THE TURMOIL At OTTAWA
New Parties, New Factions, But Old Faces
J. K. MUNRO
CANADIAN politics are in the melting pot. New parties are being born, old ones are remodeling their creeds to meet new and changed conditions. It is moving day all round and the common or peanut variety of politicians is holding his breath till he discovers whether the coming order of things has a place for him and, if so, at how much.
Yes it is a muchly muddled mess that meets your eye no matter which way you look. Let it rest for a moment on the Union Government and what do you find? Of course Sir Robert Borden is still there and still working industriously at his old job of doing nothing. Time was, not so many months ago either, when there were hopes that Sir Robert might follow his favorite occupation in another if not higher sphere. You’ll remember when Sir Thomas White was cultivating popularity with the common herd of statesmen, when with a handshake like unto that of the Prince of Wales he was worming his wây into the heart of Parliament, and the while the members went to bed softly humming “His Bright Smile Haunts Me Still”? Well in those sunny spring days Sir Robert really could see his household furniture being moved from the "Washington of the North to that other city that spends much time trying to make amends for the lies the man it was named after could not tell. Yes, Sir Robert di'eamed he was going to be British Ambassador to Washington. And others believed that dream. Even as astute a statesman as Lord Beaverbrook whispered to friends that Sir Robert was on his way and that another would soon hold the reins at Ottawa. But alas and likewise alack, something slipped. Whether it was that training as a constitutional lawyer does not fit a man for a diplomatic career, or that too many Englishmen whose incomes had been eaten up by war taxes had to be supplier! with jobs; or that somebody in England had dined with Sir Robert and discovered that solemnity and stolidity, even when surmounted with the nicest hair in all the political world, does not everywhere pass for international intelligence, matters not. It is enough to know that Sir Robert did not go to Washington, that he did come back to us and that there is no immediate prospect of a change.
The Passing of Sir Thomas OUT it has also been noted that the return of Sir Robert Borden marked the going of Sir Thomas White and the rmest’on that most frequently bumps you in the face is, why did Sir Thomas go? Now if you are on talking terms with Sir Thomas he will put his arm through yours, or around your shoulder as the case may be, and, in tones that are friendly almost to the point of being patronizing, he’ll tell you all about it. He’ll tell you, his free hand passing gently over his furrowed brow the while, of how he has labored to the great profit of his country while his private fortunes have suffered. He’ll tell you how he has yearned for rest, how the doctor has advised him that complete relaxation is essential to longevity and he’ll heave a great sigh as he turns you to a past covered with great deeds and a carping country’s debts. And when his arm drops from your shoulder and he turns sadly away you’ll be thankful that titles were not abolished till one deserving man got his.
And almost before your depression wears off you’ll wander into some rude man of the hard-boiled political variety who will grunt:
“Huh! if Borden had gone to Washington I guess
Tom White would still be carrying both the cares of office and his sunny smile. Tom had enough of being batman to a leader who couldn’t even look as intelligent as he does. Anyway, floating domestic loans isn’t as easy as it once was. And it’s rather fatiguing borrowing money for other fellows to spend. Yes, I guess Tom wants a rest—but in about a month or two lie’ll realize what a small potato a cabinet minister out of a job really is. Then he’ll wish he had taken a holiday instead of jumping his job.”
And there may he something in those rude remarks. For you know that a cabinet minister gets accustomed to his daily diet of flattery. And if he happens to fancy himself a bit anyway he finds it mighty hard to get along without that diet.
The New Pilot of Loans
i UT Sir Thomas has gone and in his place has come another Toronto knight, Sir Harry Drayton. The appointment made a lot of people gasp. People with ordinary every-day ideals couldn’t understand why any man of ordinary intelligence should throw up a $12,500 a year job as Chairman of the Railway Commission to serve his country at $9,500 per. And all the more so that he has to gather himself a seat in Parliament before he can make his job even tempor-
arily secure and get a check for the last $2,500 of his modest stipend. These people admit that there were a lot of patriots who served for $1.10 per diem during the late war. But the war is over and patriotism has been laid away in moth balls till another Hun threatens the liberty of the world. So why the sacrifice?
They forget that a man may have other ambitions besides the accumulation of dollars. Also that a man may have enough of the latter to follow his own inclinations without worrying about the rent or the hired girl’s wages. Now there is private and apparently authoritative information to the effect that Sir Harry has both means and ambitions. Moreover his friends maintain that he has ability. Some of them will tell you that, if the pursuit of wealth were the path he cared to tread, he would quit the public service entirely and practise law and that he could make twice as much that way as he could doing the work of his King and country.
Anyway Sir Harry is the new Finance Minister. He’s the pilot who is steering the ship of state through the first Victory loan without the fuel of war to help keep the steam up. It is a pretty severe test and should furnish some kind of an answer to that other query: “What does Drayton
know about finance?”
Personally the new Minister is a rather goodlooking chap who wears a bland smile and smokes a pipe. As one of the joint authors of the Drayton-Ackworth report on the railway situation he has probably become immune to criticism. On the whole he’s entitled to his chance. The “political orphans” will doubtless insist on Union Government staying with us for another couple of years at least and any of its enemies will tell you that any changes in its personnel cannot hurt it much.
>UT another man who fits into the chain of events is Hon. F. B. Carvell, the man who walked the floor nights before he could tear himself from his leader and his party to join the Union Government. Yes, “Fighting Fearless Frank” has gone to his reward. That reward is the chairmanship Sir Harry Drayton vacated. Of course the salary goes with the chairmanship. But why mention such trifles as $12,500 per except perhaps to remark that it looks like a lot of money in New Brunswick? Anyway, of Mr. Carvell it may be truly said that if his coming into Union ranks didn’t help much his going to the Railway Commission didn’t help any. He has figured in Parliament as the uncompromising foe of public ownership, with particular reference to the Hydro enterprise and Sir Adam Beck.
The Result of Angling in Quebec
N OW you may think as you will of Sir Adam and his work hut if you know anything about Old Ontario you have to admit that they are a strong political influence in the majority of the constituencies of the banner province. Starting with this you have to turn to consider where the Union Government must look for support if it holds hopes of being more than a temporary outfit. It assuredly can’t hope for much from the Maritime Provinces, which weren’t at all unanimous when the war was the Union’s chief excuse for figuring *n our simple life. It can’t look forait in Quebec, which has recently reiterated its prejudice against Sir Robert, Union Government, and other things more or lessconnected with conscription by electing Hon. W. L. Mackenzie King leader of the Liberal Party. Nor is this the only evidence that Quebec is still as anti-Union as ever. Alongin August you’ll remember that Sir Robert Borden went away on a brief holiday—went fishing, the newspapers said. And for once they were right. Sir Robert was here and there through-out Quebec fishing for some Frenchmen who would accept portfolios and help make his Union Cabinet more representative in its make-up. On his fishing trip he visited Three Rivers, where the merry and hospitable Hon. Jacques Bureau holds court. Hon. Jacques, as in duty bound, received Sir Robert and his party and showed them the beauties of his native city. But the proletariat refused to enthuse, neither did they take off their hats 4and cheer. Moreover, there was a municipal election a day or two later and, when the votes were counted, it was found that every last one of Hon. Jacques’ candidates had been literally snowed under. Now the merry little Frenchman was and is popular in his own home town. But the people just served notice on him that he must keep out of bad company.
These two incidents will help to convince you that Sir Robert need look for' no support from Quebec -for his Union Government. He holds but three of the sixty-five seats at present and he will be lucky if he holds what he has.
Nor does the West look like fertile soil from which to reap a crop of Unionist members. From the Lakes to the Mountains the farmers are organized and in open rebellion. To their hatred of all tariffs has been added a new grievance. The Government action in regard to wheat is held to have robbed them of many iron dollars. So they won’t vote Union. Of course British Columbia, unless she changes her rather fickle mind meantime, will contribute a dozen or so good men and true to the great Union cause. But the great bulk of Unionist support, if it is to come at all', must come from Ontario. And Ontario has just been slapped in the face by the appointment of her pet enemy to a place they claim he can use to their utmost disadvantage. Great politics, isn’t it?
Fitting Ministers to Their Jobs
TTOWEVER, these are the changes to date in the Union Cabinet, some of their causes and a few of their effects. But hold on, there is another. S. F. Tolmie of Victoria, B.C., has moved into the vacant chair once occupied by Crerar, the Grain Grower. What of him? Well to be
honest, his appointment hasn’t a world of political significance. He is one of that eminently respectable family of farmers who earn their bread by the sweat of the hired man’s brow. He’s a dweller in cities and represents Victoria in Parliament, but he owns bx-oad aci-es and many cattle in the outlying parts of the sunny slope pi-ovince. He is said to be a good stockman and even some grain growers from the Pi-airies admit that he will fill his job acceptably. But doesn’t it sometimes you as funny that Bxfitish Columbia, which gives the least attentioix to agx-icultux-e any of the provinces worth mentioning, should of recent years furnish us with most of our Ministers of Agriculture? Two of the last three have been Hon. Martin BuiTell and Hon. S. F. Tolmie. But after all that is very much in keeping with a parliamentary pi'actice that gives us a college professor for Minister of Trade axxd Commerce and the repx-esentative of a paint factory as Minister of Marine. And the xule that the Unioxx Government observes most rigidly is that to be a good minister a man must be as far removed as possible from the affairs that most affect his depax-tment.
Other rules arc that he must be fairly immune to public sentiment and be a pure amateur in politics. Not all these rules have been observed in the Tolmie appointment, but most of them are still intact.
That Fifty-fifty Split Again
DUT another point about these recent changes in the Cabinet is that whereas Sir Robert started to infuse more Liberalism into its makeup, to get things on a fiftyfifty basis in fact, the tx-end of the tide appears to be in the opposite direction.
To be sure Sir Thomas White, a Tory of rather recent vintage, has been replaced by Sir
Harry Drayton who must have been more or less of a Grit when he was appointed crown attorney of York County by the Ross Government. But was he a Grit or Tory when he became Corporation Counsel of Tory Toronto? And if he, as expected, picks Nox-th Toronto as his easiest route to Paxdiament will he appeal to the constituency that gave Sir Geo. Foster 15,000
Sizing it all up Sir Harry appears pretty well astride of the fence and his coixxing does not do much towards establishing that long looked for “fifty-fifty.” Mr. Tolmie, too, appears to be in very much the same boat. Both parties lay claim to his allegiance. Chances are he too could fit in on either side that needed a little extra weight. Hon. F. B. Car-
veil’s successor has not yet been appointed but Sir Douglas Hazen visits the capital for frequent consultations and appears to haw the vacancy at his disposal. Of course Stanley Fikin, Liberal Unionist of St. John, is also on the job. But he’s young, inexperienced and might find his foot slipping if he had to be re-elected in his native city.
Unionism Slipping Torywards
*N the whole the tendency of Union Government is distinctly Torywards. Its chief organ recently carried in Ottawa a despatch to the effect that during the present session a caucus would decide whether Unionists would continue to unite or slip back into the lines that fought so merrily before the war cast its shadow o’er the portals of Parliament. This of course was looked on as a “feeler.” And all the more so that a caucus last session had decided to thx-ow the old banners in the ashbarrel, ana live and die—under the uxxited blessings of Borden, Rowell et al. It was felt in fact that menxbers from outlying constituencies had been dropping in and whispering that Unionism was being cursed rather than blessed all the way from Halifax to the Rocky Mountains.
Still further concern was shown when Mr. Rowell’s Toronto organ charged that the Provincial Premiers and Press who had retxxrned to their old faith at the August convention had left, the Liberals in the Union Cabinet “high and dry.” Coupled to this was a report that Mr. Rowell had been in conference with Mr. J. E. Atkinson prior to the appearance of the editorial. It looked like the swan song of Hon. Wesley and the wise ones began to wonder where he would light when the ship went out from under him and just what form Hon. Jim Calder’s life raft was likely to take.
However, all this was during the x-ecess. With the lower grades of statesmen back in Ottawa, things
look nxore hopeful. One member of the Government privately expx-essed the opinion that nothing on earth could bring oix an election till 1922 or 1923 axxd that meantime no defections could possibly cut the Government xnajority below the working point. He was candid enough to admit that if the Unionists went to the country at the present time they would get the hide whaled off them.
Anything may happen in three or four years. Meantime members who have little or no hope of re-election, who are drawing two' indemnities this year and who could be given three or four next if it was really necessary are not hard to handle. Still the caucuses ox the party, or mixture, or union or whatever it is are being watched with considerable interest If anybody really wanted an election he might at any moment drop a match that would cause an explosion. But nobody does. Even the young Frenchmen, cocky as they are as a result of their victory over Sir Lomer Go-n t,he Grit convention and trying to look proud of the leader they elected, are not anxious to go to the country. They know that elections ai-e expensive and a bit uncertain and freely admit that it might be well to wait for another session or two before making a serious assault on the Government works.
[EANWHILE Hon. Bob Rogers has not been idle. From Winnipeg his cry for a revival of the old Conservative party has gone echoing over the prairies He was in Ottawa, too, the other day and it was a bit euiious to notice the warmth of the welcome certain of the ministers extended to him. It seemed to say: You ve helped us m other days and who knows how soon we may need your help again.” For it is said of Hon. Bob that he is a wizard when it comes to raising campaign funds and placing them where they will do the most good.
But the former “minister of elections” is practical, :f anything, and he evidently does not intend to devote his energies to bolstering up what every day looks more like the lost cause of Unionism. For the last year he has been flitting hither and yon, blowing into a flame the smoldering sparks of Toryism. Now it is said the organization has taken definite form and that before the frost starts dropping the beechnuts from the trees, a central committee of Conservatives will meet to draft the call for a Conservative convention.
Four Factions at Ottawa
•’"pHAT makes the factions in the political snarl -*■ number four at the smallest. There’s the Unionists under Borden and Rowell, hanging on and hoping; the Conservatives gathering their forces to raise the standard of Sir John Macdonald and the cry that Canada must be protected or it will become the dumping ground for Yankee surplus stocks shut out of Europe by the decreasing value on the New York exchange of the pound sterling and other varieties of European cúrrency; the Liberals who have rallied to Hon. Mackenzie King and a free trade platform that, like the new leader, w7ill be decorative rather than useful; and the farmers, wdiose chief aim in life is to get the highest price for their wheat and buy everything else as cheaply as possible. And you must not blame the farmers too much either. They’re a bit selfish, but not more so than the others. Only trouble is they’re new7 to the game and haven’t learned that the way to get w'hat you really want is to impress on the country that \ou are laboring for the general welfare of Canada and then grab off what ycu w7ant in the general scramble.
Now7 with an election ihree years away you would expect the public to be asking: “What is the Government going to do?” And they’re not. Instead they’re asking: “What will the country do to the Govern-
A Glance at the Next Parliament
DUT not content w7ith letting the future look after itself political seers are also trying to figure what the next Parliament will look like. So wTe may as well stand off to one side and take a look at that too, providing Sir Robert Borden still lives and his Unionist baby is able to sit up and take a little pap when the test comes. You’ll admit that he won’t make any inroads in Quebec. You w'ill also hazard a prediction
that the Maritimes won’t lean any stronger towards Ufiionism. Consequently Hon. Mackenzie King should come up to the Ottawa River with 75 to 80 seats. But w'est of that he’ll dwindle away to dribs and drabs and will probably appear at the barrier w ith about ninety
odd followers all told. And at that he’ll probably have the largest and most compact following in the New House. Hon. J. A. Crerar and his farmers should sweep the West from the Lakes to the Mountains with the exception of a few ridings in Southern Manitoba. They will also cut some figure in Ontario where, according to unbiassed students, they will carry about twenty-five seats. There are 235 seats in the House. Giving the Liberals 90 seats and the Farmers 60 seats there would be left 85 seats to be divided among Unionists, straight Conservatives, Labor men and returned soldiers. All of which would indicate that Sir
Robert Borden is justified in hanging on to his job till he can at least find places of honor and emolument for Hon. Rowell, Calder, Meighen—and possibly himself. So if you have nothing else to do, you can just sit pat and watch him do it.
Of course, however, the program is subject to changes without previous notice. If the Conservatives get together and happen on a leader wrho is a leader there may be an entire change of scenery. Quebec is protectionist when not prejudiced. It hates Borden, but on the other hand its love for Mackenzie King is purely academic. Some of the young French members who worked so enthusiastically for him and cheered so heartily w7hen his election was announced are even now asking: “What sort of man is our new7 leader?”
And truth to tell, he does not appeal very strongly to these hero-wTorshipping natives. He lacks magnetism and, as one of the visiting English journalists suggested, he’s almost as dull as his book. So, given a Conservative leader with ability and personality, it w7ould not be hard to wean the old province away from her present alleged love of Liberalism. In fact, even French-Liberal politicians of the first rank admit that a good Conservative leader with a straight protection policy could split Quebec up the back. Such a man and party could also probably hold the Maritimes even, sweep such parts of Ontario as the farmers did not pre-empt, get a piece of Manitoba, pick an occasional seat on the Prairies further w7est and just about carry the whole of British Columbia.
That is the prospect that cheers the old Tories to action. It. may all be a beautiful dream. But with the present muddled almost beyond hope, anything is likely to happen w7ith only disaster to be gathered by hanging on to the coat tails of Unionism.
And whatever happens Crerar and his farmers will cut a big figure in the next House. They may yet realize that some sort of tariff is essential to a country that has to give part of its attention to a tw7o billion dollar debt. They may learn that to get anywhere they must co-operate with other parts of the national structure. They may in fact do a great work in giving Canada government by the people instead of government by the lawyers. Some other dreamers can also see a people’s party led by Hon. T. A. Crerar and Sir Adam Beck.
But all dreamers wake up in time. You are entitled to at least one guess as to which of them will wake to smile and which to weep.