Mr. T. A. THOMPSON (Lanark):
When the house rose for the dinner recess, Mr. Speaker, I was discussing the imperial trade agreements. I wish to repeat that in my opinion they were the greatest accomplishment of the Canadian people in the last fifty years. They were something we were all proud to get. They have benefited all classes of our people, and they are something that the Canadian people as a whole wish to guard zealously.
If at this session something is not done to increase the prosperity of the masses of our people we may have some trouble in Canada which we do not anticipate. We look at Italy, at Germany and at Russia; we say these things cannot happen in this country, but when we realize the dissatisfaction that exists to-day from the Atlantic to the Pacific, who can tell what will be the outcome.
There is another question to which I should like to direct the attention of the house. I refer to those underpaid men who deliver the mail in our rural sections. Last year this question was brought to the attention of the house but nothing was done. We have no more faithful servants in the Dominion of Canada than the men who daily, rain or shine, deliver the mail at the farmers' gates, but they are the most underpaid class in this country. All they ask is fair treatment. I should like to suggest this to the government, that they put the rural mail carriers on the same basis as the men who deliver mail in the cities. A salary is set for those men; positions are advertised, at SI,200 a year, or whatever it may be. The government say: "Here is a position worth so much money," and they select from the applicants the man whom they consider best qualified for the position. In the country they say; "You fellows bid against one another and we will give the job to the man who bids lowest." I think that is an injustice. These men in hard times have been bidding rural routes down for less than half the proper amount. Why not establish a mileage percentage? A route is surely worth so much per mile. Advertise for the drivers and select from the applicants the man best qualified, not the man who puts in the lowest estimate on the value of his own services.
I have very little time left in which to speak. In the few minutes left to me, however, may I say that we are living in a country composed of men of different races, different creeds, and different nationalities, and the greatest task lying before the statesmen of Canada to-day is to weld these peoples together into one harmonious whole in building up a great Canadian nation. We all have something to learn.
The Address-Mr. Thompson
Nothing annoys me more than to hear one class of our people speaking against another class. We must learn that the man at our right hand or at our left hand, whether he worships at the same altar as we worship at, whether this is the land of his birth or the land of his adoption, or whether he speaks the same language as we speak, is after all a brother Canadian and one who is building on the same foundations as we are, the foundations laid by the fathers of confederation, a structure which we hope may be the pride of the whole British Empire.
Let us throw aside these petty differences and let us judge our political questions on their face value and not in the manner they are too often judged. I am sorry to say that in my opinion the present government does not possess the courage to grapple with the momentous questions which present themselves to-day. Faced with responsibility, they choose to shirk it. They say, "Oh, we will appoint a royal commission," and they keep on saying this until, in order to prevent collisions, traffic officers have to be called in to regulate the commissions on the road. They say, "We will refer it to the courts," or "Let parliament settle it," or "Let George do it"- anything to evade responsibility. If in this session legislation is not brought down to improve conditions in which our people find themselves I would call upon the ministry to resign. I would say: Give the people of Canada a chance to elect a government which will have the courage and fortitude to do its duty by the people.
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OP DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY