Mr. J. F. POULIOT (Temiscouata):
Mr. Speaker, my first word will be an apology for speaking in a language which is not my own, but I will do so to the best of my knowledge and I hope every hon. member will catch every word of my speech. My second word is one of regret that in the high position which you occupy you do not take your share in the debates in this house and I think every member regrets not having the advantage at the present time of hearing your eloquent voice in this house.
May I point out a fact of importance that happened last year when the Holy Father called as a prince of the church His Eminence Cardinal Rouleau? The reason why I mention this fact at the beginning of my speech is because His Eminence, whose dignity and science have been admired throughout Canada, was born in my constituency. I boast at the same time that the Primate of the Roman Catholic church in Canada is a son of Temiscouata county, as is also, I am glad to say, the Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe). I am very proud of such electors although they have never voted for me.
I wish to congratulate my hon. friend the leader of the opposition (Mr. Bennett). Judging by his speeches since he has attained the leadership of his party, he is a great patriot, and as he is still a young man, I hope that he will continue to serve the country in that capacity and to the best of his ability in the years to come. During the course of this session I hope the house will have the advantage of being told by the leader of the opposition, when it is timely to ask the House
of Commons at Westminster to repeal the Colonial Laws Validity Act, and also, as he says that his is a constructive policy, I hope that he will supply the house with a constructive program on immigration if the present arrangements are not to his taste.
I also take the liberty of congratulating from the bottom of my heart the mover of the address, the member. for Hants-Kings (Mr. Ilsley). Though I did not have the advantage of hearing his speech, I read it carefully. I admire his eloquence, and I am very glad that his predecessor in this house has been so ably replaced. I mention his predecessor because everyone in this house knows that we were on speaking terms.
I also admired very much the beautiful language used by the hon. member lor Proveneher (Mr. Beaubien), in seconding the address, in French. I am not at all surprised that he had the honour of being elected by acclamation at the last election if he delivers to them speeches such as he delivered in this house the other day.
As to the hon. member for South Wellington (Mr. Guthrie), whose eloquence I admire very much although I do not always share his views, I consider him one of the ten best debaters in this house, and if we did not have the advantage of hearing his speeches answered we might believe everything that he said. I listened with deep interest to his address yesterday, when he attempted to show that the taxes now are higher than they were in the last years of the Conservative administration. That might be true; I am not discussing that, but the point I wish to bring out is that in the years previous to the Liberal administration coming into power the public debt grew very considerably, and instead of imposing taxes upon the people the Conservative government of that day used to borrow money to such a large extent that I think the Minister of Finance to-day should be warmly congratulated upon having reduced the debt. I have another request to make of my hon. friend the leader of the opposition in this connection, and that is that he would be kind enough during the budget debate to give us a constructive policy for reducing the public debt without imposing taxes.
I come now to a most important question mentioned in the speech from the throne, and that is the Dominion-provincial conference.
I wish to tell the truth and nothing but the truth, but I shall be unable to tell the whole truth on account of the forty minute limitation on speeches. I shall not speak otherwise than as a member of the rank and file, as a back-bencher, and what I shall say will be
The Address-Mr. Pouliot
spoken entirely upon my own responsibility, but it will be in conformity with the opinions and sentiments of the people of Temiscouata county who sent me here as their representative in this house. I shall speak very calmly; I shall try to be as cool as ice, and my hon. friends will notice that every word I use will be uttered with the greatest sincerity.
I have been elected as a Liberal, as a supporter of the right hon. Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) and of his government. The Prime Minister is my leader, and I have to follow the advice of his ministers. I wish to be loyal to them, just as my hon. friends opposite wish to be loyal to their leader. The party system has existed for a long time in this country, and while perhaps it does not suit everyone, it is the system that appeals to most of us, and we have to follow party lines. I crave the indulgence of the house for the few remarks I am going to make.
First of all, may I say that the bonne entente is no longer young; she is now quite an old lady, having been born in 1867 when the parliament of Canada first met after confederation. Sometimes we do not share the opinions of hon. gentlemen opposite. It is our right just as it is theirs, to have their own opinions, but when we go out of this house the friendship that has always existed between us continues to exist, and during the few years -that I have been in this house one of the things that I have admired very much is the good companionship that I have always found existing among members of different races, different creeds, and different political parties.
There are, Mr. Speaker, three forms of government in this country. I am looking at this question from a different angle than the leader of the opposition. There is, first, the municipal government, secondly, the provincial government, and thirdly, the federal government; and ever since I have taken an interest in public life I have never seen in any paper a report that a federal minister had ever criticized the acts of a provincial administration, whether Grit or Tory, whether Catholic or Protestant, whether English-speaking or French-speaking. It has never happened, to my knowledge that a federal minister, in his capacity as such, has ever criticized a provincial administration. I have never seen the leader of the federal opposition leaning on the shoulders of a provincial administration for support. I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, that I am compelled to say something of a similar character of the Premier of the province of Quebec. May I say, first, that I consider Mr. Taschereau is a good citizen and I am sure he acts in good faith, but he is not my leader.
If he makes a statement I can tell him in very plain language that he is wrong; I can remain loyal, to my own leader without sharing Mr. Taschereau's views and I can be loyal to my own leader when I express entirely different views from those of Mr. Taschereau. May I add that he is, in many respects, a good premier, and that he shares with the Minister of Roads, Hon. Mr. Perron, with his Minister of Mines, Mr. Perrault and with Mr. Nicol, his treasurer, a good part of the credit for the real prosperity of the province of Quebec.
As you are a scholar, Mr. Speaker, you will remember having read that before 400 B.C. Xerxes, king of Persia and Media, who abolished the kingdom of Babel and took away the statue of Bel, crossed the Hellespont. When the Newfoundland case wao to be argued in England Mr. Taschereau crossed the Atlantic in the same glorious fashion. It is always a dangerous thing before a case is over to express an opinion.
The province of Quebec and the Dominion government lost the case before the Privy Council. I give credit to the people of the Department of the Attorney General at Quebec, as well to those of the Department of Justice at Ottawa, because they did their best in that case. No one is to blame. However, they did not succeed. The blame might be put on the lords of the Privy Council, but that cannot be done, because they are immune from the law. I wish to say a word in reference to the judgment in that case. Then Mr. Taschereau gave an interview to the papers. That interview he has never denied-but perhaps he will deny it to-morrow after reading the report of my speech-to the effect that if Canada and the province of Quebec lost Newfoundland and Labrador, it was because Mr. King, the Prime Minister, had' too much to do with imperial questions, and that if he had done some lobbying, as the premier of Newfoundland had done, Labrador would have remained as a part of Canada. Well, Mr. Speaker, if Mr. Taschereau is right in saying that when a Prime Minister attended the Imperial conference he paid too much attention to imperial matters, one thing is sure, and that is that Mr. Taschereau did not study imperial questions at that time,, and if he had known more about imperial questions the speech * from the throne in the province of Quebec, which was read on the 10th January last, would not have contained this paragraph:
My ministers believe that Canadian unity and the future of Canada will be best assured by respecting provincial autonomy and by remaining loyal to the British North America Act in the spirit as well as in the letter.
The Address-Mr. Pouliot
In reference to the Newfoundland case, Mr. Taschereau was wrong when he tried to evade responsibility by putting it on the premier's wide and strong shoulders. There was no responsibility at all, as I have previously said, but when I read part of the speech from the throne in the Quebec legislature, I heard some gentleman opposite who never did anything to support Mr. Taschereau in his elections say: "Hear, hear." My hon. friends opposite appear to be acquainted with Mr. Taschereau, and I will have a few words to say about that afterwards. What I want to say now is that equality of status between Canada and the mother country is like the equality of mind between Sir. Taschereau and my hon. friends opposite.
Just to please my hon. friends on the other side of the house, may I quote an extract from an interview given by Mr. Taschereau the day after the last general election, which has been published in Le Soleil, of Quebec on the 17th of May, 1927. It reads:
Nos amis du federal, ministres et deputes, nous ont prete leur concours avec un empresse-ment et une generosite dont je tiens a les re-mercier vivement. La solidarity qui existe entre les liberaux d'Ottawa et les liberaux de Quebec ne pouvait etre mieux demontree.
I will translate the statement as best I can. It read thus:
Our federal friends, ministers and members, have helped us with such earnestness and generosity that I wish to thank them warmly. The solidarity that exists between the Liberals of Ottawa and the Liberals of Quebec could not be better shown.
It means that when Mr. Taschereau called on us for support everyone of us answered, "'Ready, aye, ready." And I tell you that when Mr. Ferguson calls on Mr. Taschereau, he answers, like a pupil, "Ready, aye ready."
Well, Mr. Speaker, there was a great change of attitude after the election. During the election Mr. Taschereau was saying, "My dear federal friends, pray come to my help against those Tories of the province of Quebec." After the election he was saying to the Tories, "Now I don't need my federal friends any more; come and I will kiss you on the cheek." And they seemed to like it.
Subtopic: ADDRESS IN REPLY