April 19, 1932 (17th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Joseph Oscar Lefebre Boulanger


Mr. BOULANGER (Translation):

Can the hon. Postmaster General inform me what the Quebec Highway Act has to do with the Dominion government's policy on agriculture.
An hon. MEMBER (Translation): A great find!
Mr. E. C. ST-PERE (Hochelaga) (Translation) : Mr. Speaker, my first word will be
one of congratulation to our new Finance minister (Mr. Rhodes) on the clear-cut and, may I add, courageous, first budget he has presented to the house. The budget itself, however, brings none of that prosperity promised us by the Tories at the last Dominion election.
I wish to congratulate also my old friend, the hon. Postmaster General (Mr. Sauve) for having-ever faithful to his principles-persevered in the old protectionist policy which he has never ceased fighting for.
I believe that when he stated awhile ago that certain opposition speakers used abusive language he surely was not alluding to the member for Hochelaga who neither in his election campaigns nor in the federal parliament at Ottawa nor elsewhere, has ever struck his opponents below the belt.
This new budget is crammed with statistics which show that our country is in a pitiable state. Our new Baron Louis, the hon. Minister of Finance, asks for money in return for the bad policy, viewed economically, his government has followed up till now. He demands funds from this house repeating the request that the former Baron Louis was wont to make to his partisans: "Give me good politics, my dear friends, and in the future I shall give you good finance."
A moment ago, my good friend the hon. Postmaster General said that for years the members of the opposition have been asking for a free trade policy. At times my good friend can joke without displaying a smile. He well knows, since he comes from the province of Quebec, that the old Liberal party in our province has never asked for free trade, but was content with the economic policy put into practice by Sir Wilfrid Laurier and his sup-
The Budget-Mr. St-Pere

porters, based on a tariff for revenue which afforded protection at the same time to our large industries and to the general economic interests of Canada. Like all governments that are hard put to it-and our Canadian government finds itself to-day in the very same position as the governments of many other countries-our government first sets about practising certain economies: the ten per cent cut in the salaries of our civil servants. I am opposed to this false economy and my main reason is that I represent one of the largest workingman's ridings in Canada. I am against this reduction in salaries for the very good reason-and in this I am not moved merely by preoccupations of political expediency-many of our foremost economists take the same attitude-that a reduction in salaries is inevitably followed by* a weakening of the purchasing power of the country's citizens; and the Lord knows this reduction in purchasing power has, in the present instance, caused innumerable disasters in different parts of Canada and throughout the entire world. I quote Mr. James Klyne, Assistant Secretary of Commerce in the United States:
In the period comprised between 1921 and 1929, wages really increased by 13 per cent; during the same period the profits of industry rose 72 per cent; and these same industries gained in dividends 256 per cent.
I wonder, Mr. Speaker, if this discrepancy does not absolutely justify our large labour organizations who never cease protesting any reduction in wages.
I have never had faith in these plans of work for the unemployed as a solution of the economic difficulties of our population. Such works as have been undertaken have served, with certain exceptions, merely to enrich a large number of contractors, of partisans; and I even venture to say, representing as I do the opinion of the workingmen of my district, that our people would be better off if these relief works were stopped altogether. Direct relief will ensure far more improvement in the economic situation of Quebec, and the other provinces than have these undertakings for the benefit of the unemployed, which have cost $150,000,000.
These works, Mr. Speaker, should be replaced by direct relief. This latter, unfortunately, appears to be misunderstood by the public. This direct relief will not be a "dole" as applied in England; I consider that it will be simply returning to the workers a part of the wealth that industrial and other exploiters, thanks to high protection, have been despoiling them of for a number of years.

No more guarantees for wheat pools! We have there another false principle that has been applied for years. And direct aid, bounties and subsidies granted to industries are no more than another form of protection which puts these same industries in a very advantageous position when it comes to competing with the products of other countries in the markets of Europe. For the love of the Almighty, let us legislators have done with political prejudice, face the real situation, and understand our duty to enable Canada to compete efficiently with foreign products on the great European markets.
The reduction of the expenses incurred by the Canadian National-

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