May 16, 1923 (14th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Donald Ferdinand Kellner



I think it would be well not to read the rest of the article. I am sure I could not expect any applause for it; so that I will desist.
I desire to offer a few remarks on the budget from a personal point of view; I want to criticize it as I see it myself. I do not know that I shall have the entire support of all Progressives in this section of the House in my stand on this budget and therefore, Mr. Speaker, I want to have it known that I am speaking only for myself and that part of the West which I represent. When this government took office I think the people of Canada had more hope and greater expectations of its members than had ever been entertained on the accession to power of any former government in Canada. Just previous to the return of the present government we had experienced a period of very great inflation followed by a time of depression. We were still suffering from that depression when hon. gentlemen opposite took over the reins of power. When the armistice was signed there was a lull in the activities of the country. I believe that the people were of opinion that the devastation of war having ceased they could afford to rest on their oars. But very soon we were told that it was necessary for Europe to be rehabilitated, and the people were requested to get to work immediately and produce even more than they had done during the war. It is our op'.mon now that this request was made probably because certain persons who controlled the destinies of Canada wanted time in which to set their house in order so that they might be prepared to meet the shock which they no doubt knew would come. It has been a great pleasure to me in listening to the discussion of this budget to learn that at last we have
reached bottom and have got as far down the abyss of financial depression as it is possible for us to reach. That at any rate is the good news which we have been given.
In my opinion our financial troubles started at the frontiers of our country long before they began in the more urban sections. In the far East and the far West we felt the pinch many months before the people suffered in this section of the country. And that is ever the case. The people living in those out-' lying communities are never as prosperous as the people in sections like this, and a smaller loss brings them down to the bread line sooner. They are further from the centres of wealth, so that any reduction in the value of their goods is more keenly felt and takes a greater percentage from their profits. Probably that is the reason that we in the West have been more insistent in bringing to the attention of the House the deplorable conditions in which the country finds itself to-day. I hesitate to mention this matter to-day, for I was among those who a few weeks ago were classed as calamity howlers for having referred to the matter at all. We were told that this was one of the things we should not have go out to the world; in fact we were given to understand that it was just about the lowest depth of degeneration even to mention it.
It seems to me, though, that it is a rather poor policy for us to shut our eyes to the unrest that is becoming more pronounced day by day. There is no doubt that people are sinking in financial morasses from time to time through no fault of their own, and they are getting into a frame of mind which this government or any other would do well not to disregard. They seem to feel that human sympathy is dead and that depressing calculations are their only outlook. If that is the state of mind of the Canadian people to-day I think it is high time that these matters were brought to the attention of the House in no uncertain way. This present depression is even influencing social and religious life. A few Sundays ago I sat in Chalmers Presbyterian Church in this city when their budget was brought down, and I gathered from the statement submitted that day thit this year there had been paid into the church more money than ever before in one year find that the revenues were greater than in any past year. On the other hand, however, from every remote section of the countrv it appeared that missionaries had to be called in. Retrenchment is the order on the frontiers of western Canada and in foreign lands, and I believe this is due largely to the fact that a great
The Budget-Mr. Kellner

volume of the money that is collected is taken up in paying interest charges and meeting similar obligations. And this is the same in everyday life in all occupations. [DOT]
Now, these were largely the conditions that prevailed when the Liberals took office. But the people seemed to have an unusual amount of faith in that party at that time. No doubt the promises of hon. gentlemen when they were in opposition were still ringing in the * public ear; the people were still listening to speeches of the kind made in this House in regard to war graft that had gone on, besides graft in connection with the merchant marine and things of that sort. The people hoped that when this government took office it would be the champion of the working classes. I believe that the people had a special confidence in the Prime Minister who seems to have had a reputation as a man of democratic tendencies and one who had especial sympathy for the weak and those who needed help. If I doubt not the people of the country trusted him to a very large extent. But I am afraid that to-day that trust and the hope they entertained then have gone.
The hon. member for Nelson (Mr. Bird), speaking last night, said that there was no difference so far as he could see between the Liberal and the Conservative parties. I do not think he carried the argument quite to its logical conclusion; I would enlarge on his statement to this extent, that in my opinion, it does not matter which one of these parties is in power, it does not govern the country anyway. I believe that this country is governed largely by unseen hands, by different financial institutions; and it matters not who for the time being occupy government benches, they get their orders. And so far they have been carrying out those orders. At all events, the faith which the people had that a better state of affairs would ensue on the accession of this government to office no longer exists; and if Liberalism means anything to-day I believe it means something shady.
There is just a little too much selfishness at work in this country of ours. There seems to be a supreme desire on the part of some of those who are controlling our destinies to get just a little more than it is possible for the country to let them have. The manufacturers say that it is essential that the prices of goods be kept up; they tell us that it is not wise to monkey with the tariff. They say that if we bring in goods from other countries in competition with them they will have to close their factories with the result that employees will be thrown out of work.

The financiers tell us that we should keep interest rates up and get back to the gold basis as quickly as we can; while the merchants claim that their sales are small and that prices must be maintained because they are not doing a large business. Then the railway companies come along and declare that freight rates must not be brought down, that they must be kept up in order that dividends may be paid. And I do not think that anyone will doubt that the professional men of the country have gentlemen's agreements to keep up their charges, and that they are doing so.
On the other side are a large number of people paying these excessive charges-people who live neither in Montreal nor in Toronto

and their purchasing power has been so greatly reduced that commercially they are of little benefit to the country. They are asking for cheaper money, for lower tariffs, for the lessening of taxes on the necessities of life; to all of which this governmenet turns a deaf ear. I think the government's real policy is probably brought out a little clearer in some of the speeches we hear in this chamber from their supporters rather than in the budget proposals, and a= far as I am able to size up their policy from such speeches it amounts to about this- Work harder-cut down expenses

raise a lot. more goods and send them to some foreign country to be sold at about two-thirds the price they will bring in Canada.
The charge is made that poor farming is largely responsible for conditions as they exist in the West to-day. I think the charge is very unfair. Going back to the days of the war, when we were asked for greater production, I would put this question to hon. members: What country anywhere in the world produced in anything like rhe same proportion as western Canada? And is there a farmer in any other country to-day who produces anywhere near as much as the western farmer does7 One hon. gentleman in speaking during the debate on immigration, I think it was the member for North Winnipeg (Mr. McMurray), stated that it was the farmer's own fault that he found himself in the position he occupies to-day. "Why," exclaimed the hon. gentleman, "he does not live in a sod shack like he did in the days when I was a bi y; he lives in a real house now. He is spending far too much money. He even climbs into a Henry, steps on the gas and runs around like other people do. The farmers of the West to-day are overstocked in land in machiueiy and in other things." I should like to compare the ad-

The Budget-Mr. Kellner
vancement of the farmer with the advancement of people engaged in other occupations to-day. Would hon. members who feel that way about it care to go back a few years and view the life that professional men then lived? I think they will fmd that then there were very few of our professional men living in modern houses such as they are able to afford to-day; most of them would be found above a store or in similar quarters. May I also call the attention of !he House to the fact that from the standpoint of intelligence the professional man is uot by any means outclassing the farmer? We have quite a number of lawyers and doctors in this chamber, and I want to ask you: If you had a very difficult case to argue which one of these distinguished gentlemen would you engage? Would you rather do as the Dominion government did, go down to Toronto and hire a lawyer at $400 a day, and perhaps go across the line and hire two or three more at a similar rate? I lemembe'- in the days when I was a boy on the farm back in Ontario we had a doctor who used lo visit our farm, a distance of eight miles from his home, and he did not drive a McLaughlin Six or any car of that kind but a horse and buggy. He made those eight miles for $2.50 a trip- just about what a doctor to-day will charge for writing a prescription.
The difference between what those engaged in the various professions are earning and what our farmers earn was plainly brought out before the Banking and Commerce committee the other day, when the manager of the Weyburn Security Bank told us that they had received reports from two hundred and forty of the best farmers in Saskatchewan which disclosed that their annual revenue above operating expenses had been $600. Now, in nearly every instance that would represent the wages of two people, in many instances the wages of several people-the farmer, his wife and family. For a whole year's work they got the magnificent sum of $600. No doubt that meant getting up about four o'clock in the morning, milking the cows, feeding the calves and working until probably six or seven o'clock at night, and then doing the same chores again before going to bed.
Mr. PUTNAM; I suppose the hon. gentleman does not overlook the fact that those two hundred and forty turners each made $600 over and above living expenses?

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