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

PRO

Thomas William Bird

Progressive

Mr. BIRD:

I am a North of England man myself, so that I am pretty nearly a Scotchman, although I have preserved my sense of humour in spite of the atmosphere in which I have been brought up. It is difficult to imagine a cage of nine or ten million monkeys; but I believe there are often more proofs of the theory of Darwin than we imagine, especially when the question is one of economic or political matters.
I want to say a word or two regarding the speech of the hon. member for Brome (Mr. McMaster), seeing that he has interrupted me, and the speech of the hon. member for Brantford (Mr. Raymond). These two hon. gentlemen, each in his own way, possess gifts of expression which are a distinct acquisition to this House. I was sorry to see them placed in a position that was somewhat apologetic, somewhat retrospective, with regard to their political affiliation. It seems to me to be a peculiar circumstance when these two gentlemen, tracing their political descent from a common source, should have arrived eventually at such divergent points of view.. If you will pardon me, Sir, this far-fetched illustration: you may .begin with the original cell that we are told of in our school books, the primordial cell, and after ages of slow development, you get a tiger on the one hand and a sheep on the other. I suppose it should not be impossible, beginning with the primary germ of Liberalism away back in history, eventually to get the hon. member for Brome on the one hand and the hon. member for Brantford on the other. The hon. member for Brantford, it will be noticed, traced his lineage back to King John and the Barons bold. I do not know by what principle of interpretation he did that; but I thought at the time that, for his brand of Liberalism, he might as well have gone back considerably further, in fact, a few million of years further; because I should imagine that in the dim ages the Cro-Magnons and Kitchen-middeners had a protection on their stone hammers and flint knives. But the Liberalism of the Barons is rather an obscure point, I must say. John Ruskin, however, tells us that the Barons bold were protectionists. They built their castles alongside the trade routes on those days, and they levied a
toll upon the passing caravans. They were Liberals in the sense that they were liberal with other people's goods. I do not think the hon. member for Brome is anxious to trace his lineage so far back as that and, as a matter of fact, he did not do so. I noticed this phenomenon in regard to his speech, and I want to pay tribute to that speech. Some of the sentiments in it went much further back than King John; I think some of them went back 1,000 years behind King John, and some of the sentences in his speech were almost memorable. But I noticed that the latter part of 'his speech lacked the enthusiasm and verve of the first part, and I came to the conclusion that there is a difference between eulogising the past history of a great party and apologising for its present conduct. Sometimes the springs of eloquence suddenly dry up, and there is always a reason for that. The hon. member invoked the spirit of many estimable men of the past, without very .much effect, I thought. When he was invoking them, he turned to his own party; but I think there was a rustle of wings above the Progressive party at the time he was doing that. If I read history aright, if I can add my view of history in contradistinction to the views which these hon. gentlemen put forward in regard to Liberalism, I would say that the historic Liberalism, the Liberalism of John Bright, Cob-den, Gladstone, Campbell-Bannerman and Lloyd-George in his palmy days, is represented, not on that side, but upon this side of the House. Progressive-ism is Liberalism redivivus and carried to a further degree of enlightenment. That is the position which we on this side of the House hold.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF THE DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Full View