Herbert Meredith MARLER

MARLER, The Hon. Sir Herbert Meredith, P.C.

Personal Data

Party
Liberal
Constituency
St. Lawrence--St. George (Quebec)
Birth Date
March 7, 1876
Deceased Date
January 31, 1940
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_Meredith_Marler
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=d532de86-ad09-46e3-a8c4-9e590cdd3f60&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
notary

Parliamentary Career

December 6, 1921 - September 5, 1925
LIB
  St. Lawrence--St. George (Quebec)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 235 of 236)


March 29, 1922

Mr. MARLER:

Take the case of an

American citizen coming into the country and marrying a Canadian naturalized subject. She would under the law become a British subject but she might not be able to speak our language any more than a person coming from a foreign land in Europe. What about a case of that kind? I am simply asking for information.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   ENFRANCHISEMENT OF WOMEN OF ALIEN BIRTH
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March 29, 1922

Mr. HERBERT MARLER (St. Law-rence-St. George) :

Mr. Speaker, what I have to say with reference to the resolution now before the House will be in a very few words. I rise not for the purpose of discussing any election or proceedings at elections, but merely to attempt to place before the House what seems to be a very grave injustice now imposed upon certain Canadian citizens in this Dominion. As I understand the situation, it is this. Under the Naturalization Act of 1914, which is, I believe, the law at present in force, with some minor amendments, it is provided that the wife of a British subject shall be deemed to bo a British subject. There is practically the same provision in our civil code in Lower Canada, in Article 23, and if I mistake not, the provision is general practically throughout the world. Now when the Elections Act was framed, British subjects were given the right to vote with the exception provided in subsection 2 of section 29, the effect of which was simply this: many foreign-born women married to Canadian citizens, naturalized or native-born, and therefore themselves Canadian citizens, were deprived of the right to vote unless they went before a judge and obtained a certificate in the form set out in the act. That is the situation as it held at the time the lists were in preparation. As my hon. friend from South Wellington (Mr. Guthrie) has very clearly explained, possibly a situation may have existed then that does not exist now, but he also stressed very clearly that this provision of the act certainly imposed some other liability on these foreign-born women although Canadian citizens at the time. Some of the arguments used in the debate were that these foreign-born women did not understand our laws, our language, or our customs and temperament of the Canadian people. If that is the case, if these foreign-born women do not understand our laws, our language, or our temperament, how do they understand

Elections Act

them any better by going before a judge and getting a certificate entitling them to vote? It seems to me that when they can get a certificate by going before a judge that argument falls to the ground.

All that any fair-minded person could ask in regard to this section of the Elections Act is that these women be placed in just the same position as other Canadian citizens, so that they will not have to go before a judge, but before the registrar the same as every other voter, and the registrar can inquire into the facts and accept or refuse a particular person's claim to the right to vote. That is all that this resolution seeks to do, and I am therefore in favour of it. There was, without the slightest shadow of a doubt a great deal of injustice done to women in the division which I represent owing to the operation of this section in the last election. These women had lived there not one, two, or three years, but for many years; they understood our language, and affairs in this country and were quite as capable of exercising the franchise as many others who were placed on the voters' lists, but instead of being able to go before the registrar as the ordinary citizen could, and simply give their name to the registrar and then be permitted to vote, they had to go before a judge of the Superior Court or one having jurisdiction in naturalization proceedings and obtain a certificate, and then present themselves before the registrar. That, of course, placed great difficulties in the way of very many women, who had the right to vote, exercising their franchise. It is quite true that many of them took advantage of this provision in the act, but I claim that there was, and is, an injustice placed upon these women, who are Canadian citizens just as much as many other women who are placed on the electoral lists. For that reason I think this subsection ought to be repealed.

Topic:   DOMINION ELECTIONS ACT
Subtopic:   ENFRANCHISEMENT OF WOMEN OF ALIEN BIRTH
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March 20, 1922

Mr. MARLER:

I do not think we had better talk about things like that in the House. As regards the railway situation,

I do not intend to say very much, least of all do I intend to discuss the question as to who was or was not responsible for it. One thing is certain to-day, we have the railways; there is absolutely no mistake about that. The question is: How are we going to prevent a continuance of this enormous expenditure which is sapping the life blood of the country every year? The only way is to put an end to the extravagant and improper manner in which those railways have been operated in the past; that is the first thing to be done.

I may be hard to convince on certain subjects, but I cannot be convinced that there ever has been any proper management of the railways in question when we consider that the deficits on fixed charges and operating costs alone were $48,000,000 in 1919, $70,000,000 in 1920, and are estimated for this fiscal year to be $61,000,000, without including replacements and renewals. I have some comparative figures here of operating charges, but they are set down from memory and consequently I do not want to quote them. Our railways, Sir, are like any other run-down business. A run-down business must be built up, proper accounting methods must be introduced, and various departments properly administered, but, most important of all, there must be a competent executive put in charge so that the whole system in all its departments may be co-ordinated. That is what has to be done, and that, I understand, is what the Government propose to do. As I see it, it is all that can be done under the present circumstances.

My hon. friend the Prime Minister and my hon. friend from Marquette very candidly stated a few days since that they knew of certain hon. members on this side of the House who were not in favour of public ownership of railways. I will speak about that with equal candor. I myself am not in favour of public ownership of railways. I made that profession at the time of my election; I still make it. Public 'ownership has always meant to me inefficiency, irregularity of service, greater cost, greater taxes, mounting up of the public debt. I have never been able to find one instance of the successful operation of a railway under public ownership. I make this declaration, Sir, merely to

show my right hon. friend that I do not say one thing on the hustings and another on the floor of the House. But I do pledge myself to assist the Government by every means in my power to make the railways a success in accordance with the policies which they have laid down. But I am apprehensive of success.

Topic:   THE GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH ADDRESS IN REPLY
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March 20, 1922

Mr. MARLER:

Would my hon. friend say what paper he is quoting from?

Topic:   THE GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH ADDRESS IN REPLY
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March 20, 1922

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,

The Address

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

The Address

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

The Address

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.

The Address

Mr. ME'IGHEN: At a great price came the hon. gentleman by that seat.

Topic:   THE GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH ADDRESS IN REPLY
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