April 16, 1914 (12th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Joseph Elijah Armstrong

Conservative (1867-1942)


I am very glad indeed to hear the right hon. leader of the Opposition say, Hear, hear. I believe that he is not entirely insincere. I would ask him to carry his mind back in the political history of this country to 189.3, to the platform that was enunciated by his party at that time, and he will find as one of the cardinal planks in that platform, on which he went to the country, that he pledged himself to reform the Senate. For fifteen long years he held the reins of power, but no change was made in the constitution of that body except as to its political complexiou.
I have stated that I am opposed to free wheat. I am opposed to the principle of free wheat, because, in my opinion, it is just the thin edge of the wedge, and ultimately will lead to free trade. I am opposed to free wheat because I believe it will not be of any lasting benefit to the farmers of the West, while on the other hand it will be a lasting detriment and
do lasting harm to the mixed farmers of the rest of Canada, I am opposed to free agricultural implements because it means, in the first place, free trade, and in the second place, more destitute homes, more men out of employment, a bigger army of unemployed, and more hungry children walking the streets of the great cities of Canada. That in my view would be the result if any change such as is contemplated or advocated by hon. gentlemen opposite should be made at the present time.
The member for Moosejaw (Mr. Knowles) dilated upon the hardships that had been endured by the early settlers in western Canada. I appreciate the hardships endured by the early settlers of Western Canada. I do not wish to depreciate or detract from any credit due to them, but I do want to point out that there is another section of this country, a province known as Ontario, whose history will give many instances of just as much self-denial and a great deal more self-denial and privation than the history of the West can ever show. When this province of Ontario was first settled, the .settlers did "not find hundreds and thousands of acres of arable land waiting but the touch of the ploughshare, the drill, and the harrow to yield thousands and hundreds of thousands of bushels of wheat to the granaries of the world. They found a wooded wilderness and in the heart of that they had to carve out homes for themselves, for their wives and for their children. I have the honour of living on a farm that came into the family in 1837-200 acres of virgin forest. Fifty years of unremitting toil was required before that farm was brought into its present state, and it is only a sample of hundreds and thousands throughout Ontario that to-day bear silent testimony to the hardships and privations endured by the generations that have gone before. In dealing with questions such as free wheat and free agricultural implements, in dealing with any question of great end far-reaching importance, it is not sufficient, to my mind, to argue that just because the western part tf Canada or any portion of Canada want a particular law it should be enacted. It is the duty of this House and of every member of this House to realize that in dealing with these questions he must have regard to the interests of the whole of Canada. Canada cannot live by any one industry alone. The farmer must co-operate with the manufacturer; the manufacturer is just as important as any other class. The labourer is just as

important as the manufacturer. The artisan is as important as the labourer, and so on all along the line. They must stand together if they are going to do anything towards the real development of the country, and I say that the members from the West are not fulfilling their duty as representatives of the people of Canada, in drawing, or trying to draw as they have done, a line of cleavage as between eastern and western Canada.
When I commenced speaking I stated that I had no intention of taking up very much of the time of the House and I intend to keep my word. I have endeavoured to make myself clear upon the points that are of most importance in this Budget. I am opposed to free wheat and I have endeavoured to give my reasons why; I am opposed to free agricultural implements and I have endeavoured to give my reasons why. Let me extend to the hon Minister of Finance my hearty congratulations on his having, in my humble judgment, dealt with a very serious question at a very serious time in a very able manner, having due regard to all classes and interests from one end of this Dominion to the other. I am sure that in saying that I voice the sentiments of the majority of the people from ocean to ocean.

Subtopic:   THE BUDGET.
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