Mr. I. D. MACDOUGALL (Inverness):
Mr. Speaker, there was a time in Canadian politics when the attitude of government and opposition was so partisan, so uncompromising, that neither could predicate any virtue of the other. Both were agreed that so far as the other was concerned "no good could ever come out of Nazareth." In those days it was considered an unpardonable political crime for a member sitting in opposition to think that the government could ever be right, and it were veritable treason for a supporter of the government to imagine that the government could ever be wrong. For my part, Mr. Speaker, I subscribe to no such view. In this House I give my allegiance to the Conservative party, because I have faith in that party; in its policies and its principles, and because I have faith in its leader, who, for constancy of purpose, and rare gifts of intellect, has certainly no equal in this parliament, and perhaps has had no peer in any parliament that Canada has had since confederation. But these considerations shall deter me never from discussing questions of great national importance in a manner devoid of prejudice and with an eye single to my country's good, as it is given me to discern that good. For this reason, Mr. Speaker, I feel that I am guilty of no serious political heresy when my first words on the budget are words of sincere congratulation to the hon. Minister of Finance (Mr. Robb) upon the masterly manner in which he presented his budget to parliament. I am happy to be able to add that my congratulations may properly extend beyond the mere external form in which that budget was presented, for there are many things in the budget itself with which I am heartily in accord.
We are told, for example, that the financial condition of this country has improved. I do not question that statement; I do not desire to dispute it. As long as it is my privilege to occupy a seat in this House, any information to the effect that our country's finances are in an improved state wil be received by me with genuine pleasure and acclaim, no matter of what political stripe the Finance minister may be who makes that announcement.
The present budget also gives promise of a somewhat substantial reduction in taxation. This laudable and desirable end is to be ob-
tained, in the main, by the reduction in the sales tax and the abolition of certain other nuisance taxes, for the most part imposed by the present administration upon the Canadian people. In taking this step the government but does belated justice to the Canadian taxpayer. It but removes from his path a few of the 'snags and thorns with which this administration has bestrewn his path since assuming office in 1921. When the administration led by my right hon. friend (Mr. Meighen) who, unfortunately, due to illness, is unable to take his place in this House at the present time, went out of office in 1921, the sales tax in this country stood at li per cent to the manufacturer and 1\ per cent to the jobber. In the first year of the King administration that tax was increased to four and a half per cent. In the second year of their administration the King government, not content with that increase, further increased the sales tax to six per cent. This unwarranted and unjustifiable increase served to seriously hamper and impede Canadian business in this country. So numerous were the protests against this excessive increase that in 1924 the King administration reduced the tax from six to five per cent where it remained until the present reduction was announced. There can be no doubt that the serious, the heavy, increase in direct taxation imposed by this administration upon the Canadian people since 1921 constituted one of the major grievances of the people against the King government during the last federal election and, perhaps, Sir, in the salutary and chastening effect of the last election we may seek and find the real explanation of those reductions in taxation now so tardily announced, for verily, in the case of all governments, the fear of the people is the beginning of wisdom.
The budget proposes that after the first of January, 1927, the benefits of the British preferential tariff shall apply only to goods conveyed direct without trans-shipment into a sea or river port of Canada. I am in hearty accord with this proposal. It is a step in the right direction, and I commend the government for taking it. I point out, however, that trade statistics for 1924 show that in that year we imported British goods to the amount of $153,586,000. Of that amount $152,586,000 worth came directly through Canadian ports. If these figures are correct this proposal will apply to substantially less than one per cent of the goods coming from Great Britain to Canada, consequently it will not mean a great revival in
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trade or commercial activity through Canadian ports. However, it is a step in the right direction, and since it is not often that this government takes a step in the right direction, I heartily commend it.
We had a protracted and somewhat heated discussion over the proposal to reduce the duty on automobiles. Let me say, Sir, that I hold no special brief for the automobile industry in Canada. My attitude towards that industry is essentially the same attitude that I take towards every other great and useful industry. My desire is that it may prosper and develop, returning fair dividends to those who have invested their money in it, providing a continuity of employment and living wages for Canadian workmen, and giving fair prices to the Canadian public. What measure of protection will enable that industry to perform these functions I am unable to say, and no other member in this House, whether he be opponent or supporter of the government, can so determine without first having a full knowledge of all the facts relating to that industry. The only way these facts can be ascertained and a just and intelligent decision arrived at is by referring the question of the protection to be accorded that industry to a competent and impartial fact finding commission endowed by the government with all the necessary powers to investigate, and to furnish parliament with a report based on such investigation. Even in ordinary circumstances this would have been the proper course for this government to pursue, but, Sir, I submit that in the present instance the government can adopt no other course without forfeiting its dignity, its honour and its self respect. For in the Speech from the Throne the government adopted the policy of investigation by a tariff commission. I quote from the publicly declared policy of the government, incorporated in that speech -and perhaps the right hon. leader of the government will recognize this quotation:
__that in the interest of industrial development every
effort should be made to eliminate the element of uncertainty with respect to tariff changes; that changes in the tariff should 'be made only after the fullest examination of their bearing upon both primary and manufacturing industries and that representations requesting increase or decrease of duties should be made the subject of the most careful investigation and report by a body possessing the necessary qualifications to advise the ministry with respect thereto.
This language, Mr. Speaker, is not ambiguous; there is seemingly here no equivocation; there is certainly no qualification and no limitation. The policy of the government, namely, investigation by a tariff board, was to apply to all the industries in Canada enjoying any benefits under our protective
system. By taking the course outlined in the budget with respect to the automobile industry the government completely stultifies itself, ignores its publicly promulgated policy on the fiscal question, and shamelessly breaks faith with the Canadian people. By proposing this reduction without investigation this government singles out one industry from the hundreds in this country enjoying benefits under our protective system, sits in judgment on that industry, and renders an adverse verdict without giving those affected an opportunity to be heard or to call witnesses in their own behalf. How can we square that action with our much belauded sense of British justice and of British fair play?
Now, Sir, I wish to make my stand on this question absolutely clear. Let me candidly assert that had the case of the automobile industry been referred to a tariff commission, and had a full and impartial investigation revealed that the duties should be reduced by ten or fifteen per cent-aye or. by twenty per cent-I would, certainly under those circumstances have supported such a recommendation in this House. But, Sir, I shall not sanction, and I never shall support, a blind step that may seriously dislocate and perhaps ruin an important and useful Canadian industry, especially when such a blind step is taken in direct contravention of the government's publicly declared policy on the fiscal question. I may point out that those who aid and abet this administration in violating its plighted word to the Canadian people do no very great credit to themselves; and no real service to this government. Nothing will more effectively destroy respect for all constituted authority in this or in any other country than for a government, the very embodiment of that authority, to treat with wanton disregard its plighted word and deliberately break faith with the country. These, I might say, are testing days for constituted authority, not only in our country, but the world over. Men are to be found even in Canada who would desire to bring all constituted authority into popular contempt. Whoever else may assist these misguided souls in their nefarious work, they certainly should not have their cause advanced by the actions of the government of Canada. Whatever else a government may or may not do, it certainly should not violate its plighted word, or disregard its publicly declared policy. Faith must be kept with the people if constituted authority is to be respected by the people. I commend that proposition to the present government.
There is yet another aspect of this question, and one that I approach with very
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great diffidence and reluctance. I apprehend that the attack on the protective system made in contravention of the government's fiscal policy, on an industry located in Ontario, a province having no effective voice in the government, may cause a repetition of those lamentable provincial and racial prejudices from which Canada has suffered in the past, and which all true Canadians must deplore. I might say, without wishing to re-open old sores, that there was a time, when the great English-speaking province of Ontario, and the equally great French-speaking province of Quebec were separated by a gulf created by misunderstanding and prejudice. We all know something of the difficulties which statesmen from both of these great provinces experienced in their efforts to reconcile differences in the legislative union of upper and lower Canada. It was to overcome an impasse created by prejudice that the statesmen from both provinces conceived the idea of effecting the larger union of 1867. Even after confederation was achieved the greatest difficulty which confronted Canadian statesmen was to reconcile the rival claims of the different provinces, different races and different creeds. To accomplish this great ideal Sir John A. Macdonald laboured long, faithfully and successfully. Shortly after he passed from the political stage in this country his work was taken up by a no less distinguished Canadian, a French Canadian, the great and gifted Sir Wilfrid Laurier. W'e know well with what reluctance Sir Wilfrid Laurier accepted the leadership of his own party. He feared that his race and creed might interfere with his party's chances for success at the polls, but Sir Wilfrid Laurier triumphed over prejudice. He had not advanced far on his brilliant career before his name became respected in all, and revered in thousands of, English speaking homes in every province of this Dominion. Sir Wilfried Laurier won and retained the confidence of English speaking Canadians, because he was ever willing to concede to other provinces, to other races and to other creeds that same 4 p.m. measure of justice that he desired for his own. If he were alive to-day and leading this government- and I imagine in their hearts hon. gentlemen must feel that they are experiencing a great loss because he is not here, and sometimes when they contrast Sir Wilfrid with their present leader, they must "sigh for the touch of that vanished hand and the sound of that voice that is still"-if he were alive today and leading this government, would he advance or sanction a measure, the effect of
which is to deny to one of Ontario's important industries the same treatment which this government concedes to all other protected industries in all other provinces of Canada? He certainly would not countenance such a thing, and I appeal to the representatives of Quebec, you who followed and revered him, not to sanction by your support an injustice which Sir Wilfrid Laurier would certainly have scorned to perpetrate. I do not say, Sir, nor do I believe that it was the voice of Quebec which compelled the government to mete out unequal treatment to an Ontario industry. We may shrewdly guess from whence the pressure came. It probably came from a small coterie of wellmeaning theorists in the Liberal and Progressive ranks who preach free trade in respect to all commodities, but show their good sense by limiting its practical application to a single ingredient of a rich man's cocktail. Now, Mr. Speaker, it is alleged by those who support the government in reducing the duty on automobiles that public sentiment favoured such a reduction. If public sentiment is to determine the fiscal policy of this country, then it follows, as necessary corollary to that argument, that in cases where public sentiment favours an upward revision of the tariff, such increases should also be made without reference to the tariff board.
This brings me directly to the case of the two great 'basic industries of my native province, steel and coal. There is a strong public sentiment in Nova Scotia, I might almost say that there is complete unanimity among the Liberals and Conservatives in that province, in reference to the need of increased protection for both of these industries. In respect of the steel industry, the steel workers of Sydney, who number among them Liberals, Conservatives and Labour men, recently passed a resolution calling upon this government to grant increased protection to the steel industry; nor has the Liberal press in the province been silent on the subject. The Sydney Record, a very estimable paper, which is looked upon as the accredited organ of the Liberal party in the island of Cape Breton, has been printing for the last three months editorials pointing out the urgency and the desirability of increasing the duties on steel and iron products. In doing this that Liberal paper is but adopting the same editorial policy which the Conservative journals in the province of Nova Scotia have steadfastly maintained for a long time. Next to coal the steel industry is one of the most important industries in that province. Around it the city of Sydney has sprung up. That city, with a population of 25,000 souls, depends entirely
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upon the steel industry. If this industry should cease to operate, in a few months time grass would 'be growing on the streets of Sydney, and the same is virtually true of New Glasgow and Trenton in the county of Pictou. So anxious were the people of Nova Scotia to establish this steel industry that they personally subscribed about one and a half million dollars to the capital stock of the steel companies operating in that province. For the most part this stock was subscribed by men and women of limited means. It represents the accumulated earnings of years of hard work. If the government does not come to the assistance of the Nova Scotia steel industry at the present juncture to protect it from the unfair competition of foreign countries, where the currency is depreciated and labour is cheap, then that industry will in all probability go into bankruptcy. At this moment it stands trembling upon the very brink of financial collapse. Now if public sentiment permitted the government to make a departure from its fiscal policy in respect of the automobile industry, public1 (sentiment should also allow it to make an upward revision in the tariff in the interests of iron and steel products.
I was amazed a few months ago to hear the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Macdonald, Antigonish) telling the House and the country from his place in parliament that he was opposed to any further increases in the duties on iron and steel products. I know, of course, that the hon. gentleman is not now representing the industrial county cjf Pictou; I am fully aware of the fact that he is a political exile from the county of his birth. But surely he still cherishes that fond regard for his native county which we all cherish for the place of our birth. I appeal to him, therefore, to join with the Nova Scotians who aje making an, effort to save the industry, even if he has to repudiate the stand which he took in this House on a certain occasion when he was making a plea for Progressive support to keep the government in power.
I do not intend to discuss at any length the coal industry of Nova Scotia and of the Dominion generally, having dealt with it_ex-tensively on previous occasions. I have discussed the subject dispassionately and have adduced irrefutable facts to show that the industry is suffering from unfair competition from the American bituminous mines. I may point out that, because of geographical advantages which they enjoy, the coal miners of the United States can turn out an average of 5.7 tons of coal per man per day while in Nova Scotia our miners can produce only 1.7.
In a great many instances the United States miners can put coal on board the cars at the pit mouth in the bituminous fields at less than $1 per ton, and in almost every case they are putting coal on the cars at a lower cost than the industry in Nova Scotia pays for labour alone. When we entered confederation we were promised a market for our coal in central Canada, and that market is there. Central Canada imports easily over 15,000,000 tons of coal per annum, sending out 120,000,000 Canadian dollars to pay for its supplies obtained from the American fields, thus providing work for American miners. That market in central Canada rightly belongs to the provinces of Alberta and Nova Scotia. I say, therefore, that we need a fuel policy inaugurated and kept in force by the Dominion government to enable us to have ready access to the market that should undoubtedly be supplied by our mines.
I was interested in the speech of the hon. member for Shelburne-Yarmouth (Mr. Hatfield) last night. It was one of those beautiful canned speeches which the Minister of National Defence probably sent to every Liberal candidate in Nova Scotia at the last general election. I recognized in it the fine ' Italian hand of the minister. I could almost visualize our opponents in the last federal election standing up in the little country schoolhouses and delivering an address substantially of the same character. Perhaps that accounts for the fact that in counties traditionally Liberal, Conservatives were elected by substantial majorities. The hon. member said that we could not look to central Canada for a market for our products. I should like the leader of the government (Mr. Mackenzie King), who made the same statement in the Maritimes, to tell this House to-day where we could sell our coal and steel products if not in the markets of central Canada. I have gone thoroughly into the question and I may assure the government that if we are precluded from the markets of central Canada we shall be able to work our coal mines only two days a week while our steel industry will operate for just a day and three-quarters in the week. Central Canada is our natural and rightful market for the steel and coal products of the province of Nova Scotia, and it is upon these two industries that the prosperity of agriculture in that province depends. If we are given an opportunity to develop these industries we can provide an ample home market for the farm products of Nova Scotia.
I shall refer now for a moment to a matter that interests my own constituency peculiarly,
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and having discussed it I shall have done. Some hon. gentlemen think that all the coal areas in Nova Scotia are owned and controlled by the British Empire Steel Corporation. For their information let me say that in the county which I have the privilege and the honour to represent in this House, however feebly, we have extensive virgin coal fields. We have, it is estimated, over 2,000,000,000 tons of coal available in the county. At present capitalists cannot be induced to undertake the development of the industry for the simple reason that we have not enough protection to induce them to invest. The result is that in my county we have only one small mine working, employing about 450 men and producing about 600 tons of coal a day, whereas if we had an adequate measure of protection and cheaper transportation which would enable us to take advantage of the markets of central Canada we could produce in that county, not 600 but 20,000 tons daily. One reason why we have so far been unable to develop these coal areas is the fact that we have been denied, both by Liberal and by Conservative governments, adequate transportation facilities in the county. We have had in this parliament during the present session a discussion on the Hudson Bay railway. Prom my place in this House I told the representatives of western Canada that if I were convinced that the railway would assist in developing that great western country it would certainly have my support. I still maintain that attitude, and I intend to support the measure on the terms which I suggested. But I think I am within my rights in asking these same people, in view of my sympathy with their transportation requirements, that they take the same attitude towards the transportation needs of the county I represent. We require the construction of a railroad of some sixty miles from the town of Inverness to Cheticamp to open up one of the most highly mineralized sections of Nova Scotia and, indeed, of the Dominion. I know it would be useless to ask the government to provide a million dollars in the estimates to construct this road inasmuch as I have no Progressive support to offer them; but I am going to appeal to the leader of the government, who, however much we may disagree wTith him and his government on his policies, is after all a Canadian and wants to see every section of the country prosperous. He has appointed a commission to investigate Maritime rights. That commission will be going to the province of Nova Scotia and I would ask that it be instructed to visit the county of Inverness to look into the trans-
portation needs of that district. It is only a small thing I ask of him, and I think that in justice to the people whom I represent he will certainly not deny it.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I have given expression to my objections to the budget. I agree with some of its features, but I cannot bring myself to support the budget because it gives no material assistance to the basic industries of the province of Nova Scotia-the industries of steel and coal.
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE