Mr. W. W. KENNEDY (Winnipeg South Centre):
Mr. Speaker, when I had the privilege of adjourning the debate last night I was drawing the attention of hon. members to certain matters which, it appeared to me, were lacking in the Speech from the Throne, and I was discussing particularly the absence of any suggestion regarding our fiscal policy. Now, perhaps the letter which I attempted to read a moment ago would be germane to the discussion of that question, and for the information of the House I propose to submit this communication, which has to do with the bringing into this country of ties for railway construction that, in my view, should have -been obtained in Canada. The letter to which I refer is dated Montreal, February 18, 1926, and is from Mr. R. C. Vaughan, vice-president of the Canadian National Railways, purchasing and stores departments, and is addressed to myself:
I have your letter of fifteenth instant in respect to the use of ties from the state of Minnesota.
The information in connection with this situation is that we were asked by our operating department to furnish them with a quantity of cedar ties for the Hudson Bay line, as it was felt that cedar ties would be of more advantage on that line than others because the traffic is light and, therefore, the mechanical wear on the ties would not be very heavy, and because a good cedar tie withstands the atmosphere well under light traffic conditions. There are none of these ties available in the vicinity of the Hudson Bay line, and I may say that we are buying all the ties we can get in Saskatchewan.
I may add that at that time there was an election going on in Saskatchewan.
It was very imperative, therefore, that we bring cedar ties from somewhere. We gave a contract to have them supplied from off the old Canadian Northern main line between Winnipeg and Rainy River, as in that section there is some good cedar available. As you know, the old Canadian Northern main line between Winnipeg and Rainy River runs for 43 miles through the state of Minnesota, and it so happens that the contractor as delivering some of these ties on his contract that are produced on that portion of our line which is in the state of Minnesota. I wired our Winnipeg office to ascertain the number of cedar ties which originated in Minnesota and which have been shipped to the Hudson Bay line, and I find the quantity is approximately 45,000. There will probably be a few more shipped from that district, but not a great many.
Our position is that we needed cedar ties for the Hudson Bay line and that we wanted to get these cedar ties at the lowest price and with the least possible haul to where they were to be used. There-
The Address-Mr. Kennedy (Winnipeg)
fore, a contract was given for ties to he supplied in the territory referred to, and it so happens that the contractor is having some of these ties produced on the old Canadian Northern main line an the state of Minnesota. As you are aware, there is no duty on ties coming into Canada, and it is unfortunate that we were unable to get these ties elsewhere in Canada to meet our requirements, except at an increased cost to us.
As you know, a large amount of timber goes from Canada to the United States, and, no doubt, if we took objection to these few ties which are produced on our own lines coming into Canada, it might react against our general timber interests in a bigger way.
Our idea is to have all our ties, so far as possible, produced in Canada, and we buy approximately 7,000,000 ties annually, which are produced in Canada.
I saw a report in the paper that we were buying 000,000 ties in the state of Minnesota for the Hudson Bay line, which, of course, is ridiculous, and I assume in the final analysis there will probably be only 50,000 ties come from the state of Minnesota to apply on this Hudson Bay contract, but we must bear in mind that these ties are produced on our own lines and in a district where we get substantial revenue from manufacturers and dealers in forest products.
I would also like to point out that, under the terms of the contract, we stipulated that these ties were to be produced on our own lines, and it just so happens that a few of them are coming from the state of Minnesota.
I submit, Sir, that that is just 50,000 ties too many from the state of Minnesota. Surely the Canadian National management can get Canadian-grown timber for use on the railway, cut into shape by Canadian workmen, and thus give employment to our own people?
No mention is made in the Speech from the Throne of any solution for what has been called the national fuel problem. I am not going into the question at length because it has been fully discussed, but on every occasion when an hon. member from the Maritime provinces asked the government why it did not give some assistance in the way of lower freight rates to the coal mines of Nova Scotia, he was met with the answer: We cannot interfere with the railway commission; the commission is outside of politics, and we have nothing more to do with it than you have. In principle I take no issue with that stand, but I want to refer the House to something that transpired in connection with the railway commission just before the election in the province of British Columbia, which I suggest requires some explanation at the hands of a member of the government. On the very eve of the election an order was issued by two members of the railway commission, against and in spite of the desire of the majority of that commission, reducing the rate on the mountain haul. That needs some attention because, while it may not have been issued with any particular political object in view, it has been so interpreted in
'Mr. W. W. Kennedy.]
many districts by the Canadian people, and the action of the board on that occasion calls for inquiry.
There is also absent from the Speech from the Throne reference to the much-promised Senate reform.
There is something else, and while I do not criticize the government particularly for this, I wish it brought to their attention. There is throughout Canada a body of men who deserve and who, I believe, have received special attention at the hands of the government. They are returned, disabled veterans, and while the general policy of the Canadian government towards this class of men is generous, perhaps by reason of the difficulty of providing for all emergencies which arise, certain of them are labouring under disabilities which, I believe, hon. members in all parts of the House will be desirous of removing. I refer to the position of the disabled veteran who is unable to prove conclusively to the Board of Pension Commissioners that the disability from which he suffers can be directly traceable to his war service. Hon. members who are physicians know' that it is very difficult sometimes even for the best physician to trace a given illness to its original cause. There have come under my notice many cases of disabled veterans who were accepted in the army as fit, and who, since their return, have developed certain ailments which they claim are traceable to war causes, but who, because of the regulation that the onus is upon them to establish conclusively that such ailments can be traced to war service, are without relief. I do not go so far as to suggest that the door should be opened to everybody; but instead of the onus being upon the shoulders of the men, I would suggest that the legislation be amended so that once a returned soldier who is disabled or suffering from an illness is able to establish a prima facie case that that illness can be traced to war service, he has thereby discharged his onus, and the onus should then rest upon the government of the country to show that the disability from which he is suffering was not caused by war service. That is perhaps giving a class of men in this country the benefit of the doubt to which, I think, they are reasonably entitled. So much for the omissions from the Speech from the Throne.
What does the Speech from the Throne offer? If you will examine the fabric of the Speech carefully, you will not find it woven out of honest wool : you will find in it much of shoddy, shoddy that is put there for what purpose? Perhaps I am not allowed to say
The Address-Mr. Kennedy (Winnipeg)
what I think, but I will say that the effect of it is to make it more readily saleable. The Speech from the Throne, instead of being woven out of true, 'honest cloth, is woven out of a mixture of shoddy consisting of those particular things that have in their essence, not a national, but a. sectional appeal to certain economic groups, as has been admitted by members in various parts of the House. In the original Speech there was the appeal of rural credits and the Hudson Bay railway which had a special appeal to the Progressive group. The bon. member for North Winnipeg (Mr. Heaps), in discussing the Speech from the Throne, took occasion to remark that he found there something lacking. I refer- hon. members to Hansard of January 19 last at page 274 where this statement appears:
From the labour viewpoint the Speech from the Throne is notable for the omissions. There is no reference in it to some of the pressing problems which concern labour.
But that complaint no longer exists. That omission was speedily cured by a letter to which I have already referred from the leader of the government and which was placed upon the records of this House by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. WoodS-wort'h).
I wish now to discuss the attitude of the Progressive group in this House towards the Conservative party, not with any view of creating antagonism, but with the sincere idea that, perhaps, I may place before the members of that group some matters concerning our attitude towards the tariff with whidh they will not be prepared to take direct issue.
It has been stated in this House by some representatives from that group that they support the government of the day, not so much because of their confidence in this government, but because, being placed in this House in the position of choosing between two evils, they have chosen the lesser. The inference I take from that is that their particular objection to the policy of the Conservative party is because of its announced and often repeated stand on the question of protection, and I doubt if that will be denied. For that reason, in discussing the attitude of the Progressive group towards the Conservative party, I am going to deal with that same problem of the tariff.
I am aware that no subject is so prolific of debate as the tariff. If yofu want to start a debate either during an election or between elections, all you have to do is to have one man say: I am for protection, and another man say: I am for free trade, and you can deduce two perfectly good theoretical arguments. But when you come to discuss this
question in a practical way, it is just as well to dispense with those things which do not go to the root of the question; so I start with this statement and I challenge denial: There is not in this House or outside of it any responsible political party in the Dominion of Canada which to-day believes in, teaches or practises a policy of free trade. Is that true as regards the Conservative party? It is not Challenged; we do not believe in free trade. Does the Liberal pariy believe in free trade? I will call two witnesses, the first being the Right Hon. Mackenzie King, leader of the government, who, when speaking during the campaign in the Winnipeg rink to an audience of approximately ten thousand people declared that the Liberal party was not in favour of the policy of free trade. He said: It does not believe in a high tariff; it does not believe in a low tariff. It believes in the middle course.
Speaking again in the city of Kingston on October 21 last, as reported in a Canadian Press despatch, Mr. King said:
"I would oppose free trade with all my might," said Mr. King, at one stage, adding that he would just as strongly oppose the opposite extreme of high protection. "The present government" insisted Mr. King, "is not in favour of free trade, never has been, and would not be in the circumstances if it could.1'
I think that makes clear the position of the Liberal party on the tariff question, so far as it has been expressed by its leader.
If you want further evidence by a public man supporting the Liberal party during the last campaign, I will give you a name which is familiar to all members of this House, that of an outstanding Liberal in days gone by, a man of power, weight and experience in this country, who in the final battle in North York was called into that constituency by the leader of the Liberal party as his final hope and refuge; I refer to Sir Clifford Sifton. Speaking at Aurora, Ontario, on October 23rd last, as quoted in the Manitoba Free Press, Sir Clifford Sifton said-and I ask Liberals who profess to believe in free trade to pay attention to these words:
I am bound to say that I have been disagreeably affected by the discussions with respect to the tariff which have taken place in the present election. They seem to me to have been crude and ill-informed showing no systematic or careful study of the subject. Lett me say a few words to you on the subject of the tariff as it appears to me.
Then here is his pronouncement:
Our tariff is the result of about forty years of very careful study and very hard, conscientious work on the part of different Finance ministers and a corps of very well informed assistants. Successive Finance ministers have had commissions of inquiry and the whole subject lias been gone into in exhaustive
The Address-Mr. Kennedy (Winnipeg)
detail. The result o-f this is that the tariff has been worked down to a condition in which there is very little more t-o be learned about it, and this is proven by the fact that as successive ministers of late years have taken office, no matter what representations they made before they got into office, they made very few changes in the tariff after they got in. The fact is that at the present time 'it is impossible to cut down our tariff sufficiently to make any substantial difference in prices to the consumers without making such confusjon and such dislocation of business that the damage done would be altogether out of proportion to the benefit to be derived.
I wish to place upon the records of Hansard one further test. We have had in this country, within my memory, election campaigns in which the Liberal party openly preached a free trade policy. It is true that that policy was subsequently modified by the present leader of the government to a policy that claimed to be moving toward the goal of free trade. I submit, apart altogether from what party you belong to, that the best test of whether any party in this country believes in the policy of free trade is to see what it actually does when in power. You may theorize in opposition, but what you practise in power is the test by which you should be judged. Now since 1878, when the National Policy was introduced in this country, and here I am repeating the declaration made by the right hon. leader of the Conservative party in this House, the firm and settled policy of this country has been one of protection. If it were true that since that day only Conservative governments had been in power the other party might say: Well, if we had been in power, we would have changed that policy. But we have had alternating governments, a number of Liberal and Conservative governments since that day, and if the Liberal party believed in a policy of free trade we would at least expect to find some substantial movement in that direction when it was in office.
These figures which I wish to place on record speak for themselves. In the annual leport of the trade of Canada for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1924, at page 10, there is a summary of the trade of Canada with all countries from the year 1868 to 1924. I will give you first the average ad valorem rate of duty on all dutiable goods brought into Canada from all countries for certain years.
In 1878 the average ad valorem duty on dutiable imports brought into Canada from all countries was 21.4 per cent. In 1896, when there was a change to a Liberal government, the rate was 30 per cent. Then we had a period of Liberal administration from 1896 to 1911, and in 1911 when the Liberals went out of power the average rate was 25.9 per cent, or a reduction of 4.1 per cent. In 1911 a
Conservative administration came into power, and when it went out in 1921, the average rate was 20.6 per cent; yet when they came into power it was 25.9 per cent. So much for the average reduction. We had a Liberal administration again in 1921, and the average rate when they came in was 20.6 per cent; in 1924, it was 22.9 per cent.
One other set of figures I give you, and that is the average rate upon the total imports, both dutiable and free, for the same years. In 1878 the average ad valorem rate on all goods dutiable and free brought into this country was 14.2 per cent; in 1896, when the Conservative administration went out of power, it was 19.2 per cent; in 1911, when the Liberal administration went out of power, it was 16.2 per cent; in 1924, when the Conservative administration went out of power, it was 14.1 per cent; in 1924, during a period of Liberal administration, it had risen to 15.1 per cent. Now those figures speak for themselves, and they do, I think, suggest this, that the average rate of variation, either upon dutiable goods brought into this country, or upon all goods dutiable and free, is negligible. Weil then, all of us recognizing the fact that we must pursue some policy of protection, what is the next question?
Subtopic: ADDRESS IN REPLY