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


Joseph-√Čloi Fontaine


Mr. J. E. FONTAINE (Hull) (Translation) :

The Budget-Mr. Fontaine

hon. leader of the Opposition (Mr. Meighen). He would have liked, I suppose, despatching our Canadians to be killed across the seas; he would have felt some satisfaction in forcing upon us a new conscription act.
Let the hon. ministers pursue their good work. The Canadian people do not expect that the present government will succeed in remedying, in a few months, the wrongs perpetrated by the Borden and Meighen governments, during their ten years in power, with their policy of wanting to sacrifice the very last man, the very last dollar to save the Empire. Nor do the people expect that they will immediately change deficits into surpluses, the wretched times into a golden age, but they do expect the government to improve the financial conditions of the country by practising a strict economy, by ceasing to meddle in European affairs and by initiating a policy essentially Canadian, and for the Canadians.
I wish to say a few words, Sir, on the immigration question. I fully realize that it is a serious and embarrassing problem; indeed, the question before us is whether we shall disburse large sums of money to bring hither immigrants from Europe, when many of our best Canadians emigrate to the United States. I know full well that the greater half of our territory is yet to be settled; that we have an abundance of natural resources, which only await willing hands to develop them; I realize that we have a territory that can feed 100,000,000 people and that we number hardly
8,000,000; I am aware that we have a railway system which is a burden to the country, and does not pay for its upkeep because we have not the traffic nor the necessary population to feed it; I concede that it was immigration which built up the wealth and developed the United States which, at the time of their proclamation of independence, in 1775, consisted only of a few thousand people, while to-day they have reached the enormous number of 112,000,000. Notwithstanding all this,
I wonder whether, in the present financial conditions we are placed in, the time is propitious to disburse money to bring over immigrants who, perhaps, will swell the number of the unemployed in cities. I wish to protect the Canadian workman, he is the one who needs most protection because he is the most affected by the present crisis. For the last few years, there has been a shortage of work, salaries have dwindled down to such an extent that many of our families in Hull and elsewhere are forced to cross over to the United States to earn a living. It is sad, Mr. Speaker, to witness our young men, capable and vigorous, cross the border to enrich

the United States citizens when we have here a country just as advantageous as theirs. Let the government find means to keep on this side our population rather than spend money to bring over immigrants.
I realize that the government mean well, they want to place these immigrants on the land so as to develop agriculture, but I fear that these people who, for the most part, have not been brought up on the farm, will make but a short stay on the land and eventually find their way to the cities, displacing the Canadian workman. Would it not be wiser for the government to make use of this appropriation to keep our people here instead of disbursing money to bring in strangers who have neither the characteristics nor the ways of Canadians. I would suggest that instead of spending millions to promote immigration, the government begin immediately the construction of the Georgian bay canal which will open up the country and will give work to our people for a number of years to come.
I also wish to make a few remarks in regard to the Civil Service Commission: when the hon. member for Quebec South (Mr. Power) submitted to this House his resolution to abolish this Commission, I happened to lx sick and could not give my views. I ain opposed to this Commission as it stands today. I maintain that it is unconstitutional and I fail to understand why the government tolerate a Commission which has more power and more prerogatives than they have. Let candidates pass the Civil Service examinations for the positions of copyists or type-writer;, but let us return to the Act passed under the Laurier government-that will be satisfactory. According to this Act, the Commission only exercised its control over the inside service but I cannot conceive how the commissioners should be in a position to judge of the qualifications of candidates to positions in the outside service, for instance, a lock-keeper, a postmaster, a carpenter, a labourer, etc. This is so much the case, Mr. Speaker, that for these kinds of positions, the Commissioners are advised by a committee of citizens gathered a little everywhere in Canada. Do nor. imagine, however, that the members of this committee-amongst whom I see the names of defeated candidates at the last general elections-do not favour their friends; therefore we have a recurrence of patronage, though in a roundabout way and under different control. Why not leave the appointments to the government who would in turn be advised by the members who, at least, are responsible to the people. I was quite astonished

The Budget-Mr. Church
to hear the Conservatives say, at the time this discussion took place, that the Commission must not be disturbed as it would lead to a return of patronage. These good Tories have become over-scrupulous; yet they are the ones, who, in 1911, when they came into power, dismissed 3000 employees because they were Liberals and replaced them by their political friends. They had appointed commissioners to make an inquiry throughout the whole country, and, Conservatives seeking positions had but to come before these Commissioners to have Liberal employees dismissed, stating that they had taken part in the political campaign. In my own place, the city of Hull and the county, many were dismissed through such means. If only the government of the day had been satisfied with replacing those employees who were dismissed! But things were much worse than that; in order to please their friends they crammed all the departments to overflow: 12,000 new employees were appointed. It was at that stage that American experts were called in, the [DOT] Griffenhagens, to establish the famous classification, which was carried out with a great deal of partisanship and injustice, to such an extent that 15,000 employees appealed from the ruling of this classification. I congratulate the government for having appointed a committee of inquiry who will re-establish the facts and will, I hope, facilitate the amending of the Civil Service Act.
Before closing my remarks, I wish to remind the government that last session this House adopted unanimously a resolution which I had the honour to move, asking to adopt an old age pension act. ,1 fully understand that the financial situation of the country is such that it is difficult to even comply with just demands, but this legislation is so necessary, it commends itself so strongly that it should be the first to be taken into consideration by the government. I do not wish to repeat the speech I made last year on this subject, but allow me to remind you, Sir, that the Canadian people expect that the government will move in the matter. I have received hundreds of letters, from all over the country, asking me to follow up this project, and even lately, I had the honour to join a Nova Scotia labour delegation which waited on the Prime Minister. They came here to impress upon the government the necessity for this old age pension and ask the government for immediate legislation to that effect. I was very much pleased with the encouraging reception that the Prime Minister gave this delegation and specially in hearing him say that it was one of the subjects on his pro-1791
gramme, that he had at heart the carrying out of this project and that the legislation in question would certainly be brought down as soon as the government's finances permitted.
Before I resume my seat, I wish to state that I shall vote against the amendment of the Progressive leader (Mr. Forke). I place very little faith in their policy which only favours the western provinces. If we want the country to progress and Confederation to be maintained, we must have a policy which favours equally all provinces and all classes. It seems to me that the old eastern provinces have done their share of sacrifice to develop the West. If to-day we are overburdened with taxes, if we have a system of railways which shows a large yearly deficit, it is because we have built two transcontinentals so as to help in developing the West. If the government were to accept the Progressives' suggestions and establish free trade and abolish the duties which are the main sources of our revenues, where would they get the money to meet the $140,000,000 of interest which is due yearly? Where would they get the money to administer the affairs of the country? They would be forced to have recourse to direct taxation, and again it would still be the old eastern provinces who would have to pay the larger share, since they have reached a higher degree of development than the western provinces.
Mr. Speaker, I have full confidence in the Liberal party and its leaders. I approve of their policy; I shall therefore vote with pleasure for the budget as brought down by the hon. Minister of Finance.
At six o'clock the House took recess.
After Recess
The House resumed at eight o'clock.
Mr. T. L. CHURCH (North Toronto!: Mr. Speaker, the small attendance in the chamber during this debate evidently indicates that now the session has entered upon its fourth month members are about prepared to go home. In my opinion no good object can be gained by delaying the session.
First of all I want to congratulate the veteran Finance Minister (Mr. Fielding) on the budget statement he presented the other day. The minister has served a great many years in public life and is admired and respected by everybody.
I must say that I admire the manner in which those who have so far spoken in this debate have presented their case. There is room for differences of opinion in a big coun-

The Budget-Mr. Church
try like Canada, but up to the present those hon. members who have spoken have displayed good feeling and a spirit of fairness which have won the respect of those who have listened to them.
Bearing in mind that this is the 105th day of the session I am sorry there should have been so much delay in bringing down the budget. I appreciate the fact that the Minister of Finance has a good many outside matters in the French and Italian treaties to attend to and that he is really overworked; but I think it would be better if this government in future would copy the example of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Old Country, Right Hon. Stanley Baldwin, who presented his budget speech in the British parliament on the 10th day of the session. If this government emulates that example in the future I think it will be a step in the right direction.
In my opinion the tariff is not a political question, and I would urge that an authority be set up in this country that could act in an advisory capacity to the government, in relation to this particular problem. The tariff should never have been made a political football by this or the other political party in Canada. It is not a political question in any sense. It is an economic question, a business question, a question of trade and commerce; and more than that it is a great national, patriotic question that concerns every citizen of this country. Neither is the tariff an academic, or what you might call an abstract question, or an abstract theory; it is a national and economic necessity.
The hon. member for Brantford (Mr. Raymond), who yesterday made an able and very fair speech, characterized by courtliness of manner, spoke of the tariff question as being a study in national psychology. I do not agree in that statement. I believe the tariff question is a great problem which concerns everybody and for that reason should not be approached from the party spirit, or with a view to reaping party advantage. There has been a tariff in Canada ever since Canada has been a country. There are those who would like to abolish the tariff; and if I understand the purpose of the amendment it aims to practically eliminate the tariff. Even as far back as 110 years ago we had something in the nature of a tariff.
The Liberal-Conservative party has always been a consistent protectionist party. From the days of Sir John Macdonald every Con-
servative government we have had have been protectionist, and the party preached the same gospel of protection in every part of Canada. In the last election the leader of this Party Right Hon. Arthur Meighen, preached that doctrine whether it was in the Maritime provinces, in central Canada, in the prairie provinces, or on the Pacific coast.
Wherever he went he preached the gospel of moderate protection adequate for the industries of this country. After all is said and done, Mr. Speaker, it was not any political party that made Canada a nation. The people themselves had something to do in bringing that about as well as the government. In my opinion, however, it was the National Policy that made this country the great nation which it is to-day. You may criticize the National Policy if you like, because it has some defects, but when you criticize the defects of the National Policy do not forget its virtues. It is owing to those virtues that Canada has achieved her proud position as a great industrial nation.'
The present Minister of Finance has been responsible for the inauguration of seventeen budgets and if you take the seventeen tariffs introduced under them they are what economic writers would not hesitate to call protective tariffs. Eighty-five per cent of the products of Ontario have a home market in the near cities and towns, and the producers obtain the highest price that can be realized in fair competition on this continent to-day. That home market is not one that is here to-day and away to-morrow. It is a steady market, and is to be found in many cities and towns along lake Ontario, lake Erie, the upper lakes and in the district south of the National Transcontinental in Ontario. An election is pending in Ontario now, and I say that I do not believe the farmers of Ontario believe in free trade, nor do they believe in reciprocity. If it were not for the protection which the farmers of Ontario have had, in view of the hostile tariff commonly known as the Fordney-McCumber tariff, the farmers of Ontario would be 100 per cent worse off than they are to-day, and the province would be suffering from under-production, unemployment, depression, and rural depopulation to a greater extent than at the present time. That remark applies to eastern Canada as well. A very distinguished statesman, Hon. J. Israel Tarte once said that platforms were made to get in on and not to stand on.
My Progressive friends, for whom I have every respect, had a platform in the late election, not only in Ontario, but in other

The Budget-Mr. Church
parts of Canada, which was commonly called a free trade platform, and they made good their promise by placing the principles of that platform in the amendment which is before the House to-day. While I do not believe in the principles which they enunciate. I give them every credit for their sincerity. My hon. friend from Brantford (Mr. Raymond) preached the gospel of adequate protection for the industries of his great city of Brantford. Tint* city is a great industrial centre, in common with other cities in Ontario such as Toronto, Hamilton, London and others. Why? Owing to the principle of adequate protection for the industries of the country. In 1878 the city from which I came had to open soup kitchens. These soup kitchens had to be opened to meet the wants of the large number of men out of work. Many people emigrated to the United States, and the Mayor of Chicago said that that city had become at that date the third largest Canadian city in the world. There was a great deal of unemployment at that time. We had many vacant houses and stores, and evidence of distress on every hand. When the policy of protection was adopted it stimulated the growth of Toronto, Hamilton, Brantford and other places, and the trade and commerce and the population of these cities have greatly increased. Toronto has doubled in population every ten years. The post office receipts for the city of Toronto were over $5,000,000 last year, and the receipts from customs, inland revenue and other utilities, to say nothing of banking, industry, trade and commerce have increased prodigiously. Toronto is only one of the many cities which have made industrial strides as a result of protection. Geography has taught the people of Canada a lesson in more ways than one. It has taught them not to leave themselves at the mercy of a foreign country like the United States in regard to fiscal affairs, especially when the people of that foreign country are the wealthiest and most prosperous, ambitious and industrious people in the world to-day.
Every country in the world is increasing its tariff. Not only the various countries in Europe, and the United States, but Australia, New Zealand and the countries of South America are all increasing their protective tariffs. Can it be argued that all these countries are wrong and that the Progressives in Canada alone are right? I maintain that, as a result of the Great War, more protection will be required to meet the changing conditions in the years that are to come. Sir Richard Cartwright once said that if his party were returned to power he would remove
every vestige of protection from the statutes of this country. If you examine the seventeen budgets of the present able Finance Minister (Mr. Fielding), as I said a few minutes ago, you will find they are all protective tariffs. The tariff resolutions before the House tonight are all of a protective character. The best part in the whole budget speech I think was that in which the Finance Minister spoke of the stability of the tariff. That is an economic principle which is accepted the world over. He said:
There is a thought which does not receive as much consideration as X think sometimes it should be given in public discussions, and that is the desirability of something like tariff stability. Business men do not like to be always threatened with changes in the tariff. There is no finality in legislation either as respects that tariff or as respects anything else. That which parliament can do to-day it can undo to-morrow. Everybody knows that. Everybody must conduct his business in the light of that fact. Nevertheless it is desirable that something like an assurance of tariff stability should be given to business men.
I may say the very able and distinguished Minister of Justice (Sir Lomer Gouin) has on more than one occasion agreed to that doctrine, and I am glad to say that we have, such an able, patriotic and well liked member of the government in the very responsible position of Minister of Justice, because he has done a great deal to instil a sense of responsibility into the government along the line of stability of tariffs.
I may say, as one of the harbour commissioners in Toronto in 1919-1920 and 1921, that we lost a large extension of a basic industry, the Baldwin Tin-Plate Industry from Wales. The present Chancellor of the Exchequer was the president of that company. We had a contract signed and sealed by them to lease some thirty-six acres in Ashbridge's bay, in the industrial area.
It promised to be one of the largest concerns on this continent, and they were going to manufacture granite plates, and tin plates.
Some of the directors came from Swansea, Wales, the headquarters of the company. They spent a large sum of money in erecting a factory, machine shops and buildings, and they were going to in time employ 1,800 men. Just as they got under way bad times came, and there was a conflict between the political parties with regard to the great economic question of the tariff in Canada.
Statements had been -made in the House and out of it to the effect that if there were any people in Canada or out of Canada who were contemplating establishing or extending new lines of business in which they felt protection was necessary, they should not do so.

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