January 27, 1914 (12th Parliament, 3rd Session)


William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. W. F. MACLEAN (South York):

Mr. Speaker, I must compliment the hon. gentleman who has just taken his seat (Mr. W. H. Bennett) on the excellent speech he has made. I have heard him speak in this House quite a number of times when he was formerly a member, and since he became a member recently, and I must say, after listening to the speech he made to-night, at the same time not wishing to cast any reflection upon the speeches of hon. gentlemen who preceded him, that we should have more of these speeches in this debate and in the House.
With the example before me I am going to try and deal with one or two questions that should be of practical interest to the country, and I propose to do it in a very short time. I was attracted and much pleased with the announcement made by the hon. Postmaster General (Mr. Pelletier) this afternoon that we are at last to have parcel post in this country. There is a saying in the Bible that bread cast upon the waters will return after many days. Some of us have cast bread on the waters of this Parliament in favour of parcel post, and we see a realization of our hopes in the coming back of the bread on these waters now. While it may be said that progress is slow in this country, still we are always making some progress, and I congratulate the hon. Postmaster General on the announcement this afternoon that at last we are to have parcel post. I hope he will make his experiment on the largest possible lines, that he will take heart from the splendid success of parcel post in the United States, and that when he introduces the system next month the terms will be liberal, the service will be wide, and that the benefits will be appreciated in every portion of the country.
It is our privilege in the debate on the Address to bring up general topics, or topics of interest to various sections of the country, and I hope that privilege will long continue. I propose to-n'ight to refer to two or three things, but before doing so I would just like to lay down two underlying principles that I think are now recognized more or less by all Canadians. The two things that strike one most in a review of the history of Canada are, first, the long struggle to obtain self-government in this country as against the mother land. That took years and years. It required over a century of effort to obtain anything like self-government in this country, but we have it to-day, and we look upon it as the
most valuable thing we have under our system of government-namely, the right to manage our own affairs absolutely independent of the mother country. That, to my mind, comes up perhaps in connection with the question of naval defence, and I may be permitted to refer to that a little later on. There is another great underlying principle in connection with our country which is perhaps not recognized by all of us, but which must he recognized virtually by most of us, and that is that if we have achieved our political independence in this country as against the mother country, and if we have self-government, we have also achieved another great principle, and that is complete independence for Canada to control her fiscal policy independently of the United States. That took a long while to achieve, and the right hon. gentleman in a way was perhaps not opposed to it, but he did try to develop in this country the idea of commercial union, and later on reciprocity, and his experience must now demonstrate to him that while, as I think, he has the interest of this country at heart, the thing he thought to achieve in the way he thought tc achieve it was against the wishes of the majority of the people in Canada who are determined above all, not only to have political independence and to uphold selfgovernment as against the mother country, but determined to uphold the principles of being absolutely independent of the United States in the matter of their fiscal tariff. I do not cast any reflection on the right hon. gentleman for maintaining that position because we know that, Ephraim came down to history because he was wedded to his idols, and the right hon. gentleman may go down to history for his fidelity to his views.
My conception of Canadian history is that it teaches the two great principles of the right of self-government and the right to form our commercial and fiscal policy independent of the United States, and that Canadians are going to assert those princi-iles under every circumstance. In connection with the debate on the Naval Aid Bill, it was a matter of regret to me that suggestions were made in this House which looked to the abandonment of the idea of absolute self-government and of Canada being mistress of her own destinies.
I come now to matters of direct and present concern. We have had a great deal of what we call national policy in this country; we have had national policy in the interest of the manufacturers

and for the encouragement of home industries of all kinds; we have had national policy in the matter of railroad building and we have spent immense sums of money and incurred enormous liabilities in that respect; 10 p.m. and last session we had what perhaps might be called national policy with regard to banking, because we passed a law which was thought to be in the interests of the banking institutions of the country, and with which they are satisfied. But, Sir, the day has come when we must have a national policy for the farmers of Canada, and I now demand a national policy for the farmers of the Canadian Northwest in the direction of the abolition of the duty on wheat, so that these farmers may get what they want in their own interest. The farmers of the Canadian West want free wheat for two reasons: first, because they say they can get a better price for their wheat in the United States, and, secondly, because they contend they get better freight rates for the wheat they export to Europe if they send it by the American railroads. I believe it has been established that the price of wheat is better on the average in the American market, and that the railroad rates in the United States to-day are more favourable to the producer than are the Canadian railroad rates. These two things having been established, it is our duty in the interest of the farmer of the great west to withdraw the duty on wheat and thereby secure the entrance of Canadian wheat into the United States. It may be charged that in this I am abandoning my views with regard to protection. I do not know that I am, but if my views or if anybody's views on the subject of protection happen to be wrong or happen not to suit the requirements of to-day, then it is well that these views should be modified. But I think I will be able to show that I will have to abandon very little of my protectionist views to secure a great benefit for the farmers of the West. It has been said that free wheat would be detrimental to the Canadian railways and detrimental to the Canadian millers. I purpose answering that later, but in the meantime I say that I do not wish it to be thought that the Canadian millers are dependent on the legislation of the United States to keep their milling industry in this country. If it is necessary to keep the milling industry in Canada, I say now that we will have to find some method of our own to do so. If the Canadian farmer in the West-and he is now up against it, and we all admit he f.Mr. W. P. Maclean.]
is up against it, and he has had a hard time with stringent money and discouragement of one kind and another-if the Canadian farmer in the West is suffering, then it is our duty to come to his relief and to. give him the benefit of this American market where the prices are better, and to give him also the benefit of cheaper transportation over the American railways.

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