June 9, 1922 (14th Parliament, 1st Session)


Thomas William Bird


Mr. T. W. BIRD (Nelson) :

Mr. Speaker, it is not my purpose to go very deeply into this discussion. I wish to remark, at the outset, that during the progress of the debate the various attitudes of the three main groups in this House have progressively cleared themselves. The Government have manifestly followed the dictates of expediency, and incidentally they have exposed themselves to the adverse judgment of that section of the public which is still old fashioned enough to believe that the same standard that applies to public conduct applies to personal Conduct. The Opposition, on the other hand, have quite ignored the claims of expediency and have levelled a charge of moral aberration against the Government. I do not wish to enter into the question of expediency. It is a matter of long dispute, but I notice that it is a matter of great importance to the politicians. They have great need of it at times, and, although I am not very well versed in political history, I believe, from information I have received, that, even our rigidly righteous friends to the right have had occasion to use it now and again. I am reminded of a quotation given in this House the other day from an American writer, to the intent that Providence made politicans hollow in order to facilitate the disposal of inconvenient principles. Our friends to the right seem to believe that the members of the Government are very hollow, indeed-so hollow that they have swallowed all their present principles and still there is room. On the other hand, I am reminded of a quotation from another American writer, whiclmruns something like this: W
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, .
Of little statesmen, philosophists and divines.
You see the Government on the one side, and the Opposition on the other, stand in a compromising light before the public at the present time. One is exposing its integrity and the other is exposing its-well, its "consistency." I am glad I am a Progressive at the present

time. I think we have got the two old parties in a position in which we could smack them very well, if we wanted to. But it is not our duty-at least we do not conceive it to be our duty. We do not wish to reflect upon the integrity of the Government, nor upon the sincerity of the Opposition.
When I thought of these remarks, the hon. member for East Calgary (Mr. Irvine) had not spoken-the right wing of the Labour party, I mean-I do not know whether it is the right wing or the left wing, but one of the wings of the Labour party. In his speech he took occasion to criticise the Progressive party, and I am sorry to say that, in his remarks regarding the Progressive party, he seemed to be labouring under the same mist that enveloped the first part of his speech in regard to our credit system. The former part of his speech about the credit system reminded me of the famous saying about " the blind man groping in a dark room for a black hat that was not there." I am sorry the hon. member is not in his seat. I do not wish to disparage the sincerity and ability of that hon. gentleman; I have known him for many years, and I think in both regards he is the equal of most members in this House.
I want to make just one general remark in regard to the budget, and that is that, I think, this budget proves the old truth that whenever a government begins to revise a budget, the people do not stand to gain very much, if anything at all. When once a protective system is established to the degree it is in this country, it is almost impossible for any government, however sincere its intentions may be, to modify that system in the direction of the interests of the people. If, Sir, you will pardon another parable-and truth sometimes enters in by lowly doors-I am reminded of a legend about a cage of monkeys. There was once a cage of monkeys who had lived for some considerable time upon a diet of six chestnuts in the morning and four chestnuts in the evening. They got discontented under those conditions, so they resolved to present a petition to their keeper in order that that tariff might be revised. The keeper was somewhat perplexed; but by and by he made this proposition that, in future the monkeys should have, instead of six chestnuts in the morning and four in the evening, four chestnuts in the morning and six in the evening. We are told that the monkeys were well satisfied with the generosity of the offer. Some

The Budget-Mr. Bird
of the members in this House, I have often observed, are Scotch in descent, and they do not easily see the point of an illustration.

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