June 6, 1922

CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I do not doubt it, not at all; but at the same time we have set ourselves to maintain our east and west routes of trade. We do not divorce one portion of the country from the other as would result if we were to wholly abandon our task, which is the real task of Confederation and let all trade take its geographically natural route. Oh, these things appear so easy to the minds of those who approach responsibility lightly; 'but when men get into positions of responsibility they do not appear to be matters of quite such light consideration. Many a political leader in this country, including the leaders of my hon. friend from Brome (Mr. McMaster)-one I know whose memory he much reveres- has come through the process of thought and of experience to exactly the view that I have expressed. Therefore, I feel now, no matter what the political consequences may be, that the right course for this country is not to enter into any extensive reciprocal arrangement with the United States.

Enter into such arrangement, and what results? First of all, the power to terminate though it may nominally be mutual, rests in fact with that country. In proportion to the life of the time such arrangement operates, in proportion as well to its magnitude, the whole commerce of our country adjusts itself to the new conditions. The natural routes are found and as they are found then we become practically at the mercy of legislation of the United States for the continuance of legislation upon which the currents of our commerce must more and more depend. We would have cultivated, and are at the mercy of our neighbour to the south. Our trade follows north and south routes, and as a consequence the mere threat of the abrogation of a treaty puts us in a position, most undesirable to say the least of it, with respect to the United States of America. We do not stand in the same relation with any other country of the world; there is not the same condition of affairs at all. I hope the day will never come when the fact of that relationship, unique as it is, will be lost sight of in the determination of the policy of this country.

It has 'been the habit of certain people to bewail the rejection by Canada of the Reciprocity Treaty of 1911. Canada rejected that Reciprocity Treaty just because

of the truth that I have sought to expound to this House. It is just as much a truth, just as vital a truth, to-day as it ever was, and the spirit of this country is as true and strong to-day as it was in 1911. I venture to say that if such a treaty comes, in the form it did, or in anything like so extensive a form, before the people of this country again, and they have time and opportunity to see to the centre of it, to know its meaning and to know its purpose, the verdict will be just the same as in 1911, and just as firmly pronounced. Hon. gentlemen argue as though, had that treaty been made, it would have been permanent like the laws of the Medes and Persians. I, as a Canadian, loving Canada, loving our association in this Empire; I, as a Canadian and a British subject, would not welcome the treaty in the least even though I believed it was going to be permanent. But I know it never can be permanent; I know the permanency of it rests chiefly with the stronger power, the stronger commercial weight-that is to say with the United States of America. Oh, we have had reciprocity treaties, and this country took years to recover from the effect of their cancellation, and went through a period of suffering that it would never have had to endure if it had not travelled that way at all. As regards the pact of 1911, we would have met to-day, only under more unfortunate circumstances which would have still more emphasized the unfavourable conditions of this hour, had that reciprocity treaty passed. What is the explanation of the Ford-ney Tariff? What has brought about that feeling in the United States which has driven the government now in office to adopt the measures it has put through, and to propose those now under debate? Is it not chiefly the effect of the importations from this country, the effect there of the large surplus of our agricultural products. Is not the feeling strong, particularly among the farming community, that their farmers have a right to greater advantage in the American market which they themselves have contributed to build? Would that cause have been removed if reciprocity had passed? Would that cause not have been intensified? Would its results not have been accelerated? Are you going to postpone the effect of a cause by emphasizing that cause? They would have had still more of our products if reciprocity had operated at all; we would have seen the adverse feeling grow there just that much sooner.

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Have we not had instances enough to awaken this truth in the mind of even the most perverse? We accepted' the American offer of free trade in wheat and the products of wheat and potatoes. This was not very extensive: I never had very much hopes from it, I expected just about what resulted. At the time we accepted this offer, there was a stringency of shipping conditions that made the export of our grain by the regular routes very difficult, and there was the main cause of the acceptance of the offer. We were, no doubt, affected as well by a desire to meet what had become, in the minds of people in the West, the outstanding grievance. We sought the more to meet them because at that time we were engaged in a terrible conflict. What resulted? Was there an addition to the prices of those grains? An examination of the figures shows that the very day after the acceptance went into effect,thehigher local prices for hard wheats in Minneapolis dropped right to the level at which they had been before in Canada. There was no increase in the Canadian price at all. But what I am seeking to show now is this. The operation of that arrangement, by which for admission here the United States gave us admission there of our wheat and our wheat products, deferred as it was by necessary war restrictions and embargoes due to government control of the crops, was in effect only about six months, and then what was its fate? The United States government, exercising its undoubted right, imposed a duty of 35 cents a bushel against our wheat, cancelled the whole arrangement; put a 25 per cent duty on flour, and virtually barred both commodities.

We are now at the heart of this question. Is there any reason why the same results would not have followed the reciprocity pact of 1911, if it had been accepted? The United States government did precisely the same with our acceptance of their potato offer. There followed this consequence in each case, that the routes of traffic had to be reversed and there were certain markets that had been cultivated of which we lost the advantage by virtue of the turning of our trade in a contrary direction for a very brief period of time. Nothing fatal is to be apprehended from entering into a very restricted form of reciprocity of that kind, but if we enter it on a big scale, on an extensive scale, this country, as years go on, reaches a position of virtual subjection and subserviency to the legislation of the United States.

The Minister of Finance (Mr. Fielding) in his speech used language which I really cannot understand. He said that there was a time when we had reason to complain of the conduct of the United States, when its fiscal legislation was unfriendly to us; but that now we have no reason to complain of unfriendly legislation. I do not know, first of all, why this word " unfriendly " is applied to tariffs. I do not feel in the least unfriendly to the United States, because I believe in a fair protective tariff. The United States, when they put their tariff against us, thirty-five, forty and fifty, yes, one hundred years ago, acted within their rights. What cause had we to complain? Does any one know? I do not know wherein our right of complaint existed. The same right which they exercised then, they exercise now; they make their tariff to suit the changing circumstances of the United States of America; they make their tariffs, as they believe, in the interest of their own people. They have nothing to fear of a national character from any reciprocity with us; its continuance or its cessation means relatively little to them; our trade with them is merely an incident to the United States. We must remember they are eleven to fifteen times commercially the magnitude of us. It is a different thing when the figures are turned the other way. We are small compared with them, and if we follow the path of unrestricted reciprocity, we adopt a course that may, indeed is certain to, result in serious detriment to, if not in the humiliation of this country.

I have stated, without equivocation, as clearly as the very limited time I allot to myself will allow, where I stand on this question, I hope hon. gentlemen will admit that at least I have been true to the principles I followed in Opposition before, and in power when in the reins of power I had some share.

I come now to the amendment that is moved in this debate. The amendment recites, first of all the position occupied by hon. gentlemen opposite when they took office. It specifically recites definite,, concrete, unmistakable engagements which hon. gentlemen opposite made with the electorate of this country. With those pledges I do not agree. I believe the fulfilment of those pledges would have been disastrous or, at least serious, to this country. I would not have supported their fulfilment; neither would I have given the pledges. But the fact is the present government needed

The Budget-Mr. Meighen

them for the purpose of getting votes in Canada, the votes of those who believed that such was the right policy for Canada to pursue. Is there in this House any hon. gentlemen who doubts the truth of the assertion that those pledges were given in the most formal way, in the most solemn way, or, to use the language of the leader of the Government (Mr. Mackenzie King), in the most "democratic" way, in which pledges were ever given to a nation? They were given in the same democratic way that elected him leader of the party and that gave him, in his opinion, a title to leadership far transcending that of other men. Were those pledges ever reversed? Were they ever revoked? Were they ever modified to make clear to the people of this country that they were not still in existence? I know there was hedging; but I know there was a distinct and consistent determination, evident everywhere, never to let anybody be able to say that those pledges were not still in effect. What did hon. gentlemen opposite pledge themselves to do? They did not bind themselves merely to a principle and then abandon the principle under a screen of words-which is usually their course. They adopted a different course in this instance. They stated, as related to seventeen named articles and classes of articles: "If we are returned to power, we will make these free." Can any one comprehend the mental texture of a man who can look upon that distinct pledge to make seventeen classes of articles free as a mere "chart of direction?" Can any one understand the intellectual constitution that pledges seventeen classes of articles to be free and then talks about carrying that pledge out in the spirit as differing from the letter? I fall before the problem; I cannot comprehend cerebral contortions of that kind. Of those seventeen articles, ten were free when they passed the resolution, and all this they knew. I leave it to hon. gentlemen to the left now to divine why the party of the present government inserted such padding in the resolution? Seven were dutiable at that time and ten free, of these specific articles; and now that they are in power and have brought down the budget, seven of them are free and ten are dutiable. By virtue of the American legislation putting our wheat and wheat products on the free list, those articles are now dutiable which at the time they passed the resolution were free. Not one gesture has been made to make good the covenant. There has been

no apostacy so brazen in the history of parliamentary government.

The next pledge is to increase the British preference to 50 per cent. Hon. gentlemen will recall the oft-quoted doxology, with Which this platform ends: "The Liberal party pledges itself to implement by legislation the provisions of this resolution when returned to power." As regards this promised increase to 50 per cent in the British preference, they have taken off 2i per cent on certain goods of which we get a portion from Great Britain; but if hon. gentlemen will examine the main articles in this list, they will find we did not have 33& per cent British preference before. Woollens, for example, once had a one-third British preference, but in 1904 the present Minister of Finance (Mr. Fielding) came to the House and stated that with a 35 per cent duty on woollens and a one-third preference it only made a duty of 23i per cent against British woollens; and, he added, " I find certain industries in this country cannot sustain the competition with such rate of duty". He therefore raised the duty to a minimum of 30 per cent. Now he comes to Parliament and reduces it by 2J per cent, or not yet by one-third, which is supposed to be the relation between the preferential tariff and the ordinary tariff. Aside from the effect of the sales tax, aside from everything, what is to be thought of the microscopic reductions made here in relation to the pledge of the Liberal party, a pledge endorsed by the present Minister of Finance himself?

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING:

My hon. friend has no authority for that statement; I may tell him, he ds mistaken. I have never voted for the tariff items of the Liberal platform and never concealed the fact that I did not approve of the platform in that respect.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I accept the minister's word without the slightest reservation, but I fancy that this is the first time, after hon. gentlemen opposite have been in power for five months, that any one in this country outside the walls of that convention knew that the present Minister of Finance dissented from the tariff plank of the Liberal platform.

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING:

My right hon. friend is the first person to make that statement, and I therefore now correct it.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

One would think that the minister would not need to wait until I should make the statement to make his position clear in the matter. The Minister of Finance went to the convention a contestant for the leadership of the party.

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING:

My right hon. friend is hardly correct, but we shall deal with that later.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I was only following the words of the hon. member for Brome (Mr. McMaster) who was there. But if the Minister of Finance differed from the platform of the Liberal party and refused to be bound by it if returned to power, lit was his duty distinctly to say so, to state wherein he disagreed with the platform, to make his position perfectly plain so that no one might be deceived. I know that the hon. member owns a journal;-I presume he owns it-and it was stated therein, shortly afterwards, that the convention had gone too far, and that it was the habit of conventions to make platforms to get in on rather than to stand on. But I do say to the Minister of Finance that he should have stated clearly and definitely, not through the medium of a journal, but with his own lips, precisely in what respect he differed from that platform and toy what he proposed to be bound. Even though he did not vote for it, is he not, as a member of the party and the convention adopting such platform, bound by the pledges therein set forth until he severs himself from that party and that convention? And what is to be said of other hon. members opposite? How many members of the Government of the day will follow this example and stand up and declare that they were never parties to this tariff resolution at all? We are getting revelations now. Are there any more? Was the Prime Minister a party to that resolution? Did he support it? We will expect him to tell us when he speaks-but he will not. Was the hon. Minister of Marine (Mr. Lapointe) a party to it?

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LIB
CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

The hon. member takes care not to tell before. I venture to say that we shall have more dissentients now in this House than confessions from those who agree. I need scarcely ask the Minister of Justice (Sir Lomer Gouin) and the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Motherwell) . I have not the least doubt the

[Mr. Meighen.1

latter hon. gentleman was a party to the pledge. Will he tell us why he abandons it now? Those of us who have read some of his speeches of recent months on other matters will understand that his one time allegiance to this pledge may be the chief reason why he now refuses to put it into effect. I believe it was the hon. member for North Bruce (Mr. Malcolm) who, the other day, enunciated some theory in this House and expressed the pious aspiration that some time that theory would find its way into the platform of the Liberal party. Well, I am sure that if he loves his theory he will not wish for it a fate like that. There will indeed be a dark outlook for any policy that ever finds its way into the platform of the Liberal party.

Hon. gentlemen opposite were pledged to an increase in the British preference to 50 per cent if returned to power. At the rate they are going, I have computed that the building of this 50 per cent preference will be something like the building of a temple by the Romans whieh was completed by the Emperor Hadrian, in the year 135 A.D, seven hundred years after it was begun. Nor is there promise of anything more. The Government has brought down its revision, and the Minister of Finance distinctly intimated that he divides the changes of the tariff into two classes: The first is in the way of general reductions, and the second is in the way of detailed adjustments, some up, some down, to meet changing circumstances. He says, " We are dealing with the first now; the other requires time." So that, so far as the general reductions are concerned, he has led us to believe that he has gone as far as he is going to go in the fulfilment of the Liberal platform.

These resolutions were passed-they were embodied as well in the official literature of the party published two months before the last election, literature given into the hands of speakers throughout the Dominion, who were commissioned to preach this doctrine throughout the length and breadth of Canada. I know that many of their followers who supported them did not want such resolutions enforced at all. I am quite aware of that. But hon. gentlemen knew, when they adopted them, that there was a large section of their followers in this country, and perhaps some outside the ranks of the party, who did subscribe to these tenets and wanted these articles free. They, therefore, adopted this plank to get the

The Budget-Mr. Meighen

votes of such people. They preached it to obtain their votes, and reaffirmed it in their literature. And they got their votes. Now they take those voters into camp, and every one of them is betrayed. And without those voters hon. gentlemen opposite would not be in the seats of power to-day. Are they there by any just right? Or are they there by false pretences? Are they there by usurpation?

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

No; by the will of the people.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

By the will of a deceived people,-and by a minority at that.

They adopt these pledges, they covenant with the Canadian people to put them into effect if they are returned to power. Their return to power makes the contract. They break the contract.

I refer now to what the leader of the party opposite said a year ago; I know an attempt will be made, indeed, it has already been made, to show that less concrete, less binding language was used later; I read the language of the Prime Minister in this House only last session. Hon. gentlemen will note as I read how he contrived to vary in part-at the same time to keep the general appearance the same-the language of the resolution adopted at the Liberal convention. I read a quotation from the Toronto Globe which the present Prime Minister himself read and approved at the last session of this House, as the latest revised policy of the Liberal party on the tariff, a policy by which he was prepared to abide and which he declared as the fulfilment of the Liberal platform adopted at the convention. This is the quotation.

We believe that the time has come, indeed that it is already long past, when a downward revision of the tariff is necessary. In this revision we believe that there should be substantial reductions of the duties on the necessaries of life, in other words, on those articles which go to make up the food, the clothing, the shelter of the Canadian people; that certain specific articles required for the purposes of consumption and other articles essential to production should he placed upon the free list;-

They are not named, but I ask hon. gentlemen to remember those words in the light of another sentence which follows from the Prime Minister's lips.

and that in regard to the implements of production in the basic industries of agriculture, mining, lumbering'and fishing, there should also he a substantial reduction of duties. It is not a question of free trade or protection.

All this is his own language:

In revising the tariff to this end care will be taken of the position and needs of all the industries in our country, but such tariff as may be necessary in this connection will be, under Liberal policy, a tariff for consumers and producers, and not a tariff to further the interests of combines, monopolies, or of any special or privileged classes.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

That is veiy good.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

If that is very good, what becomes of the budget? The tariff he now advances, differing from the last, is one I suppose that does not favour "combines, monopolies or privileged classes." The old one did; this one does not. The old one was for monopolies and trusts; this is for producers and consumers. Such is the ineffable caricature of common sense which the right hon. gentleman asks the House to accept. But will he say this is very good? He proceeded:

There should be substantial reductions of the duties on the necessaries of life, in other words on those articles which go to make up the food, the clothing, the shelter of the Canadian people.

"The food, the Clothing, and the shelter of the Canadian people." Now, I pause to ask-because this is the last revised edition, affirmed by the Prime Minister-what has he done to "substantially reduce" the duties on "food," or to reduce them at all by even a fraction? His convention platform called for the making free of all the principal articles of food-in addition to the seventeen specific articles there mentioned. After the platform was made I asked the right hon. gentleman across the floor to be good enough to tell me some of the principal articles of food so I might know what they were. I asked him if fruit was one; I asked him if sugar was one; I asked him if flour was one; 1 asked him if bread was one; I asked him if meats were included- all the range of the common articles of consumption of the people of this country, but I could not get a yes or a no; I could not get even a nod as to what were the "principal articles of food." But, as quoted, he came along again last session and stated in the House that there would be a "substantial reduction" in "food" duties. He had by that time apparently abandoned the use of the word "free." Now, what are the principal articles of food the duties on which are reduced by this tariff? Are the duties on meats reduced? Not by a fraction of a fraction; they are not even touched. Is the duty on bread reduced? No. Is the duty on flour reduced? No. Is the duty on fruit reduced? No. The duty on not one article of food is reduced. But I want to be fair. Do hon. gentlemen know what has become of the "principal articles

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of food" now that the budget has come? The only articles that they touch are cocoa and liquid medicine. Those are what my right hon. friend apparently had in mind when he promised in his platform that the principal articles of food were going to be made free, and, subsequently, that they were going to be "substantially reduced."

Then we come to clothing; against the chief competitor of this country I do not think there is any reduction in the duty on clothing. As against Great Britain, which is much less a competitor to-day, yes, only a fractional competitor compared with the United States, there is a very small reduction of 2i per cent, and that under the circumstances I already stated, all is accompanied by a virtually equal addition to the cost of the same goods by the imposition of the sales tax.

Let us come to "shelter." Now, may I ask again what has been done to implement this pledge made only a year ago, committing the then leader of the Opposition, now Prime Minister, and his party, to a substantial reduction of the duties on goods that go to make the "shelter" of the Canadian people? Can he name one article that is touched? I fail to find any. We had a promise of free cement. Where is free cement to-day? Have we had a "fulfilment in the spirit, but not in the letter." Can there be a fulfilment "in the spirit" of a promise of free cement? No reduction whatever! The duty has not been touched. Lumber goes into "shelter"-what has been done to lumber? Dressed lumber has always been protected. Lumber and cement are the chief articles of "shelter," but neither of them is touched at all. Nothing in the world has been attempted to make good the word of the Prime Minister to this House only a year ago.

Then he says:

That certain specific articles required for the purposes of consumption and other articles essential to production should he placed upon the free list.

Such is the way he stated it to the House a year ago. The free list was definitely named in the platform. The free list here is described as "specific articles necessary for the purposes of consumption and certain other articles essential to production;" those are to be made free. Will any hon. gentleman tell me what has been made free? What were those articles to which the right hon. gentleman referred? The only thing made free that I can find is the "porcelain parts of pumps." These

must be what the right hon. the Prime Minister had in mind. I venture to say that he does not know to-day-I do not, I admit -where porcelain comes in in a pump. Such is the performance presented now as the fulfilment of these pledges by the Prime Minister; and as I speak he is reflecting in triumph on how this gigantic hoax worked on the Canadian people, and smiles in self-satisfaction. The present Prime Minister was then asked by a member across the floor if he would adhere to the policy of the Liberal party as outlined in the convention of 1919 favouring a British preference of 50 per cent, whereupon he replied:

The statement I have just read to the House is intelligible to every hon. member, and I think my hon. friend has quite enough intelligence to see whether there is anything that is inconsistent, in what I have just read, with the platform laid down by the Liberal party at the Liberal convention.

He thus led the House to believe that in the general terms he had chosen he had only repeated in other words the convention platform of 1919.

What is to be done about it? Some hon. members have suggested we on our part had better let the whole performance go. Because, they argue, if we rebuke conduct of this sort it will be equivalent to opposing the protective principle. That was argued by the hon. member for Springfield (Mr. Hoey); it was argued by several hon. members to my right-that is to say, that the practice of entering into covenants with the people to get their votes and callously violating those covenants after getting the votes must go unrebuked except at least at the hands of those who believe in the principles which those covenants embody.

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PRO

Robert Alexander Hoey

Progressive

Mr. HOEY:

Will the right hon. gentleman allow me to make a correction? In reply to a question put by the right hon. gentleman, I said I certainly did not endorse the breaking of covenants. I made my position on that point perfectly clear, and I reiterate it now.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Certainly the hon. gentleman did; but he said he could not vote to rebuke the practice. That is what I am talking about.

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PRO

Robert Alexander Hoey

Progressive

Mr. HOEY:

I said that, putting myself

in the position of the gentlemen to my right, I could not ask a party that had made a wrong promise to follow it by wrong action, and find any ethical basis for my attitude.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Let us take the hon.

gentleman's position; it is exactly as I stated it. He says no one can censure the practice of making promises and breaking them save those who believe in the promises.

He says: We the official oppo-

5 p.m. sition who do not believe in the promises must never censure the breaking of them. Is that not what he says? Does he claim logic for such a position?

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PRO
CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Is this practice I repeat to go unrebuked except at the hands of those who want that policy enforced? Even those who want it enforced apparently will not censure. But the practice is just as distasteful to me as it is to the hon. member.

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?

Mrl HOEY:

Hear, hear.

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June 6, 1922