National Affairs: The Men Around the White Plume :

Harry W. Anderson August 1 1914

National Affairs: The Men Around the White Plume :

Harry W. Anderson August 1 1914

National Affairs: The Men Around the White Plume :

Harry W. Anderson

"THERE is no gambling,” quoth Disraeli, in one of his cynical outbreaks,

“like politics.”

Less than three years ago a decimated, disheveled and disheartened remnant of Canadian Liberalism nervously crawled out of the cyclone cellar after a disastrous electoral hurricane. The world had a cold, gray hue. All about was devastation and desolation. The Eden of power and prestige had been wiped out.

Tall Ministerial oaks had been uprooted, and the smaller shrubbery was rent, and torn, and trampled.

The wind sighed over a Forsaken Garden, in which even Hope seemed to lie dead.

But the darkest hour comes before the dawn. The morrow’s sun broke upon a new scene—a scene of life, of throbbing activity, of strong faith, of sound healthy optimism. Liberalism awoke with the sun to find its being battered but unbroken, to feel it was good to be alive, and to realize it had a day’s work to do, And it tackled the job.

It survived the supreme test. It took its licking manfully, and “came back.” The public has little use for a party, which, when beaten after holding office, sulks in its tent and gives itself the mien of a dispossessed heir. Liberalism girded

its loins and came forth to its task. As it worked it learned.

So Liberalism, for the past three years, has set itself to new duties. It has not been sitting down, with its back to the engine, content to review the achievements of the past. It has rejected the sweeping character of Lord Randolph Churchill’s dictum that “the business of

an Opposition is to oppose.” Its faith in itself is being renewed. And, whatever the effect of the change of seats may have meant to the politicians, i t s banishment from office for a time has done the Liberal party no harm. The fighting freedom of Opposition is developing the rank and file of its membership, and the removal of the material from its considerations of public policy is resulting in the reinstatement of the

Those who confound permanent progress with immediate results may be skeptical. All the world loves a winner. But adversity has its advantages. It is apt to do some sifting. It weeds out the weaklings and gets rid of the parasites. It develops fibre, and force, and fealty in thosewho remain to fight. The party has lost the man of little faith; it has been deserted by the Liberal - for-revenueonly. Much of the dead-weight has been dropped. And in the bleak shades of Opposition those who remain are growing strong. Canada, it may be unwittingly, is witnessing a reneissance of real Liberalism.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier has turned to a new task. For it is ‘The Chief” who is primarily responsible for the new spirit which is pulsating through the ranks.

Next month will see the completion of the third year of the Conservative administration at Ottawa. MacLean’s Magazine for September will contain an article outlining what has been done in that time, with something on the program ahead of the Government. The article will be written from a. strictly impartial standpoint.

He is devoting himself to two equally congenial occupations—fighting the enemy, and developing a trained force of aggressive young soldiers. For fifteen years this remarkable Canadian devoted his powers to the general service of the country and its citizenhood. Removal from the helm of the ship of state did rot rob him of his ideals, nor has his deft constructive hand lost its cunning. Those who have been following parliamentary events for the past three years do not need to be told that the veteran leader has set himself to the upbuilding of a progressive and purposeful young Liberalism ; that he is using the greater time now at his disposal to lay deep and firm the foundation for the eventful national morrow on lines broad in outlook, wide in sympathy and strong in detail. Within a few weeks he transformed a discouraged remnant into an enthusiastic fighting force, the spirit of which he characterized, in the spring of 1912, as “both confident and cocky.” He is developing initiative, emphasizing ideals, and giving scope to the energy and enthusiasm of youth, tempered by the wisdom of experi-

In opposition, Sir Wilfrid Laurier has Leen finding men for Parliament and the party. He is allotting every private in the ranks something to do. He is taking counsel with them all. He finds them ready and willing. The result is that, while there are fewer Liberals in Parliament than there have been for some years past, there seem to be more. Formerly the responsibility was with the Chief and his Ministerial colleagues Now every man has an individual responsibility. It is a capita] conception of ef-

fective working Opposition. There are no dullards. Everybody has a job—and is on the job. And the happenings are building bone, and sinew, and virility.

Yonder in the back benches have been discovered real men —big men, better men, in fact, than some of those who have in the past cluttered the counsels of the party. The day of the sleepy, stoical voting-machine i s gone. No longer does he put in his time reading the papers, writing constituents and answering the division bell. He has something to do now. He has a stake in the game. And things seem worth while.

To the grave, serene and dignified man who sits at his right hand, the Opposition leader is indebted for skilled and useful co-operation in the creation of this new condition.

Canada’s Parilament, like all other governing bodies in modern democratic civilizations, is subject to the excellent constitutional tenet of majority rule. Thus when, after some 250 consecutive hours

of conflict, a parliamentary minority gains its point for the time being over a parliamentary majority, there must be some unusual circumstance, s o m ething out of the ordinary. There was.

The Something Out of the Ordinary was William Pugsiey,

Doctor of Laws, and erstwhile Premier of the maritime province of New Brunswick. Dr. Pugsiey is a man of parts—so many parts, in fact, that, on a memorable and historic occasion, they turned a nominal minority of fifty into a majority.

It was not till he found himself in opposition, with real fighting to be done, that Dr. Pugsiey displayed those qualities which have made him the idol of his associates. His was the surpassing ability, his the courage, his the endurance,

his the indomitable spirit that maintained the long aggressive struggle against the passage of the Naval Aid bill of eighteen months ago. For seventytwo hours in one stretch he remained in, or within instant call, of the Commons chamber, guiding the Opposition attack in which many of the young back-benchers first “found” themselves. Every weapon of parliamentary usage, everything that human ingenuity could devise to block the adoption of the measure, Dr. Pugsiey brought into play.

One morning about two o’clock, Premier Borden dug up a precedent from a musty volume on parliamentary procedure, and raised a point of order, which, if sustained by the Speaker, would have overcome all opposition then and there. Dismay was written plainly upon the faces of the Liberals when the Premier made the point.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier had gone home, Dr. Pugsiey was not in the chamber, and no one else seemed to understand what the question really meant. A messenger was rushed for Pugsiey, who was sleeping on a lounge in one of the Liberal rooms. Some one got up to “kill time” till he arrived, but in less than two minutes the member for St. John walked into the House, the personification of coolness and urbanity. Confidence was immediately restored among the young fighters who had been holding the Opposition fort.

“Will my right honorable friend be so good as to send me his authority for the extraordinary point he has raised?” asked Dr. Pugsiey, in his softest tones. The big volume was sent across the floor, and for a minute or two he was lost between its pages.

The next moment and he was upon his feet, smiling. He had found the weakness in the Prime Minister’s armor, and, with unerring aim, he pierced it. A long, legal duel ensued, but in the end Mr. Borden, great lawyer and constitutionalist that he is, realized that his attack had been repulsed. Resourceful Pugsley had saved the day again ! Was it any wonder that the young Liberals in caucus next day gave him a demonstration of affection such as is rarely bestowed upon a fighter in the ranks?


Immediately back of his leader sits the Chief Whip of the party. He links the old with the new. No one has been a more forceful factor in the change which is coming over young parliamentary Liberalism than F. F. Pardee, of West Lambton. He enjoys, in a peculiar intimate sense, the confidence of the veterans and the cordial camaraderie and fellowship of the younger members. Old and young swear by “Fred.” Leaders may enunciate policies; orators may keep Hansard going; members may cheer, and supporters may counsel, but it is this young man —still in the early forties—who, in the final analysis, must be responsible for the perpetual parliamentary battle. Let him miscue, make a strategic blunder or slip a cog in his organization and temporary disaster must overtake his party. Other men may devote themselves to propa-

ganda and policy; he must likewise concern himself with the technique of the contest. Other members may fill their assignments dutifully and relinquish care with a light heart; he must follow each rumor, investigate every feature, take counsel with advisers, dominate and regulate procedure, give guidance in any situation, and assume responsibility for the whole plan of campaign.

The job is harder than it looks. On the Chief Whip rests the duty of carrying out the policy determined upon by the party. He must be an expert tactician; shrewd, resourceful, possessing a keen understanding of the situation and all its possible complications, and, withal, an intimate knowledge of mankind. In any parliamentary crisis

the strain on the two Chief Whips is tremendous. They are playing chess with one another twentyfour hours in every day, sleeping or waking. It is true that each has at his service a staff of assistant Whips, one or more from each province, but it is upon the shoulders of the Chief Whip that the main burden rests— a battle of wits between two parliamentary strategists; a contest between two men. Betting on the result of any embroglio is betting on the respective capabilities of Pardee and his Government rival, John Stanfield.

Both are popular with the membership. They have to be. They must be men of iron, but they must wear the velvet glove. They must have a cordial smile for everyone and a sympathetic ear for every grievance, real or imaginary. They must cultivate teamwork and alot each

unit his part. In the present Parliament, Pardee is the aggressor, while Stanfield is upon the defensive. They are well mated. There is a characteristic dash and daring about Pardee, and an equally typical caution about Stanfield. Pardee may pick the battle-ground. He may make a bold frontal attack, or he may unexpected carry out a sortie. Stanfield must always be prepared to meet an emergency. It is a game of parliamentary chess. A good move may mean big advantage; a false move an awkward situation. Fred Pardee is a lawyer and lives at Sarnia, Ontario. He is a graduate of the University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall. In politics he has already made his mark, and is destined to keep a famous name to the forefront of Liberalism. With him is associated as assistant Whip from Ontario, Duncan C. Ross, son of the late Sir George W. Ross, and also Archie McCoig, of West Kent, and “Johnnie Angus” McMillan, of Glengarry. These three young Scots are turning the back benches into parliamentary forces, and developing the stuff of which future cabinet ministers will be manufactured.


In every soundly-constructed and workable piece of locomotive mechanism there must be driving force and brake. Both are essential. It is true that the function of the latter may be less spectacular than that of the former, but it is none the less important. It is protection against a runaway. It regulates and defines progress on safe lines.

Among the rank and file of the younger Liberalism, Hugh Guthrie, of South WelContinucd on Page 137.

Continued, from Page 9.

lington, is the brake. The freedom of Opposition and its lack of direct responsibility has a tendency to develop either of two things, mere negation, or daring trail-blazing. With the present Opposition, any danger which might arise would be wholly from the latter. A brake doesn’t come amiss, and Guthrie supplies the brake.

He is built for the job; quiet, observant, strong. There is nothing theatrical about him. He does not pose. He is devoid of affectation. He is no demagogue, and he doesn’t practise the arts of popularity. He will not be stampeded. He studies a situation before he deals with it, and even the enthusiasm of ‘‘the boys” will not carry him along until he is satisfied to go. He is invaluable going down hill—as most brakes are.

But Guthrie is no pedant. His mind is open to fresh impressions. He listens to all, examines all, and advocates what seem to him the most practical improvements. And when he goes forth to war’ it is like Thor of the Thunder Hammer sallying forth from Asgard to do battle with the mud giants. His enemy is not the Government, it is their administration ; his force is not hurled against men, but against things; his battle is not with performers, but with performance. When Hugh Guthrie fights he fights a cause.


The Great West is radical, democratic, sure of itself, assertive of its rights. Even in Parliament the prairie provinces reveal their sentiments in their representatives —thorough-going, sturdy, vigorous, down-thumping fellows, most of them. They have inhaled the atmosphere of the big out-of-doors; they have fought their way among fighters. None of the subtleties of the more delicate, circuitous diplomacy for them. They “want what they want when they want it.” They speak in strong, strident tones. They talk in italics and capitals—all emphasis. They force, rather than win, their trail-blazing way. All but one.

“Take care of that man,” said Disraeli, of Bismarck, on one occasion, “he means what he says.” That is the strength of Dr. Michael Clark, the eloquent Britishborn Canadian from Red Deer. His devotion to his end—not the devotion of a fanatic who is sustained by the glow of passionate enthusiasm, but the practical, businesslike determination of an engineer who has a certain amount of tunneling to do—is one great secret of his power. When Peter the Great saw his semi-barbarous Muscovites driven from field after field by the Swedish veterans, he reioiced and took courage; “for,” said he, ‘‘in the end they will teach us the art of war.” Dr. Clark is not an opportunist. He thrives in and on opposition. His theories

are frequently pilloried and assailed, but it does not disturb his equanimity, nor shake his conviction. He thinks out his own scheme of political philosophy and applies it to the body politic. But he is no mere doctrinaire. He is intensely practical, willing to bide the proper time, but with a deep underlying faith in the triumph of every right.

Michael Clark is a reformer, not a revolutionist. He does not thunder, but wins by the saving grace of humor. He seldom seeks to annihilate an opponent. He prefers to attract—with a smile. He is ready at repartee, quick to avail himself of interruption. He glories in the rapid interchange, with a true Britisher’s appreciation of the value— and opportunity—of “heckling.”

“Thick as berries in Kazubazuza,” declared Sir George E. Foster, using one of his striking similes in the course of a fiscal debate.

“Ah,” quoth Red Michael, “doubtless one of the places where my honorable friend, the Minister of Trade and Commerce, is seeking markets.”

On one memorable occasion the mantle of self-control seemed to slip from his shoulders. The apostle of peace suddenly became a prophet of doom. He raised his voice ; he shook his arms; he poured forth burning words of indignation and anathema. He arraigned the administration. He denounced. He railed.

“My honorable friend from Red Deer speaks in passion,” observed the Prime Minister quietly, in the pause which followed a particularly scorching sentence.

In a flash the man’s face changed. The tense, taut grimness dissipated into a solemn and settled melancholia.

“My right honorable friend makes a slight unfortunate omission,” Dr. Clark responded in plaintive tones. “I speak of this Government in cora-passion.”


It is a far call from the decorum of the old school Presbyterian manse to the hurly-burly of the modern Canadian political warfare. But two young Westerners have traveled the distance, Knowles, of Moose Jaw, and Martin, of Regina. Lord Morley once described himself as “a cautious Whig by temperament, a Liberal by education, and a Radical by observation and experience.” And temperament, in the long run, was stronger than anything else. William Erskine Knowles, son of the manse, is a cautious Conservative by up-bringing, a Liberal by experience, but a Radical by temperament. Add to this fact his nationality—both his parents were Irish—and one understands what has changed the book-loving divinity student of somewhat more than a decade ago into the ardent, dauntless and militant parliamentarian of to-day.

It is curious how little the public estimation of public men accords with their real character, as it is known to their intima* ,'s. Everybody thinks he knows Knowles. In reality, the real Knowles is as different from the supposed Knowles

as the real Laurier is from the bloodthirsty ogre of the Nationalist pre-election romance. The restless active Western spirit has enveloped him, but the old Eastern love of the library remains. He retains his devotion to his books, his keen perception of the beauties of expression, which is almost a genius for rhythm, while deep within him burns that celestial fire of passion without which poetry is but as the tinkling cymbal.

But, nevertheless, the young Irish-Canadian—he is still in the sunny forties and is a native of Alliston, Ont rio—found

himself “at home” in the clash and clang of parliamentary battle. He was never one of those who “like the drab men best.” He responds to the purple patches—he is attracted, rather than repelled, but the men whose heroic or adventurous career makes them stand out from the canvas like scarlet figures in a great painting. He has no morbid horror of violence. He was restless and ill at ease as a curbed and reined supporter of Government. He has come into his own in opposition. He is a legalist but, if necessary, he is ready to trample upon your parchments without at all feeling that he is offending against the law of things. Whatever won for Knowles his huge majority in Moose Jaw, it was not demagogy, flattery or any other homage to the false gods of the market place.

“That detestable Lloyd George from the prairies,” was the vitriolic response of a member from the Government side, when asked by a colleague in the Government lobby as to who was speaking in the House. William Martin, the young member for Regina, was “up.” William Martin is everything that a certain class abhors; everything that it holds a public man ought not to be. He is radical, assertive, persistent and concerned primarily with the proletariat. He will never take tradition for granted, nor make obeisance to the established order of things. And he has all the ardent intensity of the knight of old in couching his lance in an unpopular cause.

Young Martin has made the battles of the big new West his own. He looks through its eyes. He has seen its vision. He is concerned with the aspirations of its cosmopolitan citizenhood. In debate he is dangerous. He thinks fast. Men who think slowly and deliberately seem to think consecutively; men who think rapidly are apt to be accused of want of steady application and concentration of the mind. Martin’s mind darts hither and thither in a fashion perfectly bewildering to those whose mental evolutions are more slow and cumbrous. He goes full steam ahead, his consuming activity driving him through all obstacles as a steamer drives through the stormy sea.

Yet his is no mere mob oratory. The vast vocabulary, the nimbleness with which he seizes the inevitable word at the right time, the resonance of the voice, and the fine physique would all fail him were his speeches not fortified with something more substantial, something more essential. Like R. B. Bennett, his verbiage resembles Niagara. It falls from his lips like a torrent. But there is always artistry of diction, and keen incisiveness of phrase. The expression of his ideas gains force and energy from his aspect while expressing them. He believes what he


If, by some strange turn of the political wheel of fortune, the Liberal party sud-

denly found itself in power, the new Solicitor-General would probably be George ; Henry Boivin, of Shefford, Quebec, the “baby member” of the House of Commons. What Hon. Arthur Meighen is to the Conservatives this young FrenchCanadian—he is barely thirty—gives promise of becoming for the Liberals. He has scholarship, ambition, brains, eloquence, a serious bent for politics, and the ideals of youth. The office of SolicitorGeneral simply gravitated to Meighen. He was first for the position, and there were no seconds. With a little more experience, Boivin will occupy a similar place in the ranks of the Opposition. At college, in the study of law, and in the House of Commons, Boivin has had a brilliant record.

An incident in his early life, and one which it is rumored first brought him to the attention of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, is the best possible sidelight on his character. His mother, who was Irish of the Irish, and whose Celtic traits her son has strongly inherited, died shortly after his birth, and three years later his French-Canadian father followed her. The young orphan was a fine youngster, and became the pet of the kind-hearted people of Granby, Quebec, where a goodly portion of the population are Irish and Scotch. An old lady became specially interested in the boy, and often as he passed her modest home on his way to and from school she would treat him to cake, fruit and candy. The years went by ; Boivin had gone to college, had had a brilliant career at historic Laval and was now a full-fledged barrister. He had not been admitted to the bar more than a few weeks when his first big case was handed to him by the kindly old lady who in his schoolboy days had been his steadfast friend. It was an important case, one which involved the ownership of considerable property, and the young lawyer hesitated before taking it. The woman, however, had infinite confidence in the stripling and insisted that he take the brief. Boivin then accepted the case, fought a long legal battle against one of the most experienced counsel in Eastern Quebec, and won. Delighted at the outcome—for defeat would have meant her financial ruin—the woman almost immediately demanded that Boivin present his bill. This he just as promptly did— receipted ! When she protested he declared he had only in small measure repaid the generosity which had meant so much to him in his orphaned schooldays. In this he remained steadfast, and refused to take even a cent for his services.

Ilis success in the practice of his profession was instantaneous, and he soon became known throughout the Eastern Townships. At Laval he had been president of the Liberal Students’ Association.

It was quite natural, therefore, that he should be active in politics in the town in which he practised law, and he soon became recognized as an eloquent and convinci ig platform speaker. In 1911, when | Sir Wilfrid Laurier was casting about for a standard-bearer for the Liberals in 1 Shefford, which is regarded as a Conservative constituency, his attention was j called to Boivin—then twenty-eight years j

of age. Sir Wilfrid learned of the young man’s record, of his splendid reputation in the county, of his eloquence both in French and English. He sought a conference; and, as a result of an hour’s talk with the Liberal chief, Boivin decided to make the fight in Shefford. He carried the county after a whirlwind campaign by a majority of twenty-seven

Boivin took his place among the effective forces of Parliament last year by a single speech on the naval issue. When men like Pugsley, Meighen, Laurier, Borden and Carvell were fighting for supremacy with every known weapon of constitutional and parliamentary law, Boivin came to the forefront, displaying a skill in debate and a knowledge of the rules of procedure that astonished his most ardent admirers. Such a success did he become in the course of a few days that the Opposition put him up to reply to Meighen’s masterly defence of the closure, a task in the performance of which he added to his fast-growing reputation.

Associated with Boivin is a galaxy of young Frencli-Canadian Liberals who are climbing to the front. Hon. Dr. Henri Beland, who for three short weeks before the 1911 deluge held the post Of Postmaster-General, is also destined for big things. As a speaker he is a wizard, combining a quiet humor with an effective presentation of his case. Jacques Bureau, “Joe” Demers, big Edward Lapointe and genial “Charlie” Wilson, whose English name denies his French ancestry, form a formidable group of fine young fighters and brilliant sneakers.

With Pugsley from the Maritime Provinces comes a phalanx of stalwart gladiators. How these maritime men love to fight! Woe betide the thoughtless opponent who crosses swords with “Ned” Macdonald, the sturdy Scot from Pictou. And his Irish fellow-Nova Scotian, George W. Kyte, of Richmond, can be relied upon to be “in it where it’s thickest.”

George W. Kyte is true to his Irish ancestry. He is full of ideas, of originality, of humor, of energy—and of fight. He has every strength but the strength of repose. He is never in repose. Parliament may be discussing some intricate local problem affecting the far-away Pacific coast, but the Nova Scotian ' is leaning over his desk, following the debate with all the personal intensity he would evince if his own constituency were the matter of immediate concern. And he is always ready—and eager—to jump into the melee. He has none of the orthodox arts of the politician. He doesn’t win his way; he wrests It. Where his colleagues practise finesse, he goes in for boldness. He doesn’t hanker after kid gloves. His friends swear by him; his enemies swear at him. Neither oaths of allegiance nor of antagonism affect him. But he is a great man to have—on your side !

In the dauntless and aggressive Frank B. Carvell, New Brunswick makes a notable contribution. With few gestures, squarely confronting the enemy, Carvell speaks. There is no appeal to passion, no loose generalities, no attempt at rhetoric, nothing subtle or bewildering. The sentences roll out with hammer-like pre-

cisión. The points made are direct and unambiguous. The argument never wanders.


Nobody likes to fight against Carvell. A good story goes its Ottawa rounds concerning him. The fighting New Brunswicker arrived late at one of the social functions at the capital. His name was announced to one of ‘‘the ladies of the Cabinet” who was assisting.

“Mr. Carvell?” the minister’s wife exclaimed in clear tones which carried some distance. “You are surely not that bad man whom we all hate?”

The member bowed with Chesterfieldian deference. “Madam,” he responded promptly in the same resonant baritone which has often hurled anathemas across the Commons chamber, “I pay a heavier penalty than I thought for doing my duty.”

These are but a few of the outstanding young men who are taking their places in the front rank of the reinvigorated Opposition. They have many colleagues.

It is not strange, under such circumstances, that sackcloth and ashes is not the prevailing mode among Liberal parliamentarians. They are too busy for mourning. They may make mistakes, but they make them in service. They are eager for the fray, confident of their cause and intensely loyal to their leader.