Backstage at Ottawa
A POLITICIAN WITH A NOTEBOOK
THE ROMANTIC hopes of politics never grow stale. Thus on the eve of Parliament come the old predictions about the “most momentous session.” high promises, expectations. Nor are the politicians to blame. Disillusioned and cynical, taught their own impotence by three barren sessions, they make no new promises. It is that mystical democrat, the “man in the street,” who is the indestructible optimist.
And the session, whatever it may yield in achievement, should produce something of commotion. So much has changed during the recess. .Seven months ago, when the last session was dying, everything gave promise. Mr. Bennett was back from Washington with an offer of reciprocity. World statesmen converged on Dindon to build a New Jerusalem. Amid the cheers of a continent, President Roosevelt launched his New Deal. That famous, elusive corner, around which prosperity was supposed to lurk, was in sight at last.
What followed is sad history. With the World Conference collapsed and reciprocity lost in the implications of the N. R. A., Canada, like other nations, was left to her own devices; left to work out her own salvation in trade and tarilfs, in the control of her currency, in all the confused
tangle of chaotic economics. It is something which, added to political upheavals at home, should provide against Parliament being dull.
There will be no lack of controversial issues. Revision of the Bank Act, the creation of a Central Bank, money and credit, the control of wheat exports, the eternal railway problem, and. last but not least, relief of unemployment all these and a score of other things will be to the fore. Behind all. a background making for manoeuvring and tactics and heightened conflict, will be the shadow of a general election. The session will be long.
ALREADY the political seers, scanning the horizon, sec election signs. They jxiint to the Prime Minister, breaking his long silence, taking to the hustings and radio. They note a control jxilicy for wheat which threatens to embrace agriculture as a whole, prices as well as marketing, and promises to become an election issue. Lastly, and with the true instinct of the politician. they dwell upon that additional currency issue to finance public works, become completely convinced. Why a great programme of public works if not a general election? Such a thing—for certain tacticians— simply wouldn't make sense.
Such talk may mean nothing. But while people who are not partisans, let alone party strategists, cannot think of the Prime Minister issuing new currency and spending it to keep office, signs of an election exist. They may be discerned by anyone who has watched governments over a chain of years.
Mr. Bennett, to-begin with, is said to be no longer enamored of office. Tired by three years of desperate toil, convinced that he has done all that was humanly possible, and that most of what he did was right, he would welcome retirement. Those close to him and Mr. Bennett is frank with his friends—state that successful by-elections might have meant his stepping down before a general election; that he could have accepted them as approval of his policies and record, with permission to call it a day. As it was, with a trinity of ministerial defeats, retirement would Jiave seemed like quitting under fire, like desertion.
It will be different after this session. Mr. Bennett, if still anxious to retire, can reasonably ask the public’s verdict on his work. The Ottawa Empire agreements, his wheat control policy, a possible marketing scheme for other farm products,
his Central Bank, his new public works programme all can be thrown in the public scales, with Mr. Bennett prepared for the consequences. No matter what the result, his wish for retirement could be gratified.
Meanwhile, Mr. Bennett goes on, perhaps with less of zest, but with the old earnestness and vigor. Abandoning his stubborn notion that he should work in secrecy, he has gone on the radio and taken to the platform, has defended his policies with characteristic energy. But in the main his technique is unchanged. Still impatient with the press, slashing out wildly at imaginary journalistic foes, storming at individual members of the press gallery, he is the despair of his friends.
For weeks on end. before Christmas, there were no sessions of the cabinet. Ministers worked at the routine of their departments and occasionally made s|)eeches; Mr. Bennett dealt with the real problems, made the vital decisions. Eventually, no doubt, there was consultation and information; but not likely much change. Where MacGregor sits is not merely the head of the table; he has the table completely to himself.
\ MEANWHILE silence vast, organized and deliberate has fallen ujxm Liberalism. Its cheer leaders have apparently forgotten the words and music of the old songs. Mr. King, of course, sjxike up in at least two of the byelections, and chiefly with the same old litany, but since then the whole party has been in amazing tranquillity. Even the December Ottawa meeting of the Executive of the National Liberal Federation, brain child of Mr. Massey was mostly a party huddle, with no one barking out the signals in the open, old-fashioned way. The Liberal papers were ignored. For the Toronto Star, thought to be walking out with the C. C. F., there was a studied frigidity; for The Globe but the cold courtesy extended the Tory Mail and Gazette. Mr. King, although he talks tolerantly is a martinet about regularity.
All that came from the Ottawa council was the usual formal declaration of fealty to Mr. King, plus this:
"The Liberal Party feels that it will be able to devise
policies adequate to every national emergency.”
Thus the Liberal cards were thrown on the table, faces down: while under the table was thrown the gixid old Liberal doctrine of “open covenants openly arrived at.” What the party thinks about wheat and agricultural marketing boards, about the tariff and a Central Bank, about the railway question and taxes, no one but its Old Guard knows.
And the Old Guard runs the party. Mr. Massey may have the Messianic complex and be allowed to indulge it, Mr. Norman Lambert and Mr. R. J. Deachman -supposed to be running a Liberal propaganda bureau at Ottawa may speak the accents of the Progressives, and young Liberals may be permitted Lettish notions between lettuce sandwiches at summer schools —they are good window dressing. The party’s real decisions are made in a back room by hard-bitten veterans who know how to win wars. It is all
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well and good to have intellectuals preaching the “abundant life,” but what the old campaigners want most are lots of mistakes by their opponents and reasonable campaign funds from their friends. Armed with these, they may let flaming youth ride in the rumble seat and think it is going places, but they themselves will be at the steering wheel to see that the car doesn’t turn up new roads or be parked in strange places.
King and Dunning
yET BEHIND this wall of Old Guard silence one thing has happened that mustn't be lost to history. It is the reconciliation that has come about between Mr. Mackenzie King and Mr. Charles Dunning. A real drama of politics.
When, in 1924, Mr. Dunning came out of the West, where his conquests were many, he was a sort of "Happy Warrior,” one who not merely deserved success but commanded it. And he began commanding it in Parliament. He began commanding it so well that Mr. Meighen, compressing an atmosphere into a phrase, dubbed him the “Crown Prince from Saskatchewan.”
Prime Ministers notoriously dislike crown princes. They suggest successors. So when, in 1925, the Liberal standard was drooping and Mr. Meighen was in his historic and desperate effort to get office, there came Liberal whispers that it might be a good thing for a sick party if it got another doctor, and that doctor Mr. Dunning.
Mr. Dunning may not have encouraged such whispers, but he didn’t discourage them. With lack of faith in his destiny not among his characteristics, he just took it for granted that these whispers were absolutely natural things, a logical development of his fitness for any tough job whatsoever.
Trouble came when the whispers got to Mr. King. More and worse trouble followed (for Mr. Dunning) when the crisis for Liberalism ended with a Liberal victory at the polls. Mr. King remembered. And while his memory didn’t deny Mr. Dunning a place in the new Cabinet, it did deny that thing so sweet to a Cabinet Minister—the Prime Minister’s ear. Lucifer would not be cast out altogether, but he would be kept on the penitent bench for his presumption and pride, deprived of all high favor.
And pardon lingered. True. Mr. Dunning was summoned to Finance, in which post his behavior was impeccable, but the old relationship did not return. Mr. Dunning had become to Mr. King what Sifton was to Laurier. He might be used, might be envied or secretly admired; always there would be a sharp eye on him lest he start a palace revolution. The condition continued until 1930, when Mr. Dunning, among the fallen, was left lying on the stricken field, to be carried off by the stretcher bearers of the C. P. R.
Aftermath of common adversity brought no reunion. Mr. Dunning was not among the pilgrims to Kingsmere; was absent from all gatherings of Liberal Chiefs of Staff. Down at Luceme-in-Quebec he raised his voice against party strife, gave Mr. Bennett conditional benediction, talked as though he could be conscripted to serve in a National
Government. His friends said it was the only sort of government in which he would consent to serve.
But politics, besides making strange bedfellows, is a great changer of minds. Just by what particular processes it changed Mr. Dunning’s mind, and Mr. King’s too, is not clear. What is known is that, synchronizing with a Liberal victory in Nova Scotia, Mr. King and Mr. Dunning were drawn together. They were drawn together still more closely when three Liberal by-election victories followed Nova Scotia, with British Columbia not far behind. That, apparently, was irresistible. A new day stood poised on the horizon, and with the Promised Land right there before them and recriminations futile, what was a feud among friends? The Crown Prince returned to the Palace.
He will be useful in the Palace. In politics, it’s a great thing to be able to call Saskatchewan farm leaders by their first names, but if at the same time one be able to call St. James Street magnates by their first names too, then the combination is unbeatable. Mr. Dunning enjoys that privilege. He has dwelt in prairie farm shacks and in marble halls as well, can stick his boots upon the table with a group of agrarians, yet get Sir Herbert Holt on the telephone and call Mr. Beatty “Eddie.” That, in an election—and just before it—should be extraordinarily valuable. For the old Tarte dictum remains.
C. C. F. Prospects
WHAT, MEANWHILE, of the C. C. F.?
Ottawa, generally is slow to djust itself to change, and unable to conceive of anything but the two old parties, gives Mr. Woodsworth little thought. It points to the Stubbs débâcle in Mackenzie, to other byelection failures, dismisses the party as negligible. What Ottawa overlooks is the C. C. F. popular vote in British Columbia; a vote which, considering the province’s political past, was anything but despicable.
Not that C. C. F. weakness, from the standpoint of practical political success, isn’t fairly obvious. The party lacks a skilled strategist to mobilize discontent; somebody to back up the crusaders and professors with a party organization, with a cunninglyworded platform and a reasonably well-filled chest. Crusades, like churches, make more converts with some cash.
Mr. Woodsworth, not a strategist, is not even a rabble rouser. A moderate socialist, and without guile or cunning, he has permitted disciples to produce a woolly manifesto, which, making him a bogey man in St. James Street and in farm houses, fails to strike fire in the tenements.
A few practical politicians, 'etting their hand to producing a revolutionary platform, would have done much better. Mr. Kipling notwithstanding, they would have shown where East and West could meet, would have had balm in Gilead for all. Above everything else, they would have avoided the mortal sin—for a party seeking office—of getting down to details.
Yet we shall see. In a day when old shibboleths are at a discount, and when political adversity loves shining marks, perhaps it would be as well if the older parties felt less complacent—and less safe.
Safety Matches Strike on Glass
TT HAS often been noticed that so-called
safety matches will ignite when scratched briskly across a sheet of glass. To find the reason for this, we consulted the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research. Their reply follows:
"The tip, head, or ignition portion of the ordinary safety match contains potassium chlorate, sulphur, and a binder, such as glue. The striking surface on a safety match
box consists of amorphous phosphorus, antimony sulphide, and an adhesive.
“It is well known that an explosion results when potassium chlorate is ground with sulphur or other combustible material. When, therefore, a safety match head is rubbed hard on a glass surface, the friction is of the character and sufficiency to produce a reaction between the potassium chlorate and sulphur, causing ignition.”—Scientific American.
Readers of Maclean’s who have received Horoscope Readings from Miss Marguerite Carter will find an installment of sections below; further sections will appear in the next and following issues of Maclean’s.
These readings are Miss Marguerite Carter’s applications of the rules of Astrology as laid down in wellknown ancient and modern textbooks. Miss Carter claims no personal ability to forecast the future or solve your present problems and these readings are not intended for such purpose.
THIS planetary position is apt to be quite outstanding; in its influence. The effect is purely mental or ideal. You are very much less affected by physical emotion as a result of this vibration. It added to your refinement and it is likely that you are neat in penmanship. The position has a considerable tendency to make one fond of change, particularly in matters of the heart. Frequently young; women who have this position in their natal charts are unconscionable flirts. Their attitude is apt to he mental rather than physical, however. You are apt to have a tendency toward dissatisfaction. Frequently people who were horn under this vibration have several love affairs before they settle to one, and sometimes they never overcome the restlessness in matters of affection which this position bestows.
THIS planetary position is one which should strengthen your mental powers but tend to make your reactions slower and cause you to take more time in reaching decisions. This particular vibration is a strong testimony pointing toward the fact that you will take many short journeys. It is very likely either that you have or will join societies for studying occultism and that you have some psychic powers. Due to this position, the probabilities are that you will work better with partners or associates than alone. This is a very conservative sign and those who were born at a time when its influence was strong are the true conservatives of the world. While this particular planetary position does not. in itself, bring out the full strength of the sign, it certainly makes you much more conservative than you would have been without its influence.
THE planetary position we consider here is one which would have had a beneficial effect upon your mentality. Those born under this influence are usually subtle and penetrating. It is not unusual, however, to find them out of the ordinary in their outlook. Sometimes they are considered eccentric by those who know them. The position is not altogether fortunate, as it has some tendency to lessen the driving force, and the ambition is frequently less than when the individual was horn under other influences from this planet. The majority of astrologers are of the opinion that this position leads to obstacles and restrictions, especially in early life. Providing other testimony in the chart is harmonious, it is a good position for literary .work.
THIS vibration sometimes delays marriage and frequently those who come under its influence experience obstacles in that connection which come about through difference! in age or position. You are quite emotional unless other indications in your chart are entirely contrary, and sometimes inclined to he sentimental.
ASTROLOGERS consider this a very strong planetary position in many respects. Its L tendency is to cause you to be enterprising, brave, yet inclined to be irritable at times. Of course, your sun reading must be taken into consideration but these characteristics will be much stronger in you as a result of this position than would otherwise have been the case. It should make you honest and give you a secret taste for occultism. There probably is nothing in any way underhanded, sly or treacherous in your nature as this planetary position would cause you to despise deceit.
THE result of this influence has been to make you more inclined to assume responsibility than you would have been without it. It made you faithful, affectionate and proud. It is considered a very favorable planetary influence. You are hard to convince against your will and you do not receive impressions readily unless you are particularly interested in something and then you learn quickly and accurately. Your knowledge is always apt to be affected more or less by your emotions, however. You are fond of freedom to the extent that you will not be otherwise than free. You seriously resent being dictated to. This planetary position gives you greatly added initiative, capacity for leadership and an optimistic, determined attitude toward life.