March 11, 1924

REPORTS


Fourth Annual Report of the Civil Service Commission on the operations of the Public-Service Retirement Act, year ended 31st December, 1923-Hon. Mr. Copp. Licenses, permits and other authorities cancelled under the provisions of Section 3, Chapter 21, of the Statutes of 1922.-Hon. Mr. Copp. HOME BANK INVESTIGATION On the Orders of the Da3r: Right Hon. ARTHUR. MEIGHEN (Leader of the Opposition): May I ask if the Acting Prime Minister can give us any information to-day about the scope of the commission on the Home Bank?


LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Hon. G. P. GRAHAM (Acting Prime Minister) :

In reply to my right hon. friend 1 would prefer, on second reflection, as the Prime Minister gave the undertaking for the enlargement of the scope of the investigation, to hold the matter over until he returns, which will be in a few days.

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THE GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH ADDRESS IN REPLY


Consideration of the motion of Mr. Kelly for an Address to His Excellency the Governor General in reply to his speech at the opening of the session, and the proposed amendment thereto of Mr. Sutherland resumed from Monday, March. 10.


CON

Robert James Manion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. R. J. MANION (Fort William and Rainy River):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to join with those other speakers who congratulated the mover (Mr. Kelly) and the seconder (Mr. Lapierre)-of the Address. I particularly feel pleased to congratulate the hon. gentleman who comes from the same section of the country as I do, the hon. member for Nipissing (Mr. Lapierre) on the honour that has been conferred upon him asking him to second the Address. At the same time, I must confess that he is not here through any fault of mine. May I add, that I join in the sympathy that has been expressed to those ministers and

The Address-Mr. Manion

others who are sick and absent from the House at this time.

Mr. Speaker, the debate on the Address is usually made up of speeches dealing with the subjects brought up in the Speech from the Throne itself. As very many subjects are touched upon, one is not at a loss to deal with any one subject; but after having read the Speech of His Excellency a number of times I have come to the conclusion, that it is made up of four main types of clauses: First, clauses of double meaning and intent; second, pious hopes for the future; third, promises of better conduct; and, fourth misstatements of fact. I do not intend to make this statement without offering some proof of what I say.

In regard to clauses of double meaning and intent, one has only to read the clause regarding the St. Lawrence waterway. I notice in the papers that those who are opposed to that scheme view that clause as an encouragement to them, while those who are supporting the scheme have taken it las of some encouragement to themselves.

As to pious hopes for the future, these appear in the references to stabilization of freight rates and the cost of living. This cost of living question, like King Charles' head in writings of poor Mr. Dick, pops up every now and then.

The government's promises of better conduct deal with estimates and expenditures, and the misstatements of fact deal with past economies and the prosperity of the country. In regard to past economies, I think most members of this House would have to delve pretty deeply to find them. One case I might mention, and that is the appointment of a new Auditor General at a salary of $15,000, a position for which a salary of $6,000 was considered quite sufficient in the past. I have nothing whatever to say regarding the gentleman who was appointed, because I presume he is a most estimable gentleman, but in the past $6,000 was considered ample salary for the position, and I think one would have to reverse the telescope to find how that innovation was helping in the direction of economy.

In regard to prosperity, the Prime Minister has put into the mouth of His Excellency in the Speech, and mentioned again in his own address, as have some other members who have spoken, that marked prosperity exists in Canada to-day. Well, Sir, I am unable to discover it. I have been in many towns and cities in Canada, and I have heard the discussions here in which members from the farming sections in this country have

participated, and I have yet to discover where there is real prosperity in the Dominion of Canada at the present time. In fact, I think that what we have at the present time is mainly dissatisfaction, discontent, and unrest.

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LIB
CON

Robert James Manion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

Yes, that comes from the

dissatisfaction that exists. Sir, I should like to ask, what is the matter with Canada that these conditions should exist? Here we have a magnificent country, a country with all the attributes of a great nation, a country with a population so small that it is practically no population at all compared with the area of the country. When you compare the magnificent area of this country with that of the United States, where they have 110,000,000 people and room for as many more, while we have only 9,000,000, and compare it with Europe where, leaving out Russia, they have some 300,000,000 of people while we have only 9,000,000 in double the area, one wonders rvhy this condition should exist in Canada. Then, when you take into consideration our vast resources-our minerals, our fisheries, our timber and pulp and lumber interests, our millions of acres of fertile land, and all the other resources which we have-one might well ask himself, why should these conditions be as they are at the present time? It is true that the Prime Minister offered an explanation of these conditions. According to my recollection he mentioned that one of the causes was the fact that we had appointed a great many civil servants, and another of the causes had something to do with the Intercolonial railway. May I say here, Sir, that I do not like discussing the Prime Minister's speech in his absence, although I am going to do it. I do not like to do it when he is not here, but it is not my fault that is is strolling up and down the Boardwalk at Atlantic city instead of leading the House. Furthermore, he will have the opportunity finally to reply if he chooses to do so, because he can speak again on the amendment which has been offered.

I wish to indicate what I think are the real causes of the dissatisfaction and discontent in Canada at this time. To my mind there are three main ones: First, high taxes; second, the broken promises of the Prime Minister himself; third, the destructive tariff legislation which is strangling the industrial life of our country, which is indeed strangling our country as a whole. Sir, I shall endeavour to elaborate those three causes and that shall be the total of my speech, al-

The Address-Mr. Manion

though that elaboration may occupy some little time.

The fact of the high taxes requires no elaboration. Everybody in this country knows that we are suffering from a tremendous burden of taxation. The very fact that this government has realized at last that we are suffering from taxation is proof enough that everybody else in the country knows it. Economy, Sir, is imperative in this country. Everybody admits that, and I am very pleased that in the Speech from the Throne there is some promise of economy. That is sufficient for the elaboration of that subject; it needs no further amplification from me.

In regard to the broken promises of the Prime Minister, that is a subject I shall deal with at a little more length. I think in that regard the Prime Minister has made a record. When you compare him with any other public man we have ever had in Canada he certainly has made a record, in breaking promises if he has not in making them. It seems to me, Sir, that in the case of broken promises his appetite grew with its indulgence. And then at times, when he did not find promises were sufficient, he appointed commissions. He has already appointed I do not know how many commissions. I made an attempt to-day to find out how many commissions have been appointed by this government in the two years in which they have been in power. One prominent gentleman in this House guessed there were a dozen or more. I have been endeavouring to ascertain the number myself, and I shall just mention three or four which come to my recollection. There was a commission on questions affecting the returned soldiers; a commission on the rates charged by steamships; a commission on pulpwood; and a commission on grain. Those are four prominent commissions, four -large and expensive commissions. The pulp-wood commission is still sitting, and the grain commission is still sitting; and I am informed by an authority high up in the Department of Trade and Commerce that the grain commission is costing this country to-day-and it has been sitting for a long time-something like $800 per diem. But, not satisfied with appointing so many commissions in the past, I notice that in the Speech from the Throne we are promised two more.

I remember, and you will remember, Mr. Speaker, you who are a student of French history, that just before the French Revolution, when the people were crying for bread, I think it was Marie Antoinette said " Give

them cake." In Canada when the people are crying out from the distressing conditions which prevail the Prime Minister says "Let us give them another commission." It is true that revolutions have not been popular in Canada, but I venture to make this prophecy -that when the opportunity next comes to the electors they will bring about such a political revolution as will put my right hon. friend the Prime Minister and his associates in the wilderness from whence they came in 1921.

Now, Sir, just to specify three or four broken promises of the Prime Minister,-because I do not wish to make statements which I cannot prove: In the first place, the Prime Minister promised to the soldiers of this country that they would get better treatment than we were giving them. He travelled from Halifax to Vancouver, and he promised them that they would get very much better treatment. He implied that we were treating the soldiers badly, and he promised that if he was given power he would grant them relief. Instead of that-so far as I can find out, and I say this in all sincerity-since this government has come into power the soldiers have found that the strings have been tightened very much more than when we were in power in every possible way, and to my mind it has been more difficult for the soldiers to get the justice which is coming to them. From end to end of Canada, on that ground, there is a dissatisfied feeling amongst the soldiers of this country.

Then there was the second promise which I mentioned, that in regard to the cost of living. That was a favourite cry with the Prime Minister. He played many a tune upon that instrument. He blamed us for the high cost of living. Instead of the cost of living going down since the Prime Minister came into power it has gone up. In fact, living is so difficult to obtain for the working men of Canada that they are emigrating at the rate of fifteen or twenty thousand a month. I got the following figures from the Bureau of Statistics of the Department of Trade and Commerce, the index price figures for a series of years. The index figure for wholesale prices for 1913 they put at par, which was 100. In 1920, when there was a general boom throughout the world, the figure reached its very highest which was 243. In 1921 while our government was still in power the index figure dropped 72 points to 171. This government came into power in December, 1921. In 1922 -too soon for any effect from their actions, if any blame is to be attributable to them for an increase in the cost of living, or if they

The Address-Mr. Manion

are to be given any credit for relief-the figure dropped to 152 from 171, a drop of 19 points. But in the last year, that is in 1923, the first year for which they can really be given credit or discredit if they are to be held responsible for the condition of affairs, the figure again rose to 153. So that the cost of living has not been reduced to the working people as was promised to them.

There was another favourite cry of the Prime Minister, and he was greatly assisted in that by our genial friend the Minister of Labour (Mr. Murdock), in regard to doing away with combines, trusts and mergers. I can almost hear the Minister of Labour still striking that note, which he struck so often during the campaign, on "combines, trusts and mergers." The people were told that we were linked up with them. Hon. gentlemen opposite said they were going to show the people what they would do with combines trusts and mergers when they got into power. Well, they got into power, and it is true that last year they brought in legislation to deal with the matter, but that legislation is now pigeon-holed, so far as I can understand, and it will be a long time before it will be withdrawn from its hiding place.

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LIB

James Murdock (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MURDOCK:

You need not think it is pigeon-holed.

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CON

Robert James Manion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

If it is not pigeon-holed

the minister has done nothing with it so far as I can discover.

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LIB

James Murdock (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MURDOCK:

It is functioning perfectly.

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CON

Robert James Manion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

Perhaps it has not been

pigeon-holed, it has been dropped in the waste-paper basket. The Prime Minister in his speech the other day brought up the question of these combines, trusts and mergers, and criticized us foj not having taxed "the profiteers." We were blamed for not having sufficiently taxed the men who had made fortunes during the war although they still had those fortunes when hon. gentlemen themselves came into power.

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LIB
CON

Robert James Manion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

All the more reason why

the Prime Minister should have gone after them if he was sincere in his proposition. I am quite sure if he were convinced they were all Tories he would have done so.

Finally there was one other favourite promise, and that is all I shall mention of the broken promises of the Prime Minister. That is in regard to responsible government. That was a particular hobby of the right hon. gen-

tleman. I can remember well sitting in this House in 1920 and 1921 and listening to his speeches in which he abused us, like so many thugs, for being usurpers of power, for doing away with responsible government in this country, for violating the fundamental principles of democracy, for practising a colossal crime upon the people of Canada when we did not have a proper mandate from the people. I remember well those speeches. And yet at that time

we had a majority I think of thirty in the House of Commons over all the existing parties. And to-day the Prime Minister is in a minority of two or three.

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

Four.

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CON

Robert James Manion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

He is in a minority of four. Under these circumstances, since he is such an apostle of responsible government, I should think it would be his duty to carry on during the session, bring down all necessary legislation, and as soon as possible go to the country and get a proper mandate from the people or let someone else get it. But, instead of doing that, he simply goes on promising new legislation of whatever kind he thinks will bring votes. The other day he leaned across to the hon. member for Brandon (Mr. Forke), leader of the Progressives and told him if only he would give him his support, he would bring down legislation which would be satisfactory to him. He first attempted apparently to persuade the hon. member for Marquette (Mr. Crerar). Not having succeeded in doing that he approached, as a last resort, the hon. leader of the Progressive party (Mr. Forke) at the present time. And a rather amusing thing it was to me, after the Speech from the Throne had been delivered, and almost before the ink was dry upon the paper, the hon. member for Brandon hurried forward, almost with indecent haste, to assure the Prime Minister that he need not fear any. embarrassment from him. I do not know that there was any need of such assurance, there certainly was not in this section of the House.

These are some of the promises which have been broken by the Prime Minister. I might go on for some hours if I wished, mentioning other broken promises, but these were outstanding instances. There was a veritable flood of promises, but a veritable damming back of their fulfilment. It was a case of running away from them and dodging them, ever since the Liberal platform of the Liberal party was framed in 1919. It was a veritable retreat from Moscow, a rout; but the Prime

The Address-Mr. Manion

Minister should remember that after the retreat from Moscow came Waterloo; and he should also ponder over the fact that that other great political general who made promises which he did not carry out, Mr. Drury, is spending his time on his farm.

I think you, Mr. Speaker, who have read British literature, will remember Dicken's famous character, Mr. Micawber. He was a delightful ne'er-do-well, always in debt; and when pressed by a creditor he would give a promissory note which he never intended to pay, and then would sit back complacently in his chair and say, "Well, thank God, that debt is paid". The Prime Minister reminds me very much of Micawber. When he is pressed by the Progressive party he gives them another promise, and as they hasten forward to accept it with an innocence that Bret Harte would describe as childlike and bland, he sits back with Micawber-like complacency, and says, "Thank God that account is settled". I venture to make the assertion that Micawber paid as many of his notes as the Prime Minister will ever fulfil of his promises. Sir, because of this continual changing and veering around the policy of the present government might well be described as an advancing, retreating, sidestepping, wabbling vacillating, vote-hunting policy. There has been a change with every breath of popular feeling so much so that their policy reminds me of a southern politician, a great statesman, who at one time made a speech to his constituency and concluded in this way; " Gentlemen, them is my principles, but if they don't suit you I can change them." Is it any wonder that we have from one end of Canada to the other, discontent, dissatisfaction and unrest? I do not think so.

Now, I intend dealing with the third cause of unrest, which is the destructive tariff policy which is strangling our industrial life, and indeed strangling our country as a whole. In the Liberal platform of 1919 free trade was practically promised to the people of the country. However, as that was put forward for the purpose of getting the farmer vote, and did not succeed, it was one of the broken promises which I did not mention before. After the Liberal party came into power it is true the Finance Minister (Mr. Fielding), in 1922, did make a few reductions in the tariff, and also promised my hon. friends to my left that this was only a beginning. I remember his words. Then in 1923, a year later, he came forward with a few more reductions. But, Sir, he was struck with the fact that he was performing a dangerous feat,

and he made a speech regarding this question.

I am going to quote his (Mr. Fielding's) words, because they are worth quoting at this time. He said that stability of the tariff was needed if we were ever to get satisfactory results and were to have prosperity in the country. On May 11, 1923, just ten months ago to-day, Mr. Fielding said-

There is a thought which does not receive as much consideration as I think sometimes it should be given in public discussions, and that is the desirability of something like tariff stability. It is desirable that something like an assurance of tariff stability should be given to business men. Exceptions will occur. There will be cases where, in the interest of the consumer, reductions in the tariff ought to be made. But the conditions to which I refer are exceptional. Speaking broadly, it is possible to give the country a reasonable assurance of stability of tariff. Such assurances are very desirable, for no business man would care to enter upon enterprises which may be brought into peril by frequent tariff changes. The tariff as it will be when the changes proposed to-day come into effect will be-a moderate tariff and probably as low as the country can afford to have under present conditions.

Later in his address he said:

Subject to the exceptional conditions such as I have mentioned I think the country should be content to accept the tariff as it will now stand as one as fair and reasonable as can be prepared under all the circumstances, and business men should be able to carry on the various enterprises without the fear of being soon disturbed by further changes.

Those are the remarks, Sir, of the Finance Minister of that day, and by the way he is still Finance Minister of Canada, but despite that fact, and despite the fact that he is sick in bed, the present government comes forward with a Speech from the Throne which is a betrayal of the Finance Minister-not only a betrayal of that minister, but a betrayal of the industrial interests of this country, because a sigh of relief went up from the industrial concerns -when they were promised some measure of stability.

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LIB

Lewis Herbert Martell

Liberal

Mr. MARTELL:

Did not my hon. friend

in 1911 support reciprocity, which is going further than the government propose to go?

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CON

Robert James Manion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

Yes, I supported reciprocity in 1911, but I must confess that as I grow older I get more wisdom. That is twelve years ago. I remember well at one time Lincoln was asked if he had not taken a different stand1 at that time than he took the year previously. He said "Yes, I have taken a different stand to-day from that which I took last year, and any man who is not wiser to-day than he was yesterday is not much of a man."

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LIB

Lewis Herbert Martell

Liberal

Mr. MARTELL:

The fruits of office may change a man's opinion.

The Address-Mr. Manion

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CON

Robert James Manion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

My hon. fnend is not receiving much of the fruits of office.

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March 11, 1924