February 28, 1928 (16th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Agnes Campbell Macphail



They were honest in their bitterness towards us. Now, a very great deal of criticism is directed to myself and others any time we try to point out that economic groups do function under parties, and that the only thing for us to do is to come out as an economic unit and find a place in this house, striving to have the rules and usages amended in order that our people may be given real representation. The hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Woods-worth) the other day quoted in the house an article from the Atlantic Monthly which was reproduced in MacLean's Magazine of August 15, 1927. In that article, under the title "Money dominant in politics," the following sentences appear:
These interest-groups, as we may call them, work for the most part within fhe ranks of the party organization. Indeed,-
This is an enlightening sentence.
-the chief function of the party organization is to furnish a cover or screen for the political activities of groups which desire to keep their true objectives invisible.
This is perfectly true, and we say therefore that the only thing for us to do is to come out as an economic group-a class group, if you like, for I am not afraid of the word-and seek representation in the House of Commons -a genuine representation of the needs of our industry. Politics is a business, and agriculture being the basic industry in Canada, the most important single industry in the country, has a perfect right to find for itself honest and above-board representation in this house. I should not like to say that only functional or occupational groups should come to this house, but I do think that the two parties are simply that. I would not say that others should not come, but I do say that we live in an age of functional organization: * and since political life is only a reflection of economic life it is only reasonable that these new class, or economic, or occupational groups in the country should seek reflection in the House of Commons and should not find it necessary-certainly I do not-to apologise for their place here.
When we have electoral reform, when the Canadian people grasp the idea more clearly, particularly when they know that the old parties are simply systems under which class groups operate we shall see an increase in
The Budget-Miss Macphail

groups. The day will come when the members of our group, the members of the Labour group will increase, and when other groups not now named will appear and find representation in this chamber. When that happens the new groups will be too strong for either of the old parties to command a majority and carry on the government of the country in the old way. Modifications will have to be made and a new method found. It does seem to me exceedingly reasonable that the House of Commons and not the Prime Minister should decide when there should be a dissolution. Why should power be put into the hands of one man to determine when there shall be a dissolution of parliament and when the people of the country shall be called upon to bear the expenses of a general election? I know that some people have the idea that those of us who say these things are cranks. We are not. 1 am not saying, of course, that I am not, but I certainly say emphatically that the Canad'an people are thinking new thoughts and that to them it does not seem at all reasonable that things should be as they are. Our institutions, whether educational or political, will change to meet the needs of changing times. That is only natural. I see no reason why we should not have a change in the form of our governmental institution to meet the changing views of the people, and in conclusion I would quote a great authority on this subject. Follett speaking of politics and of the old idea giving way to the new sentiment of co-operation, says:
What we must get away from is "the hell of rigid things." This is a living life of the people and it must flow directly through our government and our institutions. We are not fossils-
Sometimes one would question that.
-petrified in our social strata. We are alive. All is growing; we must realize this and free the way for growth.
It seems to me that the groups in the house are nothing but an indication of growth in the country. I should hate to bear upon my shoulders the responsibility which rests to-day upon the shoulders of the Liberal-Progressive group in this house. They have done much to discourage progressive thought in Canada: they have, to my mind, a great deal to answer [DOT] for. Indeed, I should not care to be the Liberal party: I should not care to bear the responsibility-I am not sure whether it is parliamentary-of false friendship such as they have shown towards the new groups in this house, from 1921 to this day. But speaking personally, I say it is better for them to realize that we are not people who will one day be Liberals: we have no such ambition. We represent agriculture. We are not Conservatives; we are agricultural representatives, and (Miss Macphail.]
the sooner this house knows that, the sooner they quit wondering whether we are Tories or Liberals, the better it will be for everyone concerned.

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