June 11, 1919

?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

Topic:   THE BUDGET.
Permalink
UNION

James Alexander Calder (Minister of Immigration and Colonization)

Unionist

Mr. CALDER:

Do not be too sure, my friends. The task of carrying on Government in this country and the responsibilities that are thrown upon public men are not so alluring as some hon. gentlemen opposite seem to think. I say that if these resignations did take place there would immediately be a political crisis in this country, and one thing, and one thing only could happen-either the Prime Minister would have to appeal to the country or he would have to advise the Governor General to call upon my hon. friend who leads the Opposition (Mr. McKenzie) to form a government.

Topic:   THE BUDGET.
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   THE BUDGET.
Permalink
UNION

James Alexander Calder (Minister of Immigration and Colonization)

Unionist

Mr. CALDER:

Well, I will ask in all

seriousness: is that the will of Parliament, and is it the wish of the people of this country?

Topic:   THE BUDGET.
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Yes.

Topic:   THE BUDGET.
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

No.

Topic:   THE BUDGET.
Permalink
UNION

James Alexander Calder (Minister of Immigration and Colonization)

Unionist

Mr. CALDER:

Is that the wish of the

members of this House who are inclined to .criticise and vote against the Budget proposals? I think I am putting the situation squarely and fairly before the House. As I stated earlier, the real question at issue that underlies the situation that we have at present is as to whether or not this Parliament is desirous that this Government should continue in office and carry on?

As I see the situation in Canada and as I see it right in this House, I am impelled to say that the people of Canada to-day are demanding sacrifices just as much as they did in the days of the war. They are demanding sacrifice on the part of public men in this country-sacrifice, not of principle but of self-and I am afraid that there are some people who are thinking rather of self at this time than of the public interest. There are some who are thinking of nominations that may be in sight a year or two from now, or are imbued with fears of votes that they may possibly lose a year or two hence unless a certain course of action is taken by them. I repeat again-for it is worthy of repetition-that in view of the conditions existing in this country at the present time, what Canada needs is men with a high sense of public responsibility.

Canada's paramount need is men who will forget themselves for the time being and do what they think is right in the interests of the country as a whole.

So far as I am concerned, Mr. Speaker, I would have been perfectly satisfied if the tariff had not been touched at all this session. The Minister of Finance (Sir Thomas White) has, very truthfully said, that this is a war year. True, we may not be fighting, but all conditions existing in this country and in the world over are such that we can rightly consider the present to be a war year. Our financing is just as difficult, and the problems which this Government and the governments of all countries have on their hands at this time are just as difficult, and in some respects more difficult, than during the last year or two of actual war.

I intend to support the Budget because I believe that its proposals are in the right direction. When it was decided to

5 p.m. make changes, I was naturally anxious that these changes should

be, as far as possible, in the interests of both consumers and producers, and that has been accomplished. It is not necessary for me to go into details. The Budget proposals have been placed before the House, and I dare say before the debate is concluded these details will be considered and discussed from every angle. I shall not, therefore, take up the time of the House in dealing with them.

There is, however, one phase of the situation in Canada to which I wish to refer very briefly, and I referred to it in the early part of the session in the debate on the Address

that is, the very serious cleavage that exists at present between Eastern Canada and Western Canada. As I said before, the people of Canada cannot afford to close their eyes to this situation, because it is a serious one, and it is apt to become more serious the longer it continues to exist. There is no doubt at all as to what the great body of public opinion in the West is-an opinion that is shared in by Conservatives and Liberals alike. The people of the West believe, sincerely, I have no doubt-and they are practically unanimous in the opinion-that they are bearing an unjust burden of tariff taxation from which they must obtain relief, and no amount of talk in this Chamber is going to ease the situation in this respect.

I have lived in the West for about thirty-seven years. I have grown up in and I have lived in all three provinces at different times, and I think I know the people as well as any member in this House knows them. I have been in public life something like fifteen years, and just as sure as we are in this Chamber to-day this problem to which I have made reference is going to continue to agitate the people of Canada until some solution is found. What is the possible solution? We have extremes on this question on both sides. People living in Eastern Canada doubtless think that the people of the West are unduly extreme on the subject, and that may be so. On the other hand, is there not a possibility that the people in Eastern Canada, Liberals and Conservatives alike, are extreme in their view? I say Liberals and Conservatives alike, because if there is one thing I have learned since coming to Ottawa, where I have now been a year and-a-half, it is that the high protection view prevails not only in the old Tory party of the East, but that It has its roots right in the Liberalism of the East as well. There is no doubt about that. I have discovered it, and discovered it in no uncertain way.

IMr. Calder.]

Now, I believe that in the interests of the whole of Canada, in the interests of unity, and national development, it is absolutely necessary that whatever Government may happen to be in power in the course of the next year, or itwo or three years, should take hold of this question and endeavour to solve it in some way or other. Again I ask, what is the solution? It seems to me there can be only one. When an impasse of this kind is reached there surely should be some middle course that might be taken. Where you have two great bodies of public opinion, each trying to force its will upon the rest of the public, the situation is very dangerous and in the interests of the State it should be remedied if at all possible. I repeat that this question will continue and must be solved, and whatever Government is in office in Ottawa must take cognizance of it and endeavour to devise some means of solving the difficulty. The agitation has grown in the West until it has permeated every part of the body politic out there; and while I do not wish to be considered an alarmist, I must say that there is a possibility that if this condition continues to develop, the very foundations of Confederation itself may be shaken if a solution is not reached. I have really spoken longer than I intended to, (Mr. Speaker. In conclusion I would say-

Topic:   THE BUDGET.
Permalink
UNION

Samuel Hughes

Unionist

Sir SAM HUGHES:

May I ask the hon. member a question? Did he ever hear any defence of a protectionist policy in the West? Has it not been as much as a man's life was worth to admit in the western provinces that he was a protectionist?

Mr. GAfLDER: Yes, we have fought

a good many fights out there, and they were all on that issue, and one party was on the one side and the other party on the other side. So that the question has been very fully discussed. But it seems to me that there is just a possibility that the amount of educational work carried on there has not been such as might be commendable to those who favour strong protection ideas.

In conclusion-because I must not keep the House any longer for, as I said at the outset, there is no necessity for long debate at this time-!l would say that I merely desired to explain to the House the reasons why I purpose to support.the proposals which were submitted by the Finance Minister, and I trust that I have succeeded in making my position perfectly clear. I understand exactly where I stand and I know well why I stand there, and I am sure that as regards my own people

at home, there will be no misunderstanding on their part.

Topic:   THE BUDGET.
Permalink
L LIB

Emmanuel Berchmans Devlin

Laurier Liberal

Mr. E. B. DEVLIN (Wright):

Mr. Speaker, as Canada is passing through a severe crisis, we find discontent, unrest, strikes, high cost of living and dissatisfaction through 'the land. I take it that it is incumbent upon every man in this House at the present time, not to play what has been styled by gentlemen who have spoken before me, the game of politics, but to give all matters as they face this Parliament that earnest consideration which, as members of this House responsible to the people of the country, they owe to them and which the people expect from us.

It is customary, I know, to make some allusion to the speaker who has preceded me. It was not my intention to refer to any particular member, because the question is too grave a one, too big a one, to stop at persons. I would have liked to have added a word of praise to the hon. the ex-Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Crerar) who spoke a few moments ago, with regard to the enlightened address which he gave to this House. I am sure that both sides of the House, whether all share his opinions, or do not, were very much impressed by the earnest and careful manner in which he delivered his speech and by the earnest and careful study which he had given to the subject. There was a great deal of meat in that speech and I could for one have remained seated and said: "He has expressed practically my views."

But the hon. gentleman who immediately preceded me, 'the Minister of Immigration and Colonization (Mr. Calder), gave some remarkable thoughts to this House. May I thank the hon. member for his statement that he is to remain in the Cabinet? I think that Canada was greatly concerned just as to the position the hon. minister would take. There was a rumour abroad for some considerable time that the Minister of Immigration and Colonization might resign his seat in the Cabinet. There was unrest in the land. Some attributed the difficulties in the West to the fact that the Minister of Immigration had not yet spoken. But to-day he assured us that he would not do like the ex-Minister of Agriculture-follow his convictions. Whilst not surprising many members of this House, we as Canadians must feel that, according to his own reasoning and his own intelligence, he is doing well to go against his convictions in order, as he stated, that a greater calamity might not befall the Canadian people.

Sir, he said that he was not going to commit himself to the principle of the tariff, that the time was not now when he should be called upon to do so. The onlooker might reasonably ask: " What is the House discussing; is it discussing the tariff or is it not; is the minister in favour of the tariff or is he not?" He said that if he followed the position taken by the ex-Minister of Agriculture, went out and proclaimed that he has lower tariff convictions, he would be following the proper trend of opinion and he could really make a hero of himself. We thank him upon this side of the House for not having made a hero of himself and foi having had the courage to go against the popular trend of opinion. But in that statement there was also a note of warning to the Government. He went further than that. He informed us that the hon. the President of the Privy Council (Mr. Rowell) was very seriously considering whether he would not give up or whether he would remain in. Mr. Speaker, again I say I do not want to stop at personalities but rather to consider principles. Let me assure the ^President of the Council and other hon. gentlemen of the Cabinet and hon. gentlemen who joined the Union Government, and who left it-I presume upon principle-'that this country is not particularly concerned whether they remain in the Cabinet or go out of it. What the country is concerned about is courageous action at a moment when it is passing through a severe crisis. Their little domestic difficulties, their quarrels may be great unto themselves, but as far as the people are concerned, they one and all ask " what ha.s that to do with Canada; what has that to do with unrest in Canada; what has that to do with the increasing cost of living in Canada?"

I listened with particular interest to what the ex-Minister of Agriculture had to say as to the increasing cost of living. We all have our theories. For the last few days-I do not want to make any reference to the evidence because it has not come down to this House-we have been sitting in a committee and we have had different views expressed by different men, all earnest in their own idea of bringing down the cost of living. Some who favoured high protection said that if they lived in England they would be radical free traders, but one and all were intent upon helping Canada in the effort to reduce the high cost of living.

Many causes contribute to the high cost of living. The question of labour is paramount and the moment you touch labour

you immediately touch foodstuffs, clothing, the boots the men wear and sundry other things until you get to the production of the soil where you come again to the question of the cost of labour, the scarcity of labour, and you may go on until you get into ten vicious circles. But everywhere from near and from far, from east and from west, comes the cry, Sir, that this Government, composed as it is to-day, or composed as it was immediately after the last election, have not been earnest in their endeavours to co-ordinate the resources of this country, have not been earnest in their efforts to so fix taxation that it may bear equally upon the shoulders of all in proportion to the wealth of each individual in this country.

Sir, we have had to-day a statement of the ex-Minister of Agriculture, and therein he follows what I may be permitted to style the idea that that which contributes most to the high cost of living is to be found in a high tariff or in a protective tariff. If you put an artificial price, whether it be for the Government or for the manufacturer, upon the cost of the necessaries of life, it follows that you enhance those necessaries to the extent of the artificial price, 'profit, tax, or tariff so placed. Protection was adopted in this country at a time when, perhaps, there was a certain amount of unrest, but it was not believed in as a principle by the men who advocated its adoption. Those of my hon. friends opposite who have done me the signal honour of remaining in the chamber and listening to my remarks, and who are of the Conservative party, will remember quite well that Sir John Macdonald was not a believer in the principle of protection; he never held that belief at any time. Who were the believers in protection? They were the trusts, combines and corporations of this country. Who are the believers in the principle of protection to-day? Are they the people of Canada? Will the Minister of Immigration and Colonization (Hon. Mr. Qalder) say that the people whom he represents are in favour of that principle? No Sir. Will the members from any section of this country say that the people whom they represent are in favour of the principle of protection? No, Sir. The men who represent the trusts, the combines and the corporations in Canada are the men who favour the principle of. protection, and those men are to be found sitting in the Cabinet today and endeavouring to make the people believe that they are bringing down the high cost of living.

.

Topic:   THE BUDGET.
Permalink
UNION

Hugh Boulton Morphy

Unionist

Mr. MORPHY:

How does the hon. gentleman characterize his own leader in this connection?

Topic:   THE BUDGET.
Permalink
L LIB
UNION
L LIB

Emmanuel Berchmans Devlin

Laurier Liberal

Mr. DEVLIN:

The leader of the Opposition is quite capable of answering and speaking for himself.

Topic:   THE BUDGET.
Permalink
UNION
L LIB

Emmanuel Berchmans Devlin

Laurier Liberal

Mr. DEVLIN:

Yes, I understand that, but let me say that the parliamentary leader of this party does not require any advocate to speak for him; I will pay him the compliment of saying that. I would advise my hon. friend to ask the leader that question when he has the opportunity of doing so.

In order that I may prove my statement that Sir John Macdonald did not believe in the principle of protection, I want to refer to Mr. G. R. Parkin's book on Sir John A. Macdonald which forms one of the well known series "The Makers of Canada." I will quote what is there to be found on the subject.

Some of his supporters were impatient with his deliberation. "Sir John was timid unto death of protection, had to be bullied into it, led into it, committed to it by others. But when he thought it grown, he used it as a bridge to reach the power he liked to wield."

Well, and I do not say it in any sense derogatory of Sir John Macdonald, there are policies that have been adopted by the Cabinet at the present time. There are members of that Cabinet who do not like those policies, but they use them for the power they wield. Again, the same writer says:

The question of the day is that of the protection of our farmers from the unfair competition of foreign produce, and the protection of our manufacturers. I am in favour of reciprocal free trade if it can he obtained, but so long as the policy of the United States closes the markets to our products we should have a policy of our own, as well, and consult only our own interests.

"As long as we can get reciprocity with the United States," said Sir John Macdonald, "then I am in favour of reciprocity." There was another school of Liberals about that time, and let me say that in regard to this question I do not want to assume the role of a partisan. There was a school of Liberals to which the present Finance Minister belonged. In that school of Liberals

he was brought up, and in that school he adopted the fiscal policies which guided him in after life. He must have been young then, I should say quite a young man, but very impressionable, and I find, Sir, that the doctrine of that school in 1878 was exactly the same as the doctrine which the Minister of Finance proclaims to-day. That doctrine remained impressed upon his mind, and he wants to bring it into operation to-day. iHenow says: Wait, economize, and save. Wait till the pendulum swings back to prosperity. Now, let me read to you just what that school of Liberals believed to which the Finance Minister today belonged:

While Macdonald and his followers were advocating what was at least a specious remedy for the industrial depression, the Liberals had no alternative to offer save the recommendation to the electorate to .practise thrift and to wait for the swing of the economic .pendulum.

That, word for word is the policy of the Finance Minister to-day, and if we in this House agreed with him the people throughout the country would say: We have waited and waited, until it is almost too late, and we now demand of you stern and insistent action. That action should take the form of lowering the cost of foodstuffs and of the clothes that the consumer wears. I understand that the manufacturers of clothes, who have been obtaining an extra thirty per cent through the tariff, do not like, any more than does the member for Brantford (Mr. Cockshutt)-who has been smiling since the wings have been clipped from the duty on agricultural implements-this reduction of duty. Why do they not like it? Because it means less profit to their coffers. While I am not going to be so radical as to say that we do not like to make some profit, may I point out, .Mr. Speaker, that we toil for such income as we obtain? You, Mr. Speaker, have toiled in your law office; a great many of us have spent years in toil. We toil as the labouring man toils, but we toil not for profit, but for what the public are good enough to give us. But the profiteer, the man whose diabolical intention is to get as much money as he can out of the consumer, does not toil, nor. does he know what toil is; he never knew what it was to work. That is the man that this Government must get after, and get after at once, not, forsooth, by increasing the taxes upon profits that were obtained by the profiteer during the war, and which the minister cannot touch norw because the war is over, but by inquiring into the combines which exist in the industrial world, finding

out who form them, and putting a stop to them. Let the Government impose upon those who form these combines a penalty that will help to meet some of the obligations which burden the country and which have been incurred owing to the war. Sir, does the Government know that these combines exist? Of course they do, they know in every department. They have only to ask the Justice Department, which knows that combines exist in this country and which could name the very men making up those combines. Has the Government taken any action in this regard? No; these men belong to a class who are not to be touched by the mighty powers that be-[DOT] powers which are not concerned with you or with me, which are not concerned with what price we pay for a dozen eggs or a pound of butter, for the poor clothes or torn boots that the people wear. They are not concerned with these things; they are not concerned with the question how we are to find money to buy food for our children, but they are concerned in seeing that as long as a dollar remains in the country, the profiteer gets it.

Sir, there, are earnest men in the Government who know that this profiteering has been going on and that the Government has been guilty of wasting money right and left. There are men in the Government who know that since the war started even the clothing bought by the taxpayers for the soldiers has been burned in heaps. You want proof, Sir? Taking up one of the records of the Government, I find that a certain gentleman, being on the witness stand, was questioned by a Mr. McKenzie. I do not know who this Mr. McKenzie was; I assume it was the hon. gentleman who has'been raised to the dignified position of leader of the Opposition. The evidence reads:

Q. Do you know anything about the burning of clothing, or of property, which appeared to be Government property, on the premises?-A. Well, yes, sir: I saw clothes burning there in piles. *

Q. Did you offer to buy some of the clothing? -A. Yes, sir; I offered to Uuy a coat-me and Mr. Goodfellow and my father. The soldier was there; he was supposed to be the guide. I offered $5 for the coat and he would not take it.

Q. Those were the coats they were burning? -A. Yes, sir.

Topic:   THE BUDGET.
Permalink
UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER:

I did not hear the earlier portion of the remarks of the hon. member. Is he referring to proceedings which are pending before a committee of the House?

Topic:   THE BUDGET.
Permalink
L LIB

Emmanuel Berchmans Devlin

Laurier Liberal

Mr. DEVLIN:

No, I am referring to the waste that has been carried on by the Gov-

eminent since the commencement of the war. I am only giving an instance of one kind of waste.

Topic:   THE BUDGET.
Permalink
UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER:

The hon. member knows the rule I have in mind.

Topic:   THE BUDGET.
Permalink
L LIB

Emmanuel Berchmans Devlin

Laurier Liberal

Mr. DEVLIN:

I know the rule perfectly well, Sir. This, to be more explicit, was an investigation which took place before the Public Accounts Committee in 1915 into what was known as the war contract scandals. I say that there are men in the Cabinet who know that a system of waste has been going on in this country since the war started. This is just one little incident; I have volumes of them here. I shall not refer to any inquiry that is proceeding now. I am very careful in that regard; that is why I said that as a member of *the Committee on the Cost of Living I would make no allusion to evidence taken by that Committee.

On the occasion to which I refer, another gentleman, following Mr. McKenzie, proceeded to put questions to the witness. I do not know who this gentleman was, but according to the public records, his name was Carvell. But if it is the man of whose history I have some knowledge, he was always very earnest about waste, extravagance and profiteering.

Topic:   THE BUDGET.
Permalink
L LIB

June 11, 1919