Mr. HERBERT MARLER (St. Law-rence-St. George) :
Mr. Speaker, had not
the right hon. leader of the Opposition (Mr. Meighen) made a reference to me in his address of last Monday, I question very much if I, as a new member, would have had the temerity this evening to address this House. Before proceeding to any of the questions brought up in the Speech from the Throne, will you allow me, Sir, to offer you my most sincere felicitations upon your having been elevated to the very high position of First Commoner in the land. I venture to add that there are, perhaps, few in the House who view your selection for that high office with greater gratification than I-gratification, because you belong to an old and distinguished family, gratification because you are known for your courtesy and learning, but gratification, most of all, because you have served your country for many years and during all those years of service, you have always kept before you, the highest ideals ,bf British statesmanship.
I am very well aware that, in the course of these debates, you will be called upon to correct me for infractions of the rules of this House which I, through inexperience,
may make from time to time. I am reminded, in that connection, of a question which a younger member of the British House of Commons asked an older member of the same House. He asked the older member how he could learn the rules of the House, and the answer came hack in a somewhat laconic manner-"By breaking them." I trust, therefore, if I do break the rules of. the House in debate, you will realize that I am attempting to learn them. Whatever corrections may come from your hands, I will deem them, not as corrections or reprimands, but more as coming from the seat of learning to which I have made allusion.
I most willingly join with the other members who have spoken before me, in offering my most sincere congratulations to the hon. member for North Winnipeg (Mr. Mc-Murray) on the excellent address which he has given to the House. I also join in the same manner in offering my felicitations to the hon. member for Westmount-St. Henri (Mr. Mercier), and I beg to say to him that hearing the French language spoken, always emphasizes to me, coming as I do from the province of Quebec, how fortunate we are to have the beauties of that language and the sterling qualities of that race as a part of the Canadian nation.
I would also like to thank the leader of the Opposition (Mr. Meighen) for the very kindly and courteous words of welcome which he addressed to new members of this House. I do not think I can claim for myself this state of youthfulness ascribed by the right hon. gentleman to the newcomers; nor do I think my right hon. friend is very glad to see me here; but, notwithstanding all that, I hope he will allow me to include myself in his words of welcome.
I also wish to congratulate the hon. member for Southeast Grey (Miss Macphail) on her election, and I hope she will live long and have a prosperous political career.
Mr. Speaker, it has seemed' to me for some time that we are at a crisis in many of our national affairs. We are passing through a period' of unparalleled unrest, and to surmount that crisis and that period of unrest, and thence to attain to more normal conditions, will, without a doubt, call for the united1 efforts of all those who, in this House, are entrusted with the administration of public affairs. That, Sir, seemed to me to be the issue on the eve of the election, and that seems to me, in great part, to be the issue still. It follows from that as a natural sequence, that what we all require to do at the present time is to sur-
mount our difficulties, to maintain in this country stable government, and to bring about and to keep the solvency of the country by means of re-establishing it financially upon sound, economic lines and thus to lay the foundation for our future progress and prosperity. That seems to be the main issue before the country to-day, and I venture to say that that is the broad issue which the Speech from the Throne has placed before the House.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King), in his remarks regarding the Speech from the Throne, emphasized that every shade of opinion would be taken into consideration in the shaping, of the policy of the Government, so as to make this nation a united and happy one. The hon. member for Marquette (Mr. Crerar), in his closing remarks, also stated clearly that the laws of the land should be made in favour of no one particular interest or group, but with equal justice to everybody, so that the country would becpme united and happy, and, in this, I am totally in accord with the hon. member for Marquette. But, Sir, how is this unity of purpose to be brought about? The Prime Minister clearly showed that he desires that unity of purpose. The hon. member for Marquette equally showed that he desires that unity of purpose. Can we say the same thing of the leader of the Opposition? I do not think we can. Perhaps, it was a vain hope; but I had hoped that once the people had pronounced on the issues at the last election, he, qualified as he is and with many years of public service to his credit, could likewise join with all in this House in attempting to weld this nation together as a happy and united people.
I am disappointed in this, because I find my right hon. friend the leader of the Opposition apparently cannot get the idea, that unity of purpose is essential to the welfare of the Canadian people. Perhaps he says that I am wrong in my opinion of him. I do not think I am. I do not see how I can be when he emphasizes the statement, in regard to the elections in the province of Quebec-and he has done so not only outside of the House but in the House as well-that what was done in that province reached the depths of infamy. He has been saying that the election in that province, from which I come, went against him and his party on account of the anticonscription issue, and he has also said that the government at the time had a mandate to put that act into effect. Need I
remind my right hon. friend what act it was that gave the government the mandate he speaks of? The issue to which I have reference need not have been mentioned in this House. It served no good 'purpose and did not promote concord throughout the land, and I would not have mentioned it had not my right hon. friend said that many of us on this side had gained our seats by means of appealing to it. I know for an absolute fact that in my constituency, and in many other constituencies of which I have knowledge, that issue was not even hinted at. I would prefer not to have raised this issue, but when my right hon. friend throws down, from his high altar of Toryism, allegations-I cannot call them facts because they are not facts- regarding the province of Quebec, allegations which I can, will, and must honestly deny, he will find me ready to take up his gauge of battle in defence of that province, not once or twice, but as many times as he desires.
My right hon. friend seems to have been very much worried as to why he did lose the election in the province of Quebec. I dare say my opinion is of little value to him. No doubt what I can tell him as regards the election in that province has already been amply reported to him by his various lieutenants there. But if it is of any interest to him at all for me to give him my opinion for what it is worth, as to why that province in the last election returned sixty-five members to sit on this side of the House, and why it also returned Liberals in two divisions which had never returned Liberals before, perhaps he may allow me to enlighten him. If my right hon. friend will cast his mind back to his speech delivered in London, Ontario, on the 1st of September last, and the speech he made in Portage la Prairie on the 27th of the same month, I think he will recall that on both of those occasions he told the country that the tariff was the only issue before the people. He used these words at Portage la Prairie:
What we have to decide is this: Are we going to continue this protective system in this country or are we not? That is the question, and that is the whole question.
Strange as it may seem, the people of Quebec did not think that the tariff was the whole question. There were other issues which they desired to have explained. Those issues, in brief, were: Why were the
railways being operated with continually growing deficits? Why did we build sixty-three ships for the Canadian Merchant Marine at a cost to the country of $72,000,000, plus interest during construction and plus extras? Why was the public debt increasing at an enormous rate from causes not attributable to the war, thereby necessitating much heavier taxation? What was the government policy as regards immigration?
It is quite true, I admit, that these issues were attempted to be explained by many to the province of Quebec, but they were never explained satisfactorily, and because of the unsatisfactory reasons that were given in regard to them the people of that province voted unanimously against the late government. These were the issues which really came up in that province, and the issue raised by my right hon. friend was not by any means the sole one for the people to decide upon. But I do not desire to boast of the unanimity of the province of Quebec. I do not think the time is opportune for boasting. This House has work to do. But Quebec is unanimous in very many ways. In that province we have not what is commonly known as a minority interest. We all work as one; we are all ready to evolve policies which will be for the benefit, not of Quebec alone, but of the country at large. I think that we in Quebec are imbued with the idea that Parliament should really be a deliberative assembly of one nation, an assembly with one idea, that of the whole people, and not a place where local issues or prejudices ought to prevail. It should be the channel for the expression of the general opinion, resulting in the general benefit of the whole country. That is my opinion of what Parliament should be. That is the idea of Parliament which I have acquired from living in the province of Quebec, and I believe that every member on this side of the House has precisely the same views on the subject. If that is the case-and I believe it is-why the necessity for all these innuendoes in regard to members from the province of Quebec, and from Montreal in particular? Why all this bitter hatred that seems to be bandied from one side of the House to the other? Is that the kind of politics that we are to have? I venture to say that the country is tired of politics of that description. What it requires and will have is a business administration which will have one idea
and one idea alone, and that is the general benefit of the country as a whole.
It is very natural in a country like this that there must be diversified interests. In a body the size of this House there must be various opinions; and it is quite true that the province of Quebec has certain ideas and traditions,-ideas and traditions some of which perhaps might be found applicable to the whole of Canada. But although we from the province of Quebec advocate certain ideas and revere certain traditions, we never say that we desire to impose our will on any other part of Canada. We have been trained in tolerance and we know what constitutional government should be, and being so trained we say that we are ready and willing to consider, with all others throughout Canada, any policy which will be good for the nation as a whole. That is the attitude we take. I would make that point abundantly clear.
My hon. friends who sit to the right of the member for Marquette (Mr. Crerar) did not always approach the hon. member and his followers with the same honeyed words that certain members among them used during the past few days. The dulcet tones of the gentlemen sitting to the right of the member for Marquette are strangely different this year from what they were last year, if what I have read in the debates is correct, as no doubt it is. I believe I read in those debates that the gentlemen who now sit behind the member for Marquette, were termed servile minions and were called the annex, and a dilapidated annex at that. These were the words that were addressed to those gentlemen only one short year ago. Fortunately the position of the annex is changed. The annex is nearer to your left. But I was rather amused this afternoon to hear similar dulcet tones from the member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Stevens). These tones were not used last year towards my hon. friend from Marquette. If that hon. gentleman will look up what my hon. friend from Vancouver said on the 19th of May, 1921, when he was discussing the Grain Growers' movement, he will find no dulcet tones in that address, but tones of quite another nature.
Sir, I do not approach my hon. friends who sit around the member for Marquette in that spirit at all. I do not approach them for reasons of political strategy or of political expediency. I am bound to say, and I say it quite openly in this House, that I am very much impressed with their sincerity. I know now a great deal more
than I knew before; I know now with what they are contending in the West. Nevertheless I must also be frank with the member for Marquette and those around him, and I will tell him that I disagree to sonje extent with what he says. Notwithstanding all this, however, I say in a spirit of sincerity and with my heart open to the good of the Canadian nation at large, that no government in any country, least of all in this country, can be carried on acording to hard and inflexible rules. There needs to be co-operation, and with that co-operation I am quite sure we shall get out of our difficulties very quickly.
With your permission, Mr. Speaker, if I am not taking up too much time, I should like to discuss briefly the matters1 which were brought down in the Speech from the Throne. I shall take up only the principal matters, which seem to 'be the1 railways, the tariff, immigration, and one or two other questions. No doubt some of you will be sorry to hear the word tariff- and I am among those in that category- but I must deal with the subject because my right hon. friend, the leader of the Opposition, has honored me with his attention, and again this afternoon I find I have become quite famous by the quotation from a Montreal newspaper given to you by my hon. friend for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Stevens). Both of these hon, gentlemen I shall reply to, and I hope my reply will be completely to their dissatisfaction. What I am about to say will be sufficient, I trust, to convince my right hon. friend that I do not say one thing on the hustings and another in the House, or, as he put it very neatly the other day, that the professions and promises I made during the election are, when I am once elected, thrown into the discard and forgotten. I wish to try and convince him that the professions I did make during the campaign are not forgotten but are still adhered to, I had, it is true, a vain hope-for it was a very vain hope, I admit-that I might be able to convince the right hon. leader of the Opposition that my ideas and policies in regard to these various matters were clothed with a sufficient amount of reason to prove that my election in the division I have the honour to represent was not stolen, as I am credibly informed was reported to him. But, assuming that repoit was sent to him, then my right bon. fric-nd will at least give me credit for saying that, in view of the majority which I secured, if I did steal the election I did not commit petty larceny.
Mr. ME'IGHEN: At a great price came the hon. gentleman by that seat.
Topic: THE GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH ADDRESS IN REPLY