had the late lamented Board of Commerce. Perhaps it was not as successful as it might have been, but that was because it had no sympathy or support from this Government. It was like a baby which the mother refuses to feed and keep clean; that baby would soon die. That is what happened to this baby of the Government. They would not countenance it at all; it was a sort of illegitimate child that nobody would acknowledge. What is the result? The "combinster," the profiteer, the darling of this Government, has full sway again now that this infant which he feared might grow up and usurp his power is dead. And the Government says to its darling: "Don't be concerned; we knew it would die. Now be happy and contented, for we have carried out our promise to you. We were always behind you, and we will continue to be behind you, and you will have things absolutely your own way, except of course that, for appearance sake, we must ask the attorneys general in some of the provinces to do something, but we know there is nothing they can do." I bring this charge home to the Government that we have combines in this country. And I assert that the central Government is the proper authority to look after them, and if it has not the power it should obtain the necessary power from this Parliament, and so assure the people that these combines cannot continue to oppress them with impunuty.
We heard a splendid speech from the hon. member for Dundas (Mr. Casselman) the Other night in which he claimed all the virtues for this Government-that there was nothing wrong with it and that it was entirely clear of scandal. While he was speaking I was thinking of certain procedure that we come across in the courts once in a while, when a particular class of people are being tried and the clerk of the court asks for their record. I remember one fellow who was asked, "What sort of record have you?" And he said, "Well, I don't take snuff, but you can charge me with everything else." That is about the situation of this Government. I do not know that they are very great "snuffers," but if there is any other crime in the calendar that they are not guilty of I know nothing about it. The member for Dundas claimed that there was nothing to be said against this Government. Well, the Minister of Finance was not in the House at the time, but it was while the right hon. gentleman, now member for King's, N.S. (Sir Robert Borden) was leading his Gov-
ernment that two men were read out of the House for grafting in connection with war supplies. Possibly my hon. friend never heard of it, but there are scores of members on both sides of the House who are aware that for stealing public money in connection with the purchase of remounts and of medicine for our soldiers two members from among hon. gentlemen of the other side were driven out of the House by the then Prime Minister. Yet we have members who will stand up and say1 that there is no scandal against this Government or anybody belonging to it. There is nothing that could be mentioned in connection with war supplies, such as binoculars, boots and shoes, medicine, horses, guns and munitions that were not directly or indirectly the subject of scandal by hon. gentlemen on the other side of the House; but the good innocent peace-loving gentleman from Dundas in the simplicity of his heart says that the Government is absolutely immaculate and there is nothing wrong with it. I will do him the credit for saying that the scandals I have referred to happened in 1914, 1915 and 1916 when possibly he was not a member. I have an idea that he came into this House in 1917, and therefore possibly he is innocent of any knowledge of those scandals. But he will not sin any more, I am sure, in claiming all the virtues, at all events for his friends of the old days.
Now, I think the Administration should give the people a chance to live, and see to it that combines shall be powerless to take advantage of them. I am sorry that we have only one minister present, and that therefore I cannot very well submit to him questions that do not appertain to his department, but I wish to put my case on record so that possibly the day may come when some notice will be taken of these matters. It is put up to us, Mr. Speaker, that we do not look after our part of the country, that we are not so solicitous about getting contracts from the Government for rails and coal for our national railways as we should be, and that as a result our people are suffering from the negligence of the Government or of their representatives.
I submit that there should be a fair share of national feeling in this country, and that even if our coal is to-day slightly dearer than the product of a foreign country, other things being taken into consideration, we should give our own product the preference. I do not knew that I can better express the idea I have in
mind than by reading a letter-not an imaginary one this time, but a communication which I addressed to the president of the Canadian National Railways on August 9, 1919. This letter will be found among the records of the president of the road, and that which I shall read is an exact copy. He was then refusing to buy our coal and our steel, being on the lookout all the while for lower prices. I do not blame him; he was trying to do business the best way he could, but I wanted to convince him that something more than . hard and fast business was to be taken into consideration; that regard should be had to our national undertakings and to the welfare of the men who abandoned their work in order that they might defend our country in the trenches at the front. The letter was as follows: %
I have your recent letter and that of your assistant, Mr. Vaughan, and note the reasons given why further or increased orders cannot, in your judgment, be given to the coal mines of the counties of Cape Breton and Inverness. The reasons to me are not sufficient or satisfactory in view of the conditions which have brought about the present situation in the counties of Cape Breton and Inverness.
You will at once realize the soundness of the principle that the nation should together share the burdens, responsibilities and consequential effects and results of the recent war. That being admitted, the rest of Canada should share with the county of Cape Breton and county of Inverness the natural results of the frightful war that so recently and so successfully to the Allies has been brought to a close.
Present conditions in the counties of Cape Breton and Inverness are attributable entirely to war conditions, war demands and war necessities. In the first place, when war was declared thousands of the loyal and sturdy miners in the counties of Cape Breton and Inverness threw down their tools and 'in the shortest possible time found their way to the- trenches in France and Flanders where they valiantly fought till the very last shot was fired and the glorious victory won.
By reason of those qualified, trained and efficient miners being withdrawn from the production of coal, the output fell most materially and the companies operating the Cape Breton county and Inverness county mines could not fill the contracts into which they had entered before war was declared. Consequently they lost these customers who had to look elsewhere, across the border in many cases, for their coal supplies.
In the second place, the fleet of steamers which was in the service of the companies operating in the county of Cape Breton conveying coal to the ports of Montreal, Quebec and other ports on the St. Lawrence River and other parts of the world was commandeered by the King's authority for purposes of war, thus rendering the coal companies above mentioned absolutely helpless in carrying out their engagements for the supplying of coal where their largest contracts were made,* and where for many years the major part of their output was sold. This again caused a most serious loss of custom and rendered It necessary for those who in the past purchased Cape Breton coal to look elsewhere
and in most cases to the American coal mines for their necessary supplies. In that way the Cape Breton mines have lost their hold on the Canadian market.
And now that these brave soldiers who had gone to the front are back and willing to work, although many of them will never be back, having sacrificed their lives in the interest of their country,-those who have returned are anxious and willing to work but there is no market for the coal; consequently the men cannot get work and they and their families are suffering privations and becoming the victims of conditions that men of their standing should not suffer nor fear.
I must with all respect, and yet wi-th insistency, impress upon you the necessity of coming to the assistance of these men by purchasing the article which they produce, whether or not it may be more expensive than the same article imported from a foreign country.
As I stated above, this is not only a national question but it is also an Imperial one, as the conditions which now exist in the counties of Cape Breton and Inverness were brought about as above stated, not only in the interest of our own nation, but in the interest of the Empire and the Allies at large^
When you will look at your letter to me, I think you will realize that in the light of the foregoing facts the reasons you give for not buying more of our coal do not measure up to the gravity of the situation involved.
I am sending a copy of this letter to the Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Sir Robert L. Borden, G.C.M.G., and I trust that he will be of assistance to you in bringing about better conditions among the deserving and worthy miners in the counties of Cape Breton and Inverness.
(Sgd) D. D. McKenzie.