February 19, 1923 (14th Parliament, 2nd Session)

CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

The necessity was there and we made out of it a virtue. I am afraid if hon. gentlemen opposite meant what they said and had been in power, they would have made out of it a disaster. The nationalization of our railways was a policy which we initiated prior to 1917, that we carried to advanced stages after 1917, with the co-operation of the group to my left, with the cooperation of their late leader, not only with his co-operation, but with his enthusiastic support. That support he consistently continued on every platform in this Dominion. I want to know where were hon. gentlemen opposite on that question. They were fighting us day and night in parliament,' standing and blocking the road, and they stood and blocked the road in every constituency in this country where they thought the road was blockable in the1 contest from which we emerged a year ago. Keep in mind the subject of our railway policy, the biggest one we have really decided in the last ten years, and I want to know the opinion of hon. members to my left as to which party was1 on the side of the progress there. I listen for their verdict. At all events, the laughter has subsided. *
Another matter that constituted a considerable change, many thought a radical change, was made in recent years. The franchise of this country was expanded 100 per cent by the admission of women. That was done by what is known as Union government, supported by a parliament elected to support Union government. That course was not opposed by hon. gentlemen opposite as a party. But in this parliament all the opposition it encountered was from the Liberal party. And that opposition was not inconsiderable; it was vigorous; what there was, was able; it was an opposition in which the eloquence of the present Speaker of this House was heard to perhaps as great advantage as ever in our history. It came, all of it, from the Liberal party. No opposition whatever came from the party that is now held up by

the hon. member for Brome as thwarting the march of progress.
Nor are those the only illustrations. What about the re-establishment policy effected after the war? What about the settlement policy that leads the way in land settlement for every country' in the world. There stands to-day something to which other countries are looking in admiration and which, I venture to suggest, hon. gentlemen of all three sections of this House, are now disposed to applaud rather than to deride. I do not sav that our land settlement policy met with opposition on the part of the Liberal party. It did not. I do not say that it met with opposition on the part of the Progressive party. It certainly did. not. It met with consistent and fair support; but nevertheless the soldier land settlement policy was put into practice by the party which the hon. member for Brome holds up as the veiy acme of reaction and retrogression.
Yes, let hon. members of this House opposite me in particular,-but in this instance I join, with them, those to my left-look back over the history of confederation at the great milestones of policy, that to-day are embedded in the statute books, policies initiated at confederation, policies initiated in the seventies after confederation, policies initiated in the last ten years, and then ask me whether that policy was fathered by this party or by that to which the hon. gentleman belongs. I do not say that all that is of value was originated by this party; but the big steps were due to its resource and courage. I know there is something to the credit of the Liberal party. I know they initiated and put into effect the policy of submitting our railway difficulties, railway rates and all matters that arise in controversy in connection with the roads, to a commission, a judicial body- there was a policy for which the Laurier government deserves every' credit. I am willing to accord it the credit due in that regard, nor have I ever denied it. But I hope I shall be forgiven for reminding hon. gentlemen opposite that after they took that step, the very body which they erected and put in a place where it could not defend itself, they were the first, for political purposes, for party election purposes, to deride and to defame in the public eye of this country. And they were the first as well, after a vote bargaining adventure, to circumscribe the ambit of authority of that body and thereby create anomalies in this country from which we shall be struggling to escape for years to come. I do not know that I could name anything else to their credit of much consequence. I will not harrow the memories of hon. gentle-

Proportional Representation
men opposite by referring to those tragic bills to construct the Transcontinental and the Grand Trunk Pacific. These were the main achievements of their administration. And if there are any hon. gentlemen that feel like calling those ill-fated measures milestones of progress it is a shame, really, not to leave them in the enjoyment of their delusion.
At six o'clock the House took recess.
After Recess
The House resumed at eight o'clock.

Topic:   PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION IN MULTIMEMBER CONSTITUENCIES
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