April 2, 1935 (17th Parliament, 6th Session)


George Spotton

Conservative (1867-1942)


I hear the professor again, but don't blame him, Mr. Speaker; it is his profession. We have always been told by these Liberal spellbinders that the Conservative party was owned body and soul by the big interests. Yet we have it from the leader of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, speaking in Kingston, that he thanked God and took courage that the Right Hon. R. B. Bennett was the first leader of either of the major parties that had ever attacked capitalism. And I am glad too, as a humble member who was elected by a farming constituency, and by the way at a by-election. We have heard so much about by-elections

The Budget-Mr. Spotton
[DOT]this session that I suppose it will not be out of order for me to refer back to the last administration. They lost a by-election once when they had eleven cabinet ministers in the riding, also Hon. Duncan Marshall, Hon. Nelson Parliament and every Liberal member, I think, of the Ontario house and of the legislature in Quebec. They brought in the whole circus, the calliope and the whole troupe. They brought in the Minister of Finance to hold up the treasury of Canada in the one hand and the credit of Canada in the other, and told them just to ask for what they wanted. But they lost that by-election. I am not twitting them over it or boasting about it, because I have often lost myself; and I think I have been a good loser just as I have striven to be a modest winner. But when the Liberals lost that by-election they did not say that the Liberal government was discredited and should immediately go before the people. I was twitted by the then Prime Minister that I was a minority candidate. I wish to say to him to-day that he has never been other than a minority prime minister in this country. I listened to him in the 1925 election when he made great promises, and in my opinion, Mr. Speaker, he is the record promise-breaker in Canadian history. He promised that if after that election he did not have a clear majority in the House of Commons he would refuse to carry on because he had in the back of his head, and in a book, beneficent legislation which the Progressive group had not permitted him to put upon the statute books. Well, he went to the country 116 strong and came back 101 strong, and yet his lust of office was so great that he broke that pledged word, and by the way gave me several votes from Liberals who had heard him make that promise.
He also said that he was going to reform or abolish the senate, and I remember that he brought with him to my county a concrete example, as it were, the late Senator MoCoig, who stood up after the right hon. gentleman had made that declaration of reforming or abolishing the senate and said, "Yes, it was upon that understanding I was made a senator." He was to do the bidding of Bunty when Bunty pulled the strings. But we heard nothing more about the reform or abolition of the senate.
We listened the other day to the Labour member from East Hamilton (Mr. Mitchell) putting on Hansard planks from the Liberal platform of 1919, sixteen years ago, and it has remained for this government to put most of those planks into operation. That platform declared for limiting the hours of work 92582-152
to eight per day and forty-eight per week, along with a weekly day of rest of at least twenty-four hours. That promise was not fulfilled, but that legislation has been placed upon the statute books of Canada by this government. The Liberal platform of 1919 also called for:
Abolition of child labour and the imposition of limitation ^ of the labour of young persons to assure their proper education and physical development;
Abolition of sweatshops by setting legal standards for conditions of labour which should have due regard for the equitable economic treatment of all workers;
Industrial control to safeguard workers' interests and shape industrial policies;
An adequate insurance against unemployment, sickness, dependence in old age and other disabilities:
Steps to overcome questions of jurisdiction between the dominion, and the provinces on these matters;
And the right hon. leader of the opposition is still harping on that subject to-day, and saying that we should not pass the unemployment insurance measure until that question of jurisdiction has been determined. The Liberal platform also declared for government action to deal with the high cost of living, and so on, and so on. I just wish to point out, Mr. Speaker, that mo prime minister ever attained office by so many promises and fulfilled so few as the right hon. gentleman opposite. I am glad that this government has the stability and the gumption and the courage to place on the statute books in an orderly manner this legislation for which the people have been asking.
In a small measure I pledged myself when I was first elected that I would go out and do battle against the combines which had been formed under the King administration, 120 in number, and embracing 550 firms. My own town was ruined through them. It was during the Liberal administration, when the Liberals were saying that they were the friends of the masses, that trusts and combines flourished as they never had done before. In my first speech in this house I attacked the packing houses and the stock yards, the department stores and chain stores. In season and out of season I have done my little part to create an atmosphere so that some day this whole matter should be fully investigated. As we talked over the line fence or the garden gate we thought we knew what was going on, but as it says in the good book, we know now in part, and some day we shall know in -full. And now, Mr. Speaker, we do know in full from the accountants and the auditors and the bookkeepers, from the presidents and general managers of these firms testifying under oath,

The Budget-Mr. Spotton

Railway contractor to run an election, and the sons of those old pioneers now lick their lips and smile to think how smart their party was, when by a secret order in council, when this house was in session, they enabled the Liberal party to get $720,000 for campaign purposes. Yet they go about the land as Simon Pure apostles.
But let us take the evidence that we get from the independent comer. The hon. member for Wetaskiwin (Mr. Irvine), speaking in Toronto, made certain statements which I am going to quote. There they were carrying slogans on the trucks: "Beat Bennett; vote against Tommy Church"-because Bennett was a millionaire. But they did not use that language in North York where there was a millionaire behind every bush. However, this is what the hon. member for Wetaskiwin1 said:
"Beat Bennett" not C.C.F. plan.
William Irvine, M.P., warned that the C.C.F. was not interested in any plan to "beat Bennett."
"Mr. Bennett has been a far better Prime Minister than Mr. King. Voting only to 'beat Bennett' would make fools of us."
"Bennett has been turned out by St. James street because last year he gave us the best legislation in fifty years," asserted the speaker. "I'm not supporting him; don't mistake me. The only thing we have in common is that we both eat. But the new measures he introduced challenge the power of St. James street. That's why they're through with Bennett. And that's why you should vote to 'beat King,' as he's on the job for them now."
These are not my words but the words of an independent member of this house. Then I would quote the opinion of the talented lady member for Southeast Grey (Miss Macphail), who said that Mr. King could do nothing in grander style than any person she had ever known.
I am not going to attempt to preserve any continuity in this speech but I am going to discuss a few things which we notice in the press. None of the members here would say some of these things, and I know that no United Farmer in Ontario would say them, but there are Liberal candidates and some Liberal speakers, mostly from the west, who do not know the temperament of the people of Ontario, and they have said that the Prime Minister refused to see the farmers who came to Ottawa. Well, there are many members here who accompanied that delegation. I was asked to introduce a deputation to the Prime Minister, and as we went into that meeting we were handed pamphlets, one of which I have in my possession, that set out the different orders of business. This deputation, at a particular hour, was to wait on the Prime Minister. We were an hour

late, but the Prime Minister-and some Liberal gentlemen were with us-gave us a hearing. It is true he refused to go down and address the meeting; that was not a part of the arrangement. The arrangement was that he should meet a deputation, a committee from that meeting. I know whereof I speak because I introduced the deputation, and I shall be glad to have my statement backed up by the United Farmers of Ontario. He refused to go to the coliseum, but he did not refuse, as arranged, to meet the deputation, and he did see the committee that was appointed. The United Farmers of Ontario are not kicking about this, but there are Liberals who are striving to make political capital by falsifying the premier.
A former minister of trade and commerce used to say that the Liberal government kept the dollar at par. I wonder what he would say now that this government, during this period of stress and strain, has brought the dollar above par. Is not this government to get some credit for the fact that, whereas in 1930 the superstatesmen left uE the sixth trading nation in the world, we are now fifth? Is it not to the credit of the government and of the country that we had such a financial genius to steady the financial structure of Canada? What does it matter if you gain the whole world and lose your own soul? What does it matter if you own the city of Ottawa and the Dominion of Canada is bankrupt, as we are told many western provinces are? The credit of Canada has been preserved, and it is sounder to-day than it has ever been since confederation. If it were not so the Prime Minister would be blamed for it; and when it is so should he not get some little credit for it?
There is another matter I must refer to. Campaigners have been going through Ontario saying that this government has clogged the channels of trade. Let me quote what Mr. Dunning wrote in a Liberal campaign paper. He said:
All major European markets are now closed to us as a result of prohibitive tariffs following the war.
There is Charlie's picture and there is Charlie's signature.

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