March 1, 1926

ALLEGED FRUIT COMBINE


On the Orders of the Day:


CON

Grote Stirling

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GROTE STIRLING (Yale):

I should like to ask the Acting Minister of Labour whether the interim report of the commissioner who is investigating the alleged fruit combine has been followed by a final report and, if not, if he anticipates the issuance of such a final report.

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LIB

James Horace King (Minister of Labour; Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Hon. J. H. KING (Acting Minister of Labour):

The final report has not yet been

made. As my hon. friend will understand, the case is at present being prosecuted in court and there will be no report until the court action is completed.

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GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH

ADDRESS IN REPLY


The House resumed from Friday, February 26, 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 motion of Mr. Bird: " That this question be now put."


CON

George Black

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GEORGE BLACK (Yukon):

Mr. Speaker, when the House adjourned on Friday evening, I was endeavouring to convince the House and the government that by a glance at the order paper they would see that there were many important matters to engage our attention to much better advantage than by closing up and going home until the 15th March. My particular reference was

The Address-Mr. Black (Yukon)

to the very first question on the order paper involving an item of $100,000 which disappeared from the public treasury during the year 1924 in a most mysterious manner, so mysteriously indeed that when the estimates were being discussed last year, the government could not tell the House what had become of it or how it had got away. I was endeavouring to give hon. members an insight into the way in which the government of that day had handled the mining lands of Yukon. When bona fide miners and prospectors were limited by law to an area for their mines of 100 feet square, 250 feet square, 500 feet in length, political favourites of the government located at Ottawa were able to get grants of miles square plastered right on to the mining lands of Yukon Territory, thereby depriving independent and industrious miners of any land at all or of an opportunity to reap any benefit from their arduous trip into that northern country and the struggle they were making against the obstacles of nature.

This item of $100,000 had to do with one of those indefensible grants. It was a grant covering some five miles of ground right in the heart of the Klondyke placers, a grant issued in violation of law, in disregard of mining regulations, and obtained by fraud connived at by the government and the government's officials on the ground; otherwise the grant never could have been made. Great public indignation was aroused by the government's conduct in regard to these matters; delegates were sent to Ottawa to protest, and ultimately the government was moved to send into that territory a judge of the Exchequer court to make an inquiry into the numerous and well-founded complaints. The holders of this particular grant, not wanting to be put-on the defensive, filed a claim against the government for damages amounting to some $17,000,000 in connection with the government's treatment of them and their bogus grant. Instead of meeting that claim fairly and squarely the government, perhaps being unable to do so as it had been a party to the fraud on which the grant had been issued, filed on its behalf against these claimants an untenable defence. It set up the plea that the grantees had no miner's license and that if they had a miner's license it was invalid. That was a plea that never could succeed. But the judge sent in to try those cases did not inquire into the merits of this case. When he came to the coast he found, unfortunately, that he had a very short time to live, and in every case that had come before him wherever possible he gave judgment in favour of the government of the day. In this case he gave judgment in favour of the govern-

ment dismissing the claim on the ground that the grantees of the concession had no miner's license and were therefore not entitled to come to court. The case was appealed, and beginning as long ago as 1908 it found its way up through the courts to the Privy Council, ultimately coming back for trial to the Exchequer Court of Canada in 1914.

But something had happened in Canada between 1908 and 1914. The political wheel of fortune had made a turn and a Conservative government was in power. The Liberal government that had granted these nefarious leases was no longer in power to defend its work or to settle with the people who now claimed damages from it. The matter remained dormant from 1914 for ten years, nothing being done. The leader of this party (Mr. Meighen), when this matter was under discussion while the estimates were being considered last session, recalled that he had been approached for a settlement of this claim, but he saw in it nothing but a huge swindle, a gigantic fraud, and he referred those claimants to the court. He said: If

you have any claim against the government, go to the court and secure what is coming to you; the government will make no settlement. So from 1914 to 1924 not a move was made. By 1924 the wheel had taken another turn and the Liberal party was again in power at Ottawa prepared to do business with its friends the holders of the concession. What happened? Was the case tried on its merits? , No; they made an agreement with the claimants; they went into the Exchequer court, and without a trial they consented to a judgment against the government for $100,000. Because it was a judgment of the Exchequer court, that sum of $100,000 was picked out of the public treasury and handed over without a vote of parliament and without being subject to sanction by the Auditor General. I say that in taking that $100,000 as they did, they performed as neat a bit of official burglary as probably has ever been pulled off in this country. If the claim had merits, why did the government not ask parliament for a grant? They would have had no excuse to give to parliament for any such grant, and no matter how big the government's majority might have been, I do not believe even its majority in the last House of 100 to 135 would have been a party to giving away that sum of $100,000 to those claimants without a trial.

That is a bit of business which this House could very well inquire -into even yet. It is true that the money is gone and cahnot be recovered, but the public would be interested to know what sort of government

The Address-Mr. Black (Yukon)

we have had for the past four years. Having seen a Liberal government administer that mining camp in the north I can quite well believe that this government kept the Royal Canadian Mounted Police off the Quebec boundary during the past few years, for the people with whom they were dealing in the north in relation to these mining concessions were the same sort of people against whom the government should be defending the country along the Quebec boundary. In those days the mounted police in Yukon were a mixed blessing. They were charged with the disposal of criminal matters and they did it well, but I say that they were a mixed blessing for the reason that they protected not only the independent crook but the official crook as well. If the same thing had taken place on the American side they would have been minus a few mining inspectors and recorders. Had they been on the American side, Liberal officials in Yukon Territory would have been put on a raft and sent down the Yukon river. And that would have been too good for them. The mounted police were there to protect the just as well as the unjust and the public hand was restrained. I say therefore that we should know more about how this $100,000 was lifted from the treasury. It appears as an inconspicuous little item in the Auditor General's report, a grant to the Bonanza Creek Gold Mining Company charged up under the head of cost of administration in Yukon Territory. As a matter of fact it had nothing whatever to do with the cost of administration of that territory; it was merely a grant to some political concern, or to cover up the tracks of a Liberal government, to pay for improprieties on the part of Liberal officials. And in face of such transactions as I have undertaken to disclose the government says, "What does that matter? Leave us in office." That is the government's plea to this House to-day -leave us in office.

If you go through the order paper you will find lots of items just as important; yet the government says, let us go home until March 15. I see an election petition set out on the pages of the order paper and perhaps the House would not be wasting time if it moved to that order of business and dealt with it. It must be disposed of some day, and why not between now and March 15? Why should we not proceed with the business of parliament? Why should it be held up on the excuse which the government has given us in regard to by-elections? The most important by-election of the lot has been held while the House has been in session and it has not interfered with the session nor did the

session interfere with that election. Why therefore can the government not proceed with the others? Since October 29 the government has had practically four months in which to complete its by-elections. It had almost two months before the House met and two months would have been sufficient in which to have all the by-elections held, before meeting parliament. Surely no one is innocent enough to think that the government was deterred by any scruples as to the constitutionality of holding by-elections before meeting parliament, before coming here to get a mandate from the hon. member for Brandon (Mr. Forke) to carry on, and before getting the vote which the Minister of Customs (Mr. Boivin) undertook on behalf of the government not to regard as a vote of confidence.

It was all just a bit of very poor acting. The by-elections were not held before parliament- met for the reason that the government was afraid to hold them; it could not make the arrangements to get the vacancies. The government never expected a majority in this House of less than twelve or thirteen. They did not think their majority would be one or three; they expected to put on a demonstration of strength before going to the country in the by-elections. Instead hon. gentlemen opposite gave an exhibition of weakness, great weakness. What is the state of affairs in the country while the government has been putting on this performance in parliament? Is the country prosperous? Prosperity has been just around the corner every time we have had a Speech from the Throne from this government, "but it has never arrived and never will so long as the present administration holds on to office. There is depression in business in Canada, there is great unemployment. What is the state of affairs in the Ottawa valley to-day, and where can a man or a woman seeking work get employment? Who is doing any work in the vicinity of this city or in the Ottawa valley outside the great army of civil servants? And what does the government offer to remedy this condition? It offers free fares to immigrants to come to increase unemployment, fares to be paid by additional taxation on the people who are here and taxation on the immigrants after they get here; for someone has to put up the money to pay these passages. The government is offering these people free fares and five year jobs to help bring about prosperity in Canada. I wonder if hon. gentlemen have ever considered giving unemployed Canadians guaranteed jobs for five years. Why should not the Canadians be entitled to the same treatment? Would it not be well to

The Address-Mr. Black (Yukon)

take some of these out of work people in Nova Scotia and put them on a model farm in the west, giving them free transportation and guaranteeing them five years' employment? That would be much better than bringing in people from northern Europe. Every one of these Canadians is worth five immigrants and there is no reason why we should not keep them here.

When we look at the trade returns of this country we get an idea of the opportunities that are going by the Canadian people. We find last year that we imported no less than $115,000,000 worth of foodstuffs, practically all of which we could produce at home. For instance, we imported from the United States such commodities as flour and fish. Imagine Canada importing flour, fish, eggs, cheese, meat and lard when she could be self-supporting in all these products. And with our ability to grow wheat, and considering the fact that Canada is a great wheat-exiparting country, is it not astonishing to find that we imported from the United States in one year $10,000,000 worth of flour and breadstuff? Nevertheless that is what the statistics show. They show further that we imported from [DOT] the United States $9,000,000 worth of lumber of which $5,000,000 worth consisted of rough sawn material, which is the lumber we specialize in. We imported $9,000,000 worth of paper and nearly $1,000,000 worth of paper pulp. We also imported $23,000,000 in fresh fruits, $16,000,000 in dried fruits and $6,000,000 worth of preserved fruits, with Canadian fruit going to waste. Of milk and milk products we imported $3,000,000 worth, while dairying is one of our chief occupations. The same thing is true in regard to manufactured goods; we find that of clothing, boots, shoes, hats and hosiery, we imported last year goods to the value of $23,000,000.

It is up to this government to remedy that state of affairs, to so legislate regarding trade and commerce that that $115,000,000, or the bulk of it will be kept right here in Canada. It can be done, it should be done. True, this government, through its leader, admitted its inability when it went to the country last fall; he said that it could only mark time and draw salaries unless it had a greater majority of Liberal supporters. Well, where is the government to-day? Can we hope for any solution of our national problems by this government? It has, as I say, admitted that it is unable to solve those problems. What excuse is there, then, for this government to cling to office, outside of its salary cheques? And are its members content to stay here to draw their salaries? Last fall wdien the Prime Minister went to the country he said he was

ashamed to stay any longer and draw the emoluments of office. He appealed to the electorate. Where did he land? He said: This is a time to march forward, not to mark time. What can we hope from the government now but marking time?

There is another item in the Speech from the Throne which perhaps is calculated to bring prosperity to Canada. I do not say whether it is a good proposition or not, but I do say that the House and the country should be given more information about what the government is going to do. I suppose the projected work is destined to help the ports of Vancouver, Victoria, Prince Rupert, Halifax, St. John, Quebec and Montreal. The government is proposing now to spend $50,000,000 to complete the Hudson Bay railway. I do not think the government will deny that that is the expenditure involved. True, no member of the government has told us yet how much is to be expended on this account, but surely the completion of the railway will cost that much, for it will also mean building an artificial harbour at Port Nelson, a fleet of icebreakers and of specially constructed ships to navigate the straits; all this will cost a large sum of money; it cannot be done simply by inserting a paragraph in the Speech from the Throne that the work will be undertaken. In this connection, I quote to the House a newspaper item that caught my eye the other day. As I say, the Hudson Bay railway may be a necessary public work for the Dominion, but, I repeat, the government would be better occupied giving this House and the country particulars respecting this undertaking than attempting to adjourn the House until March 15. This item is from Regina, Saskatchewan, under date of February 5:

The board of directors of the Saskatchewan Elevator Company met to-day and approved the building of a

900.000 bushel storage addition to the Saskatchewan Co-operative Elevator Company terminal transfer elevator at Buffalo, New York. The addition will give the company 2,000.000 bushels of storage space at Buffalo, and a total storage capacity at the head of the lakes and Buffalo of 17,100,000 bushels. The contract for the foundation work for the new structure has been let to the D. E. Horton Construction Company, Buffalo, The addition will be completed early in July.

This action on the part of the Saskatchewan Elevator Company is not calculated to increase the use of Canadian porta, and yet the people around Regina are among those in the west who are advocating the completion of the Hudson Bay railway. I wonder what they have to say about this increased elevator capacity at Buffalo. Why should they add

900.000 bushels capacity to the elevator there if the grain is to get an outlet through a Canadian port? If the grain growers of Saskatch-

The Address-Mr. Black (Yukon)

ewan prefer Buffalo and New York to Vancouver and the St. Lawrence, is it likely that they will use the Hudson Bay route in preference to the American route? I do not think it is reasonable to expect that they will.

Another indication of the unsatisfactory condition of affairs in Canada to-day is shown in the volume of settlers' effects that have been taken out of the country in the last three years; their value amounted to $26,000,000, as against a value of incoming settlers' effects of only $18,000,000. That is an indication of the so-called " prosperity " spoken of in the Speech from the Throne. In the past four years we find that 460,000 immigrants came in, while 456,0100 walked out-ran out, as an hon. member suggests. Those people were forced to leave Canada to gain a livelihood; they would have preferred to remain here if they coiuld1 have found work. The bulk of the half million or so we lost were our own Canadians, compelled to leave their native land because there is no employment for them here. Yet we talk of free fares for immigrants and five-year jobs!

I repeat, Sir, the House is entitled to require from the government information as to what is proposed to be done to complete the Hudson Bay railway, whether the country is to be asked to put up $50,000,000, $40,000,000, $30,000,000, $20,000,000 or whatever the contemplated expenditure may be. We should have this information now, not after March 15. For the government to say that the Hudson Bay railway is to be completed "forthwith" means nothing from this government. It has used that term before.

Speaking of taxation, how can Canada hope to get or hold immigrants, or even to retain her own people here when the scale of taxation in the great prosperous and populous democracy to the south of us is so much less than it is in Canada? It cannot be done. The newspapers told us late last week that the United States income tax reduction bill has been passed into law. What does that mean? That some $350,000,000 of taxation is cut off the taxpayers' bill. It was small enough before in comparison with ours. It means that some 2,300.000 Americans have no income tax to pay. That is good business for the United States, but it is pretty hard on Canada. To-day the United States income taxation is not more than one-fifth of what we have to pay. That being so, how can we hope to make any success of an immigration policy? How can we hope to hold our people or to get fresh capital or even to hold the capital that is here?

The worst feature of the whole situation is that there is no prospect of an early change. We cannot hope for any betterment of conditions from this government. That is my opinion of the administration. But let mrj quote someone whose views should have more weight with hon. gentlemen across the floor; I quote the Prime Minister himself. He gave the public that opinion

he made that admission when he appealed to the country last fall. He said if he had been able to solve the problems of the Dominion with the majority he had in the House at that time he would not have gone to the country untd 1927, but as it was hopeless to attempt to do so with the parliamentary support he then had, he put it up to the people to help him out with an adequate majority. So I think I am justified in saying that the worst feature of the situation is that there is no immediate prospect of a change for the better. Unfortunately there may be a prospect of a change for the worse. The fiscal problem was one of the four great problems that the Prime Minister in his manifesto said he could not solve. It has not been solved yet. He gave up governing the country on September 5 last because he could nor solve those problems. What is he holding on to office for to-day? What is there in it for the country? What is there in it for him and his colleagues except their salaries? The mere fact that the King government is in office effectively prevents any revival of business activities in Canada, for under its unstable management and its unscientific tinkering with the tariff capital will not take a chance in enterprises that would restore prosperity. With this government tariff-tinkering to catch votes in certain localities, with its promises of special legislation calculated to secure a vote here and a vote there, do you blame capital, Sir, for not branching out? Do you blame capital for preferring to sit tight? That is the state of affairs in this country to-day, and, Mr. Speaker, the government might as well face the music now as just a little later on. _

What is the need of an adjournment? This House is practically complete. There is a member here for every constituency, except Regina. A member has been sent here by the electors of each constituency of Canada, and it is the duty of the government with the material at hand to carry on. It would be different if there were eight or ten vacancies and the government asked for an adjournment to fill the vacancies. They might very well say they should get it at the hands of parliament, but with every constituency represented,

The Address-Mr. Black (Yukon)

the people having made a complete answer to the government's appeal of last fall, why adjourn the House to enable them to patch up-to make repairs? If we were adjourning to fill vacancies that would be public business, but if the government creates vacancies by inducing some of its supporters to resign, that is not public business. It is a political manoeuvre and nothing else, and we should not be asked to become parties to the government's political manoeuvering. That has nothing to do with the business of the country. The government cannot get any more supporters in the House by byelections. That is a 'physical impossibility. The Prime Minister selected a bomb-proof dugout in Prince Albert, where he had no chance to lose, but there are not enough Prince Alberts to go around. The government's candidates are going to be opposed and some of them are going to be defeated, perhaps all of them, and the government will then be worse off than it is to-day.

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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Edmonton):

Great optimism.

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CON

George Black

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BLACK (Yukon):

Why not go on as the government is now constituted? Why make a bad mess worse, and with nothing to justify the government's course in hanging on, which it is doing, with no known precedent to sustain it? Talk about cricket; the leader of the House (Mr. Lapointe) had the temerity to stand up in the House and say that the opposition was not playing cricket. They admit that with a full House they are not able to carry on. They want us to give them till the ISth of March to get stronger, so that they can do what? Take a firmer hold on their offices and the emoluments with which the Prime Minister was not satisfied-

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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Edmonton):

Is that the

reason you are stopping the adjournment?

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CON

George Black

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BLACK (Yukon):

Is that a serious

question coming from the Minister of the Interior?

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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Edmonton):

Quite

serious.

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CON

George Black

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BLACK (Yukon):

The minister asks, is that the reason we are stopping the adjournment? This opposition declines to be a party to the adjournment, because it is not in the public interest to adjourn. The government can cite to the House no reason for adjournment in the public interest. If they can they have not done it yet.. All the Minister of Justice, the leader of the House, said was "We want time to hold by-elections" to play politics to strengthen us. Yes, to do

what? "To fight you, the opposition," and then they complain because we will not be a party to that.

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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Edmonton):

I would

not let them get stronger, either, if I were you.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Nobody else will.

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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Edmonton):

It is an

awfully good reason, though.

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CON

George Black

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BLACK (Yukon):

They want to take a firmer hold of their salaries and the emoluments of office, but so far as solving the great problems of the country goes, the Prime Minister admitted he was unable to do that. He could not do it with 134 or 135 majority. How can he do it with the following he has at present in this House? Oh, but he does want to be Prime Minister, and his colleagues want to remain in office. He admittedly is hanging on to office for what there is in it. I do not want hon. members to feel offended when I say these things, because I am only repeating the words of their leader.

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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Edmonton):

Do not

worry about that. You have repeated the statement forty times.

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CON

George Black

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BLACK (Yukon):

On Friday night

I quoted the Prime Minister's words, and the Minister of Public Works objected to the expression used by the Prime Minister which I quoted.

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March 1, 1926