February 10, 1926

ADDRESS IN REPLY


The House resumed from Monday, February 8 consideration of the motion of Mr. J. C. Elliott 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 (South Oxford).


CON

John Alexander (1874-1948) Macdonald

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. A. MACDONALD (Kings):

Mr. Speaker, last night wdien the House adjourned I was endeavouring to show why little reliance can be placed upon the pledges of Liberal politicians when they are contesting elections. We find that in 1896 when the Liberal party came into power it disregarded many of the pledges on the strength of which it had won the elections. The same thing happened after their return to office in 1921. Now we are face to face with their latest pledges, but what these are worth it is difficult. to estimate. The government is very indefinite in regard to its fiscal policy, and in view of its post election record in 1896 and in 1921 we can only imagine just what course of action will be followed. The Speech from the Throne is so vague and1 so indefinite that it really gives us very little information. Unfortunately this state of affairs makes for instability in the business world of the Dominion, and the condition is likely to become more and more acute while the uncertainty continues. Naturally business people will not invest their money in expanding present industries or establishing new ones while this state of affairs lasts, and it is becoming very detrimental to our national welfare. Only yesterday I was talking with a commercial man representing a house which manufactures a particular line of goods and imports other lines from France and England. If there was any stability in the tariff, indeed if there was any guarantee that even the present protection would be continued, that concern is ready to establish factories here to manufacture those imported lines. That is just a sample of the disadvantages that the country is labouring under, and it is one of the reasons why at the present

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Subtopic:   ADDRESS IN REPLY
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EDITION


850 COMMONS The Address-Mr. Macdonald (Kings) time Canada is not enjoying the prosperity which it should enjoy. No one can have failed to notice the drastic changes in policy enunciated in the Speech from the Throne from the policy set forth by the Prime Minister at Richmond Hill only a few months ago. Those two policies are so widely different that there is scarcely any similarity whatever between them. In face of the changes which the government has shown it is prepared to make in the short period of a few months in respect to vital national questions, it is impossible for business people to have any confidence in the stability of the administration or in the permanency of the tariff, and consequently the whole country is suffering. If a board of directors, elected at the annual meeting of a corporation, turned right about face on the policy they had been entrusted to carry out, immediately the shareholders would bring them sharply to account. Yet this government went to the polls last autumn with certain very definite pledges, and inside three or four months it presents to parliament a Speech from the Throne outlining policies entirely different from the pledges given to the electorate. May I say a word to our Progressive friends? I have been speaking to some of them casually and I gather that they are very strongly in favour of the group system. I believe that as a rule they are thoroughly honest in their belief that this system is much better than the two-party system. But when we survey the field it is very difficult to see how a group system can work successfully in this country. It might be possible in a small, compact country for a number of groups to function fairly well as a government, but for such a vast area as Canada and with so many diverse viewpoints and so many varying sectional needs, one group here and other groups there will never be able to get together and reconcile their viewpoints so as to secure a majority in the House. What Canada needs is what it has had in the past-two large parties containing representatives from every part of the Dominion. Each party having among its members representatives from the Atlantic to the Pacific can consider the problems facing the country and treat them from a national instead of a merely sectional viewpoint. Only in that way will the great problems confronting this country get proper consideration, and only in that way will each section find its local ..needs attended to in a way consistent with the national welfare. Mr. Crerar recognized that last year after his retirement from politics, when he pointed out how the Progressive party in parliament had failed in that regard. While I believe, as I say, that our Progressive friends are sincere in their convictions, I am sure they are making a very serious mistake, and I think that ultimately they will realize that these sectional groups cannot be of any real value in our political life. The group idea, especially as we have it here, is sectional, and its views are sectional. That is perfectly natural, in fact it could scarcely be otherwise. One of the reasons why we have heard in this House charges of bids, of auctioning, and so on, is that this group has not come out fairly and squarely at any time and told the House what it proposes to do under present conditions. In 1923 when the general election in Great Britain resulted in a return of a majority against the Conservative government, although the Conservatives were still the largest party in the House, Mr. Asquith, speaking as head of the smallest group, announced that his party would support the Labour party to form a government. That settled the whole difficulty. These gentlemen have never yet stated that they would support either one party or the other in office. I submit that that is not a fair position for them to take, for undoubtedly it adds to the uncertainty of the parliamentary situation, and I think in fairness to the country and in justice to both historic parties they should come out and declare unequivocally just where they stand. That "would at once obviate any charges of bids, purchasing and so forth, which are very detrimental to the dignity and honour of our parliamentary life. The question of Maritime rights has been dealt with already, and I do not wish to discuss it at any length.


PRO

Milton Neil Campbell

Progressive

Mr. CAMPBELL:

Would the hon. gentleman state that the Maritime lighters are not a sectional group?

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CON

John Alexander (1874-1948) Macdonald

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MACDONALD (Kings):

In answer

to my hon. friend I may say that the Maritime righters, if you call them such, are squarely behind and have announced themselves as squarely behind the right hon. leader of the opposition.

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PRO

Milton Neil Campbell

Progressive

Mr. CAMPBELL:

I may inform the hon.

gentleman that there is a member on the opposite side of the House elected as a Maritime righter.

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An hon. MEMBER:

Bring him over.

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CON

John Alexander (1874-1948) Macdonald

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MACDONALD (Kings):

That is a

statement or an opinion of the hon. gentleman which I am not called upon to answer. The

FEBRUARY 9, 1926 Sol

The Address-Mr. Macdonald (Kings)

point I wish to make is that with such uncertainty prevailing, the country has a right to know where every man and every group /stands in this regard. We have a group of Maritime province representatives who have been more or less organized along that line. I do not intend, however, to dwell on the question, because it has been fairly well dealt with and we will have an opportunity of discussing it later. I should like to put forward this view; the question of Maritime rights has been before the public for a number of years. Last year, during the election, Right Hon. Mr. Mackenzie King was in Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick; these matters were brought before him, and they have been brought before parliament and the government on many occasions during the past few years. Now, what are we offered in connection with these rights? What is our position in connection with our claims, as compared with the position of the Progressives with regard to their claims? Suppose that in the Speech from the Throne the Progressive group of to-day were offered a royal commission to deal with their claims, instead of having the promises already made in the Speech from the Throne, what would their answer be? I venture to say that the government would not be a government to-day. that that group would not accept the proposal for a royal commission and would have thrown the government out of power before this. There is hardly a question about that. I do not think the hon. member would deny it.

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PRO
CON

John Alexander (1874-1948) Macdonald

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MACDONALD (Kings):

The Address-Mr. Motherwell

eepted, whose pledge is regarded as being as good as his bond; a man who will at all events make an honest, earnest attempt to carry out the policies of his party and' any pledges he may make. We have on the other hand the Right Hon. Mr. Mackenzie King, a man with ability, it is true, but a man who to-day has put himself, in the eyes of the country and I believe in the eyes of hon. members to some extent on both sides of the House, into the position of being a short-sighted opportunist who is willing, for the sake of remaining in power for a shorter or longer period, to jeopardize the future of his country for a generation to come. Which of these men are we going to entrust with the leadership of the government? The country to-day is ready to trust the man whom even the Progressives, while not supporting him, say they would rather trust than the man whom, while they say they have no confidence in him at all, they support. They know that in the leader of the opposition they have a man of great ability, a man with a clear, logical mind and a belief in the policies of his party and' in his own professions.

I feel that I have taken up more of the time of the House than a new member should, and I wish to express my appreciation to you, Sir, and to the members generally for the patience with which the House has listened to my remarks.

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Hon. W. R. MOTHERWELL (Minister of Agriculture):

Mr. Speaker, the House has been discussing now for a full month this important document, the Speech from the Throne, and the reply thereto, together with a number of other extraneous questions more or less associated with the Speech, and I think the country is beginning to wonder just how many more amendments our hon. friends opposite are going to make to it. Further, I think the opinion of the country is that it is about time we were proceeding with the work of the session.

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Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

One question upon *which the opposition and myself are agreed is that we should get down to business. Let us see what kind of business we have been engaged in so far, as a result of the obstructionist tactics of the opposition. We have had four amendments of various kinds put forward by the opposition. Two of them were direct amendments to the Address and the other two were more or less associated with it. Of the latter kind I refer to the amendment moved by the leader of the opposition (Mr. Meighen) when we started out first, an amendment for which we have ever since been grateful to him. The other is the amendment moved by the hon. member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Stevens), I was going to say in the dead of night when other evils were abroad besides this kind of charge. That amendment has also been satisfactorily disposed of for the present at least. As regards the other two amendments, those made directly to the Address, the one moved by the leader of the opposition was of a somewhat insipid nature, capable of being construed in two or three ways, but it was also disposed of satisfactorily. This amendment was supposed to refer to the tariff. It spoke of employment or unemployment and of several other things, but the construction that could be put on it depended upon where you were speaking. One outstanding characteristic of the two amendments that were made to the Address was that neither of them proposed any change in the Speech from the Throne by way of eliminating anything. Am I to conclude from that that the leader of the opposition was agreeable to the Speech from the Throne provided that his little fiddle-de-dee amendment was added to it? Am I to conclude from the amendment moved yesterday by the hon. member for South Oxford (Mr. Sutherland) that he agreed with the Speech from the Throne provided that he could bring in some indefinite statement about some indefinite treaty that he did not mention? That is an extraordinary attitude to take towards a question of this nature.

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CON

Donald Sutherland

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SUTHERLAND (South Oxford):

Does my hon. friend not recognize the recent trade treaties entered into by the government?

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

But my hon.

friend's whole speech, so far as I could gather, was against the Australian treaty, although it is not mentioned in the amendment at all.

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CON
LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

Am I to conclude

that the speech was to be kept separate and these amendments to be used separately according to the exigencies of the occasion? Let any hon. member or any elector read this amendment alone and I ask: Would he suppose it to be an attack upon the Australian treaty? Let me read it:

We desire respectfully to express regret that resulting from the policy of and recent trade agreements made by the present government the dairy products industry of Canada is now being subjected to most unfair and

The Address-Mr. Motherwell

unwarrantable competition from other countries, and that the Speech from the Throne gives no indication of any remedial legislation which would remove the discrimination under which this industry suffers.

The plural is used, meaning several treaties. There are only two treaties that I know of that affect the dairy industry, and those are the Australian treaty and the treaty with the West Indies. As the latter has not yet been confirmed by this parliament, I presume it is not the one referred to. By the process of attrition we come to the conclusion that it is the Australian treaty that is referred to, particularly when we take the hon. member's speech into consideration in connection with the amendment.

Mr. ME'IGHEN: What about the French

treaty?

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

I was not aware

that that affected the dairy industry very substantially.

Mr. ME'IGHEN: The hon. member is not aware that it raised the duty against us on condensed milk by fifty per cent?

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February 10, 1926