March 21, 1901

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The MINISTER OF FINANCE (Hon. W. S. Fielding).

I quite agree with my hon. friend (Hon. Sir Charles Hibbert Tupper) that, with respect to the past, perhaps it would have been better ir we had one or two meetings more. As to the suggestion that it is desirable that we should have two meetings a week, I do not feel able to agree to that as a fixed policy, because other engagements might arise to interfere with it. For example, yesterday we had difficulty in getting the members together, though I admit that there was a fair attendance, but members were constantly leaving the room to go into the adjoining room, where the Railway Committee was in session. The meetings of these committees side by side had a very confusing tendency. I think it right that the committee should meet frequently, and without Sir CHARI.ES HIBBERT TUPPER.

committing myself to two meetings a week as a fixed rule, I shall see to it that the members of the committee shall have ample opportunity to deal with the matters to which the hon. gentleman has referred. On the return of the chairman, who, I hope, will be here to-day or to-morrow, I shall ask him to join me in adopting means that reasonable frequency shall mark the meetings of the committee hereafter.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE.
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WAYS AND MEANS-THE BUDGET.


House resumed adjourned debate on the proposed motion of Hon. Mr. Fielding : That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair for the House to go into committee to consider of the Ways and Means for raising the Supply to be granted to His Majesty, and the proposed motion of Mr. Borden (Halifax) in amendment thereto.


LIB

Charles Marcil

Liberal

Mr. CHARLES MARCIL (Bonaventure).

Mr. Speaker, the very kind and generous treatment which I was accorded in this House on the occasion of my seconding the reply to the speech from the Throne has led me to take advantage of this occasion to address the House a second time upon the very important issues which are now being discussed. I know that participating in the budget debate is always, more or less, an ungrateful task-the task of handling figures, for a man who is not very conversant with them is not always a task of the most inviting character. But, the subject is one of such deep interest to the country at large that I believe the representatives of the people in this House should make known their views and the views of the people they represent. I have the honour, Sir, to represent a county down by the sea, not in one of the maritime provinces, but one of the last counties in the province of Quebec, a purely agricultural and fishing county. There are no manufactures there, but I hope that when the railway communications are better established, we shall have an important agricultural development.

In the meantime the people of the county of Bonaventure are deeply interested in the fiscal policy of the government. Perhaps they do not take the same deep interest in the subject as do some of the manufacturing centres of the Dominion, but they are anxious that any policy which will advance the best interests of Canada at large should be adopted by the government of the day. The favourite policy in the county of Bonaventure is reciprocity with the United States. There never was on that coast a more prosperous era than that which extended from 1854 to 1865 ; in fact that period was the most prosperous ever experienced by the province of Quebec. We all know that the present government have made determined efforts to bring about a better understanding with the United States ; we know that the hon. the Prime Minister secured the holding of an

international conference, which after many months of prolonged sittings, was unable to agree. But, Sir, that task should not be abandoned. Nature, in placing us alongside the United States on a border of nearly 4,000 miles, surely intended that there should be closer communication, closer trade relations, closer business relations than exist at the present time. We know that a majority of the people of the United States favour a highly protective tariff. But changes are occurring every day and every year in the politics of the United States. A party may be in power to-day which does not favour reciprocity with Canada ; but we should not abandon the task of securing better trade relations with the United States. The present fiscal policy of the Dominion has been lately discussed upon every hustings throughout the length and breadth of Canada. The people of Canada to-day, X believe, are more conversant with our fiscal policy than they have been at any other time in our history. Since 1878, seldom has any other political question dominated the great question of our fiscal policy. Our people to-day are becoming better acquainted with the importance of a tariff which meets the requirements of the various sections of the country. I am at heart a free trader, and I would like to see, if it were possible, free trade to-day among all the nations of the earth. But, Sir, great and beautiful as is the theory of free trade, we all know that free trade is impossible in this country. We all know that a revenue must be raised, and the only way in which it can be raised according to our views is by a customs tariff. The present tariff is a protective tariff in a sense that it affords protection, but it is mainly a revenue tariff. That is the idea, so far as X have been able to gather, of the majority of the Liberals in our province, they favour a tariff for revenue purposes, but a tariff which will at the same time afford to our manufacturing industries that measure of protection to which they are entitled.

We have been told in this House that the present government have no policy, that the present government have stolen the clothes of their opponents, that the present government have adopted the policy of the opposition. Speaking for myself, I am willing to accept all that is good, no matter whence it comes, even if it comes from the Conservative party. That which was good in the old tariff should be maintained. But a tariff is like every other human institution, it varies according to the circumstances of the times. Not many years ago, within the recollection of men sitting in this House, the Conservative party were almost free traders. They supported a revenue tariff previous to 1872, when the French Liberals in the city of Montreal and in the province of Quebec forming the Parti National, had for their first and foremost plank protection to our native industries. Consequently there is nothing extraordinary in the fact that some Liberals should have remained protectionists, since we are the political heirs of those who, twenty years ago, were in favour of extending protection to our native industries. The upheaval following the Canadian Pacific scandal led the Conservative forces into opposition. Sir John A. Macdonald, with that cunning and astuteness in statesmanship which made him one of the greatest men this country has produced, saw that a party advocating the benefits of protection to the various industries of the country, would be popular, and he came out in favour of a high tariff. The Liberals of that day thought a high tariff was not in the interests of the country. The people decided in favour of a high tariff ; and for eighteen years this high tariff has prevailed. The Liberal party remained in opposition until there was a turn in the tide, until the people realized that this tariff was intended not only to protect the manufacturing industries, but, even more, to maintain in power the party which was then at the head of affairs. The city of Montreal prospered no doubt under that tariff, as did other sections of the country. But a turn in the tide took place, and when the people realized that this tariff was intended merely to protect the manufacturer at the expense of the farmer, at the expense of the mechanic, at the expense of the workingman, they declared in favour of a readjustment of the tariff.

The right hon. Prime Minister and his colleagues have been blamed for having maintained the tariff which we now have upon the statute-book. Mr. Speaker, what would have happened in this country had the Prime Minister and his colleagues, with one fell swoop, removed the old tariff and brought it down to 174 per cent? There would have been disaster all over the land, and the Conservative party would not have been able to find words strong enough to denounce the Liberal government. The fact is that our friends opposite are blaming the government of the day for having acted wisely, for having framed a policy that was calculated to protect all vested interests, while at the same time promoting the best interests of all sections of the country. Sir, we all remember the dire predictions which were made from every hustings in this country by hon. gentlemen opposite that if the Liberal party ever attained power our tall chimneys would become smokeless, soup kitchens would be erected on every street corner in our cities, our workingmen would be driven to the United States to seek that employment which their native land refused them. Have those prophecies been fulfilled ? Sir, this country has enjoyed a greater degree of prosperity during the last four years than it ever enjoyed before in all its history.

Hon. gentlemen preceding me in this debate have produced figures to show that in sixteen years, from 1880 to 1896, there was an increase of $36,000,000 in the business of Canada, while during the last four years there has been an increase of $142,000,000. That fact is the best answer which can be given to the demands which are now being made for a change in the fiscal policy of the country.

The hon. leader of the opposition has brought forward an amendment which certainly affords a new policy to the Conservative party. That new policy, in appearance, is the old one which is brought forward in a new form. The first paragraph of the amendment now before us is in favour of protection. Where can you find more adequate protection than that which is now extended to the manufacturing interests of Canada ?

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE BUDGET.
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Some hon. MEMBERS

Hear, hear.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE BUDGET.
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LIB

Charles Marcil

Liberal

Mr. MARCIL (Bonaventure).

Is there, at the present moment, a single industry in this country which is suffering unduly or unjustly from the effects of this tariff ? Sir, I do not believe it.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE BUDGET.
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Some hon. MEMBERS

Hear, hear.

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LIB

Charles Marcil

Liberal

Mr. MARCIL (Bonaventure).

It is disappointing, probably, to our opponents that the Liberal party have not afforded them the satisfaction of being able to declare that the fiscal policy of the present government has killed this industry or that industry. They have been robbed of that pleasure, of that satisfaction, and they are sorry, as an hon. friend observes. They have thought that the best way is to bring in a rider to the protection clause in this amendment proposing that we should ask for a mutual preference from England. Down in our province the Conservative party has at ail times claimed to be the pillar of the church and the state. It has lived upon prejudice, while in other parts of Canada, it has lived, to a certain extent, upon the loyalty cry. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, what,. during the twenty, or twenty-five years, that the Conservative party held the reins of power in this country, did they do to bring about a better and closer understanding with the mother country ? What, Sir, have you heard in the old days of the national policy about bringing about a better understanding with Great Britain, bringing about a preference of any kind, or of any character, preferential trade, mutual or otherwise ? Sir John Macdonald, for the purpose of obtaining power, did not hesitate to introduce a tariff which was anti-British, which tended to remove Canada, as far as it could possibly be done by tariff, from its connection with the mother country. He had no idea then of bringing about a better understanding with Great Britain. He introduced a tariff which stood until dt fell into decay in 1896. Our hon.

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LIB

Charles Marcil

Liberal

Mr. JMARGIL (Bonaventure).

friends declare, in another part of this amendment, that they are anxious to bring about closer trade relations with Australasia. If my memory is not at fault, there was a former Conservative Prime Minister of this country who made a futile attempt at bringing about a better understanding with Australasia. That will be within the memory of some hon. gentlemen. About the same time attempts were also made to bring! about closer trade relations with the West Indies and other portions of the British Empire. There is no sane man in this House, or in this country, who would not employ all reasonable means to bring about closer 'trade relations, not only with Australia and the West Indies, but with every other country under the sun. We have brought about certainly an increase of business with Great Britain, but the task of the government, great as it has been during the last four years and beneficial as it has been to Canada at large, as shown in the enormous increase in our trade by $142,000,000 in four years' time, is not yet finished, and the efforts of the government must not stop at Great Britain. There are other countries where the farmer, the mechanic and the business man of Canada can find a market. Germany has been mentioned. Great as might be the German market, great as is the German Empire, there is a country lying alongside of Germany where Canada should have a market of the first order. I refer to France. France's natural condition today is such that she should have a large and increasing trade with Canada. We should have a trade there which should rank, at least, according to our population, in proportion to the trade which the United States have with that country. There is a great trade to be fostered with Belgium and with other countries in the eastern parts of Europe. No doubt the government are giving their attention to this point and are trying to increase as best they can our markets with these foreign countries. The last paragraph in the amendment refers to the duties on foreign goods. This may properly be described as advocating a reciprocity of tariffs. A reciprocity of tariffs is a thing which certainly might be in the interest of the country at a given moment, but it is one of those questions which has to be settled gradually as occasion presents itself, as it comes forward and the government, which have been in power for four years, cannot be expected in that time to bring about a complete revolution in the business affairs of Canada. As far as we are concerned down in our province, and I believe the same may be said of all the other provinces of Canada, the people are satisfied. The last elections were carried out not upon the policy which has been brought forth by the opposition, but upon other cries with which the members of this House are conversant, but, the people of Canada at large, I have no doubt, are satis-

fled with the present administration of affairs. They are satisfied with the fiscal policy. That policy has been clearly defined by the bon. Minister of Finance (Mr. Fielding), by the right hon. leader of the government (Sir Wilfrid Laurier), and by the hon. Minister of Trade and Commerce (Sir Richard Cartwright). It has been said, very truly in this House, that there should not be any whimsical changes in the tariff of the day. If there is anything which unsettles business it is these changes in the tariff. These changes occurred very often under the late government, but they were not as complete as might have been desired by some friends of the administration. The permanency of the tariff is one of those things which is a guarantee in itself to the manufacturer, and through the manufacturer, to the workingman and to others who are interested in the progress of the country. Now, I have referred in broad general terms to the amendment which has been placed before ns and I wonder whether the Conservative party really think that the country is going to accept this as a change in their old policy. I do not think so and the best reason for not thinking that is that'it is nothing more or less than a repetition of the old policy except in the name. We have been told that during the eighteen years of the national policy Canada progressed to an extraordinary extent. Such may have been apparently the case in certain manufacturing centres, but the country at large made no progress. The country at large remained stationary and emigration remained unchecked. During the thirty years in which the Conservative party were in power in this country, thousands upon thousands of Canadians left the country and settled in the United States. It is an almost incredible fact, but nevertheless true, that there arc in the United States to-day over a million of Canadians, that there are almost half a million, if not half a million, of French Canadians in the eastern states, and that there are more people from the maritime provinces in some of the eastern American cities than are to be found in the cities of Halifax, or St. John. These things occurred under the old wavering policy of the Conservative party, but that condition of things has changed for the better now. A change has been brought about, a wise policy has been inaugurated, a policy which has produced a better understanding among the various classes of the Canadian people, a policy which is keeping our people at home, which is keeping them employed, which is keeping the manufacturers busy and which is finding markets for our farmers.

We are told now that this new policy of the Conservative party is intended to benefit Canada at large. That is a matter for difference of opinion and for discussion ; that is a question which cannot be settled

off-hand; but I would like, Mr. Speaker, with your permission to answer certain statements which have been made by the hon. member for West York (Mr. Wallace), and by the hon. member for East Simcoe (Mr. Bennett) as to what policy was really endorsed by the people of Canada at the last election. These gentlemen opposite have told us that the race and religious cry was raised in the province of Quebec, and that it was that cry that carried the election. Our friend from West York (Mr. Wallace), who I know is very advanced in his ideas on the subject, when speaking on this motion the other night, said, alluding to the right hon. the Prime Minister :

But he never went to a French gathering in which he did not refer to them as his fellow-countrymen because of their French origin. I have read the reports of his speeches, and in these he was wont to say: I am a Frenchman and am proud of it. The same blood flows in my veins as runs in yours, and I want your vote on the ground that we are all French.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE BUDGET.
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CON

Nathaniel Clarke Wallace

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WALLACE.

Would the hon. gentleman (Mr. Marcil) permit me. I said : I

want your votes because we are French. I supplied that myself. I gave the quotation as read by the hon. member: The same blood flows in my veins as flows in yours. After that, as the ' Hansard ' report will show, when the Prime Minister interrupted L stated that the words that were added were mine, and that they contained the only inference that could be drawn from his argument, else 'why did he use such language. I asked that question. The further report of the debate will show that.

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LIB

Charles Marcil

Liberal

Mr. MARCIL (Bonaventure).

When the hon. gentleman from West York (Mr. Wallace) used those words he was at once called to order by the premier, who denied having used them. [DOT]

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE BUDGET.
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CON
LIB

Charles Marcil

Liberal

Mr. MARCIL (Bonaventure).

That is the report that ' Hansard ' gives and the Prime Minister denied having used these words.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE BUDGET.
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CON

Nathaniel Clarke Wallace

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WALLACE.

He denied having used words I did not attribute to him.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE BUDGET.
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LIB

Charles Marcil

Liberal

Mr. MARCIL (Bonaventure).

I could quote other portions of the hon. gentleman's speech which all tends in the same direction. Here, for instance, is some language used by the hon. member for West York :

Why, these men are in power to-day because" they successfully raised that cry. They have fifty-eight out of sixty-five members of the province of Quebec, not because their public policy was acceptable to the people of that province, hut because of the racial cries that were raised by the Minister of Inland Revenue, by the First Minister himself, and by all the ministers and by all the members on that side of the House.

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CON
LIB

Charles Marcil

Liberal

Mr. MARCIL (Bonaventure).

I should

like briefly to refer to the vote in the province of Quebec at the last election to show that no racial cry ever dominated in that province. The Conservative party in Canada has had a glorious past. The Conservative party of former days was led by men-and I do not wish to be personal to those who are now at the head of that party-but in the past it was led by men who certainly accomplished a great deal for this country. Confederation was brought about through the efforts of Sir George Etienne Cartier, supported as he was by the almost unanimous feeling of the province of Quebec.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE BUDGET.
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Some hon. MEMBERS

Hear, hear.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE BUDGET.
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LIB

Charles Marcil

Liberal

Mr. MARCIL (Bonaventure).

For thirty years the province of Quebec maintained the Conservative party in power, and during these long years was there ever a cry raised that the province of Quebec voted Conservative because Cartier was a Frenchman? Never, Sir, did we hear that. The province of Quebec in those days believed the Conservative party was the political party which could bring about the best understanding in this country, which could develop this young land of ours and lay the foundation of a great nation in the future. The Conservative party in those days had a dual policy. The French Conservative party in Quebec used the church; that is, impressed the people with the idea that it had the support of the church. That was one policy of the Conservative party, and the other part of the Conservative policy was furnished by the friends of the hon. member for West York.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE BUDGET.
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Some hon. MEMBERS

Hear, hear.

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March 21, 1901