Mr. J. K. BLAIR (North Wellington):
Mr. Speaker, I wish for a few moments to speak in the interests of the locality from which I come. We have some industries which are not in a very healthy condition and certainly we will have to find ways and means to stimulate the progress of our towns and villages. Our stores are filled with goods and our farmers who are unable to buy are looking in the windows, their credit having reached its limit. The towns to which I refer depend
The Address-Mr. Blair
largely upon the farming industry, and if the government could help in some way we would be delighted. Farming is the basic industry of our district, and therefore when the farmers are prosperous everybody is prosperous. May I remind the Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) that his photograph was placed in every convenient corner of my constituency and underneath it were placards giving promises to the farmers. At this time I ask your permission, Mr. Speaker, to read some of the messages delivered to the farmers by the Prime Minister:
We pledge ourselves to foster and develop agriculture and the live stock and dairy industries now so sadly neglected.
The Prime Minister is quoted as having made the following statement:
This group of mercenaries holding office by sham and subterfuge, look upon them as treacherous to you, and self-confessed, deserving of your passionate condemnation.
At Woodstock the Prime Minister is quoted as follows:
Our dairy business has been lost. We have 140,000 fewer milch cows to-day than in 1925, and there has been a corresponding depletion of our swine.
At Calgary the Prime Minister said:
In my opinion the basic industry is agriculture. Agriculture has been the basis of this country's prosperity. The success of the wheat grower, of the wheat farmer, is reflected in the power of the people.
Then comes the problem that is more important, the problem of marketing and of selling wheat. There it seems to me is a fertile field for the endeavour of a government.
France, Germany and Italy have raised tariffs against Canadian wheat. We will look over the top of the hill and beyond the horizon to make provision for the Canadian agriculturist and secure for him markets. That is a question which will have to be solved. I told my audience at Winnipeg and I tell you here and now that condition I will not permit to continue in this country.
Then at Victoria he is quoted as follows:
It is true we must have foreign markets and as I said the other evening we will blast a way to those markets on a world-wide basis with many exportable surpluses. We do not have to worry about that.
The Ottawa Journal reported a speech delivered at Woodstock, New Brunswick, as follows:
It gave him great regret, Mr. Bennett continued, to have seen the deserted farm lands of New Brunswick, Quebec and other provinces. "Well," he stated, "I am going to say right here that I shall regard it as my great responsibility if elected on July 28 to see that the collective weight and power of the Dominion of Canada is placed behind agriculture. I would be lacking in qualifications entitling me to head a government if I failed to do so."
The Ottawa Morning Citizen reported a speech delivered at Ormstown as follows:
The Conservative leader gave strong expression to his party's policy for assistance to agricultural schools, cheaper transportation, distribution and marketing. It was necessary, he continued, that farmers should receive just compensation for their efforts "and rewards equal to the professions" to keep Canadian boys and girls on the farm.
Hon. gentlemen know how those promises were fulfilled. After making such promises the Prime Minister called a short session and did everything in his power to cripple the farmers. Not understanding their critical condition he destroyed their last vestige of hope by his action at the Imperial conference. The farmers of Canada had hoped that the Prime Minister through his deliberations at the Imperial conference would make arrangements for the sale of their wheat. However in that regard they were badly fooled. When the Prime Minister visited the city of Calgary the papers proclaimed that he had a message which would greatly benefit the farmers of that district. They looked forward to his visit. We listened over our radios to this wonderful message, but in the minds of most of us there was extreme disappointment-it seemed just like a flat tire. In my district we had splendid crops and plenty of help to harvest them. Out storehouses are filled with an abundance of grain. In short, we have everything the soul of man can wish for, and yet there is distress throughout the Dominion. This distress is due to several causes. Undoubtedly the freight rates are too high, and there is no statesmanlike guidance of our national affairs. The heavens truly were kind, but the foolishness of the rulers had made the kindness of the heavens of no avail. We have abundance of food and yet our people are starving; a superfluity of clothing on our shelves and yet our people perishing for lack of it. I must insist that hon. gentlemen opposite do something for the farmers. I have repeated their promises to refresh their memories. I do not care how empirical their methods may be, so long as they get results. We are satisfied that their methods-those they have advocated and applied so far-are entirely wrong. We know that high tariffs are no cure for the present troubles of the body politic. To impose a high tariff is to drive a wedge between the rich and poor-making the rich richer and the poor poorer. It lowers the price of what the farmer has to sell and raises the price of what he has to buy.
The Address-Mr. Blair
The Prime Minister said he would guarantee to the manufacturer interest on his investment, a certain percentage on his turnover, and a sufficient balance to pay fair wages. This in my view was simply a declaration against the farmer and the consumer. If he is going to guarantee the economic safety of one class he should similarly guarantee all other classes in the community. What I have referred to was his minimum guarantee; I do not know how far bis maximum might go. This is purely and simply class legislation, and if the farmer imagines for a moment that he can thrive under such a law he is making a sad mistake. In other words, he is simply being placed at the mercy of the manufacturer. About 2,000 years ago Plato said that every political party was destroyed by the excess of its basic principle. Now, the basic principle of the Conservative party is high tariff, and that principle developed to excess will not only destroy the party responsible for it, but also, unhappily, the nation whose affairs are entrusted to its administration.
The Prime Minister spoke of his diagnosis. Now, when a doctor sees a patient he makes a diagnosis of the trouble and then a prognosis in order to form an idea of the approximate duration of the patient's sickness and the correct treatment to apply. The right hon. gentleman declares: We do not say we will cure unemployment, we will end unemployment in three days. I think he was correct in his diagnosis, but his prognosis was undoubtedly too short. I think also that the dose of high protection he has administered to his patient is far too heavy. The country- his patient-is ^pretty well exhausted, and unless another doctor be substituted I am afraid the treatment will kill the patient. Canada to-day is suffering from too high a tariff. I need not quote figures to prove my contention; they have been given to the house so often that I do not think it necessary to repeat them now.
On various occasions the Prime Minister has said that he does not believe in the dole system. I do not think any of us approve of that system. Unfortunately he is so hard-pressed that apparently he is trying to find a way of escape, and to do so he seems prepared to apply the dole system, a system which has been so ruinous to the morale of the working classes in the old land. True, we cannot allow our indigent people to starve, but surely the Prime Minister is capable of evolving some constructive policy whereby employment may be provided for all those who are willing to work. It is a well known law that if people do something for their country
they will love their country, whereas if they become parasites their patriotism languishes. Victor Hugo said that men always hate those they have wronged. And if a man wrongs his country he will hate it. Those who rely on the dole will not love their country; only those who have done something for their country will be ready to die in its defence.
May I quote Victor Hugo again? He says that an infallible barometer of hard times is the expense of collecting taxes. Unhappily that has been only too well borne out recently, for a great many of our people have not been able to pay their taxes. This condition of affairs to a considerable extent is due to the policy of the present government. We feel that the farmers of Canada were badly treated by the legislation enacted last September. To make matters worse, when the Prime Minister went to the Imperial economic conference he made no effort to help them. His attitude, puts me in mind of the motorist who saw a man walking home. He stopped and said, "Why, John, are you walking? I will bring my car here in a minute and give you a lift." He came round with his car, drove towards the man smiling, and just as he got close to him flipped the wheel round and ran over the poor fellow. He. jumped out of his car, rushed over, picked the man up and told him it was all a pure accident. He added, "Wait until I turn the car round, and I will give you a lift home." But the same thing happened again; just as he got alongside the man he gave the wheel a flip and ran over him the second time. He jumped out of his car, expressed his regret for the misadventure and said, "Stand there until I turn round; I will give give you a lift and then everything will be all right." About this time a friend of the unfortunate man came within earshot and he said to him, "You fool! come out of there; he is going to ride over you a third time." My opinion is that the Prime Minister ran over the fanners at the special session, he ran over them again at the Imperial economic conference, and I believe he is turning his car round to run over them a third time. And unless we can find some rescue on the other side I do not think there is anyone on this side who can pull that man out of the rut. The wheel looks all right, and the man's language is pleasant enough, but it means nothing. The language the Prime Minister used in the old country was splendid; its phraseology was attractive. But when it was analyzed, particularly the last clause or two, it did not take the Englishman long to see what was behind it. In other words, the right hon. gentleman did not suit his actions to his words.
The Address-Mr. Blair
One frequently hears about the depression that prevailed in the last year of the government led by the present leader of the opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King). Our friends opposite are constantly telling us about that time of depression. May I point out that when the present leader of the opposition was captain of the ship of state we were sailing along and making progress to the extent of fifty million dollars a year towards the liquidation of our debt. I wish the Conservative government would usher- in a few years of that sort of depression. But while my right hon. leader's government was making that headway, what were hon. gentlemen opposite doing? They were doing their best to rock the ship of state. Every time the then captain attempted to ride a wave hon. gentlemen opposite endeavoured to rock the boat. They succeeded in frightening the public and the consequence was that there was a change of captains. But the country will be fortunate if the future brings the sort of depression we had under the previous government.
The Prime Minister has made great statements about opening new channels of commerce. Why open up new avenues of commerce when the government has thrown sandbags into the ones, that we have? They are cutting off in every way possible the present avenues to commercial enterprise, and still they are talking about opening up new waterways and so forth. The government are closing up our ocean ports so that our ships will have little to do. I do not know why the ship of state could not have been left under the old captain, when she was sailing peacefully and, as I have said, to the tunc of fifty million dollars annually towards the payment of our national debt. The career of this government so far reminds me of the Greek myth of Phoebus. Phoebus was a very proud star, and while the other bodies were going on their celestial way, suddenly with great confusion she would throw forth great balls of fire; and while she disturbed the harmony of the heavens, yet she satisfied her vainglory by making herself conspicuous for a time.
The conspicuous place which the right hon. gentleman has won for himself he has won at the cost of the country.
I think of Canada as a vast factory, and the travellers who are working in its interests at the present time are the Prime Minister and his coL eagues. We sent them to the old country to attend the Imperial conference in the hope that they would come to some business arrangement that would be advantageous
to the commerce of Canada. But the attitude of the right hon. gentleman over there was not that of a salesman; it was more that of a dictator. If any of us had commercial travellers of that type coming into our offices they would not stay very long. The Prime Minister did not show that amiable spirit which is likely to promote business. He disregarded the warning of the Delphic oracle which every Greek was supposed to learn before starting out iin life-[DOT]" Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad." It seems to me that anyone going into public life should memorize that saying. It would have been well if the Prime Minister had thought of it when he was in the old land.
I wish now to say something with regard to the granting of relief to the poor. Conservative governments have always had the habit, when giving grants of this sort, of officiously doing the business of the powers beneath them. In our district many people rushed forward in the hope of getting some relief from the grant that was being made by this government. But it was not for them. If you were too poor you could not get it; you had to subscribe a certain amount before you could receive anything. It was for those who were financially in a position to secure it. It seems to be a characteristic of Conservative governments, not only Dominion but provincial as well, to knife back, if I may say so, the municipalities, very much to the cost of the latter.
Let me now discuss for a moment what is at present transpiring in the Argentine. What is the meaning of all this celebration that is talcing place there, with the heir to the throne participating? Why could not such a pleasant relationship be manifested in Canada? I regret to say that I am afraid our birthright has been partly disposed of. All these grandstand performances in the Argentine are, it appears to me, an open declaration of the weakness of our Prime Minister, indicating his failure to direct trade and traffic to this country. We cannot see it in any other way, and we must regard it as a great loss to Canada.
There is one thing further to which I wish to make reference. It seems to me that the Conservative party has a tendency to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. I have here a letter from Imperial Oil, Limited, to the Independent Oil and Gas Company, Limited, of Montreal, and I wish to quote from it in order that hon. members may see what is taking place. The letter reads as follows:
The Address-Mr. Blair
Your inquiry of November 3rd, relative to gasoline for 1931 delivery, has been received and is appreciated.
At the present time we are not in a position to quote you for 1931 shipment but may be able to do so towards the end of the year and will communicate with you at that time. Just at the present time we are running somewhat behind schedule on our shipments, and, while we believe we should be able to take care of your requirements, we prefer to hold the matter over until a little later in the year.
In the meantime, again thanking you for your inquiry, we are,
The increased duty was put on in order that the gasoline should be purchased from Canadian companies, such as the Imperial Oil Company, but from this letter it would seem as though those companies are refusing to sell it. Apparently they are trying to put the independent companies out of business. On October 18 a tank car of gasoline cost $821.95 while by November 5 the price of a similar tank car of gasoline had risen to $949.16, an increase of over $120. Hon. gentlemen opposite will probably reply that although this tank car of gasoline cost $128 more the consumer was not obliged to pay any more for his gasoline. That is quite right, because the consumer has been paying a little less, but it gives an opportunity to the larger oil companies to decrease the margin between the wholesale and retail prices in order to eliminate the small independent dealer. The statement has been made that an increase of duty was granted in order that these companies might be assisted financially. This statement would not seem to be borne out by the following analysis dated March 18, 1930, issued by Financial Counsel:
Dealing with an item of $874,000 set aside for depreciation, he said that $174,000 or $700,000 less than amount set aside, would have been sufficient. The larger amount w-as written off because 9 per cent of the net revenue is payable to the Dominion government for taxes. With respect to such, a nominal write-off would have substantially increased earnings per share as indicated in the figures presented in the foregoing.
That statement would show that the amount set aside for depreciation was placed at $700,000 too much in order to avoid paying the Dominion government. These are the companies for whom the duty was raised in order to allow them to exist.
On motion of Mr. LaVergne the debate was adjourned.
On motion of Mr. Guthrie the house adjourned at 10.55 p.m.
Friday, March 20, 1931
Topic: $1 60 1.68 COMMONS