February 28, 1928 (16th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Agnes Campbell Macphail



Who planned the budget? Did the Minister of Finance take the members of the Liberal party into consultation, did he have their cooperative help, did he get the help of the Progressive-Liberals, or the Liberal-Progressives-I always forget their correct title-did he? No, he did not,
I am sure of that. He brings the budget down, but it is not representative of the opinion of the House of Commons nor of the Liberal party. If the Minister of Finance is to bring down budgets in this way, well, the rest of us had better go home or go down to Keith's theatre. It looks to me as if the time must come when the government will have to be representative of the people In a word, it is a Robb budget.
The time will come when the cabinet will be a committee of the House of Commons. The cabinet will be chosen from the house and be responsible to it. I look to that day with hope. I do not look for it soon, but I do think it is coming. Once more I want to quote from a leading Canadian to show that others than the few of us who sit in this corner of the chamber believe, that the
two old parties as at present constituted are simply the cover under which class interests operate in this country. Sir Andrew Macphail in his Essays in Politics, published in 1909, said:
We are living under the government of an interested class, who find a party in power and keep it there until it becomes too corrupt to be kept any longer; when it seizes upon the other party and proceeds to corrupt it.
Sir Andrew Macphail is not a man who makes rash statements. That statement should sicken any good Canadian, and yet I believe it is absolutely true. Of course, I think they pick the finest looking men for the cabinet; the privileged classes like to dress their windows to the best advantage. But, after all, the forces which operate through any cabinet are exactly the same. They are not the forces which look to the interests of the people of Canada; they are the forces which look to the interests of certain well-organized and wealthy classes in this country.
Now I come for a moment or two to the budget. At last we have a "stable" government, the government that the Prime Minister wanted. He made very entreating, very convincing speeches to the country that he must have a majority in the house before he could bring down legislation that was good for all the people, that he must not be hampered by having to submit proposed legislation to the house and be humiliated possibly by having it turned down. So he came back from the last election with a majority. He was joined by our Liberal-Progressive friends, lead by the Minister of Immigration (Mr. Forke) who thought-and possibly still thinks-that the Prime Minister needed greater numbers to bring good government to Canada. I want here to say that my heart aches for the Minister of Immigration. He is an honest, but a deluded man. So the Prime Minister comes back to the house with a majority, and now we are going to get legislation that is in the interests of all the people. We are going to get this thing that he has been desiring to give us since 1921. Last year, his first session, one could say that he had hardly begun, and the budget then brought down was not much; but we can overlook that. Now we come to the second year of his administration, and we get another budget. Well, if this budget is in the interests of the common people, then I certainly am not capable of representing their interests. We had the income tax reduced 10 per cent last session, and now there is another 10 per cent reduction, and we had the spectacle yesterday of the hon. member for North Battleford (Mr. McIntosh) getting up and entreating the rich men

The Budget-Miss Macphail
of the Dominion to make anonymous donations to wipe out the national debt. I do not understand why there should be all this modest anonymity. Since we have started to quote Scripture in this chamber, let me cite the following words which I think describe the effect of the budget very accurately: "For he that hath, to him shall be given; and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath." The budget plays with the tariff just as a boy plays with marbles to see how many he can catch when he throws them in the air. There is no real reduction in the tariff. No one knows that better than the Minister of Finance. If there is any reduction at all it is on things bought by people who could very well afford to pay higher prices. On the lower grade of cottons there is no reduction. Surely the Minister of Finance does know that the stretching of the percentage of labour and material that is to go into goods which enter under the British preference from 25 per cent to 50 per cent undermines the British preference. He does not think it was patriotic, does he? He does not believe it was in the interests of the common people, does he? I think not. I think the economic classes that control governments whisper very convincingly in the ear of the Minister of Finance, and he kept himself clear from the enlightenment that might have come to him from his western men. By listening to his own supporters and his stepchildren he might have heard the truth regarding this matter. But he shut himself securely away and so hearkened unto those highly organized >
and exceedingly wealthy groups who whispered to him what would look like a reduction in the tariff but would not hurt them in the least. I hope that my Conservative friends will not be further exercised about the manufacturers: I have no doubt they will pull through this year.
The history of the whole attitude of the Liberal party to the new groups since 1921 has been one of protestations of friendship which, if accepted, have proven to the honest the graveyard of their hopes and to the others a fulfillment of their treacherous plans. Speaking for myself, I would rather have the bitter, uncompromising, unfriendly and snobbish attitude of the Conservative party. At least it was honest and we knew where we stood. I often wonder why these Conservatives think they are so much better than other people.

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