June 7, 1922

THE BUDGET


The House resumed from Tuesday, June 6, the debate on the motion of Hon. W. S. Fielding (Minister of Finance) that Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair for the House to go into Committee of Ways and Means, and the proposed amendment thereto of Hon. Sir Henry Drayton.


LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Hon. ERNEST LAPOINTE (Minister of Marine and Fisheries) :

Mr. Speaker, in view of some statements which have been made during the course of this debate. I feel it incumbent upon me to revise my decision not to speak, and to make plain my position to the House and to the country. The House will- understand me when I say that I prefer to express my own opinion rather than to have it interpreted by the right hon. leader of the Opposition (Mr. Meighen).

I am glad that it affords me also the opportunity of offering to my hon. friend, the Minister of Finance (Mr. Fielding) my sincere congratulations and of expressing my admiration for his unequalled record. My hon. friend, at an advanced age, is giving his services to the country at a time when those services are most needed, when strong and trustworthy men are required, and no man possesses in a higher degree the confidence of his fellow-citizens than does my hon. friend. He is a living example of the truth of the saying: "Honesty is the best policy." I am sure that the people will trust him more than the disappointing and disappointed criticism of my right hon. friend the leader of the Opposition (Mr. Meighen).

It was said of the great warriors of olden times that some of them shone more brilliantly in defeat than in victory. Whatever compliments may be offered my right

The Budget-Mr. Lapointe

hon. friend-and he deserves many-it cannot be said of him that he is a very good general of a beaten army. His effort yesterday, if he will pardon me for saying so, was a new exhibition of political rancour. At a time when the complexity of problems, both domestic and international, is growing hourly, at a time when all the energies of the nation should be grouped and directed towards a common goal, he, the leader of a once great party, is (offering Parliament and the country an empty amendment. When co-operation and constructive help is required, he is camouflaging the issue by the immoderate use of epithets and insinuations. At a time when 'new and vigourous statesmanship is needed, he is serving us a feast of cold roast partisan nonsense.

What is the purport of the amendment which is supported by my right hon friend, and which bears all the earmarks of his authorship? It proposes to reject the budget, not because of any inherent inefficiency or ineffectiveness or viciousness of policy, not because it contains something which my right hon. friend does not like, but because there is not in it something which he does not like. Of all the absurd proposals which during a parliamentary career of eighteen years I have heard made in this House-and heaven knows I have heard many-this one easily earns the palm. It is overwhelmingly entitled to the blue ribbon of that inglorious race.

Hon. gentlemen opposite, since the opening of this debate have painted in dark colours indeed the ruin and desolation which would follow throughout the country a larger reduction in the tariff. My hon. friend from Centre Toronto (Mr. Bristol) said a few days ago that such reduction would put everyone out of business and be the ruin of our industries and the bankruptcy of Canada. Yet this same gentleman and his colleagues propose to censure us because we have not brought about that ruin and that bankruptcy. My right hon. friend (Mr. Meighen) may contend that this is not the meaning of his amendment. Well, he may convince himself by his own sophistry; he will convince no one else. The main question before the House is whether the budget shall be accepted or shall be rejected. The amendment proposes to reject the budget because the Libera! policy in its entirety is not incorporated therein. And yet my hon. friends opposite are opposed to that policy.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I do not admit that any pledges have been violated by those who are responsible for the framing of this budget. On the contrary, I claim that this is a Liberal budget, inclined towards the right direction, and framed to meet the world conditions which we are facing to-day. But before arguing that point, Sir, may I refer to the apparent and amusing unconsciousness of my right hon. friend of his entire disqualification to discuss violated pledges and political honour? My hon. friend from Springfield (Mr. Hoey) in the course of this debate, and my hon. friend from Brantford (Mr. Raymond) in the debate on the address, quoted instances of the respect for pledges shown by my hon. friends opposite. I shall not repeat those instances. But what do you think, Mr. Speaker, of the respect for pledges and political honour of gentlemen who, after having obtained a prolongation of Parliament and of their term of office under the explicit condition that no controversial matters would be brought forward during that extended period, used the occasion to tamper with and manipulate the electoral law of the country and to enact under closure a measure for the purpose of disfranchising British citizens and selecting their own electors for th.e ensuing election? What do you think-

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF THE DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink
CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Before the hon. gentleman proceeds further, will he please read that explicit condition and state where and when it was given?

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF THE DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink
LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

My right hon. friend knows that I have not here the explicit promise, but he knew that it was made at that time, and that the prolongation of Parliament would not have been granted but for it.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF THE DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink
CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

It was never made, and the hon. gentleman knows it was never made, and cannot produce it.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF THE DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink
LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

The right hon. gentleman knows it was made.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF THE DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink
?

An hon. MEMBER:

Produce it.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF THE DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink
LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

My right hon. friend has the habit of making assertions very often instead of arguments. This is an assertion, and I can contradict with my own assertion. I know such a promise was explicitly made at the time. What do you think, Mr. Speaker, of the political honour- perhaps my right hon. friend will deny this too-of gentlemen who, having obtained a mandate on the pledge made on

The Budget-Mr. Lapointe

all platforms of the country that that mandate should be for a special purpose and would expire when the purpose was achieved, clung to power for three years after that special purpose had been achieved? What do you think of the political honour of gentlemen, who for the purpose of deceiving the people changed their name-or, if you like, the name of their party-as often as Henry VIII changed his wife and even borrowed or appropriated the name of their opponents and that without applying to the newly-manufactured article the dispositions of their own Marking Act? Sir, I do not like the tu quoque argument; it is always weak and sometimes despicable.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF THE DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink
CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF THE DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink
LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

My hon. friend says "hear, hear"; perhaps one of the reasons why I do not like it is because it was overused by my right hon. friend during his term of office. Two wrongs do not make a right But I simply desire to express the opinion that my hon. friends should use some discretion when it comes to discussing pledges and political honour, and that on such a topic my right hon. friend is not entitled to the floor.

I submit, Mr Speaker, anybody to the contrary notwithstanding, that this budget is a Liberal budget. It is 'based on the traditional policy of the party as it is, not as it has been represented to be, or misrepresented, by many gentlemen in the past. Nobody in this country-no party, rather-is in favour of absolute free trade. The right hon. leader of the Opposition, who seems to have lived for the last two years in a world of bogeys and nightmares, erected a bogeyman during the recent campaign whom he called free trade; this unwelcome figure he paraded throughout the land, but nobody took him seriously. In my opinion, the question of adopting absolute free trade in Canada is rather an academic one; it is a condition which cannot be realized during our lifetime-at least as long as the country will need import duties for revenue. Those duties, if raised in an intelligent and businesslike way, will properly safeguard our industrial activities. On the other hand, to proclaim protection as a basis of economic policy is a mistake, an economic heresy; because protection, if it means anything, means prohibition of imports, and you cannot get revenue without imports. In either case the strict application of the system would kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. It

would be impossible to frame a tariff which would please everybody; nobody knows that better than the Minister of Finance. The interests of society organized as a state frequently clash with the interests of the individual. Economic questions have to be judged by different standards accordingly as you view them from the point of view of the interests of the individual citizen or from the point of view of the social interest of the community. But the private interest is almost universally subordinate to the general interest, and in the end it is the general interest which must be taken into consideration. The task of finding out what that general interest is is an arduous pne-more arduous than that of the individual in ascertaining what is his own personal interest. The duty of public men is to abstain strictly from centering their vision on local or personal interests, and to keep always before their eyes the national interest of the society; it is for them to endeavour always to solve vital and fundamental questions with the view of building the nation as a whole. I do not believe that any fiscal system is the absolutely correct one, the one that will always succeed if applied in its entirety, at all times and in all countries. I do not believe that any fiscal system is as good or as bad as its friends or its enemies represent it to be. Political and fiscal questions are not governed by inflexible and rigid rules, as are the principles of geology, for instance, and of astronomy. Geography, and the needs of a certain section ot a certain territory, must also be considered. General Hancock forty years ago was ridiculed for stating during the presidential elections in the United States that the tariff was a local question. One hon. member of this House-I think it was the hon. member for Comox-Alberni (Mr. Neill)- said something to the same effect the other day. Yet there seems to be some truth in that statement, if we may judge from the various speeches that we hear in this House and elsewhere. Indeed, geography and the particular interests of certain territories seem to have a great influence on the principles of individuals. It seems to me impossible that all the men living in one section of the country or belonging to one class of the community should be of the same opinion and that all the men living in another section of the country or belonging to another class of the community should be of another opinion, if genuine, strict principles only were applied.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF THE DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink
PRO

Thomas Alexander Crerar

Progressive

Mr. CRERAR:

Hear, hear.

The Budget-Mr. Lapointe

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF THE DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink
LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

My hon. friend from

Marquette says, "hear, hear." The other day he told the House that the West would never be protectionist. Why did he speak only of the West? Why did he not mention the East as well? My hon. friend said, in emphasizing his argument, that the most hide-bound Tories, even those coming from Ontario, abandoned their protectionist prin-' ciples when they settled in the West and became, or at least, their children were, far from being Tories. I am glad of that, but surely it is not due to climatic conditions.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF THE DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink
LIB

Andrew Ross McMaster

Liberal

Mr. McMASTER:

They see clearer out

there.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF THE DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink
LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE :

At the National Agricultural Conference held at Washington or. January 27th last, the representatives of the United States farmers adopted a resolution approving the principle of protection and declaring in favour of a tariff adjustment board, and for the enforcement of an elastic tariff against foreign countries. At that same conference a resolution was adopted opposing all fixation of prices. Yet in our own country the farmers, especially in western Canada, are unalterably opposed to protection, yet seem to believe, to a degree, at least, in the fixation of the price of wheat through a wheat board.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF THE DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink
PRO

Thomas Alexander Crerar

Progressive

Mr. CRERAR:

I am sure that my hon.

friend does not in any way wish to misrepresent the western farmer in that respect. The proposal in respect to the Wheat Board does not mean the fixation of prices in any sense or degree whatever. The farmers are not asking for that, and have at no time asked for it.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF THE DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink
LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

I am glad I am mistaken in my impression, but my hon. friend from Brome (Mr. McMaster) who is generally right on these matters, seemed to indicate, so far as I could gather from the newspapers, that such was the case.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF THE DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink
LIB

Andrew Ross McMaster

Liberal

Mr. McMASTER:

The old Wheat

Board proposed to fix the price of flour. That was one of the objections.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF THE DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink
LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

I am not mentioning that by way of criticism, but simply for the purpose of showing that circumstances and conditions, geographical and otherwise, have a large influence on the fiscal views of peoples and of individuals. If that is so, is it not the duty of public men to try to find out the causes of these divergent interests, either as between countries or as between sections or classes or

occupations within a country? Is it not our duty to try to establish the causes of these divergencies, to scrutinize and weigh them, and to subordinate the merely accessory to those things that are absolutely essential? Is it not our duty to try to discover the concessions which it is possible for either side to make, or which it is desirable to obtain? I think that is the question which must be solved.

When citizens are animated by a sincere desire to serve the general interests above their own, or, at least, equally with their own, there is a minimum of progress that can be made. That is a step forward towards the goal of success, and should be accepted by all. What I have just indicated is true at all times, but especially is it true under the present conditions when it would be altogether unwise to try to apply old fiscal theories 10 a world which is wholly new. The war is over, but the war debt still rages, and the necessity of opening all sources of revenue is greater than ever. Furthermore, the consequences of the war, included among which is the demoralization of the gold basis as a medium of exchange, have turned upside down pretty nearly every economic theory upon which tariffs were formerly framed. Since the war sixteen countries have increased import tariffs for the purpose of revenue. Even export taxes have been imposed. Sixty-four per cent of the taxes in Mexico to-day are export taxes on oil. Roumania has put an embargo on the exporting of wheat until her food conditions become normal. England to-day is collecting over $700,000,000 from import duties.

My hon. friend from Brome the other day in the course of an eloquent speech, with most of the points of which I am in hearty agreement, pointed to the little countries of Switzerland, Belgium and Holland as having grown, and developed prosperous industries, under what is practically a free trade system. To that I readily assent.. But these countries at the present time, however devoted they may be to the principle of free trade, find it necessary to adopt measures quite at variance with their normal and traditional policies, in order to meet the abnormal conditions prevailing in Europe at the present time. I have here the Journal des Eeonomistes, of November, 1921, and I find that on September 30, 1921, the Federal Council of Switzerland prohibited entirely the importation of 167 articles, and partially the importation of 23 others.

The Budget-Mr. Lapointe

Mr. McMASTER- They would not raise much revenue on those they kept out.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF THE DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink
LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

If my hon. friend will allow me to proceed,-they have imposed duties on many articles, especially on farm products. Here is what the president of the Confederation of Switzerland, Mr. Schulthess, said to justify those duties-I translate from the French:

. All the other States increased their rates of customs duties, and therefore Switzerland has had to follow suit. Why? By not imitating them she would decrease, with regard to them all, her costs 'of production, including those of food, and therefore she would open her gates.

In the same issue-

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF THE DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink

June 7, 1922