GIRDING FOR THE FEDERAL FRAY

J. K. MUNRO February 1 1921

GIRDING FOR THE FEDERAL FRAY

J. K. MUNRO February 1 1921

GIRDING FOR THE FEDERAL FRAY

J. K. MUNRO

ANOTHER session of Parliament looms up on the horizon. It will find Sir Robert Borden reduced to the ranks, Hon. Wesley Rowell elevating and uplifting from the second line of trenches and Hon.

A. K. MacLean firing on his old colleagues from a position somewhere in the rear of W. Lyon Mackenzie King.

It will be rather interesting to watch the new Premier under the circumstances. On his past record he is a trouble raiser rather than a peacemaker and his cabinet as now constituted is woefully short of debating material.

To be sure, that old warrior, Sir George Foster, will still stand at his right hand and keep the bridge with him. But the old schoolmaster has mellowed with years and is now more at home jabbering French like a school boy than in the rapier-like thrusts that made him famous. For the last couple of sessions it has been the meek and lonely Wesley who has girded on his armour and led most of the fighting for the Government. Of course Hon.

Arthur himself was always the champion explainer. Give him something that could not possibly be explained and he could stand up and with a few fierce jabs make the Opposition so mad that they’d forget all about the subject under debate.

But that kind of work won’t do for the new job. The Government leader’s business is to get legislation through the House rather than to create friction.He’ll have to play a new rôle and to prove that the same Providence that equipped him with a sharp tongue also provided a supply of the oil a Premier must pour on troubled waters.

Of course Sir Robert Borden had a way of his own of sweeping obstacles out of his way. When things got so bad that action could no longer be delayed the swinging doors would fly open and with lordly mien the Premier with the pretty hair would stride to his seat.

With a great show of indignation he would tear a few handfuls out of the air and follow up with an awful threat that he would forthwith resign unless dissension ceased and all would see and_ vote as he desired.

He won out every time. But he also played that game to its limit. Young Mr.

Meighen would fail utterly if he tried it.

For everybody knows that Hon. Arthur fought too hard to get his job to lightly throw it over his shoulder thus early in the game.

And a bluff is only good when you have the other fellows too scared to call.

As Debaters, How

Good Are They?

SO THE young Premier will have to find new methods of herding his mixed following should any part of it threaten to run out. And as said before his Cabinet help

is not what it might be. To be sure Sir George Foster found a new partner of his joys and sorrows at the Peace Conference, and who knows but that he may take on a new lease of debating power? But aside from him what? The new members of the Cabinet surely were not selected for their power to sway the multitude.

Start Sir Harry Drayton, Hon. F. B. McCurdy and Hon. W. S. Wigmore all talking at once and in half an hour all the members who had not been driven from the chamber would be fast asleep in their seats. Nor do the rump of the old cabinet still in the harness add much to the argument. To be sure Hon. C. C. Ballantyne can make a bluff at a business talk and Hon. C. J. Doherty has proved that he can orate so that even the Peace Conference could not understand him. But they’re hardly the class to fill a gap in a warm debate.

► As for Hon. J. D. Reid—well the "Doc” can mangle the King’s English till its best friends would hardly recognise it. But as he generally needs help to hustle along his railway matters you can hardly expect him to prove of

much assistance in a general mêlée. Sifton only takes a passive interest in the proceedings. He is more concerned about his health and the big black cigars he affects. Calder got his in such plenty on the Western tour that he can be expected to avoid oratory as if it were a curse and Dr. Tolmie stands prepared to give you a nice talk on agriculture at any moment. But since when did mangoldwurzels play a part in politics?

And even if Borden, Rowell and Sir Thomas White are prepared to take up the cudgels for their former colleagues who can say they’ll be on hand when wanted? For Sir Robert is busy on a set of lectures he is to deliver to college boys; Hon. Wesley will, at the request of his law partners, pay more attention to business and necessarily less to politics; while it looks as if Sir Thomas White would require a small act of parliament before he can sit in the House at all.

For Sir Thomas, you know, took that Grand Trunk Arbitration job with the intention of creating a vacancy in Leeds and collecting a fairly fat fee. It is only at his young Premier’s urgent request that he retains the M.P. behind his name. And as he needs the money in his business some nice legislating will be necessary. For an M.P. who accepts a job from his government that carries pecuniary remuneration is supposed to take his hat and go. So don’t look for any fiery speeches from Sir Thomas.

Of course the Premier’s safety lies in the weakness of the Opposition. How Mr. King will make speeches! He couldn’t help it if he tried. But by the time he quits piling words on any subject it is so well buried that reply is unnecessary. Then Hon. Jacques Bureau, who has been the one sign of life in that weary-looking front row, is in none too good health. A trip to France now under way may rejuvenate him. But then again he may not return till w’ell on in the session. And if he doesn’t the Premier will have plenty of time to find his feet before anything worth while starts from across the floor. For Lapointe is a good-natured opponent, and more concerned with constitutional questions than taking the joy out of a government leader’s life. Of course, there’s John Sinclair, of Guysboro, and D. D. MacKenzie, of Cape Breton. But. the former lights along

old lines and makes the fatal mistake of forgetting that political history prior to 1917 is very much like the Old Testament. Any political party looking for salvation in it will search its pages in vain. Then "The MacKenzie” is just as liable to train his guns on his schoolboy leader as on the young Premier on the other side of the

" For D. D. has never quite forgiven Mr. King for beating him at the Liberal convention. Nor has he found consolation in the fact that he was not among the chosen few who accompanied Wavering Willie on his recent trip across the prairies. He’s a proud Highland Chief is “The MacKenzie.” Any kind of a slight makes a deep dint in his soul and, like the late Sir Wilfrid Laurier, he is a bad forgetter.

And that very fact is a reason why the Premier had better keep a careful eye on “D. D.” For the latter has still a score to settle with him. It dates back to the debate on the taking over of the Grand Trunk by the Government. “D. D.” was criticising the deal rather harshly and though he may be both a lawyer and a statesman he succeeded in demonstrating that he is no bookkeeper. As a matter of fact he got very badly mixed in his figures. Hon. Arthur Meighen grabbed the opportunity to ridicule the old Scotchman most mercilessly.

It was a temporary triumph for the Portage lawyer. But those who knew D. D. best shook their heads and whispered "Meighen will rue the day he did that. D. D. will wait a long time but he’ll get him.” Well D. D. is still waiting. Nobody believes he has forgotten. And when he finally gets to his feet and starts throwing chunks of scripture and other varieties of Scotch confetti in the general direction of the Premier it is a good guess that both the chamber and press gallery will speedily be occupied by capacity audiences.

As For Murphy and Fielding

AS FOR Hon. Charles Murphy he can make a fiery speech. But he loves not his young leader and Hon. Wesley Rowell no longer looms up in the limelight to call the bitter word to his Irish lips. As for Hon. W. S. Fielding he talks around a subject like a cooper around a barrel. When he gets through and sits down each side of the House wonders whose turn it is to applaud. They generally both do it. For the old Nova Scotian still retains his remarkable command of English and that smooth easy delivery that commands the expert, yea, arouses the envy of friend and foe alike.

As for the two Williams, Duff and Kennedy, who were dragged out of semi-seclusion to play minor parts in the troupe of talented entertainers with which the Boy Wonder invaded the one-night stands on the Prairies, they are both business men rather than orators or debaters. Some of their jealous colleagues suggest that they were taken West to help finance the trip—that they were "angels” rather than "actors.” But of course, remarks such as these are better not repeated. Suffice it to say that neither is a William Jennings Bryan. Mr. Duff takes an unholy joy in tangling Hon. C. C. Ballantyne in the meshes of his marine estimates, a life-time spent in the shipping business having made him more familiar with sea-faring stuff than Hon. C. C. Ballantyne could hope to be even if the latter has navigated the stormy seas of finance. Mr. Duff, be it admitted, is a good two-fisted fighter in his —

own class but his field is necessarily limited.

Learned the Value of Silence

WILLIAM C. KENNEDY is a smooth, nicelytailored chap who likes to buy dinners for big men and bask in the sunshine of a little reflected glory. Rut the amassing of a fortune, made largely from gas, has taught him that silence is golden. His habit is to speak about once a session. He generally chooses the budget debate for eruption and sticks his speech so full of figures and business expressions that the average politician says “here’s something I had better leave alone." He acts accordingly and W. C. K. gets by.

So there you have the line up for the session. It doesn’t promise much high-class oratory. Neither does it call for a season of excitement. For the fighting will mainly be over that same old bone that has been the cause of nearly every political dog-fight since confederation—the tariff. Everybody can talk on that and everybody does. And when the gong rings to end the talkfest everybody is just where he started.

But to get back to recent happenings. You’ll be surprised but delighted to learn that both young leaders, Meighen and King, arrived home from their cross-country run chuck full of enthusiasm and optimism. If you want to know who’s going to win the next general election ask Willie—or Arthur. Their answers may conflict a bit, however, for each will cross his heart and tell you with sweet simplicity and sincerity that a once rebellious country has come to its senses and stands ready to hail him as its heaven-sent premier.

For they’re strong on attending meetings on the Prairies and even on the sunny slopes of the Pacific. It is cheaper than the movies. Anyway, the latter don’t change their films every night. So both the young leaders drew bumper houses. Their audiences listened attentively and applauded in the right places. Each came home feeling that he had looked into the hearts of his countrymen and found them beating true and strong and in the right direction. Each felt that glow of perfect satisfaction that comes from a knowledge that true greatness had been recognised and appreciated. To be sure that West Elgin bye-election was a bit of a damper. But surely that was only a last sprinkle of the passing storm. It only helped make the rainbow more brilliant.

Lots of Applause, Few Votes

BUT the old warhorses of both parties are a bit worried just the same. They know what meetings mean. They’ve seen thousands turned away from Massey Hall, Toronto, when Sir Wilfrid was the orator. And when election day rolled around they discovered that those who came to applaud did not turn out to vote.

Moreover, as far as the old Tories were concerned they saw a thing or tw® that almost convinced them that though their young leader might be a statesman he was certainly not a politician. For instance, he sent J. E. Armstrong, M.P. for East Lambton, to take charge of the East Elgin campaign. Now Mr. Armstrong has an earnestness, a respectability and an appearance that has led an irreverent press gallery to dub him “The Statesman.” He is said to be a graduate of a Philadelphia School of Oratory (correspondence courses a specialty) and talks like it. But he doesn’t say anything. Neither does he get anywhere. And to run a campaign a man must say things and get there.

Anyway the East Elgin campaign wasn’t much of a success from a Government standpoint. And the part that troubles the party warhorses is that the Premier still insists he chose the right man for the job.

The net result is bad if you listen to those whose duty it is to man the party machines. “He doesn’t know men or politics,” they sadly whisper.

And then with added pain, “He’s a stubborn little devil to do anything with.” From which it will be gathered that Hon. Arthur has all the autocracy of former Premiers.

It remains to be seen whether he also holds the sagacity of a Laurier or the luck of a Borden. He’ll need the one or the other to pull through.

Then there’s the Gauthier incident. You’ll remember the somewhat irresponsible member for St. Hyacinthe. He it was who created a mild sensation last session by rising in his place in the House, smiting his chest and declaring, “Quebec is waiting for her hour!” He was sup-

posed to bo politely intimating that Quebec would raise a race and creed issue that would smite all English speaking governments hip and thigh.

What Happened to Gauthier

WELL, Quebec may still be waiting, but Mr. Gauthier isn’t. He arrived in Ottawa one fine Fall morning, or rather on several fine Fall mornings, with an evident determination to join the Meighen Cabinet whether he was wanted or not. -Just who started him on the rampage is a guessing match. There are those who whisper that when the Premier started on his talking tour he left Hon.

C. C. Ballantyne to feel out Quebec and see if he could procure some French timber to round out the made-over cabinet. You know it was Sir Robert Borden’s dream to get some real, live FrenehCanadian to represent the Ancient Province in the Government.

But the dream never materiali z e d . Even Smooth James Calder fell down when he tried to find a Frenchman of prominence who would join the Unionists and who could bring a Quebec seat along with him. It may have been to help out with this search that James injected the “National” into the long name with which he loaded the good old Tory party.

Anyway, where Calder failed Ballantyne didn’t do much better—for you could hardly call the eruption of Gauthier an improvement. He did have a couple of interviews with the Premier but the latter gently but firmly refused to let the matter go any further. At that it went far enough to show that the protectionist element in Quebec is not yet ready to link its fortune with the renovated Union Government. For even Sir Lomer Gouin was prepared to take the Liberal nomination against Gauthier in St. Hyacinthe. And even before the visits to Ottawa Had ceased it was known beyond a peradventure that the versatile Frenchman would be slaughtered if he went back to his constituents for endorsement as a member of the Cabinet.

No, Quebec has not forgiven Meighen. It looks on him as the father of the conscription bill; it remembers him as the man who brought down closure to force the hated measure through the House. Quebec is a protectionist province but it will vote free trade if Meighen is the only alternative.

Nor does the habitant look on Mackenzie King as a second Laurier. In fact the fealty it gives^to him is little more than lukewarm.

‘‘Mr. King should remember,” stated a French leader recently, “that we did not elect him; we defeated Fielding.”

So young Mr. King had better watch his step. It is hard for the habitant to follow an Englishspeaking leader. In his heart of hearts he is longing for the day when he will be led to the polls by a man who can speak the tongue that is as dear to him as his religion. And if you haven’t guessed the name of that leader, listen to what a fine old Scotch lady out in Calgary took occasion to remark: “Mr. King is a fine young man,” she said, “and a clever young man. But what a pity he wants to be Premier. Mr. Lapointe would be so much better.”

Of course Ernest Lapointe, like the gallant gentlemen he is, disclaims all designs on the Liberal crown. He came back from the West full of enthusiasm for the young

Napoleon who can array words battalion on battalion. So did all the talented tourists for that matter. And the only explanation that is forthcoming is that they are all modest men who had measured themselves with the man chosen to lead them and found that their own stature showed surprisingly great. That always gives a satisfaction that may easily develop into a basis for enthusiasm.

From the above you wiH gather that Quebec is one of the problems political strategists have to struggle with. It hatesMeighen, it can’t enthuse over King. And the habitant never was a middle - oftheroader. He likes to put his whole soul into his pol-

W i 11 it be strange, then, if he, too, steps off the beaten track and does a tur with the farmers Tobe sore Caron, the provincial Minister of Agriculture, recently declared, “The time for a Farmer’s party is not yet.” But he said nothing about this not being the time to prepare for one. All over the province Farmers’ Clubs are springing up and it is said that an occasional one has the parish priest for its president. This shows that the Church does not frown on the movement if, indeed, it is not greatly helping it along.

For even if Mother Church has her place in big business she loves to see her people peacefully tilling the soil where they are ever under the watchful eye and never beyond the call of the chapel bell. It is well known too that the Farmers’ Clubs of Quebec have sent out the Macedonian cry to the Grain Growers of the West. They would wrestle with politics and would like the aid and inspiration from the men who put the farmer movement on the map. Their prayers will be answered and the question now before the House is not whether there will be Farmer Members from Quebec but how strong the delegation will be.

And if a Frenchman of prominence is ever needed to make a Crerar cabinet truly representative of all parts of Canada Mr. Caron will probably decide that the time for the Farmers’ party has finally happened along. Much of the advice the Farmers need is said to emanate from his office right now. But he’s too true to his breeding—for the French-Canadian is as thrifty as a Scotchman—to give up a good job before another is ready to step into.

Crerar’s Wearing Powers

MEANWHILE that sturdy agriculturist, T. A. Crerar, has found the health he went hunting for when last session came to a close. Moreover he has removed most of the obstacles from his political path. Two rivals loomed up and seemed to threaten his leadership. Wood, of Alberta, was one and Drury, of Ontario, the other. The former was hailed as the new Abe Lincoln by his admirers. The latter was given added prestige by the robes of provincial premiership. But neither had the “wearing” capacity of the big Grain Grower with the boyish smile.

Wood developed facts that were too Yankified for nativeborn Canadians. Drury didn’t improve on close acquaintance. He went West, according to some wiseacres, to sweep Crerar off the map andassume the undisputed leadership of assembled agriculture. But he arrived in Winnipeg to find that the Grain Growers had reasserted their faith in the man they had learned to trust. Those Grain Growers may have figured that a man who makes a rather poor fist of running a farm might qualify as Premier of a staid old province like Ontario but that he was hardly the kind of man for newer and more progressive communities. Anyway they swore allegiance to Crerar once again and hinted to the Farmers from other parts that they would do well to do likewise. The others will take the hint. So if those Farmers turn the trick at the next general election the crown of Meighen will rest lightly on the brow of Hon. T. A. Crerar, the hired man’s hero.

Our Expanding Financier

BUT another man who has expanded a bit under the sunshine of publicity is Sir Henry Drayton. When Sir Henry shook off the cares of the Railway Commission to take up the portfolio of Finance some Reople doubted his sanity. Also he brought to the new job that fatuous smile that is part of the equipment of the embryo politician. That smile, praise be, is wearing off.

Moreover Sir Henry took his Tariff commission all over Canada and brought it home sound in wind and limb and earning the plaudits of his colleagues. He was courteous, but firm, heard all sides to every question, made no enemies and yet managed to leave a trail of impression that Canada’s crying need was protection and more protection.

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Then there’s Sir Robert Borden. Since he has laid down the sceptre and taken up the fishing rod and garden rake he’s a new man physically. But alas! and alack. How soon does greatness fade. For Sir Robert is now a mere Member of Parliament. He has changed the palatial premier suite of offices for a little room up close to the eaves of the new Parliament building. All of which that political

philosopher, Alex. Smith, sees fit to Ulus' trate by an anecdote:

“After Sir Charles Tupper had ceased to be premier,” Alex relates, “he was addressing a meeting in a rural district. He had, of course, reserved the bridal suite at the local hotel but while he was spell binding the audience a drunk wandered in to the peppery old knight’s reservation, tumbled into the bed and stayed there. When Sir Charles returned and found his bed occupied he stormed a bit, winding up with, ‘I’ve a mind to pull you out of bed.’

“‘Huh!’” grunted the drunk, awakened by the noise, ‘Ex-Premiers aint got no pull.’ ”