April 7, 1925

?

An hon. MEMBER:

No, no.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OP DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE ACTING MINISTER OF FINANCE
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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

Have we restored

to the people down there the same ad valorem duty that they had when the fourteen cent rate was put in? By reason of the increase in the value of the commodity that fourteen cent rate was getting less and less on an ad valorem basis. Perhaps I should have gone into it to find out the exact price on which that was levied. I do not know my self to-day whether we are getting more duty. I question very much if we are giving more protection than we were giving when it was fourteen cents when we had seventy cent coal. We have restored what was slipping away from us year by year as a result of the increased value of slack coal. Was that such a whale of a lot to do for them? I am one of those who believes that that is going to bring some redress. If the mines down there can be made more profitable it should benefit the labourer. I have hired too much labour in my time to be told that when an institution is profitable some of that profit will not go to the labourer. I know it will go to the labourer. I have hired labour all my life,

and when I make money some more of it goes to my labourers. When I do not make money I have to make a hard bargain with my labourers if I am going to carry on. Everybody who employs labour knows that.. I do not care who the Besco people are, I would not care if they were twice the steel corporation they claim to be, in their self interest they will keep their mines going if it is humanly possible, and if they are able to secure something better than they have had, if this is increased protection, and if they are enabled to carry on and make more money, part of it will go to the miners, and they will get to work and the trouble will be at an end. I am not accustomed to people going on strike. I am accustomed when a man will not work foi me to have him quit and go somewhere else But that is not the way of organized labour. Now how are you going to improve things for the Besco people or for the miners? I have talked with a lot of miners who are not in favour of the strike. I have been in the mines and know some people there, and I know there is great distress there while they are on strike. Human nature is the same thing the world over. The local authorities are working with us from their own standpoint, and incidentally we are helping them from our standpoint. I would ask the Progressives, particularly those from the west who have been working in co-operation to some extent with the Maritime and eastern provinces during the last two or three years, especially the Maritimes, when the Crowsnest pass question was up, who were standing by the western men back on the prairies stronger than the Maritime province men or stronger than the Island men, and again when we were trying to work out the compulsory wheat board clause after the war was over? They said let the west have it if it is going to do them any good. Last year when nearly all the changes were favourable to the western men did anyone see any one of the Maritime men gag at it? Those from Ontario did some squirming about. They stood up for their rights. But one hon, member stood out- too strongly, the gentleman from St. Antoine, he resigned and he was sorry afterwards. But it shows that we went as far as we could, as far as public sentiment would allow. In fact, we went so far that even one of the Progressive group voted with the Tories. The Maritime men stood to a man behind the west.

Long before I had the honour of coming to this House, I often wondered what evil

The Budget-Mr. Motherwell

genius possessed the people of the three prairie provinces and of the three Maritime provinces, whose interests as regards the tariff and many other things are almost identical. I question if there are in this House sounder and more practical men on the tariff than those from the Maritime provinces. Why do we not have some more fellowship and understanding with each other when we have so many interests in common? The same is true of rural Quebec. Indeed, as a matter of fact, you might say that it is practically true now of almost all Quebec and I hope that will continue to be the case. Here is an oportunity for the men on the prairies to reciprocate. They say that they are in favour of reciprocity, but let them not say that they are in favour of it only if it is all their own way. When something is to be done for the Maritimes, let them have their protection. When protection ceases to be in existence in the Dominion of Canada, then they may cast a stone at this in the Maritimes. I do not know whether protection in Canada will ever cease or not; but if the west refuses to accept this budget on the ground of what is claimed to be high protection on coal, but which was agreed to by Premier Greenfield and many others in the west and as regards which the only kick came from protected Ontario, I am afraid our western friends are losing an opportunity of showing a reciprocal feeling for the Maritimes, for what the Maritimes have been prepared to do for the west at every opportunity since we have come down here. Is that a right attitude to cultivate as regards the Maritimes? Should men with common interests not work together in unison? When the delegation from the west went down to the Maritimes, as I read their after dinner speeches and learned of the good times they had, I understand their hearts went out to the Maritimes Did you see, Mr. Speaker, the accounts in regard to the delegation from the Maritime provinces that went to the west? Certain newspaper representatives from the Maritimes went through the western country. All our leading journals held out the right hand to them and were willing to solve their problems in any way humanly possible, because we felt that they were suffering under adverse conditions and we were willing to help them. Personally, I have been here long enough to know that we are all going to vote on this budget to suit our own interests We are all keeping an eye on the folks back home. Sometimes we do not do so but we should. There is another broader vision even than that. Are we going to shirk this first oppor-unity of working out in harmony with the

eastern provinces, an incidental solution of this difficulty in Glace Bay, or are we going to refuse to reciprocate? I leave that there, feeling assured that possibly the difficulties may be solved. I understand my hon. friends' difficulties. We have all been born and bred, I was going to say, to hate protection, and it is hard to get over our early training. But as long as it is here-and it is here-some of these distressed places are surely justified in saying: Give us a little of what seems good for us, particularly when it saddles itself on to the protected industries of Ontario, and, if you like, Quebec. Is that a satisfactory answer to my hon. friend? Have I been candid enough?

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OP DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE ACTING MINISTER OF FINANCE
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I think the minister has been as amusing as he ever was in his life.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

I am glad to know that I have entertained if I have not instructed nay right hon. friend. A person that has to go into the realms of the valley of dry bones requires some enlightening, and if I have succeeded even in entertaining him, I think I have done pretty well. But getting back to this more serious question, I do not want to refer to the well-intentioned efforts of some members of this House to assist in solving that question. I might refer to la belle re-presentante for Southeast Grey (Miss Mac-phail) and her efforts which were nothing but good. I have only words of approbation for her good intentions, but the matter was one primarily for consideration, by the local authorities. We are doing our part. Are you going to mock at it because you think you scent an element of protection in it when we are surrounded by the same element?

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LAB

William Irvine

Labour

Mr. WILLIAM IRVINE (East Calgary):

Mr. Speaker, making a speech on the budget at this time of night is naturally enough rather a dry thing to do, and it is certainly deliciously refreshing to have had tihree hours' enjoyment of tlhe kind that we have just been given by the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Motherwell). I have listened to his speech with some interest and a good deal of amusement. I would say that after having listened to him making a prolonged speech on the Petersen contract and another prolonged speech on the budget, the Liberal party in the Minister of Agriculture has cer-

10 p.m. tainly waked to ecstacies the living lyre. He is certainly a very genial personality. He has the saving grace of humour. I believe he has a very excellent knowledge of agriculture. I believe he is also a very good administrator, but in matters of economics and of polities, he is not

The Budget-Mr. Irvine

seemingly quite so happy. He has likened himself unto a little boy with a Slice of bread with some jam on it. He has played for at least an hour amongst dry bones in a bone yard. I think if he had stayed in the bone yard and not visited the coal mines in Nova Scotia -and if he had kept away from Hudson bay, it would have been better for the party for which he was speaking. He reminds me of a river that, I believe, runs into Hudson bay, a river which is said to be one inch deep and a mile wide at the outflow. I would not like to underbake to navigate the treacherous shallows of that river, nor to launch out upon the bosom of the discussiveness of my hon. friend without the piloting power of the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) armed with the chart of the Liberal party.

There is very great danger of speeches of the character just delivered by the Minister of Agriculture becoming merely words. It may be that what I have to offer myself will be characterized in a similar manner. It may be that I shall add little more to the already disturbed ocean of words, ian ocean 'bestrewn with derelict proposals. I think it was Thomas Hobbes who remarked that "words are wise men's counters; they do but reckon with them, but they are the money of fools." I hope that we shall not inflate the currency overmuch before the debate is through.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OP DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE ACTING MINISTER OF FINANCE
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?

An hon. MEMBER:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OP DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE ACTING MINISTER OF FINANCE
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LAB

William Irvine

Labour

Mr. IRVINE:

I am glad to notice that

one hon gentleman opposite has taken my counsel to heart. It is something of an ordeal for any one of us to make 'a speech in parliament and perhaps it is a little more so when one speaks on the budget. I have heard gentlemen who have had a long experience in and close connections with parliament deplore the passing of the great orators from Canadian public life. I do not know whether there is anything in that reflection. It may be that the style of oratory peculiar to the days in which we live is so distinctly different as to be considered by men of the older school as not rising to their conception of what real speeches should be. But I am not so sure that there is not a little more in the reflection than that; it is just possible that the suffocating influence of highly developed partyism has some effect upon hon. member's of this House. I believe that an ordinary individual can make a fairly good speech even on the budget if one of two conditions is present: if on the one hand there is a very strong opposition or if on the other there is considerable sympathy. But when we have neither opposition nor sympathy, and 125

when the clammy hand of cold indifference grips an hon. member, even the most ambitious man in the House is stifled. I do not think therefore that, unless an individual member should happen to be a student both by habit and by nature, there is any opportunity afforded in this parliament for encouraging a man to go into any very extended research work or to attempt to do any deep studying even on matters of public importance. This budget is more discouraging in this regard than perhaps any other. The Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Motherwell) has been talking a great deal about dry bones. It seems to me that the budget debate is but the rattling of the dry bones of issues long since dead. And that I think has been the character of the speech we have just been listening to. It is true that here and there we have heard a feeble eCho of the great minds of the past; and on occasions the hon. member for Brome (Mr. McMaster) faintly echoes Cob-den and Bright. But apart from that hon. members opposite have not so far given us any constructive thought, anything which would approach that initiative, that daring conception which ought to be characteristic of the representatives of a new country like Canada, and especially at a time like this when we are supposed to be standing on the threshold of a new era.

I want to comment on what would appear to be the reason for this stultifying, suffocating influence in parliamentary life. It is a well know axiom that a force cannot be destroyed; and the thoughts and feelings of individuals are natural forces. These thoughts seek expression in action and when they do not find such expression, being also indestructible, they are apt to develop political monstrosities; in other words, there is a tendency to develop politicians rather than statesmen. Thoughts and feelings which end only in words debilitate the emotions and overshadow the mind with deadly pessimism. Where is the fine idealism which flamed so warmly at the opening of this parliament? These children of our. dreams are for the most part banished from their rightful parents. Some of them have been chained to political expediency, others of them have been shut up in caves of despair; a few of these ideals still make their unwelcome appearance in debate. I fancy I hear some hon. members say, "Oh yes; that idealism which some of the Progressives as well as some hon. members of the other groups tried to give expression to when they first come into parliament! That idealism! No wonder it is dead; it ought to be dead, because

The Budget-Mr. Irvine

idealism has no place in a practical institution of this kind." Parenthetically I would remark in regard to that attitude of mind, which I know is characteristic of very many hon. gentlemen, that the impractical is usually that which a stupid person is afraid to put to the test lest it might be found to work. For some to say that such and such is impractical is often the highest compliment that could be paid a proposal which is thoughtlessly dismissed, and it is at the same time the {severest indictment of those who sit in judgment upon that proposal. The enthusiasm and idealism to which I have just alluded are manifestations of natural forces seeking to express themselves in action.

But the one thing that parliament seems to avoid more than anything else is action. I have been astounded at the repertoire of excuses from which the present government has been able to draw in the last three or four years; I have been astonished when I have compared their manner of receiving resolutions, suggestions and bills in this House with the most democratic and glowing programme which they themselves drew up and expounded in their appeal to the people of Canada in 1921. I say I have been very much surprised at the agility of their movements and their resourcefulness in finding excuses to get away from their own promises. When it comes to labour matters the government has most decidedly ignored every protest and every appeal that has been made. For a long time the Minister of Labour (Mr. Murdock) has thrown the British North America Act at our heads whenever we have made a proposal. When the right hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Meighen) successfully disposed of that excuse during the discussion on the Nova Scotia distress the Minister of Labour, resorting to what we might call political etiquette, declared in the case of the miners of Nova Scotia in particular that it would be bad form for this parliament to do anything imder the circumstances. Other things might be mentioned to show the unconcern of the government with Labour matters such as-I was almost going to say, quibbling in committees over the scope of a reference and so forth; parliament seems to try to do everything but take action. So I say it is not surprising that we find the psychological conditions which I have spoken of in this House. But there is one ambition which is fitted to survive in parliament, and that is the ambition to obtain power. For the present I am not criticizing that ambition; it may, indeed, be a noble one. But I merely comment upon the fact that the de-

sire or the ambition to attain power peeps out of every argument. Perhaps the words of Milton's Satan appraised the situation admirably :

Here we may reign secure, and in my choice To reign is worth ambition, though in hell:

Better to reign in hell, than serve in heaven.

Of what member of a party or of what party might it not well be said:

But man, proud man,

Drest in a little brief authority,

Most ignorant of what he's most assur'd,-

His glassy essence,-like an angry ape,

Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven,

As make the angels weep.

The hon. member for Brome (Mr. Mc-Master) who I am sorry is not in his seat at the moment; whom I have characterized as the exponent of Cobden and Bright; who in his enthusiasm for the free trade theories of old times has become the most conservative mind perhaps in the House on that subject, has found himself on this occasion in a very difficult position. I use the position of the hon. member for Brome as a means of illustrating what this desire for power on the part of parties sometimes leads an hon. member into. The hon. member for Brome, honoured, I am sure, by every member of this House, whose clearness of thought and integrity of character no hon. member who knows him will question for one minute-what position does he find himself in with regard to the budget that he is asked to vote upon? He finds himself in this position: he is asked to vote on two questions at the same time, and he has only one vote for the two. These two questions are, stating them very briefly: will the hon. member for Brome vote for an increase of the tariff on slack coal, or will he vote against the government? These two things have no connection; they are almost at the opposite poles, but he has to get them settled in some way with the one vote. Now the hon. member for Brome is an ardent free trader by profession. In his speech on the budget of this year he gives us the crystal-clear principles of Cobden and Bright and John Stuart Mill. There is no doubt about the philosophy of free trade so far as the speech of the hon. member for Brome is concerned. But he turns from his principles to criticize this particular item in the budget, the raising of the tariff on coal. He says virtually that he is opposed to raising the tariff on coal, but notwithstanding the fact that he is opposed to raising the tariff on coal; notwithstanding that he is a free trader, he is going to vote for a budget which raises the tariff on coal because he does not want to defeat the government. What does that mean? I do not know of

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Mr. Irvine

any hon. member who could better illustrate the situation than the hon. member for Brome, for the very reason that I have given, namely, that of his unquestionable integrity of character. Here he is on the horns of a dilemma, and, I say, notwithstanding his devotion to free trade he says he must vote first to save the government and vote for free trade at some other time or at some more convenient season.

Now, the major parties in this House, naming them in turn, are the Liberal party, now the custodians of office; the Conservative party, the official opposition; the Progressive party to my right; then, the other party which awaits the next election to be christened; then the Labour party, of which I am the biggest part-that is, to say, Mr. Speaker, excluding my leader. The Liberal party at present enjoys this power, the opposition party and the Progressive parties both aspire for power. The Labour party does not aspire for power. The obvious answer, I know, in your minds is that even with very keen imaginations, which we have been charged with on some occasions, we could not even visualize that for labour in this country at the present moment. But that is not really the answer. The real answer is that we do not believe that any party or any class or any group should have power; that the power in any country should be co-operatively wielded; so on principle I say we do not look for power even if from our political development we might be justified in expecting it. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I am in this position as representative of labour, neither desiring power nor being within the possibility of reaching it; I have to turn first to one party and then to the other, examine their programme, examine their policies, examine their records, examine their leaderships, to see which of them in my opinion would be most favourable to the people I represent; to see which, by virtue of their leadership and administrative power and policy, would, in my opinion merit the support of the Canadian people. So I begin to examine these parties just before coming to the budget itself, and I want to deal first of all with the government.

I cannot be so gracious with the government as the hon. member for Brome was in his closing remarks. He feelingly quoted the immortal bard of Scotland to the effect that we should gently scan our brother man- I forget the actual quotation; at any rate the suggestion was that we should adopt a sympathetic attitude toward the government. In that connection I want to quote just 1254

another passage from the same great poet that is really more applicable inasmuch as it was actually written for parliamentarians. He says:

Stand forth, an' tell yon Premier youth The honest, open, naked truth: .

The muckle devil blaw ye south,

If ye dissemble!

In gath'rin' votes you were na slack;

Now stand as tightly by your tack;

Ne'er claw your lug, an' fidge your back,

An' hum an' haw;

But raise your arm, an' tell your crack Before them a'.

Seeing that I do not happen to be embarrassed as the hon. member for Brome is, I can tell my crack before them a', and so I ask the government, first, what they have to offer in return for the power which they now enjoy, and which I have no doubt they will be seeking to continue at the next election whenever that may come. I would like to be very gracious in my criticism. The words of an unknown author come to my mind: "I can expect to pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that. I can show to my fellow crea-turesj let me do it now. Let me not defer and neglect it. for I shall not pass this way again." I think that is a fitting quotation before one emerges upon the precarious course of criticizing a government, especially on a budget that may be the last of this parliament.

I desire to affirm, that the government that is now in office is far below the average of Canadian governments. I have not been able to find one outstanding achievement to its credit. I know that the administration has gone on in the ordinary way, except when it was interfered with by some of the ministers perhaps; that is to say, the deputy ministers have been doing the work, as they will do after the next election and after the one after that. But when it comes to any daring legislation that would measure up to the verbose promises of pre-election speeches. I look in vain for anything whatsoever. I think perhaps the government can be described as mediocre. There has been no outstanding thing to put on the credit side of the balance sheet, but there happen to be some very outstanding things to be put on the debit side. I have already had an opportunity of criticizing one of those outstanding proposals which must go on the debit side, and perhaps if it survives the committee, We may have an opportunity of dealing with it again. I refer to the Petersen proposal.

There are some other outstanding things to be put on the debit side of the balance sheet,

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and that is some of the items in the present budget. Perhaps the raising of the tariff on slack coal, which personally I am very glad to see done, is the best thing that is in the budget, but seeing that is the best thing that is in the budget, I. think the government ought to have the generosity to give credit to the right hon. leader of the opposition and his followers for showing them how to meet the situation in the eastern provinces. There can be no doubt that the leaders of the government have argued that the best thing for the workingman was to reduce the tariff, and that by reducing the tariff they would reduce the cost of living. I am not now questioning their reasoning at all. What I am doing is questioning their sincerity when they say that to the people outside, and then come back to parliament, and when they have a really difficult situation to deal with, the only way out of it they can find is to raise the tariff on coal to 50 cents per ton. Since on a labour matter the government that preaches free trade practises protection as a remedy for labour difficulties, I think the least that the government can do is to give credit to the hon. gentlemen who have the courage to say they stand for protection. That is due to the opposition in common courtesy.

I am reminder of a story in describing this government's policy. A negro woman was taking her child to a circus, and the child had a nickel, which, like most other children, it was very anxious to spend. Seeing a merry-go-round the child proposed to the mother that the nickel should be spent on a ride. But the mother was a little more careful of her nickels, and opposed the idea. Finally, however, for the sake of peace die yielded to the importunity of the child and put him on the merry-go-round. The mother stood there until the circuit had been completed, and when the merry-go-round stopped just where she had put the child on, she lifted him off and said, "Now, yo' am spent your nickel and yo' am had your ride, but where hab yo' been?" The government has had office; it has expended public funds; it has had its innings of power; but what has it done? Where has it been? What has it accomplished? We will have to have another speech from the Minister of Agriculture to tell us what are the achievements of this government. I will have more to say of the government's attitude when I come to consider the budget in detail.

Now I must turn from the government and have a look at the next party that is aspiring for power, the Progressive party which I believe is the next largest party in numbers, and I have to ask, what has the Progressive

party to offer from the labour point of view? In making this criticism, Mr. Speaker, I hope it is unnecessary for me to remark that I fully appreciate that the hon. gentlemen who sit to my immediate right are very high-minided and sincere gentlemen, that in very many respects they think as I do. I want to say also that many of them I regard as personal friends. More than that, some of the hon. gentlemen to my right are men of mind and culture and ability, men who some day we will perhaps find holding the highest offices in the land. These things, I hope, my hon. friends to my right will take for granted, notwithstanding the fact that I am going to criticize the Progressive party. When I criticize the Progressive party I do so as I have criticized the party opposite. I criticize it from tire point of view of the aims of the party itself, the policy it seeks to enforce in the House, and what I as a representative of labour may expect from it were it returned to power at the next election. I know that some hon. members have prognosticated that this party is not coming back. I do not feel so sure of that, nor would I feel particularly happy to contemplate it. I am not very sure about coming back myself; I cannot make any prophecy of that character at all. I hope they will all come back so far as that is concerned, that is if they have got anything to give us when they do come back. But for the present I am going to criticize the Progressive party. That party took its place in this parliament on a certain programme which I will refrain, in my generosity to my hon. friends, from reading again. But I may characterize them as tariff haters. They hate the tariff very much on occasions; sometimes they do not hate it quite as bad as at other times. But I would say that Don Quixote tilting at a windmill is not any more ludicrous than the Progressive party tilting at a moderate tariff in the idea that they have found the solution for the economic problems of Canada in 1925. I have noticed that the leader of the Progressive party has registered his disapproval of the present budget.

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PRO

Donald Ferdinand Kellner

Progressive

Mr. KELLNER:

Did not your leader move the Progressive tariff platform as an amendment to the budget last year, and did you not support it?

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LAB

William Irvine

Labour

Mr. IRVINE:

I am very glad that my hon. friend has called to my mind something I was not likely to forget. I hope before I am through, Mr. Speaker, that I will satisfy my hon. friend on that point. If he will permit me just to postpone his question for a few minutes I will answer it in its proper place

The Budget-Mr. Irvine

in my speech. If I fail, if I should happen to forget the question which I do not think I shall, I hope he will ask it again. I was saying when my hon. friend' asked me the question that the leader of the Progressive party has registered his disapproval of the present budget, and I was wondering why. Why has he disapproved of this 'budget? This budget is just about as good as the last one, in fact I think I might just quote one passage from the speech of the leader of the Progressive party in the House a few days ago to prove this contention. The hon. gentleman said on that occasion:

I think in commencing that I might characterize the budget as I have seen it characterized in the press-as a stand-pat budget, adopting the position "just as you were" and really leaving us in exactly the same position in which we found ourselves at the commencement of the year-no progress, nothing changed, we are left in the exact position we have been in during the last twelve months.

Well, this means that the budget which is now before the House is to all intents and purposes exactly the same budget that the Progressive party voted for last year by the confession of their leader himself. Well, not only did the Progressive party vote for the same budget last year, but they actually voted against a reduction of the tariff as proposed in a resolution which embodied their own programme. Not content with that, I believe that not very long ago the leader of the Progressive party in a speech, I think it was in Hamilton, made a declaration that he was in favour of a moderate tariff. Well, now, Mr. Speaker, that is just exactly what we have in this budget. We have a moderate tariff, and it is because of its moderation that I am opposed to it. If it was moved either down or up it might be a permissible thing; but seeing that it is just a moderate tariff it presents to the people of Canada a fiscal policy which retains all the weaknesses and all the bad points of both free trade and protection. That is the reason why I oppose it now, but why the Progressive party should oppose it I am not quite so clear.

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UFA

Alfred Speakman

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. SPEAKMAN:

In what respect does this budget differ from the budget the hon. member supported last year?

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LAB

William Irvine

Labour

Mr. IRVINE:

Again I will have to postpone my answer. I will answer my hon. friend at the same time that I answer the hon member for East Edmonton (Mr. Kellner) and it will be partly the same answer. The one will be negative and the other will be positive, and when we combine a negative and a positive we get something substantial. I

regard the amendment of the Progressive party, therefore, as a gesture which I regret to see coming from the party that I had hoped would abandon the political tactics of party-ism. I say it is a gesture because its supporters know very well it could not even get a hearing. They need not argue that in moving the amendment they would, perhaps, at least register a protest against the rules of the House, because 'that has been done already and we have started the machinery going to amend the rules of the House if they can be amended. So I say I regret that such a gesture should have been made. I regret to find no bright hopes in the Progressive party so far as labour is concerned, and I abandon my hopes of it very reluctantly. Many forward-looking people in Canada to-day see in the Progressive party as it now is a fitting epitaph for the tomb of a lost opportunity. Of that party it may well be said:

There is a tide in the affairs of men Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries.

That flood time has passed, the ebb has set in, and the Progressive party is now gasping and wriggling like a fish left stranded on the beach before the receding tide. There I will leave them while I deal with the opposition.

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PRO

Leland Payson Bancroft

Progressive

Mr. BANCROFT:

You forgot to answer the two questions.

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LAB

William Irvine

Labour

Mr. IRVINE:

I will come to the two questions at another point, and I promise my hon. friend that I will not forget them.

Turning then to the official opposition, I want to ask what policy they have to offer. I think that all hon. members will agree with me, when I say, to begin with, that the leadership of that party is one of its greatest assets. As to what the policy of that party is I want to ask some very pertinent questions, and I hope that the right hon. leader of the opposition, who I regret to say was unable to place beforfe parliament his policy as indicated in a resolution, will take my questions as seriously as I am offering them, and when he makes his speech in this debate will favour the House with a reply to them. I am not going to put my questions at the moment; I shall do so when I am dealing with that part of the budget speech under which they will more fittingly come. I believe that the opposition party stands for protection. Does it mean that? That ds one of the questions which perhaps I might put now. Does the Conservative party mean to be really a protectionist party? I do

The Budget-Mr. Irvine

not believe that Canada has ever had a real protection policy. On these questions, however, I will be more pointed a little later on.

I come now to the budget itself. I was rather struck with the government's attitude in dealing with the economic conditions of Canada. The government seeks to make out that Canada is good, bad or indifferent, according to the immediate purpose which the government has to serve at the time of making the speech. At the time of the Speech from the Throne Canada had passed through a wonderful year of prosperity. When it came to the Petersen subsidy then Canadian trade was in a terrible shape. When the hon. Acting Minister of Finance (Mr. Robb) presented his budget he took occasion to comment upon the very unfavourable condition of trade and commerce that he had had to contend with, as a means of emphasizing how well the government of the day had financed, and so I say that if there was no other evidence as to what the real conditions of Canada are than that which we could obtain by reading the speeches of the ministers of the crown, I do not know what conclusion we would come to at the end of the year. But what are the real conditions? I could not even deal with them as lightly as I am going to deal with them if it had not been for the real enjoyment the House has had this afternoon and evening, and that may enable hon. members to take a very different kind of medicine with good grace.

May I draw attention to the growing national debt, and in this connection I want to quote a very brief financial statement. I know that the House hates figures about as badly as I hate giving them, and so I will not inflict very many figures on it. Dealing with the national debt, we have a gross debt in the Dominion, according to the Canada Gazette, of $2,940,099,008. [DOT]

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

No, it cannot be.

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LAB

William Irvine

Labour

Mr. IRVINE:

Yes, and there are'some cents to be added-to be specific, thirty-five cents,-an ominious figure for my hon. friend. I received these figures from the Finance department and I will give them to the House now. The figures are as follows:

National Debt

Gross Debt Dominion (Dec. 31/24

Canada Gazette) $2,940,099,008 35

Securities guaranteed by Dominion:

As to capital $423,161,713 83

As to interest only .. 167,349,218 72

590,510,932 55

National Debt-Concluded.

Funded and floating debt of provinces including guaranteed securities but excluding sinking funds (Canada

Year Book, 1923, pp. 792-3) 697,785,627 00

Funded and floating debt of municipalities of 10,000 and over (Can. Year Book, 1923, pp.

796-7) $ 622,301,440 00

Funded and floating debt of municipalities of 3,000 to

10.000 (1919) (Can.

Year Book, 1923, p.

803) 51,642,287 00

Funded and floating debt of municipalities 1,000 to

3.000 (1920) (Can.

Year Book 1923, p.

805) 32,700,840 00

706,644,567 00

Or $548 per capita at population 9,000,000 or average capital debt of $2,740 for family of five paid for in taxes annually.

With a financial statement of that kind the balancing of the budget appears almost humorous, placing it alongside of the national debt, which is growing gradually, in spite of the efforts of the government at economy.

Let us take next the stagnation in industry and business depression. The government I notice has been claiming great credit for having reduced the taxation of Canada fifty-two million dollars. That fifty-two million dollar reduction, according to government figures; has all been occasioned by the fact that we have had less business and less industry in Canada this year than we had last year. That fact has been brought out very ably by other hon. members. Then we have unemployment unparalleled, and suffering among workers. We had, for instance, a march on Edmonton recorded in the public press some short time ago. We have the Nova Scotia situation knocking at the doors, of the government for alleviation. So taking into consideration the enormous national debit that is still increasing, the paralysis in the industrial and business life of Canada, the unemployment which perhaps has never been so severe as it is at the present time, and the actual distress from which many people are suffering while I am speaking -that represents the conditions in Canada after four years of the present administration. This will contrast unfavourably with the address of the Prime Minister when dealing with the Speech from the Throne, but will come nearer his description of conditions when defending the Petersen contract. I know the

The Budget-Mr. Irvine

conditions in Nova Scotia have been denied by some hon. members on the government side of the House, and just at this juncture I have a few words to say with regard to the reply the hon. member for Lunenburg (Mr. Duff) made to the speech of the hon. member for Southeast Grey (Miss Macphail). I of course have no apology to make for Nova Scotia in replying to the hon. member for Lunenburg. The industrial situation in Nova Scotia is merely an exaggerated sample of general industrial conditions throughout Canada. It happens at that point that it is a little more apparent than at many other points throughout the west and throughout other parts of eastern Canada. This condition itself is I consider a national disgrace, and if Nova Scotia is as offended as the hon. member for Lunenburg would make her out to be, I hope its offence will stimulate it to immediate action, and that the province will remedy the industrial conditions which are so oppressive to the miners of Nova Scotia at the present time. I do not wish to criticize the hon. member for Lunenburg (Mr. Duff) very much, because I notice that he is not in his seat and, besides, I really think, after the speech he made, he is more an object of sympathy than of criticism. The nemesis which followed him came very speedily. He tried to convince the House that the distress in Nova Scotia was not serious enough to attract the charitable interference of the general public. The greatest credit -which is due to the hon. member for his speech will be found in the fact that not only did he fail to convince the House, but he gave the greatest evidence that he had failed utterly in convincing himself that conditions in Nova Scotia were not as represented by the hon. member for Southeast Grey. I have no first-hand information. I have not been at Glace Bay. I must speak from the knowledge -which I have gathered from the press and from the reports of citizens like the hon. member for Centre Winnipeg (Mr. Woodsworth) and the hon. member for Southeast Grey. But when I am called upon to decide whether' I am to accept as truth the conditions as depicted by those two hon. members or as depicted by the hon. member for Lunenburg, I have no hesitation in deciding that personally I accept the statement of the hon. member for Southeast Grey and that of my leader from Centre Winnipeg. To answer the main contentions of the hon. member for Lunenburg after what has transpired in the last few days would be comparable to the whipping of a dead carcass, because he has received his answer

very thoroughly. It came to him very speedily. In fact, before he had his breakfast next morning, I think he had his answer from representatives of the people in Glace Bay. He had his answer from interested, public-spirited officials throughout the province of Nova Scotia. He had his answer from his own sister whose appeals went out for aid to the suffering multitude of his own province. Lie had his answer from all parts of this country through the press. In fact, I do not know of any statement that the hon. member for Lunenburg made that has not been answered out of court already. Even his statement with regard to the Nova Scotia legislature and its taking action has been answered, for I understand that government has at last decided to give $20,000 for relief.

But there is one more point dealt with by the hon. member for Lunenburg upon which I desire to comment. He tried to place the whole blame for the distress in Glace Bay on the mayor of that town, who happens, I understand, to be a labour man. If hon. members are interested and will look up page 1774 of Hansard of April 1, they will find the statement of the hdn. member for Lunenburg dealing with that phase of the question. He argued that there was a certain law respecting the borrowing powers of municipalities, and that it was not necessary for the municipality concerned to get legislation to enable it to make loans to relieve the starving people. But here is the answer to that. In making the speech, he said that the hon. member for Southeast Grey should get better information. I ask: Who requires to get the better information-the hon. member for Southeast Grey or the hon-. member for Lunenburg? This despatch will give the answer to 'that question. It is a despatch from Glace Bay of April 6:

At a special meeting of the Glace Bay town council it was decided to apply for legislation to empower the town to extend its overdraft at the local banks by $80,000. This step is rendered necessary by the financial condition resulting from the tie-up in the coal mines.

That is the final and crushing answer to the last point of the hon. member for Lunenburg.

Let me recapitulate my summary of the economic conditions in this country. There is the increase in our national debt; a business depression and an industrial paralysis that have become chronic under the attention of this government; and most

11 p.m. alarming of all a wide-spread unemployment, not only in Nova Scotia, but in many other parts of Canada. In view of these facts I must say that the present government has no policy of any real

The Budget-Mr. Irvine

value to labour. But I cannot refrain at this point from turning to the programme of the government with regard to labour. I think, in fairness to the government and also in fairness to labour, that may be asked in the near future to support the government with such a glowing programme as this happens to be, I ought to read the programme. In this Speakers' Handbook, prepared by the Liberal party and decorated on the front page with the picture of the Prime Minister himself I find the programme of the Liberal party and also the sister programme of the Progressive party, both within the bounds of the same volume. I find here what purports to be the Liberal party's programme for labour.

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LIB

Lewis Herbert Martell

Liberal

Mr. MARTELL:

That will be Unitarian,

will it? If the Liberals and Progressives were put together, it would be Unitarian almost if you add a third party to it.

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LAB

William Irvine

Labour

Mr. IRVINE:

I hope my hon. friend's

suggestion will turn out to be true in the interest of both parties concerned. The resolution on Labour and Industry, which I find in this volume, constitutes the programme of labour as laid down by the Liberal party in 1921:

Resolved, that the committee recommends that the National Liberal convention accept in their entirety as a part of the Liberal platform, in the spirit they have been framed and so far as the special circumstances of the country will permit-

These I believe, in terms of poker, are called jokers.

-the terms of the Labour convention and general principles associated with the League of Nations and incorporated in the conditions of peace.

These methods and principles for regulating labour conditions so set forth in the treaty are as follows:

1. The guiding principle that labour should not be regarded merely as a commodity or article of commerce.

I wait for the government to tell me in wrhat way and when during the last four years it has actually taken labour out of the market as a commodity. I think the surplus labour of Nova Scotia at the present time is in about the same position as a factory filled with manufactured goods for which there is no market. There is no alteration, there is no indication of any policy that would alter that condition.

2. The right of association for all lawful purposes by the employed as well as by the employers.

I think I must stop to make a remark about that plank. Hon. members will recall that last year when the leader of the Labour party moved in the committee on Banking and Commerce and, if I mistake not, on the floor of the House as well, that the bank clerks be

allowed the privilege of organizing and forming a lawful association such as we have set forth in this plank of the Liberal platform, the government rejected the proposal. Did they give these people the right to organize? -a small thing to ask for. Why should they refuse the bank clerks this right? Even in this picayune thing the government refused to meet this class of labour.

3. The payment to the employed of a wage adequate to maintain a reasonable standard of life as this is understood in their time and country.

Take the government's own figures in regard to this plank; take the cost of living in Canada to-day as estimated by the government itself. Take the average income of the wage earner and then let hon. gentlemen answer for themselves the question I am about to put: How has the government of the day implemented this promise to labour? How has the government brought the earning power of the working people of Canada up to a level with a decent standard of living?

4. The adoption of an eight-hour day or a forty-eight hour week as the standard to be aimed at where it has not already been attained.

That was very largely established before the government came into office. Certainly I know of no instance where the government has put it into operation.

5. The adoption of a weekly rest of at least twenty-four hours, which should include Sunday wherever practicable.

On this plank the government has come nearer fulfilment than on any other. It has given not only a twenty-four hour rest but a three hundred and sixty-five day rest to hundreds of people in this country.

6. The abolition of child labour and the imposition of such limitations on the labour of young persons as shall permit the continuation of their education and assure their proper physical development.

Again I ask the government or someone speaking for them to tell me what they have done m this regard. They have undoubtedly encouraged the bringing in of children from Great Britain and possibly from Europe, but as to what wages they are paying these children and what protection they have afforded them, that is a point on which I am not clear.

7. The principle that men and women should receive equal remuneration for work of equal value.

Where has that been implemented by the government? Have they put it into operation in connection with their own staffs in the Civil Service? Have they put it into operation in this House? I again must await the reply of the Minister of Labour (Mr. Mur-

The Budget-Mr. Irvine

dock), if he can tear himself away long enough from the British North America Act.

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LIB

James Murdock (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MURDOCK:

Does my hon. friend

not know that neither this government nor the preceding government has had any authority in fixing the wages of civil servants, that authority being entrusted under a specific law to a commission which has exclusive jurisdiction in. the matter?

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LAB

William Irvine

Labour

Mr. IRVINE:

The reply is such as I anticipated. The minister states that the government has no power to deal with the wages of civil servants. He has also told the House on numerous occasions that the government has no right to interfere with the labour conditions of other provinces. Since, then, the government has no right nor power to interfere in matters of labour I want to ask two questions: Why have we a Minister of

Labour at all and why does the government put this plank in its platform? It is absurd to put forth such a plank as this as a bait to the working people of the country and then to stand up in this House and say that the government that published it has neither the power nor the inclination to implement it.

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LIB

James Murdock (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MURDOCK:

We shall be quite

agreeable to having a real labour man discuss that question.

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April 7, 1925