James Horace KING

KING, The Hon. James Horace, P.C., K.G.St.J., M.D.(c.m.), F.A.C.S.

Personal Data

Kootenay East (British Columbia)
Birth Date
January 18, 1873
Deceased Date
July 14, 1955

Parliamentary Career

March 14, 1922 - September 5, 1925
  Kootenay East (British Columbia)
  • Minister of Public Works (February 3, 1922 - June 28, 1926)
October 29, 1925 - July 2, 1926
  Kootenay East (British Columbia)
  • Minister of Public Works (February 3, 1922 - June 28, 1926)
  • Minister of Labour (November 13, 1925 - March 7, 1926)
September 14, 1926 - May 30, 1930
  Kootenay East (British Columbia)
  • Minister presiding over the Department of Health (September 25, 1926 - June 10, 1928)
  • Minister of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment (September 25, 1926 - June 10, 1928)
  • Minister of Pensions and National Health (June 11, 1928 - June 18, 1930)
November 9, 1926 - May 30, 1930
  Kootenay East (British Columbia)
  • Minister presiding over the Department of Health (September 25, 1926 - June 10, 1928)
  • Minister of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment (September 25, 1926 - June 10, 1928)
  • Minister of Pensions and National Health (June 11, 1928 - June 18, 1930)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 737)

July 6, 1955

Mr. Mackenzie King:

Yes, that they had been described. Let us drop the word "euphoniously" altogether and view in a clear and direct manner the simple fact that the government is asking this parliament to give it a blank cheque to deal with unemployment relief in such a manner as it may think wise.

And again at page 4288 Mr. Mackenzie King said:

Now, may I say this to him? So far as the opposition is concerned, we will be prepared to allow him to make any estimate he likes, so long as it is an estimate based on good judgment, and we will not question that estimate, we will allow him to have the amount he asks for. But we do assert, if it is only for the sake of maintaining what is the most fundamental of all obligations of the commons, namely, its control over expenditure, that he should not ask us to give him a blank cheque to borrow as much as he pleases to deal with this particular matter.

I can almost hear Mr. King speaking in a debate such as this where the powers granted are in no way limited as to time. How much more smartly would he have dealt with this particular bill than the bill which was then being debated by the House of Commons? The closing remarks by Mr. King at the resolution stage are found at page 4290 of Hansard:

But we cannot completely surrender the rights of this House of Commons and of parliament with respect to its control over expenditures for any purpose that may be named, and we cannot accord him our approval of the resolution in the form in which it has been brought down.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I should like to bring ourselves forward to the debate on second reading of that act, which commenced on July 31, 1931. Mr. King's remarks are found at page 4413 of Hansard:

It seems to me this bill disregards parliament altogether; it is a complete usurpation of the rights of parliament.

And further down the page:

I do not think it is possible to emphasize too strongly how serious is the departure which the government is making in asking this house, no matter what the reason may be, to give it unlimited powers of the kind.

This is exactly the same type of legislation which Mr. King condemned so strongly in 1931. Again, at page 4415 of Hansard, we find Mr. King saying:

If this measure were dealt with as it deserves to be, it would be the duty of this House of Commons to remain in session until the measure was withdrawn. That is the only way in which I believe a free parliament could in the circumstances be expected to maintain the rights of a free people.

I heartily endorse those words referring to the duty of this house to remain in session until either the measure is withdrawn or some more suitable measure is presented to us in line with the arguments we have presented.

Hon. Ernest Lapointe also entered that debate on second reading on July 31, 1931, and some of his remarks are most enlightening. I quote from page 4419 of Hansard:

I say that even then there were abuses, but in this measure there is no limitation as far as amounts of money are concerned-

Defence Production Act

Here I interject that in this case there is no limitation as far as time is concerned.

-there is no limitation as to the destination of those moneys or the use to which they may be put. I have been reading a book which my right hon. friend quoted many times when sitting on this side of the house but which he seems to have forgotten since he has been on the other side; I refer to that famous book written by Lord Hewart, chief justice of England, entitled The New Despotism. In that book Lord Hewart relates the story of an Anglo-Indian civil servant who returned to England on leave after an absence of many years. On arriving in London and while travelling between Victoria and Charing Cross stations he asked the man with him, "What are those buildings?" The man said, "Well, those are the parliament buildings; that is Westminster". The Anglo-Indian said, "What, does that rubbish still go on?" That was the attitude of mind of that gentleman, and if we agree to this bill in its present form I really believe we will be entering on a path fraught with grave danger. Surely someone will say, sometime, "Does this rubbish still go on at Ottawa, the parliament of Canada?"

Now I should like to refer to the speech made by the Minister of Defence Production on June 28, 1955, and in particular to one or two remarks he made. The first is at page 5376 of Hansard: "I feel that I am living in another world." When I read that remark I had visions of Alice in Wonderland, I had visions of Charlemagne, and I had visions of many other characters in ancient history. I could just imagine the right hon. minister charging into battle with his pike held high and saying, "What I want I will have." At page 5377 of Hansard the minister had this to say:

The departmental act, and the act of any department, sets out the duties and obligations of the department and the authority under which the department carries out those duties and obligations. To say that the Department of Defence Production can be made permanent without a permanent Defence Production Act is to say that the Department of Public Works can be a permanent department even though the Public Works Act is temporary in nature, or that the Department of National Revenue can be a permanent department if the Department of National Revenue Act is a temporary act, or that the post office can be a permanent department if the Post Office Act is a temporary act.

There is the typical case of a blind and wilful refusal to see the argument or to try to understand the argument which has been presented from this side of the house. The argument is simply this. The argument is that we want the Defence Production Act. Let us not hear any more of these foolish remarks coming from the other side of the house. We want this act, but we want this act either in a reduced form as to the scope of its powers or with a limitation placed on the life of those exceptional powers.


Defence Production Act

Third, I should like to quote the minister's words from page 5377 of Hansard, and this touches one:

Industry is familiar with these controls. It has been working under them for 16 years, and as far as I know it is quite happy to work under them indefinitely. Of all the complaints that have been heard since this debate started I have not heard one single complaint from the people affected, namely, the people who are actually doing the defence production work in this country.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I ask you; would anybody in his right senses who is under the thumb of the minister and who is producing for the minister for one minute dare to complain to the all-powerful Minister of Defence Production? That is the kind of argument that has been advanced in these speeches which have been delivered from the government side of the house. In the following paragraph the minister is shown as saying:

We have seen many legitimate objections-

The minister later said that what he had said was:

We have seen any legitimate objections to the bill drowned in a torrent of exaggeration.

The subtraction of the letter "m" did not help the minister a bit because, by inference at least, he admits that there are some objections. At page 5379 and again at page 5380 of Hansard we hear this from the minister:

After we had got Involved for $30 or $40 million it was quite obvious that the management of that day was not likely to produce what we required. The top management of A.V. Roe was resident in England. The men on the job just did not have the experience necessary to carry out the work, and that became obvious to all concerned.

The minister said he shuddered to think of the problems of development. As a taxpayer of this country I shudder to think that the Minister of Defence Production can spend $30 or $40 million on one project before he finds out that the management of that project is inefficient. I shudder.

One of the most masterful exhibitions of smug, self-satisfied complacency that I have ever heard in any form is that beautiful phrase at the end of the minister's speech:

I am working on the side of the angels.

I wonder if the minister has forgotten the full text from which he clipped that little gem. I wonder if he has forgotten that it came from a speech delivered at the Oxford diocesan conference in 1864. Just to remind the minister I propose to place the full quotation on the record in order to complete his own quotation. It is:

What is the question now placed before society with the glib assurance which to me is most astonishing? That question Is this: Is man an

ape or an angel? I, my lord, I am on the side of the angels. I repudiate with indignation and ahborrence these new-fangled theories.

If there ever was a new-fangled theory introduced into this house, the one which is sponsored by the Prime Minister in the interests of the Minister of Defence Production is it. We can come to only one conclusion, that the Minister of Defence Production is not the angel he claims to be. Speaking of angels-and they are interesting people to talk about-I wonder also if the Minister of Defence Production in his inquiry into the attributes and uses to which angels may be put has ever run across this quotation which I am sure he will recognize:

But man, proud man,

Drest in a little brief authority,

Most ignorant of what he's most assured,

His glassy essence, like an angry ape,

Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven

As make the angels weep.

We make the angels weep. I quote once again from page 5379 of Hansard:

I may say that industry co-operated to the full, and, as I said before, I have never known Canadian industry to see the Department of Defence Production in a jam without being willing to do whatever was needed to make their contribution to solving the dilemma.

And from page 5378:

An hon. member asks why it is necessary to have these powers, since we have a good munitions industry in this country. I say "Amen" to that. No country in the world has a stronger and more devoted munitions industry than Canada.

Yet in almost the same breath, shortly after these two statements in which he gives the munitions industry credit for a job well done, the minister comes out and says that without the Defence Production Act behind him he certainly would not have been able to deal with a situation of that kind.

We have heard many illustrations of the blowing of hot and cold air by the same person at the same time in this house, but that is the pay-off. Here we have the minister praising industry in one breath and then saying that he just cannot get along without full powers, without this thumb right on top of industry, defence or otherwise.

Once again, ape or angel, I do not know which is which on which side of the house, but if one is an angel the other is an ape. I can only say that it is not we who are producing the new-fangled theories referred to in the quotation from the Oxford diocesan conference. In conclusion I repeat that we on this side weep lest we lose democracy.

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May 4, 1955

Mr. Mackenzie King:

Gentlemen, it has been moved that the conference adjourn sine die. All those in favour of the motion will please say, "aye".

Some Premiers: Aye.

Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
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May 4, 1955

Mr. Mackenzie King:

I declare the motion

carried unanimously.

The conference adjourned immediately after the statement by the very distinguished premier of Nova Scotia that he assumed this conference was going to meet again. We all had a right to assume that conference was going to meet again, but it did not. When there is any suggestion that the proposals were rejected, I say that simply is not so. There was no chance of rejecting or accepting because the next thing that happened was that this government, with the typical course of action that they have been following right through-a course of action referred to by Premier Campbell of Manitoba last week- acted on their own. Mr. Ilsley, without any further inquiry of the provinces, or consultation, placed before the house a statement as to what the government was going to give in the way of allowances to provinces that were prepared to accept an agreement. There was no basic agreement with the provinces. It was simply a case of "Big brother has decided, and those who are not trying to make things difficult will immediately comply". That is the way this government has been dealing with these problems right along. That conference was not reconvened, and the only reason those agreements were not reached at that time was that this government refused to meet again. Do not let the Minister of Justice continue the kind of statements he has been making outside because in here we can challenge their accuracy in a more formal manner.

As far as those agreements were concerned, not only was there tacit understanding on the part of many provinces as to that, but there was a strong urge that they be carried into effect without any further delay as soon as the facts were obtained; but this government did not have the facts then, and as the minister of finance himself said, they were going to take into consideration the proposals that had been made, and that is the way we were dealt with. No, Mr. Speaker, this government scuttled that conference. That is what happened, and it has remained in that sunken condition ever since.

The conference which met on an earlier occasion was not a continuation of that conference; it was a conference presumably

called to discuss the constitution. It is still in the air, too. As far as any of these matters are concerned, this government apparently believes that all it has to do is to call a conference, make a series of statements in regard to which they have not the basic facts, leave the whole thing in the air and then employ their expensive propaganda machine to assert that those on the other side disagreed with what they said. That has been the whole course of these proceedings.

Since this impression has been so assiduously disseminated, Mr. Speaker, and carried forward even today, that in my capacity as premier of Ontario I was an unwilling attendant at those conferences, I am going to place on record something that has not previously been placed there. I trust that the minister is unaware of this because his conduct would be surprising if he were aware of the fact that the initiation of that conference started by a request communicated on behalf of the government of Ontario, over my signature in January, 1944. I am going to place that on the record. Of course the Minister of Justice knows this because he received a copy of the letter afterwards.

Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
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May 4, 1955

Mr. Mackenzie King:

Those opposed say, "nay".

(No replies)

Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
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May 31, 1954

Mr. Mackenzie King:

That is something I have been considering all my life.

That illuminating answer, Mr. Speaker, which is now part of the history of parliament, does suggest that perhaps the party to which Mr. King belonged should seek to fulfil his life-long dream. It would seem appropriate that the pledge so often made should be undertaken. Obviously this matter cannot be dealt with in the present session. For that reason it is not my purpose to move, as I have on earlier occasions, for the setting up of a constitutional convention, nor is it my purpose on this occasion to propose the setting up of a joint committee of the two houses as I have on other occasions. I do so only because of the fact that I recognize that it must be the responsibility of the government to decide which course it will follow.

On different occasions when we have made these proposals the government has evaded the issue on the ground that this is a responsibility they must accept, and of course they have given other grounds as well. The matter has come up at different times so I recognize that on some occasions it has been opposed for other reasons. I hope that no one will feel that there is any other reason for not supporting the motion at this time and in this case fulfilling the life-long dream of a former prime minister of Canada.

I specifically propose that this should not be regarded as a want of confidence motion.

I specifically propose that this motion should be accepted by the government, as other motions have been, as an expression of opinion of the house that whatever steps the government deems advisable should now be taken to start the preliminary steps towards the fulfilment of this pledge which has been before us for so many years. I am sure that it is in the interests of all Canadians at this time that we should do everything we can

to establish a feeling of confidence in the minds of the people of Canada that their parliamentary system is effective, is sound and is operating to the best advantage of the people of Canada.

After all, we have been told so often that the best answer to any propaganda on behalf of any other system is the efficiency of our own system. There may be some question about the efficiency of proceedings in this house. That, however, is something we are perfectly free to deal with and can deal with on other occasions as we have in the past. I doubt if there is an hon. member of the house, and I would hope there is not an hon. member of the other house, who will assert that the Senate as now constituted is capable of performing the functions for which it was originally intended. I hope that the members of this house have noticed that only within the past few days hon. members of the Senate have asked that they be given a greater opportunity to perform their responsibilities.

That indicates quite clearly that members of the other house are as concerned as we should be about the effectiveness of the parliamentary system which embraces both the House of Commons and the other house that is within these parliament buildings of Canada. I suggest that we should not disregard the fact that, amongst other considerations, questions arise as to the method of appointment, as to the tenure of office and as to the proportion of representation which will most effectively assure the original purpose.

Without quoting at any length the thoughts that were in the minds of those who brought about the system, I should like to quote certain words from a speech by Sir John Macdonald in the legislature in 1865, two years before confederation. It is to be found on page 35 of the reports of those deliberations. He said:

In order to protect local interests, and to prevent sectional jealousies, it was found requisite that the three great divisions into which British North America is separated should be represented in the upper house on the principle of equality.

There are three great sections, having different interests, in this proposed confederation. We have western Canada, an agricultural country far away from the sea, and having the largest population who have agricultural interests principally to guard. We have lower Canada, with other and separate interests, and especially with institutions and laws which she jealously guards against absorption by any larger, more numerous, or stronger power. And we have the maritime provinces, having also different sectional interests of their own, having, from their position, classes and interests which we do not know in western Canada. Accordingly, in the upper house-the controlling and regulating, but not the initiating, branch (for we know that here as in England, to

the lower house will practically belong the initiation of matters of great public interest), in the house which has the sober second thought in legislation-it is provided that each of those great sections shall be represented eaually.

It will be seen, Mr. Speaker, that those were considerations that were in the minds of those who were charged with the problem of drafting our constitution at that time. It was to be a house of sober second thought on legislation. One might wonder how much second thought has been evident in some legislation that has been before us. May I say without any reservation and with admiration for those who have done it, that there have been a few members of the other house who have demonstrated what that other house could do by their clear and critical analysis given to some of the legislation that has gone forward from this house. But even in the face of such able representations as have been made, may I say particularly by the Hon. T. A. Crerar in regard to the fundamental principles of the supremacy of parliament and the rule of law, the brevity of the debates that have taken place on these very important issues, following the presentation of clear and wise comment on legislation already dealt with, does raise the question as to how completely the other house is able, as at present constituted, to fulfil the extremely important tasks which were to be assigned to it.

Since the days when Sir John A. Macdonald made the remarks I have quoted, immense changes have taken place. There is a difference in the presentation, and there is a tremendous difference in the character of the country. No longer is it possible to speak of western Canada simply as an agricultural area; that is particularly true of British Columbia with its immense industrial development, as well as the other prairie provinces with their new resources. Nevertheless the principle he asserted is one which has been in the minds of those who have discussed this subject over the years, and most certainly the principle that it shall be a place for a sober re-examination of the legislation adopted in this house.

In fact, Mr. Speaker, unless the other house is to be a second chamber of review and reconsideration with a detachment that possibly might not be so easy in this house, for many reasons, then I suggest that we are paying a great deal for the form without having the reality. The mere fact that many men and women for whom all of us have the highest personal regard now occupy the seats in the other house is no answer to the demand that is being made in every part of Canada for the reform of the second house if it is to be an effective part of our parliamentary system. I, of course, feel sure we

Suggested Senate Reform need make no argument on this side to support the lifelong dream of Mr. Mackenzie King and the pledge which has been the pledge of the party to which the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) and his government belong.

I shall read the resolution I propose to move, but before I do so, I repeat that it leaves to the government the responsibility for initiating whatever steps should be taken to start the proceedings so that at the beginning of the next session we may not have vague generalities about Senate reform, such as there have been in times gone by, but we may have some concrete proposals as to how we are going to tackle this subject. May I point out also before I move this resolution that I am not prepared, nor do I believe the members of this party or hon. members of the house generally are prepared, to consider abolition of the second chamber until we have had an opportunity to examine the possibility of real reform. I do say, however, that unless there is some step taken towards reform, the demand from the people of Canada will bring about the abolition of the Senate because the people of Canada find it very difficult to understand why it is necessary to pay the amount of money that is now being paid for the maintenance of the second chamber under conditions as they now exist.

This house saw fit to increase the amount of money received by the members of the Senate at the same time as the step was taken in this house over the opposition of many hon. members in regard to that move-

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