April 28, 1903

OFFICIAL REPORT OF DEBATES.

LIB

Louis Napoléon Champagne

Liberal

Mr. L. N. CHAMPAGNE (Wright) moved:

That the fourth report of the Select Standing Committee appointed to supervise the official report of the debates in this House during the present session which recommends the appointment of L6on GSrin to fill the vacancy on the staff of translators of the debates ; also, the payment of Sylva Clapin, for services rendered in connection with the translation of the debates be adopted.

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Motion agreed to.


FIRST READINGS.


Bill (No. 129) respecting the Crown Bank of Canada.-Mr. Guthrie. Bill (No. 130) to amend the Fruit Marks Act, 1901.-Mr. Henderson.


REPORT PRESENTED.


Report of the Experimental farms for tlie year 1902-Hon. Mr. Fielding.


WAYS AND MEANS-THE BUDGET.


House resumed adjourned debate on the proposed motion of the Minister of Finance : 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

William Scott Maclaren

Liberal

Mr. W. S. MACLAREN (Huntingdon).

Mr. Speaker. On account of the agitation which has been going on throughout the Dominion, particularly during the past year, with reference to the tariff question, I think it is the duty of every member of this House to place himself on record as to what he considers is the best fiscal policy for this country. There are certain deterent influences, Sir, which might prevent a person not much accustomed to public speaking from addressing this House at this time. I mentioned last year, and the same thing applies this year, that one very deterent influence especially for young members, is the lack of attention which is paid to speeches i in this House, and the very few members who remain in the Chamber while the debate Is going on. There is another influence which may perhaps deter some members from speaking much in this House of Commons. It is this. If the mathematical calculation of our friend from West Elgin (Mr. Robinson) is correct, the expense of running this House is $28 a minute, and some of us may be afraid to score up a very large bill against the Dominion, for fear our electors may call us to account for it when we return home. For instance, the hon. member for Pictou (Mr. Bell) who closed the debate last evening ran up a bill of $3,380, if the calculation of the hon. member for Elgin is correct. Some of us may have some doubt as to whether the speech was worth it or not, but that is a matter for the hon. member to settle with his constituents.

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LIB
LIB

William Scott Maclaren

Liberal

Mr. MACLAREN (Huntingdon).

I have not had sufficient time at my disposal to figure up his account.

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LIB
LIB

William Scott Maclaren

Liberal

Mr. MACLAREN (Huntingdon).

This debate lins gone on for several days and some twenty members have spoken. Some of them have done what I intend to do before I sit down, namely, to give my own views regarding the best fiscal policy for this country, but in the case of a great many of them it would be very hard to ascertain just what their views were. I am free to admit that

every member of this House must be to a certain extent influenced, it may be imperceptibly, by the environment in which be is placed. I do not mean by this that I think it is the duty of every member to try and square himself with his constituents, although probably there may be a temptation to do that. It is my idea, but of course I may be wrong, that one of the objects which a great many members of this House must have in speaking at such length as they do, is in order to get their speeches down on ' Hansard ' and circulated through the country and in their constituencies. Apart from that I cannot see very much use in a great many of these speeches which are delivered, probably late in the evening, when there is barely a quorum present, and when those who are present pay little attention to what is being said. What I have said with regard to the environment off members, is based upon the fact that I live in a purely agricultural community. We have not in the county of Huntingdon any manufactures of any importance; not more than would supply the local demands. Our farmers are principally engaged in dairying and pork raising which is a by-product of dairying. Our farmers are to a large extent free traders, or low tariff men at all events. The principle products of the county of Huntingdon are butter and cheese the price of which is fixed by the market in England, and I suppose the same rule would to a large extent apply to our product of pork and hams. The trouble with our people, as with a great many agricultural people is, to know where the compensation comes to them for the increased price they have to pay for manufactured goods by reason of a high tariff. I came to this parliament with my own idea as to what was the best tariff for this country, and that idea was that a low tariff fills the bill. You may call it a revenue tariff or whatever you please, but at all events I am decidedly against any increase in the tariff, and so arc a great many people throughout Canada.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS

Hear, hear.

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LIB

William Scott Maclaren

Liberal

Mr. MACLAREN (Huntingdon).

My feeling is that we should try to legislate for the masses rather than for the classes. As I have said I came here with my own idea as to the best fiscal policy for the country, and I suppose every member of the House has come here with his mind made up on that question to a greater or lesser extent. But while that is true, I came here also with an open mind ready to be convinced and ready to change my views if the arguments brought forth should lead me to believe that my own ideas were wrong. I must say that so far that I have not changed my mind, but that I have continued to believe that the best policy for this country is a low tariff, or what may be called a revenue tariff. Another thing is that I came

liere a new member; one who probably had not taken that interest In these public matters which he ought to have taken. My principle business in connection with political matters heretofore was simply an anxiety to see that the man of our choice was elected and we generally succeeded in doing that.

Some lion. MEMBERS. Hear, hear.

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LIB

William Scott Maclaren

Liberal

Mr. MACLAREN (Huntingdon).

The word 1 statesman ' is bandied about here, but I must confess that I yet do not know exactly what it means. Some people have a different idea of as to what a statesman is or ought to be, from others, but be that as it may, my opinion is that for a person to make a success in public life it is necessary for him to come here in early life. As the saying is, he ought be caught young. I am afraid that quite a number of members of this House came here when it can hardly be expected that they would be in a position to qualify as statesmen.

I consider, Sir, that the agriculturists of this country have their rights; so does everybody. But, one difficulty in connection with the agriculturists asserting their right is that the manufacturers are organized and they are not. That is no reflection on this government because it would equally apply to all governments, and the fact remains that those people who can bring their views most directly before any government are most likely to get their grievances redressed, or, to get what they want. It is natural to expect that. If you see a particularly well dressed, well groomed, well fed body of men about the Russell House or around the corridors here, and you ask who thev are, in nine cases out of ten you will be told that they are the representatives of the Manufacturers' Association or some kindred organization of that kind, who have come here to place their views before the government, and to try to worry the government into granting their requests. I might say .iust here, that before I came to parliament I never had as much sympathy with the ministers of the Crown as I have had since. I think that they are a much abused lot of men. I think that they have to stand a great deal, and it does make my blood boil when I hear some of the members of the opposition taunting them for the salaries they receive, and for drawing salaries for doing nothing. Why, Sir, I believe that if the ministers were paid according to the annoyance they have to put up with, they would get double their present salaries. Now, Mr. Speaker, the farmers are in an altogether different position from the manufacturers with regard to placing their views before the government. I have not had much to do with manufacturing interests myself, but judging from appearances the manufacturers are pretty well off. The farmers are different. The farmer cannot come to Ottawa to state his case. He has Mr. MACLAREN (Huntingdon).

got to stay at home looking pretty closely after his farm and his stock in order to make ends meet, and there is not much junketing around for him in special cars to come here to interview the government. In that way the manufacturers have a great advantage over the farmers, and seem to get favours which the farmers and the great consuming classes consider are inimical to their best interests. The Manufacturers' Association we have heard so much about appears to be a wonderful combination. Wonderful resolutions they passed at their meeting at Halifax. They were so wonderful that even the Tory ' Gazette ' of Montreal spoke about them adding hypocrisy to folly. These men are organized, and they are in a better position to bring their views before the government than the farmers and the great purchasing classes.

Since I have come to this House, I have heard a great 'many figures and statements quoted to show the condition of the country. I do not take much stock in these things, because it appears to me that the same figures are quoted on both sides to support different arguments. I would rather be guided by my own experience and observation in a matter of this kind. I know that so far as my own county and the adjoining counties are concerned, there is no question about the prosperity of the country. Everybody admits it. Eight or ten years ago the farmers had mortgages on their farms, and were paying 6 or 8 per cent interest on them. These are all wiped out now, the farmers are able to get money at 4 or 4J per cent to pay them off, and the men who a few years ago had to borrow money, have now money to lend. I would rather judge of the prosperity of the country from my knowledge of such facts than from all these statistics.

The hon. gentleman (Mr. Bell) who spoke last night, was figuring up what it cost per family and per head to pay the annual revenue received by the government, and he, very pessimistically, I think, came to the conclusion that if the present state of things continued very much longer, the hard times would return, and the people would be in want just as they were when our hon. friends opposite were in power. I know that at present the people have enough to pay their way, and something left over. The deposits in our savings banks and other banks are increasing greatly, which is a sure evidence that the country is prosperous.

What I am going to speak of may be considered ancient history ; but hon. gentlemen in the opposition have been going so far back that I think I have a right to follow suit. Our hon. friends opposite are in a kind of dilemma. When the present tariff was brought in by the hon. Minister of Finance, we all remember the howl that went up from the Conservatives, that it was going to ruin the country. They claimed, as they have always done, to be a highly

protective party. In 1878, when the national policy was introduced, they prophesied that it was going to do many wonderful things which it did not do, and they Intimated that if they got into power again they would reintroduce the national policy, and give the country that prosperity which they failed to give when they were in power. You remember how they promised that industries would spring up all over the country, and that population would flow in and occupy the vacant lands of the North-west, and the farmers would have a fine time raising food to supply the millions who were to work these industrial establishments. We were in fact going to have something approaching the millenium. Such did not turn out to be the case, however. In the census of 1891 there was a great deal of padding in regard to the number of industrial establishments in the country. Some of the padding was done in my own county. Eighteen or twenty squaws who were engaged in making baskets in their cabins were put down as so many industrial establishments. A woman working at a hand-loom in her home, was put down as another industrial establishment. The cobblers working at their benches were enumerated in the same way. But notwithstanding all that padding, the Conservative party failed to show the results which they had promised to bring about under the influence of the beneficent national policy. Now they are obliged to admit that under the tariff policy of this government, the country has not gone to ruin, as they prophesied it would. I will not say they are sorry for that ; I think they are glad that the country is prosperous, though they do not like to admit it. But it is remarkable what a different tone they take now from what they did in 1897, when this tariff was introduced. You remember what a doleful story was told about the ruinous state of things that would ensue under this tariff, and how it was to do away to a certain extent with the beneficent results of the national policy. What is the fact ? Listen to this from a speech by one high in the ranks opposite, our lion, friend opposite :

Now what is the result. The result is that this tariff goes into operation and the hon. gentlemen know that the industries of this country are already paralyzed in consequence, while hon. gentlemen gloat, vindictively gloat over the destruction of Canadian industries. I was reading the wail, the sorrowful wail in the Montreal ' Gazette,' where one manufacturer after another declared that their industries were ruined, that their mills must close, and that they saw staring them in the face, a return to the deplorable state of things that existed when the hon. gentleman who last addressed the House was in charge of the fiscal policy of the country. I say that a deeper wrong was never inflicted on Canada.

I fancy it is not necessary for me to give the name of the speaker. The older members of the House will recognize, from the

strong language, who be was. The same speaker made another statement as to what was to happen ; but he was not wholly disheartened. He saw that some good was likely to come out of all this wreck and ruin; but he felt that the new policy would so dishearten and disgust the people of Canada that they would soon turn out the Liberal party, and return the Conservatives to power. Here Is what he said :

I feel that far from rejoicing at it, from a party standpoint, I deplore from the bottom of my heart the ruin that is going to be inflicted upon the best interests of Canada and upon its great industries. Still I hesitatingly say that from a party point of view they are doing our work, they are showing the people of this country that having obtained power, which was all they worked for, they are now prepared to use that power at the cost of the sacrifice of the industries of Canada.

This was very pathetic and very magnanimous on the part of the speaker. How his heart must have bled for poor Canada. Even the thought that the tariff as framed by the party in power was going to drive the Liberals from power and was going to be the means of placing himself and his friends once more on the treasury benches, was not sufficient to assuage the grief he felt as he thought of the battered and bruised condition in which his beloved Canada was to be left if the fiscal policy as set forth by the party in power became law. The sweets of office were nothing to him compared to the grief he felt that all these magnificent industries which had arisen all over the land under the fostering care of the national policy, were, by the iniquitous tariff now introduced, to be blighted and scattered. We had the same kind of attack on the tariff from the ex-Minister of Finance, Mr. Foster. He went more into particulars. He foresaw, with the keen sight of a seer, the complete destruction of the woollen industry, that the Canadians were to he driven out of the confectionery business, and that there was to be complete and wholesale desolation in the homes of the makers of shirts, collars and cuffs. This is what he said :

I can take Mm (Mr. Davies) down to the French constituencies in and around Montreal, and I can show him one of the most widely spread industries you will find in Canada, which is to-day distributed among hundreds and thousands of habitants, homes where the women add to the daily fare, and keep their homes by working on these articles at a moderate rate. I say that with simply an ad valorem duty that business will go to Troy or to Germany and Belgium, or to England. No person in this country feels the impost added to the cost of his shirt and collars compared at all with the derangement and destruction of an industry which goes into the homes of hundreds and thousands of people in the rural districts around the cities and villages of this country.

It seems to be a favourite pastime of some speakers to set up a man of straw in order that they may have the plensure of

knocking him down again. Tlie same speaker made a further prophecy with regard to the woollen industry.

Why should they Imperil the great and widely distributed woollen industries of this country which are spread from British Columbia to Cape Breton. My firm belief is that with five cents a pound off and only 35 per cent left on we may bid adieu to the greater part of the widely distributed woollen industry of this country.

I could keep you almost any length of time with quotations of that kind, showing you the opinions of the Conservatives of that day regarding the effects which this amended tariff would have on the destinies of the country. These are not the opinions of the rank and file of the Conservative party-that is if there be any rank and file- but of previous leaders of the Conservative party ? These are the words of Sir Charles Tapper and the hon. Mr. Foster, ex-Finance Minister, the acknowledged leader of the Conservative party. Both of these hon. gentlemen predicted that ruin and desolation were certain to come upon Canada if the Liberal party persisted in enforcing that tariff. But what positon do our hon. friends opposite take now ? The tariff in existence to-day is practically that which came into force in 1897. The same tariff which was introduced in 1897 has practically been continued down to the present day, and is the tariff which was so fiercely denounced by the Conservative party and its leaders. Has all this desolation, has all this ruin, so freely predicted, come upon the country. Why, Mr. Speaker, no one can deny that the country is prosperous. Our hon. friends opposite have to admit our prosperity, but they strive to account for it as being due to causes completely beyond the control of the government. Well, Sir, X am not one of those who say that our prosperity is due wholly to the policy of any one government. I do not think that any body on this side takes that position. I have certainly not heard any statement of the kind made in the House. But while we acknowledge that the prosperity of the country is due, in a large measure, to other causes, we also claim that there is something due to the policy and administration of the government. The fact remains at any rate, that the Liberal party are in power and that the country is prosperous, and surely the government is entitled to some credit for that condition of affairs, just as the government would be held responsible for an opposite condition. There is no lack of precedents for coming to this conclusion. Some of the older members in this House will remember the position taken by the Conservative party during the regime of the Mackenzie administration. They charged against the government all the hard times then prevailing. I cannot personally vouch for the fact, but, according to the tradition which has come down to us, they even held the Liberal government Mr. MACLAREN (Huntingdon).

of that day responsible for the plague of grass hoppers and the entrance into Canada of the potato bug. Surely then the Liberal government now in power is entitled to some credit for the prosperity we are now enjoying. In what way have they contributed to that prosperity ? They have contributed to it, Sir, by the lowering of the tariff, by the active work they have done in connection with transportation, and the good work they have done in connection with agriculture. Our agriculturists have certainly benefited to a considerable extent by the cold storage system. Of course, hon. gentlemen opposite say that that system was introduced by our predecessors, but even if it were no one can deny that it has certainly been enlarged and perfected under the administration of the present Minister of Agriculture (Hon. Mr. Fisher). It would be difficult indeed to over estimate these advantages our agricultural community at large derive from that system which enables them to put their products on the British market in perfect condition. At any rate we cannot fail to admit that the Liberals now in power, are entitled to at least as much credit for the prosperity we are enjoying as the Conservatives claim was due to themselves for the much lesser share of prosperity which prevailed during their administration. That our country is prosperous is evident by the better condition of the people, by the large increases in bank deposits, by the paying off of debts and by the general satisfaction and contentment displayed on every side. There is an old saying of that wise man, the late President Abe Lincoln, concerning the folly of swapping horses when crossing a stream, and I think that saying is particularly applicable at the present moment. It would certainly be a bad time for the country to change its fiscal policy when the country is so prosperous under conditions that now exist. These hon. gentlemen opposite are playing the pessimistic role of croakers. They are continually predicting hard times and telling us that we ought to prepare for them by reducing our expenditure. Well, some of my constituents think that the present government are too lavish in their expenditure. I myself would like to see the expenditure curtailed in some respects. However, the main thing to consider is are the expenditures made on necessary works, and do the government get good value for amount expended. In one word, Mr. Speaker, I consider the policy of this government should be to as far as possible make Canada a cheap place to live in. There is a large immigration flocking into the country ; we need more. What we want is population to occupy the vacant lands of the North-west and other parts of Canada. These immigrants are mostly persons in very straitened circumstances, and should .be able to get their implements, clothing and other manufactured articles at the lowest possible price.

It is not my intention, Mr. Speaker, to take up very muck more of your time because I have always present to my mind that mathematical calculation of my kon. friend from West Elgin (Mr. Robinson), and if I speak muck longer there will surely be a very serious charge of wasting the public money rolled up against me. But there is one other word I wish to say. A great deal has been said by hon. members opposite during the session, more particularly by the hon. member from East Grey against hon. gentlemen on the treasury benches. He said that they were nothing but procasti-nators, and that they had not performed one statesmanlike act during their whole administration.

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CON
LIB

William Scott Maclaren

Liberal

Mr. MACLAREN (Huntingdon).

Well, Mr. Speaker, if my hon. friend be correct in his estimate, we on this side of the House must be a poor deluded lot, far inferior to that hon. geittleman and to those who share his views. Have we really been deluded all these years in believing that we have a business administration at the head of affairs ? According to that hon. gentleman we have, but we enjoy this one consolation that we are superior in numbers, and I think, to put it mildly, equal in intelligence to himself and his friends. We have believed during all these years that we have had our country's affairs administered by the best men the country could afford. I am not saying this for the purpose of flattering hon. gentlemen on the treasury benches, but simply in vindication of myself and hon. members on this side. Is it possible that when, after the election of 1S96, the right hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier chose the members of his administration he blundered and was utterly mistaken in his choice when, in forming his cabinet, he associated with himself men who made their mark in local and Dominion politics ? And when these men, in after jmars, appealed to the country on their record and when they were approved by a large majority, I do not believe that the people were misled or deluded. I believe, on the contrary, that the estimate put by the people on these men is the correct one and not the estimate of these hon. gentlemen who sit on the other side and who speak disparagingly of those who are their superiors. I believe in praising the present government for what they have done. I believe in expressing my high opinion of the abilities of those men who have held their own with the best British and colonial statesmen and the best statesmen of the United States. Such men can well afford to be sneered at by crude and unsuccessful politicians, and we delight to honour them notwithstanding the disparaging remarks of that illustrious statesman from East Grey (Mr. Sproule) and the sneers of other hon. gentlemen opposite.

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April 28, 1903