February 10, 1925 (14th Parliament, 4th Session)


Robert Forke


Mr. ROBERT FORKE (Brandon):

Mr. Speaker, we have had the Speech from the

The Address-Mr. Forke
Throne, and now it has been moved and seconded that an Address be presented to His Excellency the Governor General to offer the humble thanks of the King's dutiful and loyal subjects in parliament assembled for the gracious speech which His Excellency was pleased to address to both houses of parliament. This very pleasing fiction, the Speech from the Throne, has been put in the mouth of His Excellency the Governor General; as a matter of fact we know it is a pronouncement by the government.
I have much pleasure in tendering my compliments to the hon. members who moved and seconded the Address. Unfortunately I was unable to follow the remarks made by the mover (Sir Eugene Fiset) but judging from his past history and from the delivery of his speech I have no doubt that he will be a valuable acquisition to the debating power of this House. To the seconder (Mr. Hanna)
I also extend my congratulations. He did the work that was allotted to him in a very creditable manner. I am sure that his entry into this House must have afforded the government a great deal of satisfaction, judging by the royal reception they gave him when he was introduced.
We have had two further speeches in the House on the Address, one delivered by the right hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Meighen) one by the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King). In some respects it was a case of the story being told in a pessimistic way on the one hand and in an optimistic way on the other. It makes a great deal of difference sometimes on which side you happen to be, from which point of vantage you look at the situation. Judging from the remarks made by the leader of the opposition, things are in a bad way and the quicker we realize this the better. I am sure he ably presented that side of the case. Then the Prime Minister made his address, and he took the view that after all we were in a happy condition; that without question Canada is a land of hope and glory; that compared with the United States we are living in a very fortunate condition indeed. But I believe, Mr. Speaker, we can have a fatal pessimism and a foolish optimism- though I do not want for a minute to insinuate that either of these two right hon. members went to that extreme. But if we are too pessimistic we are apt to lose heart. People sometimes get too sorry for themselves, they have too much pity upon themselves, and when they reach that stage their courage is apt to ooze out at their fingers' ends, with
the result that objects aimed at are not accomplished. On the other hand it is sometimes just as foolish to underestimate the magnitude of the task that lies before us. While the Prime Minister was very optimistic I hope he realizes that we are not yet out of the woods, that we have a great many difficulties to overcome and that everything is not just as happy as it ought to be.
I happened to be reading the other day a biography of Sir John A. Macdonald and I came across the statement that he was the originator of the phrase, "Canada is a difficult country to govern." Now, I have no doubt of that fact, having regard to the physical characteristics of our country, reaching as it does from ocean to ocean, divided by natural physical barriers; and to the fact that the different sections of our population do not always take the same point of view and that, unfortunately, their economic interests do not always run parallel. We have a sparse population, compared with the great extent of our country; consequently it is difficult at all times to have legislation that will be in the interests of every section of the community. The factors bearing upon government are very numerous-international relations, manufacturing, trade and commerce, agriculture and all its allied industries-consequently we find that the functions of government are being widened day by day and the position is becoming more and more difficult.
Another point that should be considered in regard to all governments, provincial and municipal as well as Dominion, is the increasing wants of the people, the increasing demands of the people for further public services and utilities. Unfortunately these demands are not always accompanied by a desire to pay the taxes and to bear the burden of debt that is incurred in instituting and carrying on these public improvements and public utilities. I have heard it stated that progress first began when men began to five beyond their income. I feel perfectly satisfied that if that saying is true we have been progressing at a very rapid rate during this last number of years, individually and provincially as well as from the Dominion point of view. However, I am inclined to question the truth of that saying. It has been said also that the people to-day are eager for legislation but impatient of law. I do not know whether that is as true of the Dominion government as it is of the provincial governments, but we find a tremendous demand all the time for new legislation, and it is very
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often the case that just as soon as the legislation is placed on the statute book it seems to be passed into the limbo of forgotten things. I am one of those who believe that governments, whether Dominion, provincial or municipal, should be careful in passing legislation; should see to it that the legislation is really wanted, that it is really in the interests of the people and not merely the whim of the passing moment.
There is a cry everywhere at this time for a forward-looking policy. Among people on the street, in the public press, all over the Dominion, you find a feeling of dissatisfaction, a feeling that something -might be done more quickly than is 'being done at present to help the situation. There is a looking for someone to lead us out of the land of bondage into the promised land. I do not believe, Mr. Speaker, that we are going to find any supermen; I do not think they make them nowadays. No doubt we need good government, but at the same time the continued prosperity of the people of Canada, the 'practice of the quality of farsightedness, will rest mainly upon the industrious effort of the great masses of the people. Governments cannot make people industrious or happy; governments can remove obstacles and make it possible for the people to do these things for themselves. One of the wrong tendencies of modern times is for people to look to governments to cure every evil of the body politic, things which sometimes they can do much better for themselves.
There is no doubt that we have been passing through very trying and difficult times, and they are still with us; but we are not going to get out of them unless we face the situation and look to the future with cheerfulness and courage. I am going to read a short extract from a speech delivered by a gentleman in Ottawa not long ago. The Prime Minister quoted from his speech last night. I am inclined to believe that the Canadian people must have treated this man very handsomely judging from the remarks that he made during his visit here. I have no doubt he was quite honest in what he said, and I think perhaps he spoke the truth. I refer to Roger Babson, head of the Babson Statistical Corporation, Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts. He said:
I am not indulging in exaggerated language or in flattery, but am soberly measuring my words, when I say that the growth and development of Canada have been of unalloyed benefit to the world. The Canadian people have added to the value of the world's common assets; they have grown to wealth and power; they have so conducted themselves that everywhere the name of Canada commands both goodwill and esteem. A daughter of the Empire, grown

to be a potent partner, your nation stands, strong in self-reliant independence, but equally strong in loyalty to the British Commonwealth, clear-visioned, sound in mind and limb, coveting nothing, fearing no one. A great race in a great country is shaping and working out for itself, with high courage, energy and ability, a great destiny.
I do not know if all that he said is exactly correct, but it does us a great deal of good anyway to hear these things. I think I can say without exaggeration that we have an intelligent and industrious population, one that will compare favourably with that of any other country in the world. In these days we need to have faith in ourselves and in our country. Given these two requisites, I think perhaps we sfiall yet be able to solve the problems that seem so heavy to be borne at the present time.
Now I want to say a few words in regard to the Speech from the Throne. The first paragraph is very optimistic. Of course the reports we are getting from the government side are all very optimistic in character. We are told in that first paragraph that there is an excess of exports over imports to the amount of $260,000,000. That in itself is a very satisfactory statement. I might also mention just at this point that the big increase in our exports is largely due to the products of the field and of the forests; I think we should bear that in mind. The first paragraph then goes on in a very optimistic way and says that everything is very satisfactory, and that prospects for the future are very bright. Well Mr. Speaker, although we may be climbing the hill, I am perfectly sure that we have not yet reached the summit.
The second paragraph in the Speech deals with the cost of living, and says that this problem is to be solved by increased production. I am rather puzzled over this paragraph. High cost of living causes high cost of production; and high cost of production causes high cost of living. Now how are we going to get out of that dilemma? It seems to me that we are going round and round in a vicious circle; we get nowhere; we do not solve our problem.
The right hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Meighen) has a panacea for all our ills, and I will pay him the compliment of saying that he has been very consistent ever since I came into this House in preaching that one doctrine, the doctrine of protection. The latest resolution he has placed on the order paper is a very happy document. I think it is even more encouraging, perhaps, than the speech of Mr. Roger Babson from which I quoted a moment ago, because the leader of the opposition has something good in his knapsack for everyone, no one is going to be left out;

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he includes the farmer, the merchant, the artisan, the manufacturer and the labourer- they are all going to be protected.

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