Hon. W. R. MOTHERWELL (Minister of Agriculture):
Mr. Speaker this budget has
now been before the House for almost the last three weeks with no visible effect except to demonstrate more and more its general acceptability by the Canadian people as the days of the weeks go by. By some parties it is referred to as a low tariff budget, by others it is spoken of as the Robb budget, while ethers again speak of it as a Progressive budget. I think myself that !the larger portion of its friends refer to it as a real Liberal budget, with the accent strongly on the word "real"-a real Liberal budget. You will observe, however, that no one thus far has ever thought of designating it a Tory budget. Mark that. Now, I think we can all sense in the not-too-far-distant future a battle on the tariff. We are lining up our forces for it, and it is well that the issue should be plain; for it is better that we should know exactly what we are fighting about and that the battle line should be clearly defined. So that, whatever else the budget has done, it has certainly effected a distinct cleavage between the low tariff and the higher tariff forces in Canada.
Before entering upon the budget proper I beg to refer very briefly to the environment, the setting in which parliament met on February 29. Prior to that and since the last prorogation our Conservative friends were engaged actively in strong propaganda for the purpose of convincing the people of Canada
The Budget-Mr. Motherwell
that this government was not very much good and that it should be replaced by themselves; they said that we were impotent and incapable of doing things. The people were told that on one side of the government was a hostile Senate and on the other a not-too-friendly Civil Service Commission; and that with no majority in the House nothing could be hoped for. That was the impression that was conveyed by hon. gentlemen opposite. Unless some of us have forgotten the kind of propaganda that was engaged in to spread distrust and suspicion among the electors, and in case the House may have forgotten what took place during the recess I will refer to a few passages from speeches made by the right hon. the leader of the opposition (Mr. Meighen). I am not going to drive them home too forcibly, nor shall I be very harsh; I shall be merely sufficiently effective to bring out the facts of the case. My right hon. friend toured the West and, in Winnipeg, he is reported under date December 17 to have spoken of the King government in this fashion:
The King government has a record of political perfidy unapproached in the history of responsible government the world over,-
Mark you, there are no limitations, there is no reservation, in that indictment-it embraces the whole world.
-because of its record on the tariff and every other subject of importance in relation to which it bound itself by pledges to the people of Canada.
No limitation at all; we are not only the limit, but we exceed the limit in impotency and general perfidy-"perfidy" and "apostasy" seem to be favourite terms in the vocabulary of my right hon. friend, and hon. members may recall that he used the latter expression in reference to my humble self last year when he described me as an apostate in relation to the tariff. I do not know what he will call us on this occasion, but we shall see about that later. About the same time he also addressed a meeting at Three Rivers. The House will remember that my right hon. friend and some of his lieutenants at that time were flitting about the country with wonderful rapidity, being here to-day and there to-morrow. And just shortly after the time he spoke in Winnipeg as I have quoted him, he addressed a meeting in the interesting city of Three Rivers. Let me read as nicely as I can what he said there:
The name of the government is a stench throughout the West to-day-
He had just returned from the West and so he ought to have known. .
-and the concessions they are fishing for are at the price of the rest of Canada, of Canadian industries and Canadian trade.
As to whether the name of the government was at that time, or is now, "a stench" in the West, that is something we shall hear about later. Now, these are not nice things to say, and I shall refer only to one more, just to show that the intention of the opposition seemed to be to sow so much distrust in the minds of restless people that, as they evidently hoped, the government would be crowded off the map. Well, there was a sort of reunion of the Conservative party in Saskatchewan. As you know, that party had got to be pretty limp up there, and a united effort was made by Hon. Robert Rogers, Premier Ferguson, and my right hon. friend, to breathe life into the dead flesh and bones of western Toryism. And that is a big contract. To show that birds of a feather usually do flock together, let me read the following report of the remarks of Hon. Robert Rogers on that historic occasion:
Mr. Rogers said that the people of Saskatchewan, never having enjoyed the benefits of a Conservative government, were living in darkness. This was the time to correct that situation. "You have as Liberals in Saskatchewan," he wrent on, "as unscrupulous men as there are anywhere in the Dominion of Canada."
There is no equivocation about that; none whatever. Well, having read these things I have come to the conclusion that they were not really intended seriously; I do not think they can be considered as having much more than political significance. These gentlemen were on the stump and were obliged to make a showing, and so this is what they said. I do not think that they believed it themselves. Every time we meet here after a recess we gather together as good friends, and if I thought for a moment of my hon. friends what from their language they would give us the impression that they think of us, why, I would not be so friendly with them. But I rather like them-right where they are. Now, so much for that; let us forget it. Indeed1, I am sure that some of my hon. friends opposite would like to forget it because it is nothing but a blunder; the people did not accept it. The trouble is that my hon. friends overdid it; and speaking for myself, I want no better campaigners in the interests of the Liberal cause in the West than that trio. Those gentlemen did far more good for us than the Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe) and I did in the effort we put forth. And we had a good time. Let us see what occurred later on. They seemed to be encouraged by the victories they
The Budget-Mr. Motherwell
won. in Halifax and Kent; and so no wonder they were on their toes thereafter. What with themselves and their press they had the whole of Canada in a remarkable state of expectancy as to what was going to happen when the House convened on February 29; everybody was speculating as to what was going to take place. Not only that; various dark rumours were being whispered around that something was going to befall some members of the government. I do not know who it was that had the brand on him, but three or four cabinet ministers seemed to be under suspicion, and there was an undercurrent of feeling that anything was apt to happen. These were the conditions under which parliament met, when our friends of the opposition were almost elevated into the third heaven of hope. What as a matter of fact did happen? Well, the first crack out of the box was the Speech from the Throne, and instead of seeing the whitening gills of the government, as the leader of the opposition has spoken of, we had the pleasure of witnessing the blanched faces of the opposition when the Speech was delivered. And from that affrighted state they have not to this day recovered.
Subtopic: THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE ACTING MINISTER OF FINANCE