June 7, 1922 (14th Parliament, 1st Session)


Daniel Duncan McKenzie (Solicitor General of Canada)



When the House took
recess, I was referring- to the achievements of the great Liberal party of which I have the honour now to be a member, and I was saying that both parties, Liberal and Conservative, from the province of Nova Scotia, have contributed many excellent men to the service of the irrespective parties and the country at large. I felt at the time that I was forgetting one of the distinguished Nova Scotians to whom I should have made reference, and, during the recess, I thought I recalled that I had made no reference to a gentleman who was for some years Prime Minister of this Dominion, the Right Hon. Sir John S. D. Thompson. He was a Nova Scotian of whom we all have reason to be proud, and his name should be mentioned when enumerating distinguished Nova Scotians. I desire to include the name of that illustrious gentleman with those of the other prominent Nova Scotians whom I have already mentioned. The budget is always interesting to the Canadian people. It is the accounting for the year, or possibly for a number of years, which the government submits to the people, on which they are to pass judgment in regard to the financial operations of those who are charged with the business of the country. The present Administration has been but a very few months in office. Hon. members who are familiar with the operation of government and the responsibility of parties will well understand that it takes considerable time to get a proper hold and understanding of various matters to be attended to in the administration of this or any other country. It must not be expected, in reason and fairness, that, in the few months that this Administration had been in power, before the Hon. Minister of Finance (.Mr. Fielding) was called upon to prepare and present his budget, we could have the full and various details that would (be necessary in order to give as thorough an account of the affairs of this country as might possibly be expected had the present Government been longer handling the affairs of the country.
I propose paying some slight attention to the manner of criticisms which have been made by the official Opposition, and, particularly by the night hon. leader of the Opposition (Mr. Meighen) and those who were in his administeration. They
*criticized us as if we had been for years in charge of the affairs of this country and were responsible for the public debt, the way in which that debt was incurred, the way in which the various resources for borrowing money in this country were exploited, the way in which the credit of the country, in so far as borrowing money was concerned, was exercised and used and everything of that kind, when, as a matter of fact, the late government was responsible for all these things, and borrowed money wherever it could be borrowed. Now, we are criticized as if that were all our business, and not theirs, and as if they had no responsibility at all. What would you think, Sir, of a landlord who while living, say, for ten years -in a house, had allowed the shingles to 'blow, off the roof, the chimney to break down and become smoky, the floor to be broken, the windows to be smashed, and, in short, had permitted the house to get -into a dilapidated condition; who had then managed to rent the house to another man, and who, the day after the tenant had taken charge, came in, and turning savagely on the poor tenant, said. " How is it the house is smoky? What is the matter with the broken floor? How is it the roof is leaky and the windows smashed? How is it this house is in the absolutely uninhabitable, deplorable condition in which I find it?" You would say he was a very daring or insane sort of man. The answer would be 'This is your house; you lived in it for ten years; if the windows are broken, you broke them; if the roof is leaking, it is because of your neglect; if the chimney is smoky, you allowed it to break down and get into a smoky condition; this is your house, under your administration, and you are responsible". But the landlord tries to shake off all responsibility and place it on the tenant. You would say such a person was without any conception of a proper reasoning power as to his own responsibility. That, Sir, is the position in which the former members of the government are placed. They stand up with considerable nerve and criticize as boldly and as strongly as if they had nothing whatever to do with the conditions in which we find the country to-day, and the position in which the minister who has charge of the finances of the country must of necessity be.
The question of raising money is not so hard in one way, because there is only one source from which we can get it. It must

The Budget-Mr. McKenzie
come from the people directly or indirectly, and whatever may be the means adopted of collecting it, in the last analysis it must come from the pockets of the individual citizen. Now, everybody knows that we have an enormous debt. We have tremendous obligations that must be met; and every Canadian who is proud of his country acknowledges that those obligations we are in duty bound to pay in due course. The only question therefore is as regards the method of collecting the money, and the application of the revenue so secured towards the discharge of those obligations. Not only does the right hon. leader of the Opposition acknowledge that fact, but the hon. leader of the Progressive party (Mr. Crerar), a day or two before the budget was introduced, predicted that, unless he was much mistaken, the Minister of Finance would be obliged not only to continue the exactions that were already being made upon the people, but to propose new taxes in order to meet the obligations that faced him. Well, that prediction has only been fulfilled; and the leader of the Progressive party and his associates, in view of that judgment pronounced by him, must do us the justice of not criticising us too harshly if we find it necessary to do just what that hon. gentleman thought we should have to do, under the circumstances that exist to-day and in view of the heritage that has been bequeathed us by our predecessors. When the opinion is expressed by the member for Marquette that the Government will have to impose new taxes, it is illogical to tell us now that we should make reductions in the present taxes that are levied.
Some people criticise the war debt with some timidity. I think that I am among those in this country who can talk about the war debt and everything else that relates to the war and our relations to the Sovereign, without fear of adverse comment. I say that without any intention of boasting in any way. But the war is made an excuse for all kinds of extravagance. Now, it was quite proper that we should have done all that we did do in the war, spending the last dollar and sending the last man to the front, to discharge our full duty in the cause. But there is
such a thing as doing one's duty properly; and a nation can play its part in a war without any reckless extravagance, spending $50 where $1 could accomplish the same thing. Criticism can properly be offered in that respect, and the
outgoing government and the government of the Right Hon. Sir Robert Borden cannot escape criticism at the hands of the people by simply blaming the war for everything, because our debt is out of all proportion and is absolutely beyond the possibility of adequate explanation. For instance, many Conservatives who supported the last government know that hundreds of thousands of men were gathered up in Canada at the expense of the treasury and sent to England although it was fully known that they were absolutely unfit for service and could not pass the test that would be made overseas. Medical men among the Conservatives told us in this House that in the discharge of their duties they were called upon to pass all these men. These statements can be found in Hansard. A man would come to headquarters and say he wanted to be a colonel and he would be told to go and get a regiment. If he could raise the men he was given the commission, so he went into the highways and byways and gathered up a crowd, got his commission and went overseas with the men. These men sometimes were kept for as long as six months in different towns in Canada. Regiments were sent to New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and other places. One regiment was stationed at Amherst in my own province and another in a little town near Louisburg in my county; and this was done simply as a matter of patronage to supporters of the government, in order that the supplies of food and other necessaries required in the camps might be procured from Tory merchants. When these men who were so hastily got together were taken overseas it was found in England in many cases that not one out of fifty was fit to go to the front; and as the authorities were too busy with legitimate business these men could not be transported back to this country. The result was that for years, as military men in my hearing know, hundreds and thousands of men were kept over there doing nothing at all except eating their heads off at the expense of the country. They were sent there simply for the purpose of affording some man an opportunity of getting a commission as colonel, and for the other purpose of supplying patronage to supporters of the party. I see a military gentleman opposite laughing, but I defy him to deny these things. What I say is absolutely true, and the records bear me out. Now, these* are some of the ways in which money was squandered improvidently, without the slightest benefit to the country, by the Conservative party when in office.

The Budget-Mr. McKenzie
What happened in connection with the Ross rifle? I suppose millions of dollars have been expended in the manufacture of the Ross rifle for the purpose of murdering our soldiers. When last session the matter was brought up on the estimates, a gentleman now in the other chamber, a much-honoured senator and military man-a general in fact-who was at that time a supporter in this House of the right hon. gentleman's government

of course, I mean the right hon. gentleman who now leads the Opposition-made a speech in which he condemned in the most unequivocal terms the continued manufacture of this rifle and its murderous effect on our boys who had to use it at the front. But it was a case of patronage.

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