March 19, 1931

LAB
CON

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)

Mr. BENNETT:

I said, the intentions of the government will be made manifest by its actions.

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LAB

SPEECH FROM THE THRONE

CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ADDRESS IN REPLY


The house resumed from Wednesday, March 18, consideration of the motion of Mr. Max D. Cormier for an address to His Excellency the Administrator in reply to his speech at the opening of the session, and the proposed amendment thereto of Mr. Mackenzie King.


UFA

Henry Elvins Spencer

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. H. E. SPENCER (Battle River):

I

trust the hon. member who preceded me in the debate will not consider me discourteous if I do not refer to the very able address he gave us yesterday. The time limit on speeches in this house has its disadvantages as well as its advantages, and as I shall not have any more time in the forty minutes allowed me than to put forward what I wish, particularly in regard to the condition of western Canada at the present time, it will not be possible for me to engage in those courtesies I should like to in referring to the hon. gentleman who has immediately preceded me.

When I arrived in Ottawa a short time ago someone said to me, "I trust that when the House of Commons does open we shall not have a lot of speeches with regard to blue ruin in different parts of Canada." I replied: "If the poor condition of any part of Canada or of any particular industry is well known to the Whole of Canada and therefore understood by the House of Commons, it is certainly not necessary to lay stress on those individual

cases. But where any particular industry is in distress, where parts of Canada, very' regretfully, at least so far as I am concerned, do not understand and probably wish to understand the conditions prevailing in other parts, then I think it is very important that the facts should be laid perfectly bare regarding the conditions in those parts of the country which are suffering distress."

I am not by any means a pessimist, Mr. Speaker. I believe that Canada has a great future, and particularly do I think so if we take every possible advantage of science and invention to produce the goods we need. But at the same time we must bring about a sane, safe and just .economic system which will make it possible for the people of this country to buy the goods that are produced.

It is not a pleasant duty to come into this House of Commons and lay before it conditions which, certainly, to many members, will not be very welcome. At the same time I do not think I should be doing my duty to my constituency or to that part of Canada from which I have the honour to come, if I did not lay perfectly bare the conditions as I left them. Knowing the conditions as I do, knowing the privations rvhich people are enduring, knowing the dark future which is before them, I certainly was much disappointed in reading the slight reference to agriculture in the speech from the throne. The first reference I see reads:

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.

When one considers the bankrupt condition of western Canada-I say bankrupt because the only reason it is not actually so, is that creditors are not pressing-and the fact that stock and crops have been sold below cost of production; the suffering, privation and hardships that have to be endured; and the infinitesimally small amount of help that has been given by the Dominion government, the above seems to me to be neither more nor less than a hollow mockery. And continuing from the speech from the throne, I read:

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 interests. The present situation has emphasized the necessity of effecting a reduction in the costs of production and marketing

The Address-Mr. Spencer

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 am pleased to see that the government of the day recognizes that the welfare of Canada as a whole is wrapped up in the prosperity of the three prairie provinces.

I listened yesterday with a great deal of interest to the speech of the hon. member for Regina (Mr. Turnbull), but after hearing his remarks I came to the conclusion that it was possibly such members as he that the government of the day had called into consultation before preparing the speech from the throne. Although this hon. member is a western man and should know the conditions existing in that part of the country, he said "they were bad only in spots." I have lived in western Canada for twenty-three years and have gone through some very serious times, particularly during periods of deflation, but I have never seen anything like the conditions existing at the present time. The hon. member would have been closer to the truth if he had stated that conditions were good in spots. Then he said that conditions were not as bad as they might be. If they were any worse than they are, then God help western Canada. He concluded his remarks by stating that a feeling of hopefulness was coming over the people. Perhaps the hon. member has the advantage, or it may be the disadvantage of living in the city of Regina. That spirit of hopefulness may be coming over those in his own particular legal calling, but that feeling certainly does not exist in the hearts of those following the great industry of agriculture.

If I did not know the conditions existing in Saskatchewan I would not have attempted to reply to the statements made by the hon. gentleman, but I had the opportunity and pleasure of attending the convention of the United Farmers of Canada held in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. This is the most representative body of agriculturists in that great province, and after attending that convention for three days, I came to the conclusion that if conditions in Alberta were bad, they were as bad if not worse in Saskatchewan.

The government has known for six months of the tremendous drop in the market value of grain and other products of the farm. The members in this comer of the house wish every success to the government of the day, whatever that government may be, in solving the problems of this country. We do not claim for one moment the position of opposition because we know that the govem-

Mr Spencer.]

ment has the responsibility and we give them our best wishes in solving their problems. If they are sucessful they will have our praise, but if they are not, then they will have our criticism. Six months have passed since those in power first knew of the market conditions, but what has been done? From the speech from the throne it would appear that it is another case of Nero fiddling while Rome burns.

In putting on record the facts which I propose to present, some people may think that I am pulling a long bow, but it is very difficult indeed to get the facts across to those who do not understand the true conditions. However, in fairness to the part of the country which I have the honour to represent I am going to place myself before this House of Commons as clearly as possible.

I have in my hand a sample of No. 3 wheat, so-called tough because it has a small amount of moisture in it. This wheat makes a very good brand of flour, but it may be a surprise to some hon. members in this house to know that when this sample was taken to an elevator in my locality in central Alberta, the price offered was 20 cents per bushel- pool payment-if sold by the carload, or 174 cents per bushel in smaller lots. I have known the pool first payment to be within one cent of the open market price. The next grade, No. 4, went down to the low price of 13| cents per bushel, whieh is the price the farmer has to pay at that particular point to get his grain to Fort William.

Let us consider the man who obtained 20 cents per bushel because he was fortunate enough to be able to sell in carload lots. What use does he have to make of that money? It costs him an average of five cents per bushel to haul his grain to the railway; then it costs him 10 cents per bushel for threshing, and about five cents per bushel for harvesting. His total proceeds are gone and he has nothing left to cover the expenses of capital investment, seeding, cultivation, rent, taxes and other expenses. That is the situation in which the western farmer finds himself at the present time.

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CON

Isaac Duncan MacDougall

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MACDOUGALL:

What does it cost

the farmer in western Canada to produce a bushel of wheat?

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UFA

Henry Elvins Spencer

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. SPENCER:

That varies greatly.

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CON

Isaac Duncan MacDougall

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MACDOUGALL:

What has been the hon. member's experience? What does it cost him, as a farmer in western Canada, to produce a bushel of wheat?

The Address-Mr. Spencer

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UFA

Henry Elvins Spencer

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. SPENCER:

It varies greatly, but I

do not suppose the average farmer can produce a bushel of wheat under 70 or 75 cents per bushel, taking it year in and year out.

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CON

Isaac Duncan MacDougall

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MACDOUGALL:

Take your own

case, does it cost you that much?

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UFA

Henry Elvins Spencer

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. SPENCER:

The hon. member will

have forty minutes of the time of this house in which to present his side of the case.

I know of cases in western Canada where the price of oats and rye has been so low that the farmers have not considered it worth while to cut. These crops will be eliminated in the spring by the easy method of applying a match to them. Conditions are bad when such things as this must be done. I know of one man within a mile and a half of town, which means a low hauling cost, who had a splendid crop of rye, but on account of the very low price which had been offered at the elevators, and which was four cents a bushel at that time, he could not see his way to harvest it. I know pf another man who this year took off some 25,000 bushels of grain in wheat, oats and rye. After taking off that crop, which was one of the best he had ever had in western Canada, and after deducting the expenses of selling the crop, he found that he was $2,000 in the hole.

We hear a great deal about mixed farming. The hon. member across the floor who attempted to interrupt a few minutes ago would be one of those who would suggest that the western farmers go into mixed farming. This is a very interesting piece of advice, because it is always given by those whom we term "arm-chair farmers." I wonder how the arm-chair farmer who offers the advice would like to go into mixed farming at these prices. Last year sheep were bringing in western Canada the enormous sum of from $1 to $3 a head. Cattle are down to six cents a pound. Hogs are down to from four to five cents a pound and we expect a severe drop next year because the farmers, on account of the quantity of rough feed they have, are going largely into the raising of hogs to get rid of it. In February of this year butter was selling on the prairies at as low as fifteen cents a pound, and eggs are selling at as low as from eight to fifteen cents a dozen. Wool has been the lowest for years. What is the result? Debts have been accruing; mortgage interest goes on; many bank loans cannot be wiped off; taxes cannot be met, and the people generally are wondering not only how they are going to carry on, but how they are going to live. Through all this trouble the one business institution in Canada that might have given some help-I refer to the private banking 22110-9

system-has been more or less of an irritant

than anything else to the whole situation. I shall say a few words about that later.

What has been the action of the federal government through all this? Can we say that outside of the very lavish promises made last July they have done anything except one or two things that I shall mention in a moment.

I want to pay a compliment, however, to the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Weir), a man who had the pluck to come out openly and criticize what all the people wanted to criticize, that is, the banking system of this country. Although the price of farm products has dropped, we find that interest charges are being maintained to the limit, eight or nine per cent being charged for bank loans. We find also that we are being charged exactly the same freight rates to haul our grain to Fort William when wheat is worth only ten cents or 20 cents a bushel as when it was worth SI.50 a bushel. Why should the farmer have to take all the loss? We find Mr. Beatty of the Canadian Pacific railway coming forward with a recommendation that a loan company be formed to enable farmers to go into debt for mixed farming. We appreciate Mr. Beatty's offer in this respect, but we would have thought a great deal more of him had he come forward, knowing the condition of the western farmer, and how he had been stranded, and offered to cut freight rates on our grain and stock. I believe Mr. Beatty is the same gentleman who only a very short time ago was spending money to bring more people into this country to go on the land, to break up more sod, grow more grain and, incidentally, create more freight, to pay more dividends to the shareholders of the Canadian Pacific.

I shall now give a few comparisons of prices between industry and agriculture. If, a year ago, the farmer had bought a twenty-four-row seeder, this year, taking average grade, not taking the highest or the lowest by any means but a good average, when he sold his grain in the fall, he would have to sell no less than 2,000 bushels of grain to pay for the seeder. If he wanted to buy a pair of boots, he would have the choice of three things: he could sell thirty bushels of wheat or sixty bushels of oats, or if his rye had any ergot in it he would have to sell 150 bushels of rye. If he wanted to have a good hearty meal on the diner of either of the Canadian railways he would have to take a sheep to market and sell it before he would get enough to pay for that meal. Actually this winter if the farmer were taking his butter to the store he would be fortunate if with the proceeds he obtained for each pound of butter, he got enough to buy

j

The Address-Mr. Spencer

in each ease a pound of axle-grease. But if he wanted a ton of bran he would then have to turn around and hunt all over the country to find some man who had No. 1 northern, the best grade of wheat in the world, and turn over a ton of No. 1 northern hard wheat for a ton of bran. These are a few of the extraordinary cases I could mention.

I listened with a great deal of interest to the speech made by the right hon. Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) last year in Winnipeg. Two items stay in my memory. On the one hand he promised that he would make the tariff fight for the farmer, and the second was that he would find a market for Canadian grain. Later on we had the special session. Whether it was necessary or not I am not going to say, but during that special session the most we did was to vote $20,000,000 out of the public purse for unemployment and raise the tariffs on a large number of articles that enter Canada. Neither of those things helped agriculture. If you take the price of agricultural implements and compare it with the price of the grain we produce, the disparity in prices is far greater now than it was then. It is now eight months since the election. What has been done? What has happened? We find grain is very much lower and cattle are half the price now than they were a year ago. Butter is at [DOT] an unprofitable figure. Barley, oats and rye are all being produced at a loss, rye as I said before, being as low as four cents a bushel.

The Prime Minister went to the Imperial conference. I am not going to comment on that as I have not the time, and it has been very ably dealt with by others. We all looked forward to his return to Canada. We knew he had been kept in contact with conditions as they existed in this country, and therefore when he returned and decided to speak in Saskatchewan, the centre of the grain growing area, we were all interested to hear his Regina speech. What were we told in that speech? First of all, he turned down the request made by the premiers of the three prairie provinces and pool organizations to peg the price of wheat at seventy cents a bushel. Seventy cents a bushel would not have met the needs of the farming industry; it would not have encouraged people to go into raising wheat, but it would have helped to tide over the most difficult situation that we have ever faced. That was turned down. The banks, however, were given a guarantee against any loss in the handling of pool wheat. I admit that this was probably of some assistance to the farmer, but while it helped the farmer a little, it guaranteed the banks 100 per cent against taking any loss at all. This year, I

think I am quite safe in saying the financial interests of Canada have been able to announce their usual fat dividends in their respective businesses, while the industries, particularly the farming industry, from which they derive their profits have never been at a lower ebb.

There was one thing which the Prime Minister did offer. I do not think he could have looked very closely into the matter when he made the offer that the farmers should have seed grain. As a matter of fact, we never have had so much seed grain, and such cheap seed grain, as we have to-day in the western provinces. The few spots that the hon. member for Regina (Mr. Turnbull) mentioned in his address could easily obtain seed grain at no very great distance.

We were also promised a market in China by credits being established for that purpose. That proposal has not developed. We were also told that a large order for wheat had been promised by France, but on looking into the matter we find that it is just about the usual quantity that France takes from us.

There was one statement which the Prime Minister made which I prefer to think was more or less of a slip, because I believe he really knows better. According to the press, he is reported to have said:

The banks have no money to help move the grain crop except that left with them by savings bank depositors.

The Prime Minister must know that the handling of credit forms by far the larger part of the banking business. I shall take only a short time to quote one or two confirmations of that statement. Under the heading, "How can the supply of money be increased?" I find that the Right Hon. Reginald McKenna says:

The amount of money in existence varies only with the action of the banks in increasing or diminishing deposits. We know how this is effected. Every bank loan creates a deposit, and every repayment of a bank loan destroys one.

Here is a quotation from H. D. McLeod, who, in his book, "Elements of Banking," says:

The essential and distinctive feature of a "bank" and of "a banker" is to issue credit payable on demand, and this credit may be put into circulation and serve as money.

From the same author I quote:

When it is said that a great London joint stock bank has perhaps twenty-five million pounds of deposits, it is almost universally believed that it has twenty-five million pounds

The Address-Mr. Spencer

of actual money to lend out, as it is erroneously called. It is a complete and entire delusion. These deposits are not deposits in cash at all. They are no tiling but an enormous superstructure of credit.

Lastly I wish to quote from J. M. Keynes, the well-known economist, who in "A Tract on Monetary Reform" says:

It is not easy, it seems, for men to apprehend that their money is a mere intermediary without significance in itself, and disappears when its work is done from the sum of a nation's wealth.

I wish to refer for a few moments to the service, or lack of service, that the private banking interests of Canada have been giving to agriculture. I find that the banks are still breaking the law by charging more than the legal rate of interest. The rate is nearly always from eight to nine per cent in the west. An hon. member behin4 me says that they are the government, and probably there is more truth than fiction in that. Secondly, we find that although in an industry like agriculture, credit is needed for at least from one to three years; the agriculturists are forced to renew their notes every three of four months at compound interest. That is an unnecessary hardship. For some months during this crisis I have been receiving a great number of. letters from farmers who claim that the banks have only too readily promised to reloan money to the farmer, so that he may pay up his local debts, if only he will first of all pay off his present indebtedness to the bank. This promise unfortunately has not always been kept.

When the second snow fell in October last year, we had only a small proportion of the threshing done in certain parts of the west, particularly in Alberta. The men who have been in that country from twenty to thirty-years, good stable men who have helped to build up the country, have raised their families there, built schools, made roads, bought land and equipment, and who had no wish at all to leave the country, surely were worth a small amount being advanced to them to help them tide over the winter. In most cases they had no cash, and they needed money for food and clothing during the winter months. But they were abruptly turned down by the banks in nearly every case. Of the numerous letters that I have received, I shall quote only one, because I do not wish to take up the time of the house. One man writes me that although he had not had to borrow from any bank in years past, he had to go to them this year for ready cash. He listed his assets with the bank, which the banker admitted were about SI7,000, and his liabilities 22110-9J

were considered about $400. After a good deal of talking, the banker grudgingly loaned this man $150, and when advancing the money he said, "Do not tell anybody in your vicinity about it, because my instructions are not to loan."

These conditions, Mr. Speaker, have forced many farmers to get their necessities from the local stores on credit, and that naturally has had a bad effect on business, because the storekeepers should not be asked to carry the country. In the province of Alberta, conditions became so bad that a delegation of retailers waited on the premier of the province in January last and informed him that they were carrying such a load that they thought they could not go on; that they themselves were fearing pressure from those who supplied them with goods. They informed the premier that on their books alone they were carrying no less a sum than $40,000,000. When we consider that volume of indebtedness in a province with a population of not many more than 680,000, you can see how serious the situation is.

We are face to face with one of the most-serious deflations that have been brought about from time to time. I want to quote a few words from the Right Hon. Reginald McKenna, who, speaking in 1923 with regard to forced deflation, said:

Very little argument is needed to show that a policy of driving or keeping down prices by a restriction of purchasing power must depress trade. . . . What is the consequence? Men and women are thrown out of employment, less is paid in wages, and the amount spent upon consumption is reduced.

If the Prime Minister of this country would pay a little more attention to the subject of finance and a little less attention to tariff barriers, in the long run the country would be better off. Realizing the difficulties with which we are faced in selling the crop either now or in future years the convention of the United Farmers of Alberta held in January last passed the following resolution:

Whereas, the present price of wheat is far below the cost of production, and

Whereas, a continuation of such a condition will inevitably mean a lower standard of living for agriculture, and

Whereas, no benefit of the low price is being passed on to the consumer in the way of cheaper bread:

Therefore be it resolved, that an international conference be called representative of all wheat exporting countries, with the aim of stabilizing the producing of, and the export price for wheat, to enable the grower to meet the cost of production and obtain a reasonable profit, and

The Address-Mr. Spencer

Further be it resolved that Canada, through her Prime Minister be the convener of such conference, which should be called at the earliest possible date.

What has been the answer? Within the last few weeks We have been cut off almost completely from one great exporting country. The effect to-day is indeed very, very serious. By cooperating with those who are competing with us in world trade we may gain something; but by antagonizing those competitors we can do a great deal of harm. In my opinion the sale of Canada's wheat is the most important problem with which we are faced. Had time permitted I would like to have said a few words in support of the suggestion made by the hon. member for Macleod (Mr. Coote) that Canada should go off the gold basis, which would give us a fair rhance to compete with Australia, Argentine tnd Russia.

In conclusion may I state that we find agriculture struggling to exist. Mr. Brownlee, the premier of Alberta, went so far as to say that we cannot allow agriculture to be destroyed, realizing that it was likely to be destroyed. Other industries depend on agriculture because it is basic to our industrial life. If something is not done I see only two courses open: Either people will leave the farms in great numbers or if they remain and attempt to compete they will have to accept a reduced standard of living. Either alternative would be very regrettable indeed. I appeal with ample cause therefore to the government of the day to aid agriculture before it is too late.

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LIB

Peter John Veniot

Liberal

Hon. P. J. VENIOT (Gloucester):

Mr. Speaker, as, under the rule, I am limited to a period of forty minutes, I shall merely offer congratulations to the mover (Mr. Cormier) and the seconder (Mr. Porteous) of the address without entering upon an extended discussion of their remarks. I will say a word or two however with reference to the mover of the address. The hon. gentleman is of my own race. I congratulate him upon the manner in which he performed the task entrusted to him but while doing so I cannot congratulate him upon the arguments he used on behalf of the government. My hon. friend quite properly thanked the government for conferring upon the Acadian race through him the honour of moving the address. With his statements in that regard I am in hearty accord and I feel that I too should thank the government for recognizing the Acadian people in the maritime provinces. If however one were to listen to and accept all that the honourable gentleman said one would be inclined to believe that this was the first time justice had been done by any government to the

Acadian people. My hon. friends opposite should not forget that the greatest act of justice to those people must be credited to a Liberal government. In 1926 for the first time t'he government recognized that justice should be done in Acadia and with that in mind one of our people was called to preside over one of the most important government departments. If however the government of to-day has not seen fit to repeat that act of justice then with the mover of the address I say, "Thank them, and at the same time thank the Lord for small gifts received."

My hon. friend referred to the bonne entente which existed between the English and French speaking people of the province of New Brunswick. With him I am in accord on that point. There is a bonne entente between those two races which compose the population of the province. I hope that condition will long continue but I fear Mr. Speaker that, through the actions of certain members of the Conservative party in the last Dominion election in the province of New Brunswick as well as in the province of Prince Edward Island, the entente in a very short time may cease to exist. When one reviews the election campaign of last July he discovers that certain persons acting on behalf of or in the interest of the Conservative party sent through the mails thousands of circulars calling upon the people of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island to vote against the Liberal government because it had dealt too justly with the Acadian people. It is high time such actions were frowned upon and exposed in this house. The sooner they are exposed the sooner will this method of warfare disappear. Mr. Speaker, it is my intention to place on Hansard to-day, not for the sake of arousing prejudice or making political capital, evidence of the sordid tactics employed during the heat of the recent political battle. In my hand I hold a circular which was sent broadcast through the provinces of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. I cannot speak for Nova Scotia because I have no evidence in connection with that province, but I have evidence concerning the two former provinces. I wish to place the contents of this circular on Hansard to show the tactics adopted during the last federal election in at least two provinces with the purpose of leading the people astray. This circular begins:

Are we a British dominion?

Then follows:

List of Roman Catholic cabinet ministers and chairmen of important committees in the House of Commons, 1930. The Minister of

The Address-Mr. Veniot

Justice, Hon. Ernest Lapointe, French; the Minister of Marine and Fisheries, Hon. P. J. A. Cardin, French; the Solicitor General, Hon. L. Cannon, French; Postmaster General, P. J. Veniot, French;

And proud of it too.

The Secretary of State, Hon. F. Rinfret, French; the Minister of Labour, Hon. Peter Heenan, Roman Catholic-

They do not give his nationality. Not satisfied with that they take up the officials of the House of Commons and the chairman of the several committees of the house and in that connection we have the following;

The Speaker of the House of Commons, Hon. R. Lemieux, French.

He had that distinction by virtue of an unwritten law of the House of Commons that French and English alternately shall fill the position which you occupy to-day, Mr. Speaker.

The Clerk of the House of Commons, A. Beauchesne, French; Deputy Clerk, T. M. Fraser, Roman Catholic.

Coming as he does from good old Presbyterian stock in the county of Pictou I am sure his ancestors would turn in their graves if they could see this publication.

Chief Liberal whip, Pierre Casgrain, French. Everybody knows he is French.

Chairmen of standing committees, 1930- Railways. F. S. Cahill, Roman Catholic. Private Bills. G. Parent. French.

Standing Orders. L. S. R. Morin, French. Printing. Hon. C. M-arcil, French.

Mines, Forests and Waters, E. A. Lapierre, French.

Canadian National Railways, Sir E. Fiset, French.

Listen to this:

Soldiers' Pensions, et cetera, C. G. Power,

half French and Irish.

And then the statement winds up as follows ;

With compliments of Roy N. Stapleford, field secretary of the Loyal Orange Association of New Brunswick.

I am not holding the Conservative party responsible for this, but the gentleman who issued the circular. He was not fair enough to state that of the sixteen or seventeen ministers in the late government, five were of French and one of Irish Catholic origin. He was not fair enough to state that out of seventeen committees of this house only six or seven had French or Irish Catholics at their head. The evident intention was to arouse a feeling of prejudice in the people of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island against the Liberal party.

Now, Mr. Speaker, having exposed those tactics, let me come back to some of the

arguments used by the hon. gentleman who moved the address (Mr. Cormier). He spoke of the great improvement brought about in New Brunswick since the present government came into power. He forgot, though, to tell the house that since the special session at which the customs tariff was increased, out of four cotton mills that we had in the province one has been closed down and dismantled. He forgot to tell the house that the money expended through the co-operation of the federal and provincial governments has resulted in the operators of the lumber camps of New Brunswick reducing the wages of their emplo3'ees almost to the vanishing point-to a point where they are almost as bad as the scale of wages purported to be paid to a similar class of labour in Russia. He forgot to tell the house that while the provincial government reduced the stumpage on lumber in order to aid and encourage the lumbermen to develop their industry to a greater extent, the federal treasury, paid every dollar of that reduced stumpage to the tune of $60,000, and yet the lumbermen forced down the wages of their workmen to $18 to $28 a month. Notwithstanding this wage-reduction the Minister of Labour (Senator Robertson) never took any steps to see that the fair wage clause was enforced to protect those men. And I ask the hon. gentleman what reply did he get from the Minister of Labour when in his capacity as the representative of Mada-waska-Restigouche he appealed to the minister to see that the proper wages were paid to those men. The hon. gentleman has forgotten to tell the bouse that since that time the chief industry in his home town, one of the largest pulp and newsprint industries in the Dominion, has been going steadily behind until to-day it is running only to about 60 per cent of its capacity; and that he as mayor of the city of EdmundSton should know that the civic authorities have been called upon to maintain no less than one hundred families whose breadwinners could not get employment. Those are things that the hon. gentleman has forgotten to tell the house.

He has forgotten further to inform this house that not one cent from the Dominion treasury has reached in direct aid the unemployed of New Brunswick and especially his own county. He forgot to tell the house that the Minister of Public Works of the province who has the determination of the policy to be adopted for the expenditure of money in cooperation with the federal authorities in aid of unemployment, has publicly

The Address-Mr. Veniot

1JM

stated that he would recommend that no aid be given to the municipal authorities in the province, but that any federal grant for unemployment should be expended on the construction of roads and bridges, in winter time in the province, where there are four or five feet of snow at that season of the year.

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LIB

Olof Hanson

Liberal

Mr. HANSON (York-iSunbury):

Would the hon. member be good enough to tell the house when Mr. Stewart said anything of the sort, giving the time and place.

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?

Clarence Joseph Veniot

Mr. YENIOT:

Yes. He said it at a conference at Bathurst in reply to a question I put to him myself, and there were fifty people present who heard him.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I referred a moment ago to the closing down of industries in New Brunswick. If I am not mistaken the hon. member for Stormont (Mr. Shaver) mentioned the great benefit Cornwall was deriving from the increased labour in the cotton mills of his home town, brought about by the increased tariff passed at the special session last September. What may have been a blessing for his riding has turned out to be a disaster for New Brunswick. Let me relate a circumstance connected with the closing down of the cotton mill in the city of St. John. A rumour got abroad that the mill was to close its doors in the month of December. The city of St. John, through its mayor, appealed to the premier of New Brunswick, and he in turn appealed to the Canadian Cottons Limited not to close the mill. As a result of agitation a public meeting was called in the city of St. John, to which Mr. Dawson, the president of the Canadian Cottons Limited, was invited. Mr. Dawson met the premier of the province, the mayor of the city and the aldermen, as well as members of the board of trade and a large number of the leading business men. He met also my friend the hon. member for York-Sun-bury (Mr. Hanson). He was appealed to not to close the mill, but that appeal was in vain. He told them distinctly that that mill was closed and would remain closed. They were dismantling the mill and they would finish dismantling it. Apparently the appeal of the Premier of New Brunswick to the federal government had no effect on Mr. Dawson. What do we find? During the progress of the discussion at that conference there was also present the hon. the Minister of Pensions and National Health (Mr. MacLaren), the representative of the province of New Brunswick in the present government. And if one is to judge from the newspaper reports the meeting was almost

a Donnybrook fair. But Mr. Dawson stood firmly by his guns; he took no backwater whatever. The St. John Telegraph-Journal, reporting the occasion, has this to say:

Mr. Dawson issued an ultimatum that he would not only not reopen the Cornwall cotton mill but that he would also close the York mill (the second mill in St. John) if its operation proved unprofitable. Mr. Dawson went further and said if the financial standing of the Canadian Cottons Limited did not improve he would also close the Milltown and Marysville mills.

The Marysville mills are situated in the county of York-Sunbury. In an editorial based on the result of the meeting the Telegraph-Journal has this further to say:

In other words, Mr. Dawson, speaking on behalf of his own company, has made a clear-cut statement that in his opinion, backed by his directors, the Canadian tariff is designed-

Now let hon. members from the province of New Brunswick listen to this.

-to benefit the central provinces, and should not concern itself with the maritime provinces, when the interests of the company are prejudiced. That is to say, he places the interests of his concern above the national interests of Canada, unmindful of the fact that all Canadians are taxed to create employment and not to benefit industrialists. If Mr. Dawson is sincere in his convictions, he has made one of the finest contributions to a free trade campaign in this country that has been offered by any manufacturer for a good many years. As a group who has long sought protection, the president of the Canadian Cottons Limited and his directors have taken a position which may react on them in a manner which may prove their undoing.

Premier Baxter obtained from Mr. Dawson the information, that in sixteen years the mills had broken even. He then demanded to know why they were closing this mill. According to the report in the press, and according to Mr. Baxter, Mr. Dawson had tried to place the blame on the federal Prime Minister. Premier Baxter contended that:

It was not for the government to run cotton mills, but it was for the people to see that no group shall have the benefit of tariff and at the same time pick and choose what parts of the country were to benefit. It would be better to bring cotton in from Lancashire free of duty.

That phrase comes from one of the strongest protectionists and high tariff men in the Dominion of Canada. The Telegraph-Journal then comes back in another editorial and says:

Mr. Dawson for the third time expressed the opinion that the closing of the St. John mills must be laid on the doorstep of the Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Hon. R. B. Bennett. He told his listeners that Mr. Bennett's policy provided that efficiency and the consequent maintaining of present price levels was the essential of the recently adopted tariff.

The Telegraph-Journal then goes on and argues that Mr. Dawson completely ignores the principle laid down by the Prime Minister during the debate on this tariff item at the special session of parliament when he said that he would expect the cotton interests to keep their promises made to him that the unemployed in idle cotton mills would again be provided with work. The way the cotton magnates are keeping that pledge to the Prime Minister is that they are closing down the Cornwall mill. They closed it down and reduced the number of employees in the York cotton mill at St. John, and that mill is working only four days a week now.

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CON

Richard Burpee Hanson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

Does the

hon. member mean to suggest that the closing of the Cornwall mill was due to the increase in the tariff? Does he not know the reason is entirely different?

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LIB

Peter John Veniot

Liberal

Mr. VENIOT:

I am not saying anything

of the kind; I will come to that in a moment.

I did not say that the increase in the tariff caused the closing of the Cornwall mill. The Prime Minister told us last September that the increase would keep that mill going, and it has not done so.

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CON

Richard Burpee Hanson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

They

transferred the business to Marysville.

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LIB

March 19, 1931