Santa’s Political Stocking
J. K. MUNRO
SANTA CLAUS pulled up his reindeers on Parliament Hill. The hoarse boom of the
Chaudière rolled in from the West and mingled with the music that floated up from the Château where Angus Gordon was making “Merry Christmas” at the usual prices. But the little old gentleman with the whiskers paid no attention to either. He was deep in thought. The old, old question: “What shall we do for our boys?” held full possession of his faculties. Finally, however,
a slight smile flickered like a ray of sunshine from his ruddy
“Not so chilly around here since Borden and Rowell moved out.” Following a habit of years, Santa was speaking to himself. Then he frowned. “How is a poor devil like me to know what to bring these spoiled political pets? They’re so fed up with flattery that if I rolled a world at their feet they’d think I hadn’t brought them half what they deserve.”
Again that glint of sunshine swept from his weary little eyes down across his frosted beard.
“Well, after all, they’re only human,” he ruminated. “Tear off the tinsel of office, cut through a layer or two of vanity, and you find the boy beneath. Who besides me knows that the gentle Laurier carried to his grave a secret ambition to be a prize-fighter, that he revelled in the history of the ring and knew almost as much about Tom King, the pugilist, as he did of Tom King, the gallery correspondent?
“Crerar, too, that horny-fisted farmer who leads the hosts of agriculture against the walls of higher statesmanship! Who would believe that he has a waking suspicion that he is an art critic? Or that he wants his trousers artistically creased when he steps out on Sparks Street?
“Heigho! That only makes it harder. If they were one thing or another I could fix them up in a jiffy. But really I have to decide between what they want and what they think they want!
“Take Artie Meighen for example. He’s hardly human. Why playing golf last summer I saw him use the ‘putter’ to get out of the long grass and he talks like an extract from the court records. Moreover, he can’t make up his mind whether he wants to keep on being Premier or to be leader of the Opposition. If it wasn’t for the luxury tax I’d give Artie an order for a really made-to-order suit of clothes and a clean shave; then he’d look the part no matter which job he pulled. As it is, I guess I’ll compromise with a cap that will pull down over his ears. Then he can’t hear what his beloved cabinet colleagues are saying about him.
“Little Jimmie Calder is another conundrum. What Jimmie wants is a whole lot. He didn’t go West as a foil for his young Premier and make speeches and take all the abuse without figuring on something handsome in his
stocking. The snow-birds whisper that Jimmie is going to quit the political game and take a whirl out of the business world. That is one reason he has become a protectionist. Another may be what I have brought for him. It is a beautiful thing in oils— a western scene with a European background—yes that may be gentle James in the centre. What is he doing? Who can tell? He may filling his hat.
A Uniform in his Sock
i VHEN there is Johnnie * -*■ Reid. A hard worker,
Johnnie, with more ambitions than ideals. Johnnie thought he’d like to be head of the greatestjrailway system on this or any other continent. Well, well, even his enemies admit he would make a good brakeman. So I’ll fix Johnnie out with a train of toy cars and a brakeman’s uniform. He can play with them between sleeps in the Senate.
“Ballantyne, too, likes a uniform. If he
could blossom out in the gold lace and cocked hat of an admiral of the¡“King’s Na-vee”he wouldn’tcare who fought his country’s battles. Nice boy, Bai; just watch him when he digs this uniform out of his sock, brings this nice tin sword up to the salute and bellows:
“ ‘Avast, you land lubbers! I carved out the navy even against the wishes of my colleagues. Salute the Coo—beg pardon—the man who planted the Canadian flag upon the seas!’
“But wait a minute. I mustn’t spill my entire load at the feet of the ministers. There are others. There is little Willie King, who has just come out of the West with his arms full of canes and his feet full of dancing pumps—or vice versa. What for Willie? I had thought’
of a mirror in which he might view with becoming admiration his sleek and child-like form. But alas and likewise alack, his bachelor apartment is loaded with mirrors. He has one for each hour of the day. Ah, I have it. He shall have a
pair of long trousers.
He’ll probably cry when they cover up his red topped boots. But the little man must grow up some time.
“Tommie Crerar, too, must get something or the rude farmer boy will go romping roughly among his little playmates and help himself. He can’t have a premiership this year—he may never get one. But this hobby horse labelled free trade is no use for Willie King now that I’ve started him growing up. I’ll pass that along to Tommie. It will help to while away the long hours at Ottawa. If he
should try to ride it through an election he’d probably go down at the first jump. But those baby politicians must learn the game and any kind of a mount does for the first start or two.”
Lapointe Gets the White Plume
TT WILL be noticed that Santa, having an old-established
trade and probably being interested in a factory or two, is a bit of protectionist.
“Then here is a bunch of stuff that is all labelled and ready. There’s a whistle for Jacques Bureau—he can blow it and think he’s the C.P.R. Here’s a fife and drum for Charlie Murphy and Frank Cahill. How brave they’ll look as they strut behind Samuel Devlin and how well they’ll play the Protestant Boys.
“What’s this for Ernest Lapointe? Well it may be a little premature but it will be in order in a year or so. It’s the white plume of the greatest French-Canadian of them all and securely tied to it is the title, “Leader of a Solid Quebec.”
“Back on the Government side there I see an anxious face or two. But the boys needn’t fear, there’s enough to go around. Yes, Hughie Guthrie, all in good time; there’s a judgeship for you. But wait a bit longer till we can spare you from the Cabinet. This is not a time to open a doubtful constituency.
“Yes, Georgie Foster, the High Commissionership is still as vacant as Sir George Perley can keep it. All in good time my boy, all in good time. You, too, Charles Doherty. What, you don’t want to be King of Ireland? Oh! yes, I understand. No pension goes with that job.
“What have I here? Wesley Rowell—Gone but not forgotten. Why it is a case of Grape
Juice. Guess I needn’t forward it to Geneva. Dear Wesley has got his.
“But I must hurry along. Here’s a necktie for Bill Kennedy; a Christmas card for Duff ‘wishing
you a merry Christmas; your loving friend Ballantyne.’ But hold on, what is this other important-looking package addressed ‘Fred Pardee?’ Blessed if it isn’t the Liberal Leadership of Ontario. Hartley Dewart must have realized at last what a mess he is making of things and decided to get out. Well, well, the sturdy boy with the bass voice was once Laurier’s ‘Freddie.’ If the Ontario followers of the Old Chief are sending this in a spirit of good will there may be better days ahead for them.
“A motto for D. D. MacKenzie, the ‘chiant of Cape Breton,’ to hang upon the wall; I have seen better toys— and so has the great Liberal Party.
‘‘And this package with the broken handle —several of them in fact. Now remember, that bad boy Billy Nickle broke them before he ran away from Parliament. They were nice tin titles—too bad, too bad— how happy they would have made Sidney Mewburn, C. C. Ballantyne, Rodolph Lemieux and many others. Strange how some boys take their pleasure smashing others’ toys. Oh! Billy, Billy! but for you there would be many a Merry Christ-
Merry mas and Happy New Year in this fair Canada of ours. How could you, Billy? Anyway and just for that I’ve half a mind to make you take the leadership of the Ontario Tories. The punishment would just about fit the crime.
What of the Senate Seats?
“ AH, HERE’S another row of sealed packages—and no
•5A. name on them. Seven of them in all. Ah, now I remember; they’re seats in the Senate. What’s that—a lot of them? Not half enough, My Boy, not half enough. Why these have all been promised a dozen times over and even now another budget is sticking its head up behind the New Year. Give them out now? Oh no, that would never do. But I’ll tell you what, I’ll promise you one—if you’re a good boy. For the present they’re an ever present help in time of crisis. With a dozen vacant senatorships any government could repeal the B.N.A. or amend the Lord’s Prayer. So they’ll stay right where they are.
“No, Doc Edwards, you needn’t cry or pout, nor you either, Jimmie Douglas. Seats in the Senate can stay vacant without a kick from the Public. I don’t think the dear people would care a tinkers’ tink if another Senator were never appointed. But if I moved you chaps next door there’d be an immediate howl for bye-elections and Heaven only knows who or what might be sent to fill your places. I’m here to spread ‘Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men.’ You’ll find a promise in your stocking—you and many another besides. There are more promises than vacancies—but, you never can tell, some of the Senators grow old. Cheer up, they may die.
“But, ‘tempus fugit,’ as Tom Wallace would say. Here’s a nice new bible for Duncan Ross, a woolly little lamb for Archie McCoig, a photo of Horatio Hocken for Lucien Cannon and an almanac for Joe Archambault— it will furnish him with some new jokes. For Uncle Billy Smith I find a tag that reads “Columbus’ Greatest Discovery” and for Red Michael of Red Deer a chromo that looks like a Cobden medaL
“Here’s a drum, too, for Speaker Rhodes. He really needs it to make his daily procession complete. Also a new bunch of dignity for Dr. Steele and a Maxim silencer for Nicholson of Algoma.
“There, I think that about exhausts my list. I may be overlooking some of the boys but they all got their extra indemnities since I was last here and if it wasn’t for the joyousness of the season I might be tempted to add ‘Heaven knows that’s enough’.”
Leaving Santa to distribute his gifts, it might be in order to take a look at what “the boys” have been busy at
for the last few weeks. And if travel is the éducator it gets credit for they’re sure on the way to wisdom. Hons. Meighen, Calder, King and Crerar, not to mention various and divers satellites, have been inundating the prairies with eloquence. Foster and Doherty have gone to Geneva to scatter peace o’er a troubled world. Fortunately for this frisky young pair they are chaperoned by Hon. Wesley Rowell who can be trusted to keep them safe from the snares with which the continent is so thickly strewn. Then Guthrie has visited England and so has Calder while Drayton and Robertson have been on tariff bent and the rest have been flitting hither and yon. Ottawa really is a dull place, you know, when the House isn’t in session. Moreover, a minister always is a bigger man when he isn’t too well known.
As to the effect of so much oratory on the West it is rather hard to speak at this distance. But from the reports that sift in over the hidden wires you gather that as between the leaders of the Old Parties King got rather the better impression.
You see young Mr.
King was prepared to accept both the Agrarian and Labor platforms as advanced forms of Liberalism. In fact, he intimated that he could be induced to accept the
leadership of all of them. But he was illogical as usual in his own boyish way. On the Prairies he preached free foodstuffs and then went on to Yale, B.C., and endorsed a candidate who advocated protection for fruit. Probably he looks on fruit as an article of clothing rather than a food!
Then again, having spent a couple of months trying to gather both farmers and labor under the Liberal banner, he dropped off at East Elgin on the way home to speak for a candidate who didn’t seem to have a chance to do anything except help elect a supporter of the Government. If the boy leader had the sagacity of a Calder you might figure that pending the amalgamation of the “Liberal” forces, which he evidently desires, he was doing his best to safeguard the leadership of the opposition, with the perquisites attaching thereto. But knowing his entire ignorance of anything pertaining to politics, with the possible exception of beatitudes, you simply have to conclude that he’s muddling along under the care of that special providence that takes care of children and—others.
Anyway the western farmers held no real animosity. “He’s not so bad even if he don’t amount to much,” was the sort of Scotch verdict they returned.
Premier Meighen’s Lightning Rod
WITH young Mr. Meighen it was different. Certain things he had said concerning Bolshevists an d Farmers almost in the same breath stuck in their memories. They were inclined to be a bit hostile in spots and some of those Western meetings were much more interesting than the newspaper reports made them.
But the young Premier had with him a lightning rod that caught and deflected the farmers’ wrath in the person of Smooth, Silent James Cal-
Just how Hon. Arthur persuaded Mr. Calder to forsake the tariff commission and go orating over the great West is one of the secrets of the throne room. There are those who profess to know and who state without a stutter that the Premier held the gun to his colleague’s head and hissed, “You’ll go with me, Dear Jim, or you’ll walk the plank.”
James was not prepared to walk the plank. He’s wise enough to know that a Cabinet Minister shorn of his portfolios is in no posi-
tion to dicker. One glance at Bob Rogers had told him that.
So James went West with Arthur and he’ll admit it was no joy ride. As for the Premier he has reason to believe he’s developing into a political strategist. For the rude Westerners were so busy throwing verbal bouquets at the one time political “Champion” of Saskatchewan that they had nothing left for the principal speaker of the evening. So the Premier said his little piece early and often and with very few interruptions.
As for Hon. James—well, he made his reputation by keeping his mouth shut, and he knows that a man who has been practising silence slips out of his class when he attempts to orate. As a platform performer the Prairie statesman never came in the spellbinder class. When he started to explain that for fifteen long years he had thought like a school boy and talked like a parrot he rent the veil of mystery that had made him great and stood revealed like the spotted lady of the museum after a hot bath. So the audiences laughed and jibed and enjoyed themselves—which is more than can be said for gentle James.
But while the leaders of the old parties were roaming the prairies and presumably raiding his melon patches, that guileless leader of the host
____ in overalls, Hon. T. A. Crerar,
slipped down into Ontario and did a little raiding on his own. It was in East Elgin where the bitterest bye-election of a decade was raging that Hon.
Tom made his appearance.
And, while afar off one of ,his opponents was plastering platitudes o’er a smiling land and the other was trying to show a free trade prejudiced electorate that it had its thinking apparatus on crooked, Mr. Crerar started to talk about raised railway rates, sugar, and other subjects that are better buried under the subtleties of a tariff argument.
Also he held up newspapers bulging with Government advertising and queried, “Where did the money come from?”
The Farmer Candidate Won!
P TILL this time the Gov-
ernment candidate appeared to have the riding pretty much at his mercy. The Opposition was split with Liberal and Farmer candidates both in the field and working hard.
But Crerar’s crude style of campaigning evidently threw a scare into the Meighen camp for the Premier cut out his Winnipeg stop and jumped straight for Toronto, addressed his promised meeting there and headed for Elgin. There he delivered a brave speech. But it was partially offset by the fact that it was made in Aylmer where the Government workers were so thick that farmers coming in to do their shopping had to wait for the second table at the village tavern. And while they waited that nasty question: “Where did the money come from?” was still ringing in their ears. Hon. W. L. Mackenzie King, coming along more leisurely as befitted his dignity, also got his nose into the constituency in time to get it punched. For the farmer won by a com-
fortable margin and Hon. T. A. Crerar has one more follower at Ottawa.
Both the old parties are trying to scrape a little comfort from the result. The Tories—to cut a long name short— point out that a Farmer majority of 1,500 in the Provincial elections was cut to 235 in the bye-election. The Liberals claim that Liberal principles were endorsed in the person of the Farmer candidate. Even Mr. King advances this theory. It may not have occurred to him that if he is right the whole thing means that the electorate want Liberalism minus one Mackenzie King.
Anyway the result was a rude jolt to both the Premier and the leader of His Majesty’s loyal Opposition. It shows the former that the “Farmer craze” is not dying out. Also it takes the powder out of the charge that the Farmers are simply Liberals with straw hats, hay forks and flivvers. To Mr. King it carries the sad tidings that the Agrarian Movement is not dependent on him or his party for its success. If his object in going into East Elgin was to show those Farmers that they could not win without him he lost out. Also he ruined his chance to get a division of the likely constituencies between his own and the Farmer candidates. Incidentally, he made it absolutely certain that Pres. Burnaby, of the U.F.O., will not get out of his way in North York. And according to the best ntormation that means that Wavering Willie will get badly beaten in the constituency he fain would represent. All of which shows that Mr. King should stick to platitudes and leave politics to people who know something about them.
Strenuous Work in Yale
OF COURSE the Government gathered a little consolation from the fact that they carried Yale on the same day and date that they lost Elgin. But there are doubts and fears tied up to that for Western victory. ■For you know Yale with its 2,000 Unionist majority in 1917 was considered so safe that the Government felt justified in hoisting Hon. Martin Burrell out of it into a Government job. But the fight waxed so warm
that the Premier spent a whole week in the constituency and even after he left Hon. Jim Calder stayed behind to give the machine its last oiling up. And of course 400 is a nice majority. One of the Government streams has been a prac:ically solid British Columbia. And there are a number of constituencies beyond the Rockies that are held by much narrower majorities than the one that elected Hon. Martin Burrell
Yes, Yale is a victory for the Government but a victory that
seems to presage defeat in some other ridings on the sunny Pacific slope. On the whole it is admitted that Monday, Nov. 22nd, was the bluest day the National Liberal and Conservative Party has known since it took on protection and bowed the knee to Hon. Arthur Meighen.
There was also during November a Provincial bye-election in Toronto which looked as if the old Tory stronghold was transferring its affections to the new leader of the old party with the new home. Northeast Toronto went strongly Tory and Major Lewis, the new Member,is a devoted follower of Meighen. But he was more of a Hydro man than anything else and he was nominated and elected on the Hydro issue; pictures of the young Premier and other attributes to the election were_mere!y part of the decorations.
So there you have things as they have been happening. Two great leaders have toured the West. They have been followed home by a rude laugh from the Prairies and a Farmer promise that from the Lakes to the Mountains not a Government or a Liberal member will find his way to Ottawa after the next election—that the cities will go Labor and the rural constituencies Farmer. They have been met on their return by a hard jolt in East Elgin and tidings that carry no great joy from Yale, B.C. Also a strange story has wandered up from Quebec. In Kamouraska, the former home of Ernest Lapointe, a farmer went out on his own and beat the Liberal nominee for a seat in the legislature. Of course, it was only a political straw—but there is a wind behind it somewhere. And who knows but that it may develop into a hurricane that will drive both the old parties on the rocks.