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


Frank S. Cahill



Perhaps I am. Now, Mr. Speaker, during this debate I have listened with great attention to the criticisms of the budget by hon. gentlemen opposite, and the more I listen the more I am impressed with the greatness of that fine Canadian leader, Sir John A. Macdonald. Sir John Macdonald was a statesman who was both farsighted and ingenious; he was responsible to a large extent for the confederation of Canada and for the construction of a line of railway from the Atlantic to the Pacific. He helped in large measure in his time to develop Canada and Canadian resources and to make the Canadian people happy in Canada. But Sir John did propound one fallacy, the fallacy that protection is a cure-all, the fallacy that you can lift yourself by your boot straps, or that a nation can tax itself rich. My hon. friends of the Conservative party have lived for fifty
The Budget-Mr. Cahill

years or more in a somnambulant state: they have not evolved one new idea or thought except that which they constantly repeat, that protection is a cure-all for the ills of Canada.
During that early period of railway construction there was prosperity in Canada; we know that from statistics and from the history of the time. After the construction of the Canadian Pacific railway and the settlement in the west of a nucleus of farmers who proved to the world that western Canada was a profitable country to .farm in, that it was feasible to farm here,-after the construction of that road, I say, there set in the natural depression which follows construction works in any country. We wraited for ten years until that other great statesman came to the front-Sir Wilfrid Laurier. After the west had been proven Sir Wilfrid Laurier undertook to fill the vacant spaces in that part of the Dominion and instituted a railway construction program which offered employment to all the people who came to Canada. Every immigrant was able to find employment, was able to take up free land: and during that period we had a great influx of immigration and a time of prosperity. But since that day there has been no immigration policy so far as the governments of Canada are concerned. The present policy could not by any stretch of the imagination be called an immigration policy: a policy of assisted immigration, bringing in people at the expense of the taxpayers of Canada, is not to be considered an immigration policy. The Conservative party had never had a shred of policy that could be called an immigration policy. After all, there is only one immigration policy. Study the question as you will, look around as you will, there is only one immigration policy for Canada or for any other country, and that is a policy that will make for the best interests of all the people. That is the kind of policy that brought people to Canada before, and that is the only policy that will bring them again. As to this cry of the lack of an immigration policy, the lack of a policy by reason of the fact that there is no protection, the people of Canada have suffered under protection for many years, and on this point I should like to see a referendum taken in Canada on the question of lower or higher tariffs, on the question of free trade or protection. I am convinced that 70 per cent of the people would be in favour of a low tariff or of free trade. In this connection I am reminded of a policy which I believe would be useful to Canada; I think it is a platform that might well be adopted by the Liberal party. I refer to these words of Lord Macaulay:
Our rulers will best promote the improvement of the nation by strictly confining them-
IUi. Cahill.1
selves to their own legitimate duties, by leaving capital to find its most lucrative course, commodities their fair price, industry and intelligence their natural reward, idleness and folly their natural punishment; by maintaining peace, by defending property, by diminishing the price of law, and by observing strict economy in every department of the state. Let the government do this: the people will assuredly do the rest.
That is a policy that might well be adopted by Canada. It is a policy that might serve as a guide for this country, a guide against legislating in favour of any class, a guide that would permit the government to legislate in such a way that all who come to Canada will have an equal opportunity to make their own living, to reap the benefits of their own efforts, without being handicapped by some of the legislation which has been on the Canadian statute books for many years.
We are handicapped in this country by our insane banking system. It is almost impossible to get people to advocate a change in that system. I have heard it remarked in the house that the only people who are opposed to the present banking system are the people who cannot get credit. It occurred to me, Mr. Speaker, that possibly those who supported the present banking system had notes coming due, and were therefore afraid to oppose the banks. However. the system is handicapping our people; it is one of the great drawbacks in the maritime provinces, one of the things which bring their representatives here year after year pleading with this government for assistance. From their association with hon. members opposite these representatives eventually came to the decision that something should be done for them by the government by taxing the people, and of course taxing themselves as well. That is a species of Tory socialism, that you can tax yourself rich. A great deal of their complaint is due to that very cause, just as the farmers in the west complained a few years ago until they evolved a plan whereby they marketed their wheat co-operatively and took conditions as they found them. By that process they have reaped more of the benefits of their labour than was previously the case. When those western farmers first attempted the co-operative movement, however, they were blocked by the banks of Canada and placed1 in a most awkward position. They had to go outside Canada for assistance in order to finance their undertaking, until finally the Canadian banks found they could not block them any longer and came to their aid. This system has accumulated the
MARCH 8, 1928 H27
The Budget-Mr. Macdonald (Cape Breton)
finances of Canada in the two great centres of the east, and until that system is changed it is impossible to legislate in such a way as will give equal opportunities to every Canadian. Until that time comes, and some adjustments are made in our present laws, it is useless for us to spend money on an immigration policy in an attempt to bring people to Canada to work under the same handicap. They realize what they are up against before they come here, and many of them refuse to enter Canada because they know that under our present conditions we are not doing all we can for even our own people.
While I am on this subject, Mr. Speaker, there is one poiat I should like to develop. Ever since I have been in this house I have heard the point stressed by both parties and by the different leaders that a preference of some sort should be given to the Britisher. That might be all very well if, by that preference, you are not putting the other fellow in the position of a second rater. Every time you say you have a first choice, all others must be a secondary consideration; they must necessarily be second choices. The man who comes to this country to live is very sensitive, and when you point out to him that you have a first, a second and possibly a third choice he does not care to be placed in anything but the first class. Every man who comes to Canada should be accepted as a Canadian; he should be allowed to grow up in Canada as a Canadian without any such classification. I venture to say that many members of this house, if not a majority of the members, are not descended from people coming from the British Isles; to them you say you prefer some person else. To the German settler on the prairies, to the American settler or to the man coming from any other country but Great Britain you say: You are only second choice. I believe the Minister of Immigration (Mr. Eorke), the members of the government and the members of the opposition in speaking on immigration matters should hesitate to classify any man coming to Canada as less than a first class Canadian.
If we would devote a little time and attention to really working out our problems, in a very short time we would have no immigration problem. I have listened for some weeks to a discussion of this budget, but I have failed to hear one constructive suggestion. Hon. gentlemen opposite have brought forward the old shibboleth of higher tariff, higher taxes; that is the only theory the Tory party can suggest for the ills of this country. Further taxation is to cure everything 1 II the parliament of Canada had devoted the
time spent in this debate to an earnest attempt to find out what could be done to stop emigration, to promote immigration and to assist the people already in Canada we would be very much better off. We have taken weeks to discuss a harmless budget, an amendment offered by the opposition which means nothing, and a subamendment from the Progressive comer which I think means even less. The debate has gone on long enough, Mr. Speaker, and I do not propose to prolong it; all I wish to say is that aftet the excellent speech of the hon. member for South Wellington I am quite convinced that the government is in a safe position and that I shall be justified in supporting the budget presented by my hon. friend the Minister of Finance.

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