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