A PEACEFUL SESSION-PERHAPS!

J . K . MUNRO March 1 1922

A PEACEFUL SESSION-PERHAPS!

J . K . MUNRO March 1 1922

A PEACEFUL SESSION-PERHAPS!

J . K . MUNRO

POLITICS are experiencing the calm after the storm. With the elections over and the cabinet carefully selected the chosen of the people are observing a discreet silence. The opposition papers picture a bunch of apprentice statesmen wandering around the corridors locating their offices and trying to think thoughts in keeping with their exalted positions. The Government organs can plainly see a grave gathering of thoughtful men sitting with compressed lips and wrinkled brows wrestling with problems that none but good Grits could ever hope to

So there you are. You can take your choice. If you belong to the Grit persuasion you will recognize in every sneer at the King genius p bit of sacrilege for the which death would be a punishment only too mild. If you are a Tory you will know instinctively that scurrilous remarks anent the Young Premier are simple statements of fact, forced from the lips of reluctant critics who are loath to decry one entrusted with the destinies of a young nation.

As a matter of fact Mr. King’s first edict was one of silence. The newspaper correspondents were “shooed” away from the corridors adjacent to the council room and the hustlers after our daily news were told in simple words and few that he, Mr. King, would do the talking for the entire cabinet. And for once in his life Mr. King has refrained from speech. Through certain channels it has been allowed to leak out that the Government would practise economy. From the same underground sources it has been learned that the first session of Parliament would be devoted to industrious idleness. But beyond that not a whisper as to tariff, railway policy or any of the other little matters in which the country is supposed to be inter-

And the first thing that attracts your attention is that, with the election over, the tariff is no longer a burning question. It seems only the other day that the future of Canada was hanging in the balance. On whether the tariff went up or down depended the opening or closing of our industries. If the tariff went up w'ith Meighen to hold the ladder, the whir of factory wheels would drown the hardtimes cry; if the tariff went down with King sitting on the lid to keep it there grass would grow in the city streets and bread lines would furnish the only position the artisan might aspire to.

But Meighen has gone, King has come and the only noticeable change is that some parts of Canada are experiencing a mild winter. You won’t hear much about that tariff till another election happens along. Then it will be Johnny-on-the-Spot again helping to make and unmake governments that, between sessions, treat it with goodnatured contempt.

One Mistake to Avoid

/"\F course in due time, and after careful consideration, * there will be changes in the tariff. But as many of the manufacturers interested prepared for them by changing their politics just before election, you needn’t look for anything drastic. Some good Grits may have to be rewarded; a few stubborn Tories, who did’nt read the political skies aright, may have to be taught a lesson. But as for you and me, we’ll have plenty of time to forget all about tariffs unless young Mr. King brings on an untimely election by forgetting to treat Tom Crerar and his Farmers with the proper amount of respect.

But one thing is early evident. Young Mr. King is not going to make Sir Robert Borden’s mistake. Sir Robert, under the expert guidance of Hon. Wesley Rowell, and per-

haps Hon. James Calder, spent the declining years of his political life handing out jobs to reformed Liberals and partially-reformed Liberals. Net result was that when the election came on the Tory organization had vanished from the face of the Dominion. In fact in about six of the nine provinces it looks as if the whole Tory party had also participated in that vanishing act.

So Mr. King—I’d call him Wandering Willie, but that I hesitate to cause pain and suffering to so many good Grit readers and an editor who is as good a Grit as any of them—decided to keep everything worth keeping right in the Liberal family. So much so in fact that it is doubtful if those Liberals who voted for conscription in 1917 have yet been fully reinstated.

You’ll notice that when Mr. King, with the able assistance of Sir Lomer Gouin, picked his Cabinet, there was no wild rush to herd conscription Liberals into the sacred circle. To be sure Hon. W. S. Fielding caught an early place. But though the little grey man was elected as a conscriptionist in 1917 he never fully identified himself with the Unionist party. He kept his seat to the left of Mr. Speaker and never overlooked an opportunity

to prove that his heart was always true to the part of Laurier and reciprocity. And Hon. W. S. Fielding is the nearest thing to a conscription Liberal that cabinet holds. Of course, Hon. Charles Stewart may have conscription leanings. But he was working on his provincial job when the 1917 elections were on. Also Geo. P. Graham wobbled but he finally ran as a Laurier candidate in South Essex.

Now the returns from Ontario as well as the Maritime provinces show that a lot of Liberals who voted Unionist in 1917 must have gone back to their first love in 1921. But it looks as if they hadn’t yet been given full fellowship. For in the hard-shell Liberal’s heart there is still the image of Laurier. And he who once faltered in his allegiance to the Plumed Knight has still a thing or two to live down.

Senator McCoig’s $4,000 Plum

AN D getting down to appointments outside the cabinet -you find no changes in the King policy. Archie McCoig pulled down the first Senatorship; and Archie consistently said his prayers at Laurier’s knee. To be sure the Government needed Archie’s seat for the loquacious Mr. Murdock. But quite a long list of seats were lined up to make a choice from and it took a lot of wire-pulling before Archie landed in the Red Chamber. It seems a shame too that the best rural politician of his generation should be relegated to desuetude and $4,000.00 per annum. But Archie is a bit Scotch and with hard times hovering around who can blame him if he took the first opportunity to side-step all chances of a place in the political bread-line ?

Then there’s Duncan Ross—honest, earnest, fussy little Duncan. He stayed put till the rising Farmer tide washed him out of his seat. Always a good Grit he should make a good judge. King might have done a lot worse; so might Elgin County; and so might Duncan.

And A. C. Hardy, son of his father, who pulled down’the

second senatorship? He never faltered in his allegiance to Laurier and he has come into his reward. To be sure a lot of people will tell you that it would have been better politics to have appointed Fred Pardee to that job. For Fred is still a power among the Liberals of Western Ontario and the day may soon come when Mr. King will need substantial assistance from that section. But though F. F. Pardee was for years Laurier’s boy, Freddie put' country before even his affections on one historic occasion. That slip has been forgiven but not forgotten.

But hold on, there’s our old Agricultural College chum Duncan Marshall, of Alberta. What is it they’ve made Duncan? Is it Inspector of Agriculture? or Lecturer on Agriculture? Anyway, it is a job that calls for $6,000.00 per. And was Duncan true to Laurier through all the years of that terrible war? Or did they need Duncan to help Charlie Stewart find a seat in Alberta? Anyway, Duncan has a job that will enable him to devote his life to travel and oratory. And let it be said here and now that as an agricultural orator Duncan has few, if any, equals on this or any other continent.

But, you naturally ask, has not patronage been abolished? Hush, child. Don’t you know that patronage is a word known only in the opposition trenches? Translated for Government use, it becomes reward of true merit. And further patronage applies only to the lower orders. If a man wants a job with a pick and shovel that is patronage. He must purify the air by passing a written examination, but if a senatorship, or a judgeship be the prize, that’s different. The candidate can only qualify by passing a political examination.

The Selection of P. C. Larkin

THAT recalls that P. C. Larkin, of Toronto, has been appointed High Commissioner at London. Now it is readily admitted that P. C. is an eminently respectable citizen who wears a shiny silk hat and who has waxed wealthy in the tea trade. But don’t you believe these fairy tales to the effect that the Government has reached a long arm out of the political atmosphere and gathered into the country’s service a man immune to politics. Mr. Larkin was an intimate friend of Sir Wilfrid Laurier. That he still dips into a well-filled purse to further the fortunes of impoverished Grit statesmen is something more than a guess. Mr. Larkin will probably make a good commissioner. His friends like him and his enemies have nothing to say against him. But when they tell you he was selected because of his intrinsic worth, rather than for services rendered to the party, forget it. It simply isn’t done.

What else has the Government done since it settled down to observe silence and draw salaries? Practised economy, you say. Of course it has. And has not Hon. W. C. Kennedy, Minister of Railways, set the pace? Those railways call for along about a hundred millions from the public purse, so it was no use economising there in a picayune way. William, the Magnificent, was the first to realize this. Most ministers aspire to special cars.

Nothing so small for the people’s William. He steamed into Toronto on a special train of six coaches. He had President Kelly, of the G.T.R., in his train and Sir Joseph Flavelle, chairman of the G.T.R. Board'of Directors, in his vicinity, and carried every appearance of having adapted the motto of the latter to read: “To hell with economy.” You’ll remember it was predicted that William, the Magnificent, would cut a swath while he lasted. He’s atvay to a flying start.

Too Many Quebec Reps?

DUT this economy thing belongs with oppositions any-*-* way. The Liberals practised it so assiduously prior to December 6 they are due to relax a bit. Anyway, it is one thing to be economical while the other fellows hold the purse and quite another to be parsimonious when the revenues are in your own hands. And all the more so when the famished of Quebec and the Maritime Provinces are howling like a pack of wolves who have scented their prey. Let the Tories practise economy for a while. It’s their

Anyway there are other things to do. Charlie Stewart hasn’t got a seat yet. And Mr. King so frequently deplored Mr. Meigheri’s inability to get French representation in his cabinet that he may be a bit timid about facing the House with Poppa Motherwell as the only minister-from anywhere between the Lakes and the Mountains. Of course, Charlie can have Argenteuil. But that means more Quebec. And the young Premier might like the country to forget, even if he can’t, the rather too prominent place Quebec is taking iñ a Government that was to be representative “of all corners of Canada and all classes of her people.” What with the regular delegation from the Lower provinces, Hon. W. S. Fielding, whose business is there, and Hon. Geo. P. Graham, who also works down that way, things are bad enough. If it does further and Charlie Stewart has to tack the mystic letters P. Q. on to his post office address some misguided member of the opposition may occasionally make mention of it. But with “Wood of Missouri” calling those twelve elect of Alberta the “disciples” and stating quite frankly that none of them is named “Judas,” it looks like Argenteuil or nothing for Charlie. So place a little bet on Argenteuil.

By the way, did you ever stop to think how cabinets are selected? Surely you are not one of those who imagine a new premier goes over the country with a search warrant, selects the best man for each department and then forces the reluctant selection to lay aside all other lines of endeavor and give his undivided attention to furthering the interests of his country and his fellow man? If you are, buy an alarm clock.

And when you have rolled over and rubbed your eyes take a look at how well some of the new statesmen fit into their respective portfolios.

Would you pick a rich corporation lawyer as Minister of Justice? Then why Sir Lomer Gouin? Would you pick a student of constitutional law to handle Canada’ 6 Merchant Marine that promises to carry more overhead expenses than cargo? Then why Ernest Lapointe?

Would you pick a hot-headed Irishman with a legal training and a decided preference for a scrap as the man to administer the affairs of the Post Office Department? Then why Hon. Charles Murphy?

Would you select a man who made a fortune in gas and oil to untangle the intricacies of the greatest railway problem ever wished on this or any other country? Then why Hon. W. C. Kennedy?

There’s A Reason!

YOU can find some reason why Hon. W. R. Motherwell was made Minister of Agriculture; why Hon. Charles Stewart was made Minister of Immigration and Interior;

why Dr. Beland, a doctor, was made Minister of Health; and why Hon. J. A. Robb, a miller, was made Minister of Trade and Commerce. But most of the new ministers don’t know any more about their departments than did the ministers of the late lamented Meighen Government. And that is nothing at all. As a matter of fact, the present Cabinet was first picked and then allowed to scrap it out as to which should have first grab at the portfolio bag. Of course, Sir Lomer Gouin held out the justice prize and Hon. W. S. Fielding “barred” the finance job. But the rest wrangled for hours before they finally got pleased.

Of course, most of the trouble centred in the Militia portfolio They tried to wish it on to the gentle and refined Dr. Beland. But for once the complaisant Doctor rebelled. They then tossed it around like a shuttlecock till it finally settled on George P. Graham. And he -Í couldn’t shake it off. He was rather glad to get in out of the cold, anyway. There were days and days when it didn’t look as if George would get a portfolio of any kind. But in the whole shuffle there was no attempt to give a man the job for which he was fitted. If there had been the whole lot would probably have been disqualified.

Nor is this state of affairs peculiar to the new cabinet. It has obtained in every cabinet, or nearly every cabinet, since Confederation. The Joblot cabinet with which Meighen plowed into the late snowstorm was probably worse. The outfit Sir Robert Borden provided after days and weeks of worry was no better.

For you see when a premier sets out to choose his illustrious colleagues he has to keep a few things in mind. Each province has, if possible, to have representation. Then the French Catholics have claims; so have the Irish Catholics.

And if it is a Tory cabinet that is being caught the Orangemen also want to have a finger in the pie. So by the time the cabinet picker has the men in sight to fit each faction he has to banish from his mind any idea of getting men to fit the portfolios. As a matter of fact a man’s prominence in politics is largely decided by his ability as a debater. Prominent men rpust be chosenas ministers, so the debaters get first choice. That is the reason that so many lawyers are allowed to write “Hon.” in front of their names.

A Boost from J.K., A Boost Indeed!

DUT in this regard the new Government is an improveH ment on most of its predecessors. To be sure it has enough lawyers to raise trouble but it also has a fair sprinkling of other callings. For instance, Stewart and Motherwell are farmers; Fielding is an editor; King himself is a little of everything except a lawyer; Robb is a miller: Graham is an editor, financier and iokesmith: Kennedy is a dealer in gas and oil, both of which arc sometimes used in politics; Beland is a doctor and so is King, of B.C. The lawyers are Lapointe, Murphy, Gouin. Bureau, Copp and MacKenzie.

But to get back to the coming session and the promise that it is to be thoughtful and probably peaceful. It is admitted that Mr. King will be well advised if he slips through with the least possible friction. His position is far from being a happy one. If the opposing Tories and Farmers should unite against him flowers would be in order. His apparent safety lies in the fact that both Farmers and Tories are closer to him than they are to each other. Under ordinary circumstances anything that would make the Farmers vote against him should make the Tories vote for him and vice versa.

Farmers are heart and soul for public ownership. The Tories are committed to a similar policy but their hearts are not in it. They have private opinions of their own. If the House were polled on a straight question of public ownership the vote against it would probably show ninetynine per cent, of the Liberals: ninety-five per cent, of the Conservatives and sixty per cent, of the Ontario Farmers. That is if each member voted as he really wanted to.

But policy would put a different face on that vote. The Ontario Farmers, or most of them, would probably vote with their western brethren. The Ontario Conservatives led by Meighen would reluctantly do likewise if they couldn’t find a way of side-stepping. Even a few Ontario Liberals might find it politic to do the same. So with a solid Quebec, which is outspokenly for private ownership, at his back and a bunch of Bluenoses prepared to do anything that will place the Intercolonial at their disposal as a political plaything, the Premier must needs pick his steps with care and nicety.

Watching that railway play develop should be one of the treats of the coming session. Sir Lomer Gouin may be Minister of Justice, but you can bet right now that he is giving more thought to railways than he is to justice, constitutional questions and all else. Hon. T. A. Crerar will be watching it quite as closely. For the western farmers have learned that railways and freight rates have more bearing on the prosperity of the West than even the overtalked tariff.

Also the Hired Man’s Hero trusts not Sir Lomer Gouin. Hon. A. Meighen will be watching it too for the men most interested in railways are the same who first loaded him up with bad advice and later slipped a knife under his political fifth rib. That railway affair is a threecornered game of cut-throat. King must play the first card and he must play it early for Crerar - can’t wait. And Sir Lomer Gouin, who must se-

) - lect the card his Premier must play, is probably

doing a lot of plain and fancy thinking even as these few remarks go to press.

Of course, the session now sticking its head above the horizon will have other features. It will have Miss Agnes McPhail, our first stateswoman, who promises to contribute largely to the supply of conversation. It will have around one hundred members who never saw Ottawa before, and who until recently never expected to see it at all. It will, or should have, an abundance of that democracy the scarcity of which in recent governments was so frequently and voluminously deplored by Hon. W. L. M. King. And it will have Rodolphe Lemieux giving an added dignity to the Speaker’s chair.

But can anybody even guess why Hon. Rodolphe preferred the Speakership to a place in the cabinet? He is a close friend of Sir Lomer Gouin and has more than average ability. That he could have had a portfolio had he demanded one goes without question. But he preferred wearing a gown and a three-cornered hat and listening to a lot of prosy speeches he might otherwise have dodged. Everybody supposed that the Hon. Rodolphe preferred making speeches to listening to them. Sure it is that he’s a confirmed victim of the talking habit. And here all at once and of his own volition he drops out of the oratory competition and picks a job that practically gags him. They do say that Mr. Lemieux is headed for the Lieut.Governorship of Quebec and that the speakership is just a way station on his route. There may be something in it.

But aside from the little things that help to make a new Parliament interesting this promises to be a dull session. So look out for it. Sessions that have promised trouble in the past have faded to the worst specimens of stereotyped performances. So this one that promises nothing may provide anything and everything. Anyway keep one eye on that railway situation. And always remember that the socalled "Solid Quebec" is only solid on the .suri.ice. 'i 1». Montreal crowd have their Quebec rivals c >wed tor the moment. They hold the whip hand for do t.hci con-

trol the press and provide :he campaign funds.’ K u the brotherly love t hat should weid pan i s int o me ha "onnious whole inot epidemic in Queta ,