May 7, 1918 (13th Parliament, 1st Session)


Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal


I hear the voice of the statesman from Sh-arbot Lake. The 'House of Commons is a big pond, but it is nothing when compared with Sharbot Lake, in Frontenac county. My hon. friend admits that the right hon. leader of the Opposition and French Canadian leaders generally did their duty well at the beginning of the war. The famous 22nd Battalion was the result of my right hon. leader's campaign in the first months of the war. I myself was chairman of a committee in Montreal which recruited the Asselin Regiment. We had no difficulties in raising the two regiments as the people responded magnificently. But when the Orange Sentinel and other papers kept systematically insulting French Canadians, labelling them .as sharkers,' slackers, and as disloyal people, they resented those attacks bitterly, and lost their enthusiasm. My hon. friend forgot that they were a rural population and had not the same opportunities for enlisting in as large numbers as the men in the industrial centres of Ontario. He also forgot that they had been separated from Europe since three hundred years, and had therefore not the same links with the old land as the British bom and Anglo-Canadians. When, moreover, the French Canadians saw the privileges granted to the minority by Sir Oliver Mowat, a man of broad vision and noble ideals., being disregarded by the provincial legislature of Ontario,

they paused. Be that as it may, conscription, against the best judgment of the right hon. leader of the Opposition, and against the sober judgment of the country, was forced through this House by closure. The referendum was voted down by Parliament. To-day, after the campaign of hysteria which ended in the victory of Union Government on the 17th of December last, the French Canadians and all those who were opposed to conscription are at last being vindicated-by whom?
By the Ontario fanners, by the members who represent farming constituencies in this House and who form part of the Committee on Agriculture, as I shall show in a few moments. Yes, Sir, the Quebec habitant is toeing vindicated by the Ontario farmer. I have said, not once but ten times, and I repeat it here, Mr. Speaker, that there is no great difference between Jack Canuck and Jean Baptiste. There is this difference that Jean Baptiste thinks aloud-the French blood is responsible for that-and Jack Canuck thinks silently, but in the long run they both think alike. Jean Baptiste was against conscription and he shouted his opposition to conscription. Jack Canuck was against conscription but he was quietly told by the ministers of the Government to "produce, produce; conscription is not aimed at you; it is for the other fellow in Quebec; you will never be conscripted; therefore, vote for the Tory Government." Sir, the handclasp given to the Ontario fanner was nothing less than the handcuff. The Ontario farmer realizes it to-day and he came here the other day to protest-five hundred strong. A friend of mine from the Senate who is somewhat of a cynic and a fellow Tory senator were on their way to the committee room where the sturdy, horny-handed, tan-complexioned- Ontario farmers were sitting silently staring at the Hon. the President of the Council (Mr. Bowell). This Tory senator said to the cynical Grit senator,-if there are any Grits left, Mr. Speaker: "Where are you going?" The latter replied: "I am going to the circus; there is a delegation of French Canadian habitants that have come to ask Majoi-General Mewburn to repeal the last Order in Council. They say they were promised that there would be no conscription of the habitants." The Tory senator said: "No, you are mistaken; it is not the French Canadian habitant; surely it is the Ontario farmer." " No, no," replied the cynic, " it is a delegation of habi-

tanits; were they not the only ones to oppose conscription?" They reached the committee room ajnd the cynic disappeared. But, to his awe and.
consternation, the Tory senator saw. the chickens coming home to roost. He was heard stating after the interview: "Old Abe Lincoln was right. You can fool some of the people some of the time, you can fool some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time." If my right hon. friend the leader of the Opposition (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) will now permit me to repeat the language of a Unionist Grit, he said, after he had left that .meeting, "After all, the old chief was right." I repeated the story to my leader, and his only comment was: "It is my revenge; I am glad of it." But, as I said a moment ago, I did not rise to discuss the Orange orthodoxy nor the -Military Act. I never dreamt I would be called upon to fight the battle of the Boyne in the precincts of the House of Commons.
I shall now proceed with my remarks on the Budget speech. Let me say to my hon. friend the hon. Acting Minister of Finance (Mr. A. K. Maclean), who is now in his seat, that I cannot congratulate him on the speech which he delivered the other day. I do not deny his ability. You know, Sir, that every Nova Scotian is able. No province has given to this Dominion Parliament such a galaxy of statesmen as the little province by the sea. But I cannot congratulate my hon. friend on his speech, because it is not his own; he only read the speech of the real Minister of Finance (Sir Thomas White). As was said in days of old, "The voice was the voice of Jacob, but the hand was the hand of Esau." In my judgment there has been no change of Government, but I am sorry to say that on the part of my hon. friend the Acting Minister of Finance, there has been a change of heart. Yesterday he sat on this side of the House and he was the much vaunted financial critic, to-day he is Minister of Finance in a Tory Cabinet. I cannot congratulate -him, Mr. Speaker, but I hasten to say that he has all my sympathy. It is hard anyway to quarrel with such a genial friend. The most that any one can -say against him is that if his convictions are weak his intentions are honest. My hon. friend knows that I have always had in store for him much true friendship. Will he allow me to speak to him as a candid friend? Since he has taken the plunge, and crossed to the other side of the House for the time

being I hope, may I warn him against that wily financial ring which defeated the reciprocity pact of his then leader the member for Shelburne and Queens (Mr. Fielding) under circumstances much similar to those which existed in the election of 1917? It is extraordinary, and here I quote from memory from an English historian, how dull the English people sometimes are. The French are a vivacious race; the English race is dull. I would like to inject some of that French vivacity into my fellow-members of English origin.
The member for Queens and Shelburne (Mr. Eielding) knows full well that the people of Canada were stampeded in 1911 with the same flag-flapping that stampeded the people in the month of December last. But yet there were Grits-political heirs of George Brown, of Alexander Mackenzie, of Blake, of Cartwright and of Edgar

who were carried away also. They are so honest that they believed what some other wily, crafty people whispered to them. I want to warn my hon. friend (Mr. A. K. Maclean), because I look for the ultimate salvation of his soul politically, I wish to warn him against that financial clique that defeated reciprocity under false pretenses.
I want to warn him against the buccaneers who are already shadowing him1 in the lobbies of this House in the hope, or rather in the quest, of further subsidies for the Canadian Northern. He knows what happened as the outcome of many conferences which took place last year-strange coincidence-at the Chateau Laurier, between Sir Clifford Sifton and Sir William Mackenzie. Oh, what would I not give, Mr. Speaker, to get the book of- the recording angel, as Mr. Dooley said, and know what passed between those two knights. Yes, I am honest and sincere in warning my hon. friend that if he wishes to live up to his reputation of sterling integrity he mast take great care not to be seen with the buccaneers, whom he knows just as well as I do, because he fought them when he sat on this side of the House; he itoust not only not be seen with them, but must not be influenced by them in these days of (stress and storm. If he should succumb during the present session to their wily arts, it may be his -lot to receive what the right hon. the Prime Minister received the other day -a visit from the sturdy farmers of Ontario, and there are farmers in that province, especially among the Scotch, who know their arithmetic. Would my hon. friend allow me to say why I cannot congratulate him upon his Budget speech? It is because he has not lived up to our
expectations. When he sat last year on this side of the Chamber he criticised very bitterly-I should not say bitterly, because my hon. friend is not bitter but he criticised very severely the Minister of Finance. He claimed that there was an opportunity of administrative retrenchment which would amount to $25,000,000 or $30,000,000, and he said: Be bold and strong in the crisis ! Let me ask what retrenchment has my hon. friend accomplished?
I give him credit for having reduced the main estimates this year by some two, or, let us say, three million dollars in round figures, but this is very far from thirty or forty million. It is true that I have no ministerial responsibility here, but I have my responsibility as a public man and, I hope, as a patriot, and I say to the Acting Minister of Finance that it is possible at the present time, when (the people are being bled white in order to reinforce the boys at the front, to repeat a homely phrase, to reduce the expenditure of this country by at (least $50,000,000. My hon. friend last year spoke of a possible reduction of (thirty or forty million. I say that this year, in view of the impending crisis, a reduction of $50,000,000 would be hailed by the people, Grits and Tories alike. But alas! the Acting Minister of Finance has not carried out any such policy. He said further last year that the time to secure or impose a tax on business profits is when the maximum profits are being earned. Has my hon, friend lived up to our expectations? Has he increased the revenue from the tax which he was entitled to receive from the profiteering companies? Why, Sir, I have a list which would fill a Doomsday book, of industries in Canada which before the war yielded something like seven or eight per cent on their investment, and which today realize as much as the capital which they had originally invested in their business. I say that my hon. friend should take heed of the present hour, and should not permit those companies that are piling up millions out of the agony of the nation to escape without further taxation. I do not object to the tax on tea or coffee, I do not object to the tax on automobiles, I do not object to the tax on tobacco; but my hon. friend knows that by taxing tea, coffee and tobacco' he is hitting the poor man. Why should he let escape the Canada Cement Company, the steel companies, the canners, and various other enterprises that I could name? Last year the hon. gentleman advocated the removal of the surtax of seven and a. half per cent on the general tariff. He

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