Mr. P. A. SEGUIN (L'Assompticn-Mont-calm) (Translation):
Mr. Speaker, owing to
the importance of the question under consideration, I have closely examined the trade agreements of the last Imperial economic conference.
In studying these agreements, I have endeavoured to set aside all party spirit and prejudice so as to judge of their merits strictly from a viewpoint of the results which may be expected from them, in the interests of the whole country, but more particularly in the
interests of the county of l'Assomption-Mont-calm, which I have the honour of representing in the house.
In perusing, I said, the agreements entered into by the Imperial government and the dominions, but especially between, Canada and the mother country, it is evident, and I am not so imbued with party spirit as not to admit it, that there is reason to believe that a number of them may be beneficial to Canada; however, I regret to state that, as a whole, the results will be of little benefit and will in no way relieve the financial unrest prevailing at present, it will be quite the contrary.
As a proof of good faith, I have no hesitation in stating, in the house, that I would willingly have approved certain items, however, the interests of the country, but especially those of my county, force me to reject the greater part of these agreements concluded between Canada and the other nations of the British Commonwealth.
I regret that parliamentary rules, and by the way, I wish to draw the attention of the house to the haste displayed by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett), in opposing the amendment moved by my hon. friend from Shelbume-Yarmouth (Mr. Ralston), I regret, I stated, that parliamentary rules prescribed this amendment being appended to the resolution under consideration; the Speaker having declared it out of order, there is no other alternative than to vote against the main motion.
I have earnestly endeavoured to follow this debate, I should have liked to see the speakers on the government side bring out absolutely convincing arguments to establish their contentions; they have not so far done so.
The hon. Solicitor General (Mr. Dupre), whose natural gifts are well known, in his very eloquent speech, on Wednesday and Thursday last, instead of endeavouring to establish the advantages which he contends will result from the new trade agreements, preferred to be witty and even display his natural aptitude for the stage, with bugle sounding, he first informed us, on Wednesday, that his party was so convinced of the merits of its case that it was ready to appeal, immediately, to the people and that an election would afford an opportunity to Canadians to approve or disapprove the attitude of the government. However, the following day, when the house met, he thought it best to state that his remarks the previous evening, in this respect, were inconsiderate and that they should not be interpreted exactly as they were made. And, in that same speech, on Thursday, notwithstanding our good will, it is impossible to discover any plea in favour of the agreements
of the Imperial conference; he preferred to devote most of his allotted time, to bring to life again, as he thought best, one whom he no more fears, now that he silently rests in his coffin, so as to prove to us that Laurier would disapprove, were he allowed to give his views from beyond the grave, the present policy of his party and its leaders. It is most probable, however, that after reading over his speech, had he spoken in the house, the following day, he would have requested us not to consider the previous day's speech too seriously as it was only intended to produce a momentary effect on his partisans. [DOT]
The lion. Solicitor General throughout his speech, only found as a background to his arguments, article 23 of the pact between the various nations of the commonwealth which, according to his interpretation, would be a safeguard in case unforeseen complications rose as regards these trade agreements This article reads as follows:
In the event of circumstances arising which, in the judgment of His Majesty's government in the United Kingdom or of His Majesty's government in Canada, as the ease may be, necessitate a variation in the terms of the agreement, the proposal to vary these terms shall form the subject of consultation between the two governments.
I regret, sir, to differ from the lion. Solicitor General on this point. In my opinion, this article 23 is rather an acknowledgment that Canada has forsaken her freedom of action as regards these trade agreements, and this new stipulation places her purely and simply on the level of slaves, since, during five years, she cannot act without consulting the United Kingdom, and this is what the Solicitor General calls a safety valve.
The hon. Postmaster General also thought it proper to take part in this debate. After assuring himself that he did not need to be reminded by the opposition in order to discover that a crisis prevailed in this country, he stated that his government, for the last two years, was conscientiously facing the new situation. The following is what he stated, according to Wednesday's Hansard, October 19, 1932:
For two years, the crisis has raged with such fury throughout the world that no economist, no statesman could forsee the consequences. The causes of this depression are numerous and, often, a remedy which is efficient, when applied in a healthy centre, is of no use during an epidemic or its action weakened in an infected centre.
The views of my hon. friend the Postmaster General are quite different from those he held during the election of 1930. He then contended that a crisis existed in Canada and that the Liberal administration was respons-53719-42J
ible for such a situation; he therefore requested the people to place the right hon. Mr. Bennett and his party in power, and that this would prove a panacea to all our ills. Now, after being in power for two years, the hon. Postmaster General informs us that his government endeavoured to fulfil as much as possible its pledges, but that, the causes of the crisis being so numerous, the remedy that his leader applied had no effect or its action was weakened by the infected centre.
My hon. friend goes a step further, without ever showing what benefit we might derive from these trade agreements, he asks us to wait two more years in order to find out the results of these agreements; in Hansard, October 19, 1932, he states:
However, sir, when our opponents, in their amendment-on which they are undecided how to vote-request us to refer the matter to the people before giving approval to the trade agreements, etc. . . . The Liberal party find it advantageous to request an appeal to the people at present instead of waiting two years hence, namely the time when the Canadian people will better be able to judge the results of these trade agreements.
How times have changed, sir! Who has forgotten the eloquent display of my hon. friend who, taking his cue from his leader, stated in 1930: put us in power and in three months, unemployment will have ceased. There will be a better market for butter, and no further mention of a crisis.
My hon. friend, in his speech, expressed the hope he felt that the trade agreements entered into by his leader, would produce profitable results on various items of farm products.
I shall especially refer to one of these items which greatly interests a number of my constituents, namely tobacco.
The hon. Postmaster General stated, in his speech, that the United Kingdom had imported over 230,000,000 pounds of tobacco, in 1930, and that Canada had shipped nearly 4,000,000 pounds.
But I wonder, sir, on what my hon. friend bases his statement that the new trade agreements with the commonwealth will be advantageous to tobacco growers in this country. May I state, sir, that I can but greatly regret the attitude taken by the right hon. Prime Minister who, previous to the Imperial conference, refused to listen to the representations which the farmers might have made, and especially the tobacco growers.
Having had the great privilege of being chosen as one of the four or five thousand farmers who met at the Coliseum, in July last, together with my good friends, the hon. members for North Huron, North Grey, North
Imperial Conference-Trade Agreements
Wellington and Norfolk-Elgin, and as a delegate sent to invite the right hon. Prime Minister to meet this imposing gathering, I am certainly in a position to inform hon. gentlemen, bow the Prime Minister acted on this occasion; and I challenge the hon. members on the government side who accompanied me to deny the fact.
After listening to the spokesman of the delegation, Mr. Lindsay, official delegate of the United-Farmers, the Prime Minister simply stated that it was quite impossible for him to accept the invitation. He was then assured that little of his time would be taken up, that it would be only a matter of welcoming this very large gathering and receive a memorandum prepared with a view to the Imperial economic conference. He persisted in saying that he had not a minute to spare and as it was represented to him that these good people would gladly wait until it would be most convenient to him, he emphatically stated that his time was entirely taken up until midnight.
He was then requested to have the hon. Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Weir) or another member of his cabinet, represent him.
To this, he emphatically replied that he was busy and that his ministers were also too busy to go and meet that large gathering of farmers; therefore, it was a definite refusal on his part to listen to the claims of this group of people, certainly the most important in this country.
The tobacco growers of the county of 1'Assomption-Montcalm, having also thought fit to present their suggestions in order to improve their situation and obtain the greatest advantages possible for the sale of their products, more fortunate, however than their brother farmers, who had to put up with a scornful refusal on the part of the Prime Minister, and thanks to the well known courtesy of the hon. Minister of Agriculture, were welcomed by the latter in the most charming way possible, and I must take this opportunity to thank him again for his kind welcome and the good intentions he manifested.
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OP DEBATE ON THE MOTION FOR APPROVAL OF TRADE AGREEMENT BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED KINGDOM