Murdo Young MCLEAN

MCLEAN, Murdo Young

Personal Data

Huron South (Ontario)
Birth Date
February 7, 1848
Deceased Date
January 19, 1916
journalist, publisher

Parliamentary Career

January 22, 1908 - September 17, 1908
  Huron South (Ontario)
October 26, 1908 - July 29, 1911
  Huron South (Ontario)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 10)

March 17, 1911

Mr. M. Y. McLEAN (Huron).

Before you leave the chair, Mr. Speaker I desire to place on record two communications which have been sent to me for that purpose. The first one reads:

Egmondville, Feb. 21, 1911. Mr. M. Y. McLean,

Ottawa, Ont.

Dear Sir,-At the last meeting of the executive of the Seaforth Branch of the National Council of Agriculture the following resolution was passed unanimously:-

We, the executive of the Seaforth Branch of the National Council of Agriculture, desire to place on record our approval of the tariff agreement entered into between the government of Canada and the United States, believing that it will be a great benefit to the Canadian people. We, therefore, urge upon you as our representative to do all in your power to bring about its enactment.

Yours truly,

The Seaforth Branch,

National Council of Agriculture. JAMES COWAN,


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March 16, 1911

Mr. M. Y. McLEAN (South Huron).

Mr. Speaker, I desire to say only a very few words on this subject, and I do not intend to waste the time of the House discussing the sophistries, insinuations and suspicions indulged in by my hon. friend (Mr. Blain) who has just preceded me. in listening to the remarks of hon. gentlemen opposite, as well as to those of my hon. friend who has just taken his seat, the thought has occurred to me that if the foresight of these gentlemen were only half as good as their hindsight they would be very wise indeed, but unfortunately for us all, that is not our condition. If it were we would be saved from many difficulties, many disasters and many pitfalls. I do very sincerely and truly sympathize with my hon. friend (Mr. Henderson) who has moved this resolution. There are stockholders and depositors in this bank in my own constituency. The bank had, I think, three agencies in the constituency and there are deposits to the amount of about $100,000 or over. But, I am sorry I cannot congratulate my hon. friend on the manner in which he has introduced this resolution or the time that he has chosen to do it. Neither, Mr. Speaker, can I congratulate hon. gentlemen opposite on their attempt to make political capital out of this unfortunate affair. I have very carefully and attentively listened to the discussion of this subject, I have very carefully perused all the evidence that has been submitted to this House, I think that possibly I am, in a measure, as capable of judging the evidence as some of my hon. friends who have spoken on the opposite side, and I am free to say that for the life of me I cannot discover that my hon. friend the Finance Minister (Mr. Fielding) or the Finance Department have been blamable in any sense whatever. In so far as my judgment enables me to interpret these documents they have only done what they should have done in connection with the matter. It is quite true, Sir, that the department was deceived by Mr. Travers, but they are not the only parties-

who have been deceived by Mr. Travers. Mr. Travers deceived his shareholders, he deceived his provisional directors, he deceived his permanent board of directors, and he deceived the late president of that board. I am also free to say that, from my examination of the evidence which has been taken before the courts in Toronto, I am firmly of the belief that, bad as Mr. Travers is, he has simply been the tool of another archconspirator and rogue, who, I am sorry to say, has not been captured, and I am led to believe that the authorities possibly have not made as great exertions to capture him as they might have made.

If, under these exceptional circumstances, the government can see fit, or think it advisable, to recommend that the depositors in this bank should in some measure be reimbursed, and if this can be done without setting a dangerous precedent, I would be very glad. I have not so much sympathy with the stockholders of the bank. The stockholders went into it knowing what they were doing, at least they should have known what they were doing. They went into it as a business enterprise, and if it had succeeded as a business enterprise they would have profited. But, as it has not succeeded as a business enterprise, of course, like investors in any other similar business, they have lost. But, it is very different with the depositors. The depositors placed their money in this institution for safe-keeping, believing ai the time that they were protected in so doing by the laws of the land, and, under the circumstances, as I said before, if the government should see fit, or if they should consider themselves in a position to grant some measure of aid to these unfortunate people without setting a precedent which might be considered dangerous, then I think that the country will certainly support them in so doing.

Let us come down to the real issue that is before the House and to the substance *of the motion moved by the hon. member for Hal ton. That motion has been read two or three times already this afternoon, but for the sake of my argument, I want to read a portion of it again. The resolution says :

That this House is of opinion that a Royal Commission should forthwith issue to inquire into and investigate the incorporation and organization of the Farmers' Bank of Canada, and the granting of a certificate by the Treasury Board permitting said bank to issue notes and transact business, and all circumstances connected therewith


I maintain that there is no necessity for a commission for any such purpose. I maintain that all the evidence which any commission could possibly secure has already been obtained and has already been placed before this House by the Department of Finance. Not only that, but the Mr. M. Y. McLEAN (South Huron).

resolution casts a doubt upon the honesty and fidelity of the Minister of Finance and the Department of Finance, and I certainly cannot vote for such a motion as that, because I have full confidence that the minister, the department and the Treasury Board would not do a dishonest or dishonourable act to favour any person. The second part of the resolution is:

-and generally to inquire into and investigate the operation and efficiency of the Bank Act in relation to the affairs and transactions of the said bank.

Why should we carry a resolution of that kind at the present time? That question is not before the House. That question will be presented to the House before very long, and when it does come before the House is the proper time to decide as to whether or not such a commission is required. But, Sir, I contend that the affairs of this banking institution are at the present time being investigated by the courts of this province. If that investigation is thorough and complete and if it answers all the purposes, then certainly there is no necessity for a Boyal Commission such as is being proposed. It has been said that under a commission the Minister of Finance, and several other gentlemen who were named could be brought up and put into the box; but under the investigation now being prosecuted, the Finance Minister and every other man can be brought forward and made to give his evidence. This again shows the futility of the proposition before the House. I have no hesitation in saying that in the event of its being ascertained that the present investigation is not full, that justice is not being done, that those supposed to be criminals are being shielded and that an additional investigation is necessary, the government would be lacking in their duty to the people and themselves if they did not grant such an investigation. But the time for deciding that has not yet come, When it does, if it should come, the government can take action. For these reasons I have no hesitation in saying that I shall give my vote against the motion of the hon. member for Halton (Mr. Henderson).

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February 27, 1911

Mr. McLEAN (Huron).

Yes, and they must always exist in such a body appointed as the Senate is.

Let us see for a moment how the situation stands in other countries. An elective Senate is not by any means a new thing. In the commonwealth of Australia six senators are elected for each state for a term of six years, half the number retiring every three years and the entire vote of each state is for each candidate.

In New Zealand, the upper chamber were formerly appointed for life. The term is now limited to seven years.

In South Africa, the last constitution that has been evolved, the first House of Assembly will consist of 121 representatives and the Senate of 64, 16 for each of the four provinces. Eight will be elected in each province, eight will be nominated by the Governor General in Council, four in each province.

In other countries, Mexico, Brazil, and the Argentine Republic, the upper chambers are elective. The same condition exists in the other countries of_ South and Central America. Canada is the only country in North or South America having life appointees. So it will be seen that this is the only country on the American continent that still continues this antediluvian system. I noticed during the recent discussion that my honoured leader stated that there are many difficulties in making a change in the Senate under present conditions. He has also expressed the opinion that an elective Senate would not be advantageous and that no person in the present day advocates an elective Senate. I agree with my right hon. friend in nearly everything but on this question I must certainly disagree. If I can diagnose public sentiment at all I am convinced that a very large proportion of the people of this country would very much prefer an elective Senate to the system we now have and I have paid very considerable attention to public sentiment on this matter. The objection has been raised to an elective Senate that it would be simply a reflex of this House. I think an elective Senate could be constituted which would not be a reflex of this House, but would represent quite a different constituency from that represented in this House, and I shall endeavour to outline a system which I think will accomplish this object.

In the first place, I would have the country divided into senatorial divisons.

For example, the county to which I belong now sends three representatives to this House. The adjoining county, represented by my hon. friend the Deputy Speaker, sends two representatives. If these two counties were united and sent one representative to the Senate, and the rest of the Dominion were divided in like manner, I think we would have a representation in the Senate considerably different from that in this House. My own county is at present represented by two Conservatives and one Liberal. The adjoining county of Perth is represented by two Liberals. What would be the political colour of the senatorial representative elected by these two counties it would be impossible to say, though I think it possible that he would have strong Conservative leanings. In the second place, I would have the senators elected for seven or ten years, as the case might be. In the third place, I would have a small property qualification for the electorate. At present, in the province of Ontario at any rate, we have practically a manhood franchise. I would have a property qualification for the senatorial electors somewhat similar to what we have now for our municipal elections in this province. I would also have an educational qualification to the extent that I would require that every elector should be able to read and write in his own language. I would also require each elector -whose name is on the voters' list to go to the polls and deposit his ballot. This is sometimes termed compulsory voting, and is objected to on that score. I fancy, however, that there is no such thing as compulsory voting. It would be impossible to compel a man to vote for either one candidate or another, and it would certainly be very unjust to do so. But I do not think any injustice would be inflicted on any individual by requiring him at least to attend a polling place and deposit his ballot. If he could not conscientiously vote for any one of the candidates, he could at least deposit his ballot, and in this way show that he was prepared to do his duty. I do not think that it would be an undue hardship to any one. The franchise is a privilege granted by the state to the individual; and if the individual does not think sufficiently of this privilege to exercise it, it certainly would be no hardship or no wrong to deprive him of it for at least a season. Consequently, I would say that every voter whose name is on the list and who fails to attend at the polling booth and at least deposit his ballot unless he can give some reasonable excuse satisfactory to some judicial authority, should have his name erased from the voters' list for the subsequent election, and be disfranchised at any rate to that extent. Now, let us see what the result of this

would be. At the last Dominion elections in this country there were on the voters' list 1,461,793 votes. The total vote cast at that election was 1,176,104, leaving 285,689 who did not vote at all. But there were certain elections by acclamation. At these elections there were 22,000 voters, leaving 263,689, or about one-fifth of the voters in Canada who did not record their votes at the last election. In Belgium, where compulsory voting exists, and the only country I know of at the present time where it does exist, at the last election practically the full vote was recorded. So that under thi^* system we would have a large vote brought out which does not appear in the elections to this House, and in that respect, at least, as well as in other respects, we would have a considerably different constituency represented by those who would be elected to the Senate. I would also require the practice of personal canvassing to be prohibited by law. We have been endeavouring long and faithfully in this House to make laws which would ensure electoral purity. I do not know that we have succeeded very well. I do know that we have built up the pains and penalties so high that we are now barely able to see over them, although I must say this for Canada, that I think our elections are as pure if not purer than those of most other countries, and certainly they are as pure as those of the mother country, if we are to judge by the reports concerning the last two general elections there. If we are to judge by these reports, I think our friends in the mother country can give us pointers in the ways that are dark and the tricks that are vain. But notwithstanding that fact, there is a good deal more electoral impurity in connection with our elections in this country than most of us would like to see; and in order to eradicate this evil I think it is necessary to strike at its very root, and strike good and hard. In my humble opinion, this abominable practice of personal canvassing, travelling from concession to concession, from street to street, and from door to door, begging people to come out and vote for you, is demoralizing to the candidate as well as to the elector, and has a very strong tendency to lessen the dignity which should naturally attach to the representative position. It is at this every foundation of much of this electoral impurity in this country. To do away with this evil as much as possible in connection with the senatorial elections, I would make personal canvassing on the part of a candidate an offence that would invalidate the election. I would make personal canvassing on the part of a friend or a supporter of a candidate a ground for disfranchising him at the succeeding election. But in order that the public might be made thoroughly conversant with the public affairs of the country,

2 would also require that each candidate should hold a certain number of meetings within the constituency, which should be well advertised and be open to the public, and at which the affairs of the country should be thoroughly discussed.

Another provision which I think would be advisable in connection with an elective Senate would be in reference to the veto power. I do not like the idea of any body having the veto power over this House. But I think that the function of the Senate, [DOT]constituted as it is now, or as it might be if elected by the people, is that of a revising body. The Senate would have greater leisure to consider the measures .passed by this House, and they might secure from this House additional consideration of any measure they might think required such consideration. Consequently, I think it would be advisable to adopt a system such as has been spoken of in the mother country. That is, a measure objected tQ by the Senate should be sent back to the Commons, and if it should be adopted by the *Commons at three successive sessions, it should become law, even though the Senate objected to it. In that respect, the will of the people would receive full expression, the measure would receive proper consideration, and everybody would have an opportunity of consulting with those whom he represented.

I had not intended to speak on this subject to-day, and am not going to take up much time; nor is it necessary to do so. My principal object , in bringing this matter before the House was to have it discussed here and in the country. I think the scheme I have outlined is desirable and feasible. Every legislative body in a free country should be directly responsible to the people, and I think I have outlined a scheme, which, although it may be faultily outlined, although it could be, in some respects, improved, it at least lays down a basis on which an elective Senate could be constructed, which would be acceptable and beneficial to the people of this country. In conclusion, I have only to say that I would like to see this government take this matter up earnestly, and give it very careful consideration. I sincerely trust that in their wisdom they will be able to evolve a scheme which will remove from this free *country the reproach of having as one of its legislative bodies a body that is entirely irresponsible and over and above the people, and that in this way the government, will redeem the only pledge made by the Liberal party when in opposition that has not been already fully redeemed.

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February 27, 1911

Mr. M. Y. McLEAN (Huron) moved:

That, in the opinion of this House, the Dominion Senate as at present constituted is not in accordance with the representative institutions of this country, and the government should take the necessary proceedings to have the Senate made representatives of and dirctly responsible to the people.

He said: Mr. Speaker, in moving this resolution I wish it to be distinctly understood at the outset that I have no particular objection to the personnel of the Senate of Canada. There are able and eminent men in that body; men who have devoted their ability and energy to the welfare of their country and who deserve well from her; men whom any constituency might justly feel proud to have as its representative.

I think I may be excused if I mention as representative of this class, Sir Richard Cartwright on the one side, and Sir Mackenzie Bowell on the other. So that, Sir, it is not the thing constituted that I object to so much as the manner in which it is constituted. I believe that the people of this country should and must rule, and I further believe that a life appointed and irresponsible body, a legislating body that is above, and beyond, and out of the reach of the people, is entirely at variance with the representative institutions of this country, and is an anomaly that should not be permitted to exist in any free country.

1 am safe in saying that" a Senate constituted as ours now is must of necessity be either dangerous or useless. If it runs counter to the will of the people as ex-

pressed through this House, then I think it is dangerous, and if it does not do so, in most instances it is useless. I may be pardoned for saying that in so far as our Senate is concerned it belongs to the latter class. I had not the opportunity of listening to the discussion of the resolution introduced this session by my hon. friend from Lincoln (Mr. Lancaster) calling for the abolition of the Senate, but I listened very attentively to the discussion last session and while I can agree with a good deal which fell from my hon. friend in his ad-[DOT]vocacy of this resolution, I do not agree with the conclusions at which he arrived. I do not think it would be wise or judicious to entirely abolish the Senate and for this reason: As we know, the Senate as at present constituted, is a legacy left by the fathers of confederation, in fact it is a part of the confederation compact. It was instituted and designed for the purpose of protecting the smaller provinces from oppression or aggression by the then larger provinces, and if there was at that time even a suspicion for the necessity of a body of this kind, I think that that necessity is even much greater now, and that it will grow as time goes on, and as the newer western provinces grow in population, power, wealth and aggressiveness. So I do not think it would be wise or judicious to remove from the smaller provinces the protection which was guaranteed to them unless it is shown fairly and conclusively that they are willing to be relieved from this protection. I am not aware that the provinces have given any reason to suppose that they would desire to be relieved from this protection which was given to them as a part of the confederation compact. But there is no reason why an elective Senate, a Senate made responsible to the people, should not be more effective as a protection to these provinces than a Senate appointed by the government of the day, entirely irresponsible to the people and appointed for life, because a Senate elected by the people would represent the will of the people and would of necessity be a greater check upon oppression to the smaller provinces than a body such as we now have, owing its appointment to the government of the day and its members more or less obligated to that government. The Senate may properly be divided into three divisions: First, those who value their seats as a respectable refuge where they can spend their declining years with ease at the expense of the country. ,

Second, those who value their seats for the social position they gain, and for the facilities afforded for the advancement of their own personal and business schemes.

Third, those who give of their ripe experience and rich, matured judgment for the benefit of the country.

Mr. McLEAN (Huron)

The elective system, I claim, would wipe out the two first classes and relegate them to private life where they properly belong, and would 'retain for the benefit of the country those who belong to the third class.

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April 25, 1910

Mr. M. Y. McLEAN.

It seems to me that we are all indirectly interested in these investigations, and consequently the insertion of the words ' or indirectly ' would defeat the whole object of the Bill.

Amendment suggested by Mr. E. M. Macdonald agreed to, and section as amended agreed to.

On section 15-oath of office-

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