June 6, 1922

LIB

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

Liberal

Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister) :

Mr. Speaker, despite

all the criticism to which we have been obliged to listen during the last hour and a half, and what has been said against the proposals contained in the budget of the Minister of Finance (Mr. Fielding), if evidence were needed to show that the proposals that have been brought down to the House are, everything considered, the wisest and best, having regard to the conditions of the country at the present time and the circumstances under which this Parliament deals with the budget, that evidence will be found in the conflicting character of the two amendments which have been proposed, the one which has been rejected, the other which remains; and the speeches which have been made in support of those amendments. If we take a broad view of the budget proposals, what do they disclose? They show that the Government has made an effort to relieve the burdens of taxation where they bear upon the great body of the people, and that the Government has recognized the superior obligation of the well-to-do to bear a larger measure of the taxation which is necessary in order to raise the required revenues of the country. It is impossible, in any budget proposals, to attempt to satisfy the different shades of opinion in a country as large as this is. It would be folly to assume that even in the same political party, men, no matter to which degree their views inclined in one direction, would all necessarily see eye to eye as to what is best in the way of tariff revision, coming, as they necessarily

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must, from different parts of the country, representing different needs and different requirements. I submit as I have already intimated, that, in the proposals which the Minister of Finance has brought down, he has succeeded in relieving taxation, as it bears upon the great mass of the people, t and shifting the burden of taxation to a more considerable extent upon the shoulders of those who are best able to bear it. He has done this in a manner which avoids the raising of any sectional consideration in this country. That, above all others, is the most important objective in dealing with financial, fiscal and, indeed, all other problems in Canada. If, in our budget debate or in any other debate, we are to put forward a distinctly sectional point of view, or any class point of view, in arguing from that point of view, instead of binding the nation together as one in a strong and united way, we will be helping to make separations and divisions, which it should be our supreme aim to avert. That, the Minister of Finance has succeeded in avoiding; he has brought in a budget, which helps to reconcile (differences, not to exaggerate them. Indeed, as I have already said, the conflicting character of the two amendments would seem to show that the Minister of Finance has succeeded in avoiding extremes.

If you compare the speech of the leader of the Progressive group (Mr. Crerar) with the speech of the leader of the Opposition (Mr. Meighen), they indicate two extreme points of view. The hon. member for Marquette (Mr. Crerar) places his emphasis in one direction; the leader of the Opposition places his emphasis in another direction. The Minister of Finance seems to have succeeded in discovering the happy mean and in avoiding the extremes which these two hon. gentlemen are advocating at this particular time. It would be unreasonable to expect that the Government, in dealing with a question of this proportion at the first session of this Parliament, would go far in any direction; it is only reasonable to expect that the Government should be guided by caution, taking only those steps which are most in the interest of the country as a whole, and avoiding anything which would tend to have a disturbing influence on the country's affairs during this period of reconstruction.

May I touch first of all upon the amendment of the hon. member for Marquette which was ruled out of order only a few minutes ago by yourself, Mr. Speaker? As I understand the matter, the abjection

which the hon. member for Marquette has raised to the budget proposals is that they constitute, to use his own words, a protectionist budget. I fail altogether to discover where my hon. friend finds grounds for such a contention. There is not a single protectionist feature in what the Minister of Finance has proposed to this House. The budget proposals, if you divide them, fall into two groups. The first are in the nature of a repeal of certain pieces of legislation that were enacted by the recent administration. The hon. member for Marquette admitted that that legislation was all of the nature of disguised protection, and he himself congratulated the Minister of Finance on wiping out this disguised protection. What is the nature of the rest of the proposed legislation? All the rest of it is in the nature of a reduction of existing duties; there is not an increase anywhere. Under those circumstances, how can it be contended that fault should be found with the Government because its budget is a protectionist budget? Actions speak louder than words. The only way in which it is possible to judge a budget is by the direction taken in the proposals which it contains. Every proposal that has been made by the Minister of Finance is in the direction of freer trade, not at all in the direction of protection, and my hon. friend cannot point to a single instance to the contrary.

Let me pursue this in another way. Assume that the Minister of Finance had adopted an opposite course; that instead of repealing legislation which he said, and rightly said, was in the nature of disguised protection, he had supplemented that legislation by further legislation of the same kind, and that instead of reducing the duties on some fifty different commodities he had increased the duties by the same amount on the same number of articles; would the leader of the Opposition (Mr. Meighen) have been jutified in saying that this was a free-trade budget, because it was heading in the direction of additional protective regulations and increased duties? The logic of the facts is the answer to the amendment which my hon. friend from Marquette has moved. The budget proposals are a sincere effort to carry out the purport, purpose and spirit of the Liberal policy in tariff matters, as it has always been understood and officially stated. The question is not one between protection and free trade; that is not the issue at the present time in dealing with the fiscal proposals that are be-

The Budget-Mr. Mackenzie King

fore the House. The question is one of revision of the tariff; how the existing tariff can best be revised in the interest of all classes in this country, having regard to the conditions of Canada at the present time, having regard to our relations with our neighbours to the south and to all other countries. In that regard, I think it will be found that the most careful, thoughtful and moderate judgment has been exercised, and exercised in a manner which will be entirely to the good of this country.

May I take up the amendment of the hon. member for West York (Sir Henry Drayton), to which the leader of the Opposition has spoken for the most part? I shall not try to follow my right hon. friend into any theoretical discussion of the merits of protection, or of free trade, nor into any discussion of reciprocal agreements and their advantages or the reverse. That is not the question before the House at the present time. The question is whether the budget proposals, as made, all circumstances being considered, are the wisest and best for this Parliament to adopt in its first session, the session which we are holding at the present time.

Let me point out that both the amendment, and the amendment to the amendment which has been rejected, have this in common-and it is something to be considered owing to the nature of the criticisms that have been made of the budget proposals-that neither of them has anything constructive about it. Neither the hon. member for Marquette nor the leader of the Opposition, in the amendments which they have placed or sought to place before the House, offers a single suggestion in the nature of an amendment affecting the existing proposals. That surely constitutes one of the strongest pieces of evidence that the Minister of Finance has succeeded in bringing down proposals which, on the whole, and considered altogether apart from party politics, are the wisest, the most prudent and the best, all circumstances being considered.

The burden of the amendment moved by the hon. member for West York (Sir Henry Drayton) and supported by the leader of the Opposition is in the nature of a condemnation of the Government on the alleged score of having disregarded political honour. Well, my hon. friends had a try at that a little earlier in the session, and if the House will compare the two amendments, it will see that not only were they drawn by the same hand, but that the one so far as it goes is a copy from the other. The amendment might as well have been moved on going into supply at any time as by way of an amendment to the motion concerning the budget. It offers nothing in particular that bears especially one way or the other on the budget. But let me suggest to the hon. member who has moved the amendment, and to his associates, that people living in glass houses should not throw stones. They will do well to remember the Scriptural injunction: "Judge not that ye be not judged, for with what judgment ye judge ye shall be judged, and with what measure ye mete it shall he meted to you again." My right hon. friend, in seeking for the mote in his brother's eye, has forgotten entirely the beam in his own.

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LIB
LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Some two years ago, on May 18, 1920, in point of exactness, the hon. member for West York, who at that time was Minister of Finance, professed to give to the House what were the tariff proposals of the party to which he belonged. What did those proposals set forth? They will be found in Hansard at page 2491 under the date I have mentioned. He said:

Our policy calls for a thorough revision of the tariff with a view to the adoption of such reasonable measures as are necessary:-

(a) to assist in providing adequate revenues,

Ob) to stabilize legitimate industries and to encourage the establishment of new industries essential to the proper economic development of the nation-to the end that a proper and ever increasing field of useful and remunerative employment be available for the nation's workers,

(c) to develop to the fullest extent our natural resources,

(d) to specially promote and increase trade with the Mother Country, the sister dominions and colonies and Crown dependencies,

(e) to prevent the abuse of the tariff for the exploitation of the consumer.

(f) to safeguard the interests of the Canadian people in the existing world struggle for commercial and industrial supremacy.

That was the statement of the tariff proposals as given to the House by the then Minister of Finance on May 18, 1920. Within a month and a half after these proposals had been set forth in this manner, the hon. gentleman, together with other hon. members opposite held a caucus in which they took into consideration the position of their party and the platform on which they would appeal to the country later on. In that caucus they discussed the

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Mr. Mackenzie King

tariff among other matters and drew up a platform which has become more or less notorious in discussion, the platform of the National Liberal Conservative party, so called. What do we find on a perusal of that platform? We discover that it is a copy almost to the letter, of what the then Minister of Finance had stated in his speech to the House as being the tariff proposals of his party. I have said it is an exact copy of the minister's speech, it it that with but one exception, a very important exception, which I shall read. I have in my hand the platform of the party which my right hon. friend (Mr. Meighen) leads, and it fails to include, as a part of the policy of that party, this very significant clause:

To specially promote and increase trade with the Mother Country, the sister dominions, the colonies, and Crown dependencies.

That was dropped out of the context in the declaration of the platform.

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

The right hon. gentleman made exactly the same statement last year and I corrected him on that occasion. I beg to be permitted to do so again.

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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:

Please do.

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

He will find that clause, which he says is omitted from the platform, in a different part of the platform as set out in the pamphlet he holds in his hand.

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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:

My hon.

friend will have some difficulty in discovering the clause in the platform. The policy of the party is set forth in this platform, and the tariff is printed in heavy dark lettering, in sections "A, B, C, D, E, F."

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

The right hon. gentleman made the same statement last year, but he is wrong.

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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 part of the platform to which I have referred contains no reference to furthering trade with the Mother Country, and I will leave it to my hon. friend when he speaks to point out where, in any other part of the platform, this policy is referred to.

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

If I may be pardoned for interrupting the right hon. gentleman, I merely wish to state that he is inaccurate in saying that there has been dropped out of the platform the clause to which he has made reference.

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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:

Well, I state again emphatically that my hon. friend will

not find anywhere in this tariff platform that clause I have quoted. I challenge him to find in the platform the following words:

To specially promote and increase trade with the Mother Country, the sister dominions, and the colonies and Crown dependencies.

I say he will not find that statement in the document.

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

Will my right hon.

friend send the pamphlet across the floor.

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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:

By all means; but my hon. friend will not find in it that clause for the reason that the caucus to which I have referred, in arranging its programme, decided to omit the clause when appealing to the people. Now, if that is not a case of disregarding political honour I should like to know what is.

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

I read in this platform

the following words:

The principle of trade preference between the different members of the Britannic Commonwealth should be maintained and extended from time to time to such a degree as may be found practical and consistent with Canadian interests.

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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 a

very different statement from the one I have read.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Wherein does the difference consist? Explain the difference.

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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:

If there is

no difference between the two statements, then why was the change made?

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CON
LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

And this is

the party that professes so much loyalty to the Mother Country, and stands so strictly for consistency!

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

You will admit that

that plank is contained in the platform.

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June 6, 1922