Mr. ARTHUR JOHN LEWIS (Swift Current) :
Mr. Speaker, I wish to take this opportunity of associating myself with former speakers who have congratulated you upon your elevation to the highest place in the House of Commons. I wish also to extend to you, Sir, my sincere sympathy in the difficult task that you have been called upon to discharge in this Parliament. Your administration has so far been marked with patience, kindness and firmness, and I trust that you will not during this session suffer in the discharge of your onerous duties.
It is unnecessary for me, Sir, to compliment preceding speakers, more particularly those who moved or seconded the Address in reply to the Speech from the Throne. They have already been complimented upon the excellent speeches they have made and I think they thoroughly deserved the encomiums bestowed upon them. Let me say that at this time I feel it a very great honour to be a member of the House of Commons; it is one of the highest gifts the Canadian people can bestow upon any man or any woman. But with election to the House of Commons comes a great responsibility; and although it is a pleasure for me to sit in this Chamber, listen to the excellent debates and watch the legislation as it passes through, I can scarcely say that it is an equal pleasure for me to rise to my feet and address this assembly. But it is in the discharge of this great responsibility that I rise to continue the debate in regard to the Speech from the Throne. Reference, Sir, has already been
made to the electioneering campaign which took place prior to December 6th. Insinuations have been made that certain people did not conduct the campaign along lines that were fair. I wish to state, in regard to myself, that I did not attempt any mud-slinging. I endeavoured to place the principles of the Progressives before the electors, and I endeavoured to show, Sir, with all the power at my command, that the Progressive platform was not only superioi to the Conservative platform, but alsc superior to the platform of the Libera' party. Although I was able to persuade my electors in that respect, judging frorr the number who voted for me and considered I was right, I may have just a little more difficulty in convincing the members of the Government and our friends to the right. At the same time I am firmly convinced, after hearing the different speeches that have been made, and what has been said in regard to both parties, that what the Canadian people require at this time is that elections shall be fought on certain principles, and not on personalities. I believe that the time has come when the Canadian people, the most highly educated people of our time, shall declare that only the best men and the men of principle shall stand in these halls to legislate for the masses. I believe there are good men on both sides. We are not all professional politicians, but I believe, Sir, that all parties have the country's welfare at heart and that they will legislate as they think proper. In regard to the Liberal party, I believe that if they stand on their platform, and legislate in accordance with what the people expect, they will not go very far wrong. For that reason I am willing, individually, to support them in all sound legislation that will be for the well-being of our people. In a country as large as Canada, geographically speaking, extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and almost from the North Pole to the border of the United States, you will readily understand that there are problems that are peculiar to each province, and that members coming from one province cannot expect that those coming from other provinces will see eye to eye with them. If we waited until that time the millenium would be at hand. I believe it is possible, Sir, that men and women who are wise and sane can stand upon a common platform where they can unite and legislate for the good of the whole of Canada and for its unity.
Certain things were said this afternoon in the speech of the hon. Minister of Justice (Sir. Lomer Gouin) that I did not altogether agree with, but there was one statement with which I was heartily in accord. I think the end of his speech was ideal. It reached a high plane. He said that, as far as he was concerned, he was going to support the Liberal party in the interests of, not one province, but the whole of Canada. I believe that is the plane we ought to endeavour to reach, in order to solve the great problems that confront us. I share with the hon. member for North Winnipeg (Mr.McMurray) the splendid optimism that he manifested in his speech. He expressed the belief that the Liberal party was going to put into effect the policy which they have proclaimed. I believe and I intend to believe it until I find it otherwise.
Before dealing with the Speech from the Throne, I wish to say a few words in regard to my own constituency and the western part of Canada. I have noticed that hon. gentlemen from the Maritime provinces have spoken of justice and what is demanded by those provinces. We have heard similar statements in regard to On. tario, its wonderful powers, its electrical forces, and its ability to pay such a large amount in federal taxes. I want to say a few words in regard to Saskatchewan, although I know that what I am about to say will not meet with the approval of all the people in that province. I heard of a certain person who spoke in Ontario some time ago, and some of the western papers said that her statements make excellent anti-immigration literature. Be that as it may, I believe that the truth will make you free, and for that reason if I can impress upon these eastern people the real conditions of the West, I feel that my speech will not be in vain. It was stated by the hon. gentleman from North Winnipeg (Mr. McMurray) that to-day farming is not a paying occupation. The same sentiment has been expressed by a great many members in this House. I can only corroborate what has already been made. As far as my personal experience is concerned, I am intimately associated with at least 500 families of farmers, and I want to say without any exaggeration, that not 5 per cent of those people during the last two years have been running their farms on a paying basis. Just before I came to Ottawa a gentleman got on the train with me, and we were talking about
conditions. He said to me " I actually paid out last year, or the year before, $11,000 more than I received. This year I have done almost the same thing, having paid out nearly $10,000." Then when you take into consideration the fact that he has an equipment valued in the neighbourhood of $140,000, on which no interest has been paid, and that he did not receive a cent in wages for managing that great business, you can begin to realize the appalling conditions that exist in Western Canada. With regard to a great majority of those 500 families, almost without exception the half-section farmers have each lost in the neighbourhood of $800 to $2,000. I am not going to say, Sir, that these men are failures. We have the finest people that can be found in the country. They are intellectual, industrious and persevering. Their patriotism has been manifested without any reserve, and for that reason we cannot say anything against them. As regards the land there, I believe it will make good; but it will make good only when conditions surrounding agriculture and those elements that enter into the production of agricultural commodities are made satisfactory to the western people. I might go on along those lines and point out some of the appalling conditions. I do not wish to dwell very long on this matter; but, in my experience, I have been in homes where there are families of five and seven living in two rooms eking out a bare existence, having merely a little flour and a little coal to keep body and soul together. 1 can say honestly, without fear of contradiction, that within a radius of eight miles of my home, at least twelve to twenty families would have absolutely perished had it not been for the charitable associations around them. That is not good literature to induce immigrants to come to this country, and it is up to us, as a Parliament, to legislate as far as possible to remove those conditions and to make the basic industry of Canada profitable to the masses. That is all we are asking at the present time.
I notice further, Sir, in the Speech from the Throne, that it was mentioned that we had not escaped suffering as a result of the Great War. We did not expect to escape that suffering. We know our Canadian people were willing to bear the burden and to enter into that Great War, and they have sacrificed manfully with the end in view of bringing victory to the world. At the same time, it is also said that the keen observers of this land have spoken with
optimism and that, in the near future, we may expect to have a return to prosperity,
I wonder whether the Government has placed its hand upon the pulse of the nation, and whether, in diagnosing the case, it is going to legislate for the return of this vitality and prosperity that is so desirable. That is a question, of course, that we have to consider; but prosperity, happiness, contentment, is not some will-o-the-wisp that can be caught in times of enthusiasm; it is due to sound fudamental economic laws, and when those economic laws are put into force, prosperity will return to us in exactly the same measure as when you put two and two together and it makes four, and not otherwise. I was wondering whether the Government, when they were preparing this paragraph, had taken into consideration, not only the great industries and great manufacturing centres in the East, but the farming interests of Canada as a whole.
I wish to continue the debate, Sir, in regard also to the unemployed. The unemployed question is a very serious one, and I did not altogether agree with the paragraph upon that subject in the Speech from the Throne.
I believe the federal government is equally responsible with the provincial governments and also with the municipalities in which those unemployed are found, and I have reason to believe that, because I find that the immigration policy of this Dominion is a Dominion one and does not rest alone on the provinces. We, as a nation, as a whole, are responsible for bringing these people into our midst; and although I would not for one moment say that these men who are unemployed to-day are all to be found in the ranks of the immigrants to this country, at the same time, a large percentage of immigrants is to be found amongst the unemployed, and the responsibility rests with the Canadian people. I hope that some measure will be forthcoming that will not savour too much of charity, but that we shall be able to evolve a measure that will enable the individual to retain his dignity and citizenship.
I pass now to another paragraph, that which deals with agriculture. It is the largest paragraph in the Speech from the Throne, and believing it to be the most important one, I am going to deal a little more fully with this question. It is said that certain conditions are maintained today and that, as a result of those conditions, agriculture is not on a proper basis. People have spoken of various things; they have told us that we must have
wider markets. I believe this is a desirable thing; it will encourage greater productivity on the part of the people, but the difficulty to-day is to get these larger markets. All the great nations of the world are endeavouring to do the same thing; and the only solution that I can see to this larger market problem is that the time must come when the people can continue to produce things that are natural to the country in which they live, and must cease to produce things which are artificial. For that reason, if it can be found that we in Western. Canada are able to produce grain of all kinds, cattle, hogs and other agricultural commodities, we have a right to take these to the markets of the world and, in return, to receive from them the things that are manufactured in other countries, things which are not artificial but natural to the countries from which they come.
Boundary lines must not present artificial barriers to restrain free trade amongst the peoples of the world.
Something has been said about the cost of production. I am one of those who believe when economic conditions are righted, the cost of production will automatically right itself. We can readily see that, if there are lower freight rates, if there is a lowering of the cost of tariff, if other things are equal, the cost of production will naturally at once come down, and that is our only salvation. It has been said that the question of marketing the wheat has been designedly left out of the Speech. This, to us, is one of the most important matters. It has already been spoken of by the hon. member for Moosejaw (Mr. Johnson), and I want to say just a few words in regard to it. As regards the need, we have already been told that seven-tenths of the wheat grown in Canada by the western farmer immediately finds its way to the market. As a result, the market is flooded, and then the European buyer, taking advantage of the situation, will immediately buy the grain at the lowest ebb. The reason why the Canadian farmer is forced to sell seven-tenths of his grain during three months of the year is because of his financial position. He is rightly called upon to pay the store bills, to pay the wages of the hired men, to pay the threshing expenses and so on, and I do not think the Canadian farmer would be justified in speculating with that wheat while he owed money to other people. So in an honest effort to pay his debts, he places his wheat on the market, and the
buyers of the world take advantage of the situation.
We believe, Sir, that a voluntary pool is not sufficient to overcome these conditions, and it is a very strong man who would attempt to attack the old conditions as they have existed during the past three or four hundred years. But when these conditions, under the stress and strain following a great war, have broken down, then it is time for us to come forward with a scheme that has proved itself satisfactory to the men who grow grain; I have reference to the re-constitution of the Canada Wheat Board. I can only emphasize this fact, that so far as the western farmer is concerned he desires it. The western farmers are almost unanimous upon that question. We believe that the board is a vital necessity and that the Government, doubting nothing and without any procrastination, should act immediately, because the prosperity of the Dominion depends upon the farmers as a whole. We need to inspire the farmer with confidence and give him fresh courage to go forward once again into that great country, to delve in the soil and bring out the wealth that lies there so that he may get for himself that return that will enable him to live in the state of life which he desires.
Do you know, Sir, that in Western Canada to-day, as a result of the drop in the prices of the commodities which the farmer produces, we are expecting in a great many sections to close the schools?-a thing that would be a national calamity. When we have to economize in such a way that even the children, owing to the lack of money, are not able to secure an education, things have certainly come to a pitiable pass. And yet we pride ourselves in being a democracy, although education is the salvation of democracy to-day. If the eastern people are wise, if the great manufacturing interests are wise, they will realize that it is to their advantage and to the advantage of the whole of Canada that the Wheat Board be immediately reinstated, prior to the farmer putting any seed into the ground, so that he may feel that he has the support of the Canadian people in his demand to get what is coming to him. In the past the Canadian farmer has been the butt of profiteers and other people who have made money, not from the soil but because they have-shall I say?- taxed the farmer, or taken his commodities and speculated with them on the world's markets. Any one who has observed the [Mr. Lewis.!
conditions of the market during the last four or five months will see that the demand for the Canada Wheat Board is based upon an economic fact. There was no reason in the wide world why the farmer should get $1.64 at Fort William as soon as the grain was threshed, and then, immediately following Christmas, $1.06. To-day, the price has gone up to $1.40. We do not believe that the Wheat Board is a panacea for all the ills that afflict the Canadian farmer, but we are convinced that it is a step in the right direction towards restoring prosperity to that western land.
I desire, of course, to deal with the tariff. This is a subject upon which I could speak for a long time to-night, but I do not wish to tire the House with my address. I remember hearing the right hon. leader of the Opposition (Mr. Meighen) giving expression to feelings which almost depressed the hon. gentlemen in this assembly, when he said that my hon. friend from Winnipeg (Mr. Mc-Murray) was too optimistic, and that before this session was over he would possibly share the feelings of the right hon. gentleman himself. My right hon. friend then went on to accuse the Liberal party of enunciating almost the same doctrine as he had propounded himself. If that were true, then, instead of being depressed, he should have rejoiced, because that was the very thing he advocated as the harbinger of prosperity in Canada. But I was wondering in my own mind whether he believed that the Liberal party were going to enact legislation founded upon the manifesto in their platform of 1919, and show to the world that by lowering the tariff they would once more usher in prosperity and demonstrate the fallacy of the right hon. gentleman's arguments regarding protection.
I do not wish to go very deeply into the question of protection to-night, but I heard one hon. member-I think my hon. friend from St. John (Mr. Baxter)-twitting the Government in a certain respect. He read an extract from the Prime Minister's speech and went on in a humorous vein. He said that if there were a tariff for revenue, shoes that cost $5.50 would be reduced to $5.20, and he treated this reduction as a light matter, declaring that it was only a difference of 30 cents. Well, it may seem a light matter when you buy only one pair of shoes, but if you have a family like mine and have to buy shoes for a family of nine, 30 cents of a difference on
each pair of shoes does not strike me as being a matter that can be easily dismissed. And when you have to reckon on four pairs of shoes per person per year it becomes quite a serious problem in the domestic budget. And, then, in the matter of underclothing and other articles of apparel, when you have to pay an aggregate of $300 as a result of protection, I do not think that a difference of 30 cents on a pair of shoes is one that can be pooh-poohed. It is a consideration for every family-loving man in Canada.
It has been stated that we must have protection to safeguard our infant industries. Now, I can readily understand that protection was justifiable in the time of Sir John A. Macdonald, in the seventies, if ever it could be justified in the history of Canada. The industrial arts of the United States were in an advanced state, and there was a danger of flooding from Europe. It was, therefore, possibly necessary in that early period of our existence to protect these manufacturers. But as the hon. member for Regina (Mr. Motherwell) said in a speech in Swift Current, and as I also said, these infants have now become fathers with whiskers and they are amongst the dominant powers in Canadian life. I therefore do not believe that the argument in favour of protecting infant industries holds good to-day. Even in Great Britain, where they have had free trade, some of the greatest industries have been built up, yea, even in competition with the wnole world.
Another argument that has been advanced by our friends in support of protection is the necessity for a home market. Of course, the home market is a splendid thing. We have no fault to find with Eastern Canada and the men that work in the factories; nor have we anything to say against the manufacturers. We do believe, however, that the home market is only a drop in the bucket so far as the great agricultural interests are concerned, especially in regard to wheat. For the next fifty years the Canadian farmer will have to grow wheat and other grains of all kinds, and raise cattle for the markets of . the world. For that reason, therefore, the home market does not enter into the price that we are receiving at the present time.
We as Canadian farmers can grow wheat at 80 cents a bushel and place it on the world's market in competition with the farmers of all other countries. But in return, Sir, we claim the privilege in regard to the commodities that enter into the production of our wheat, that we shall have the same opportunities of buying them in the world's market.
Of course, the argument is still being advanced: Where are you going to get revenue to run this great country? We need revenue and it is very difficult to get. The only question I should like to ask hon. members is: Who pays that revenue? Why, we are told by the greatest economic authorities in the world that 90 per cent at least of this tariff revenue is paid by the domestic consumers. So, Sir, we pay the revenue any way; but not only do we pay the revenue-we also make handsome gifts to those manufacturers who are protected as a result of that revenue being collected. Now, in regard to the economic factors that enter into world production, taking into consideration the demoralized exchange of most of the countries of Europe, and bearing in mind our domestic conditions, I can readily understand that it would not be advisable to have free trade at the present time; but I believe that it would be sound policy to have an all round reduction of the tariff for the good of our people generally.
I should like to deal for a moment or two with the tariff platform of the Liberal party. I believe that the Liberal party is more nearly in accord with us than is any other party-and yet I have my doubts. I have debated before this subject of tariff for revenue purposes only, and after carefully looking into the matter I find it very difficult to have such a tariff as will not in some measure protect the Canadian manufacturers. Yet we do not wish to revolutionize our trade practices, we do not wish to put our manufacturers out of business, as some people tell us is our intention. I do not believe that that is either possible or feasible. I believe that our manufacturers have just as much business acumen and ability as any of their competitors in Europe or the United States. Indeed it has been proved that the same men that enjoy this protection here can compete in the markets of the world. Therefore it seems to me fallacious to argue that it is absolutely essential to the prosperity of this country that we have high protection, and I hope that the historic Liberal party will live up to its ideals-ideals that have been manifested in the life of men of the stamp of Gladstone and Laurier, and that that party will give to our people legislation for the good of the people of Canada as a whole rather than for the advantage of the few.
that direction were even more pronounced. I am particularly pleased to be in this corner of the Chamber-this Progessive corner. We are the second largest group in the House. It is true that we have, so to speak, sat back and let the smallest group sit nearer to you, Mr. Speaker,-we have done that for their mutual encouragement. They were pretty badly dilapidated on December 6th last, and if their opponents in other constituencies had done as much to bring them to a state of dilapidation as I did in mine, there would be none of them here to tell the tale. The electors of my constituency gave me over 82 per cent of the votes cast. My opponent was a Conservative; he got the rest of the votes.
I am particularly pleased, too, that we, the Progressive group, have the first lady commoner sitting amongst us. I am well aware that some of the hon. members on the opposite side of the House have not fully learned that it is not well that man should live alone, and I think that the Progressives will have to pay particular heed to the hon. member of the gentler sex and see that she is not induced to cross the floor to form a stronger Liberal Government.
As you are possibly aware, Mr. Speaker, I am from the West, that country with the reputation of being wild and woolly; but I assure you that the wildness has fairly well all vanished and the woolliness as well. Even the wild buffalo that used to roam the prairies are now behind fences, and the former wild Indians are pretty well pacified and living on the reserves. I assure you, Mr. Speaker, that we who are here representing the West are fair specimens of that country, and just as tame and as docile as the average human being. Of course in the recent election we were classified as Bolshevists, Seditionists, Annexationists and several other kinds of "ists." Well, we do not merit all these designations, but I must say that I am an annexationist myself, a very strong annexationist-I believe that we should annex the United States right away.
I was pleased to hear our Premier remark in his speech that he wished to hear the western opinion-wished to have it expressed in the councils of the nation. I think you will agree with me, Mr. Speaker, that it is being expressed in no uncertain tones and I think it is right that it should be.
There is one part of the Speech from the Throne that appeals to me, and I wish
to consider it, perhaps, from an angle of vision somewhat different from what has been emphasized before. A paragraph in the Speech states that it has been decided to hold in Genoa a conference with the object of securing a concerted effort to repair the grave dislocations in the economic and financial field that have everywhere followed the war. That is the point, Mr. Speaker, I wish to stress in the few remarks that I shall make to-night. As the hon. member (Mr. Lewis) who preceded me intimated, it perhaps is not good policy for a westerner to say anything derogatory about the province in which he resides. I felt somewhat loath to do so, but picking up a copy of Saturday Night, published in the city of Toronto, dated March 11, 1922, I found in the first column on the first page an editorial the reading of which caused me to throw aside my reluctance to speak about conditions in the province of Saskatchewan. Here is what the editorial says:
A situation has arisen in Saskatchewan that will bear close watching. As is well known, quite a number of western towns have, owing to the absurd land boom of years ago, been obliged to default on their bond interest. Among these places are Swift Current, Prince Albert, Sutherland, Watrous, Battleford, Scott, Canora, Melville and Humbolt.
That looks pretty bad, Mr. Speaker, for Saskatchewan. I think if I bring to your attention, and to the attention of the House, some of the conditions as they actually are in that province I shall not be publishing much more than has already been given out to the public. I also have before me a letter from the secretary-treasurer of a rural municipality in the constituency which I represent. As you are aware the rural municipality is our small, local sub-division out there for governmental purposes. In part here is what the official referred to says:
Past Fall those who were indebted to the banks for advances-which was practically everybody-were induced to repay wherever possible their notes before the end of the year and assurance was given verbally that those who did so would be financed during 1922. Now the banks are closing down on credits altogether. The municipality is in the same boat as the individuals.
Mr. Speaker, that gives us an idea of the conditions that the municipality I refer to is up against. Here is another extract from a letter written by the reeve of another municipality in the constituency I represent:
I wonder do those men at Ottawa fully realize what we are struggling against in here? Is it possible for you to make it plain to them that horses and cattle are dying in here by the dozens, simply starving, and we have nothing to put in the crop with.
Those are very dark conditions to have to lay before you. Here is a further suggestion, a rather novel one; I wish you would pay attention to what it says:
We are completely out of funds and require money for actual necessities and to alleviate our temporary pecuniary embarrassment.
We would ask you to take up the matter on the floor of the House if necessary.
Our request is, that we be given a cash grant sufficient to give each signer from fifty to one hundred dollars apiece.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I do not think there is any department in connection with the Dominion Government that would be very willing to carry out the suggestion made by this indivdual, and even if there should be there would be plenty of hon. members here ready to overrun that department without very much delay. I have simply read these extracts from letters to give you an idea of financial conditions in the part of the province that I have the honour to represent, and knowing these conditions I will make a few deductions therefrom. One is the need for absolute economy.
I was pleased to hear that note struck by several hon. members in this House-the need for absolute economy. Some hon. members have made suggestions as to how we should economize, and possibly there is some virtue in them. We have a tremendous public debt, running as it does to some two billion three hundred and forty odd million dollars. That is a tremendous debt to rest upon Canada, and it is necessary that it should be met and that the money should * ccme from somewhere to meet our obligations when they fall due.
Now some doubtless will think, especially hon. members sitting to my right who compose what is called the official Opposition, that is very good and sufficient reason why we should continue to have a tariff in Canada. Very well; let us look at that point for a moment. If we have a tariff in the country for raising money and that money is raised in a good and economical way all well and good; if not, it is not so well nor so good. I would like to give an illustration to show that the method of raising money for paying off our public debt by a customs tariff is not an economical method. If hon. members are good at arithmetic let them please follow these figures. I used to follow the school teaching profession and I only wish I had a
blackboard here and a piece of chalk to more effectively demonstrate my point. We will suppose that a suit is bought from Great Britain costing over there the sum of $10. The tariff duty on fabrics entering Canada is 30 per cent, which means that when that suit enters Canada its cost is $13. It goes into the wholesaler's hands and he adds one-fourth to the cost of $13 to him, which is an addition of $3.25 to the $13, making the charge to him for selling $16.25. That suit goes into the retailer's hands. He adds 50 per cent to the cost price to him, which is $8.15 added to $16.25 making $24.40. Now if a person went into the store and bought this suit of clothes he would have to pay $24.40 at the present time.
Let us suppose there was no tariff. The original cost would be $10. It would go into the wholesaler's hands, and he would add one-quarter, $2.50, making $12.50. It would then go to the retailer, and he would add 50 percent or $6.25, bringing the cost up to $18.75. Notice the difference. In the one case, it is $24.40 and in the other case $18.75. That means that the consumer pays out $5.65 for a tariff of $3. But does that $3 tariff all go into the Dominion coffer? I think not. It is estimated, on very good authority, that to keep up all the expenses in connection with the collection of the customs tariff, it takes fully one-half, so that out of the $3 not more than $1.50 in cash actually goes into the Dominion coffers for the payment of the public indebtedness. That means, Mr. Speaker, that it takes $5.65 to put $1.50 into the Dominion treasury. It costs almost $4 to collect $1. Is that economy? I think not. Several hon. members have dealt with the tariff, and much can be said in regard to it. I do not know as it would be advisable to prolong the discussion. As intimated before, we have plenty of arguments to put forth, to show that the old, antiquated method of collecting revenue by tariff is too costly for this country at the present time to tolerate.
Besides the need for absolute economy there is the need for remedial farm legislation. This applies particularly to our western country. It is absolutely necessary, owing to the difficult conditions of the western country, that we should have this remedial legislation to enable the farmer to continue. Of course we know that the great need out there is rain, and it is beyond the pale of this honourable body to produce rain. Some of our western citizens last year endeavoured to have
rain manufactured, or drawn down in some mysterious manner, but I believe it was more or less a failure; at any rate the gentleman who was responsible for bringing the rain has not been re-engaged this year, as I understand.
There are several other problems that have been touched on that are necessary for the prosperity of Western Canada, such as lowering of freight rates, the decrease in, or the complete elimination of, the tariff on farm implements, as well as the elimination of the speculation in grain, which is perhaps the most vital question with the western farmer to-day. I am well acquainted with a gentleman in our western country, who was a citizen until recently of the town in which I live, but who took a liking for southern California. He was immensely rich, and has gone to southern California to live at ease, having made large profits out of speculation in buying Canadian wheat. I was advised some few years ago that he had cleaned up $70,000 in one transaction, and that he had several such transactions. The western farmer looks for remedial legislation to overcome that speculative tendency in regard to Canadian wheat, and not only to overcome that speculation, but to extend the period of our wheat entering the world's market from a two months' period to a twelve months' period. This we believe can best be attained by the re-establishment of the Canadian Wheat Board. I am quite convinced that the Wheat Board will not solve all the ills of Western Canada, but it will solve a great many of them, and we who represent western farming communities are decided in our opinion that it will go a long way towards remedying the evils in that western country.
In addition to this, there is, the question of the financial condition of the country with particular reference to banking. We have in Canada 18 chartered banks, with approximately 5,000 branches. Now, I am venturing on a subject upon which possibly there is no unanimity of opinion, but I have read to this House a statement of some of the financial conditions as they are actually encountered in Western Canada. We find that rural municipalities, with assets of between three and four million dollars, are unable to borrow money to carry on current expenditures. There are individuals out there who keep good faith with the bank and pay what they owe them, and yet are refused credit to finance their operations during 1922. The Government of Saskatchewan, some couple
of years ago, started a system of taking in money from people who had a surplus, paying them, I believe 5J per cent, and reloaning that money to farmers who need it at 6 J per cent. Some few million dollars have been borrowed and loaned in this way. We find that quite recently the Ontario Government started a system of taking in money from those who had a surplus, paying them 4 per cent, and reloaning the money at 6 per cent. A resolution was passed recently by the United Farmers of Alberta, calling upon the Dominion Government to enter into some system of extended credit to assist those who needed money. A few months ago there was a bank scandal in Eastern Canada. The Merchants Bank on December 17th, 1921, was absorbed by the Bank of Montreal. Previous to the absorption that bank loaned money recklessly, and the outcome was that some $8,000,000 of the people's money was squandered. Under these conditions, I am not prepared to venture an opinion as to what the remedy should be, but I wish to bring these facts to the attention of the Committee on Banking and Commerce and ask that they inquire very carefully into our present banking system, and especially into the Merchants Bank scandal. In addition to that the committee might take up the matter of the nationalization of the banks and report as to the merits and demerits of our present system, and a system of bank nationalization. I am not expressing any opinion on the matter but would like to have a report from our banking committee on the subject.
I am grateful to you, Sir, for your indulgence in perm'tting me to say a few words on this, my first appearance on the floor of this House. I assure you that I share the feelings that have already been expressed by my fellow-members from the West. We are not here particularly in the interests of party. I fear that we have already seen too much of the spirit of trying to put party before country, and even since the opening of this Parliament, we have listened to many wordy arguments, many denunciations and declarations, but we have not listened to as much discussion of the real, vital matters before the country as we should. I think you will agree with me, Sir, that the attitude of the Progressive party is not so much to advance party or to try to gain the ascendency over some other party, as it is to tackle the real problems that are confronting Canada at the present time. I am with the other
members of this Progressive group in going up against the real problems, tackling them like men-and women, by the way-and endeavouring to bring about the solution of our real problems.
Mr. JOHN A. MacKELVIE (Yale): Mr. Speaker, I do not know that I would have intruded in this debate, had it not been that I rather consider it of importance that a representative of a large agricultural section of the West-of the westernmost province of the Dominion, indeed-should lay before this House his views of the fiscal policy of the country, more especially as related to the tariff question, in order that our Progressive friends to my left may have some indication that all the agriculturists of Canada do not hold the same opinions regarding the tariff as those which have been so freely expressed since the opening of this House.
Before I proceed with my remarks along those lines, I desire, very heartily and sincerely, to unite myself with those who have expressed congratulations to you, Sir, on your elevation to your most important position. Those of us who have been privileged to sit with you in this House before, need no assurance that you will bring to that high position both grace and dignity, and that you will always conduct affairs under your control with absolute impartiality.
I should like also to add my measure of congratulation to the mover and the seconder of the Address, and, in this instance, perhaps, I can speak with more feeling than the ordinary member, as only a year or so ago it fell to my lot to second the Address and to make my maiden speech in this House. I can well recall the feeling of trepidation and diffidence with which I approached that task. I only wish that I could flatter myself that I succeeded in accomplishing the duty laid upon me on that occasion half so well as the hon. gentlemen who undertook the same performance a few days ago.
I also, perhaps, may be permitted to express very hearty congratulations to the new Prime Minister of this.country upon having attained, at such an early period of his life, to the highest position in the gift of the Canadian people. I may, however, frankly add that I do not suppose that I, or some of my associates in this section of the House, would be in danger of collapsing from heart trouble or dying of grief, did the exigencies of the occasion require that,
at a sooner or later period.-and we all here trust it may be sooner-he might be required to cross the floor again and take up a position, Sir, at your left.
Along with other members who have very heartily and, I know, very sincerely, congratulated this House upon the addition to it of a lady member, I desire to add my voice in giving expression to the very great pleasure it affords me to see the hon. member for Southeast Grey (Miss Mac-phail) occupying a seat in this Chamber.
I would not say that any individual member around me would be so self-sacrificing as to wish that, in the next approaching contest, his seat might be filled by a lady representative; but I think I might venture to say that many of us would probably not be very sorry if our near neighbours should suffer from a fate such as that.
I am aware that a speaker in this debate on the Address is afforded a good deal of latitude and can, if it so suits him, discuss a great variety of subjects without being held too closely to the Speech from the Throne; but I suppose, in order to maintain some semblance of debate, it would be wise, at least, and advisable that a little attention be given to the remarks of those who have immediately preceded me to-day. I have been impressed-and I think the impression has been conveyed very strongly to other members of this House-that among our new associates to our left, is numbered a very considerable proportion of speakers who would grace any large assembly in the land. I have listened with marked satisfaction to some speeches which have come from that quarter of this assembly and which, for clearness, gracefulness of diction and comprehensive grasp, from their point of view, of the subjects to which they have given consideration, have reached a very high level.
I cannot, however, with an equal degree of sincerity, congratulate them upon some of the principles which they have set so vigorously before this House. I am tempted to draw attention to an illustration used by the hon. and very eloquent member for Swift Current (Mr. Lewis) who dwelt rather humourously on a remark made by the hon. member for St. John and Albert (Mr. Baxter) yesterday regarding a pamphlet issued as campaign literature by the party on the other side of the House, in which pamphlet attention was drawn to a promise that, if they came into power, a reduction would be effected in
the duty on boots and shoes. I was rather surprised, I must confess, to And that the hon. member for Swift Current, who had such a large family, was able to supply their wants so lavishly. I think, indeed, that his income tax must have formed a very considerable accretion to the funds of this country last year, if he carried into effect the scheme of provision he there outlined, for I And that reduction in the cost of boots and shoes contemplated in that pamphlet and mentioned by the hon. member for St. John and Albert amounted to about 5 per cent. The hon. member for Swift Current informed the House that the saving which would be effected in buying for his household under those conditions would amount to something in the neighbourhood of $300 per annum. That would mean that he was buying, for the use of his family, imported goods in the way of clothing alone to the extent of about $6,000 per annum, which, I imagine, from a country where, according to his own dictum, conditions Anancially and otherwise are so stringent, does not very forcibly bear out his argument.
I wish also to make a very brief reference to the remarks which fell this afternoon from the lips of the hon. Minister of Justice (Sir Lomer Gouin). I wish to say, at the outset, that I am approaching the consideration of this debate absolutely devoid of any feeling of resentment on account of the overturn which has taken place as a result of the election that was held on December 6. I am absolutely devoid of any feeling of bitterness in the criticism which I shall be compelled, I think, to make regarding some of the hon. gentleman's statements. I do not believe that it would be of any possible utility for me to attempt to re-thresh old straw. The country has spoken in a very decisive way and given expression to a verdict which we cannot gainsay, and which we on this side of the House are prepared to accept, I think, with very good grace indeed. But I do say that in the remarks of the Minister of Justice this afternoon there was an indication that he was not endeavouring to approch the subject, which he had under discussion, in an entirely disingenuous manner, and I am putting it as mildly as I feel it is possible for me to do.
He made a complaint that my leader (Mr. Meighen), in his opening remarks, had endeavoured to force upon the attention of this House certain theories of his own regarding, in the Arst place, the man-
ner in which the Government of the day might be expected to handle the revision of the tariff, and, in the second place, the manner in which they might be expected to approach the very great task of handling the railway situation in this Dominion. Now, what the right hon. the leader of the Opposition said in both of these connections is a matter of record and is fresh in the memory of every person who heard him only two or three nights ago, and I desire to call to your memory, Sir, this fact, that any assertion he made regarding the statements in Montreal or elsewhere of the Minister of Justice was repeated word for word from the printed page. There was no conjecture on his part; he was not seeking to make any insinuation or innuendo. If that statement had not been correct, if the press had been guilty of misreporting the Minister of Justice on that occasion, we should certainly have heard of it before now.
But in another and, I think, even more reprehensible manner, the hon. gentleman, in the Arst speech which he has delivered in this Parliament, took occasion to twist a statement given by the leader of the Opposition in such a manner as to give him ground, as he thought, to enter the accusation against him that he had been guilty of utterances calculated to inAame the passions of the people of Quebec against other sections of this country, and to widen the breach, if any such existed, between the two great races of Canada. Now, I venture this assertion, from a perfect knowledge of the sentiments, the convictions, and the utterances of my leader, that no man in this House, or elsewhere in this country, is more thoroughly convinced that it is a duty of the public men of the country to give as much sympathetic consideration to the people of the province of Quebec as, so far from antagonizing them in any way, will draw the two races, if possible, into closer harmony; and I do not know upon what ground the allegation of the Minister of Justice could rest. I do not know that there could be traced to any public utterance of the right hon. leader of the Opposition any single sentence that would indicate that in his mind there rankled any suspicion of a sentiment of that kind. I am aware, Mr. Speaker, that certain public journals of the country have so distorted and twisted the utterances of my leader that they have spread abroad that impression, and I speak of this matter with a certain degree of feeling and of
shame. For over thirty years I have been engaged in newspaper work in this country, and I have the honour of the craft very deeply at heart; and if any vestige of reason has been given to the hon. Minister for the attack he made upon the leader of the Opposition this afternoon it must rest solely with such distorted utterances as have gone forth from a section of the press of this country.
The hon. gentleman also gave expression to the opinion-and I assure him that it is an opinion not very deeply shared in either by hon. members surrounding me here or by the people of the country as a whole-that while the right hon. the leader of the Opposition might rightly be termed a good fighter he was a bad loser. Now, I should like to appeal to the members of the- House, more particularly those who are new, whether they found anything in the utterance of the right hon. gentleman the other day to substantiate the assertion that he was a bad loser. Did they notice anything in the nature of a whine that fell from his lips as he detailed-and he had a perfect right to detail-some of the difficulties which met him during his recent campaign? Surely he was justified, and amply justified, in placing before, the House and the country, on the first opportunity that arose, some of those difficulties and some of the tortuous paths which the then Opposition on certain occasions pursued in their endeavour to discredit him in the eyes of a certain class of people. In his speech there was nothing in the nature of a whine; it was a manly, straightforward statement of facts, and did not in any sense indicate that he was a bad loser. I will tell the hon. minister one thing that my right hon. friend has not lost, and is not in danger of losing: he has not lost one particle of the respect, and admiration, and enthusiastic devotion, and I think I am right in saying, the affection of the members who stand behind him in this part of the Chamber.
Subtopic: ADDRESS IN REPLY