April 27, 1909

CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

Has the Prime Minister any information to give in reference to the statement made in the press of the United States, that the State Department of the United States has been unable to ascertain any information as to the position which Canada takes with regard to the Hecate Strait?

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

I do not think the question is at all as represented in the press. I have given instructions that the papers should be collected and they will be brought down as soon as possible.

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HOURS OF LABOUR ON PUBLIC WORKS -ORDER DISCHARGED.

LAB

Alphonse Verville

Labour

Mr. VERVILLE moved:

That Order No. 35 of the Public Bills and

Orders for the second reading of Bill (No. 22) respecting hours of labour on public works, be now called for the purpose of its being discharged from the Order Paper.

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

If the object be to discharge the order there can be no objection.

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CON

Herbert Brown Ames

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. AMES.

Why does the hon. member wish the order discharged ?

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LAB

Alphonse Verville

Labour

Mr. VERVILLE.

I wish the order discharged because its discharge will enable me to bring the matter before the House this session in another form. The question as to the hours of labour on public works is, I consider, of considerable importance at the present time.

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Motion agreed to.


INQUIRY FOR RETURNS.

CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

An order of the House was issued on the 3rd of March (Votes and Proceedings page 297) for a copy of all tenders received for the construction of certain sections of the eastern division of the National Transcontinental Railway, &c., and I call attention to the fact that the order of the House has not been complied with in that the copies of all tenders for contracts have not been included in the return brought down.

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LIB

WAYS AND MEANS-THE BUDGET.


House resumed adjourned debate on the proposed motion of Mr. Fielding that Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair for the



House to go into Committee of the Whole to consider the ways and means for raising the Supply to be granted to His Majesty.


LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald

Liberal

Mr. E. M. MACDONALD (Pictou).

Mr. Speaker, the debate which is now drawing to a close may be said to be the first prolonged budget debate in either the last parliament or in this. We have had expressions of opinion from a great number of hon. members on the condition of the country, and with one or two exceptions where partisanship has produced a tone of pessimism, the House must note with satisfaction that the underlying current of all the addresses has been confidence in the future of our country. I believe, Sir, that the Canadian people as a whole share our feelings of confidence in Canada, and confidence in the men at the head of the government of this country who for twelve years past have given us wise administration with its consequent prosperity, and a splendid start in this first decade of this twentieth century which we all hope and believe is to be Canada's. That feeling of confidence contributed in a large degree towards the people renewing on the twenty-sixth of last October their mandate to the Liberal government to continue in the course which they have been pursuing since they attained power. Beyond all doubt we have had in Canada twelve years of sane, practical business administration; an administration not based upon theory but upon sound practical common sense guided by wise statesmanship. In the first place as a result of that administration, no matter what the depression abroad in other lands, the_ Canadian government while amply providing not only for ordinary expenditure but for laying the foundations for our future progress, has always been able to announce that the finances of the country have shown a balance on the right side of the ledger. Our population has increased year after year in a ratio never before equalled in our history and our manufactures have developed to an unprecedented extent, and the consumer has had no reason to complain of oppression because of the encouragement which the government has been able to give to our industries. During these twelve years we have not followed free trade fads nor protectionists fetishes. In the days when our Conservative friends were in power they claimed that by reason of the protection theory which they attempted to put into practice Canada would be able to pull herself up by the boot legs, and her people would become rich. This government has not hung out any false signals of that kind; it has discarded fads and theories and given to Canada a wise and practical and business-like administration. The hon. member for North Toronto (Mr. Foster) told us that he would plant one or two

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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM.

feathers in the cap of the Minister of Finance (Mr. Fielding), but he must have felt that there were already in the cap of that hon. gentleman one or two feathers which he had the right to wear with distinction; feathers which the hon. gentleman from North Toronto (Mr. Foster) would like to have the title to wear were he himself Minister of Finance, but feathers which the hon. gentleman (Mr. Foster) as a pessimistic developer of deficits in the days when he had charge of our finances was unable to lay any claim to. And so my hon. friend looks askance with envious eyes at the plumes which are so worthily worn by our present minister. The hon. gentleman (Mr. Foster) told us that it was no credit to the Minister of Finance to have a surplus, because anybody could have a surplus by putting up the taxation. Well, in the days when he was Finance Minister though he imposed greater burdens of taxation per capita on the people than the hon. Mr. Fielding ever did, he was unable at any time to so manage the affairs of our country as to have a balance on the right side of the account.

One of the other pessimistic things to which my hon. friend gave utterance, and which justifies us in speaking of him as a little Canadian, was the proposition that the Transcontinental Railway should not be constructed so as to bind the whole of Canada together. He did not wish to see it built from Quebec to Moncton. I say that the man who takes that position is a small Canadian, who talks as if the whole history of this country had been written, and that we had nothing to look forward to-no hopes or aspirations of extension or development to stir the pride and the confidence of this young Canadian nation. The hon. gentleman says that it would be better to have no debt than to have that section of the Transcontinental Railway; that is his position. If that is so, then this whole northern country of Canada is to be left uninhabited, unexplored, untilled. Whatever the people of these original provinces may do in their future history, we in the beginning of this twentieth century are not going to do anything in the way of laying the foundations for that future. All that country is to be a closed book. We are going to build three transcontinental lines through the central and western portions of Canada, and are going to extend branches from them everywhere like arteries; but when we come down to the province of Quebec, to the verge of the little provinces down by the sea, our railway development must stop, and for all time to come, according to this small Canadian who sits on a front bench and sometimes essays to lead the opposition, we are only going to have one line of railway stretching from the provinces

by the sea to the central portions of Canada. No matter what progress or development the central portions of Canada may have, our provinces by the sea are to have no advantage from that, and are to be confined to the single line of railway that has been there since confederation. My hon. friend would willingly go on and spend millions in the building of Dreadnoughts in order to satisfy the aspirations of the constituency which is giving him a resting place for the time being in the province of Ontario; but he would entirely forget the smaller province which gave him birth, and would ostracise and penalize that province, and the others by the sea, by confining them to one line of railway and not permitting them to share in the future development of this country, because forsooth if we go on and prepare for the future we are going to put a little additional debt on the people of this country. Although my hon. friend takes that position, I assume that he does not speak for all the gentlemen who sit behind him. It is but natural that he should be actuated by a spirit of pessimism; but I have sufficient confidence in the Canadianism of a large number of those who sit on the left of the Speaker to believe that they stand with us in favour of preparing in our day for a Canada which shall be properly developed all along the line, feeling that because an Ashburton treaty has to a certain extent ostracised a portion of this Dominion on the east, just as the Rocky Mountains constitute a barrier in the case of our most western province, these barriers shall not be allowed to prevent all portions of Canada from becoming united together as one country stretching from sea to sea. The construction of that railway, so far as the eastern portion of this Dominion is concerned, has in my judgment become an imperative necessity, and I hope that it will pave the way at an early date to the adoption of a policy whereby the imports from the mother country which receive the benefit of the preference shall only be permitted to receive that .benefit when they enter by Canadian ports. Our hon. friends who talk about Canada for Canadians will find in such a policy an easy means of benefiting Canada in her trade relations with other countries without imposing burdens.

We are told that because the debt of this country has increased by $65,000,000 during the last ' twelve years we have reached a terrible condition of affairs. Our hon. friends opposite in eight years increased the debt of this country by $82,000,000, and they never worried about it; and while they were doing it, the population of the country stood still, and the business interests of the country retrograded. Yet we are told that we are on the verge of all kinds of difficulties and that

our credit is impaired, because the people of Canada, having made tremendous expenditures out of ordinary revenue, which have advanced this country along lines which will ensure a full return, have increased their debt to the extent stated. In the interim we have gone on increasing our population until it has almost doubled, and the wealth of our people has increased to an astounding degree. Take, for instance, the deposits in the banks of the country. In 1896, when our friends opposite went out of power, and when they had a debt which, in relation to the population, was more onerous than our debt to-day, the deposits in the banks amounted to only $193,000,000, whereas in 1907 they amounted to $654,000,000, an accretion in that respect alone of over $461,000,000. The assets of the banks have increased $625,000,000. The Dominion savings banks holdings by the people have increased $15,752,000. So that the Canadian people during the past twelve years have increased not only iif population, but in wealth; and we would be recreant to our whole duty to posterity if we did not go on with full confidence in these expenditures which are sure to yield a full return. Although the accretion to the debt took place within the last few years, very largely on account of the construction of the National Transcontinental Railway, we have also been building great public works. We have among other things greaty improved the St. Lawrence ship channel. Our hon. friends opposite claim to be the only people who have done anything in Canada; yet they went out of poweT, after almost a quarter of a century directing the affairs of this country, with the great national port at the foot of our canal system in such a condition that it was absolutely impossible for a vessel to go up and down the St. Lawrence below Montreal after five o'clock in the evening of a summer day. But the man who goes up and down the St. Lawrence to-day sees the splendid development that has gone on there. In that one port there have been returns for the great expenditures which have been made which the business men of this country appreciate to the full, and that is one of the reasons why they stood by the government last October and helped to send them back to power for another four years.

Hon. gentlemen opposite say we have not been getting a return for our expenditure. Is this expenditure in the northern country not to bring any return? These hon. gentlemen are singing the same old song that their friends in Ontario did when they were in opposition and when the Hon. G. W. Ross, Premier of the Ontario government, brought down this proposition to build the Temiskaming Railway, these good old Tories in the local House did then what

their friends are doing now. They said that railway would run through a country where nothing was growing, where nothing would be found, and they opposed its construction to the limit of their ability. Today, however, when splendid returns from that country are coming in, when we find a new mining camp developed there almost every six months, the wisdom of that policy and the justification for the money expended on that undertaking are proved beyond doubt. The development of the clay belt alone in those northern regions, as the result of the policy of the Ross government, will amply vindicate that policy. In the same way, to-day, in Canada, by the construction of a railway through our northern country, we are paving the way for a return, through the development of our great forests in that region and of our mineral wealth, which will compensate us a hundred fold. There is not a man who has any pride in his country and has marked its advancement during the last twelve years, who does not feef in his heart that we would be recreant to posterity if we did not go on manfully and hopefully to open up and develop this great north land of ours.

There is one other thing which has been developed by this debate. I have had the honour of sitting in this House for some five sessions. I have heard my hon. friends outside of this House and have read in Conservative journals something about the united policy of the Conservative party with regard to trade, but I have seen very little illustration of it in this parliament. In fact, I have seen no evidence in this parliament of our friends opposite having any policy at all on the tariff. This debate is another evidence of that fact. Ever since my hon. friend the leader of the opposition developed this theory of his about ' adequate protection '- which nobody, not even his own followers, ever understood, and which the country realizes he never understood himself-no one has attempted, speaking with any degree of authority for the Conservative party, to lay down any proposition regarding the tariff. We have had those gentlemen who claim to be the only people loyal to the mother land and who talk glibly on the platform and elsewhere about the advantages to the empire of a preference between the mother country and her colonies-we have had them telling us that the woollen industry was being ruined by the British preference.

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CON
LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald

Liberal

Mr. E. M. MACDONALD.

I suppose my hon. friend from Lanark (Mr. Thoburn) would vote against the preference and would like to see it abolished. He gives a sign of assent. I knew he would be more frank than some of his friends who sit aTound him, who would like to see it abolished but will not venture to get up and say so.

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LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald

Liberal

Mr. E. M. MACDONALD.

Then I was amused by my hon. friend from South Cape Breton (Mr. Maddin) last night. He gave us a picture of the grand old Conservative chieftain standing down at Sydney in 1878 and predicting that a great steel industry would grow up there, and he told us that the hon. gentleman (Mr. Foster), when he was Finance Minister brought down a proposition to establish steel bounties so as to encourage this steel industry. That is a fair sample of the way my hon. friends opposite argue. There is a steel industry down in Sydney. In fact there are two. But the iron ore which forms the basis of the development of that industry was discovered in Newfoundland some fifteen years after Sir Ghas. Tupper had made the prediction which my hon. friend so glowingly described. And the company which was incorporated for the. purpose of carrying on the 'business of malting iron and steel was incorporated since this government came into power, and I had the honour of supporting the measure to incorporate it in the local legislature in 1898, two years after these hon. gentlemen opposite had been removed from office. I know that it is the fashion of some hon. gentlemen opposite to forget the great career of Sir Chas. Tupper, the once militant leader of the Conservative party in this country. I know that his name is not a popular one with the Conservative party in certain portions of Canada, and I am quite well aware that his distinguished son,^ who was to have been an opponent of mine in the last contest in Pictou, is not persona grata with all these hon. gentlemen. But I do not suppose that it was on that account we had man after man on the other side standing up here and declaiming against these frightful steel bounties. One of them went into close figuring to show that every man, woman and child in his riding in Ontario was having a debt placed upon him for all time to come on account of this nefarious proposition of the Liberal government to grant steel bounties. Yet there aTe some gentlemen who run away with the idea that the party oppoite stands for assistance to the steel industry. It does not stand for anything. It hardly knows what it does stand for. One minute my hon. friends opposite will laud the national policy, and the next they almost unanimously vote in favour of a reduction of the duty on agricultural implements. I remember a staunch old Conservative from my province who said in this House some years ago, when the hon. gentlemen were in power: 'If you remove one brick in the structure of the national policy, the whole fabric will fall to pieces.' Well, the Conservative party made no scruples of removing any number of bricks and stones from the edifice and are going o* doing the same to-day.

My hon. friend from Lambton (Mr. Arm-

strong) wants to have a lower tariff on German goods. He is continually attacking our genial Minister of Customs (Mr. Paterson) because our tariff is so hard on the Germans. Yesterday we had a return of that attack. He wanted to lower the tariff so that we may buy German goods. Is not that a strange story for a man to tell us who glories in the virtue of high protection ? Then adequate protection was the latest pronouncement. That pronouncement never had any tangible meaning, and has ceased to have any significance, and for five years our hon. friends opposite have been wandering in the wilderness, waiting for a Moses to come along, who, with some divining rod, would strike the water and produce some magic shibboleth with which they might gull the public. Let me recall the fact that while these hon/ gentlemen have been laying down theories here and there about what their tariff policy would be if they were in office, they have never ventured to lay down any general policy in opposition. They have never ventured to submit an amendment, declaring for any system different from that advocated by the Finance Minister (Mr. Fielding). No alternative proposal of a general character to the tariff policy of the government has been made by my hon. friends opposite during the past six years. Of course, once in a while one of them gets up and wants to reduce the duties on agricultural implements, another inveighs against the steel bounties, while others, like my hon. friend from North Lanark (Mr. Thoburn) want a higher duty on woollens. And so the inconsistency goes on, with the result that this government, among the satisfactory things on which it can congratulate itself, have the fact that, after twelve years directing th* affairs of this country, it has a tariff policy which its opponents in this House do not venture to question in general principles, against which they have never moved any amendment, and in regard to which they have never set up any alternative proposition

When my hon. friend from Cape Breton (Mr. Maddin), who spoke last night, went on to discuss what is popularly known as the coal question. T was somewhat curious as to his position. I have heard that my hon. friend had been regarded as a humorist at least at one period of his career in his addresses in election campaigns; and, though I have never heard him discuss questions on the stump, I am satisfied that he has more than lived up to any reputation that be had in that regard in his utterances on the coal duties and coal business in this House last night. His utterances will be regarded with amusement by every intelligent miner and evervbodv connected with the coal industry in the province of Nova Scotia. The hon. gentleman reached the summit of

temerity and audacity in his discussion of this question. When I heard him, I wondered if I could believe my ears, and now that I find his words in cold print I almost wonder whether I can believe my eyes. This is what he said:

I cannot allow the opportunity to go by without pointing out that the condition of the miner of Nova Scotia is to-day not as good as it was previous to 1896, notwithstanding that the men are now abie tx>

work for twelve months in the year.

That is a very curious statement. Previous to 1896, hon. members opposite were accustomed to claim that they were the sole and only friends of the coal industry of this country, and that if the Liberals ever got into power, such determined foes were they of everything connected with coal that the coal mines would be destroyed and the industry rooted out. And my hon. friend (Mr. Maddin) paid me the compliment of reading certain telegrams that passed between my leader and myself in 1896 and some further utterances made by myself a couple of years afterwards in the provincial legislature. It is not always in these changing times in Canada, that a public man can say of an utterance of his made twelve years previously that he stands bv that utterance absolutely. I myself enjoy that satisfaction in regard to the language my hon. friend has quoted as having been uttered by me in the legislature of 1898.

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April 27, 1909