June 6, 1922

CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

The practice is as distasteful to those who have no part or parcel in the Liberal policy as it is to hon. members to my left. Its viciousness appeals just the same to those of one fiscal view as it does to those of another. The hon. gentleman however does not need to put himself in our position; let him reflect on his own.

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PRO

Robert Alexander Hoey

Progressive

Mr. HOEY:

I am just as anxious to

be clear on this point as my right hon. friend is. If he argues that a wrong promise should be followed by wrong action, he simply argues that two wrongs make a right.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

The hon. gentleman

does not seem to see that it is the practice of making a promise and violating it that we are striking at, and that is all we are striking at. He has searched the recesses of his mind in vain to get some excuse for refusing to vote a censure on the Government of the day, though that Government, he admits, has followed demoralizing practice-a practice that he says he reprehends.

Now, let me turn for a moment to the position of hon. gentlemen to my left. They are not on very strong ground to chide the Government. Indeed, the leader of the Progressive party (Mr. Crerar) has a large share of the responsibility for the course the Government has pursued in this budget. The leader of the Progressive party early in this session gave the Government notice that if they turned

161i

their backs on their fiscal pledges he would refuse to call them to account. He indeed held out an invitation to the Government to abandon the pledges they had solemnly made to the people of this country. The first sign of such conduct on the part of the Government was when they turned away from their pledge to make additional cash grants to returned soldiers -turned from it without a quiver, without a sign of hesitation, and declared they did not intend to fulfil it or any part of it. The leader of the Progressive party then asked all his followers to vote against a censure of the Government for the guilt of such conduct. Well, were they any more bound by the one pledge than by the other? Once you put the seal of your blessing upon that kind of conduct you take the whole consequences and those consequences the leader of the Progressive party and his following are taking now.

" Oh," he said, " I cannot vote for this amendment because it says that the budget proposals constitute an utter failure to implement the pledges of the party by legislation." Such language is too strong, he says.

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PRO

Thomas Alexander Crerar

Progressive

Mr. CRERAR:

I want to correct my right hon. friend. He is indulging in a good many excursions this afternoon, and I want as far as possible to keep him to the line of truth.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order.

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PRO

Thomas Alexander Crerar

Progressive

Mr. CRERAR:

Well, Mr. Speaker, if 1 am out of order it certainly was unintentional on my part. I will say, to keep him to the correct line. He can read my remarks of yesterday and he will find nowhere that I made the statement he has just attributed to me.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I have Hansard before me, and I will read exactly what my hon. friend said:

The terms of the amendment are very simple ; they state that the budget proposals brought down constitute on the part of the Government an utter failure to implement its pledges by legislation. Well, while I have been pretty severe in my criticism of the Government, I do not think those words are justified by the actual facts of the case.

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PRO
CON
PRO
CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Hansard will be my

vindication. He could not support the

The Budget-Mr. Meighen

amendment because it declared that the budget proposals constituted an utter failure to implement those pledges by legislation. Well, do they not constitute an utter failure? The hon. member said he could not go that far, but his own amendment goes that far; it declares that the budget proposals are wholly inadequate to implement the pledges by legislation. The leader of the Progressive party refuses to vote for our amendment because it says that the proposals are an utter failure to redeem pledges, but he is ready to vote for his own, which says they are wholly inadequate to redeem them. I would suggest a study of the two phrases to the linguistic experts who sit around him.

The reasons the hon. member gives for saying that these proposals are not an " utter failure " but in his opinion are " wholly inadequate," are these: The exchange provision, and the marking provision, and the dumping provision, of a year ago, are wiped away, and these changes are a partial fulfilment of the pledge. But the pledge was made over a year before these provisions were ever enacted therefore it could have had no relation to these provisions at all, for they did not exist at the time the pledge was given. May I ask what has led the leader of the Progressive party and the chief whip of the Progressive party and that stalwart Liberal (Mr. Hoey) who sits to his left-what has led them to induce their following not to vote rebuke against the Government for conduct which they themselves condemn? How will they explain that to their constituents?

I often wonder, when the proud day comes that hon. gentlemen to my left return to their homes to lay at the feet of their constituents the legislative trophies they have won, what they will say in respect of this amendment. These hon. members came down to Parliament, with hopes high and language loud and strong. They came for a wheat board-they came to a Liberal Government for a Crowsnest pass agreement-for a reduced cost of living- for their tariff platform. And they will go back and have to say: No wheat board, nothing of that; no Crowsnest pass agreement, nothing of that-if I read the countenances of hon. gentlemen opposite aright. Cost of living? Worse than nothing! there increased and heavily increased, on all the people of this country. The tariff? Nothing there. The Hudson bay railway, did I hear someone say? I do not know that

the railway was so prominent, but if so, nothing there. All nothing. What they can say to their constituents is this: We have nothing to bring back .for you, but we remembered our old party-the home of 5 out of 6 of us and we kept the Government in power. We refused to censure them for anything. They were guilty of conduct that one and all of us decided was wrong, guilty of dishonouring their plighted word to the people-but we let the performance go-we really could not join in with the Tories to condemn them. We have been the parties, to the extent of our power, to relieve the Government of the obligation of carrying out the programme in which we-ourselves professed to believe. That is the story they must carry back to their constituents.

For my part, were the Government tc introduce the legislation to which it pledged itself a year ago I, not believing in that legislation, would vote against it. But. in addition to not believing in those concrete acts of policy, I do not believe in duplicity, I do not believe in betraying the people; I do not believe in deceiving the electors of Canada.

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LIB
CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

It is a change from the hon. member. If we are to follow the practice in this Dominion of making concrete pledges to the country, of going to the people and saying, this is what we will do if returned to power, and then coming into office and callously repudiating those pledges, where is responsible government? Hon. members who vote against this amendment vote to declare that when electors hereafter decide on any proposal of public policy, they are not to know or have any idea at all what is to result from their vote. Such a consequence ends responsible government.

Now I come to the sub-amendment so called.

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PRO

Thomas Alexander Crerar

Progressive

Mr. CRERAR:

Before dealing with that, would my right hon. friend inform the House whether he will vote for the budget?

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I shall not vote for the budget, and I shall give my reasons in a very few minutes. The hon. member for Marquette said, though-and this is really illuminating as to his attitude: You have reduced ploughs only 2i per cent, binders 21 per cent, but if you had even said that you could not afford to reduce any more because of the needs of revenue, then I would have accepted it.

The Budget-Mr. Meighen

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PRO

Thomas Alexander Crerar

Progressive

Mr. CRERAR:

I do not think my right hon. friend will find that remark in my statement yesterday. What I did say was that it would then have received consideration from the House.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

To save time looking it up, let us assume it was put that way;

I do not see much difference; the hon. member expressed an attitude of favour if those words had been spoken. Why, the Minister of Finance might just as well have spoken those words as not. He could have said in perfect truth that the needs of revenue were such that he could easily justify 125 per cent, and, I venture to say, 20 per cent. The needs of revenue to-day are four times what they were when his Minister of Customs in his own hearing declared that 175 per cent was not enough on these same goods. There was nothing in the world to hinder the Minister of Finance giving the hon. member for Marquette that assurance, and I do not hesitate to prophesy that the Minister of Finance will give it yet, and I shall find no fault with him if he does. If he had only done so first then the gentle breath of this subamendment might never have disturbed the Government.

Hon. gentlemen point to where we have voted with the Government of the day. Our principles do not vary because the Government of the day comes over and adopts them. If hon. gentlemen can show that we vary from the principles followed when in office well and good-let them try. But hon. gentlemen to my left take good care that on any matter of consequence, on any vital matter before the people of this country, they do not became parties to any resolution that seriously reflects on hon. gentlemen across the floor.

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PRO
CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

The hon. gentleman did what he could to acquiesce in the Government's course of putting that question oif from day to day, knowing that the putting of it off means additional freight rates daily to the people of this country, freight rates from which they should have been relieved before this.

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PRO

Thomas Alexander Crerar

Progressive

Mr. CRERAR:

Where does my hon. friend find any warrant for that statement?

Mr. MEIGHEN; He refused to support our motion which demanded that the Government announce its policy. Once the Government's policy on the Crowsnest

agreement is announced, that is all the Railway Commission needs, and the Railway Commission is delaying now because of the failure to adopt that resolution which demanded an announcement of Government policy.

Now I state that while the budget follows the protective principle, while no one could honestly dispute that it does-follows it as the Old budget followed it-it is not in my judgment, without faults, and some serious faults. There are phases of the proposals of the Minister of Finance that I think carry with them menace to our business, our production and our trade. Indeed, I venture to suggest that we will find in committee the Finance Minister coming pretty much to the views that I shall now express and making some very considerable changes in these same decisions that are so loudly approved by hon. gentlemen to my left. I hope so.

I believe the absence of all special restrictions due to the depreciation of German and Austrian exchange is a mistake on the part of the Minister of Finance, and a mistake that he ought to correct. Germany to-day is one of the highest protected countries in the world, as is the United States, and Germany to-day is making marvellous progress. German minds, inventive as ever, have devised a plan by which they are able to maintain the mark value in their own country at a standard several times higher than it reaches for purposes of exchange; that is to say, the working men and the people of Germany are able to get more in goods proportionately for their money than that money is worth in the exchange markets of the world, more by many times over. They do it first of all by multiplying mark production, a tremendous inflation of currency. They do it as well by the stabilization of certain of their essential articles of consumption. By these methods they have contrived to put the working men of Germany in circumstances far more advantageous than those in other countries. That truth is recognized the world over. This condition has to be met; it has to be met by special provisions here. There may be another way of dealing with it better than the method heretofore adopted, but I do suggest to the Minister of Finance that something should be done, because if it is not done, the penalty is going to fall on large masses of the workmen of this country and to the practical advantage of none.

The Government asks as well that instead of the marking provision by which

The Budget-Mr. Meighen

Parliament set out definite requirements for the marking of imports with the country of origin, it be given power to place such imports as it likes within the category to be marked. I do not think this is a right provision. I am surprised that it comes from hon. members who once worked themselves into fury denouncing Order in Council government. This Government wants the right to exercise a tremendous power by Order in Council unrestrained. Do hon. gentlemen realize the lever thus to be given them? They can say to one industry in this country, "You are not our friends; no marking required of the goods that compete with you." To another industry they can say "You are our friends; we will demand the marking of goods that compete with you": In a word it places it in the power of the Government on tariff matters-where above all others subjects it should not be in the power of the government to impose restrictions at all-it places in its power the distribution of favors among the industries of this country; it places in its hands a power of discrimination that I do not think the Government should ask this House to bestow. I do not say that it is not done in other countries: It may be that some similar power exists in the United States, but their system of government differs from ours. I am free to admit that the regulation on this matter, in the way it passed Parliament last session, was so broad that modification is essential; but it should be possible by this time to make such modification or to restrict the power of the Government within narrower limits than those suggested by the Finance Minister in his budget speech.

As regards various other features of the budget I think there should be important changes. What I mean to say by my vote against the budget is this: That having in mind certain matters particularly the question of exchange and its effect on valuation, the question of marking as well, and also the question of the abolition of last years dumping clause

a proposal that to certain industries of chis country is injurious and seriously so,

I do not feel free to vote for the budget. There may also be reductions that should not be made. There may be other reductions that could be made, I am ready to wait for the explanation of the Finance Minister in those regards. If he can show that he has made some reduction to the consumer without injury to the people of this country, without injury to the working

man

at least with no uncompensated injury to the working man-well and good; I want reduction if it can be made in that way. I am ready to wait for his explanation. I believe he will find that in relation to implements he has done something which very probably will injure the manufacturer and his employees, very probably will turn working men on the streets in various cities of this country; but will not reduce by one cent the cost of the implement to the consumer in Canada. All the saving that is effected on implements of a hundred dollars value is 36 cents; against this also the increase in the sales tax will result in another practice- that implement manufacturers who distribute by means of agencies and heretofore have absorbed the small sales tax themselves will find it impossible to absorb the larger tax, and the full extent of that sales tax will fall upon the consumer. I would not be surprised therefore, if the budget should result in a slight increase in cost-even the article whose duty is lowered. And the sales tax addition is general.

But, what is to be said of the hon. member for Brantford (Mr. Raymond) who contested his seat on the distinct and unique platform of opposition to the reduction of duty on implements? What is to be thought of him if he submits to this budget? Particularly having in mind the Finance Minister's assertion only a few days ago that he was hopeful there would be no reduction of revenue owing to the 2i per cent reduction of duty? If there is no reduction of revenue it simply means more importations; it means that this reduction is made at the expense of the workmen of Brantford; it means more people on the street and more charity levies in the cities of Brantford, of Hamilton, of Toronto and of sixty other places in this country. If the Finance Minister's logic is right that is how it will result, and all without advantage to the consumer of this country.

I should not sit down without saying something as regards certain other hon. gentlemen who, in the face of the pledges of their party, made wonderful commitments to their constituents. The hon. member for Pictou (Mr. Macdonald) is absent, but I hold in my hands something of the special Pictou platform upon which he appealed for election He denounced the late government for not taking care of the trade needs, in a fiscal way, of his province, particularly in relation to coal and

The Budget-Mr. Mackenzie King

in relation to steel. Having paid special attention to me for daring to say that I had been instrumental in reducing the higher duties, by five per cent on farm implements-having done that he makes this statement to the people of his constituency at Stellarton on October 28, last:

And so, my friends, I am not like Col. Cantley

unwilling to give pledges. I tell you, if I go to Ottawa, I shall urge parliament to put a duty on coal that is a real duty, and not a fake duty.

And speaking of steel he said:

X pledge myself along the lines and in the way I have indicated, and I am prepared to say to you that when the Liberal party comes into power after December 6 th they will find a solution for these difficulties. We will create conditions under which we can once more bring sunshine and happiness and prosperity to the homes where there is nothing but despair.

How was he going to do it? Further he said:

I am here to pledge that when I go to Ottawa I shall move a resolution in the interests of Nova Scotia that the duties on the steel products produced here would be increased in order to enable them to be effective.

So there will be reason on the part of hon. gentlemen opposite for opposing the Government, if they intend to be faithful to the special platforms that they contrived to manufacture for their own special benefit in their constituencies. Similar comment applies to many hon. gentlemen opposite. I do not think that in the history of Canada a government ever sat in office whose position was more impossible, more indefensible, more unenviable than the position of hon. gentlemen now. Some talk about the difficulties of the Government and sympathize with the Finance Minister. Why, their position is impossible because of their own conduct, because of the situation they have got themselves into by the pledges which they deliberately made and which they cannot fulfil; which they knew, or ought to have known they never could fulfil. The scourge they bear was made by themselves; their difficulties are of their own creation. The fields of revenue had been explored. There is no new field found in this budget-none at all. There is simply the traversing of the old ones. That does not present the difficulty that the Government is in at all. The difficulty the Government is in is this: It is impossible to act in consonance with its own official commitments, wholly impossible, and do justice or save disaster to Canada. It is impossible, as well, to act in consonance with the commitments of one score of

its supporters without violating and destroying the commitments of another score sitting somewhere else in the House. That is the reason the Government is in difficulty. The people of Canada, if I read aright the tenor of the debates on this budget, have evidently succeeded in getting rid, and very probably for good, of trade theories that are fallacious, unsuited to our country, and that could carry us Only to disaster. Such theories are probably gone

smothered by those who gave them birth. The next duty of the people of Canada, a duty which we on our part proceed to discharge by this amendment, is to visit punishment on those who pledged themselves to policies in which they had no belief and who after deceiving a large electorate by so doing and thus gaining the sweets of power violate those pledges cynically and with indifference.

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June 6, 1922