Apr 19 1943
Highway Minister's Notice Received with Enthusiasm1
Members of Legislature, Delegates Will Support Hon. T.B. McQuesten
Announcement of Hon. T.B. McQuesten, Ontario Minister of Highways and Municipal Affairs, that he will contest the leadership of the Ontario Liberal party at the provincial rally in Toronto on April 29 and 30 was received with enthusiasm and brought assurances of support from fellow members of the Legislature and county delegates when the Wentworth-Hamilton Liberal Association met in the Music Hall, Dundas on Saturday afternoon.
The meeting was called for the purpose of naming delegates to the important session in the Queen city and the declaration by the minister of his candidature came as a surprise to the majority of the large and representative gathering. The first announcement of the minister's decision was made in the Spectator Saturday, but the party followers from the urban and rural constituency, represented by Hon. Mr. McQuesten since the Hepburn Government carried Ontario in 1934, were in session before the paper was published and were unaware that Hon. T.B. McQuesten was an aspirant.
After reviewing provincial legislation of interest and dealing with the change in leadership resulting from the resignation of Hon. Mr. Hepburn Hon. Mr. McQuesten said the important business of the Toronto convention would be to elect a new leader.
Solid Support Assured
"I have decided to contest this leadership," announced the speaker and applause broke from the crowd and it was sustained with enthusiasm for several minutes, indicating that the minister's own constituents were solidly behind him. Ellis Corman M.P., Wentworth and the three members of the Ontario Legislature from city and county were in attendance- John Newland, M.P.P Hamilton Centre; J.P. MacKay, M.P.P Hamilton East and George Bethune, M.P.P South Wentworth. They, too recorded their approval by hearty applause as did the delegates chosen a short time before.
Appends on Record
"I have had a fair amount of experience; the people of the province know my record and it is before them. I am in the hands of my friends on this occasion," said Hon. Mr. McQuesten. Delegates would attend the convention to exercise their constitutional right of making their choice and he expressed hope that they would do so on the basis of selecting the man who in their judgement was the best qualified for the important office, that he might make the greatest possible contribution to the province and to help bring about a condition which al people of Ontario deserve to have.
Hon. Mr. McQuesten referred to the collective bargaining legislation during his remarks and said the act gave consideration in the highest degree to certain human rights. "It is equivalent to that clause in the Declaration of Independence which says all men are born equal." He said. If wage earners so desired they had a right to bargain with their employers. They could make such a request and the employers would have to listen. The legislation gave opportunity for the worker to have some agency other than himself to negotiate with his employer the terms upon which he will work. The legislation might not be a perfect instrument and it is optional, said the speaker, adding that changes could be made from time to time if necessary. It was for the court to decide what would be a just and proper settlement of any matter in dispute and there was no compulsion for any one to join a union. "The highest authority is a Supreme Court judge and we want the highest authority we can find and a non-partisan authority," declared Hon. Mr. McQuesten.
Tribute to Workers
"Upon the proper solution of this issue depends the stability of out government. It is an appeal to order and good sense," continued the minister. He contended that peaceful settlement of such questions was desirable and should be encouraged, adding that if a bad condition continued indefinitely it eventually "boils up and produces revolution. That we have never had to resort to this in this democracy or in England in the last 100 years is a tribute to the workers," asserted Hon. Mr. McQuesten.
Remembering the constituents that he had supported Hon. Mr. Hepburn to the last, Hon. Mr. McQuesten said he had been loyal and felt that he had done his duty. "I have no apologies to make," he remarked and the announcement was greeted with applause. He paid tribute to the former leader and referred to the success of the party in Ontario and in electing its members to the Federal House during the tenure of office of Hon. Mr. Hepburn.
Ellis Corman, M.P. expressed hope for co-operation between the Dominion and Ontario Governments and all provincial governments and lauded Prime Minister Mackenzie King. He dealt with the war program of the Dominion administration and urged support of the Fourth Victory Loan, pointing out the necessity of raising huge sums of money that efforts to bring victory may be sustained. The Wartime Prices and Trade Board had done the right thing and had checked price increases he said.
George H. Bethune, M.P.P referred to legislation enacted by the Liberals since 1934 and said municipalities had been financially assisted and enabled to reduce their tax rate, the people receiving the benefit.
"During the many years Hon. Mr. McQuesten ahs been Minister of Highways great sums of money have been spent, but never has a finger been pointed at him" declared John Newlands, M.P.P He praised the record of the minister and said no member of the Legislature is held in higher esteem by his own party or opposition members.
J.P. MacKay, M.P.P said Hon. Mr. McQuesten "stands high in the political life of Ontario; his record is above reproach"
Officers are Elected
George Weatherston, Beverly, former warden of Wentworth, was elected president of the organization and the following other officers were chosen: Ross Harstone, honorary president; George Inrig, Jack F. Easterbrook and D.P. Cliff, warden of Wentworth, vice-presidents: D'Arcy Lee, secretary, and O.D. Peat, treasurer. The following were named delegates to provincial meeting: Ross Harstone, Warden Cliff, Mr. Weatherston and Mr Easterbrook. The alternative delegates are: George Inrig, D'Arcy Lee, J. Stuart Hyde and Charles Burns. Officers-elect spoke briefly also R. A. Thompson Lynden, veteran county Liberal.
Speakers paid tribute to the late Hon. F.C. Biggs, former president of the organization for many years, and the meeting observed one minute's silence to honour his memory.
1 This document was given an approximate date based on the fact that Thomas announced that he would run for the leadership of the provincial Liberal party on April 17, 1943, less than two weeks before the convention was to be held. He may have been popular amongst his colleagues in provincial parliament, but some of the delegates who actually voted had close ties to the federal party. Thomas had strongly supported former premier Mitchell Hepburn who was often at odds with Prime Minister King, and Thomas himself had come to be on unfriendly terms with him. In the end, Harry Nixon was elected, but spent only three months as premier before losing the provincial election to the conservatives. See W-MCP7-1.264.