September 15, 1903 (9th Parliament, 3rd Session)


William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative


No doubt, the Minister of Trade and Commerce would like to have such assistance. But if we believe in responsible government in this country, if we give ministers positions and pay them to advise parliament how we ought to transact the public business, let us carry out that system ; but if we intend to abandon it and establish government by commission, we ought to have a clear statement to that effect, an announcement to the people that responsible government has ceased to exist, and that government by commission has taken its place. Here in one department- and I repeat this because I desire to impress it upon the House and the Prime Minister-we have appointed three commissions this session. That is not responsible government ; that is not what the Liberal party in this country have been upholding. They have condemned this form of government again and again and have advocated responsible government. Now they are advocates, by legislation and by example, of government by commission. I understand that a commission is all right to ascertain facts. I understand that a commission is constitutional, in its way and in its place. But there is a constitutional limitation to the appointment of commissions, and I say that that limitation has been exceeded in this case, and that we ought to have more government by responsible ministers. The proposition before the House ought to be, as it certainly is not, the solution of the transportation problem, based on the fullest inquiry and the collection of the greatest amount of information ; and, that information having been collected it should be laid before parliament and a measure based upon it prepared. But, instead of that, we have commissions appointed to do something after the country is committed to enormous expenditure. That cannot be justified. It may be carried through this House, but that will not justify it in the eyes of the people. What I contend is that there should be less commission and more responsible government, and there should be full information laid before parliament in connection with a proposal of this kind.

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