Ottawa Awakes from Summer’s Slumbers

J. K. MUNRO October 15 1923

Ottawa Awakes from Summer’s Slumbers

J. K. MUNRO October 15 1923

Ottawa Awakes from Summer’s Slumbers


A LOT of water has flowed under the bridges since the last chapter of this truly authentic political history was written. Ontario has given impetus to the "back to the farm” movement by giving Premier Drury et at ample opportunity to follow the careers for which Nature fitted them. Little Prince Edward Island has obliged with one of her periodical handsprings. Japan has had an earthquake. And Parliament has prorogued.

Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that Parliament passed away quietly in its sleep—it remained unconscious to the last.

Anyway Ottawa since the session closed has been like the old home after the funeral. It has looked—and felt—so quiet and deserted that even Charlie Murphy has scarcely dared to raise his voice. And the versatile Irishman has had some cause to say a word or two at that. You’ll remember that he was unavoidably absent during most of the session. He was reported to be looking for quiet and rest in such well-known health resorts as New York and Mexico. Meanwhile the minds of the major statesmen were wrestling with a tremendous problem: Should the new deputy P.M.G. be a Frenchman or an Irishman?

You have only one guess as to which Hon.

Charlie wanted. But as another Irishman would say his favorite's initials were Coolican. Anyway. Hon. Charlie came back with the question unanswered. Perhaps he wanted to draw his wages or something. And after the shutters were up on the big stonepile on the Hill somebody had to break the news to him. The new deputy is a native of Quebec and he hasn’t even an Irish accent. When the eloquent Mr. Murphy could restrain his rhetoric under such circumstances—well, you can gather that there have been livelier places than the Nation's capital during the cool, pleasant summer now happily drawing to a close.

Of course. Premier King was there or thereabouts. He was principally out at Kingsmere wTapped in the loneliness of the truly great. Occasionally he dropped into town to inspect what progress was being made with the furnishing of his new palace, formerly the home of the simple Laurier. It is hoped that in a few months it will be a fitting residence for the latter’s illustrious successor. Of course too. William Lyon Mackenzie King, like all great characters in histone, has his simple pleasures. King Alfred baked, or rather burned, cakes; George Washington chopped cherry trees; Abraham Lincoln split rails; and Premier King, when his mind is not occupied with problems of state, chops brush in the forest hard by his rustic «ummer home. Some days, it is whispered, he chops quite amuch as his rnan Nickle really likes to pile. Who is Nickle? you ask. Mr. Nickle, be it said, is one of the most important members of the King Administration. He is the Right Honorable William Lyon Mackenzie King’s valet.

Meighen Goes East and West

\ [R MEIGHEN was also in the vicinity adding to the - -*■ accumulation of stored eloquence for the greater part of the summer. Then he reacted to the elections in Ontario and P. E. I. It appeared to strike him quite suddenly that the country was at last beginning to appreciate true greatness as personified by the Federal Conservative leader. So he girded on his vocabulary and

went forth to receive the applause he felt he had fairly won.

To Nova Scotia first he hied. There was a by-election down there, in Cape Breton to be exact. You’ll remember that canny old Scot, Hon. D. D. McKenzie, after carefully looking over the scenery decided that a safe seat on the bench was preferable to a portfolio in the King Cabinet. So he gathered up his nick nacks and went back to his native Nova Scotia to teach sinners the error of their ways. Somebody had to be elected to fill the gap in the solid sixteen and the young Tory leader saw his chance to pierce that solid wall of Liberalism against which even the Atlantic Ocean breaks and falls back.

But alas, and perchance alack! For when the returns were all in, the solid N. S. was still the solid N. S. Cape Breton had proved impervious to the Meighen eloquence.

In fact that hardened old political sinner, Hon. "Ned” Macdonald, came back to Ottawa wearing a wicked smile.

"Do you know,” he confided to a friend, “Meighen helped a lot. The boys down there were sore and discontented and stubborn. You couldn’t get them to turn a hand. But after Mr. Meighen had made two or three speeches, every last Liberal in the lot was up on his toes fighting. After that there was nothing to it.”

And sure it is that a Meighen speech does consolidate and enthuse his enemies. And how that wily old parliamentarian, Hon. W. S. Fielding, does play the fiery little Tory in the House! I can see the Little Grey Man yet in his closing speech on the Budget. It is no secret that he didn’t like that Budget and didn’t care to talk about it. So he, deliberately or otherwise, quoted Hon.

Arthur on recip r o c i t y and quoted him wrongly. Then there was hustling of pages and pro-

duction of Hansards and a battle royal over what the Tory leader had or had not said. In these cross-fires the little Nova Scotian is too quick for Hon. Arthur and the Liberal cheers soon drowned the Conservative applause. And when Hon. W. S. Fielding sat down he had said scarce a word about the Budget but he had behind and around him a horde of howling Grits who were ready to make oath and say that their favorite Finance Minister had made one of the greatest speeches of an illustrious and eloquent career.

“Ned” Macdonald’s Elevation

DY THE way, speaking of Hon. “Ned” Macdonald, -D he’s a full-fledged Cabinet Minister now. So is Hon. T. A. Low. And so is Hon. E. J. MacMurray of Winnipeg. Even in the dull, dead heat of the summer, they never fail to make an occasional statesman at Ottawa. Nor are they always too particular what kind of material they make him out of. Sometimes they seem to go on the principle that if you throw the robes of office around a cigar store Indian the populace will throw up its hat and do him reverence. For said public seldom sees inside the robes and it argues: “There must be something to that chap or they’d never have made him a minister.” So they honor the job and take the holder on their loved premier’s say

Now the new Ministers needn’t get mad, for there’s nothing personal in the above. In fact, taking them by and large, they’re along about the average of recent cabinets. “Ned” Macdonald, as remarked in a previous chapter, is a bit above it. He’s an able chap, not bothered too much with illusions or ideals. He and Hon. Geo. P. Graham are the connecting links between the Cabinet and the common herd who sit in the despised back benches. And from a party standpoint they’re easily the most useful members of the Ministry.

Hon. Tom Low is an experiment. It has been tried time and again to make a good public man out of a successful business man. So far no one has succeeded in doing it. Who knows but the new Minister of Trade and Commerce may be the exception that proves the rule? Not that he has distinguished himself as an apprentice statesman, or in other words as a member of the Cabinet without portfolio, for neither as an organizer or an elocutionist has he been anything to write home about. But you never can tell. The same forces that make premiers of Hons. King and Meighen and a great leader of the common herd out of Robert Forke may get busy again. The age of miracles is not entirely past.

As to Mr. McMurray, his chief fitness for cabinet

clothes appears to be that he is the only unoccupied Liberal member who hails from that wdde expanse between the Great Lakes and the Rocky Mountains. Hon. W. R. Motherwell, who comes from the same neighborhood, has surprised everybody by holding down a portfolio for going on two years and a Cabinet that can put up with "Poppa” should be able to worry along somehow with McMurray. At that the new stranger from the West won’t hide his light under a bushel. He’s not afraid to hear

himself talk and those who have remained to listen to him sometimes whisper that his modesty is not holding him back any. Of course he has still to be elected in North Winnipeg where the electors speak most of the languages that came out of the Tower of Babel. And under ordinary circumstances that might cause him worry. But Hon. Arthur Meighen is in the West just now and if he can be persuaded to spend a speech or two in the constituency the new Minister can pack his trunk and make his reservations for Ottawa.

King and the Conference

DUT to get back to the chief picture in the political picture, our beloved Premier is off to England. He went forth with a flourish of trumpets, for before he left Ottawa the members of his Cabinet took up a collection among themselves and gave him a banquet. And at Quebec too the faithful rallied at the sound of the dinner horn and feasted him again. And even as you read this, William Lyon Mackenzie King, the grandson of his grandfather, may be leading a duchess into dinner in one of England’s stateliest halls. How these boys do grow up!

Anyway, Mr. King’s trip will be watched with considerable interest. He is suspected in some quarters of designs on the imperial connection that will make Canada more of a nation than ever Laurier knew how. Nor does his selection of Professor Skelton of Queen’s as one of his intellectual advisers tend to quiet this suspicion. The learned professor from the Calvinistic College has been classed with J. W. Dafoe and others of that ilk who sometimes dream of independence for Canada and talk in their sleep. Under the circumstances those who believe that Canada’s destiny lies in the Empire are taking a lot of satisfaction out of the fact that Sir Lomer Gouin has found it convenient to be in London while the conference is on. And strange as it may appear to some people, the man who will be out strongest for “cementing the ties that bind the Empire” will be the dour-looking little Frenchman who carries most of the brains of the Cabinet under his hat. For Sir Lomer is probably a Britisher by choice, but at any rate he is one of political necessity. For his native Quebec enjoys privileges racial and religious under the Union Jack it could never hope for under the stars and stripes of the United States or a beaver-branded standard of an independent Canada. Nobody knows this better than the hierarchy of Quebec. And if the day should ever come when Canada is foolish enough to think of breaking away from the Mother Land the last fragment to cling to the English-speaking Protestant Empire will be that part down the St.Lawrence which still speaks the language of La Belle France and follows the religious teachings of Mother Church,

Our International Statesmen

DUT turn again to lighter things. Hon. George P.

-D Graham, too, is in England. He, with Sir Lomer, has been attending the meeting of the League of Nations and fervent prayers are being offered that he has not deteriorated into an International Statesman. Borden, Rowell, Doherty and Foster went to Geneva. And now where are they? They’re looking for audiences to lull to sleep with the oratory of higher statesmanship. Surely the same fate will not overtake the merry jester of Brockville! He deserves something better. For no matter how the session may lag, no matter how long-drawn the debate or how awful the oratory, George has always a little sunshine in store. I remember him at a Press Gallery dinner. He had just turned in one of those speeches that carry a laugh in every line and keep such affairs from turning into a misspent evening when one of the old Gallery gang approached to express his appreciation.

“Mr. Graham —” he started.

“When did I get to be Mister?” interrupted the genial Minister.

“Well,” laughed the Gallery man, “I always like to show some respect to our elderly states-

And Hon. George came back promptly: “In the first place I won’t admit I’m elderly and

in the second, you won’t admit I’m a statesman.”

“All right, George,” was the final concession, “but one thing we’ll all admit and that is that you’re the best afterdinner speaker in Canada.”

And he is. There is no other man in Canada who can gladden a crowd who have washed down their victuals with cold water as can Hon. Geo. P. Graham. The humor just bubbles out of him.

Perhaps for this reason there is a tendency to underestimate the new Minister .of Railways. To command the true respect of Parliament you must be stupid enough to look dignified. Consequently Hon. George can never hope to rank with the political saints. But beneath his jokes he carries a shrewdness that often stands the Government in good stead.

“You’d pever suspect the things George puts over on the House mixed with his jokes,” one of his colleagues once whispered.

So, Hon. George P. Graham, even with his jokes, may do a little towards counteracting the master minds of a Skelton and a Dafoe. Moreover, he may show the representatives of the =—

other Dominions that some Canadians can laugh even if others carry the cares of the world on their shoulders and reflect them in their countenances.

So on the whole it seems safe to leave the young premier in the hands of his colleagues, his advisers his secretariat and the ladies of old England. And if during his absence Hon. Arthur Meighen roams this broad Dominion at will, he should worry. For if Hon. Arthur did get a dinner in Montreal it is noticeable that his hosts were his own hand-made statesmen, Hons. Monty and Belley. Nor were the provincial opposition leaders, Messrs. Patenaude and Sauve, among

those breaking bread. All of which would indicate that though Montreal turned from the Taschereau Government in the last election it did not turn towards Meighen. He is still “The Executioner” in the land flowing with bees and wrine.

That Ontario Turn-over

NOR was the recent turnover in Ontario in anyway a revival of Meighen sentiment. The electors ran to form and voted against somebody rather than for anybody. The somebody or rather somebodies they voted against were Hon.

E. C. Drury and Hon.W.E. Raney In order to make the voting against effective, somebody had to be selected to vote for. Hon. Howard Ferguson was selected as the one most likely to beat the Farmer Premier and his lawyer adviser. That is the reason Howard Ferguson is to-day premier of Ontario. Meighen had nothing to do with

it. To be sure he helped a lot by attending to his duties at Ottawa and staying out of the fight. Ferguson had very little to do with it. Wellington Hay, the Liberal Leader, really helped more. He had allied himself so closely with the Farmer Government that a lot of Liberals had to vote Conservative to get rid of the Farmers. As to the latter, they’re gone for good so far as Ontario is concerned. The hardy husbandman who lives on the side-lines and concessions has learned that a man may wear overalls during election without bringing down the taxes after he reaches Queen’s Park and that a good plowman is not necessarily a statesman born. He is drifting back to the political faith of his fathers, more than ever convinced that it is better to keep right on farming than to waste time trying to carve a shortcut to riches by Act of Parliament.

Anyway it is difficult to figure out just w hat was the issue that caused the landslide in Ontario. The “Wets” claim they did it. The Hydro-Electric followers of Sir Adam Beck rather think they did it. The Tories are sure that they did it. A lot of Liberals think they are entitled to some of the credit. And Hon. Howard Ferguson is already proclaiming by actions that speak louder than words that he and his little hatchet did all the work. It is just another case of “Who Killed Cock Robin?” But a homely old chap wdth a bald head, to wit, J. J. Morrison, who is smiling and saying nothing, did enough to entitle him to rise and recite: “Not that I loved Drury less but the U. F. 0. more.”

Anyway Drury, once mentioned as a rival to T. A. Crerar, is back attending to the fall plowing on his farm. He’ll likely stay there. And even now rumors are creeping in from the West that Crerar is about to get back into the political harness. Of course he still retains his seat in Marquette, so his come-back is easy. And no matter wrho is leader, where Crerar sits in the House is the head of the Progressive table. And if the Progressives are to cut any ice in federal politics the long Grain Grower can’t get back a minute too soon. His former followers literally lan wild last session. They gave most of their time to the Bank Act and it was the kind of campaign they put up that enabled the Bankers’ Association, aided by the largest lobby that has been, to get any kind of a bank act they wanted. The wild theories advanced by such men as Good of Brant, and by some of the Bucking Bronchos of Alberta, scared the ordinary M. P. into voting for anything that looked safe and sane by contrast. And the bankers’ lobby—beg pardon, counsel—fed them the kind of sanity that was safest for the banks.

Toboggan for Progressives?

/^\F COURSE the questions naturally arise: Was the Ontario election the beginning of the end? Is the Progressive movement on the toboggan? Will the West drift back to party lines? And from here the answers can only be guessed. Sure it is that in Manitoba the Tories claim they will, at early opportunity, sweep the Farmers from provincial power. Also in Saskatchewan that smooth young Premier, Hon. Charlie Dunning, grows more confident every day that he will continue to hold the whip hand. Even from Alberta come rumors of deep dissatisfaction with the Greenfield Government.

Anything may happen in provincial politics on the Prairies. The contending forces might better be called “the ins” and “the outs.” But in federal affairs the one Continued on page 39

Practical stabilization could be carried into effect by a comparatively simple system. It is generally realized that any scheme to make farming profitable entails some form of authority to regulate and, when necessary, to restrict foreign imports. It seems probable that the control of supplies from foreign countries could be managed in such a way as largely to eliminate fluctuation without having to apply any regulations to the produce of Britain or of the Dominions.

The Dominion governments would be asked to organize their export trade to Great Britain in foodstuffs and agricultural raw materials and to concentrate the whole volume in the hands of a single co-operative exporting agency which should handle the whole of each Dominion’s exports to Britain. If possible the Dominion exporting agencies should be federated.

The operations of so great a federated organization would in itself considerably reduce the cost of placing foodstuffs, on these markets. It would further control the sale of Dominion produce in Britain, employing the normal channels of trade in so far as these channels gave useful and economic service, but cutting out all speculative trading.

As already stated, the foreign supplies of most of the essential foodstuffs are sufficiently large to allow an effective control of their entire volume to dominate the market as regards price. A national purchase board should, therefore, be formed to buy all the foreign produce which it was considered necessary to import.

The board would consist of government, consumer, and agricultural representatives. The Dominion exporting agencies would be required to work in close liaison with the national purchase board.

A far-sighted policy would be needed; the board should be prepared to buy in seasons of plenty to store for seasons of dearth with the definite object of avoiding conditions which would cause fluctuations of value. Very interesting suggestions in this direction have been put forward by E. M. H. Lloyd in his recently published book on “Stabilization.” The whole purpose of the suggested scheme would be the attainment of the j'ist price in the interest of both consumer and producer.

The purchase board should, in addition to the powers already suggested for it, be required to exercise a constant watch on the wholesale and retail prices of foodstuffs. Such reports as that of the Linlithgow committee on fruit and vegetables indicate the urgent need for a permanent body empowered to watch the interests of both producer and consumer and to give to abuses the wholesome air of widespread publicity.

The success of any agricultural policy, based upon the idea of the just price or on stabilization, must depend, in the long run, upon its being able to return to the producer a satisfactory remuneration for his expenditure of labor and capital, and yet to provide the consumer with goods at a price which would be not greater than the average price obtaining under the present lack of system.

Any agricultural policy that resulted in an increase in the cost of necessary foodstuffs would place the industrial interests of this country at a disadvantage in the markets of the world. It is, therefore, of great importance to examine a proposal of this nature to see whether there is any reasonable chance of securing the producer’s interest without in any way sacrificing that of the consumer and, through the consumer, that of industry. The elimination of fluctuation would certainly be all to the good from the point of view of the consumer. The fact that the consumer never fully benefits from a falling market has already been commented upon, but success will largely depend upon the elimination of the undue profits of middlemen and retailers.

Sir Charles Fielding in his book entitled “Food” estimates that the traders’ excess profits on bread, meat, and milk alone amount to £175,000,000 per annum. These figures indicate that there is a large margin to work upon, and that if the utilization of middlemen was limited to actual economic services, a considerable reduction in price to the consumer might be hoped for, while still giving to the producer a sufficient profit.

So far as the retailer is concerned, the interim reports of the Linlithgow committee have demonstrated how wide a field there is for reduction of costs in the retail trade. To obtain the full benefits for the whole community for any prac-

ticable agricultural policy it will be necessary to induce the retailer to return to the basis of a large turnover and smaller profits, and thus get rid of the exorbitant tax he now levies upon the consuming public.

If any scheme can be devised which will give a satisfactory solution of the agricultural problems that face the English farmer and also the producers in the self-governing Dominions, and, at the same time, can stabilize prices for the consumer on a basis that would not be above the average at présent obtaining in this country, one might look for substantial relief for the present unemployment problems. Stable prices would confer the great social advantage of giving a constant instead of fluctuating basis for wages contracts. Increasing prosperity in agriculture in England and the Dominions would absorb a proportion of the unemployed directly. Agriculture would require much larger quantities of manufactured goods, .and price stabilization would, it is hoped, increase the purchasing power of wages by the avoidance of fluctuations, which, as already stated, are never fully reflected in retail prices when on the down grade, but are invariably fully passed on when ascending, thus enabling British industry to compete on more favorable terms in the markets of the world.

Ottawa Awakes from Summer’s Slumbers

Continued from page 23

best guess is that a western party will come to Ottawa in pretty near solid formation. The politics of the West is the West. The folks on the wheatfields have problems to solve that strike nearer home than the issues raised at Ottawa. A Western Party was in the making before the Progressives were heard of. A Western Party will probably be talking itself blind at Ottawa when the Progressives are forgotten: for this is a far-flung Dominion. The interests of one section differ from the interests of another. And the same West that is trying to find salve for its sores in Wheat Boards and Wheat Pools will want to be assured that too much federal money is not spent repairing political fences in Quebec or building political wharves in Nova Scotia.

This may be sectionalism, and the wise

ones declare that statesmen should legislate for Canada as a whole. But Canada is made up of sections and to get w hat is good for the whole, representatives from all sections should get together and fight it out. That’s what they’ll do anyway.

Meanwhile, with King and Gouin in England, Fielding is holding the reins of Government at Ottawa. The Little Gray Man’s temper doesn’t improve with age. Some of his closest friends now' declare that he has got past the stage where he can consult with anyone. ’Tis also whispered that he has a contempt for his Cabinet colleagues that is expressed in actions rather than words. Now can you altogether w'onder that the man who sat with Cartwright, Mulock, Pugsley, and other giants of other days should sniff a bit at

the counsel of Hon. James Murdock and others it is a charity not to mention? Anyway Fielding is Acting Premier and so long as he doesn’t do any acting he’ll fill ( lie shoes of the absent King to a T.

And even while he’s doing it Ottawa will probably again become the residence o! Hon. Frank Oliver. Frank is going on the Railway Board, you know. And he’ll sta\ t here too t ill some cowboy senator decides to die. Then Frank of the emphatic vocabulary will pass to his long sleep.

And what about Hon. A. K. Maclean? you ask. When does he go to his reward in th(> Exchequer Court? Well, A. K. never was in a hurry. He can afford to wait. And in these parlous political times one by-election at a time is enough. If North Winnipeg returns a McMurray, the Exchequer Court will get a Maclean. And a timid Government will again put its popularity to the test in Halifax.