March 17, 1931


Joseph Henri Napoléon Bourassa



Mr. Speaker, being precluded by the rules of the house as well as by my old age from speaking at any great length, I shall confine my remarks this evening to a consideration of the amendment moved by the right hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King) and of some parts of his speech, reserving for myself the right that belongs to all members to speak on the main motion, if necessary, after the amendment has been disposed of.

I must confess, sir, that I am not quite prepared to say whether I will vote for or against this motion. It is rather embarrassing because, although I agree with a good deal of it, I disagree with part of it. Perhaps while talking through it I shall find my way out of this difficulty.

With the first paragraph of the amendment I agree largely. Every man and every woman in this country is perfectly convinced, I think, that,-using the language of the motion-

(Mr. C. A. Stewart.]

-the policies of His Majesty's government have not only failed to offer a remedy for employment and agricultural distress, but have served further to prejudice the deplorable condition of the agricultural interests.

Of that I am firmly convinced, and I made it quite clear during the campaign which preceded my re-election last summer. I am not going to dwell upon that point, reserving to the debate on the budget what may be said in this regard. Then the motion goes on:

.... thereby causing additional unemployment and substantially reducing the national revenue.

If I had the responsibility of stating a policy, or rather a declaration of policy, in contradistinction to that propounded by the government, I would not go that far. I do not think the policy of the government is altogether the cause of the additional unemployment which may be prevalent now, or of reducing the revenue. On this point I take the position which I took during the special session and also during the general election. I think it would be just as unfair and untrue to load the full responsibility for the present situation upon this government as i.t was unfair on the part of the Conservative party to load upon the Liberal government the responsibility for the situation in which Canada found itself a year ago.

With the last paragraph I also agree. I am decidedly "of the opinion that if the proposals" of the government "and certain other of the policies of the government, are persisted in, as would appear to be the intention of the government as outlined in the speech from the throne, the very serious condition which exists at the present time will be intensified rather than relieved". That I think, is absolutely true; although I might differ with my right hon. friend to my right as to what those "certain" things are.

The gist of my remarks I intend to devote to the middle paragraph, and as far as that is concerned I am altogether in disagreement with my right hon. friend the leader of the opposition, for the same reasons, which I gave when I spoke on the last Dunning budget, the same reasons which I gave last session and which I have given during the last thirty years, in opposition to that so-called preferential policy adopted in 1900 by the Liberal government and maintained ever since by all administrations.

The right hon. gentleman, in his most eloquent speech,-one of the ablest he ever delivered in this house, although I might say one which would not have been spoiled by some curtailment,-dwelt at length upon the preferential policy of the Liberal government,

The Address-Mr. Bourassa

which he dated back to 1897. I have stated I think twice at least in this house, since I came back to it, that I will never let such a statement go unchallenged, because it is unwarranted. On previous occasions, I have explained the circumstances, and I will repeat them now, because I think I am the last witness in this house who knows the facts out of which were born that essential humbug, the policy which has been called the preferential tariff. For many years previous to the general election of 1896 the Liberal party, through its leaders and most of its candidates and by its public organs, had pledged itself to eradicate the last vestige of protection from the Canadian tariff. That was their public pledge to the people of Canada; but on the eve of that general election of 1896 there was a dawn of hope. The then economic crisis, the school mess of Manitoba and various other things gave the Liberal party the hope that it could win; but as one of their newly acquired friends, Mr. Tarte, stated, "elections are not won by prayers". Therefore they wanted some money to support the current of opinion which was showing itself in their favour. They received subscriptions from the manufacturers' association, from the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, from the Bank of Montreal and from other large concerns, although those subscriptions were modest as compared to those which these highly moral institutions now give to both parties at every election, and very modest as compared to what was then given to the Conservative party which was still in power. However, with the help of public sentiment, they were sufficient to carry the election.

When the time came to frame the first budget of the Liberal government, in order to balance things between the public pledges given to the people and the private pledges given to the manufacturers of Canada, they maintained protection as the basis of the Liberal policy and introduced the so-called preferential tariff as a sop to the people who had been crying for free trade, and who, like my hon. friend from West Edmonton (Mr. Stewart), had been sounding the death-knell of protection for twenty years back. But, at least, so far so good; this policy, immoral as it might have been in its conception, was not bad, on the whole; and I may say that, ignorant greenhorn as I was then, I voted for it in absolute good faith. But what did I vote for, and what did the whole of the Liberal party vote for in 1897? They voted for a reduction in the tariff to every country, British or foreign, that would meet Canada on a fair basis of reciprocity. The Liberal

party had not then decided to outdo the Tory party in their lip professions of loyalty, or their professions of lip loyalty to the British empire. This was adopted as a Canadian policy, for the benefit of the people of Canada.

It was in the midst of our first fits of Imperial delirium tremens, in 1900, that Mr. Fielding very cleverly had a friend from Nova Scotia, a highly cultured gentleman who at least had the sincerity of his convictions as an imperialist-one of the rare Liberal imperialists of those days-move an amendment to the motion to go into committee of the whole. Mr. Fielding had Mr. Russell, one of the members for Halifax, get up in the house and move a resolution in amendment to the motion of the Minister of Finance to go into committee of the whole expressing the hope that the principle of British preference would be adopted. I am not quoting the exact words of the amendment; I am speaking from memory, but I know this was the gist of the motion. At that time the motherland was engaged in the struggle in South Africa, and the motion referred to the debt of gratitude owed by this country to the motherland then engaged in gathering the forces of the mightiest empire the world had ever seen in order to crush two puny nations the total population of which was not equal to that of the city of Hamilton. The sentiment was expressed that in order to show our loyalty to that generous empire, then busy in accomplishing one of the worst crimes committed during the last century-and I take those words from the lips of some of the most respectable English statesmen of the period, and belonging to all parties in England-we should create a third tariff, lower than the rest, and apply it to British goods alone. That was the inception of the British preference, advocated then by the Liberal government and opposed by the Conservative party, to which I joined my humble and single vote.

Then came the conference of 1902, which Mr. Fielding attended. Well, from 1900 to 1902 the Liberal government and all Canadians had absorbed a sufficient dose of matters conducive to sobriety of thought to enable them to reason out those things; and it was there and then that Mr. Fielding prepared that memorandum from which the right hon. Prime Minister quoted this afternoon, a memorandum which concluded with a sentence, a replica of which is almost contained in that famous explosion of the right hon. gentleman, of the 2nd of December, to which I shall refer later on. So that when both

The Address-Mr. Bourassa

parties are defying each other, in the manner of those heroes of Homer or of Virgil, with a deep gulf between the two, as to which is the most loyal to the empire, as to which is doing the most to sustain the ideals of empire, I am bound to repeat, in the sensible words of a sensible Englishman,-"humbug," both ways. Is not this quite impartial, Mr. Speaker?

Those closing words of Mr. Fielding meant something or meant nothing. If they meant something, they meant that the Canadian government was going to recommend to the Canadian parliament, at the next session, a revision of their policy. It was never done; it remained on paper, a declaration of policy which never materialized, and one which, had it been spoken, a phrase very aptly used by my right hon. friend the leader of the opposition would exactly fit-"sound without sense", and without results.

My right hon. friend devoted much of his eloquent address to the demonstration that the practical result of that gesture of imperial loyalty on the part of the Liberal party, of that demonstration of good will, was the removal of the embargo on our Canadian cattle. Here I am on familiar ground. I had as my deskmate in that parliament of 1896 Mr. Robert Bickerdike, who represented the constituency of St. Lawrence, a predecessor long since of my hon. friend the Secretary of State (Mr. Cahan). Mr. Bickerdike's trade, like that of my hon. friend from Marquette (Mr. Mullins), was largely concerned with that embargo; and every session, from 1896 to 1907, when I left, and later on, until his death, he had always two motions on the order paper and always prepared a good speech in support of each-the abolition of the death penalty and the removal of the embargo. And he succeeded as well with one as with the other.

That embargo had been imposed by England, in 1892, under false pretences. The British ministers did not want to admit that they were imposing a measure of protection in favour of the cattle raisers of Scotland, of England and especially of Ireland, so they stamped Canadian cattle with a lie: they said they were diseased. The Canadian government, Conservative and Liberal alike, demonstrated by the most expert testimony that could be obtained, that it was untrue. But the British government maintained the embargo. The year 1897 came, with the first preference; the embargo was retained. The years 1899 and 1900 came with a display of oratory, with spending of money, the sending

of Canadian boys to conquer South Africa for the benefit of the hoarders of gold in Rhodesia. The embargo was maintained. Then came 1911 and 1913 with the two proposals of both parties to help in fighting the battles of the empire on sea-the Liberal proposal, with that so-called Canadian navy in time of peace and imperial in time of war, as described by Mr. Fielding himself, and then the statesmanlike proposal of Sir Robert Borden to take from the public exchequer of this wealthy nation the sum of $35,000,000 to go to the rescue of poor, downtrodden England, crushed under the burden of her gold and the predominance of her trade the world over. This mighty Canadian nation had to make a gift of $35,000,000 to poor, little England. I shall never forget the remark of my dear old friend Lord Fisher, who once asked me, "Which is the most foolish of the two parties in Canada?" Still the embargo was kept on. Then the war of 1914 came. We declared war against Germany before England did. We began sending our human flesh to the slaughter market of Europe, and the British government was mighty glad to accept it. But the embargo on Canadian cattle was still maintained, because the interests of the cattle raisers of the British Isles predominated in the British government, whatever might be the party in power, over the sentimental stock phrases used by Canadians. Finally, it was raised, I think, in 1924.

Now, if my good friends to the right had been returned to power last year, what would be the situation? And I did my level best to keep them in power, just as I did something to prevent them from falling from power a couple of years previously; they were then very attentive to my remarks, for the majority was small. In 1930 the majority was larger and their budget was adopted. Suppose they had been supported by the people of Canada and had gone to England. Perhaps some hon. gentlemen remember my suggestion. My idea was-and it still is- that the present leader of the opposition should have gone to London with the late Minister of Justice, to sit at the Imperial conference, so-called, the political one. But I said that I would rather trust the staunch imperialist on the other side of the house to stand as against English selfishness for the preservation of Canadian interests, because he is connected with selfish Canadian interests, and there is nothing like two egotisms in fighting each other. Of course, that could not be. But suppose the late government had been maintained in power. Suppose my right hon. friend had gone with

The Address-Mr. Bourassa

Mr. Dunning, with that fine speech, with a new reduction in the tariff as affecting the importation of British goods, a greater preference, and with those fine declarations about no petty spirit of bargaining. Well, perhaps after thirty-two years some relief might have come to the farmers of the west to the extent of a few pence more for their wheat on the British market-provided that, in the interval, means had been found of raising the price of wheat grown in other parts of the world.

Because Mr. Speaker-and this is one of the reasons for which, in spite of many misdeeds which I have denounced in the policy of the British government, I remain, and am still more every day, a deep admirer of the nation-the British people, while thinking of the conditions prevailing throughout the world, and while being prepared to bargain fairly with all nations including their associates within the empire, think of themselves first, second and last and put themselves on a, fair basis to bargain. What means all this talk about bargaining, that there should be no such thing as bargaining? Sheer nonsense! Who is that great English or French jurist who said that after all every question of right-right generally, mind you -the greatest thing on earth in the government of nations and the maintenance of order as among men and peoples-every question of right could be brought within the four comers of the law of contract, properly understood and interpreted. Likewise every diplomatic question, every matter at issue between governments and nations must of necessity be a matter of bargaining. The only question is, will you bargain fairly, honestly and with statesmanship, or will you bargain as a miser? Napoleon once called the English nation a nation of shopkeepers; but, as Lord Rosebery, his great admirer, said in later years, the English made a great mistake in being so angry at that qualification of Napoleon's. What has made their greatness? Not their soldiers, not their sailors, not even their statesmen, but their shopkeepers, their merchants and their industrialists, because, while having constant regard to their corporate or individual interests, they never lost sight of their duty to their people and to their nation. Canada, Australia and -other parts of the British empire will be in a position to deal with Britain on a footing of equality-not of legal equality, that is nothing-but on a footing of moral, social -and economic equality, to strike a fair, honest -and proper bargain with the British nation, when they have learned, first, to stand on their own ground, to realize their real interests, and then confront their

position with that of the British government. So long as we go on-I was going to say, waving the British flag, but that is not the proper expression-so long as one party goes on making a bed cover of the British flag in order to prevent the people from looking under the cover, and the other party makes use of it as a pocket handkerchief to wipe its nose every time it has a cold in its head, so long as we make such silly use of the British flag instead of -adopting for our own use what is best in British traditions, we will not be in a position to make -a fair bargain with the British government or, at that, with any other nation or government.

I consider, and I make this statement quite deliberately, that the position taken by the Prime Minister at the opening of the conference was the proper one to take. But what happened? The Prime Minister lost sight of a few things, as my right hon. friend has lost sight of a few other things. The Prime Minister is quite right when he says that he practically imitated the example set by Sir Wilfrid Laurier in 1902; but so f-ar he has not gone the length of following the example set by Sir John Macdonald when accused by his Liberal opponents, in one of their first fits of feigned loyalty, of endangering British connection by the adoption of -his national policy. He said: "All I have to reply is, so much the worse for the British connection. I am not adopting that policy to oppose British interests, I am adopting it to serve Canadian interests. I hope the British people will find a way to accommodate themselves to it, but anyway it is my policy." The right hon. leader of the opposition read quite properly -an extract from a letter from another robust Canadian, Sir Alexander Galt, on the right of Canada to exercise her fiscal autonomy. He might have read also the letters exchanged between the government of Sandfield Macdonald and the same Duke of Newcastle, to the effect that Canada intended to keep her own sons upon her own territory and not to lend them to any government in London in order to advance British interests. Both parties could obtain valuable lessons from those old records. The incidentals of the national policy of 1878 might have been wrong and the assumption that protection was a cure for all evils might be erroneous. I did not believe so, years ago, when I was elected. Strange to say I was elected as a protectionist Liberal. I could not see my way clear to professing free trade in my county and voting protection in the house. After I had secured a mandate from the people I could not bring myself to present one phase of the situation to the people and another phase to the house.

The Address-Mr. Bourassa


An hon. MEMBER:

You could not be a

good Liberal.


Joseph Henri Napoléon Bourassa



Nor do I think I would be a very good Tory. In fact, I do not think it is possible to be a good Tory.

Where the Prime Minister was wrong, in London, was in imagining that he could play the part of Neptune and silence the agitated waters of the sea, that he could, all by himself, make of the British Empire the greatest human community that has ever existed. That was but part of it. He could not expect that to be accepted by the English people. Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, nearly as powerful a man as the right hon. gentleman, tried it and perished in the attempt. Previously another Englishman, who truly might not compare with our lion-hearted Richard, Sir Charles Dilke, made the attempt and perished. Therefore, he ought to have been prepared with a fuller degree of humour and wit, and such humility as he could find in himself, to receive the answer of Mr. Thomas. His mistake was in answering Mr. Thomas in the way he did. The trouble with most of our men when they go to London is to think that Englishmen, accustomed as they are to deal with the whole world, will take them as seriously as they take themselves. That has been the trouble with all our representatives in London. I think that what Mr. Thomas did was quite right and proper, and the mistake made by my right hon. friend was in being too serious about it. The right hon. Prime Minister thought that it would be the end of the British Empire if everybody did not listen to him, and likewise the leader of the opposition is wrong when he thinks that because his opponent has been a little noisy in his assertions in England and because he replied in the way he did, that means the end of the British Empire. No such thing will happen. This government will pass and perhaps the hon. gentlemen on this side of the house will come to power again. Canada will follow the trend of the world, will grow and at times will pass through many crises. There is no doubt that some day the British Empire will end because it is a human institution. It will end as did the Roman Empire and all other human fabrics, but it will not end because of either of these two excellent bachelors in this house.

By a strange coincidence, the explosion of December 2nd was published on the anniversary of the famous coup d'etat, which in 1851 changed the fate of the French republic. This one did not have exactly the same effect. People did not rise in rebellion. It is true

that, as the right hon. gentleman said, there was approval of his proposal in most of the British papers. But the approval meant really that he had impressed most of the British papers with the difficulties of the situation, because the policy propounded was so impossible for England that no responsible leader could approve it, and that explains the rejoicing of the British papers. When he came with his explosion of the second of December everybody got away in order to escape the smell of the fuming gases and the heat of the powerless steam hissing out from the broken machine. But fortunately for him and fortunately for us, the right hon. gentleman survived. He certainly has something to accomplish, and he will accomplish much if he does not attempt to rule the world. He came back in good health; and now I hope he will start with a sound and modest Canadian policy, along the lines that he has generally adopted. But let him beware of imperial ventures and not attempt to preach a new gospel to an old. nation that has known pretty well how to rule itself for the last seven or eight centuries.


Follin Horace Pickel

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. F. H. PICKEL (Brome-Missisquoi):

Mr. Speaker, I should extend my congratulations to the mover (Mr. Cormier) and the seconder (Mr. Porteous) of the address, and also I wish to extend my felicitations to the last speaker on his historical oration. The hon. member for West Edmonton (Mr. Stewart) mentioned that the Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) had stated that the late government should have foreseen the catastrophe which was facing the Canadian people and: taken means to prevent it. There is a good deal of truth in that.

iSince 1925, by the operation of the Australian, trade treaty, which included New Zealand, the largest and best group of citizens that we have in Canada has been practically put out of business. I refer to the dairy, poultry and market garden farmers of Canada. For forty-five years at least, I have been engaged quite extensively in farming operations. I am also practising medicine, and I assure the house that during the last six years it has taken all I could earn in a protected profession to keep my farm going. I can take you into my county and show you farm after farm that has been deserted since 1925 owing to the operations of the Australian treaty. I could take you upon one road of eleven miles through a good farming section and show you forty-seven houses boarded up. I could take you on another road of six miles and show you twelve houses boarded up, and that is the case throughout the county. As it is in Brome-

The Address-Mr. Picket

Missisquoi, so it is through the whole of the eastern townships. I think it is safe to say that in the eastern townships there are 3,000 farms abandoned because they cannot make them pay. Why? Simply because of legislation passed in 1925 allowing Australia and New Zealand to ship their products into this country under a duty of one cent a pound.

The western farmers complain that they are pretty hard hit. I agree with them, and I extend my hearty sympathy to them. I would certainly do anything in my power to assist them, but in the west they do not know what hard times are. Eastern Canadian dairy farmers since 1925 have been losing all they had accumulated in a lifetime. They are down and out. The people in the west have been suffering for a year.


Follin Horace Pickel

Conservative (1867-1942)


I have. Previously the

westerners got good prices; they were doing well; but we in the eastern townships have been suffering for seven years, and we are pretty hard hit. The wheat situation is very serious. The people in the east are sympathetic and they are quite willing to do anything that can be done to remedy conditions in the west. I cannot say what should be done, but I am ready to support any measures for the purpose of alleviating the conditions of the western farmer.

When we speak of agriculture in this house, the eastern dairy farmer never enters the mind of hon. members. It is the grain growers of the west who are meant, and this has been so for a long time. About the only information the majority of the members have of the condition of the eastern farmer is what is obtained from the milkman who, from the excessive price he is charging for his milk, spreads the propaganda that the farmer is robbing him. He does not at the same time tell the consumer that while the farmer is getting one dollar, the milkman is getting three dollars. I ask hon. members to consider seriously the position of the eastern dairy farmer. During the last six years, since 1925, the experimental and demonstration farms of this country have shown us that it costs forty cents to produce a pound of butter with bran at S30 a ton and middlings at $38 a ton; but with bran at S40 a ton and middlings at $50 a ton, which we had to pay for four or five of those years, the cost of production was over fifty cents a pound, and the farmers in the dairy section, by remaining in the business, lost ten cents on every pound of butter they produced. Our farmers would have been better off if they had closed up their farms in 1925 and waited-


An hon. MEMBER:

For a change in government?


Follin Horace Pickel

Conservative (1867-1942)


-for a change in government.

A great deal has been said about the tariff and about the hardship that the tariff works. During the special session or last September the hon. member for North Bruce (Mr. Malcolm), speaking of the increased duties that were then proposed, cited the fact that the rubber business was doing well. In order not to prolong the debate I did not at that time ask him to tell the house why it was doing well. In 1878 we did not manufacture rubbers in this country, and from 1878 to 1885 or 1886 I could save my return fare by going twenty miles to a little town across the line to buy two pair of rubbers. To-day, Mr. Speaker, we can buy rubbers that are even a little bit better made in Canada by Canadian workmen at as cheap a price as they sell for across the line. That is what protection has done for the rubber industry, and it is what protection will do for any industry. Industries must have protection, not only manufacturing industries but the great industry of agriculture also. Agriculture must be protected. The people of the west raise a great deal more farm produce than we can consume in this country. If the production of the farmers of the west was limited to the consumption of this country, would they not be crying for a tariff against Russia?

I wish to deal for a few moments with the dairy industry in Canada. Representing a dairying constituency, I am intensely interested in the dairy business, and I would ask that every consideration be given to the eastern dairy farmer. I think that he can be helped. To-day we are not producing as much butter as we consume. We have in cold storage in Montreal about four million pounds of New Zealand butter and about three million dozen of foreign eggs. They are being kept in cold storage as a lever to keep the price down, and when the production of butter commences in this country in the spring, it will be bought up at a cheap price and be put into cold storage, so that the same thing may be done again next winter. In the year 1924 we exported twenty-four million pounds of butter, graded No. 1, the best butter in the world. For the last two years, however, we have exported practically no butter, and there is no grading at all. The consequence is that we have lost the art of butter making in Canada. It has gone from us. The Australian trade treaty made it necessary for us to find a market for our dairy produce outside Canada. New Zealand captured our own mark?4'

The Address-Mr. Pickel


George Gibson Coote

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. G. G. OOOTE (Maeleod):

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately the rules of the house limit me to forty minutes, so I am not able to follow in detail the remarks of my hon. friend (Mr. Pickel) who has just spoken. Indeed I intend

The Address-Mr. Coote

to devote most of my attention to one paragraph in the speech from the throne which deals with western conditions. It says in part:

My ministers have had under anxious consideration the means by which an orderly marketing of the wheat crop of western Canada may be assured, and have already taken such effective action towards that end as the circumstances appear to justify.

Reading that sentence, I am led to believe that the government are not fully aware of the conditions that do exist in western Canada. The speech continues:

My ministers are aware that changing conditions in the world's markets may necessitate further intervention by my government, which is prepared to render whatever additional assistance may be deemed advisable in the national interest.

I am led by that sentence, Mr. Speaker, to take heart. It may be that the government has not been kept fully aware of the changing conditions. Then the speech proceeds:

The present situation has emphasized the necessity of effecting a reduction in the costs of production and marketing of the wheat crop and of providing more stable markets, as the welfare of all parts of Canada is involved in satisfactory returns being received by the grain growers.

I feel it my duty, sir, to bring to your attention and to the attention of the house the prices which are received to-day by the grain growers. The following figures are taken from the Calgary Herald of March 13, and are street prices, or the prices paid for grain delivered at the line company elevators in Alberta at points taking the 26 cent freight rate to Fort William:

Wheat: No. 1, 36 cents; No. 2, 33 cents; No. 3, 29 cents; No. 4, 25 cents; No. 5, 23 cents; No. 6, 23 cents per bushel.

Oats: No. 2 CW, 15 cents per bushel.

That is the highest grade.

No. 1 feed oats, 10 cents per bushel.

Barley: No. 3 CW, 14 cents; No. 4 CW, 11 cents per bushel.

Rye: No. 2 CW, 12 cents; No. 3 CW, 10 cents per bushel.

I am sure that no one would consider these prices satisfactory. In fact they are so unsatisfactory that I think it is impossible to have stable business conditions in Canada until they are changed. May I give to the house one or two instances of the wrong relationship of prices that now exists? A few weeks ago a gentleman told me that it took five bushels of his wheat to pay for the half-soling of his boy's shoes; that was No. 2 grade wheat. I heard of another case where a man took 60 bushels of barley to pay for a pair of workshoes for himself. I know of a man who, having brought eleven dozen

eggs to town and succeeded in getting a dollar for them, thought he had made a good deal. He had his boy with him and they went over to the restaurant to get their lunch. It cost him 90 cents for the two meals. With the remaining 10 cents he bought a pair of shoelaces for the boy. Even at that there was nothing to pay for the gasoline which he used in driving to town and back again. It takes just 75 bushels of No. 1 feed oats to buy a pair of ploughshares. One man told me that w'hen the present Minister of Railways was in western Canada during the campaign he was lamenting the fact that it took two bushels of barley to buy a package of cigarettes at some plaee in Manitoba, but this man said to me, "When you go to Ottawa now tell him that in our district it takes three bushels of barley to buy a package of cigarettes."

The result of these low prices, Mr. Speaker, is that the morale of the western farmer never has been as low as it is to-day, and that is not to be wondered at. Out of the prices which I quoted must be deducted all the expenses of the farmer, including threshing, the hauling of grain to town, stooking, twine, the board of his harvesters, repairs to his binder and all the expenses which must have gone before in preparing the land for the crop. As a result he is unable, in many cases, to pay his store bills, his taxes, or the interest on his mortgage or bank loan. I have here a clipping from the Calgary Herald containing a despatch from Edmonton which says that the Retail Merchants' Association of that province interviewed the provincial government, and they stated that the total amount owing the merchants of the province on farmers' accounts was estimated at 840,000,000. I was told a few years ago that there were 70,000 farmers in Alberta, so anyone can figure out just how much that averages out for eacl) farmer on his store debt.

Many of our farmers are in this position: They are depending upon a tractor with which to do their seeding operations this spring, but they have not the money left with which to buy gasoline or oil to run the tractor, and in many cases credit has been absolutely refused. How is the crop to be put in this spring? That is the burning question, and I hope this house and this government will consider it before the end of this month. I was told by one gentleman that a bank manager expressed the opinion to him that in his particular district one-third of the land would not be seeded this spring because the farmers could not get credit with which to go ahead with their farming operations. I know of one school district.


The Address-Mr. Coote

not the worst district in Alberta by any means where only three farmers have been able to pay their taxes for 1930. If these men cannot get credit for their farming or seeding operations this spring certainly they will not be able to pay taxes in 1931. Without taxes we cannot have schools, and without schools what civilization have we that is worth while?

Mr. Speaker, this paragraph which I read mentions that the government is concerned with the question of securing lower production costs. I want to say that if the farmer in western Canada has to wait for the betterment of his condition until we can get these lower production costs, the farmers now there will have disappeared, because it is impossible for them to carry on under present conditions. I am not even going to touch on the tariff to-ndght. If the farmer has to wail until we get a lower tariff for him, he will have disappeared by the time it is put into effect.

To-night, in the few minutes at my disposal, I want to suggest to this house and to the government that at this session we should give serious consideration to our currency problem. I am going to suggest that we abandon the gold basis in Canada, and do it very soon. From 1914 until 1926 the suspension of redemption of our notes in gold obtained in this country, and I do not think anyone was the worse off for it. It was necessary in 1914, and in my opinion it is just as necessary to-day. I want to quote very briefly from the Calgary Albertan, in which appears a portion of a speech delivered before the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce by Viscount D'Abemon, who I understand is a very' prominent banker there. I will not take time to read very much of this press report, but in his speech the viscount attacked the gold standard and wound up by saying:

If you desire a return of good market conditions in cotton or wheat or any other commodity, if you wish for higher freights and more trade activity-you will achieve these with greater certainty and greater speed by dealing with the gold and currency problem than by any other means.

I believe the viscount is right, and that is the reason I am taking this opportunity to discuss this problem. The plight of the farmer to-day is caused by low prices, and the most effective remedy would be higher prices. This federal government has been approached by the premiers of the prairie provinces, who have asked that the federal government guarantee to pay to the farmers 70 cents per bushel for No. 1 wheat at Fort William. That only means 50 cents a bushel to the farmer in my constituency, which is less than cost of production and certainly will not encourage the over-pro-

duction of wheat. No one will produce wheat at that price if he can find anything else in the world to do with his farm.

I am well aware that there is a great deal of objection to this suggestion, but I want to say in all fairness to the people of the prairie provinces, who I think are almost solidly behind their premiers in this request, that the government of Australia are guaranteeing their farmers 68 cents per bushel for wheat. It takes only 8 cents per bushel, I am told, to move wheat from the railway siding in Australia to the seaboard, which means that the farmer receives 60 cents a bushel. If Canada will not do something more for her farmers than has been done so far it simply means that the individual Canadian farmer is in competition with the Australian nation when he goes to sell his wheat in the markets of the world. Surely that is not fair.

Now I come to the case of Russia. Under date of November 24 I find an article in the Calgary Herald entitled "Red Trade Menace" written by Mr. Knickerbocker for the New York Evening Post. I think perhaps I should read this quotation, which is as fellows:

Wheat Farmers Well Paid

"Union Grain," the government grain trading organization, is paying this year to private peasants and to collective farms throughout the soviet union an average price of one rouble forty kopeks a pood for wheat, according to official information given me by the government planning commission. Reckoning the rouble at par, or the Soviet State bank rate of one rouble ninety-four kopeks to the dollar, this amounts to $1.20 a bushel.

According to that article, Mr. Speaker, the Canadian farmer is in competition with the Russian nation as well as with Australia. In the United States the government, through the federal farm board, has spent millions of dollars in an endeavour to peg the price of wheat. Perhaps it is true that this has not been entirely successful, but as I see it the result is that in the United States wheat is quoted at approximately 19 cents above the price of wheat in Canada, although for a long period of years Canadian wheat was quoted above United States wheat, until this federal farm loan board took action.

I do not believe, Mr. Speaker, that Canada can afford to let her wheat growers disappear. Because of her geographical position Canada always must be a very large importer if we are to have a decent standard of living for our people. Canada's climatic conditions are such that we must import large quantities of certain commodities. The only

The Address-Mr. Coote

way we can pay for these commodities is by exports, and I find by examination of our export trade figures that in 1928, out of total exports amounting to $1,228,000,000, wheat amounted to $352,000,000, or 28 per cent. In 1929 our total exports amounted to $1,363,000,000, of which wheat amounted to $428,000,000, or 31 per cent. During 1930 our total exports fell off; they amounted to $1,120,000,000, of which only $215,000,000, or 19 per cent, represented wheat. In 1930 our total exports were $243,000,000 less than in 1929, and of that total loss wheat accounted for $213,000,000. I think that is a serious situation as far as our export trade is concerned. The figures which I quoted do not include flour. In 1928 our export of flour was 59,000,000; in 1929, 65,000,000; and in 1930,


I feel that if no action is taken to assist the Canadian wheat grower he will have to disappear. He cannot continue to operate under these conditions. The growers in Australia and Argentine have another distinct advantage over our producers, one that is perhaps more serious than the government recognize. According to a bulletin I received last week from the National City Bank of New York, London exchange owned in Australia commands a premium of 30 per cent in that country. The effect of this is to increase by 30 per cent the price to the producers in Australia of wheat and other exports when these funds are exchanged into Australian currency. Exactly the same position exists with regard to the Argentine. The National City bank bulletin says:

The suspension of gold payments in the face of an unfavourable balance of payments resulted in currency depreciation which is now about 30 per cent.

The result of this is undoubtedly to increase the returns to the growers of wheat in Argentine by 30 per cent in Argentine funds. If Canada would suspend payment in gold as she did in 1914, and as has been done in the Argentine, I do not think there is any doubt that our dollar would depreciate; that is, if the government would cease floating foreign loans.

I should like to show by a quotation from the Commercial Intelligence Journal under date February 14 just how this is affecting growers in Australia. This was a despatch sent by our trade commissioner in Australia under date of January 5, before their exchange had depreciated to the extent it has now. It says:

The manager of the Victorian wheat pool has expressed the view that the advance in exchange should increase the net returns to

growers of approximately l|d. (3J cents) per bushel. The advantage in the ease of wheat will obviously be applicable to exports of Australian goods and products to the United Kingdom and other countries.

There is absolutely no doubt in the world as to how it works.

If Canada is to go into mixed farming to a large extent and is going to produce bacon and cheese and other commodities for export, we have to go into the old country market and fight for our share of that market. How are we going to do so if we remain on a gold basis with the appreciated dollar which we have to-day?

I have here a memorandum which I secured from the Department of Agriculture about six or seven years ago, dealing with Danish bacon. The memorandum says in part:

What is probably of as much importance as anything is the rate of exchange which has prevailed since the war between Danish and English currency, the prevailing rate being 24 to 25 kronen per pound sterling. Thus, because of their depreciated currency, the Danish farmer is receiving approximately 1/3 more when sterling has been transferred into his own currency than he would under normal conditions, while we are on every English pound losing anywhere from 15 to 50 cents in exchange. This may not seem a great point, still it has meant that prices for hogs in Danish currency have been sufficiently high to influence the Danish farmer in volume production just as our Canadian farmers were enthused in volume production by the high prices here during the war and this factor has contributed in no small measure to the greatly increased hog killings in Denmark during the past year.

I want to make it clear that this increase in value in Canadian currency of our wheat which is exported would apply equally to all exports, and it is the exporters in Canada today who are in such a difficult position. The stated policy of this government is to give fair conditions in the home market to the home manufacturer. But what about the exporter? He is left to shift for himself. Last year at the special session the government introduced very drastic legislation to prevent any goods being dumped into Canada; yet every bushel of wheat we produce in Canada, whether consumed here or elsewhere, is sold at a dumped price. Everyone knows it. What is being done about it?

In support of my contention that this would increase the prices of wheat and other exports, I wish to quote from Hansard of June 8, 1922, a speech delivered by the present Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Stevens). In this speech thehon. gentleman was dealing with the question of depreciated currency, pointing out to Mr. Fielding, then Minister of Finance, that it was impos-

The Address-Mr. Coote

sible for manufacturers in Great Britain, in the United States or in Canada to compete with German manufacturers. He then went on to quote the words of Dr. Melchior, who was the German economist officially attached to the German delegation that negotiated the treaty of Versailles. That authority is quoted as having said:

The falling currency has. it is true, brought apparent prosperity to German industry by means of a premium on exports which at the same time cripples the industries of the competing countries.

Our chief competitors in the wheat export business are the Argentine, Australia and Russia. The Argentine is our foremost competitor, and that country has a depreciated currency of 30 per cent. So has Australia. If the words of Doctor Melchior are true, and I do not think they can be denied, these two countries have a distinct advantage over us because of this premium on exports; and repeating his last words, they are crippling the industries of competing countries. They are crippling the wheat industry of Canada. Australia is taking our market in China very largely because she has this depreciated currency, which makes it so easy for her to sell to China at a price under which her wheat growers can carry on. And the same is true in relation to the Argentine in the British market. It is very unfortunate for us. What can be done about it? I suggest that we should allow our dollar to depreciate. Keeping our dollar at par is playing into the hands of the United States. The United States is more responsible than any other country for the world wide depression that exists. I could quote good authority for that statement.

Perhaps I should offer some evidence that our dollar would depreciate if it were allowed to do so. There, are three ways of keeping the dollar at par: first, by the export of commodities; secondly, the export of gold; and thirdly, the sale of our bonds in foreign countries. Our trade balance has fallen behind to a considerable extent this year. I have secured from the Bureau of Statistics a bulletin dealing with our international settlement, and according to that bulletin the invisible items in our balance of trade last year, taking them all together, showed a debit balance against us of $88,000,000. I assume there will be very little change so far as these items are concerned this year. For the first eight months of the present fiscal year the actual commodity trade balance was against us to the extent of $80,000,000, so that it is fair to assume that for the current year the actual total balance against us will be about $200,000,000. How is our dollar to be kept at par in face of such a situation? We produce all told

only between $30,000,000 and $40,000,400 in gold in Canada. We cannot export gold to keep it up. The gold in the hands of the. government to-day is very little more than required as a reserve for our Dominion notes.


Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; Minister of Finance and Receiver General; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)


About ten millions.


George Gibson Coote

United Farmers of Alberta


We cannot afford to export

enough gold to keep it up. I believe that our dollar would have been depreciated already if the government had not floated last fall in New York a loan of $100,000,000. The proceeds of that loan were just as effective in keeping up the rate of exchange as though we had sold to that country another $100,000,000 worth of goods. If our trade balance is not large enough to keep our dollar at par, are we justified in attempting to keep it there? Are we justified if in doing it we are killing industry, and bleeding the farmers and the exporters of this country? We are putting the farming industry into bankruptcy and making it increasingly difficult for nearly half our population to carry on. Supposing our dollar were depreciated to the extent it was in 1920, about 20 per cent, it would add 15 cents per 'bushel to the price of wheat and that would make all the difference in the world to the trade of Canada generally.


Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; Minister of Finance and Receiver General; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)


Surely the hon. member

does not mean that?


George Gibson Coote

United Farmers of Alberta


That 15 cents would put

heart in our farmers, it would allow the pool to make another payment and it would permit many men to buy gasoline in order to operate their tractors during this spring. t

The drop in the price of wheat is chiefly responsible for the drop in our export trade. That is what would cause the dollar to depreciate, and for that reason this depreciation should be allowed to take place. It would soften the blow which the fanners of Canada arc taking, and it would save many of them from going into bankruptcy] Millions of dollars of debt hang over the farmers of western Canada which cannot be paid. Many of these debts are not worth 50 cents on the dollar; many of them are not worth 25 cents on the dollar, but if this depreciation in our currency were permitted I believe it would increase the price of wheat sufficiently so that the bulk of these debts could be paid in full. What better condition could we have than the determination of our people to pay one hundred cents on the dollar? The present conditions are making it absolutely impossible for many men to pay their debts, men who never dreamed of doing anything else.

The Address-Mr. Coote

One of the objections which will be raised to this proposal is that it will increase the cost of living. Some people go so far as to say that it would increase in proportion to the depreciation which took place in our currency. I challenge that statement. That is a theory which was put forth by some economists before the war, but the experience of many countries after the war proved that it was not so. I have here an article which has been in my files for some six or seven years-these old files come in handy sometimes. This editorial deals with an article by Mr. Arthur Greenwood, M.P., which appeared in The Contemporary Review, dealing with the claim of English manufacturers that they could not compete with French manufactures of woollen goods because they had a depreciated currency. The editorial reads as follows:

But Mr. Greenwood thinks that the advantages which the French manufacturer now enjoys in the British market are not due to the depreciation of the French exchange, but to the difference between the internal and external values of the franc. Prices in France have not risen-and therefore costs of production have not risen-

I quote again from the remarks of Mr. Stevens in 1922, in which he quotes Mr. Maynard Keynes as follows:

During the summer of 1921 the mark gold equalled 20 marks paper. The internal purchasing power of the paper mark for the purposes of consumption was still nearly double its corresponding value abroad.

Then Mr. Stevens continues to quote Doctor Melchior as follows:

The internal purchasing power of the mark . ... is at present (April, 1922), between two and three times its international value. . . .

I think it is very easy to dispose of the contention that the increased cost of living will be sufficient to take up any advantage accruing from a depreciated currency.

I stated a moment ago that all this was working to the advantage of the United States and that that country was chiefly responsible for the present world depression which has affected the price of wheat and which is having such a serious effect upon our farmers. Why should we continue on a gold monetary basis, the very thing the United States wants us to do because it delivers us into their hands, they having accumulated 40 per cent of the world's gold? In support of my contention I will quote from a speech delivered at the annual meeting of the Royal Bank of Canada by Mr. Neil, vice-president and general manager, as follows:

If the central banks of all the countries on a gold basis should deliberately adopt a common policy they could within a certain time lag, raise or lower the price level almost at will. Without a common policy, movements of gold would in due course arrest action of one country not in harmony with the policies of others, although the United States, with a huge stock of gold, could probably afford to loose a quantity which no country or group of countries would be willing to receive. On the other hand, she has during the period of 1921-1925 received gold on an unprecedented scale without allowing such receipts to create inflation.

It is because the United States is in such a commanding position of wealth, with forty per cent of the world's gold supply, that the main responsibility for the world price level rests with that country.

I had one or two other quotations which I desired to give, but I do not believe my time will permit. Even although they could be effected, and I do not believe they can, a reduction in the cost of production and a reduction in the cost of living would not be sufficient to place our farmer in a proper position to carry on. A reduction in the cost of living will not reduce his debts or his interest or his taxes, and the payments on those three accounts take up almost one-third of his income. A depreciated dollar would pay just as many debts, and just as much taxes and interest as would the appreciated dollar. He is paying these accounts with a dollar which cost him at least two dollars to obtain. This injustice continues because we are following this gold monetary policy. I would like to give a quotation from an article by Professor B. K. Sandwell entitled Shall We Abandon the Gold Basis which appeared in the Toronto Saturday Night, as follows:

By the carrying out of these policies, the United States and France are directly affecting the value of every debt due in Canada and expressed in terms of Canadian currency. The Canadian dollar is now worth about twice as much in commodities as it was three years ago, and the change is not due to any alteration in the standard or volume of the Canadian currency or indeed to anything that Canada has done. It is due simply to an illogical policy on the part of the United States and a very logical but repudiationist policy on the part of France.

It therefore seems to the present writer that this is a time for every serious consideration of the question whether we desire a currency which can be thus manipulated at the will of other nations. The main argument in favour of the gold standard has always been that its value could only be affected by natural forces such as the volume of gold produced in a given period, it is obvious that in the present circumstances the force of this argument is almost entirely destroyed. Should Canada, then, continue oven the pretence of keeping her currency linked as to value with that of the United States and with the legally depreciated franc of France?

The Address-Mr. Coole

The article continues:

The Canadian business situation would be very materially relieved if the Canadian dollar were again allowed to depreciate to something like the figure which it reached at the close of the war, and in allowing it so to depreciate the Canadian people would be doing no more than exercising their sovereign right to keep their unit of currency at a value as near as possible to that of a given body of assorted commodities.

And again:

The object of the apparent depreciation which I am discussing is to correct an already existing appreciation or in other words to maintain stability. Depreciation to-day would merely reduce the value of the claims of creditors to something like what it was when they made their loans.

I want to make it very clear that I am not advocating this as a cure for all the ills from which the farmers of Canada are suffering. I am sugggesting it as a very proper remedy which might be applied to help out at the present time. It would assist the farmer in the very difficult situation in which he at present finds himself. It is only one remedy which should be applied. It is not placing any burden upon the federal treasury. It is not an artificial bolstering up of prices. In reality, what I am suggesting is that we should cease holding our dollar at par by giving our note to buy gold to keep it there and I consider my suggestion thoroughly logical. I am sure if the Prime Minister were discussing a farmer's case he would say to him: You should keep your expenditure within your income, and I think at this time Canada is very foolish to go outside of Canada to secure its loans. I am unable to understand the policy of any government which would say: You must buy Canadian goods even if they cost you 40 to 50 per cent more, and who, when they want a little money, would run outside of Canada to get it if they could save one-quarter of one per cent. That seems entirely illogical. The suggestion I have made is perfectly natural; there is nothing artificial about it, and it has this distinct advantage, that if, by the adoption of this suggestion, our exports are stimulated to the point where, after a year or two or three years, our exports balance our imports, the dollar will then have come back to par because of the balancing of our international trade. I think justice in the case demands that my suggestion should be accepted.

In closing, I hope this suggestion will receive very serious consideration by parlia-

ment and the government before we prorogue, because something must be done to place our farmers in a better position otherwise, they must discontinue the business of exporting wheat from Canada.


Thomas McMillan


Mr. THOMAS McMILLAN (South Huron):

Mr. Speaker, it is now some months since the close of the recent short session of the house, and much has taken place during the interval. I am pleased indeed to notice the reception of the Prime Minister of Canada (Mr. Bennett) by the great universities of the motherland, and I know we are all pleased to address him as the right hon. the Prime Minister of Canada, but he is still the arch minister of promises unredeemed. It is quite true he was instrumental in calling the recent emergency session primarily for the purpose of ending unemployment in Canada by federal means, but in about as little time as it takes to tell it, his government scrapped the theory of federal responsibility to end unemployment, and announced a scheme whereby over four-fifths of the burden was saddled upon the municipalities and provinces.

It is also true that his government has had enacted some of the most detrimental legislation ever forced through the parliament of any country, legislation whereby the people of Canada have been driven away back before the days of the Magna Charta, the day of the signing of the great charter of English liberty for the protection of the rights of the people.

But at the moment what I wish more particularly to draw to the attention of the house and the country is that one of the most solemn promises the Prime Minister gave was his pledge to Canadian agriculture, when after his statement at Calgary "the basic industry of Canada is agriculture" and at Ormstown, Quebec, "agriculture stands first in Canadian development", he said at Woodstock, New Brunswick, "I shall regard it as my great responsibility if elected on July 28, 1930, to see that the collective weight and power of the Dominion of Canada is placed behind agriculture. I would be lacking in qualifications entitling me to head a Canadian government if I failed to do so." There is his pledge to Canadian agriculture given in the clearest and most unequivocal terms. What has he and his government done to implement that pledge? He knows that the first requirement of the Canadian farmer is to secure wider and better markets for his surplus agricultural products. He knows that if the Canadian farmer could only secure entry

The Address-Mr. McMillan (Huron)

into the United States market on favourable terms, it is the world's best market, and although the present United States government still remains obdurate there is no doubt a rapidly growing favourable feeling among the people of that country as a whole.

He knows also that during the five years between 1915 and 1920, when the then United States government did open that market to the free entry of finished live stock, fresh meats, dairy produce, wheat flour and potatoes, it was a boon to the Canadian farmers, but never once during that time did the then Canadian Tory government lift its hand to reciprocate or show its appreciation in any way. It is no wonder that under such treatment the United States government soon withdrew the privilege. But now, when the Hawley-Smoot tariff has shut out the United States market, our only other available market is that of the motherland which has always maintained a free open door to Canadian agricultural products.

More than that, if the right hon. gentleman knows anything about the elementary laws of trade and economics, he knows that goods sold must be paid for by the acceptance of goods in exchange, so that if we would sell our wheat or other products in Britain we must be prepared to accept British goods in return payment. And knowing, according to his own words, "the primary concern of Canada is to sell its wheat," what did the right hon. gentleman do? His first proposal in parliament as Prime Minister of Canada was *"that as far as possible the requirements of the 10,000,000 Canadian people shall be produced at home," showing at once that his government did not wish to encourage international trade at all.

His next act was to jack up the tariff on British goods to the prohibitive point, thus ejecting British goods at the toe of the boot from Canadian markets which they had enjoyed for a century. Then, in big stick fashion, he goes off to Britain to blast his way into the British market! How does he do it? By peremptorily demanding that the British government must impose a tax on foreign foodstuffs, thus identifying in the minds of millions of Britishers the oncedionoured and respected name of Canada with the odious and much-feared policy of taxing the food of the British people; and then he became wildly uprorious and left Great Britain with the veiled threat of economic separation because a British minister, Mr. Thomas, mildly designated the whole proceeding as "humbug." His designation was mild indeed. He gave fact and figure, chapter and verse, in corroboration. He showed that while the foreign nations of 22110-7

Germany, Argentina, the United States and the Netherlands, allowed British coal in free of duty, Canada charges Is. 7id. per ton, and that:

British railway rails Australia charges 2s. 4d. per cwt.; Canada charges $4.50 per ton; Argentine admits free; Netherlands admits free.

On British sewing machines Canada charges

20 per cent; Australia charges 15 per cent; Germany charges 9 per cent.

On British cranes and hoists Australia charges 55 per cent; Canada charges 15 per cent; France charges 10 per cent; Germany charges 6 per cent; Argentine admits free; Netherlands admits free.

On British cotton piece goods Canada charges

21 per cent; Netherlands charges 8 per cent; Argentine admits free.

On British woollen goods av. duty Australia 61 per cent; Canada 37 per cent; Germany 22 per cent; France 12 per cent.

And, mark you, coal, iron and steel, cotton and woollen goods are among the key manufacturing industries of Great Britain.

* The dominions did not disguise from us that their policy led on by the Prime Minister of Canada, was "Canada first," "Australia first" and "South Africa first." When the British government saw their disposition, was it to be condemned for saying, "Well, in that case our policy must be ' Great Britain first,' " when last year Britain bought from the dominions $150,900,000 worth more goods than the dominions bought from Britain.

No wonder the Bennett proposal was so unceremoniously turned down! The very idea of any government-or rather I should say, of any one man, because this is a one-man government, with a following so meek and submissive and lifeless during the last session that you would almost think a condition of hibernation had taken possession of the most of them,-the very idea I say, of any leader expecting to get a market in Britain for Canadian wheat or any other commodity by such treatment of the motherland is beyond the comprehension of any reasonable man. No set of reasonable men could be expected for a moment to entertain any such proposition presented in such a manner.

Former Canadian prime ministers who have represented Canada at previous Imperial conferences in old London have always manifested a high degree of sagacity and wisdom, especially when dealing with matters pertaining to British home government. But, sir, of the attitude of the present Prime Minister, what shall we say? His whole attitude while in the old land shows unmistakably that there are bees in the hon. gentleman's bonnet. He must have become possessed of a most exaggerated opinion of his own importance. Is it any wonder that the unofficial organ of


The Address-Mr. McMillan (Huron)

the British government described the Bennett proposal as the "very bankruptcy of statesmanship and as demonstrably and intently foolish and useless".

To my mind there is only one explanation of such a strange proceeding. I entirely absolve the hon. gentleman of any intentional wrong doing. But the fact remains that after having sniffed the salt air at some point in the Atlantic he must have become so mentally aberrated that when he reached Great Britain he at once began roving around seeking whom he might attack. He first stirred up the British cabinet by his peremptory demand for the taxation of British foodstuffs. Then followed his charge that the Northampton boot and shoe makers were employing cheap labour and dumping their goods into the Canadian market, and when the British boot and shoe makers denied and resented his assertion and sought an interview on the matter, according to press reports, he refused them.

He next fell foul of the Lancashire cotton manufacturers, accusing them in the same way. These are but instances of his blasting process heralded all over Canada during the election campaingn.

I followed in my younger days a sea-faring life more or less for over twenty years and I know that there are cases of serious mental affection on the sea. On one occasion I met a neighbour as he landed on the docks in Glasgow and his captain insisted that he be handed to the health authorities for careful mental supervision. I pleaded to be allowed to convey him to his friends in Edinburgh, which was done. There he was placed under the most careful medical supervision for over six weeks, but with no improvement; then he was allowed to return home. On his return he told me that when he reached a certain zone in the Atlantic, where he had become mentally indisposed, his usually good sane condition returned at once. If this is really what happened to the right hon. gentleman he has my sincere sympathy, but we see no indication of a sensible condition or he would hasten to make sufficient amends to the British government at least.

If our honoured leader were to talk and make such a mess of his business while representing Canada in the old land, we would challenge him at once. However, it is only right to know, and we have the right to ask, what hon. gentlemen opposite think and intend doing regarding the action of a leader in so trampling on the good name of Canada and so abusing the trust which has been placed in his keeping?

The people of Canada are demanding to know what is and what will be the attitude of

the right hon. gentleman's own supporters in this matter of burning significance to the good name of Canada. Scores of good citizens have said to me that this government would never last its term out, but my reply has been "Yes, it will; it will last its term out, unless its own supporters in this house rise in protest and rebellion against this kind of thing." When I would relate how this government's own followers sat dumb as oysters and swallowed the whole proceedings and high-handed legislation of the recent short session, they marvelled at their simplicity, and when I instanced how the power and authority of their leader over his followers was so absolute, that when, for instance, the hon. member for East Algoma (Mr. Nicholson) rose on one occasion to address the house, the Prime Minister without ever rising from his seat, simply turned his head and commanded him to sit down, saying that that matter could be discussed at some other time, they were amazed that any member would cringe in submissiveness and remain silent under such a rebuke.

But what else can you expect under the direction of a small coterie of millionaire manipulators, who have amply demonstrated that they care not a straw for the hard-worn farmers and wealth producers of this country? I feel there must be many hon. gentlemen in this house sitting behind this government who in their hearts do not approve of this government's record, and the sooner they rise in the majesty of their manhood, break through such party chains and assert what they believe to be for the best interests of this country, the better it will be for themselves and this country as a whole.

Compare the record of the present Prime Minister at the Imperial conference with that of his predecessors in office. The leader of this government, by his declarations at the Imperial economic conference, has identified himself with the protectionist element of the Conservative party in Great Britain and has become embroiled in the party strife of the old land. This is in marked contrast with the restraint shown by the representatives of Canada at previous Imperial conferences. Consider the wise words of Sir Wilfrid Laurier on a similar occasion:

We Canadians would not accept the idea that the British public should force upon us their own fiscal views, and no more would they tolerate the idea that we would force upon them our own fiscal views; therefore the only way in which the British Empire can be maintained upon its present foundation is by allowing every nation composing it the measure of liberty that it has, and also the free choice of the fiscal policy it is to maintain.

The Address-Mr. McMillan (Huron)

Surely these are words of courtesy and common sense. Consider also the expression of Sir Robert Borden on a similar occasion:

We Canadians hold ourselves free to work out the problem or preference according to Canadian needs and conditions. For the same reason Canada must avoid any attempt at interference with the domestic policy of Great Britain.

Words equally courteous and sensible. The same may be said of Mr. Mackenzie King who, as the result of his wise and circumspect action, enjoys the respect and admiration of all the great leaders in British public life, and we-are glad to know that he enjoys the proud distinction of being at least the peer of any statesman in the British realm.

Consider also the preference proposals of the Dunning budget and the trend of thought which inspired them. In presenting his budget with such substantial additional preferences to British goods with 589 items on the free list out of 1,188 items in all, Mr. Dunning said:

These tariff favours to those who favour our products are not the result of any bargain with any other country but of an attitude in international relations which we believe to be mutually beneficial. In other words, we do not intend to meet the other countries of the British Commonwealth of Nations in any spirit of petty bargaining but rather in the broad spirit of willingness to become in ever-increasing measure good customers to those who meet us in like manner. This is the spirit in which we desire to meet all nations, but we believe that within the British Commonwealth of Nations lies the greatest opportunity for mutual development of trade because of a common heritage, kindred institutions and a common patriotism.

That budget with its accompanying remarks had the effect of almost electrifying the great oody of the British people as well as all the great leaders in British public life. Most favourable comments appeared in the British press. The Manchester Guardian, Liberal, described the Canadian budget as a rich gesture, the generosity of which every Britisher must appreciate. The Conservative press said:

The Dunning budget constitutes the greatest advance in imperial relations that has been seen since the war.

J. L. Garvin, in the Observer (Independent), wrote:

The Canadian budget is one of those rare strokes of policy, which, like the Laurier British preference, illuminate the realities of empire.

Ramsay MacDonald declared:

Canada's last budget is an example of how the dominions can and will help.

But, Mr. Speaker, the dominions can and will help only when the reins of power are in the hands of the right-minded party. Unhappily for the good of all that is not the case 22110-7J

in Canada to-day. Unfortunately, very unfortunately for Canada and the whole empire, those glowing expectations were not to be realized during the past year. In its place what benefit has Canada received to date? The reply cannot be given in more appropriate words than those of General Smuts to his followers when he said:

What might have been the most brilliant and successful of all imperial conferences, has ended in disillusionment and disappointment for every part of the commonwealth of nations, If the final settlement of dominion status had gone hand-in-hand witli a great gesture of friendship and comradeship, and with the holding out and grasping of helpful hands all around in this common hour of trial, what a landmark w'ould this conference not have been in the history of the empire.

I cannot help but feel that every time the Prime Minister thinks of how lamentably he missed the mark, it must make him heartsick.

The former premier of South Africa sees in the conference a severing of old bonds without anything accomplished to replace them. A dangerous void has been left, and in language more in sorrow than in anger he exclaims:

I am sure the spirit is there, but it is a thousand pities it found no expression at the Imperial conference.

The conference took action to settle the status question, declaring on paper for a dominion independence which already existed in full sufficiency. Then the various units, led on by the Prime Minister of Canada, tried to bargain on lines of selfish interest. Well may we recall those poetic lines:

But oh! mankind are unco' weak And little to be trusted,

When self the wavering balance thrusts, It's rarely right adjusted.

This is what General Smuts deplores, and instead of which he would have a new spirit of cooperation and helpfulness, in our mutual relations.

If there had been present at that conference a Laurier, a Sir Robert Borden, a General Smuts, or a Mackenzie King and a Lapointe, there would have been accomplishments so substantial of which every British citizen might well be proud. But as it w7as there is nothing beneficial, but rather a condition very much the reverse.

If the opposition in this house had adopted a critical attitude towards the Prime Minister in his proceedings leading up to the conference, it might have been said that if we had left matters alone the result might have been different. Now, however, it must be evident to everyone that he has had every opportunity to show what he could do, but instead of bettering conditions his policies


The Address-Mr. McMillan (Huron)

have only served to make them immeasurably worse. Meanwhile I very much fear that on the continent of Europe, as well as in the motherland, his blatant avowal of "Canada first" will bring about a policy of "Canada last" with the nations thus penalized, when it comes to buying foodstuffs.

Canadians had been hoping for further markets for Canadian agricultural products, but the chill which succeeded the warmth of enthusiam leading up to the conference is too manifest to need any comment. Much greater trade with Britain is imperative to restore our usual prosperity. As Ramsay MacDonald said:

We are going out for a program of mutual help. Preference is not our formula. Ours is a program of greater interchange of trade.

With a policy of practical free trade how could they give more preference to Canadian goods? The Labour government's trade and tariff policy was expressed boldly and frequently long before the conference was summoned, and no Dominion delegation had any reason for assuming that it would be changed. They had no right to demand or expect any change; that prerogative belongs to the British electors. It was the first duty of the overseas delegates to recognize the fiscal policy of Great Britain as it stands, which has always been the policy recognized, as I have said, by all previous prime ministers of Canada. The present leader of the opposition and his colleagues have always refused to throw Canada on the side of any political party in Great Britain, and until the proceedings of the recent conference this position was accepted as wise, sound and courteous by the statesmen of both political parties in Canada.

Now, however, we have a so-called statesman at the head of affairs who has changed all this kind of thing, one who, when he sniffed the salt water, according to press reports, became so brutally frank that he began roving around seeking all whom he might attack, with the result that Canada is now made to appear hostile to two of the great political parties in Britain which at the last election polled 13,676,614 votes out of a total vote of 22,500.000, the Tory party on that occasion polling less than 8,700.000 votes. Thousands, if not millions, of those voters were opposed to any system of protection.

This was not only an unwarranted interference with the domestic affairs of Great Britain but a grave injustice to the people of Canada, who in the last election voted for no' such policy and have no desire to see the present government of Great Britain replaced

[Mr. T. McMillan.!

by a protectionist administration. The present prime minister of Canada while in Great Britain had no right to place them in that false position. More than that, Mr. Speaker, by his attitude at that conference he has forfeited his high position as the representative of the Canadian people in throwing the good name of Canada right into the cauldron of British home politics and demanding as a condition of empire preference that Great Britain must necessarily establish a system of protection against foreign importations, a system which all parties in Great Britain have discarded for well nigh a century.

To all such mischievous propaganda the British chancellor of the exchequer did well to reply in an important speech in which "no protection" was the keynote. The following is the associated press report:

Protection would lead Great Britain into interminable industrial strife and chaos. An unfounded rumour has appeared in the press that the government is considering an all-round 10 per cent import duty for revenue purposes. No government in which I am in charge of the national finances will ever give serious consideration to such a proposal...

If we alone were suffering and all protectionist countries were prosperous there would he a prima facie case for enquiring whether it was our fiscal policy which was responsible for our depression...

The world crisis is temporary. It is driving many people to a state of panic. Before we have a change it must be proved beyond all dispute that the policy we have pursued for the last century is not the best policy for this country...

Introduction of a tariff system into this country would strike at the purity of the political life of this nation. Parliament would become a sink of corruption. Members of parliament would go there not to represent the national interests but pledged to support the selfish interests of particular industries...

Once begin a policy of protection and you are on a slippery slope that leads to a bottomless pit.

I commend these words to every would-be protectionist, because it is the most scathing challenge to the operation of such a policy that I have ever read. Mr. Snowden declared that the imperial preference, vigorously debated in Britain since the opening of the Imperial conference, could only be earned out by a tax on food. The Dominion premiers had made their policy clear; they asked Britain to change her fiscal policy so that preferential rates could be given to produce they sent to Britain.

When the proceedings of the conference were afterwards discussed in the British House of Commons Mr. Snowden again took a hand in the discussion and used language which should be intensely interesting to every Can-

Privilege-Mr. Young

adian. The only opportunity the British government had missed, he said, had been one to tax the food of the people. He described Mr. Bennetts proposal as follows:

The only proposal put before the conference by the Dominions was Mr. Bennett's whose offer was-"I am not going to reduce the tariff against the United Kingdom but I will raise the tariff against the foreigner by 10 per cent of the present rate."

This meant that the duty of 30 per cent would be raised to 33 per cent against the

foreigner , , ,

The Canadian Prime Minister had made arrangements for this conference. He had been returned to power a few weeks before its opening and for a fortnight before he left Canada he was engaged in preparing for the conference by making large additions to Canadian duties " on British products. Then Mr. Bennett came here and said. "If you will tax foreign wheat I will give you, not reciprocity but I will keep the tariff against this country as it was." That tariff .... was a prohibitive tariff. Both Mr. Bennett and Mr. Scullin (the Australian Prime Minister) were perfectly honest when they said their policy was to give preference to British imports where they must import these goods, but where British goods competed with Canadian or Australian goods, then they would impose a duty as protection for their own goods. ... .

The dominions, continued Mr. Snowden, are putting up a tariff wall such as to compel us to dismantle our mills here, as was done a few weeks ago in the case of a Yorkshire mill whose machinery was sent to Canada.

Such was the essence of the Canadian proposal, which was the only proposal before the conference, put in definite form. Mr. Snowden suggested the Conservatives in England would now appeal to the country on behalf of imperial unity to enable the dominions to keep out British goods and to increase unemployment in Britain. The Conservative program also said:

We ask you to tax yourselves for the benefit of the dominions and we want the British people to pay the dominions for raising tariffs which will keep out British goods.

Who will not say this is not an accurate analysis of the Prime Minister's proposal? Certainly none of his supporters can consistently repudiate this version. And further, I say that the Prime Minister and his government had no mandate whatever, from the Canadian people to make any such proposition on their behalf. No such proposition ever was discussed before the Canadian electorate and if he would ask for a verdict on any such measure, he would not have a leg to stand on. Both he and his government would be whipped to a finish.

What other decision could you expect from British statesmen to a proposal which, if accepted, would at once hamstring British trade. It is a proposal which does not merit

a moment's favourable consideration at the hands of intelligent Canadians. If the members of this house would only free themselves from all party bias they would at once arise in their might and consign any government which would entertain any such proposition to that political oblivion whence it should never have emerged. And I call upon them one and all to do so now.

On motion of Mr. Rinfret the debate was adjourned.


At eleven o'clock the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to standing order. Wednesday, March 18, 1931

March 17, 1931