MACDONALD, Finlay, K.C., LL.B.

Personal Data

Conservative (1867-1942)
Cape Breton South (Nova Scotia)
Birth Date
November 17, 1866
Deceased Date
May 29, 1948

Parliamentary Career

October 29, 1925 - July 2, 1926
  Cape Breton South (Nova Scotia)
September 14, 1926 - May 30, 1930
  Cape Breton South (Nova Scotia)
July 28, 1930 - August 14, 1935
  Cape Breton South (Nova Scotia)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 173 of 174)

February 25, 1926

Mr. FINLAY MacDONALD (Cape Breton South):

Mr. Speaker, as one of the new members of the House may I be .permitted to join in the general chorus of congratulation to yourself on your re-election to the high office of Speaker? Long before I was elected to parliament I knew you by reputation; I had heard of your fairness, ability and impartiality. Since I have been in the House I have had opportunities of observing these things for myself, and I have learned that your decisions are always just and, particularly so far as the younger members are concerned, tempered with mercy. I trust, Mr. Speaker, that that fund has not been exhausted, because it is within the bounds of probability that I shall make a draft or two upon it before I sit down.

I believe the advice usually given to the younger members by older and more experienced parliamentarians is that during their first session at least they should preserve a discreet silence. That, I think, is very good advice, because naturally a new member coming to this House feels himself somewhat under restraint, feels himself sitting in the seats of the mighty for the first time, and naturally he should give himself an opportunity to get more or less acclimated to the somewhat rarified atmosphere of this chamber. That admonition I would be only too glad to heed; I would be only too well satisfied to preserve a silence during my first session in parliament, but unfortunately, possibly because there have been so many new members and all have evidently felt the urge to deliver their message to the House, the advice has been more or less disregarded;


The Address-Mr. MacDonald (Cape Breton)

the new members, comprising probably half the membership of the House, have nearly all contributed to the current political literature of the country. That may have been partly due to the uncertainty prevailing in government circles and to the uncertain future of this parliament. Possibly they have felt that if they did not deliver their message at this session there might be no other opportunity of doing so.

A particularly gratifying feature that I think distinguished all the speeches was that members coming to this House spoke as representing the whole of Canada, realizing that when they took their seats in parliament they no longer represented merelj' the restricted areas that elected them, but every part of this great and glorious country. We have been enabled to bring to the attention of this chamber the various problems that are troubling different sections of the country, and although I come from Nova Scotia I feel that I should take as deep an interest in the problems of the western country as in those of my own province. I have been particularly pleased since coming to this House to find such a sympathetic and hearty response from the representatives of the other provinces, particularly those of the west, who have been always ready to hear and to consider the problems of the Maritimes. I might refer to the admirable speech of the hon. member who has just taken his seat (Mr. Church), and particularly to the speech delivered by the hon. member for Moose Jaw (Mr. Ross) a day or so ago, in which, although representing a western constituency and feeling his chief interest bound up in western affairs, he said that he was prepared to consider sympathetically those Maritime problems that we are bringing to the attention of this House.

This problem that goes by the name of Maritime rights has been before the House on several occasions. Many hon. members on both sides have indicated their willingness to help in the solution of Maritime province problems, but they have all said they want to know exactly what those problems are. They want us to condescend to particulars, as the lawyers say; to tell this House what our troubles are down there, what the causes may be, and what parliament should do to provide a remedy. Possibly there is some ground for the criticism that we have not been definite enough in outlining exactly what it is that bothers us in the Maritimes; and in the time that I shall trespass on the patience of the House I hope to give hon. members as clear an idea as I can on these points: First, what the present condition of the Maritime

provinces is; secondly, what in my opinion the causes are, that have led to that condition; and thirdly, what remedy should be applied.

I should like to impress upon hon. gentlemen the seriousness of the situation in the Maritime provinces; I refer now particularly to the province of Nova Scotia. I am not so well conversant with the problems of the other two Maritime provinces, but I do profess to know something about those of my own province of Nova Scotia. This matter of Maritime rights is not political propaganda. It is a movement on the part of the people of that section of the country, originated for the purpose of getting clear of certain disabilities under which they labour, disabilities which must be removed if we are not to fulfil the destiny that was predicted by the opponents of confederation-that we would become mere hewers of wood and drawers of water for the other provinces.

I am not going to delve very deeply into statistics. Like my hon. friend the member for East Edmonton (Mr. Bury), I have not very much confidence in statistics, because you can prove nearly anything by figures; but I am going to use them slightly for the purpose of bringing home one or two points that I shall have to make. In the first place I want to tell the House something about the present condition of the province of Nova Scotia. The matter has been before the House on one or two other occasions, but I do not think hon. members yet have a very clear idea of the desperate condition in which that province now finds itself. The debt of Nova Scotia has been multiplied by ten during the last twenty-five years. In 1900 its liabilities amounted to $4,059,517, but on September 30, 1925 they had reached a total of $40,130,119. In 1900 the funded debt of the province was $3,776,033 and in 1925 it was $35,267,927. That progress has been accelerated during the last three years. From 1922 to 1925 we have gone in debt in Nova Scotia at the rate of $5,000,000 a year. The debt of a province is not a very serious thing if the value of its assets continues to advance proportionately. But such is not the case in Nova Scotia. We find our debt increasing, we find our assets diminishing and our sources of wealth growing less year by year. Our revenue in the province is chiefly derived from our coal. In 1921 we produced about 5,734,928 tons of coal. In 1923 the production amounted to 6,597,838 tons, and in 1925 it dropped to 3,842,166 tons. In addition to the fact that our debt has increased, our chief source of revenue has been falling off at an alarming rate. Our second great source

The Address-Mr. MacDonald (Cape Breton)

of wealth in Nova Scotia is our fisheries. In 1920 they were worth $12,742,459; in 1922 they had dropped to $10,209,258, and in 1924 to $8,777,251. These statistics, which are all that I ana going to quote, will give hon. members some idea of the present financial position of that province. In addition to that, Nova Scotia has suffered, just as all other provinces of Canada have suffered, from an exodus. I have no Statistics on this point, but I do know from actual observation that in my own city of Sydney the passports issued by the United States consul have amounted to about 500 a month. This is a heavy drain on the manhood and womanhood of our part of the country.

When we entered confederation Nova Scotia was represented in this House by twenty-one members. To-day we have but fourteen. During the past year, in the industrial centre which I have the honour to represent-situated in the richest mineral county in the whole of Nova Scotia-we had nothing but destitution and suffering, soup kitchens and bread lines. About a year ago that matter was discussed here in parliament and the hon. member for Queens-Lunenburg (Mr. Duff)-I am sorry he is not in his seat to-night, because I am going to have something to say to him-made certain statements regarding that condition of affairs. What I have said will give hon. members of this House a glimpse of conditions that prevail in Nova Scotia. Now what are the causes? A great many people attribute the present condition of affairs in that province to our union with Canada. At the time of the union Nova Scotia was in a very prosperous and happy condition, a condition which has already been described by previous speakers in this House. Its ships sailed the seven seas, and its large mercantile establishments and [DOT]warehouses played an important part in the commercial life of that province. There was, as hon. members are aware, great opposition to confederation in the province of Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia was forced into confederation because the two provinces of Quebec and Ontario were deadlocked. They could not get along combined and they could not get along separately; so that outside territory had to be brought in to solve .their legislative troubles. In order to bring about a solution we say that Nova Scotia was sacrificed, and we have been paying for that union ever since. So bitter was the opposition, generated no doubt by the method that was adopted to force that province into confederation, that for years after the consummation of the 14011-86

union, on the first of July in every year the opponents of the union hoisted their flags at half mast. That opposition has not yet died out. Twenty yeans after confederation the Right Hon. W. S. Fielding, then Premier of Nova Scotia,, swept the province on the cry of repeal. Major Hume Cronyn, an exceptionally well qualified man to judge, formerly a member of this House-he attained the reputation of being one of the ablest men who ever sat in parliament,-was a member of the Duncan commission and he was sympathetic towards the wants o

Let U3 consider but two of these consequences.

I am going to read just now this particular reference to the major point I am discussing.

We in Ontario are accustomed, if not hardened, to the accusation made in the prairie provinces that the east treats the west unfairly; but the sense of grievances unredressed which prompts this charge is as nothing to the depth of feeling which exists in the Maritimes against the central provinces of Ontario and Quebec. That resentment is of old standing and one of its causes is the belief that the Atlantic provinces were more or less cajoled into confederation by promises and alluring prospects which have failed of fulfilment. It is indeed not going too far to say that the tie of sentiment which binds Nova Scotia to the Dominion has worn very thin.

I do not know that the hon, members are particularly impressed1 with the seriousness of the situation. It is just possible that they may ridicule the feeling that exists in Nova Scotia and pay no attention to the warnings that may be given to them. But I wish to read for the information of the House a telegram which appeared in the Ottawa Journal the other day, dated Amherst, February 18:

The possibilities of commencing a secession movement in the Maritime provinces were to-day informally discussed by a handful of local business men, headed by one Walter H. Tennant, a prominent manufacturer of this town. It was stated that a meeting to formally debate the topic would be called at an early date, and Mr. Tennant was authorized to secure a speaker and arrange the details of the meeting.

I desire to read another letter which appears in the 'last issue of Toronto Saturday Night, dated Truro, February 3, as follows:

To the Editor of Saturday Night.

I read your editorial in Saturday Night, and while I am a Maritime man I agree with nearly everything you say. To my mind it is the greatest folly to try and force western grain through Maritime ports. On every million bushels so shipped Canada has to pay at least $50,000,000 in extra haulage. Maritime people are accustomed to say,, "Let the country pay as long as we get the benefit," but that is no argument and should not be considered. As you say, water will seek its level, and so this grain trade will and should find its way to the seaboard by the shortest and cheapest route no matter whether through Canadian or American ports.


The Address-Mr. MacDonald (Cape Breton)

But, Mr. Editor, let me say that the Maritime provinces can never attain their utmost prosperity in Canada. Just as sure as the sun will rise to-morrow morning, so certain it is that we will some day be affiliated in some way with the United States. That is our certain destiny. We have sent from these provinces the very best of our manhood to that country, and the majority of those who remain are looking with longing eyes in the same direction.

C. P. Blanchard.

I am not reading that because I have any sympathy with the views therein expressed. Many of us are Canadians and hope to remain Canadians, but we would not be doing our duty to our fellow Canadian citizens if we failed to call attention to these indications of the trend of feeling in the Maritime provinces. If an agitation or movement of that sort starts, it is difficult to say just where it will end. Although it may lack leadership just now, no movement fraught with such hope for success would lack that leadership very long.

I do not for one think that confederation is the sole cause of our present problems in Nova Scotia, but confederation, the union of Nova Scotia with the rest of Canada, let loose in that province certain economic forces that are largely responsible for those problems. The two provinces of Quebec and Ontario were very much larger and wealthier than the little province of Nova Scotia. Very shortly ' after confederation the competition from those upper provinces wiped out the industries of the lower provinces, and the wholesale offices and business concerns of the upper provinces very speedily put out of existence all the commercial houses of Nova Scotia. To-day you have in the Maritime provinces a market of a million people, practically controlled by the two provinces of Quebec and Ontario. Surely it is worth while for Quebec and Ontario to make some sacrifice in order to retain that market, and that sacrifice we are going to ask them to make.

Certain other results followed from that union, possibly the most important of all being the draining of the financial resources of Nova Scotia to the central provinces of Quebec and Ontario. Twenty-five years ago we had in Nova Scotia half a dozen banks- small ones, it is true, but each serving certain business interests in a restricted area. The bankers of those days were like country dealers; they knew all the resources of their customers, whose friends they were, and they were able to advise their customers on all matters of interest to them. But what has happened? To-day we have not one bank in Nova Scotia. All our banks have been merged, gobbled up, and their headquarters

IMr. F. MacDonald.] moved to Toronto or Montreal. The result of this-and I venture to say it is largely the cause of the agitation for Maritime rights- was disclosed when a year or two ago an attempt was made by various municipalities to make those banks pay a fair rate of taxation. It was then learned that all the savings deposits in those banks were transferred to headquarters in Montreal or Toronto and invested from there. In that way practically all the financial resources of Nova Scotia have been drained out of that province and are managed to-day from Montreal or Toronto by this small number of wealthy men who, it is alleged, control all the financial interests of Canada. I have no doubt hon. members have received this extract which I hold in my hand from an address delivered by the general manager of the Royal Bank of Canada at its annual meeting in which he paid particular attention to this idea and set forth the benefits to Canada of having big banks with branches spread throughout the country. That may be all right in theory, but in practice it has been fatal to Nova Scotia.

Following our money went our industries. The greatest industry we have to-day in eastern Canada is the British Empire Steel Corporation, and it should be a purely local concern. It was started in 1893 when all the little mines in the county of Cape Breton were merged in the Dominion Coal Company. From that a still larger merger was effected in the Nova Scotia Steel and Coal Company, and two or three years ago the British Empire Steel Corporation was formed, the headquarters of that institution being moved to the city of Montreal. The result is that we have the principle of absentee landlordism in our greatest industry in the east. We have had trouble recurring every year. Why? Because the executive of that corporation are a thousand miles away from the men who earn their money for them. We think if we had a local executive rubbing shoulders with the men and entering into their interests, a great deal of the cause of all this trouble would be wiped out. I had as one of my opponents in the last election the labour leader, Mr. James B. McLachlin, who contested that constituency on no other ground than opposition to the Besco. He did not receive a vote apart from those of employees of that corporation, yet he polled 3,600 votes.

A third cause, which is possibly as important as any, was the fact that we had in Nova Scotia a local government that had long outlived its usefulness, that had existed there for forty-three years with no other purpose and aim than to keep itself in power. It became at last nothing more or less than a

The Address-Mr. MacDonald (Cape Breton)

sort of glorified Tammany organization. It paid no attention to anything except fixing its own political fences, building its own organization from the small municipal corporation and town meetings up to the government of Halifax itself. I was never so impressed with the uselessness of that organization as when I met a number of our Progressive friends and found out at a conference just what Alberta was doing. Labouring under greater handicaps than I think we have in Nova Scotia, they sent out a trade commission with the result that they are getting year by year in the other provinces a larger market for their coal. That is due to good salesmanship and to giving to the people of Alberta proper government. No such effort as that was ever made by the local government of Nova Scotia.

We do not want any commissions in Nova Scotia; we know exactly what we want down there and there is a fairly strong determination on the part of the people of that province to get it. This Maritime rights matter is not Tory propaganda at all, and I cannot put it more concisely than it was put by the late Premier of Nova Scotia-a Liberal

premier remember-Mr. Armstrong. About a year ago conditions then were not as desperate as they are now, but they were nevertheless, as Mr. Armstrong said, very disturbing and very alarming. He headed a delegation of business men from the whole province, Liberals and Conservatives joining hands and coming to .Ottawa to lay their case before the Right Hon. Mr. Mackenzie King, Prime Minister of Canada. Some result followed in an increase in the duty on slack coal and a reduction on bituminous coal. It was of some benefit, but it did not meet the needs of the province, and I cannot do better than read to the House the summary of the memorandum presented by Mr. Armstrong to this government. I ask the House to bear in mind the fact that this was a Liberal premier who knew the circumstances of his province and who was asking for certain reforms. The summary reads:

The deputation, to summarize their representations, can only repeat that the condition of the allied coal and steel industries in Nova Scotia, and the varied interests that are dependent thereon, is truly desperate, and they can see no hope of relief from present d'ffi-culties, nor any hope of permanent prosperity' in Nova Scotia unless remedies are applied by the government, which alone has the power to take the necessary action.

It is not possible to exaggerate the calamitous consequences to Canada should coal mining in Nova Scotia be permitted to decline until it should play no important part in the fuel supply of the Dominion.

Not only would absence of native competition against imported coal eventually raise the price of coal in Canada, but a state of abject dependence upon another country for an indispensable material, would become 14011-86i

permanent after Nova Scotia had ceased to give eastern Canada some measure of self-reliance in coal supply.

We believe the government recognizes this fundamental necessity to maintain the allied coal and steel industries, and therefore ask that the requests contained in the foregoing memorandum be granted. Briefly summarized these are as follows:

1. Revision of the customs tariff upon coal to include:

(a) Adjustment of the duty on slack bituminous coal to at least the present duty on round bituminous coal, and inclusion under the same duty of anthracite dust and screenings.

(2) Imposition of the duty upon coal used in steel making and metallurgical processes, now exempt from duty.

(c) Amplification of the subvention upon rail carriage of Nova Scotia coal to include water carriage beyond Montreal, and of railway fuel now exempted from the subvention. Raising of the maximum amount of assistance on any given freight rate from the existing limit of fifty cents per ton to one dollar per ton. Extension of the subvention for a period of years.

(d) Assistance in establishment of coking plants using Canadian coal for manufacture of domestic fuel.

Last year the government prepared a bill for the production of this fuel but it did not present it to the House. We hope that this year this government will have courage enough to bring it down, and we promise it very cordial support, at least from the Nova Scotia members. What is wanted, in the second place, is:

A revision of the customs tariff upon iron and steel and their products, in which consideration will be given to the difficulties now hampering the steel works in Nova Scotia, which include the following:

I need not go into that because a discussion of the point will be more appropriate when the budget debate comes up. I want however to bring home to the government just what we are asking for in Nova Scotia. Where can we look for redress, Mr. Speaker? We have three members from Nova Scotia supporting the present government, one of whom is the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Macdonald) and another the hon. member for Queens-Lunenburg (Mr. Duff), who addressed the House a few days ago and rather ridiculed the idea that has been put forward by the Maritime righters. The hon. gentleman made an excellent speech, which I listened to with great interest from beginning to end. It was what might be called a fighting speech, and a fighting speech is one that is distinguished by courage. And I must say that the hon. gentleman from Queens-Lunenburg on that occasion displayed considerable courage, courage which at times rose almost to the pitch of recklessness. I admired his speech very much, I say; but it seemed to me that the hon. gentleman must be a somewhat credulous person. He made a lot of statements which I have no doubt he heard and accepted in good faith but which were rather startling, to say the least, to anyone acquainted


The Address-Mr. MacDonald (Cape Breton)

with the facts. The first statement of 'his which struck me was this, that only after the Tories came into power in 1911 did we have any trouble in the Cape Breton mines. I may inform the hon. gentleman that since 1867, since confederation in fact, we have never had any trouble in Cape Breton, .we have never had any strikes, lockouts, riots or anything else, while there was a Conservative government in power. Another statement the hon. member made which requires correction was one which was often repeated during the last local election, namely, that the Tories of Nova Scotia advised the miners to stay out on strike and fight and that the matter would be straightened out and the miners would be helped when the Conservative party came into power. There is absolutely no justification for any such statement as that; it had its origin in the editorial room of a discredited Grit paper in Sydney. No Conservative speaker of any standing and no Conservative newspaper ever directly or indirectly held out such an inducement as that.

The hon. gentleman said he was opposed to higher coal duties. He has, I suppose, a perfect right to his own opinion, but I do not think he fairly expresses the public opinion of Nova Scotia. He was against the Canadian National Railways buying Nova Scotia coal if they could get cheaper coal elsewhere, and in that, I suppose, he was simply following out what the government said when they gave, through the Canadian Press, on May 29, 1922, the following statement:

Preference was given to Canadian coal, but where American coal, including duty, could be delivered at certain Canadian points more cheaply than Canadian coal, the railway management took the attitude that they would continue to purchase to the best advantage.

That is not the wish of Nova Scotia. Another bit of wisdom that dropped from the lips of the hon. member for Queens-Lunenburg was that he thought the government interfered too much in private business. I have heard that remark before. I have only to say that while I have not been in this House very long, yet after listening to the charges made by the hon. member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Stevens), and hearing some of the evidence given before the Customs committee, now investigating those charges, I have come to the conclusion that the government is not interfering quite enough in some private business. However, I suppose that depends on the point of view.

We have another representative from Nova Scotia in the person of the hon. member for Antigonish-Guysborough, the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Macdonald). Of course, unfortunately for us he does not now

represent a coal county; but in 1921 he was running an election in a coal county, and we have on record the promises and pledges that he then made to the constituents of Pietou riding. He promised if elected to move a resolution for a higher duty on coal, and on iron and steel; that he would secure them lower rates on the Intercolonial from New Glasgow and Pietou to Montreal; he went further, he said he was going to take the Intercolonial away from the Canadian

National Railways. In moving terms he

pictured the destitution and sorrow that had visited the homes of the miners in Pietou county, and he led them to believe that his return to the House of Commons as their representative would result in a golden era -their dark and desolate homes would be flooded with sunshine. A short time ago we had that hon. gentleman declaring in this House that he was not now in favour of a higher duty on coal or on steel. The hon. gentleman, apparently recognizing and remembering the promises he made in 1921, and no doubt having in mind the sign that is posted up on most industrial institutions throughout Nova Scotia, the sign of "safety first," did not go back to the county of Pietou for re-election, but sought a comparatively safe refuge in Antigonish-Guysborough.

I am afraid we cannot look to hon. gentlemen opposite for any remedy for our ills I have before me a copy of the bill that they introduced last year to encourage the production of domestic fueT from coal mined in Canada. I hope they will reintroduce it this session and place it on the statute books. But our main hope must depend on the great consideration and keen sympathy that we have received from our Progressive friends. I trust that when they come to prepare the budget for the government-as prepare it [DOT]they will-they will crystallize into legislation in a practical form all the promises they have been making to us. I envy them the proud position they occupy in this House. But more than anything else, I envy them their apparently unquenchable optimism that, despite their knowledge of the many unredeemed promises of this government, they are really going to get what is now promised them in the Speech from the Throne.

I have in my hand certain resolutions passed by the agricultural societies of Nova Scotia. In addition to the mining and fishing population we have a very fair number of people engaged in agriculture. The present provincial government has already devoted some attention to local affairs. One of the much needed facilities we desire to have pro-

Embargo on Grain

vided is a cold storage system extending throughout the province. But probably it will be more appropriate to discuss this question when the budget proposals come before the House.

I do not think I have anything further to add, Mr. Speaker, than this: I should like the House to understand that the situation in the Maritimes is really serious. A movement is on foot down there that will have disastrous results for the Dominion unless this government wakes up to the gravity of the situation and brings in some ameliorative legislation that will go far to remove the disabilities that I have brought to the attention of the House.

On motion of Mr. MacNutt the debate was adjourned.

On motion of Mr. .Lapointe the House adjourned at 10.50 p.m.

Friday, February 26, 1926

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February 5, 1926

Mr. MacDONALD (Cape Breton South):

Pas the minister made any recommendation to Sir Henry Thornton abgut the rates?

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February 5, 1926

Mr. FINLAY MacDONALD (C'ape Breton South):

Will the government tell us what

steps, i'f aniy, have been taken with regard to the trouble ait the Sydney mines? I am informed that the mines in the southern district are at work, but the North Sydney mines are not working. The members of the government will remember that they were given an order for 15,000 tons to be banked at the Sydney mines, but it appears to be impossible

to comply with that order, and we were asking for the special rate given to the Alberta mines. I ask if the government has any information to give as to whether the Alberta rates will be given to the Sydney mines.

Hon. CHARLES A. STEWART (Minister of the Interior): I have no information as

to rates, but I have a letter direct from Mr. Vaughan, the purchasing agent of the Canadian National Railways, stating that he had given instructions that the order for 120,000 tons should be increased to 135,000 tons, the 15,000 tons to be banked at the Princess mine. Since that time I met Mr. Wolvin, who said there would be some difficulty about the matter, but that no doubt it could be adjusted. I have received no further word since.

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January 26, 1926

Mr. MACDONALD (Richmond-West Cane Breton):

Can the hon. gentleman tell us whether it is American or Canadian coal that the Canadian National Railways are using at the present time?

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January 25, 1926

Mr. MacDONALD (Cape Breton South):

With respect to the banking of coal, if the practice has been such as the Minister describes, why was it stopped?

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