Matthew Robert BLAKE

BLAKE, Matthew Robert, M.D., M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P.

Personal Data

Winnipeg North (Manitoba)
Birth Date
January 8, 1876
Deceased Date
November 21, 1937
physician, surgeon

Parliamentary Career

December 17, 1917 - October 4, 1921
  Winnipeg North (Manitoba)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 3 of 14)

February 25, 1921


They have declared want

of confidence in the Government there?

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February 25, 1921

Mr. M. R. BLAKE:

What about Ireland?

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June 23, 1920

Mr. MATTHEW ROBERT BLAKE (Winnipeg North):

Mr. Speaker, the matter of increased indemnity is a vital one and it is very necessary that it should he taken up in this House and discussed fully and freely. I know of no other class which is to-day working on pre-war wages than the members of this Parliament, and the indemnity that is paid in the various provincial legislatures has been increased. It

is an old saying, "The world takes one on one's own valuation," and if we value our services as worth only $2,500, the world will be justified in saying that we are worth only that sum. The average member of Parliament, especially if he comes from the West, is suffering financial loss in being in Ottawa, and the indemnity should be increased to compensate him for that loss. I have heard many people say: Oh, the matter does not affect you; you have already increased your indemnity. There has been so much talk about the matter, and more probably this year than before, that the feeling is abroad that we have already increased our indemnity, and there has not been any unfavourable comment upon that fact. I am satisfied1 there would be very little unfavourable comment upon it and, with the hon. member for Dorchester (Mr. Cannon), I am sure that an increased indemnity is in the best interest of a democratic country because, members being paid a sum commensurate with the services they are rendering, representatives of all classes of the community would toe enabled to sit as members of Parliament. The function of Parliament is to represent the views of all the people, and the people would he better represented if the indemnity were increased, and it would not be so much of a rich man's game as it is going to be if the indemnity is not increased.

I have heard some hon. members say that they will not came back to Parliament again unless the indemnity is increased, because, as the hon. member for Three Rivers (Mr. Bureau) has stated, members of Parliament have so frequently to contribute money to various worthy and charitable objects, much more than they would have to do if they had not been elected to this position, and1 the indemnity should be increased to make allowances for drains of that description. People who have not had the experience of members of Parliament do not know the expense to which those contributions, touch the pockets of members. Probably the statement will be made that we have to remain in Ottawa only for four, or four and a half, or five months in the year. But the time of the session is not the only drain on the members' time; he must devote a'great deal of his time to the work of his constituency, especially in these critical times and times of great umest.

, This is a matter in regard to which should be unanimous. If any member ,is so small that he thinks he will gain any Advantage in his constituency by oppos-

ing this when other members have voted in 'favour of it .and have taken the criticism, jf such should arise in this regard, and if that meniher who 'has opposed it quietly pockets it and goes home and gets on the stump, he should be disgraced and should .consider himself unfit to mingle with men ,of the class of members of Parliament. If any member is opposed to this increased indemnity, he should stand up and give ,the reasons for his position. We have broken the ice, we have started the ball rolling, so' that this is an opportune time for such a member to give his reasons, and then we would know where we are at.

Mr. ARCHIBALD BLAKE MeCOIG (Kent, Ontario): Mr. Speaker, I agree to a large extent with the statement of the hon. member for Winnipeg North (Mr. Blake) that if a member is in favour of or opposed to this increased indemnity, he should state his reasons why. Personally, I believe a number of members from the western provinces put up with a great deal more hardship in attending to their duties in Parliament than do some of us members from Ontario' or Quebec. I am fortunate .enough to be able to get home quite frequently to attend to my business while .Parliament is in session. When I first heard talk of an increase in sessional indemnity, I felt it was not a lit and proper time to advocate or to accept any such increase, for different reasons. One reason .was that the Government had been contending, when they bad been cutting out Estimates for public works, that money ,was too scarce. We have just recently had the Budget brought down by the Minister of Finance (Sir Henry Drayton), by which .all necessaries of life are going to be taxed, .and we are going to raise money from the plain people of this country in a way that money has never been raised before. Under the circumstances, if we were to sit .still in out seats and say to1 the Government by our silence that we are going to .support them if they bring in an increased indemnity, that would be unfair to the Government and to our constituents, and we would be dishonest with ourselves to a .large extent. I, therefore, wish to say that I am not in favour of an increased indemnity at this time, not because I feel .that members of Parliament do not deserve .more money for the services they render, ,but because I helieve the country is not in a financial 'condition to afford it, .and I .believe public opinion will not stand for it. If the Prime Minister has an idea 260

that we should economize and retrench, we should encourage him. I believe every hon. member who is of the same opinion, should allow the Government to know just the position he takes and not have the Government deceived in any way, shape or form.

Mr. ROBERT H. HALBERT (Ontario North): Mr. Speaker, I had not intended to speak to-night on this subject; but to make my remarks, when the Bill was introduced, but owing to the remarks of the hon. member for North Winnipeg (Mr. Blake), I made up my mind to say a few words. As a new member, I do not know what the expenses may 'be, I am not in a very good position to judge how the indemnity pays a member for what he has to do. However, I agree with the Prime Minister that this is not an opportune time to raise the indemnity,, owng to the financial position of the country and to the fact that we have refused grants that have been requested by the returned soldiers. There is this point, however. Last night there was put-through a measure for the guaranteeing of money which was opposed very strongly but the Bill was carried, and if the majority of the House thinks this should be done on this question they have that same privilege. As to making any election capital out of this question I do not think there is any to be made. I think hon. members who have sat in this House know exactly what it costs them to stay in Ottawa and how they should be indemnified before the last election. It has been said that the western members are more out of pocket than the Ontario members. That is true. They are farther away from home and they cannot keep an eye over their affairs. As this question has come up I just wish to express my opinion on it. I repeat, I do not think this is an opportune time to increase the indemnity.

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June 17, 1920


I was paired with the hon. -member for Dorchester (Mr. Cannon). Had I voted I would have voted against the amendment.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
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June 7, 1920

Mr. M. R. BLAKE (Winnipeg North):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to say a few words in regard to the coal situation, as it is a matter in which every one in Canada is deeply interested. Hon. members who

have spoken in regard, to the quantity oif coal that exists in the western provinces, and in particular, Alberta, may not be aware that much of this coal will not stand long shipping, nor long exposure, without crumbling into dust. This coal may be stored in good cool cellars and when it will give reasonable satisfaction, but much of it is of inferior quality. Some of the coal in southern Manitoba-and there is only ia small (Coal area in the southwestern portion of the province-contains 35 per cent otf moisture. Further West the percentage of moisture is less, and the quality of the coal rises 'accordingly. I understand that a briquette-making plant is now in operation in sonthern Saskatchewan, which plant by compressing the soft coal derived from some of the .soft coal mines, produces a coal of a higher heat value than the best anthracite coal.

I am informed that the coal in the Smoky river area which caused a great deal of discussion in the House last year, has a higher heating value and is equal to any anthracite coal, and the Government would he well advised to see that those coal areas are transferred to the Canadian National railways, as they would then become a national asset. This is the only really valuable coal field accessible to the National xailways which has not yet been given to some private enterprise. By constructing a railroad about 65 miles long, *conneetion could be made between the 'Canadian National railways and the Smoky river area, and as the coal starts in at the side of a hill, this would be probably one of the cheapest mining propositions that we have in this country at present. I hope the Government will use every endeavour to get the briquetting plant under way and .enlarge it to the extent found necessary, thus solving our hard coal problem.

If, as the hon. member for Regina (Mr. Cowan) has said, a branch line of about 60 miles long will open up an anthracite area in the vicinity of Calgary, that matter should be given attention. The trouble is that most of the soft coal of Alberta will not stand shipping; it cannot be shipped for weeks and left in cars, say at the head of the Lakes, and then shipped by boat, without going to pieces and .crumbling into dust.

The Minister of Railways (Mr. J. T>. Reid) might also give attention to the matter of having a more reasonable rate of freight on coal from Alberta to Winnipeg and the rest of the West during the sum-

'mer season when railway cars are lying idle on sidings. The big rush from the West is when the grain crop is coining out and we have to depend on anthracite coal to a large extent, because the railways carry wheat to the head of the Lakes and carry back coal. The railways have had a gold mine in hauling wheat east and hauling back coal from the head of the Lakes. If it be possible for a railway to pay by hauling goods one way and empty cars back, there are plenty -of empty cars in the summer time and the railroads would be well employed if they would make a bid for -bringing coal East in the summer season. If the Canadian National railways were to do this, the deficit on out railways might he greatly reduced. These are three matters that might well be taken into consideration by the Government with great benefit to the nation at large.

Mr. JAMES R. WILSON (Saskatoon): Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a few observations in regard to this matter. I do not think there is anything that the people of both East and West are to-day more interested in than the development of our coal resources. The object of developing our coal resources is two-fold: First, to keep our money at home, purchasing our own materials and supplying our men with work, and second to create traffic for our railways which at the present time, show a balance on the wrong side owing to lack of traffic.

As the hon. member for Winnipeg North (Mr. Blake) has stated, there is in Western Canada a great deal of coal that will not stand storing during the summer season. Some hon. members have suggested it will, but that is not possible because spontaneous combustion might occur. But we have hard coal, and I regret to say that up to the present time only one deposit of hard coal, known as Banff coal, has been worked, and this has been worked by the Canadian Pacific only to a very limited extent. Our experience in the West has been that while we could get a supply of this Banff coal, we did not look for Pennsylvania coal. But during the past four or five years it has been impossible to secure a supply of this Banff coal, because the Canadian Pacific Company have been producing from that particular mine only sufficient to supply their needs. There are two other known deposits, one of which has been referred to as the Smoky River deposit, and the other is the Sheep Creek deposit. The Smoky River deposit is located about 70 or 75 miles from the line of the Canadian National railways, and it is estimated that it would

cost about $1,500,000 or $2,000,000 to connect that mine with the railway. I understand that that deposit belongs to the Government, as last year the mining right was cancelled. The other deposit, which is owned by Messrs. P. Burns and Company, is located to the southwest of Calgary in the foothills of the Rocky mountains and is about 60 miles from a railway. Mr. Burns has. been making every effort to construct a branch line of railway to his mine, a distance of about 60 miles at the nearest point. I think he has gone even so far as to apply for a charter, but he has found it difficult to finance the construction of that railway.

I wish merely to bring these matters to the attention of the Government. By tapping one of these fields of hard coal the Minister of Railways or the Government could do a great deal towards putting the Canadian National railways on a paying basis, especially if it were possible to fix a rate whereby that coal could be transported to the Prairie Provinces and to Ontario so that it mijht displace Pennsylvania coal.

As regards coal nines in Western Canada, the coal of which is of a semi-bituminous nature and which will store, the operators are most anxious to mine this coal and the dealers are anxious to store it. They have been asking that, during the summer months, June, July and possibly early in August when there is very little traffic originating on the prairies, the railway companies should make the concession of reducing the freight rates say $1 a ton in order, in a measure, to offset the cost of carrying this coal in storage until it is required. I understand the matter came before the Railway Commission and this concession was refused. If the Government could do anything along this line, the storing of coal during the summer months would be encouraged.

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