Joseph READ

READ, Joseph

Personal Data

Laurier Liberal
Prince (Prince Edward Island)
Birth Date
October 31, 1849
Deceased Date
April 6, 1919
master mariner, merchant, shipowner

Parliamentary Career

December 17, 1917 - April 6, 1919
  Prince (Prince Edward Island)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 4 of 38)

March 24, 1919

Mr. JOSEPH READ (Prince, P.E.I.):

Mr. Speaker, my name has been brought into this debate by the hon. member for Red Deer (Mr. M. Clark) who made the assertion that during my speech on the Address I declared we could not have an election just now, and that I was going to support the present Government by giving them good advice, and helping them in every way I could, as long as I thought they were right. Another hon. gentleman (Mr. Mclsaac) in his criticism of my speech stated that I had at one time been a follower of the late Sir John A. Macdonald.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
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March 24, 1919


It was true, and I am proud of it, because at that time Sir John A. Macdonald was the strongest advocate of Reciprocity in Canada. However, it does not make any difference; if I get sufficient new facts at any time to justify me in changing my mind I am going to do so. I believe that "a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." The wise man may change his mind several times, but the fool never. My mind has been changed since I made the appeal referred to. What do hon. gentlemen suppose caused me to change my mind? I almost gave my Western friends the assurance-I am sure I gave them the assurance-that the interests of my province down by the seas were identical with theirs. We are a farming population, purely and simply, in Prince Edward Island, and our interests are identical with those of Western Canada; and I told my friends to-day, when they were talking about bringing in this motion: [DOT] "Bring it in and let those Western people have a chance to save themselves."

I hold in my hand a little paper, the only Liberal paper published in the city of Charlottetown. It is called The Patriot, a paper once owned and established by the late |Hon. David Laird, the great Liberal that hon. gentlemen from the Northwest at one

time had out there taking care of their interests. Here is an advertisement which takes up practically the whole front page of this paper, and it reminds me of the anti-reciprocity dodgers of 1911. Those people went down there and bought up the space in every paper they could get in the Maritime Provinces in order to debauch public opinion. Listen to this extract from the advertisement:

At the very moment when Canada is struggling; with this problem-

That is, the problem of raising the revenue.

-the Western Grain Growers come forward with insistent demands for:

An immediate and substantial all-round reduction of the customs tariff.

Free Trade with Great Britain inside of five years.

Reciprocity now, and Free Trade later with the United States.

Then the advertisement goes on to say-

Topic:   SUPPLY.
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March 20, 1919

Mr. JOSEPH READ (Prince):

I want to say a few words along some new lines. I really consider that the action that the Government has taken, and has been taking, in this matter involves some of the most serious questions that to-day confront Canada -questions far more serious than repatriation, remobilization or reconstruction. Far more serious than any of these things is the present railway situation in Canada. I desire to draw your attention to the fact that the Canadian Government railroads have adopted the McAdoo scale of wages and time limit, with the result that some of the conductors on the railroads to-day are getting $5,000 a year, and the highest-paid workers in all Canada to-day are the railroad employees. The railroad runs from the Atlantic to the Pacific, with hundreds of thousands of employees, all of whom are bound together in one solid brotherhood; and when you adopt a rate of wages borrowed from a politician in the United States who is looking for the Presidential nomination, and give that rate to our railway employees, is it not obvious that you have produced, not a military despotism but a railroad despotism which will be a chain around the neck of fair Canada and will drag her to her grave unless you are extremely careful? How will you lower the wages of these men? They are linked together in one great brotherhood, and can hold up the whole railway system and can make any government get down on its knees within half an hour. It seems to me it must follow that all wages must go up proportionately, and I think the high cost of living will have to be maintained on that basis, because these things follow one another from mathematical necessity; and so long as that condition of things obtains, just so long will the high cost of living continue. The cost of transportation has doubled, and in some cases more than doubled. That may be very well in war time but how is it to be remedied in peace time when you have produced such a purely artificial condition of things? As I said last session, I am personally in favour of government ownership of railroads provided they can be managed the same as private corporations. The question whether government ownership is good or bad all depends on the management, and that is one of the most serious problems in connection with

the ownership of railroads. Indeed, I think it is the most serious question before the country to-day. We have suffered very much from our government railroad system in the province of Prince Edward Island. Our province has sold itself body and soul; it has sold its birthright for a mess of pottage, a narrow-gauge railroad, as crooked as a ram's horn. However, that does not enter into this question. The whole question is, how are you going to overcome the difficulties confronting this Government, or any other government, with regard to the adoption of the McAdoo scale of wages? A man who is representing a constituency through which a railroad under this system runs, should he dare open his mouth,-as I am doing to-night,-and call the attention of the public to the danger of the situation, is apt to be roughly handled by these railroad employees when he goes to the country again. It is only one man . in a thousand who will dare open his mouth if the railroad goes through his constituency. However, I have a public duty to perform, and I do not care very much whether I come back or not. If I have to run, I will take my chance and will " hew to the line, let the chips fall where they may."

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March 6, 1919

Mr. JOSEPH READ (Prince, P.E.I.):

Mr. Speaker, I am like Othello; my occupation is gone. The ex-Minister of Militia (Sir Sam Hughes) had the temerity to stand up and say, in so many words, that he would support a Government which he has shown to be the most contemptible Government that ever administered the affairs of Canada. A more terrible indictment of any government in this country has never been delivered from the Opposition benches, much less from the side of the House on which the members of the Government sit. If I did not know my hon. friend to be an honest man, I would have commenced my diseours.e by saying that " when thieves fall out, honest men come by their own." But the hon. gentleman will have to be replied to from his own side of the House, and from the front benches of his own side of the House.

Unfortunately for Canada, unfortunately for the soldiers, particularly, the indictment that my hon. friend has made of the Government is only too true. It is lamentable. One of the last things that he pointed out was that in the floating of the Victory loans $50,000,000 were loslt to the revenues of Canada. Any one who will analyse the negotiations in connection with the Victory Loan and the other war loans of Canada, and who will look at the success of the United States people in negotiating their war loans, cannot help coming to the same conclusion as that which my hon. friend has reached. Whom does this $50,000,000 fall upon? It falls upon our soldiers, those men over whom hon. gentlemen on the other side and some hon. gentlemen on this side of the House have been slobbering for the last four or five months. People have been saying what they were going to do for our brave boys when they came home; but upon whom are these terrible war taxes going to fall more than upon anybody else in this country? Upon our soldiers. When our soldiers come home and settle down they are the nucleus of future Canada; 500,000 men who, by reason of their youth, possess the generative forces of future Canada in a very much greater degree than all the rest of us put together. They, then, are to be the future people of Canada on whom this great debt will ultimately fall. When we are talking about what we are going to do for the dear soldiers, the best thing we can do for them is to stop this terrible expenditure, this throwing away of the people's money, the public money of the country. There never has been a grosser or a more scandalous piece of mal-

administration in the history of any country than there has been in Canada during the last four years.

The revelations of the hon. member are simply marvellous, and I want, on behalf of the honest people of Canada and the honest members of this Parliament, to thank the honourable gentleman for having the courage of his convictions in standing up on his own side of the House, because those revelations will have a more far-reaching effect than if they had come from me, as in that case motives, political or otherwise, would be imputed.

I was astonished yesterday or the day before to hear an honourable gentleman opposite state that this was one of the greatest Governments that we had ever had in Canada. He made that statement in the first part of his speech, but he had not got very far before I saw he perceived the mermaid's head, although he did not see the dragon's tail. He was telling us about the great necessity there was in the Dominion of Canada for a Health Department, and he discovered before he got through that more than one person was looking for the job of head of that department.

One of the most terrible revelations that my hon. friend (Sir Sam Hughes) gave to the House and to the country is something that will come out directly in history. I refer to the terrible sacrifice in Canadian life that has taken place in France and Flanders for the glory of certain individuals over there. That is something that is coming across only in little drib-drabs through the returned soldiers, but when we get it from the ex-Minister of Militia, who knows the circumstances, it is one of the most terrible indictments that was ever made in any parliament on the character of the men who were supposed to be looking after our military affairs.

We all knew that the Canadian boys were made the spearhead of the terrible offensives in France and Flanders. What do we find this Government doing now that the war is over? What gratitude has there been for Canada? The great altruistic, idealistic President of the United States had gone over to Europe and had mystified the European chancelleries with his high idealism. One would think it was the second coming of the great Nazarene to bring peace on earth, good will to men, coming to bring the millennium, producing the beautiful precept of the great Master: "If a man strikes you on one cheek, turn the other." That beautiful precept is, of course, meant for an ideal for people to

live up to, to strive for, but is quite impracticable. " Sell all you have and give it to the poor a beautiful ideal to be lived up to. Our great southern President,-I mean the President of the United States-was over there and was acting the part of the great idealist, but he kept gaard on his nose when he was showing first one cheek and then the other; he took mighty good care to guard his solar plexus. No sooner was the armistice signed than Mr. Hoover the Food Controller of the United States, was taken to Europe and he was put in charge of the feeding of the famine-stricken districts of Europe to fatten the larders of the people of the United States to the exclusion of Canada. What did we find in this country? We found that in the last week of January, the price of coarse grains, oats and barley, dropped, in a single week, twenty-five per cent, the result being that hundreds of hundreds of merchants throughout the country were ruined. What was our beautiful Government doing at that time? Where was our Food Controller? Instead of our Food Controller or some one else of some ability, some one who had enough business capacity to be able to buy and sell a cambric needle intelligently, being sent over, he was kept in Ottawa, and the result has been that we find some individual American firms getting $200,000,000 contracts while our people have been putting up money for some contracts down in the Balkan States which are still under blockade. That is the condition of things which we are up against. That is the satisfaction, that is the gratitude which Canada gets for being made the spearhead of the terrible offensives in Europe. It is enough to break a Canadian heart.

I want to say a few words about Union Government. Hon. gentlemen who . occupy tire front seats on the Opposition benches are, I believe, with a few exceptions, honest men.

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March 6, 1919


But it is an unfortunate fact that the laws of nature have not provided for such a thing as Union Government unless it be for some single special purpose. When that single special purpose has been consummated, Union Government is an anachronism;, in the nature of things, it does not fit the times. If you superinduce magnetism at the one end of the needle, the opposite magnetism takes places at the other. There is, in nature, no such thing as half ness that has any good to it. All nature is double and

so is every one of its parts. You cannot have light if you have no darkness. You cannot have an "up" if you do not have a " down." You cannot have an attraction if you do not have a repulsion. If I went to pull my hon. friend, the Minister of Public Wqfks (Mr. Carvell) out of his chair, I would have to push as much with my feet as I pulled with my hands. I have said that all nature is double; and so is every one of its parts. A Union Government is an unnatural combination and comes into being only for a special purpose. But this country has more interests involved in its government than one. To win the war was one great purpose, and for a time overshadowed everything else. If the Union Government had been formed to win the war, and if the war was the only thing to which it was absolutely necessary for the people of Canada to apply themselves, then Union Government would be all right so long as that condition lasted. But the moment the armistice was signed and the war over Union Government was no longer fitted for the conduct of the affairs of this or any other country. Let me illustrate from history. The Province of Prince Edward Island has the second oldest responsible government of any community in North America. The local Government of Prince Edward Island is older than the American government, older than the governments of the Canadas, older than any other government in North America except Nova Scotia. Once, the province of Prince Edward Island had a coalition or union government on the school question. Hon. Sir Louis Davies, now Chief Justice of Canada, was premier of Prince Edward Island, and formed a coalition government on a fifty-fifty basis-not the promise of a fifty-fifty basis which was broken, but a real fifty-fifty. No sooner had this coalition government passed the legislation for which it was formed than a cleavage set in and the coalition ceased to exist almost immediately. Only one of the ministers of the Conservative persuasion changed his politics; the rest remained true to their old party. In the nature of things such a thing as a coalition government cannot exist. There is no co-ordination between our friends on the other side of the House, and it is no wonder they cannot do anything. The Government of this country has developed into an autocracy; there is no such thing as a democratic government in Canada to-day, and the most unfortunate thing about it is that we have got to keep this Government in power this session. So I was not at all astonished when I heard

the ex-Minister of Militia (Sir Sam Hughes) say that he was still going to support this Government. I am going to support them too-that is, to the extent of giving them the best advice I can, and criticising them, of course, when I think they are wrong. But there is this to be said. We cannot have an election until the boys come home, so there is no use talking about turning this Government out yet. We have to submit to the inevitable; we have to submit to the results of the conspiracy of 1917-a conspiracy that will go down in history as one of the most diabolical acts of a class of people called politicians.

Now I am going to give my hon. friends on the other side of the House some advice. I shall give it in all sincerity and without the slightest tincture of either a partisan or a politician; I mean that kind of politician that gets glass eyes and seems to see the things that are not, which is Shakespeare's definition of a scurvy politician. My advice to the Government is this: Announce to the House on Thursday that at the end of this session this Parliament will be dissolved and a mandate sought from the people to conduct the Government of this country as a democracy, which we claim to be, and which we believed we were. That is the only way I see out of the terrible difficulty which the country is in at the present moment. With the House in session, and the suspension of Orders in Council in the interim, and the acceptance or rejection of Orders in Council that have already been passed, surely we can keep the Government going for this session, and when the session is over most of the soldiers will be home. In the meantime, I hope an amended Franchise Bill will have been passed, and I do also hope, in the interests of common decency and common honesty, that the Government will bring down such a Franchise Bill as will permit the electors of this country, men and women, to record their votes for their choice, instead of'mutilating their votes as the WarTime Elections Act did.

I should perhaps have begun my speech by congratulating the mover and the seconder of the Address. For young men, they certainly did credit to themselves and honour to the House, and I sincerely congratulate them. But I must take issue with them both on some of the statements they have made. Much of what they said was all right, but notwithstanding their splendid effort, in my judgment they both erred. The mover of the Address (Mr. Eedman) amongst other things talked about the de-

portation of alien enemies. Have we alien enemies in this country? If we have, they should have been deported long ago. But are the people whom we have subdued our enemies? Is that the spirit in our brave soldier boys who have brought honour to Canada and to the British name? Do our soldiers hold in their heart that terrible revenge that would jump upon a man when they have got him down? That is not what we in our part of the country consider bravery or justice or honour or anything that is good. I would ask hon. gentlemen who preach the doctrine that we ought to destroy these unfortunate people whom we have coaxed and cajoled to this country, and to whom we have given the right of citizenship, shall we be like the Prussian Kaiser and consider that citizenship a mere scrap of paper?

I would suggest to these gentlemen that they should be a - little careful; otherwise, perhaps they may run foul of the British Royal Family, for they are of German descent. Our great and good Queen Victoria was a beautiful German lady in her young days. Why, the very word "Anglo-Saxon," which to a great many people represents the ne plus ultra of race superiority, is taken right from the German. We are descendants of the German race, those of us who are of English descent, as I happen to be. But I thank Heaven I am a Canadian. My people for three hundred years have been born on this side of the water, and I am a typical Canadian. And for about three hundred years before me, my people have lived, and raised their families, and died under the British flag on this side of the water. As to these aliens, if there are disloyal people among them, send them home; they have no right here. But, if we have loyal German and loyal Austrians here, if we have loyal Turks here, let us make good citizens of them. For thirty years of my life I was " monarch of all I surveyed." During those years I was a commander of men-Canadians, Englishmen, Irishmen, Scotchmen, Greeks, Germans, Dagoes, Negroes, and all the rest oi them. I want to say to you, Mr. Speaker, that of all those classes of men the Canadian was at the top-he was the best man of the lot. But I found this, Sir, that the Canadian, after all, was only an improved Englishman, Irishman, Scotchman or German. And, travelling arpund the world I found that the people who most readily lent themselves to assimilation, who were most ready to establish themselves completely in their foster country, were the

Germans. I found this to be true whether they settled in Brazil among the Portuguese, in the Argentine Republic among the Spaniards, in the United States among the Anglo-Saxons-or Anglo-Celts if you like-or in Canada. And I would draw the attention of the House-and I do this simply because I can afford to do it; the hon. members from British Columbia or from some of the Western Provinces could not afford to do it for political reasons-to the fact that some of the worst characters we have in this country are old-country Englishmen.

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