April 21, 1914 (12th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Roch Lanctôt


Mr. ROCH LANCTOT (Laprairie-Napier-ville):

Mr. Speaker, I have listened very attentively to what the honourable member for North Perth (Mr. Morphy) has said, and what I have found to be the most amusing part of his remarks is the quotation which he made of speeches delivered in this House by certain members of the opposition, namely .by the hon. member for South Cape Breton (Mr. Carroll) and by the hon. member for Westmorland (Mr. Emmerson). He seemed to amuse himself with pointing out to you, Mr. Speaker, that we on this side of the House, were divided, the hon. member for South Cape Breton being in favour of a revenue tariff and the hon. member for Westmorland being an irrepressible free trader. He also alluded to my hon. friend from West Kent (Mr. McCoig). He quoted those three gentlemen as an instance of the would-be differences of opinion existing on the opposition side with respect to the tariff.
But, Mr. Speaker, I can only regret that the hon. member did not think it proper to scrutinize the views of the ministers now in power. He would have found that, during the campaign of 1911, there were great differences of opinion between those gentlemen. Does he know, for instance, that the Postmaster General (Mr. Pelletier) was against the present Prime Minister on

the question of the naval contribution? Does he know, also, that the Minister of Inland Revenue was opposed to that policy of his leader, and that the Secretary of State (Mr. Coderre) who travelled all over the province of Quebec during the summer of 1910 with several Nationalist members, had denounced not only the naval policy of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, but the very policy of his own leader, which, he said, was even more nefarious than Sir Wilfrid Laurier's? The hon. member, living in a glass house as he does, should not fling stones at his neighbour.
Mr. Speaker, I shall take advantage of the budget speech of the Minister of Finance for 1914-1915, to make a few remarks on certain changes effected in the tariff, especially as regards three kinds of agricultural implements: the mower, the binder and the harvester. The minister has announced a rebate of 5 per cent on those machines. I wonder, Mr. Speaker, if this rebate does enable our Canadian manufacturers to successfully compete against the foreign manufacturers. If so, why then did the minister not make a total reduction of the taxes on rakes, drills, harrows, ploughs, hay loaders, etc., all of which are bought by numbers, especially by the farmers of the province of Quebec? Wherefore I have no hesitation in saying that this small rebate of 5 per cent on the three articles which I have mentioned will satisfy nobody, bcause it is only partial, whereas it should apply to all articles wanted by the farmers. Why then has the rebate not been general rather than limited to such a email number of articles?
If our Canadian manufacturers are able to face foreign competition as far as those machines are concerned-and it is an established fact to-day that they are-then I fail to see why they could not victoriously undergo the same reduction in the tariff as regards the articles wanted by the farmers.
Let me state, Mr. Speaker, that far from being satisfied, the farmers of Canada shall persist in asking that the duties on such articles be completely removed, for the very simple reason that our Canadian manufacturers -do face foreign competition to advantage in all the countries of the world. Why then should we, the farmers of Canada, be called upon to pay more for our implements than do the farmers of the European countries who buy those same machines from our Canadian manufacturers? Less freight is charged on machines used in our country than if they Wc.i shipped to

European countries, such as France, Russia, or Germany, and moreover, they are free of the import duty which is levied on the same kind of machines by those countries and by some others, and yet, irrespective of this, we pay from twenty to twenty-five per cent more than the European countries do.
I say, Sir, that if such treatment is meted out to us by our manufacturers, it is due to the protective system we have in' this country, it is due to the barrier created by the imposition of a 20 per cent or 25 per cent duty in order to prevent foreign competition. I say that this barrier must be pulled down some day or other, because our manufacturers have enjoyed a protective tariff for thirty-six years at least, and it is fully time that the mass of the people should have their own turn, let this be said with all due deference to SenaJtor Melvin-Jones, the president of the Massey-Harris Company.
Who are those who should have supported the reciprocity treaty in 1911? The manufacturers of farming implements especially, in my opinion, because they had enjoyed for thirty-six years a protective tariff, a tariff which enabled them to make millions out of the goods which fetched them all that money from the farmers of this country. When the Liberal Government, in 1911, asked the House of Commons to ratify a reciprocity treaty which they had negotiated with the United States with respect to the exchange of our natural products, who were they who struggled against us in order to prevent the adoption of that treaty? They were the manufacturers of this country, and more especially the manufacturers of farming implements, and they subscribed large amounts so as to ensure the defeat of the candidates who were in favour of that treaty. During the campaign of 1911 our opponents cried out on all the hustings: " If you vote in favour of that reciprocity treaty with the Americans, our markets will be submerged with all kinds of American products and we shall be able to sell our own products but dirt cheap." They talked to us of our cattle as an instance. But is it not a fact, Sir, that just after the barrier concerning our cattle was pulled down in 1913, it took us but four months to export to the United States 162,491 head of cattle, whereas during the same period of the preceding year, we had exported but 20,101, which makes a difference of 142,390 head more? Is it not also a fact that we have imported a great deal of hay since the tariff was re-

duced Dy one half, that is from $4 which it was in September, to 32 in October? And the same remark applies to several other lines of products on which the duties have been removed or a rebate of one half has been made.
The honourable Minister of Finance has declared a surplus of thirty-six millions and a half over and above the ordinary expenditure, and while presenting this side of the case he seemed to be fully satisfied. But, I would like to examine the other side for a few minutes. The honourable Minister told us that our public debt was less to-day that is on the 31st of March, 1914, than it was when he came to power on the 21st of September, 1911. This is what we are going to examine together, Sir, and just a few moments will suffice. Let us first go back to the early days of the present regime and take the fiscal year 19101911. During the session of 1910-1911 under the Liberal Administration only five-twelfths of the estimates were voted for the then current year, so that the expenditure was a good deal less than it would have been had we voted all the money called for in the estimates, and therefore the late Government was precluded from beginning a great number of public works in the whole country. It follows that the expenditure was less than it should have been if the whole list of estimates for 1910-1911 had been voted. As I said a moment ago, during the session of 1911-1912, the first session after the hon. gentlemen had come to power, the balance of our estimates was voted and few estimates appeared on the list of supplementary estimates for that session, and so we expended for public works of all kinds, during those two years, what would have been expended in just one year, had the estimates for 1910-1911 been all voted that same year. This has enabled the Minister of Finance to declare, in his budget speech for last year, a surplus of thirty-six millions and a half over and above the ordinary expenditure, and to finish the year with a surplus over all expenditure whether ordinary or extraordinary. But, unfortunately for the people of this country, the honourable gentlemen have inaugurated their administration but last year, and the new Government asked us then to vote them $250,000,000, thus setting aside such prudence as had been shown by the late Minister of Finance when he limited as much as possible the expenditure called for by the Administration of the country.
Times have changed to a great extent,
Sir! In 1910-1911, the ordinary expenditure was eighty-seven millions. This year it is 126 millions and a half, which means a difference of thirty-nine millions more for the administration of the country.
Let us now take the subject of that expenditure. The militia will cost $10,938,905, and under the liberal rule it did cost but $6,658,300 for the year 1910-1911.
In 1913-1914, the expenditure on public works was $32,033,751. In 1910, we, Liberals, have spent but $10,000,000, which means twenty-two millions less. I do not hesitate in saying, Sir, that several of those millions are spent to no purpose. Let us take, for instance, the building of arsenals throughout the country. Millions are spent uselessly on those constructions which bring no revenue to the country, and far from it, they are even a source of expense, because there must be a keeper for each building, and all the buildings must be heated, lighted and cleaned, which requires soap, brushes and brooms; moreover, repairing of all description must be provided for, and this with n$ return to be expected for the country. Is' it not a fact, Sir, that it will cost the Government ten times more to repair their buildings than it would cost a private individual to repair his own, and that the difference is intended for friends of the party in power?
Referring to the surplus of thirty-six millions and a half as represented by the Minister of Finance and to the public debt which the minister said was less to-day than it was in 1911 and left the present Government in a very satisfactory condition in this respect, I may say this: On the 21st of September, 1911, the net debt was $318,593,924.15, and the total debt $472,141,823.88. On the 31st of March, 1914, the net debt was $315,019,288.75. On the same date the total debt had gone up to $530,687,885.62, which means that our public debt was increased by $52,546,061.74 in two years' administration.
The interest on the public debt for the year 1913-1914 has cost us the fair sum of $13,179,913.01. For the current year the interest shall run up to $14,917,926.33, whereas for the year ending in 1911, the total interest paid on the debt was but $12,535,850.81, which makes a difference of $2,382,075.52 less under the Liberal rule.
Now, Sir, the minister may say that we have made investments, such as our loan to the Canadian Northern. Those investments are positively of no benefit to the country, and I am sure the hon. Minister of Finance is aware of the fact, for the

Canadian Northern got some help from this Government last year to the amount of fifteen million dollars, and rumour now has it that this company is trying to get another forty or fifty million this year. Should this be granted, that railway shall have got from the provinces and from the Government of Canada an aggregate amount of more than two hundred and fifty million dollars in the shape or form of subsidies and help. We have reason to 'believe that, in spite of this, the company will, from year to year, come and ask millions from the Government. Therefore, Sir, you will agree with me that those investments are hardly an advantage to the country. Here is how I consider such investments: Let us take a farmer who has a nice "farm clear of debt, that is, a man who does not owe a cent, while his neighbours owe more than their farms are worth. That man borrows five thousand dollars, he mortgages his farm for that much and distributes the sum right and left to his neighbours, who are already indebted to the extent of being unable to face their own obligations. Several of those who have received the funds will never pay them back. However, he calculates these loans as part of his assets; but, Sir, he shall always be bound to pay the interest due on the debt which he lias contracted, and as for those who have borrowed from him; if they come to fail, the assets which he had in the form of loans will vanish away and he will remain burdened with his debt. Such is the case of the present Minister of Finance. Several loans forming his pretended assets will never be refunded to him, and the country will have to pay the interest on his total debt and to pay that same debt some time or othei I have read in the ministerial newspapers the report of an interview given by the hon. member for Argenteuil (Mr. Perley) to the journalists when he visited the Eastern Townships. The hon. minister without portfolio declares that the French Canadians feel enthusiastic and that they approve the Borden contribution owing to the explanations which he gave them off-hand. He concludes that this contribution to the British navy had not been understood previous to his visit during which he was accompanied by the hon. Secretary of State (Mr. Coderre) who, in 1911, had nevertheless preached quite a different doctrine in the county of Hochelaga and in the province of Quebec generally. One must add the name of the hon. member for Dorchester (Mr. Sevigny) who was no less
severe towards his leader, Mr. Borden, during the summer of 1910 and the election of 1911 than he was towards his opponents.
I presume, Mr. Speaker, that the hon. ministers have told the electors of the Eastern Townships that, during the year 1913-1914, this Government got the House to vote $2,610,000 for the naval service, and for the current year, $2,410,000.
During the campaign of 1911, we, Liberals, were attacked by the~ candidates of the opposition on the ground that the Liberal Government had bought the Niobe and the Rainbow, and that those ships, as they said, were only good to be thrown aside and sold as scrap iron.
Has the. Government respected the pledge taken at the time by his candidates before the electors? No, Sir, this Government keeps the Niobe in the harbour of Halifax and the Rainbow in British Columbia, with crews on board, crews paid by this same Government who, moreover, maintains the naval school of Halifax at which his- friends are admitted as students, and the country spends about three million dollars to continue the naval policy of Sir Wilfrid Laurier through those who have denounced it on all the hustings of the country. At the beginning of the present session* the hon. member for Montmagny (Mr. Lesperance) introduced a bill to repeal the naval law of the Laurier cabinet. I thought the honourable member was sincere when he introduced that bill; but, I must confess, Mr. Speaker, that I do not believe in his sincerity any more.
That hon. gentleman has left for Europe, his Bill will not be considered at this session and I do not think it will come up in the near luture, judging from the stand taken by the hon. member for Montmagny. I for one, Mr. Speaker, would have been glad if that Bill had come up for its second reading, as that would have afforded me an opportunity to express my views concerning the Act of 1910.
This Government was unwilling to carry out the Laurier Navy Act. The right hon. Prime Minister, with a few of his colleagues proceeded to England during the recess of 1911-12 to confer with the British Admiralty and the Home Government, in order to know what this Government should do for the defence of Canada and for the defence of <the Empire as a whole. It was decided to order the building at the expense of Canada of three of the largest dreadnoughts of the best type which science could device and money procure.
It just amounts to this, Mr. Speaker, that

the Admiralty and Government of the mother country have modified their views, and I may add that, as far as I can see, they do not seem to know what they want. Apparently these gentlemen are at liberty to change their minds and to be one day in favour of a local navy and the day following in favour of the building of dreadnoughts.
If the British Admiralty and Government are at liberty to alter their views as regards the action which Canada should take, I trust, Mr. Speaker, that it will be allowable for your most humble servant who is now addressing you, to say what he thinks of that change of front and to make known his views as to the nature of our future intercourse with the mother country in connection with naval defence.
In 1909, I agreed to the resolution of March 29, and in 1910, I voted for the Bill known as the Laurier Naval Bill. But this Government has not deemed it proper to carry out the policy approved in 1910, and, on the contrary, has launched a new policy in 1913, that is to say, a proposal to grant three dreadnoughts to Great Britain. That policy is even worse than the preceding as stated by our Nationalist friends during the elections of 1911, though they have in the meantime become out and out ministerialists in this House. Then we are bound to take into account the present state of things in Europe, a state of things which is constantly improving, all danger of warfare disappearing. Mr. Speaker, I have never been of a warlike disposition, far from it. The British Empire is secure as yet, in spite of the forebodings of the right hon. Prime Minister in his speech of December 5, 1912, When submitting to the House his contribution policy. Conditions are quite different from wihait they were in 1909-10 and 1911-12; there is no longer any justification either for the establishment of a navy or tire granting of a contribution, and it would seem from all we have seen of the doings of the Admiralty that we should henceforth frame our policy in accordance with the sole requirements of Canada. In view of all the above stated facts, I say that we should under the shortest possible delay start the building of the Georgian Bay canal, a departure which would surely be of much greater benefit to the farmers of this country and to Canada's commercial metropolis than the construction of dreadnoughts and the maintenance of a war navy.
Had it not been for the interference of the Senate, the country would be just now 176
pledged to an expenditure of fifty or sixty million dollars for the building of those three dreadnoughts in Great Britain during the three years following the passing of the Bill; that is to say that for the current year we would have been called upon to insert in the estimates $15,000,000 or $20,000,000 for that purpose.
So I say, Mr. Speaker, that the people of this country would much prefer seeing the Government provide $10,000,000 in this year's estimates towards starting, by next spring, the work on the Georgian Bay canal.
A few moments ago, Mr. Speaker, ^1 referred to the tour which some of the ministers had made through the Eastern Townships. I read in the papers an account of their speeches, especially in regard to the Borden contribution. The hon. member for Argenteuil (Mr. Perley) found that the contribution proposal was very popular in French Canadian centres. I may suggest to the hon. gentlemen to pay a visit to my constituents in Laprairie and Napierville during the coming recess of Parliament. I would also like his colleague the hon. Minister of Justice (Mr. Doherty) to accompany him, so 'that we might discuss the bargain he made with the country, whereby after spending fifteen years on the Bench, he became entitled to a pension for the remainder of his life.
The country is mute, but I represent in this House a fraction of its population equal %2i>
and on that ground I may be entitled to take exception to that enactment and to move for its amendment.
The hon. member for Argenteuil, while in the Eastern Townships, also referred to the Highways Bill. Through this Bill the Dominion Government appropriated an amount of $10,000,000 for ten years to come, which means an average of one million dollars per annum for the next ten years, towards improving highways throughout the country. If, in that Bill, the minister had inserted a provision whereby that amount would have been distributed on the basis of population, which would have meant for the province of Quebec a yearly grant of $270,000, that would have been fair.
Are you aware, Mr. Speaker, that there are in the province of Quebec, 1,048 municipalities, and that just now over 400 municipalities are benefited by the Act passed a good many years ago by the Liberal administration of Sir Lomer Gouin? .
I estimate that there is on an average twenty miles of roads in every municipality, an estimate which is very conserva-

tive indeed, considering that in my own constituency some municipalites have as much as 43 miles of roads to make. That will give a total of 20,960 miles of roads to look after in the province of Quebec. I estimate the average cost of such roads at $7,000. Now, 20,960 miles multiplied by $7,000 gives the startling total amount of $146,720,000.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to figure out with you how many years it would take the Government to get through with that work in the province of Quebec. With $279,000 to spend per annum, at the rate of $7,000 per mile, we will be in a position to improve slightly over thirty-nine miles per annum, let us say forty miles per annum in round figures. Let us see how long it would take to go over the 20,960 miles I have just referred to. Since it takes $278,000 to build 40 miles of road, by dividing 20,960 miles by 40 we have the number of years it will take to complete the undertaking, and that is 524 years.
Please note, Mr. Speaker, that I have not taken into account the cost of the machinery required for the building of such roads in the various provinces. Such a plant, complete, costs $6,500, and such an outlay would reduce materially the amount available for road-building in the province of Quebec. Plants would be required from year to year and the $278,000 appropriation would be cut down by so much. I expect that the hon. gentleman I referred to a moment ago would thus address the electors of the Eastern Townships: We had resolved to hand over to you $10,000,000 towards furthering the improvement of your roads which are in a deplorable sta'te, and if the Senate had not amended that Bill, you would have had as good roads here as they have elsewhere. That is the unvarying statement of these gentlemen wherever they go.
Mr. Speaker, I did not have much faith in the Government's sincerity when they put through that Bill for the improvement of highways. It was rather in the nature of a vote catcher in election time, and we had a good example of it when a bye election took place in South Renfrew during the session of 1911-1912. Even previous to the Bill being introduced into Parliament, some politicians were pressing the voters in Renfrew to support the Government candidate as a means of securing a large'appropriation towards the macadamizing of their roads. I think that was the only object they had in view, since the Government rejected the amendment made

by the Senate, an amendment which purely and simply required that the clause providing that the funds should be left wholly at the disposal of the minister to be spent at his own sweet will be struck out and replaced by the words 'on the basis of population ' in the various provinces.
I think that the best means of assisting the farming class in the improvement of the highways would be to increase the subsidies to the provinces. I should say, in passing, Mr. Speaker, that the Quebec provincial act is most satisfactory in its working and all are entitled to take advantage of it, whether the constituency be represented by a Liberal or by a Conservative, whether the parish be Grit or Tory. In a word the Act is for the benefit of all.
Mr. Speaker, to show that I have good reason not to rely on the good faith of the Government in the matter of the improvement of highways. I shall refer to that part of King Edward avenue which traverses Laprairie. The former Liberal Government spent $38,000 on the lower part, called the Laprairie domain, covering a length of 8,000 feet. This Government, which has been in power since September 21, 1911, has not as yet done anything to emerge from that quagmire. The carrying out of that work is urged, not only by the Laprairie and Napierville farmers, but by the whole city of Montreal and also by the automobile clubs of Montreal as well as of the United States. However, as yet the Government has not done anything, and please observe that this stretch of road is only 8,000 feet in length. I stated a moment ago that 524 years, to say the least, would be required to build up the roads in the province of Quebec out of that $278,000 per annum; but if I was to base my estimate on the time it is going to take to complete those 8,000 feet of the Laprairie road, 5,000 years would be nearer the mark. Possibly that stretch of road at Laprairie is left in abeyance to be taken up again in the course of the next electoral campaign.
Besides, how could two Governments carry on simultaneously the improvement of roads within the same county or the same municipality, one stretch of which would be worked by the municipality by means of the 2 per cent loan of the Provincial Government, while another stretch would be under the supervision of the Dominion Government? That would not be practicable, and I am satisfied the Government will not bring back that Bill as framed in the first instance, but, will provide a further grant so as to put the pro-

vinces in a better position to improve their roads as rapidly as possible.
I was referring a moment ago to King Edward avenue. The hon. Minister of Public Works is aware that the said avenue passes through my constituency, as I conferred with him on the subject last year, and he gave me to understand that those 8,000 feet of road, that is about a mile and a quarter, would be built in the course of the summer of 1913. However, nothing as yet has been done. That road was at the time, and is still at the present time, in a deplorable state. The hon. Minister of Inland Revenue (Mr. Nantel) has some experience of it himself since, one evening, returning from the county of Chateauguay, where he had been to canvass electors on behalf of the Government candidate, he came very near being obliged to spend the night in a mudhole, as the automobile in which he was driving got stuck and could not proceed any farther.

Topic:   THE BUDGET.
Full View