John Hampden BURNHAM

BURNHAM, John Hampden, B.A., M.A.

Personal Data

Party
Unionist
Constituency
Peterborough West (Ontario)
Birth Date
October 14, 1860
Deceased Date
April 25, 1940
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Hampden_Burnham
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=0b65ff12-9c90-415b-937f-308e67da151a&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
lawyer

Parliamentary Career

September 21, 1911 - October 6, 1917
CON
  Peterborough West (Ontario)
December 17, 1917 - July 15, 1920
UNION
  Peterborough West (Ontario)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 2 of 230)


June 23, 1920

Mr. BURNHAM:

Are we going to suppose that the member for North Cape Breton (Mr. McKenzie) that the member for Maisonnevue (Mr. Lemieux), that the member for Shelburne and Queen's (M^. Fielding), that the member for Beauce (Mr. Beland), that the member for Quebec East (Mr. Lapointe), that the member for Red Deer (Mr. Clark), are not worth any more than $1,200 a year to this country? I wish to say that the member for Maisonneuve has spoken to me in the strongest possible way in favour of an increased indemnity, and he told me that if he were in the House when the question came up he would speak strongly in support of it. I cannot say about the member for Shelburne and Queen's because I have never had a word with him on the subject. But the member for Quebec East-who is unfortunately away just now-told me that he would speak in favour of an increased indemnity, that it was absolutely necessary; and he seemed to be very much stirred about it. The hon. gentleman who has just come in, the member for Four RiveTS-[DOT] ,

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   RETIREMENT OF MEMBERS OF PUBLIC -SERVICE.
Full View Permalink

June 23, 1920

Mr. BURNHAM:

Pardon me, the member for Three Rivers (Mr. Bureau) is strongly in favour of an increased indemnity,-and he is a man who is not afraid to say what he thinks. He has a great deal of business to attend to. He knows what he is talking about, and he knows that $1,200 a year, the annual value of our indemnity, is an insult and not a remuneration. The member for Red Deer has spoken to me on the subject with very considerable heat, and he has told me that he would at the first possible occasion speak in favour of an increased indemnity to the best of his ability. He thinks that the remuneration as it is now is an impossibility. I know a great many other members on this side who no doubt will voice their own opinions.

But, as somebody said, there has been a nigger in the fence. Why is it that the leaders have not been able to get together and decide this, question? One day the rumour going around this House would be

that the Prime Minister was "all right"- originally he was against it; that the leader of the Oposition had been persuaded to look leniently upon this, in view of the fact that he himself gets a very respectable salary,-and I am very glad he does. Many members of the Farmers.' party have spoken to me strongly in favour of this proposition, and I understand that not less than seventy-five per cent of them are strongly in favour of the increase of this indemnity. I am sure, as I said before, that ninety-five per cent of the members of this House, from explanations that are being made, are in favour of the suggested increase.

I am making this introduction of the matter to-night because I feel- that there has rested upon the members of this House an odium which should be removed by an explanation to the public of the cause; and it cannot be removed by such an explanation because it is founded upon an absolute necessity. None of us are beggars. We do not want to beg, nor do we want to grab, but we have reached this stage that, as. I say, we cannot keep up that little station- in life which a public servant is required to keep up, for he has got to be decent in his little subscriptions and things of that sort, and he has got to live in two or three places at once-

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   RETIREMENT OF MEMBERS OF PUBLIC -SERVICE.
Full View Permalink

June 23, 1920

Mr. BURNHAM:

He is away on private business.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   RETIREMENT OF MEMBERS OF PUBLIC -SERVICE.
Full View Permalink

June 23, 1920

Mr. J. H. BURNHAM (West Peterborough) :

There have been, at various times

a - number of very embarrassing circumstances which have occured with regard to the business of the members themselves. A subject that we have heard! a great deal1 about is the increase in the sessional indemnity. I am told there have been a great many deputations to see the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Borden), the leader of the Opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King) and the leader of the Farmers' Party (Mr. Crerar). I have not had .the honour of being invited to join any of these deputations so I cannot speak directly of what was accomplished, but I know that there have been many such deputations and that their visits have been frequent. I know that there is arising in this House a feeling that an .indemnity which is only worth SI,200 a session, is of no use to the bulk of the members, and is not a fair return for what is expected of them. And! when their life is considered -that is to say when it is borne in mind that they have to live in two places and practically speaking keep up two establishments, and that they are exiles from their own family circle for at least six months of the year, can it be wondered at that they find an indemnity which has the purchasing power of only $1,200 a year so inadequate as to make it quite impossible

259i

for many members to continue? I do not deny that some members have business, or positions, outside the House which would enable them to lave comfortably even if they were in actual retirement, and the sessional indemnity does not offer any great inducement to them either one way or the other. These men are largely-and! I say it of course in no invidious way-connected with the greater commercial life of Canada. They come here because the greater commercial life of Canada is intimately and, seriously affected by the laws which are passed here. They come here to watch those laws, and if possible to create and to mould .legislation-which of course is their right. But the great bulk of the people of Canada must depend upon what is called the average member. The average member is not a man of wealth; he depends perhaps upon some private business. He has to employ, when he is away from his private business, some one to look after that private business in his room and stead. As a consequence the indemnity is worth very little to him, and when its purchasing power is cut down, as it has been cut, it is almost worth nothing at all. As a consequence- the mass of the people of this country cannot expect to be well served with the indemnity at its present figure.

If it be said that in bringing this matter np I should have waited1 until there was a larger attendance I reply that the attendance is very fair. There appear to me to be about eighty or ninety members present; but we have carried through measures today involving vastly greater pecuniary expenses than the one I am discussing, we have carried through other very important measures, with half the attendance there is now. It cannot be disguiser that there is a certain amount of apathy, if not despair, on the part of ,a great many members who do not understand how they are going to make ends meet; and I say again that if the people-the mass of the people- wish their business to .he attended to, they have got to pay their public servants, as they pay their private servants, in a way that will sustain them in common decency. From one end of this country to the other, wages, salaries, every kind of remuneration have been increased. But here there has been no increase. We found in the newspapers a loyal support of the endeavour of the members of this assembly to have their salaries increased. All the leading newspapers endorsed the proposal and spoke most heartily in favour of it until the leaders got mixed up in their views on it.

And when the leaders refused to go on with it, what would the leading newspapers do but get back in their tracks as quickly as possible? So they made apologies for their former views, expressed some doubt, and gave voice to the opinion of many people in this country that this was a common "graft." Now, if my constituents think that my advocacy of an increased indemnity from -$1,200 to $2,500 is "graft," they are welcome to ask for my retirement.'

I do not propose to go with any such niggardly salary.

I found that my private business conflicted with my public business, and I found that I could not give an honourable adherence to my public duties and to all the things that arose in and concerning them, so I gave up my private business. There are many things that I have spoken on in this House somewhat frankly, somewhat boldly, and somewhat fearlessly. Why? Because I have given myself a free hand. I have had no clients who said to me, "Burnham, you talk too much about insurance. We will withdraw the business we gave you as an insurance company." I have had no people possessed of utilities which might *become public utilities, come to me and say, "You have been talking too much about the acquirement of public utilities at a rock-bottom price. You are no good to us. Therefore we will take our business away from you." I have not had people of that description saying those things to me, because if they had I would have had to make my choice between being loyal to the public interest and helpful to my own private clients; and I am very much afraid that the public business of Canada would have suffered. I can only say that if there are many others in the same predicament as myself,

I can well understand that the public business of Canada will suffer and must suffer. Therefore the people must pay their public representatives decently or they cannot expect decent service.

The strangest thing in the world is that it is conceded by the people of Canada that ' a member of Parliament is at liberty to go home as frequently as he likes; he is at liberty to look after his private business in every way-and .give the residue of his time to public business. That, of course, is a perfect fhrce, and until the people of this country learn that the business of this Parliament is of the utmost value to them economically, politically, historically, socially, morally, - and even religiously- until they have grasped that simple pro-

position there will toe unrest in the country, there will be groaning in the country, there will be aspersions cast upon the members of this House, and there will be dissatisfaction all round.

Now, I can say that 95 per cent of the members of this House demand an increase of this indemnity.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   RETIREMENT OF MEMBERS OF PUBLIC -SERVICE.
Full View Permalink

June 22, 1920

Mr. BURNHAM:

Such as the United States, for example?

Topic:   COURT OF INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE
Full View Permalink