January 26, 1917 (12th Parliament, 7th Session)


John Gillanders Turriff



He is a very good man, and a good man has to be a Grit; he cannot be a really good man unless he is. It is a credit to Ralph Connor that he is not able to follow my hon. friend the Minister of Public Works. That redounds to his credit. That is why he stands so high in Manitoba and in the Dominion, that he could not see his way clear to follow the present Dominion Government. But practically all the agitation for a national government is coming from the ranks of my hon. friends opposite. And why should there be an agitation at this time for a national government? For a government of business men? Why, practically all the business men of the country are in either the one party or the other. Does my hon. friend mean to say that in a population of seven million or eight million people, half of them Conservatives, he couI'd not pick out more than twelve or fifteen men in his own party if a
business government were wanted? Or if a national government were wanted, could not my hon. friends opposite pick out from among their own friends enough men to make their Government a good government? But in order to make a business government, or a national government, or a decently good government, it would be necessary to replace fourteen of the fifteen members of the present Government by new men. Is it possible that I have come so near the truth that it pleases even my hon. friend from Portage la Prairie (Mr. Meighen)? I have left that one so that each member of the Government can take it to himself that he is the man who should remain in the Government, and that fourteen others should be selected. I know that my hon. friend from Portage la Prairie naturally would feel that he was the one, and I will do my hon. friend the credit of saying that, leaving
out little pecularities such as being a great word-splitting acrobat, he has the brains, and if he would only use them right, as his conscience would direct-that is if he has a conscience, which sometimes I doubt-then I think he might be the man who would select-the fourteen to form a national government. What does this national government mean? I do not know whether my hon. friend who is now leading the House (Mr. Rogers) would be called upon to make the selection, but if he did, what would the national government be like? But taking it at its best, allowing that in the selection of a new Government, a national government, a business government, great care was exercised by my hon. friends opposite, it would be, in my judgment, neither more nor less than a government of the big inter- [DOT] ests of Canada. There is no question about that. We have heard mentioned some names of men likely to be called to a government of that description, and from what I can judge it would be a government whose chief duty would be to so place the taxation of Canada on the poor and the middle classes of Canada that the big business interests and the millionaires would escape. Have you noticed that the direct taxation legislation that was passed last year was so drafted that it hit certain men, hit them pretty hard, but left others scot free? I do not think the legislation that was passed last year providing for direct taxation hit one of the multimillionaires sitting on the treasury benches. If you had a national government selected by some one of the present Government, you would have very much the same

result. Who is to select this national government if one is to be formed? There must be somebody in charge and, unless we have an election, it would have to be the party opposite, so far as I can see, and so you would simply get -another party government. I do not doubt that you would get better men, because 1 think it is a moral impossibility to put in fourteen new men and not have a better government, I care not whether any care was exercised in the selection or not, it would be an improve*-ment; there is absolutely no question about that.
But would it be the class of Government that the people of Canada want at the present time? Have the big interests done so much for the country during the past two or three years? They have been making money by the millions, the tens of millions, and the hundreds of millions out of the people of Canada. Have they been moderate in their demands for profits? Not to any extent. There have been one or two exceptions. We have had a few instances of what these men are making. Take the Montreal Ammunition Company. As stated by my hon. friend from Bona-venture (Mr. Marcil) yesterday, that company paid a dividend of D00 per cent for one year. Imagine, Mr. Speaker, the Government allowing any set of men to put in $100 for a share, and during one year take out $900 in dividends, and leave $600 more as a rest account, thus robbing the people of Canada and of Great Britain. Imagine this Government allowing them to do that, and not even taxing them any more than they tax the ordinary honest business man. Why should not these men who are making millions not be taxed as they are in Great Britain? The Prime Minister on his return from a visit to Great Britain stated that the whole resources of Canada in men and material would be devoted to the winning of the war, and in the face of that statement the Government are allowing a few of their personal friends to rake out money from the pockets of the people of Canada and Great Britain by the tens of millions of dollars, while they treat them exactly the same, so far as taxation is concerned, as they treat the ordinary honest business man who does a legitimate business.
Let us take another instance. A couple of years ago, -a firm in Hamilton got a contract for shells. They filled that contract; they had a year's work at it, and they made
a lot of money. The owner of the factory went to the Government and said: I have made as much money out of that contract as one man ought to have; I am satisfied, and am willing now to turn the factory over to the Government so that they may run it and supply the shells for the Canadian and British troops at cost. One would think that that was a pretty fair and reasonable offer, but did the Government accept it? No, they refused that offer. Why? Because, the Minister of Labour stated it was not in the interests of the country for the Government to go into competition with private industry. In order to allow their party friends to take millions of dollars from the people of Canada-because in this, as in everything else connected with the war, practically everything had to go to their partisan friends

the Government refused to take over that factory and run it. The result was that the gentleman who made that offer was compelled to continue the work, although he did not want to go on, and during the second year he made a profit of $750,000. As he had stated the year before that he did not want that money, he handed it over to the Government, but why should the Government allow any one to make money to that extent out of the agony of the people of Canada? Why does the Government not come forward now and take over a lot of this work, make the shells, fuses, and other munitions of war at cost price, and supply them to the-soldiers of Canada and Great Britain at the cheapest possible price? That would seem to me, Mr. Speaker, to be the proper and business thing to do; but our hon. friends opposite have absolutely refused to move in any way at all, to do anything to prevent this extravagant waste of money, or to help out the Empire and Canada by supplying the munitions of war at a fair and reasonable price.

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