July 31, 1931 (17th Parliament, 2nd Session)


James Shaver Woodsworth


Mr. J. S. WOODSWORTH (Winnipeg North Centre):

Mr. Speaker, as a member
of one of the independent groups and as one who has supported the plea for an investigation I should like to call attention to certain aspects of the report. I shall not attempt to follow the apologia of the leader of the opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King). There were no charges made against him, and yet he made an elaborate defence which reveals, probably, his own personal integrity, rather than his political sagacity. In the early part of his speech he discussed Mr. Sweezey's cynical statement that "gratefulness was always regarded as an important factor in dealing with democratic governments." He repudiated the idea that the acceptance of campaign funds had any influence on the policies of politicians. However, later in his [DOT]speech he insinuated that an investigation might show that tariff concessions were not unconnected with campaign funds, and insisted that large contributions are what tell at election times. He urged that a leader of a party could not very well have a knowledge of the campaign funds and of those who had contributed and still be free to decide questions on their merits. Again I would suggest that the moral standards of the leader of the opposition are high but rather unreal. I ask, would the majority of corporations continue to subscribe to campaign funds from purely altruistic motives? And I ask, would the leader of the opposition himself be very happy in his enjoyment of the position secured through doubtful means, even although he himself was personally ignorant of them? As a matter of fact we all know that every member of parliament is required to certify to the statement of his agent with regard to contributions and expenses, and thus if the contentions of the leader of the opposition were correct every private member must have moral difficulties as great as those which the leader would have.
I should like to congratulate the chairman of the committee, the Minister of Immigration (Mr. Gordon) on his statement. He enunciated a new code of financial morality- at least I have never heard it in this house put so clearly. I quote from page 4355 of Hansard. He was referring to the
fact that the promoters of the company who are now in control have no money in it but had made a great profit out of it, and he said:
-every time a dollar is added to the capital cost of any business the ultimate result is that those who have to transact business with that company or with that industry, must, all down through the future, just pay that much more for the product of that industry. Therefore it is very essential, particularly in the development of a resource such as this, that its initial capital cost be kept down to the lowest possible limit, in order that the benefits that will flow' from its development will be reaped by the people of the country.
It seems to me that if we really incorporated that principle into our requirements with regard to big corporations, we would be far on the way to a much higher level of business morality than we have had in the past.
It is obviously very difficult for the ordinary member of parliament to study the evidence as contained in the report of over a thousand pages, covering highly technical engineering problems, and legal and constitutional questions and financial arrangements with wide ramifications. I have wondered as I have looked over this evidence, whether a hundred years from now, if somebody delving into the archives should discover the report of this inquiry he might not regard it as a farce displaying the political morals of the dark age of 1931. Look at the dramatis personae! Senators, financial promoters, deputy ministers and other government officials, bankers, parliamentary agents

otherwise known as ''lobbyists"-barristers galore, engineers, investment brokers, chartered accountants, an ex-Prime Minister, a medical doctor. In the background, as a sort of chorus, political parties-and may I say not a single woman in the play.

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