March 21, 1921 (13th Parliament, 5th Session)

UNION

Frank Bainard Stacey

Unionist

Mr. F. B. STACEY (Fraser Valley) :

Mr. Speaker, I have only a few words to add to the discussion. I wish to say that I am in full accord with those hon. gentlemen who have expressed themselves in sympathy with the idea that ministers of the Crown should have a seat in this House. With very much of the argument adduced by the hon. member for Maisonneuve (Mr. Lemieux) I am in full accord, I think it is evident to every private member that all matters affecting Estimates can be discussed as a rule, more intelligently, at any rate, with greater satisfaction upon the representations- made by the minister in charge of the department than when presented by any other person.
The Minister of Justice (Mr. Doherty) has stated in the course of his address that the resolution if adopted suggested, if not demanded, constitutional changes inasmuch as the Senate was not representative of the people. Sir, that gives me my clue. The right hon. the Prime Minister (Mr. Meighen) also said that in his judgment, if the adoption of the resolution did not involve a constitutional change, at any rate it would he better to have the matter thoroughly discussed throughout the country, in the press and elsewhere, before such a radical change were brought into effect.
Now I have one criticism to offer, and I am speaking as private member, neither as a friend nor as an opponent of the Government, for in this matter, I take it, there is no partisanship whatever. It appears to me Sir, that neither the motion as sub- mitted by the hon. member nor any remarks so far made have gone quite far enough. I believe that the country at large is more concerned about another phase of this question than as to whether or not min741
isters of the Crown who are in the Senate should have seats here. I believe that the great body of the people of Canada are thinking seriously about the best method of selecting senators if the upper house is to continue. I cannot bring myself to believe that it can much longer continue to be the right-it may be the legal right- but I cannot bring myself to believe that it is the, moral and democratic right of any government to decide who shall constitute the senate of this country. I am convinced of this fact, that if it is desired to give the senate a stronger hold on the sympathy and the confidence of the people of Canada than it has to-day, the best way to bring that about would be to have the people themselves choose or elect the Senate. The method of so doing is not for me now to discuss, or even to suggest. It might be by some system of grouping constituencies by which the electorate of the country could determine who should constitute the Senate of this Dominion. Personally, I think we shall have two Houses of Parliament for a long time to come, perhaps always. But at this period in the history of Canada it occurs to me that it is a most opportune time for the country, for the press, for the Government, and for Parliament, to consider whether or not some such change should be made in the British North America Act. Is it not advisable to give to the electors of Canada the right to say who shall represent them in the Senate? I.believe that the Senate should represent the people rather than the Government of any day. I think the Senate should be elected for a stated time; not perhaps, for such a short period of four or five years, hut for a longer specified time; and they should be responsible to, and be elected by, the people. If that were done, the principle involved in the resolution would not perhaps present insuperable difficulties. While I admit that a change was suggested by the hon. member for Maisonneuve (Mr. Lemieux), I had hoped that he would develop it more fully, and I have ventured to express at least my own opinion, and what I believe to be the opinion of a very large number of the people of this country, namely, that the time has come when the Parliament of Canada should consider the advisability of taking such steps as are necessary in order to give to the people the right to elect, not merely the members of the House of Commons, but also the members of the Senate of Canada.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   THE HOUSING PROBLEM. PROPOSED ESTABLISHMENT OF A FEDERAL HOUSING BOARD
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