right hon. gentleman here yesterday.
A good many arguments were put forward by the right hon. gentleman in support of his retention of office. He particularly referred to the difficulty of going to the country before the census was taken and a redistribution Bill had been put
through the House, and before the general housekeeping arrangements, so to speak, had been made. He laid stress upon the fact that the press of the Northwest cried aloud against anything tending towards a general election before these preliminaries had been settled. He mentiond one paper,, the Calgary Morning Albertan, as will appear in the Hansard report of his speech, and invited us particularly to see what that paper said about the impropriety of going to the country before the census was taken and the provinces of the West had received their proper quota of representation. Now, I have in my hand the Morning Albertan, to which no doubt the right hon. gentleman has made reference, and I particularly invite my right hon. friend the Minister of Justice to listen to the quotation I shall give from that paper. From his experience on the bench he knows very well that when a lawyer stands up in court and quotes an authority, if it should turn out that that authority is directly against him, it is usually a bad knock-out for his. case, and the judge usually tells him that his case is directly opposed to what he wishes to make out of it, and that if that authority is to be followed, he will have to decide against him. Well, the Prime Minister yesterday rested his case largely upon what the Morning Albertan said about an election. Now, this is what that paper says in its editorial of February 9, two days after the famous election in Peterborough.

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