Before the house rose
at six o'clock I was pointing out the inconsistencies of the actions and policies of government members. I had brought to the attention of the house the fact that they had recanted on everything which they had advocated in the past and that they had purloined at least in part the policy of the Conservative party. Before the recess I had put on Hansard some statements made by different ministers of the crown and by Mr. Deputy Speaker. I had pointed out that in the past these hon. gentlemen had expressed opinions contrary to the policy outlined in the budget which is now before the house. Directly before the adjournment I was dealing with statements made by the present Minister of Railways (Mr. Crerar). I had read his objection to the budget of Sir Thomas White in 1919, and the objection of the hon. gentleman at that time was that it was a protectionist budget. At this time I wish to put on Hansard a few more statements made by the Minister of Railways as they are reported in Hansard of 1919, page 3329:
When I joined the government I made it perfectly clear that I had not surrendered or given up any of the principles that I believed in and as to which I had endeavoured, in my small way, to educate this country prior to that event.
I shall also put on Hansard a record of what those principles were. For the edification of this house and of the country I have read the platform of the Canadian Council of Agriculture. I would like to call to the attention of the house the action of the present Speaker of the house when in 1918 he asked the present Minister of Railways what he thought of that platform. At that time he rose in his place and said that he thought it was a good platform when it was adopted and that it was still good. If the hon. gentleman were in his place to-night I would ask him if he still held that view and if so what right he has to sit in tjie present government after the introduction of the present budget. On page 927 of Hansard, 1919, (second session) the present Minister of Railways is quoted as follows:
To me as a westerner and as a man who believed profoundly in reciprocity with the United States, and believes in it yet, the discussion has been decidedly interesting.
At page 2909 of Hansard of 1920 we have this statement from the present Minister of Railways:
If my hon. friends want a moderate tariff for revenue only, and if the government desire
The Budget-Mr. McGibbon
to wipe out special privilege ,in this direction, why did they not start on the tariff schedule in respect to cotton goods when arranging their budget? On the contrary, these cotton duties are maintained. And the same condition applies not only to the textile industry, but to many other industries as well.
If his objections were well founded at that time they are equally well founded to-day, because the same duties on textiles are maintained. At a later time when cross questioned by the then Minister of the Interior, Mr. Meighen, he said:
I -want to know what are the views of my hon. friend opposite on this question. I would like the Minister of the Interior, in his next speech, or the Minister of Immigration and Colonization, to state his views as to what duties should prevail on, say, agricultural implements, on textiles, and on iron and coal.
At that time the hon. minister was deriding the duties upon iron, coal, cottons and woollens; yet to-day he joins the government in bringing in a tariff which is doubling the duty on iron and coal. At a later time the hon. gentleman makes this statement:
I make the statement in all seriousness that the protective tariff has been the greatest agency for exploiting our people that was ever devised.
I wonder if he holds to-night the same opinion about the protective tariff; if he does I wonder what right he has to sit in this government. Then, again, on March 14, 1922, at page 55 of Hansard he expressed himself thus:
There are some changes forecast in the customs tariff .... I hope it forecasts a revision of duties downwards. I cannot conceive for a moment that the government would think of revising the tariff upwards. I hope that will not be done.
These are only a few of the many statements of the hon. gentlemen opposite wherein they expressed themselves in opposition to the principle of the tariff and budget which they have brought down this session and have asked parliament to adopt. Then in Hansard of March 4, 1920, we find the following at page 148:
What is the purpose of a tariff? It is designed to benefit a particular section of the people, it operates in no other -way, and consequently the operation of this protective system in our fiscal policy, which has obtained largely for the last forty years, has conferred upon a special class a privilege that in my judgment is not compatible with a true democracy. And I would point out to my hon. friend from Brantford and to other hon. gentlemen also who believe in a protective tariff, that protection is nothing more or less than a type of state socialism.
These are the opinions of the present Minister of Railways. I could multiply the quotations if time permitted, but I must hurry on.
For a minute or two I wish to deal with statements made by the Acting Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Crerar) who has held himself out to be the friend of the farmers in this country. I find that the hon. gentleman was sworn in on October 12, 1917, as Minister of Agriculture, and his very first act as a minister of the crown was to pass an order in council permitting -the manufacture of oleomargarine. Some hon. gentlemen opposite were anxious the other night to find out something about this, and I wonder why they did not direct their attention to the present Minister of Railways. He was the man who put that into force in this country. Not only that but his next act on behalf of the farmers was to buy all the screenings from the elevators at the head of the lakes. These screenings had been sold at an average price of $8 for some six years previously; the hon. gentleman bought them and sold them to the farmers at $35 a ton. There was a loss to the government of Canada of something like $96,000; that is an instance of the manner in which he looked after the interests of the farmers of Canada. Let us go a little further. He also permitted them, by an order in council which cancelled certain regulations, to mix with the foodstuffs of this country certain seeds from the west. The analyses of these seeds, which have been placed upon the records of this house, show a large percentage -of poisonous seeds which were detrimental to the health of the live stock of Canada.
What else do we find? In 1918, I believe it was, he confiscated all the butter in this country except that which was held by those who were manufacturing oleomargarine. Of course he could not touch the vested interests, but he could confiscate all the butter belonging to the farmers of Canada, while he protected his pets whom he had allowed to make oleomargarine with which the}- mixed the butter of the farmers so that it lost its identity.
Then there is another point to which I should like to direct attention. Before six o'clock I mentioned the fact that the hon. gentleman resigned the day before the budget was delivered, and by that budget the duty on agricultural implements was lowered in several instances. At that time the minister's company was in the implement business, and before the commission investigating the high cost of living his secretary. Rice Jones, stated that the company had not lost a dollar because their goods were in bond in Winnipeg. I should like to know where they got that
The Budget-Mr. McGibbon
information as to what took place in the cabinet council, information supposed to be kept secret?
Now, sir, I must hurry on because I have only a few minutes left. I should like to touch on the connection of the hon. gentleman with the Home bank, of which the minister was a director from about 1908 or 1910 until after he joined the government in 1918. From information which came to him as a director of that bank he knew as early as 1916 that the capital and the reserves of the bank had been wiped out, and that since 1916 they had not been earning their dividends. From 1916 to 1923 that bank did not earn its dividends; the capital and the reserves were gone; the stock was worthless, yet the minister sat around the council board of that institution and not only voted himself dividends but paid those dividends out of the money of the depositors, of whom I have 1,800 in my constituency. I claim that their savings were taken illegally to pay the interest on the stock, and the minister was one of the directors. It is true that be brought the matter to the attention of the then Minister of Finance, but, sir, I believe that if he had done as he should he would have used his position as director to force one of the other banking institutions to take over that company at that time. Had that been done at least the depositors would not have lost their money because, as you know, there is a double . liability provision and since then the auditors have told us that the amount raised in that way would have covered the amount of the deposits. That was not done. His company had S100.000 in the stock of that bank; he had some $6,000 or $7,000 worth of that stock and other members of his company had invested $4,000 or $5,000. Had he forced action not only would they have lost the money they put in; they would have had to go down into their pockets and pay out as much more money to protect the depositors. What did they do? They just sat around the council board and voted themselves money, which the depositors lost.
Subtopic: THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE