MADE IN MONTREAL?
J. K. MUNRO
WHEN the last chapter of this political history closed, W. King, Esq., was modestly fitting his head to the Canadian Crown, and carefully selecting those it would be his delight to honor. Ernest Lapointe stood at his right hand; W. S. Fielding was on his left and away out towards the setting sun his emissary was carrying the terms of an offensive and defensive alliance to our T. A. Crerar, known to his colleagues and contemporaries as the Hired Man’s Hero.
Ottawa was testing its oft-tried eyes on a new political luminary and the while the Boy Premier smote his chest and declared: “I will give to
Canada a government that will be representative of all corners of the Dominion and all classes of her people.”
And men marveled one with the other and whispered: “Behold, a greater than Laurier has
For more than a week Ottawa gazed and the wonder grew. Could it be that the young man who had looked so stupid in opposition was to be a veritable Samson among statesmen the moment the electorate had shown its appreciation of his so-far undiscovered greatness? Moreover and further were the powers who had lured Arthur Meighen into an election and had sent Wm. King to North York to be massacred to sit idly by and allow the fruits of all their scheming to slip through their fingers without even putting in a protest?
Yes, for a time it looked as if they were. Day after day the Boy Premier grew in stature. And as he grew his personal followers became louder in their declarations that Gouin was a myth, that Ernest Lapointe carried Quebec in the hollow of his hand and that a new Liberal Party was aborning. Occasionally a faint moan came from the French Press that Quebec was being betrayed, that the spoils were not going to the victors. But the small dark man with the “what we have we hold” face sat back and never uttered a word.
Finally all was set for the grand climax. Crerar had read the King proposals to his Western Progressives assembled at Saskatoon and had so far received their approval that he was on the way East presumably to close the deal. The Chateau fairly radiated with the smiles of the younger Grit statesman. And on a fateful Friday night the word went forth—Crerar will be here in the morning; the cabinet will be sworn in in the afternoon.”
Sir Lomer On The Scene
DL'T that same Friday night a C. P. R. train brought two important passengers from Montreal. One was short and stout, dark and forbidding of visage. To see him once is to remember always. For Sir Lomer Gouin is not the type of statesman who plays on people’s heart strings. He suggests force rather than appeal and the suggestion is absolutely correct. His companion, an astute-looking gentleman with frosted locks and smile to match, was easily recognized as Senator Dandurand, wellknown in Montreal financial circles.
Sir Lomer’s every movement indicated that the era of foolishness was over and the time for action had come. He jammed down his bag at the Chateau desk; flung a curt: “Come on; he’s waiting,” over his shoulder to the Senator and strode out into the darkness, He did not
reappear until about 11 p.m., but it was a pleased face that he pushed through the portals of Ottawa’s famous hostelry. He carried all the appearance of a man who had done a good night’s work and didn’t care who knew it. To a polite enquiry as to whether he would have a call in the morning he replied with a lazy yawn and a satisfied: “No, I guess we’ll have a sleep in the morning.”
Sir Lomer Gouin had been in Ottawa just three hours. But those three hours are among the most eventful if not in the history of Canada at least in the history of the Liberal Party as it was and is. The work of two—almost three—weeks had been undone. The cabinet slate had been smashed. And a different reception had been prepared for the Hired Man’s Hero, speeding eastward on a Canadian National train, prepared, some well-posted people declared, to accept the generous terms Premier King had offered for a coalition with the Free Trade Farmer West.
What did the little Quebec boss do in those three hours? Well, report says that hç went straight to the Rideau Club where the young Premier-to-be was waiting for him in the “Silence room;” that said Silence was so rudely shattered that a frightened waiter crept up and closed the door; and that behind that closed door an embryo statesman had it made plainly evident that the powers that made could unmake; and that a Quebec that had given him a solid support would rise and rend him unless he listened to her voice. And Sir Lomer had Quebec’s voice about his person.
And Crerar Came—And Went
A NYWAY Crerar came in the morning. There were no brass bands to welcome him. There were no Grit statesmen to acclaim him the deliverer of his country from the toils of the powers-that-be in Montreal. As a matter of fact he was met with doubts and fears when he had been led to expect courage and conviction.
Also there was a chilliness in the air. His henchman, Hon. A. B. Hudson, who had been on the ground for some days was probably able to interpret for him the change in temperature. Anyway there was nothing to do but retire as gracefully as possible. Crerar did it contriving to still wear his cheery smile. But it would be interesting to know the Boss Farmer’s private opinion of a certain young statesman who is presently Premier of his country.
This Saturday that was to have been so full of rejoicing was sadly changed. Early in the day Crerar, King & Co. went into consultation, while around the Chateau corridors and in the privacy of rooms upstairs watching statesmen waited anxiously. Was it Dr.
Beland who first rang up his leader if they must keep on waiting or if they could catch their afternoon trains for home
and Christmas? Anyway the word wafted back was: “Better stand by for a few moments longer.” And so the faithful watched on. But as the day drew on bright smiles gave place to anxious looks and as daylight faded into the dusk of evening hope died and bags were packed. Seldom has so sad a crowd moved down the stairs to the Central depot. It was the most sorrowful Christmas Eve many of them will ever know. For they had expected to carry home portfolios in their gripsacks. Now they could not tell the waiting loved ones whether they were real statesmen or busted politicians.
The next three days there was suffering in silence and seclusion. There was hardly a statesman in sight. It was even whispered that the cabinet-making industry had been moved to Montreal and that one Sir Lomer Gouin was giving it his personal supervision. Acting on this quiet rumor an enterprising journalist finally rang up a friend in Montreal and was rewarded by getting a new cabinet slate that was practically correct. It showed that Sir Lomer Gouin had succeeded Ernest Lapointe as Minister of Justice and that Ernest had been punished for his temerity in aspiring to the lawyer’s heaven by having the Ballantyne mercantile fleet wished on him. It also showed Hon. Jacques Bureau nursing a large fat portfolio and James Robb who was almost overlooked in the early shuffle looming up as Minister of Trade and Commerce. And the question as to whether Charlie Murphy or W. C. Kennedy was to be the Irish Catholic representative from Ontario was answered emphatically: “Both!”
And What Is The Result
A ND all the time the Premier-elect was disTAcreetly silent. He had learned widsom at, or across, Sir Lomer Gouin’s knee. And when the great day finally arrived so did the selected statesmen. Also the train from Montreal bringing Sir Lomer Gouin. Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King was allowed to buy the new bibles on which they were sworn in.
Such, in brief, is the story of the making of the Liberal cabinet of 1921. Mr. King proposed: Sir Lomer Gouin disposed. For a while the Boy Premier was allowed to play with his blocks. But when it came to the pinch the same powers that had brought on the election and fought the campaign dictated the cabinet slate—and Mr. King and his admirers took it without a whimper.
And what have we got as a result? Well nothing to throw up your hat for. And nothing to tear you hair over. It’s not a public ownership cabinet. But neither was the late Meighen outfit —nor the one that preceded it. These new ministers are all pretty decent fellows even if they are not intellectual giants. No doubt their families love and respect them and there is evidence to the effect that their constituents do not entirely disapprove of them. They would not look out of place in a county council and it may be that there are county councils who would fill their places quite acceptably. It might be well however to start at the bow of the ship of state and examine them individually and separately.
Of course Hon. W. L. M. King is the figurehead. And as you look at him your first thought is: “What a pity titles have been abolished. Wouldn’t he have made a nice little Knight.” Then you pass on to his qualifications for his position and you are forced to the conclusi on that he has all that are absolutely necessary. He can make a cute little speech. Brains, too? You ask,. What need has he for brains? What is Sir Lomer Gouin there for? Wasn’t he specially selected as business manager of this Government when it was first promised? Didn’t he show his ability to take charge when cabinet building was the duty of the hour?
So keep your eye on Sir Lomer and watch how he pans out. For though as a director of corporations he has proved his worth; though as a provincial politician he cuts quite a swath, you never can tell how these provincial wonders work out in the Federal field. You’ll remember what a reputation Jim Calder brought to Ottawa. And it only lasted until he opened his mouth. Bob Rogers too; he was better than James at that, but somehow his name clings somewhat precariously to the scroll of fame. So the little black man from Quebec may also have bitten off too large a mouthful. Sure it is he’ll never be a popular idol. As said before, to see him once is to remember him always— but not for his winning ways or sunny smile. ’Tis said i ndeed that he only smiles at funerals—that he smiled when Willie King announced his intention to face supposed political suicide in North York; and not again until he had arranged the details of the funeral of the King-Crerar alliance.
No Dummy Director Is Gouin
DUT Sir Lomer cannot be described as lacking in force. •*-* You can imagine him disciplining a Premier with the same calm assurance that he would fire an office boy. You may disagree with the little boss but you have an uneasy feeling that you would rather be on the other side of the House when you did it—a feeling that to disagree with him is to invite trouble. You know that he is director of numerous corporations. And never for a moment do you harbor a suspicion that he is one of those directors who don’t direct. And as you look over the cabinet you don’t have to ask who is boss—you know. So do the cabinet. Sir Lomer Gouin knows they know.
Hon. W. S. Fielding, Minister of Finance, needs no introduction. The little gray man from Nova Scotia has been with us for a long, long time— for so long that there is a grave doubt as to his physical strength to handle so trying a department. But Sir Lomer will have an under-study in training.
Any time Mr. Fielding ever hints that he would like to be relieved Hon. Walter Mitchell, Sir Lomer’s henchman, will be ready, aye ready, to take his place. In fact Mr. Mitchell as parliamentary secretary to the minister is more than a probability. That makes him heir-apparent to the financial throne.
Ernest Lapointe, who was Minister of Justice and court favorite while Willie was King, but who became Minister of Marine when Gouin grabbed the reins, is the youngest man in the cabinet. That he is Laurier’s successor has yet to be’ shown.
Certain it is that he has grown wonderfully in the affections of the habitant. But he has not yet learned to believe in himself—not to the extent anyway of braving the wrath of the crowd who own the Quebec press, furnish the campaign funds and issue the liquor licenses. If the King courage had been a companion number to the King vanity and the Premier had tied up to Crerar it would have been interesting to note just how far the Lapointe influence goes in Quebec—just where it breaks off and the Gouin commands
take precedence. But when his leader bowed the knee there was nothing left for Lapointe but to do likewise—for the present at least.
But the day will yet come when Ernest Lapointe will go to the mat with Lomer Gouin. They love each other not. Nor is Lapointe likely to forget that Sir Lomer, afraid to leave him entirely out of the cabinet line-up handed him the portfolio in which he would show to the worst possible advantage. For to make a landlubber minister of Marine is bad enough; to apportion to a constitutional lawyer the explaining of deep sea deficits is still worse; and to hand a Quebec statesman a department which looks like patronage but from which the patronage has been carefully separated is worst of all.
No, Lapointe will not forget. He can afford to wait. Moreover he knows that also waiting, also thirsting for Sir Lomer’s gore, is one T. A. Crerar who would be his natural ally in any revolt he might head against what is popularly known as the “Montreal clique”.
Fine Western Specimens
WHEN you get away from the aforementioned four, truth to tell this cabinet does not amount to much from a political point of view. To be sure you have a friendly feeling for W. R. Motherwell and Charlie Stewart. The former will make a pretty good Minister of Agriculture, if he doesn’t kick himself out of the cabinet before he gets a chance to properly function. For besides his benevolent fatherly name, W. R. is said tobe stubborn as a mule and moreover he’s honest. And a man who is both stubborn and honest is the worst kind of material a patriotic boss can possibly have unloaded on him.
Charlie Stewart too, is a fine big healthy westerner. In official parlance he is Hon. Chas. Stewart, formerly Premier of Alberta, now minister of the Interior in the Federal Government. But at present he’s the lost Charlie Stewart, wandering around the Province he once owned trying to get a Progressive to get out and give him a seat. And the Progressives are not polite. In fact this is not one of the bases in which politeness would pay. For you see as things stand at Ottawa, the Progressives -hold the balance of power. If one of them
stepped out and gave his seat to Mr. Stewart, the Liberals would have a majority of one. Not much of course. But it would be forsaking a tactical advantage for the Progressives to move. And they are not anxious to move, not any one of them.
It is told that when Premier Greenfield was chosen for his present job he lacked a seat in the House and it took him two months to coax one of his loyal followers to make room for him. So chances are Hon. Charles Stewart will elect to represent Alberta in the Cabinet but to sit for Argenteuil, Que. There’s a vacancy there caused by the death of the late Peter McGibbon.
' I 'HEN there’s the Ontario contingent, Graham, Kennedy and Murdock. Of course you know Geo. P. Graham, the man of resounding voice and infinite jest. It was thought that during the crisis of 1917 George had wobbled his way out of public life. But Cabinet material in Ontario is scarce. Moreover George sits for Essex, lives in Brockville, and has his business in Montreal—just the kind of combination Sir Lomer could use. So there he is.
Kennedy, Hon. W. C. Kennedy, Minister of Railways to be polite,
is the best dresser in the cabinet. All he knows about railways he learned riding in a lower berth and financing the private cars in which Mr. King made his first western trip. But any old portfolio looked
good to W. C., and. Montreal could be depended on for all the railway lore required. And while the buttons are straining at their leashes on William’s chest let us look on him with a certain charity. It is not often that man finds his way from the back benches to a private car in one curtailed session of parliament and with unproven business ability as his only political asset.
Mr. Murdock as Minister of Labor can be depended on for more than the usual amount of noise. He has already uttered a short sharp bark in the general direction of Hon. F. B. Carvell. He promises indeed to talk much— whether he says much or does much remains to be seen.
The balance of the Quebec delegation runs to good fellowship rather than brilliancy. Hon. Jacques Bureau is as merry a little chap as ever rode on a C.P.R. pass or said his prayers in a C.P.R. office. He loves Ernest Lapointe, almost as David loved Jonathan, and if it ever comes to a showdown between Ernest and Sir Lomer, it may break James’ heart.
Dr. Beland is one of those men who just can’t help, being a gentleman in the true sense of the word. If there is a trace of bile in his nature it never comes to the surface. The Dr. is a Mnister of Health but a far better title would have been Minister of Happiness.
Hon. James Robb, Minister of Trade and Commerce, is a solid business man who by some strange freak of nature is also one of the most popular men in parliament. Hon. James is also a good Liberal and yet conservative enough to excite the admiration of the Montreal Gazette. Somewhat of a paradox isn’t he? But nevertheless one of the quiet substantial men whom the financial papers love to describe as the backbone of the country.
A B. COPP of New Brunswick has been described as a statesman who studied oratory ata correspondence school for auctioneers. But if he would quit oratory all would be forgiven. For truth to tell Mr. Copp came through the Cabinet picking ordeal far better than most of the candidates. He blew in from the Bluenose country, announced that he would like a portfolio but added that if he didn’t get one he didn’t think the country would go to rack and ruin. Then he sat down and waited. When he became Secretary of State he hardly cracked a smile. It was all in the day’s work and there was nothing to swell up about. And when it was all over the spectators were left wondering if Hon. A. B. Copp isn’t a lot bigger man than he has been given credit for.
Of course D. D. McKenzie wasn't entirely overlooked. You’ll notice that the candidates for the Liberal leadership in 1919—King, Graham, Fielding and McKenzie—are all safely housed in the Gouin cabinet. It was the SolicitorGeneral’s job that D. D. drew. But they also made him member of the cabinet without portfolio so that he would have a voice in the councils of the nation. But D D. will
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Made in Montreal
Continued, from page 15
be with us briefly. He is billed to a place on the Nova Scotian bench. And when he goes that genial old Tory in Liberal clothing, “Ned McDonald” of Pictou, N.S., will come into his own.
So there’s the cabinet as it sits at Ottawa groping for the lines of government and getting ready for a session that it must look forward to with a certain amount of uneasiness. That it would prefer its first session short and featureless there is no reason to doubt. That it will try to have it so is evidenced by the announcements in the Liberal papers that a short introductory session this Spring may be followed by a reversion to the Laurier system whereby parliament opened in November and everything was over in time for the Spring plowing.
This must sound good to the Progressives. It might act on them as a sedative. But Crerar has sounded a warning that comes echoing from the prairies that there must be action prompt and decisive in regard to the National Railways.
This kind of action is exactly what the Government will try to avoid and the net result may be a session that is neither as short nor unexciting as is planned.
For King, to carry on, must have the assistance of Crerar. The latter turned down the leadership of the Opposition and its $10,000 salary in order to sit where he can get most for the West. The tariff can probably be side-tracked for a time, but the railways and railway rates are matters for which the West demands immediate action. The Government must either meet that demand—or trouble.