February 8, 1934 (17th Parliament, 5th Session)


Eusèbe Roberge


Mr. EUSEBE ROBERGE (Megantic) (Translation):

Mr. Speaker, after perusing
the speech from the throne and listening to the address moved by the hon. member for Compton (Mr. Gobeil), I am unable to discover anything in them which might relieve

The Address-Mr. Roberge
immediately the present crisis and still less carry out the promises made by this government in the course of the 1930 election.
Since the last session I have visited many of my old constituents as well as a few from the new parishes which were added to the county of Megantic, at the last redistribution. What are the workmen, farmers and all classes of society saying? Bennett is not carrying out his pledges. Farm products, as a whole, have dropped 50 per cent since the Conservative government has taken office. The workers, especially the miners, hardly earn 50 per cent of the wages they had in 1930, and naturally are only employed half time. Moreover, the people of the counties of Wolfe, Beauce and Megantic are dissatisfied at seeing their counties cut up arbitrarily without any good reason and in the mere hope of retaining or winning these three counties within the Conservative fold at the next election. The Conservatives, far from having made their position secure through these changes, have simply created discontent and the people only await an opportunity to vote, as a whole, against them so as to avenge the insult made to them when their counties were cut up and furthermore, because the government did not carry out the promises made in 1930. The Conservatives misled the people in 1930, but they will not do so at the next election.
The bon. member for Dorchester (Mr. Gagnon) who was able to feather his nest at the last redistribution, made a statement of this kind at a large meeting at St. Malachie:
The Liberals think that we are reluctant to discuss the sugar tax; however, I am not afraid to do so. It is an excellent measure, the government is in need of revenue and this tax will net them $20,000,000. All will be called to contribute, yet no one will be the poorer.
I think the hon. member would change his mind were he to take up the subject with the workmen.
The hon. member told the fanners that they would get a better price for their maple sugar. What happened? In 1933, the farmers had to sell this commodity cheaper than they ever did for forty years, ever since I have been in business. In my own parish, a car load of maple sugar was shipped and the following prices were paid to farmers:
No. 1
5 cents per lb.No. 2
4 cents per lb.No. 3
3 cents per lb.
The farmers therefore received on an average 4 cents per pound for their sugar, the 74726-25 J
lowest price ever paid in my county. This is all the benefit derived by the farmers from this tax and they had to pay dearer for their granulated sugar. The hon. member only spoke once on this subject. I think he must have been warned, because since then, he never referred to this sugar tax in the meetings he held, at least, judging from newspapers. . . .
If ever there were an unfair tax levied by the government it is certainly the one on granulated sugar.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) introduced and had adopted by this house a resolution to the effect that a committee be appointed to investigate the dealings of trusts and profiteers. The Prime Minister could have acted before, because there exists an act empowering him to investigate trusts and the dealings of people who rob the people by their exorbitant profits.
The evidence at the coal inquiry showed that coal dealers were not content with twice the profits that our county merchants make. If they were their profits would be quite acceptable and coal would retail at the most $10 per ton. The trusts, however, retail it to-day at $14, $15 and $16. Every coal consumer has, therefore, contributed to these trusts at least $50 more than they should. In these days of depression, I think, that our people would highly appreciate $50.
The same applies to gasoline. If we were not bled by these trusts, this commodity would retail 5 or 6 cents cheaper per gallon.
Another article which is also controlled, to a large extent, by trusts is leather soles. The farmers are paid for raw hides from 1 to 3 cents per pound, the manufacturing process cost, let us say, 10 to 12 cents per pound which is a reasonable profit, so that leather cost the trusts from 13 to 15 cents per pound. The latter first extended their control over the small manufacturers, to-day, they sell this leather from 45 to 55 cents per pound. It is simply robbery to make such large profits on an article of first necessity. These are the trusts that this government tolerates in our country, they are to a great extent responsible here and abroad for the present crisis through the robberies committed when they realized such large profits and over charged the people. Should a poor person steal so as to provide for his wife and children, he is arrested and sent to gaol, but directors of coal, gasoline and leather trusts, etc., are allowed to steal thousands and thousands of dollars, daily, and are not molested. They are the ones who should be arrested and sent to gaol instead of
The Address-Mr. Roberge

the poor people; moreover, the wealth acquired by fleecing the people should be confiscated by the state.
The government, sir, has introduced a resolution, just before the expiration of their mandate. Before the inquiries are completed-a very long time-the people will have swept them from power. This government has no intention of preventing trusts from fleecing the public or of having these highway robbers arrested. Two years ago, I exposed, in the house, a man who had fleeced the public for twelve years. I refer to Garfield McKinnon who had fleeced mail conductors. I supplied the government, then, with affidavits and all the necessary evidence to enable them to arrest this individual. 1 personally, made the request, in the house, to the hon. Postmaster General (Mr. Sauve) and the hon. Minister of Justice (Mr. Guthrie). Nothing was done because he is one os' their partisans, so it is said.
What the people require, sir, are not promises, conferences, inquiries and trips to Geneva or'Cairo, it is work and better prices for farm products. As the government is unable to carry out its promises, it should give the people an opportunity of expressing their views, it would then learn whether the people are satisfied with the administration of public affairs. The recent by-elections have shown that they are not. The other sections of Canada, therefore, should also be given an opportunity to express their views.

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