March 8, 1928 (16th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Joseph Henri Napoléon Bourassa



I am glad to hear for
once the good old Tory party applaud anything I say. Third, I propose to vote for the motion of the Minister of Finance (Mr. Robb), and I propose to do this in the very spirit that has been evinced by members sitting in this corner of the house, the Progressives. I wish to co-operate, first, with the groups with which I feel myself more in sympathy, namely, the Progressive group and the Labour group, not because I agree with everything they propound, but because it seems to me that they are playing in our political life, especially with regard to economic and social matters, a very useful role from which members of both parties, or even men wandering in no man's land as I am, can derive some benefit. Then I propose, in the same spirit of co-operation, to help the Liberal party rather than the Tory party as at present constituted; and in this latter form of co-operation, which I propose to give as long as matters and parties stand as they are at present, I propose to co-operate with liberal-minded Liberals to counteract the influence of Tory-minded Liberals who sit to my left. What has brought me into trouble once in a while in the past with the good old Liberal party, was precisely the penetration in the minds of several members of that party of some of the Tory heresies. My dear old

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friend, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, used to say: "Never mind all the harm that Bourassa is doing to our party. There is one thing I am sure of-he will never be a Tory." ^ I cannot bring my mind to the point, which I am afraid my excellent friend the hon. member for Peace River (Mr. Kennedy), is on the verge of reaching, that if you find something wrong with some people, you must ally yourself with people in whom you find no right at all. I cannot see any logic in that, and as between the two parties as at present constituted and inspired, I intend to stand for the lesser evil of the two.
With regard to the budget, I am not so much interested in it, if at all, as being the legal machinery for squeezing money out of the people's pockets and spending it to the advantage or disadvantage of the country, but rather in its possible and probable effects upon the various currents of social and economic life of the nation.
It seems to me-at least my little study of history has convinced me of this-that what has made British policy and British administration, especially under the broad-minded influences of such men as Bright, Cobden and Gladstone, was that they were not so much concerned with getting and spending the people's money as with attending to the needs of all classes of the people while carrying on their duty as administrators of public funds.
Let us take first the taxation system, and first of all the tariff. I speak quite freely on this matter because I have never professed to be a free-trader on principle. I well remember the time when, at my first election, I refused to endorse the program of my party one article of which was to wipe out every vestige of protection; not that I believed in protection, but I did not think it was then possible to effect an economic revolution by a stroke of the pen. I could not bring my mind to the point of promising to the people something which I considered could not be done. But with the passing of time I have come to the conclusion that protection as an economic policy, and the levying of customs duties as the principal means of filling up the treasury of the country, are unsound and contrary to the true social interests of the people. My objection to protection grows from year to year as I see its results, and first with regard to the self-consciousness of the population. Most people in our country, or in any other country afflicted with a high tariff, do not realize the amount of money which they pay either into the public treasury, or still worse, into the private purses of the protected industries.
Second, holding the views I have as to the social requirements of every country, and
especially of a young country like ours, in need of a large and growing population adapted to its conditions, I consider that every form_ of taxation which strikes primarily at the family, and particularly the large family, is the worst form of taxation. The levying of customs duties and the payment of indirect taxation is precisely that portion of our taxation which i3 most heavily borne by large families, and the most ignored by the very people who pay most of it.
Then with regard to industry itself, the tendency-I will not say in every case, or in every country, or with every industry-but the general tendency of a protective policy is to make the manufacturer who plants his industry, and makes it grow under the protection of an artificial instrument, sluggardly and backward in his process of manufacturing. Of course, our friends on the other side of the house, British as they are, but so thoroughly Yankee in their mentality, always quote as an example the great republic to the south; but they forget that American industry, American manufacturers and American distributors of articles manufactured under a highly protective tariff, sell those goods in an open and free market of one hundred and twenty million consumers, whilst in Canada, on the contrary, so long as our consuming population remains what it is, the tendency of our manufacturers is to give to the consuming public their products more or less as they come, without much care as to the process by which they are manufactured. It is sufficient to have travelled several times in foreign countries to find out that several articles that are produced by our manufacturers do not come up in workmanship and finish to the standard of goods manufactured either in low-tariff countries like England or in high-tariff countries like Germany.
Another objection I have to the maintenance of the protective policy in Canada is precisely one which appeals most, it appears, to the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Malcolm), to whose very able speech I listened with much interest. May I say by way of parenthesis that the minister, so far as my humble self is concerned, has done something which rarely happens in our parliament? He has changed a vote in this house; he persuaded me to vote for the amendment of the hon. member for East Lambton (Mr. Fansher). I cannot bring myself to the point of enthusiasm which the hon. gentleman has developed for protection that not only helps in developing the natural resources of Canada but helps also in the creation and maintenance in Canada of artificial industries, the products of which are

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imposed upon our people at higher prices than they are worth, simply because of the maintenance of a tariff policy which has been denounced for twenty-five years at least by the party to which I belonged for a number of years, and with which I wish to cooperate, but in the hope that they will gradually abandon their tariff policy to come nearer the Liberal policy that we advocated together.
Strange to say, in the recital which the hon. gentleman gave of these magnificent artificial industries prospering under our tariff, he mentioned, if I remember aright, the cotton industry. Of course, no cotton will ever be grown on the soil of Canada. He also mentioned the rubber industry. But strange to say, he made no mention of the woollen industry. While having no principles on these matters, being somewhat in the same state of mind as my good friend and neighbour (Mr. Neill)-who is not here at the moment, but whose speech of yesterday I have read with much interest-I think that if some protection is needed it should be especially for those industries which make or could make use of Canadian products. With regard to the woollen industry I agree largely with the argument that was presented to us by the hon. member for South Waterloo (Mr. Edwards) a few days ago. But I would make any protection granted to the woollen industry in this country conditional upon their making use of Canadian wool, and that protection should not cover that part of their industry which uses imported foreign wool.
Likewise with regard to sugar, I would be in favour of some form of protection being given to the sugar industry, provided the sugar refiners were forced or induced to make use of beets grown on Canadian soil, rather than sugar cane grown in Cuba or in other islands in the south. It is in that manner that France, Germany and Belgium have built up a magnificent natural industry which helps the beet grower, the manufacturer of sugar and the public also, and has freed those countries from the monopoly exercised for many years by the sugar cane growers of America.
Mention has been made in this debate about encouraging the building of pulp and paper mills to manufacture our pulpwood. Well, taking the situation generally in Canada, from the little knowledge I have of it-and I have some knowledge because the constituency I represent is one of the large suppliers of pulp-wood-I think we have all the large industries in this regard that the paper consuming market will be able to stand, not just now, but a few years hence. Every informed man,

every man interested in the making and trading of paper, realizes that, thanks to the rivalry of those two or three great trusts that are dividing between themselves the wood of our forests and our water powers, we are approaching a crisis in the industry. Therefore, I do not say, let us encourage the building of more paper mills; I say, rather, let us look after the small individual, the small taxpayer, let us give a chance to the settlers, to the owners of small forest reserves, thousands of whom are still endeavouring to carry on in the forest lands or in the colonization parts of New Brunswick, of Quebec, of Ontario, but who find no market for the byproducts of their wood. After studying the investigations that have been made during the last thirty years I sincerely believe that Canada, and especially the three provinces just mentioned, is every year losing millions of dollars worth of wood, which is simply being allowed to rot on the ground because there is no other industry yet created or encouraged in Canada but the saw mill, the pulp mill or the paper mill; and these do not make use of such by-products.
Just a few days ago I met a young enterprising chap living in my constituency who, having cut wood for others for several years, decided to do something for himself. He went to Europe and visited the various countries where they make the fullest use of all kinds of wood. He bought the necessary machinery for the purpose he had in view, instruments for the transformation of the byproducts of wood, and returned to Canada. In due time that machinery reached this side, and he was charged something like 35 per cent duty. I claim, sir, that this is not an intelligent policy. We should give every encouragement to the small industrialist to make use of the by-products, which are nothing to the large concerns, but which mean much to the farmer, to the settler, to the small jobber- as we call him in Quebec and Ontario-and thus help the development of local industries of which we have so much need.
And here comes my fifth objection to the protectionist policy as it has been applied by all governments and parties in this country during the last fifty years. It has not only created an unbalanced industry, but it has gradually deprived various portions of our provinces of the small industries which were centres of social and economic life and concentrated those industries in the large manufacturing cities of Ontario and Quebec. Here my opinion is supported, as far as the maritime provinces are concerned, not by a rabid free trader, not by any exponent of the old theories of British and Canadian Liberalism

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-at least in our party conventions of the past-but by one of the most distinguished members of the Tory party, a man who held a portfolio in the Unionist government, Mr. McCurdy. Time and time again he has made some very striking arguments against the application of the so-called national policy, going to the length of stating that it had ruined the maritime provinces, that it had deprived those provinces of their legitimate economic development and transferred their industries to the great manufacturing centres of Ontario and Quebec.
Not only does this policy work towards the concentration of industry, it also works towards a concentration of wealth. Sir, I do not think I am a pessimist. In spite of my white hair I have kept a good deal of the optimism of youth, but I really consider with a pang of fear the apparent aloofness with which most of our public men, our publicists, our leaders of thought, regard or disregard that tremendous growth of industrialism, I will not say supported, but handicapped by those atrocious processes of over-capitalization which now are practically putting the whole of Canada in the hands of a few trusts. The men in control of those trusts not only hold the strings of the public and private purse, but at the same time they are creating an artificial wealth, a fraudulent wealth, a wealth which does not arise from labour, which does not arise from the mental exertions of men, but which is simply created by a fraudulent abuse of law and public confidence in such a manner that for an industry which demands, let us say, 120,000,000 in capitalization, $60,000,000 worth of paper will be issued. Of this, some $20,000,000 will be distributed to the gamblers on the stock exchange or others who will pay ready cash for paper which is worth nothing, and another third will be distributed among the swindlers as common shares, and the public will have to make good the dividends upon that so-called capitalization, which is nothing but a steal at the expense both of Canada and its citizens.
Then if to these instances, which may be common to us and to other countries, you couple the fact that day by day a larger proportion of the natural resources of those industries, national in their scope, and a large proportion of that wealth, real or fictitious, legitimate or fraudulent, is passing from the hands of Canadians into the hands of foreigners, and especially of Americans, I say it is high time that those men who cry out-some sincerely, others for electoral consumption-Wave the flag! God save the king!-it is high time, I repeat, for them to say: Let us save Canada
for Canadians. Let us not encourage foreign financiers and their political tools by handing over to them the inheritance of generations of Canadians, a national inheritance that it is our duty to transmit to our descendants; let us not have it sold to a handful of American speculators who come here, pick up associates among politicians of all parties, purchase the goodwill and the advertisement columns of the newspapers of this country, and are gradually preparing the economic absorption of Canada by the great country to the south of us. Any man who has any knowledge of human nature or of history should be aware that no country situated as Canada is, alongside a country constituted as the United States, has ever been able to resist political annexation and national absorption once it had allowed all the sources of its economic life to pass into the hands of the masters of finance, the masters of policy and the masters of industry of the larger country. This is a further reason why I am in full sympathy with the small membership of the Labour group, a group which is not numerous but which enunciates and propounds some ideas that, while perhaps not agreeable to you or to me, have been courageously and consistently expressed. That group, I say, has had the courage consistently to demonstrate that by losing sight of these factors of economic life we are running the risk of a danger which possibly we may realize when it is too late to meet it.
Another objection I have to the maintenance of the protective system as applied to a country like ours is its effect upon the masses of the people. No one who has given even a little time to a consideration of the conditions under which the labouring masses have worked for centuries can help a feeling of pain in comparing the situation of thousands and hundreds of thousands of men and women labouring in this year of our Lord 1928, under a so-called democratic system of government, with the conditions under which labourers and artisans of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries existed. Then, in the small local organization, the common labourer served a hard apprenticeship; nevertheless he lived a family life with his patron. He learned all the essentials of his craft and from an apprentice he grew to be a companion. After he had acquired a knowledge of all the intricacies of his work, he made his chef d'ceuvre and took rank among the masters of his art or craft. To-day hundreds of thousands of our economic slaves toil away in large industries in which they are nothing more and nothing less than annexes to the piece of machinery in conjunction with which they work. Take a shoe factory,
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for example. In the province of Quebec there are thousands of men and women working in these factories; one will operate this machine and another that machine; they will concentrate their attention upon this or that part of a pair of shoes. But not one of them can make a pair of shoes. And the same is true of all other large industries; this is the condition of modern industrialism. This is the condition which has been brought about by the conjunction of a highly protectionist or industrializing policy with the state of things introduced by the replacement of small craft by large industry.
Now I offer a word in regard to our population problem, and in this connection I express my belief with the utmost sincerity and without any desire of offending my Conservative friends. But taking conditions as I know them, especially in the province of Quebec, having lived as I have done for half a century alternately in the city and in the country, I thoroughly believe that the overindustrialization of Ontario and Quebec, the concentration, as I have described it, of industries in a few large centres, has done more to uproot our rural population from the land, transplanting them first into these industrial centres and then directing them on to the United States. I do not believe that an upward revision of our tariff would remedy the plague of emigration to the United States, with which we have had to cope in the past and which, is so serious at the present time. Not only would such an upward revision of the tariff not solve the problem, but I really believe that if we want to keep our population at home, if we want to - preserve as much as we can the ethnical, the moral, the intellectual and the economic integrity of this country, we should endeavour, not to imitate our American neighbours but on the contrary to make it quite clear to our people and to every other people on earth that, while entertaining sentiments of friendship with our neighbours, we have pride enough and confidence enough in the geniality of our Canadians, in that splendid combination of French and English traditions, to create in Canada an entity which, while perhaps comparatively small in numbers, will develop harmoniously. To this end, I say, our fiscal policy must not be a weak replica of that of the United States, nor on the other hand must it be a servile imitation of the British policy; it must be a Canadian policy inspired by a thorough knowledge of Canadian conditions and adapted to the needs of the Canadian people. If we do this we shall come to the same conclusion at which my Progressive friends have arrived, perhaps from a somewhat selfish point of view

-because we are all more or less moved by self-interest. The hon. member for Wetas-kiwin (Mr. Irvine) was candid enough to express this in the magnificent speech he delivered the other day. At any rate, if these selfish views coincide with the interests of Canada, why refuse to accept them because they happen to be put forward by a group which is neither Liberal nor Conservative? Why should not this great party welcome such ideas, thus demonstrating that it is broad enough to propound a true national policy comprising the best ideas that may be Obtained, from whatever source they come?
If we want to develop Canada economically on a solid basis, our attention must be directed primarily to rural problems and to the maintenance of our population on the farms. We must create such living conditions as will render the farmers of Canada, east and west, to whatever race they belong and whatever language they speak, a happier people. We must make Canada a happier place to live in than the United States. Some manufacturers may cry out, some financiers who like to speculate, not so much in industry as in the incorporation of companies and the amalgamation of trusts; and they may purchase some complacent papers to denounce your policy. But if you stick to it with courage and intelligence, you will reap, in the hearts and minds and finally in the votes of sound thinking Canadians, a compensation far greater than you will need to offset such contempt as you may receive at the hands of sharks who have no object in view save to enrich themselves with the assistance of this party or that group-and even with my own help if they could get it.
For all these reasons, therefore, I support the subamendment. I support it because it expresses the desire for a prompter and more adequate reduction in the tariff. And for the same reason I am unable to support the amendment though it was presented by a very dear friend of mine. I read the hon. gentleman's speech with a great deal of interest, as I read all his deliverances. But while reading it I could not help recalling the time, many years ago, when I was still interested in sports. His speech, coupled with the motion at the end, appeared to me as the strenuous exertions of a stout football player endeavouring to kick a soap bubble. In that gassy motion the word "protection" does not appear. But knowing, as I have known for thirty years, the good old Tory party, I am sure that if the nigger is not in front of the wood pile he is behind it, if not in it; and I am afraid that until the wood pile is burned down and until the nigger gets

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what he deserves-that is to say, until he is hanged to the nearest cherry tree-I cannot trust either the nigger, or the wood pile, or even my excellent friends, among them the hon. member for St. Lawrence-St. George (Mr. Cahan), who usually stands in front of the pile because he, at least, is open-minded and open-mouthed.
But there is one point upon which I would like to repeat the warning I took the liberty of giving my Progressive friends a year or two ago. Holding the views they do with regard to protection, and being more sanguine than I am of doing away with the tariff as soon as possible, how is it that they still cling to their old shibboleth of an increased British preference? In the budget this year we find a measure similar to that adopted by the government of Australia; on all goods imported under the so-called British preference it is stipulated that they must contain material or labour of the country of their supposed origin to the extent of 50 per cent of their value. I advocated the introduction of some such measure last year, or the year before; and this is one of the reasons why I am going to support the budget. I will not enlarge upon that however, beyond saying this: Do not my friends realize that by adhering to the British preference they are playing into the hands of the arch-pontiffs of protection in Canada, England and the world over? Do they not realize that this is the great hope of that handful of men who have inherited the glorious though disputed memory of the great Joseph Chamberlain, the most outstanding of whom at present is that imperial visitor whom we had the honour of receiving some weeks ago? I refer to Mr. Amery, who has been going around the world advocating the policy to which these gentlemen appear to be attached. Do not my friends realize that the reasons why the English protectionists stick to that policy and do all they can to coax and flatter the dominions into its adoption and maintenance, is because therein lies their only hope of ever bringing the British people to the support of protection, which the British nation rejected in disgust under the clear-sighted guidance of Cobden and Bright, whose memory, still cherished by the true English Liberal, is openly cursed or disdained by the English protectionist?
There is something more than that. Mention has been made, I think by the hon. member for Southeast Grey (Miss Macphail) and by my friend the Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe), to the attitude taken by the economic conference at Geneva with regard to
the tariff question. May I inform the house that I had the great advantage of being in London before the program presented to the Geneva conference was given to the press.
I met the gentleman who prepared that program, whose name is of course well known as one of the noted economists of the day, not only in the British Empire but throughout the world. Sir George Paish was kind enough to give me an advance copy of that program as well as copies of the answers received from the representatives of the largest financial institutions in the various countries of Europe. In reading over that correspondence I was struck with the objection raised by the French and the Italians.
My friend the Minister of Justice was unfortunate enough to quote a German; before the war the word of a German would have gone a long way with the Tories, because the Tories in this country as well as in England were the greatest admirers of everything 'German. Since the war, however, they have changed, in their expressions at least, although I do not know of any single Tory in Canada or in England refusing to deal with a German when there is a good bargain to be made.
The Italians and the French, however, were the first to raise an objection, and they made in effect this answer to Sir George Paish: "As long as in any of the contracting parties at Geneva, or between them and some of their political associates such as Great Britain and the dominions, a system of imperial or national preference is maintained, it is useless to talk of a tariff reduction the world over". This is quite obvious. Foreign nations do not want to be trapped in this regard into anything similar to the so-called truce policy launched by Mr. Winston Churchill in naval matters, before the war, when on the one hand he offered Germany a truce in ship building and on the other, by secret correspondence with the dominion governments, encouraged the construction of those ships which the British government pledged themselves not to build. So long as we maintain the principle that as between British and foreign nations we disregard the law of free trade or freer trade, so long will it be impossible to bring the foreigner to agree with us on a general, world-wide reduction of tariffs.
Now, sir, passing to the other items of taxation under these proposals, I will content myself by saying briefly that I approve in a general way of the reductions made by the Minister of Finance, with some few objections. I have already told the house the injustices which occur under the sales tax, by which some small manufacturers, operating
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in small centres for the benefit of the farmers who surround them, are placed at a disadvantage. Of course they will benefit by these reductions, but once more in all friendship I ask the Minister of Finance to try to see his way clear to exempt entirely from the imposition of that tax those small manufacturers who make use of the by-products of wood, for example, to help the farmers in the surrounding country. Surely they are not such serious rivals to the great lumber industries or the pulp industries, which are capitalized at millions of dollars, that they cannot be left free of that tax.
From the same social point of view I approve of the further reduction in income tax in favour of families having to support invalid dependents, and I hope this means an exemption of $500 for each invalid supported by the father.

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