February 25, 1930

IND

Joseph Henri Napoléon Bourassa

Independent

Mr. HENRI BOURASSA (Labelle):

I regret, Air. Speaker, that I did not hear the first part of the speech of my hon. friend from Skecna (Mr. Brady). He made, I am told, a kind reference to me. I do not kn-ow just what that reference was, but I am given to understand that he alluded to the radiance of my physiognomy. I admit that at the beginning of every session I do feel happy, and1 that is one of the reasons why I am standing up now to say the nice and agreeable things before I am -perhaps forced to be disagreeable later on. First of all, let me thank my hon-. friend. I am only sorry that the radiance whioh he found o-n my face has not penetrated his mind, 'because then he would not have felt as despondent as he appeared to be, in his speech.

The debate has been very interesting. The more I come to this house the younger I feel, and the more I sympathize with the young members, including my good neighbour here (Mr. Neill). Unfortunately I missed most of the speech of the mover of the address (Mr. Gray), but I read it this morning, and it struck me as one of the best speeches that have been made for many years in moving the address. While looking through the curtains before I entered the chamber I was struck by the resemblance of the hon. member to th-e late Sir Clifford Sifton, in profile, gesture, and something in -his voice. May I be permitted, in justice to all, past and present, to say that i-f the bon. member for West Lamibton (Mr. Gray) takes of the -best which that statesman contributed bo the policies of Canada, and leaves the rest aside, he will be a valuable addition to th-e membership of this house.

So far as my young friend from Laprairie-Napierville (Mr. Dupuis) is concerned, there was one point in his speech that I want to emphasize for the benefit especially of those members of the house who -have not the advantage of understanding both languages. He expressed as his personal opinion-and may I give him now the advice that when a young member, and even the older members, express their personal opinions they are apt

the British constitution that there should be a limitation to the time during which a parliament might sit before being sent back to the people to consult the electorate, but that likewise it was a good provision that the government of the day should choose the opportune moment to appeal to the people. Well, Mr. Speaker, that statement needs qualification. The Prime Minister knows, as the leader of the opposition and everyone familiar with the history of the British constitution know, that the limitation upon the prerogative of the king to maintain parliament as long as the king thought fit was imposed upon the crown after centuries of struggle, after the great revolutions of 1646 and 1688, in order to prevent a repetition of such abuses which took their most acute and concrete form in the maintenance of the Long Parliament; and that was a victory of British common sense over the instinct of autocracy which is dormant in the rulers of all lands, English as well as others.

However, there ds another aspect to the question with regard to the power of dissolution, and here, at the risk of meeting my fate as the leader of the opposition did yesterday, I will quote my authority. A good many years ago I was struck with the opinion expressed by so conservative a thinker and writer as Mr. Lecky, who wrote in such a happy manner, so quietly and unpretentiously but so clearly and so much to the point, which made him and my late friend Goldwin Smith, opposed as they were in everything, the most delightful writers of constitutional history of whom I knew or read. Lecky made the observation that the evolution of constitutional government as practised in England from the time of John Lackland to the present day has been, first, a victory of aristocracy over the king, then a gradual gain of communal liberties over aristocracy and the king; then, as in France, a kind of unwritten understanding between the king and the commons against the aristocracy or, at times, between the king and the aristocracy against the people. In other words, the king relied on the commons to curtail the powers of the lords and upon the lords to curb the pretensions of the commons. But through all those struggles there proceeded a development which very few observed at the time, namely, the growth of autocratic and oligarchic power of the cabinet over king, lords and commons. As a true Britisher, sir, and a true Canadian, also-though I a.m not too proud of it-as a democrat who is forced to live in a democracy, I deprecate the exercise of that autocratic will of the cabinet to decide at

the pleasure of ten or twelve gentlemen, possibly men of genius; generally, I hope, honest men, but for the most part, in this as in all other countries, politicians who are more concerned about the fate of their party than about important matters of state. It is but natural that a government composed only of angels and archangels would have a sorry life in a terrestial community. There would be too great a discrepancy between the ordinary level of public morality and the mentality of a ministry of that type. A prime minister, therefore, is careful not to choose too many of that kind in selecting the members of the cabinet or replenishing -its numbers when vacancies occur. Since the cabinet, then, must be composed of average men presumed to represent the people, they should not decide behind closed doors what the date of an election shall be, simply because it may be convenient for ministers representing Ontario to have the election this year, or for representatives of Quebec another year, or for western representatives this month or that, without concerning themselves for five minutes -well, yes, they may concern themselves for say fifteen minutes-with the wishes of their partisans. But generally, they decide such matters beforehand and then call a caucus. Thirty years ago I assisted in three or four caucuses-and never went back. Having thus decided, they implore the acquiescence of their friends-I mean such of them as are strong enough to resist-whereupon they pounce it upon the heads of the rest. That is generally the result of caucuses; that is well known on both sides.

But there is something of much more importance than consulting the opinion of 110 or 120 gentlemen sitting on this or on any side of the house, and that is consulting the interests of the country, consulting the interests of trade. Everybody knows that a general election is an inconvenience to -the trade of the country, and this is especially true with respect to a general election in -the period in which we now find ourselves-an election which may come this year, may come within six months or be delayed for eighteen. Out present- system is worse than the system in the United States. I have long ceased to do what is so frequently done in this house -to copy the Americans, or to taunt my opponents because they may say something which savours of Americanism. The United States is a great nation; the United States government, like all others, has its faults and its good qualities. The United States constitution is in many respects inferior to the British, but in some -respects it is superior. Having regard to the conditions in a country

The Address-Mr. Bourassa

like Canada, I say it is high time to do as the Americans do in this respect and let the Canadian people know the exact time that they will be called upon, as a jury to pass a verdict upon the actions of their government and parliament.

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LAB

Abraham Albert Heaps

Labour

Mr. HEAPS:

Do you favour a fixed term of parliament?

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IND

Joseph Henri Napoléon Bourassa

Independent

Mr. BOURASSA:

Of course I do; I advocated that in the Quebec legislature twenty years ago. I advocated it in this parliament, I think, before I left twenty-three years ago -always subject, of course, to the prerogative of the king on the advice of his ministers to ask for dissolution and get it as a matter of right should the government be defeated in the house. That explains why I helped to save this government from disaster in 1926, when the then Governor General and the then leader of the opposition played football with the principles not only of the British constitution but as well of a true and sound democracy. I do not regret having done that, but I say to this government as I would to any other: Do not pose as wise men who possess in themselves all knowledge as to what is good for the country, who can decide within their owm council whether an appeal should be made to the people this year or the other year. No; if you think there is a question of such importance that it requires consultation with the people, do as they now usually do in England-where they have no need to alter the constitution but may change the practice according to their needs-announce your policy; obtain a pronouncement of public opinion; place before the people your views. Do this and when the time comes you will get a saner verdict, one given in cooler blood, than can be brought about by any mysterious, underhand procedure involving all the wire-pullings which go with the sudden launching out upon an election in order to snatch an expression of public opinion. I have never believed in that, and I express my opinion about it this afternoon quite candidly.

Similarly, I do not think it is fair to the members of the house to leave them in ignorance of the day they will be called to Ottawa to meet in parliamentary session. Here I speak most disinterestedly because to me as to half the members who come from Quebec and Ontario, it does not make much difference. But to hon. members who come from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, the maritime provinces- to them it is mot a question of coming here for five days in the week and going home to meet their families and look after their business

bdtween Saturday and Monday. It is a question either of leaving their families behind or of bringing them here, and of abandoning their private business affairs for five or six months. To members from these parts of the country it is extremely inconvenient mot to know whether they will be called to Ottawa in January or in February. To millionaires or paupers it means nothing, but it does mean something to the average Canadian who is earning an honest living outside of parliament -because I know it is difficult to earn an honest living in parliament, even to earn honestly the indemnity we receive from the people of Canada. I say, therefore, that for the average member of parliament living at a considerable distance from Ottawa, the present arrangement in this respect is unjust. Again it is ridiculous to say that because it is done in London we should do it here. I repeat the illustration I have frequently used -that because it is raining in London I do not feel the necessity of turning up the bottom of my trousers. I choose my garments according to the climate of Canada, and I think we should fit the habits of parliament according to the needs of parliament. In England, three-fourths of the members of both houses live in London, and those who come from Wales and Scotland have only a few hours to travel to the capital. But when it is a question of travelling one, two or three thousand miles, to spend five months in Ottawa, I think it is due in justice to three-quarters of the members of the house to let them know in advance at what time of the year they will have to quit their personal business in order to attend to the business of the country. If that notice were given the members would be better off both in their private capacity and in the execution of their duty to the country.

My hon. friend the leader of the opposition has made an appeal to the members of this house to state whether or not they are more prosperous to-day than previously. I do not know about the hon. gentleman since he resigned all his directorships for the platonic honour of leading the great historic-and hysterical-Conservative party. He may not feel as prosperous as when he was free to denounce the former leader of his party as being the megaphone of some railroad company; but for those of us who have no prospect or ambition of becoming advisers of the crown, those of us who simply endeavour to exercise their humble functions, I do not think we are any worse off to-day. Those of us who have not been stock-gambling, whose sons and daughters still stay at home

The Address-Mr. Bourassa

instead of going to such fashionable hotels as the Mount Royal and the Ritz Carlton to live a fast life, well, I think we are a little better off than we were twenty years ago. On the contrary, those of us who have adopted modern habits realize that it requires more money.

As far as the labour element is concerned, I agree to some extent with the hon. member for North Winnipeg (Mr. Heaps), but I must relate an experience I had last year. Out of the savings of twenty years of arduous life I was foolish enough to build myself a modest home; and during the six months which it took to build that house it was always surrounded with the automobiles of the gentlemen painters, the gentlemen carpenters and the gentlemen bricklayers who came to erect my house. It cost me so much money that I have had to renounce for the rest of my life the luxury of owning an automobile.

There are many other factors which could be mentioned, but I mention only that one little point, the convenience of members of parliament in attending to their own business as well as the country's business. I leave it to the conscience of the government and to their common sense, whether it is not high time that they should renounce their aristocratic attitude, shrouded with mystery, similar to that attitude which permitted the leaders of governments in England, long ago, to launch an election or to refuse it. To-day no government in England would dare to appeal to the country without giving such notice in advance as permits all parties, all leaders, - and all expressers of opinion, ample time in which to face the issues. As far as I am concerned, I am absolutely indifferent. I am prepared to go to the polls to-morrow, six months hence or a year hence. Whether I am elected or defeated is all the same to me. I will say to my people simply and candidly what I think, and I will be judged by their common sense, as I hope I will be judged in this house, not upon the few pinpricks which I may have sent right and left, but on my real thought as disclosed to the members on all sides of the house.

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PRO

John Evans

Progressive

Mr. JOHN EVANS (Rosetown):

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry that it is my misfortune to follow the hon. gentleman (Mr. Bourassa) after his delivery of such an interesting and instructive speech. I do not have very -much concern as to the time of the -next election, but I do hope that when the government goes to the country the electors will know exactly what the government stands for, as well as the stand taken by the opposition.

I do not think I would have taken any part in this debate, except that I desire some information as to the " unprecedented prosperity " which has been spoken of by both leaders, as well as referred to in the speech from the throne. I am hoping that some day the workers of this country, the farmers and the wage earners particularly, will have more to say as to the politics which concern them, and that in this house their opinions as to prosperity will be voiced rather than the opinions of the president of the Canadian Pacific Railway or the presidents of our banks. Of course, the banks are prosperous because of the adversity of other people. I have listened to the speeches of both the leader of the government and the leader of the opposition in an effort to find some indication of policy which would give a hopeful outlook to the workers and farmers of this country, but I have been disappointed. Indeed, Mr. Speaker, can anyone in this house say that one party is protectionist and the other party for free trade? What does one party stand for which distinguishes it from the other? Both parties stand for the utmost in privilege, both stand for the utmost in trade restriction for the farmer, both deny the workers and wage earners the freedom of exchange in goods and labour. Both parties stand for the utmost in class privilege, and I would like to mention some of the means used to carry on this game of privilege. There is, first, the intimidation of the workers in our industrial centres; then there is the concealment of the real facts regarding the administration of the customs tariff. The act does not say that the amount of duty levied on any article is to be according to the status of the person who happens to be the importer. Such status is always defined by the privileged interests, the manufacturers and the distributors-their decision is taken and acted upon by those who administer the act. I have here a statement from one who has seen many years of active service in the administration of the Customs Act. He plainly shows that so far as the manufacturer is protected against the private importer or the purchasing public, his protection is not 30 or 35 per cent but often over 100 per cent and sometimes 150 per cent. Let me show how this is done. He says:

To appro-ach a discussion of the tariff question properly, there are two acts of parliament to consider, and these acts cannot be divorced. The Customs Act is the controlling factor in the amount of revenue collected from any importer, the Tariff Act only classifying the merchandise and giving the rate of the impost. The Customs Act lays down the method of arriving at the value for duty and also the method of arriving at the status of the importer by the customs appraisers.

The Address-Mr. Evans

This determines the amount of duty that any importer, a private person, any one of the consuming public, has to pay. The tariff schedule, as it stands to-day, is no indication of the amount of tariff to be collected on any article. This is how it is done. The small dealer always gets from the manufacturer a discount of 50 per cent plus 15 plus 5. The rate of duty on a set of articles which this gentleman deals with, namely, kitchen utensils, is 30 per cent. The value for duty for the small dealer is $40.38. The large dealer gets a discount of 50 per cent plus 15 plus 10, and his value for duty is $38.25. Then the departmental store comes a Little better and its value for duty is S36.13. The jobber gets a discount of 50 per cent plus 15 plus 20, so that the value for duty in his case is $34.01. All these discounts are allowed in the appraisement for customs purposes. The list price to all is $100. If any consumer imports these articles, the discount is not allowed for customs purposes and so he pays on a value of $100. Therefore what costs the consumer $130, costs the jobber $44.21, the departmental store, $46.96, the large dealer, $49.72 and the small dealer, S52.49. Is there any fairness in that? AJ1 laws should be made for all people alike, and all should stand equal before the law. Has the government any right to accept a classification in this way from the Canadian manufacturers and distributors?

For the purpose of facilitating the immunity of the manufacturer from competition-it is a great game, lonig played by governments and manufacturers on the consuming public-this system of discounts was inaugurated a long time ago all over the North American continent. As classified here, they pay the duty on the net cost of the article. The classification of the citizen is made by the manufacturing and distributing combines. There is not a hint of such a classification in the customs tariff. This gentleman's statement is a direct accusation of intrigue on the part of the government with the manufacturers whom they put out of competition entirely with any other importer. Indeed, Mr. Deachman, who is, I believe, the propagandist for the Liberal party, says that at 30 per cent there is more duty collected on these articles-kitchen utensils-than is paid as wages in the whole industry in Canada. But even then he did not take into account the classification of the different importers or how each one is entitled to favourable appraisements. This statement to which I refer was secured from one in the outside service. I submitted it to an expert at Ottawa and he illuminates the figures as follows:

There is only one mistake, if any, and that is in t'he classification of the third, the departmental store.

The consumer or private importer pays three times as much as the wholesale jobber, two and four-fifths times as much as the departmental store, two and three-quarter times as much as the large dealer and two and one-half times as much as the small dealer.

But to pass on, by these means the workers are completely delivered over to the manufacturers. The more the worker is plucked of his earnings, the greater the cry of prosperity to be heard around this house. Because of the tariff as it stands and the way in which the act is administered, the farmer too is precluded from any hope of success or competence. He has to find his market price against the competition of the whole world, and he meets the competition of cheap labour of even Asia and Europe. Yet he has to buy his supplies in a protected market whereby as a consumer he is discriminated against in this way. This, we are told is prosperity.

To show how it works and the state of agriculture to-day, particularly in western Canada, I clipped these figures from the Saskatoon Star of February 12 last: The farm

loan board deficit of Saskatchewan amounts to date to S2,526,729.

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LIB

Malcolm McLean

Liberal

Mr. McLEAN (Melfort):

On what does

the hon. member base his statement? If it is a statement of figures, who found that out by actual investigation?

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PRO

John Evans

Progressive

Mr. EVANS:

I copied these figures from

those given in the legislature in Regina the other day.

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LIB

Malcolm McLean

Liberal

Mr. McLEAN (Melfort):

And disproved,

discredited.

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PRO

John Evans

Progressive

Mr. EVANS:

From the auditor's statement. The loss on foreclosed loans has been $281,954. This can be better understood when it is known that in no case, or in hardly any, has the farm loan board given more than 50 per cent of the value of appraisal given by their appraisers on any farm. Add this 50 per cent to the $281,954, and on those farms the land has fallen in value to that extent. Indeed, as I was coming here from Toronto the other day, I had a conversation with a gentleman who ought to know something of conditions in Ontario, and he told me that no farmer expecting to sell out in certain counties in western Ontario ever thinks of getting more than the price of his buildings. I quote that to show the extent to which the system of protection and privilege has brought the farming population down.

Like the Prime Minister, who hopes that the break in the stock market will prove a

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LIB-PRO

John Livingstone Brown

Liberal Progressive

Mr. BROWN:

Is the hon. gentleman advocating that?

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PRO

John Evans

Progressive

Mr. EVANS:

No, I am not advocating it. But what will the leader of the opposition do, seeing that this parliament has guaranteed to him and his clients a complete profit over the whole of their output whether sold for domestic use or in the foreign market? What is he going to do for agriculture when facing a situation such as this? Retaliation? What is retaliation? Retaliation, according to the idea of the protectionists, is to raise the tariff in this oountry so high that no goods can come in, but still allow our manufacturers to export goods over the tap of any tariff wall that any other country may erect. There is no other meaning to retaliation. There cannot be such a thing as retaliation against anyone in a foreign country by erecting a higher tariff wall around Canada.

To meet a supposed situation in the United States our manufacturers are calling for a higher tariff. Who will be the sufferers? The consumers of Canada alone. If France puts a duty of 73 cents a bushel on our wheat, who suffers? The French consumers. We are guaranteeing a profit to our manufacturers, who call for more and more protection to the extent that they may charge the home consumer a price that will give them a profit over the whole of their output, whether sold ait home or abroad. There is no other reason in asking for higher protection to-day. Our present tariff has reduced the western farmer to a state where he can hardly make ends meet. To-day in Canada a man cannot on his own ability and industry establish himself in any small enterprise, obickem-raising, if you like, or a small farm, the cost of everything having gone up too much to allow this; and

prices are going higher and still higher. Today the cost of living in Canada is as high or higher than 'in any other country in the world to which we are shipping out goods. I had -the pleasure of laying a set of figures before the immigration inquiry commission of the Saskatchewan government, at present sitting in Saskatchewan. Taking the prices of staple foods from the Labour Gazette published under the authority of the Minister of Labour here, I find that in Saskatoon the price of bread for the month of December averaged 8.8 cents a pound, while in the British Isles where we ship our flour and our wheat it was 4.8 cents. But that is not the only evil of protection. Protection unites everyone who has a privilege and a benefit under it. Our millers to-day are controlling our bakeries, and it is ony where there is plenty of .competition from .private parties that the price of bread is even somewhere near where it ought to be. While bread was 8.8cents a pound in Saskatoon, it was 6.7 cents a pound in Font William. These are things which I want the government to know. Prices for necessaries are now such that no working main can afford even to establish a home.

As I say, I listened to the speeches of the leader of the government and the leader of the opposition in Saskatoon, and I was much amused at an exhibition which the leader of the opposition made before his audience by producing a five dollar bill. It seems that some shippers of certain goods in British Columbia had been importing their packing cases from the United States, and the hon. leader of the opposition produced a five dollar bill and said: If this money had only been

spent in Canada it would have gone around to the lumber-workers and to those who feed them and so on. Well, I expect he impressed the natives of British Columbia with the same exhibition; evidently he got away with his joke and the five dollar bill in that province. But in Saskatoon he never said where he got all that money; and what impressed me more than anything was that he never said where the five dollar bill went. He said: Now,

we will take this five dollar bill. "Take" was the word, and that is the method of the protectionist, I believe. Then he told the audience that some of the requirements of certain primary producers were being imported from the United States, that if these things had been manufactured in Canada this five dollar bill would have circulated among the lumber-workers and all those who produced to feed the men who made these articles. But never mind where it came from, let us follow this five dollar bill and see

The Address-Mr. Evans

Two other notices bore the date of January 20. Still the minister in his wire tells me that there will be no dispossession until spring. Just imagine these papers being received by registered mail, taken home by the settler and read by him to his wife and family sitting around him in their little shack. What other conclusion can. he arrive at than that he must hand over his stock and leave the place in two cases on the 20th February and. in this case on the 28th February. Yet the minister says that they are not being dispossessed until spring. The soldier settlement board was established for the sole purpose of reestablishing these men, assisting them and encouraging them to stay on the land, but it has become nothing more than a glorified collection department. Case after case has been presented to the house. Last session it will be remembered that cases were presented by some of the hon. members for western Canada showing that it was impossible to obtain sufficient revenue from these holdings to meet the demands of the board and the cost of living. These have been termed' exceptional cases. I have a file of these cases and I have come across so many I do not think they can any longer be considered as isolated cases. From my experience they are general. But I am not going to take up the time of the house in presenting these or any of them. I would just like to draw the attention of the minister and the government to the convention of the Canadian Legion. A special committee at that convention went thoroughly into this question; they brought witnesses before them and they collected a good deal of evidence. They came to the conclusion that it was impossible for these settlers to make good under present conditions and they so reported to the convention. The convention recommended the " remission of interest and a straight cut of 25 per cent."

We are told that there is outstanding on these loans, $73,000,000. This of course stands against the 10.000 abandoned farms as well as against the 13,000 occupied holdings. What portion is standing against the occupied holdings, we do not know, but we do know that to administer and' care for these 13.000 holdings it is costing this country $1,500,000 a year, or -more than $100 a year or about $10 a month for each holding. It might be good [DOT]business for Canada to give these men their title and wipe out this expenditure of $1,500,000 a year. But the returned men are not asking for that; they want simply a square deal, and I would suggest to the government that this session they seriously consider the recommendation of the Canadian Legion and at the same time take into consideration the

appointment of a commission, independent of the board, to go thoroughly into this as well as the 3,000 family scheme under which we have so many dissatisfied settlers.

This is all I wish to draw to the attention of the government at the present time. It is a very important question to the soldier settler, and I hope the government will take it into their serious consideration and make some provision for the relief of these men who are undertaking to make good on the land throughout the Dominion of Canada.

Motion (Mr. Gray) agreed to.

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Hon. ERNEST LAPOINTE (Minister of Justice) moved:

That the address be engrossed and transmitted to His Excellency the Governor General by such members of the house as are of the honour-aible the Privy Council.

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Motion agreed to.



Hon. ERNEST LAPOINTE (Minister of Justice) for Mr. Dunning moved: That this house will to-morrow resolve itself into a committee to consider of a supply to be granted to His Majesty. Motion agreed to.


WAYS AND MEANS


Hon. ERNEST LAPOINTE (Minister of Justice) moved1: That this house will to-morrow resolve itself into a committee to consider of the ways and means for raising the supply to be granted to His Majesty. Motion agreed to. On motion of Mr. Mackenzie King the house adjourned at 5.55 p.m. Wednesday, February 26, 1930


February 25, 1930