Hon. CHARLES MARCIL (Bonaven-ture):
Mr. Speaker, it is not my intention at this late hour to inflict a speech upon the House. During the twenty-two years that I have had the honour, owing to the confidence placed in me by my constituents, of sitting in this House, I have listened to too many speeches to inflict a lengthy speech upon others; for I know how I have felt myself under similar circumstances. In those twenty-two years more than two hundred members have left this House and I am practically addressing a new House. When I first came to the House I seconded the motion made by the member for South Wellington (Mr. Guthrie) for an address in reply to the speech from the Throne. I have had the good fortune of listening to thirteeen out of the sixteen budget speeches delivered by the Minister of Finance (Mr. Fielding). I am glad to say that I supported them all, and I intend to support the present budget with the same fervour with which I supported those in the past. In those twenty-two years it has been my good fortune to do many things for the West, in my humble way. In the name of my constituency down on the Atlantic coast I have voted many charters for the construction of railways in the West; I have put through money votes by the millions. As deputy speaker of the House it was my good fortune to place my name on the two bills which raised Alberta and Saskatchewan to the rank of provinces. What I have done for the western country is what all the old inhabitants of Quebec, the maritime
The Budget-Mr. C. Marcil
provinces and Ontario have done. We have heard to-night an eloquent, conscientious speech from a new Canadian. The hon. member for Battleford (Mr. Mc-Conica) delivered a speech to-night which should give us food for thought. He represents, as I believe, the feeling of the West at the present moment. That party at the present time practically represents western Canada, and the Liberal party represents more particularly eastern Canada. East of the Ottawa river, with the exception of half a dozen constituencies, perhaps less, all representatives of eastern Canada sit on this side of the House. We are met here on the borders of the Ottawa river, which is the dividing line between the East and the West. I have sat here a long time, Mr. Speaker, and I wish to remain as long as Providence will allow me, but I do not want to leave this House before being able to say that I have been as sincerely devoted to the interests of the West as I am to the interests of the East. We do not know each other, unfortunately. I have never been west of Winnipeg, and many members from the West have never visited the part of the country I represent, though it is older than Quebec itself, because Jacques Cartier landed here before he went up the St. Lawrence. There was a time in 1867 when one of the lieutenant governors of the province of Quebec, who was then representative of my constituency, won the gold medal at the Paris exhibition for the best wheat grown in Canada at that time. It was grown at New Carlisle, in the county of Bonaventure. The West at that time was a howling wilderness.
The Liberal party has done what it could to build up the West since 1896, and it has done so with signal success. From 1896 to 1911 the West went forward by leaps and bounds which attracted the attention of the world. In those days immigrants came into the West by a thousand a day. They came there from all climes, carried' by the steamers sailing towards Canada, the promised land. The vigorous immigration policy inaugurated at that time by a western man, an ideal western representative, was heartily supported by the representatives of the province of Quebec and by the representatives of the maritime provinces. We intended in those days to build up a united Canada and I am glad to hear to-night from the West through the hon. member for Battleford, for whom I have the greatest respect, that that feeling exists in the West
to-day. Canada must be united and must be one. Otherwise, Canada will fail in its mission. We have been providentially situated as to our geographical position. We occupy practically the centre of the British Empire. As Quebec is the keystone of Confederation, so Canada is the keystone of the British Empire. As we extend our hand of good-fellowship towards the Mother Country, we extend our hand of progress towards the West, because progress is intended westward, and the great problems to-day are to be found in the western country for us, and beyond the Pacific ocean for the world at large. It is not my intention, Mr. Speaker, to go into these details to-night, but I should like the hon. member for Battleford, before he casts his vote, to feel that the Liberal party is striving at the present moment, under its young and gifted leader, to take up the work which the great statesman who fell prematurely in 1919 had so deeply at heart. Sir Wilfrid Laurier had called upon us repeatedly to do for the West what he wanted himself to do. In his early career he had declared that the citizens of Quebec should not confine their fatherland to the borders of the St. Lawrence, but that the fatherland of the Canadian extended to the shores of the Pacific ocean, and with Sir George Etienne Cartier, who had been instrumental in establishing the province of Manitoba, he was instrumental in giving the West a great rush forward, just as Cartier had done some thirty years before.
We find ourselves to-day in office through the will, largely, of the people in eastern Canada. The Government of the day has but commenced its work. A great deal lies before it. It is blamed on one side for not going far enough, and blamed on the other side for going too far. The men of the West are reasonable men. The case they have submitted to the hearing of this House is a reasonable one. They want a living, and they deserve to earn a living, and to be rewarded for their labour. They have to contend with many difficulties which are unknown to us in eastern Canada, but which were not unknown to those who came before us, because the. pioneers of eastern Canada went through hardships that those in the West may never know. Those who settled the province of Quebec in the early days and the province of Ontario, and those who are to-day invading the northern lands of Ontario and Quebec, have gone through hardships which will he unknown
The Budget-Mr. C. Marcil
to the West. The West has conditions and advantages that eastern Canada never had. We have given the West railways by the thousands of miles. I heard when I was in that chair, Mr. Speaker, the cry of every member, for the West asking for the Hudson Bay railway. I have heard every member from western Canada for the last twenty years ask for the Grand Trunk Pacific, ask for subsidies for the Canadian Northern, ask for branch lines for the Canadian Pacific railway. We could not build railways fast enough for them. We needed then, according to the people of the West, three, four or five transcontinental railways. Eastern Canada responded to the appeal without grudging the expense. We bore the brunt of the load and burden of the debt of Canada by our population, and we are bearing it still to-day, but we felt that if Canada was to fulfil its mission, if Canada was to become a great country, the West must be developed, so we gave to the West and we put it on the high road to prosperity.
We are accused to-day because we have not done all that is required for the West. There are two things Canada needs at the present time. The western farmer needs a market, and the working man in the city need's employment. Find a market for the farmer, a market for the producer, and find employment for the working man who earns his living in a factory, and your difficulties will be solved.
When I was elected in 1911 to this House, I was elected to support reciprocity. I see by the figures given of the general election of 1911 that those sentiments were also shared by the people of the West. We were united for reciprocity in Quebec, because Quebec voted for reciprocity in 1911. Western memberswhoarenotasfamiliarwith the conditions of 1911 as they are with conditions to-day will do well to remember that the twenty-seven members who were elected in the province of Quebec in 1911 and who brought about the downfall of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, were not elected in opposition to reciprocity, because reciprocity was no issue in the province of Quebec in 1911. The fight in Quebec in 1911 was on the navy, and on that alone, and those twenty-seven members from the province of Quebec secured their election by co-operation between the Nationalist element and the Conservative party. The maritime provinces divided on the question of reciprocity, the West voted for it, and Ontario went dead against it, but there were other issues at that time
raised in Ontario against Sir Wilfrid Laurier and his government, and I think many constituencies in Ontario were not wholly carried away against reciprocity. I remember well the day I occupied your Chair, Mr. Speaker, when the distinguished Minister of Finance of that day and his late distinguished colleague, the Hon. William Paterson, then representative of Brant, came into this House and the Minister of Finance rose to make the announcement of the success of the negotiations at Washington. The applause was general throughout the House, even from the front benches of the Opposition, and many of the old veteran Conservative members of Ontario, walking past the Chair would remark, en passant, what a fortunate man he was to have been able to achieve success because Sir Charles Tupper, Sir John A. Macdonald, Sir George Etienne Cartier, Sir Leonard Tilley and all the other statemen had failed. They regarded reciprocity as a Godsend to Canada. We had been wishing for it for years, and it was delayed. But, reciprocity being delayed, enabled Canada to fall back upon its own resources, and to start building the Canadian Pacific and developing its resources in an effort to try and eke out its own existence. But when reciprocity came, it came through the instrumentality of the Liberal party, in the fullness of time, and through the instrumentality of the Finance Minister, who has lived long enough to be able to know that, although he was accused at that time of having made a mistake, it was not a mistake, and that Canada is still longing for reciprocity. The reciprocity agreement, when laid before this House, did not receive fair treatment. I remember, from day to day, for weeks and months, I rose from the place where you, Mr. Speaker, stand to-day to put the question to the House, but obstruction of the most determined character was raised, and the vote could not be secured in this House on the question of reciprocity. Objections of all kinds were raised. Then the coronation of the late sovereign of Great Britain was to take place shortly, and Sir Wilfrid Laurier was urged to go to England to attend the event, as representing the premier dominion of the Empire. He went, and during his absence, a campaign was organized against reciprocity, and we know the result. Those who organized that campaign realized that if reciprocity in natural products with the United States were permitted to go into effect, it would be so
The Budget-Mr. C. Marcil
popular, and would have such an effect on the public mind that, within a very short time, the people of Canada would ask for reciprocity in manufactured articles. It was in Montreal, and also in Toronto, where there were many manufacturers, that the money was raised to fight reciprocity, because the manufacturers realized that reciprocity in natural products was the first step towards reciprocity in manufactured articles.
The measure was rejected, and then we went on without it. But our trade with the United States continued. Notwithstanding our fiscal policy our relations with the United States continued. The natural tendency is to trade with the United States, because they are our nearest neighbours, and they furnish the greatest market that we have. It is the policy of this Government to bring about a better understanding with the United States and to bring about a reciprocity agreement as soon as possible, and, I think, that the hon. members from the West would be well advised if, on the main motion, which will be submitted to them in a few moments, they give the Government, at least, a fair opportunity to give effect to what every Liberal in this country desires, namely, fuller, broader and more complete relations with the United States. In my own constituency we have been a unit in favour of dealing with the United States, because it is our natural market for lumber, fish, agricultural products and other things, and the United States will be the market for many districts throughout the whole of Canada. I hope, therefore, that when the vote is taken, the hon. member who has delivered such an eloquent oration to-night will give the Liberal party another opportunity of implementing what we know to be their policy.
In the meantime, we know the tariff has been reduced substantially on many articles, and the Minister of Finance has taken another step forward with the preference which he granted to Great Britain before the reciprocity agreement was made.
I remember well when that matter was introduced in this House, and I remember all the objections that were raised to it. The Opposition contested it and spoke against it, but never dared to challenge it on the floor of the House, and nobody sought to bring about a change in the British preference. It increased our trade with Great Britain, and the St. Lawrence became the natural highway for the commerce of the Mother Country to Canada.
That route was transformed into a national highway. In the old days, when the Liberal administration came into office, the St. Lawrence was an ordinary waterway, the steamers having to drop anchor at sundown in the lower regions of the St. Lawrence. In the course of a few years, we found the St. Lawrence transformed into a river with a channel 30 feet deep, and well lighted, so that the steamers were able to reach Montreal as easily at midnight as in the noonday sun. Montreal has become one of the leading ports in North America, the leading port in Canada, surely, and in the course of time, in the development of Canada, with the increase in our population and the development in our facilities of al kinds, Montreal will become the centre of this country, because it occupies a geographical position.
Montreal has progressed, and eastern Canada will progress, in time, as the West progresses, but the western and eastern people must get together and come to an understanding. No question of a paltry few dollars on the tariff, or a few paltry changes here and there, should keep Canadians apart, and I hope, before this session is finally closed, a better understanding will be brought about. When this session was called on the 8th of March there were a hundred new members in the House. We have hardly had time to become acquainted with their names, much less with their views. I have learned more in the present session about conditions in western Canada than I ever learned in the past. New ideas have sprung up, new conditions have developed, and a new state cf things has arisen. The statesmen of Canada must deal with these issues, because in their solution lies the safety of this country.
I will vote against the amendment, because I feel that I will be carrying out my mandate, and I will vote for the budget, because I think it is the best that could be presented. The Minister of Finance has been placed in the most difficult position in which any statesman could be placed, because he has to find revenue to meet our war indebtedness, which is eight times larger than the public debt of Canada was a few years ago. But Canada is now on the map of the world. Canada is in the council of nations, and has plenipotentiaries, and representatives in Europe. Canada is a nation, Canada that has been the home land for those who came from all countries, regardless of their creed
The Budget-Mr. Cannon
origin or nationality, only asking them one thing,
loyalty to the flag. There is among the citizens enough patriotism, enough enlightenment to solve the puny difficulties which now present themselves in matters of dollars and cents, to avoid a greater difficulty, which later on, may break Canada asunder, but which, I hope, will never occur, because to-day with our means of communications, with our newspapers, with our facilities, we ought to be able to get together and stand on common ground. I claim enough intelligence in the Canadian people to know that the moment we would get together, those difficulties would be solved.
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF THE DEBATE OP THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE