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


George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)


I knew my
hon. friend had a warm spot in his heart for me. However, I am pleased that I arrived in time to hear his eloquent peroration. I do not know what stronger arguments he made in the earlier part of his speech, but generally speaking I note that my Jion. friend keeps his best until the last; so I suppose I have heard the strongest of his arguments.
The first argument that caught my ear was that we could not undertake to discuss tariff reform in the House until the report of the tariff commission was laid on the Table. The (members of that commission have been gathering information, he says;
' they have been preparing that information and it has to be produced and put before the House in the form of a report, and when we get that and have plenty of time to digest it, we shall be in a position to discuss the tariff question, and not before. Now, my hon. friend has had quite a long experience in parliamentary life. What he has not himself seen, he has read of; and I am going to ask him if he ever knew of a case where information gathered by ministers of the Crown for their personal information and to serve as a basis for their calculations respecting the schedules of the tariff was presented to the House in the form of a report. I think my hon. friend will have no recollection of such a proceeding. The tariff inquiries made by the ministers are for the purpose of obtaining the necessary data upon which to prepare their schedules in the interests of the country; my hon. friend surely must have known that. Knowing this, my hon. friend has, therefore, gone even further than his leader. Not only has he postponed the discussion of the tariff question for a

shorter or longer period of time; but if old practice and custom prevail in the future in this respect as they have in the past he has put it off pretty nearly until the Day of Judgment. He has cut clear from it; he has gone one better than the leader of the Opposition.
But my hon. friend did strike upon a new policy, wonderfully vague in its definitions. Suppose the request of the leader of the Opposition were complied with by the House and we were declared to be usurpers and thrown out of our seats. Various policies would be put before the country , upon which the people would have to decide. The indefiniteness of the policy of the leader of the Opposition, arising from its variations, would he exceeded only by the greater indefiniteness of the policy of my hon. friend (Mr. McKenzie). The policy he would lay down, if such an issue were to come suddenly before the people, would be this: My policy-he would say to the electors-is to be a happy medium "happy medium" undefined. Well, it was a happy thought, hut I wonder just what the electors would expect to get if they decided upon a policy put forth by the former leader of the Opposition in the form of "a happy medium", without definition.
My hon. friend said also that we came in in 1917 backed by the big interests.

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