Mr. HENRI BOURASSA (Labelle):
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,
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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
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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
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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.
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