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Tim Creery, Southam News Service ’64 « Douglas Fisher

Fisher

 

May12, 1964
A young parliamentary secretary has unleashed a blistering attack on Douglas Fisher for the MP columnist’s journalistic hatchet job on Prime Minister Pearson. John Munro, 33, Liberal MP for Hamilton East and parliamentary secretary to National Health and Welfare Minister Judy LaMarsh, also  took a crack at colleagues  who had told Mr. Fisher tales out of party caucus. Munro was speaking to a local service club (Carleton Optimist Club). In his syndicated column Fisher said Mr. Pearson should be replaced as Liberal  party leader and prime minister by External Affairs and  Commerce Minister Sharp. Fisher said alternative leadership should be considered “before he has compromised and delayed the federal government into an even worse inertia than his predecessor (Mr. Diefenbaker) managed in a much  longer time.” Fisher picked out Pearson’s handling in Parliament of the pension plan redistribution, the flag and magazine protective legislation for particular condemnation. The MP-columnist, who is also deputy leader of the New Democratic Party, said he had been able to confirm from Liberal MP’s that Mr. Pearson had told a party caucus last week that he did not know what to do about the magazine legislation.

“Would any Canadian for a minute think of entrusting our country’s affairs to Mr. Fisher?” said Munro. “The immediate reaction is, ‘of course not’. Why?  “Instinctively we know that Canadians have. little respect for a disseminator of gossip – no respect for such a man, as a man or as a legislator; even more so when his columns are motivated by a hatred, ill disguised – aimed to destroy and lacking in  fundamental decency.” Munro, in a text distributed to the press, suggested Fisher launched his attack because “the prime minister has  shown that he abundantly  possesses that quality that enables him to earn the person al respect of political friend  and critic alike.”. . .Could it be that Mr. Fisher’s recent activities are nothing but the bitter infuriation of a man who has so wantonly, foolishly and perhaps irretrievably dissipated the very talents upon which that (Pearson’s) type of respect depends?”  Munro said that “the most potent and tasty food for Mr.  Fisher’s appetite is that gossip that we as members and as individuals indulge in  all too frequently.”  the attack on Fisher was  part of a larger theme in  which Munro suggested that  parliament depends for its  effectiveness on the self discipline of MP’s and parties, as  much as on reform of rules  and procedures.   He suggested that MP’s blabbing caucus secrets to the press was a main cause of parliamentary ineffectiveness.

“The breakdown of the caucus as an institution is symptomatic of a breakdown of party discipline and all that that entails,” he said. Munto’s speech had hardly been distributed before Fisher was back in full cry in the extra-parliamentary debate.  “I’m flattered by Mr. Munro’s comments.” he said in a press statement. “Obviously my criticisms of Mr. Pearson’s inadequacies are rankling. Parliament can never be a healthy institution with the kind of leadership he gives it.” Munro said Fisher was “aided every so often by the power to instill honest fear among his colleagues.”  Fisher retorted: “A great majority of politicians are decent persons and to suggestively live in fear of me is an insult to them.”


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