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 5 of 38)

March 6, 1919


I hear a great deal of dissent. Mr. Speaker I know what I am saying to be a fact.

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March 6, 1919


Sure ! I would go even further and say perhaps the best. They are so bad because they have the qualities to make them the best. And remember this, the best things on earth, the best things that God has given us, are those that can be most abused. Take a woman as an example. Take whiskey as an example. Take brain power and intelligence as an example. Why, Sir, the 'worst character we have in Canadian public life-the worst we ever have had-is a man who was once a member of this House, a man so able that there are few to equal him. I am not mentioning any names- everybody will recognize the portrait. Intellect, when debased, becomes the greatest curse we have. These Englishmen to whom I have referred as among the worst characters we have are dangerous for the very reason that they have ability -superability. They take hold of these western dagoes and western Germans, and lead them into all sorts of Bolshevism. They are the leaders of Bolshevism in British Columbia, for instance. On the other hand, as I have said, some of the beat men you have in this country are old-country Englishmen. There are good in all classes, and bad in all classes. It cannot be said of men, as the Scotchman said of whiskey,-he said that some whiskey was better than other whiskey, but all whiskey was good. All men are not good. Therefore, I urge these hon. gentlemen to whom I have referred not to discriminate against our citizens, no matter from .what nationality they have sprung. Be just and honest; do what is right; and do not let this war hysteria

longer permeate your hearts and brains. Get down to a reasonable basis and try to do some sane thinking and acting.

I want to pay my respects to the hon. Minister of Immigration and Colonization (Mr. Calder). I am sorry he is not in the House. The hon. gentleman the other day showed some signs of repentance. His claim to be a good Liberal is an outward acknowledgment of inward shame.

Hence I feel that he should be with us as it is only the hypocrite's tongue that speaks without the heart. I hope my hon. friend cannot be considered an incorrigible hypocrite. Repentance may avert evil. Repentance is accepted remorse. Repentance ends the suit which passion begins. Repentance should be accompanied by reparation and amendment; otherwise, it is like continually pumping an old ship without stopping the leak. I was going to tell my hon. friend that he was a deserter and that desertion is a disgraceful fault. The deserter has the spirit of a coward. He who at the approach of evil deserts his post is branded with cowardice. He who will desert a friend or cause for a price, be that price gold, place or power, will desert again when he gets a bigger price. So, I hope my hon. friend with proper purpose of amendment, can firmly force his jarring thought to peace as Burns has said in his beautiful epigram on Remorse which I quoted in the House last session.

I hope he may see his way clear to follow the light that my hon. friend the exMinister of Militia saw to-night when he was looking at the darkness on the other side because, after all, knowledge is relative. Where you see a dark, black cloud there is a silver side to it. There is the antithesis, the opposite, and consequently I can fancy that I hear my hon. friend singing "Lead Kindly Light."

There is just one more point I want to take up and that is with regard to our soldiers. I owe a duty to the soldiers perhaps more than a great many other hon. members of this House, a great many of whom have been soldiers themselves. During the voluntary campaign I went out through my part of the country and explained to the boys that this fight was our fight, and that it was for the maintenance of our present democracy and civilization.

I induced hundreds of those boys to go to the front as volunteers. I would not be discharging my duty to those boys, much less to all the soldier boys, if I did not give what appears to me to be the light that is in me to the Government and to the public generally.

In my opinion, the worst service that we can give our boys is to destroy their selfreliance, to destroy their character, to make them imagine that they are paupers, to make them think that they are the wards of the state, when, as a matter of fact, they are the state, and when, as I pointed out before, they^are the future fathers of the families of this country. As the exMinister of Militia pointed out, all they ask is fair play and a fair show. Of course there are those who have been lamed and maimed, those who have been damaged in one way and another and the state should make reparation to them. The resolutions that I have seen passed by the War Veterans' Associations say that they do not want any charity, that they are not looking for charity, that they do not want to be slobbered over and they do not want the caresses of the politician. What they are looking for is their just due and the best and noblest thing we can do for them is to curtail the expenses of this country as far as possible; that is to say, not to waste money by extravagant expenditure and not to waste it on non-productive employment.

I want to say a few words on the question of non-productive employment. It is an unfortunate thing, perhaps, that a great many people think that if a man is paid for doing a piece of work he is earning something. That is not always the case. You can pay a man to carry bricks from one side of the yard and put them over on the other side and you can pay him to carry them back. There is only one element of virtue in that, and that is the element that makes him imagine that he is earning something. But he is earning nothing. It is only taking money out of one man's pocket and putting it in another man's pocket. It is not increasing the wealth of the world or of the nation. If this Government undertake to construct any public work that is not productive they are wasting money just as much as if they threw it into the Rideau canal or the Ottawa river. Labour represents capital and every hour that a man puts in at labour on an unproductive work represents so much waste. The only virtue in paying him is to prevent him from feeling that he is a pauper. But, from the economic standpoint, it is absolutely extravagance and waste. As the ex-Minister of Militia has pointed out, there is any quantity of work in this country that is productive and will provide labour not only for the returned soldiers, but for as many more if the Government will be careful to find out what these things are and

put the men to work in these employments.

There are a lot of little iron trawlers that the Government used for patrol purposes during the war. I understand they put them up for tender a few days ago and that they have withdrawn the advertisement, very good; that is the proper thing to do if they see that they are not going to sell these vessels for nothing as they sold one the other day for $20,000 less than they could have got the day after.

If we took some of those trawlers, and hired, or chartered, them to some companies, or operated the vessels themselves under Government control, and employed some of the young fishermen who were volunteers, to catch fish in the gulf of St. Lawrence, and in the Atlantic ocean on the banks, that would be furnishing employment that would pay cent for cent. That would not only be productive employment, but yield a revenue in excess of that. Then too, men sent out to explore the country, as the hon. ex-Minister of Militia pointed out, could also be placed at productive work. That is to say any explorations of the north lands of this country, if they are carried out efficiently and intelligently, would more than likely pay cent per cent, and even more, as compared with the outlay that would be involved.

But, Sir, if the Government is going to build ships at $200 a ton, ships that cost in ante helium days $25 a ton, what will be the result? There is going to be a great deal of non-productive employment, because no ship costing $200 a ton can compete with a ship that costs $100 a ton. Let me draw the attention of my hon. friends on the Government benches to this fact with regard to ships, because I am now discussing a question that I know something about. I have been to sea

a long time, but I want to say that to-night I am more at sea than ever. Let me point out that the cost of a ship, other things being equal, has everything to do with the earning power, for this reason: we have got to insure a ship whether it costs $100 a ton or $200 a ton. They carry the same cargo, and if you insure a ship costing $200 you are out the insurance on $100 as compared with the vessel of cheaper cost. In other words, the one ship cannot compete with the other. The same thing is true with regard to the question of wear and tear, which is a very large-element in shipping, and is a percentage wear and tear. Consequently, you see that it is absolutely necessary, in order to have ships that pay, that they shall not cost

more than the ships they are competing with, otherwise they are bound to be a failure. I am not going to find fault with the Government for starting to build ships last year. When it undertook the construction of ships last year, it did not know that the war was going to end so suddenly. However, we want to get clear of these contracts just as soon as it is humanly possible to do so, and not give orders for the building of any more at these exorbitant prices. If you want to give occupation for the benefit of the men needing it, to prevent unemployment and unrest in this country, put them at works that are productive, and then nobody can find fault.

Now, Mr. Speaker, when my hon. friend on the other side of the House, to whom I have already referred, told us he was a Liberal I knew " the word was on the lip, but the'condition was in the soul." A man who says he is a 'Liberal is not one unless he acts as a Liberal. The man who last year voted, for instance, for the conferring of titles is not a Liberal, because every man in the House and in the country knows that the minute you confer a title on an ordinary individual he ceases to be a Liberal, he becomes an aristocrat, a plutocrat, he is no longer a democrat, and if he is not a democrat he cannot be a Liberal. Another thing that pained me: When my hon. friend the seconder of the resolution, which we are discussing to-night, made that splendid effort of his, and developed and discovered to the House his fine ability as a speaker, and as a thinker, I was sorry to recollect that he was one of the young men who did not-although he faced with all the courage of a Canadian the Hun gas and the Hun gun-have the courage of his own convictions, because last year he talked against titles and voted for them. It was a lamentable thing, but it was not half as bad as the case of the hon. gentleman who made the motion when the right hon. leader of the Government came in and offered what he called an amendment, but which was not an amendment, which actually nullified the original motion, because it accepted the original motion and added in substance after the word " Canada " the words, " except His Majesty shall resign or hand over his prerogative to a party politician in Canada." In other words the right hon. leader of the Government was usurping the power of the King in the conferring of titles, 'and the hon. gentleman to whom I refer did not have the courage to defend his own motion, but darted around behind one of the back pillars of this Chamber and dodged the vote. The exMinister of Militia, in the course of his

speech, spoke about the wonderful exhibition of independence there was in this House. I thought to myself, " If that is what you call independence, dodging a vote upon your own convictions, I do not know what the independence of Parliament means." There are a lot of hon. gentlemen in this House who, as I said last session, sit and listen to the front benches like a lot of young robins, or young crows, with their mouths open, ready to receive worms, shingle nails, or anything else they drop in. That is the kind of food they swallow, and the result is moral and political dyspepsia. But that is not independence. Each man ought to think for himself, and if you want to have good government in this country, I don't care what the question is before the House, every man ought to record his voice and his vote according to his honest conviction. Of course, compromises may be made, I understand that, and there may be cases where a man in order to retain his seat may have to vote for the Government whether he thinks right or not, but the doctrine I have laid down certainly should apply. But that certainly should not apply to the members who sit in this House apart from the Cabinet; it is questionable whether it is even good political morality on the part of members of the Government itself.

So much for independence. I now want to say a few words about this Victory Loan. Any one-I do not care who he is, even if he is a member of the Government-who voted for the exemption of the Victory Loan from taxation is not a Liberal; or if he is he is voting against his conscience. He may be considering that he is choosing the lesser of two evils; that is the only moral ground on which he could rest a vote of that kind. If any Liberal principle was violated more than any other in connection with the Victory Loan, it was the principle which was violated by that clause exempting the loan from taxation. What does that mean, Mr. Speaker? It means that you are exempting from taxation the millionaire, the man who has idle money, with the necessary result that the taxation that ought to be paid by the millionaires is going to fall upon the poor people, the working people. The men of business, the men of affairs, the men who are doing the work of the country, will have to pay the taxes while the big interests who contributed to the Victory Loan will draw their interest and sit like a bump on a log, doing nothing for the good of the country, living on their money and paying no taxes. Yet these

[Mr. Read.!

people will be protected in their life, in their property, in their liberty, by those who have to pay the taxes. That is not Liberalism. If a man stands up on the floor of this House and, while saying that he is a Liberal, votes for a thing like that, it may truly be said that the words are on the lip but the condition is in the soul-and it is not a Liberal condition.

Away back in 1326 or thereabouts our forefathers waded to their knees in blood in order to draw from old King John the Magna Charta of our liberties, the Habeas Corpus Act, the Bill of Rights that was handed down to us as the palladium of our liberties, and we were asked to guard it with our lives. But this Government, Sir, violated the Habeas Corpus Act. It is true that they got the Supreme Court to whitewash them-and they paid them well.

Men who have sat on the other side of the House, calling themselves Liberals, who have not repealed the 7J per cent war tax on goods, are not Liberals, becauseLiberalism stands for equal rights.

Liberalism stands for freedom of trade and for opposition to the protecting of and catering to special privileges and the granting of special privileges. The only way my friends on the other side, who say that they are Liberals, can show that they are true Liberals, is to renounce their Toryism, repent and make reparation.

While the light holds out to burn,

The vilest sinner may return.

There is some talk about a new party, the Farmers' party. I want to say that the Farmers' party and the Liberal party are one and the same thing. It is not one name for different things, like the Union Government; it is two names for the same thing. I have here a letter from our great chieftain addressed to myself; probably one of the last letters that he wrote on a political question. I shall read a few words of it to show that the farmers and the Liberals are one and the same party. I had written to Sir Wilfrid Laurier to learn what his policy would be when he called the convention which was, as he said, to meet next summer. This is his reply:

Tou have noticed that in Wilson's fourteen conditions for peace the third provides for 'the removal so far as possible of economic barriers and the establishment of an equality of trade conditions among all the nations consenting to the peace and associating themselves for its maintenance.'

That was the third clause of President Wilson's conditions for peace. Sir Wilfrid's comment on these words was as follows:

This is in line with the accepted doctrine of the Liberal party and seems to me a condition sine qua non for the removal of war possibilities between the nations. In so far as we in Canada are concerned, the most essential policy would be the largest possible measure of free trade between us and the United States. Tou have seen that the Western farmers have put that plank in the forefront of their platform as recently formulated. It is simply a reiteration of their old policy which they have never ceased to advocate. This will be equally acceptable to you in Prince Edward Island.

I want to say that it is. To those gentlemen who come from the West, may I point out that while some of the western papers and some of the western members talk about the East being against them, so far as my province is concerned our interests are identical with those of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. We stand to a man for Liberal principles and free trade, and although I should hate to see my good friend over there beaten, we will send to the next parliament a solid phalanx of Liberals. With regard to the tariff, I want to say that, notwithstanding what Sir Wilfrid Laurier has said, namely, that we cannot settle finally the tariff question until peace is signed because the conditions of peace may make all the difference in the world, what we can do and ought to do at the first opportunity the Government can give to the matter is to accept in its entirety the reciprocity agreement that was offered to us by the United States in 1911. It is the more important that that should be done immediately because the Congressional elections in the United States last fall went Republican and Republicans are, as hon. members know, not overly enamoured of free trade principles. But if it is once upon their statute books and our statute books, after the way in which the Canadians have served the United States and the Empire so well in this great war, because we were fighting not only for the Empire but for them and ourselves, and for them particularly, because they were laggards in getting to work at the war, I do not believe they would have the temerity to change the reciprocity agreement, for that would be looked upon, at least by us, as an unfriendly act. Therefore, let the Government take the 7i per cent super-tax off at once; let them have the reciprocity agreement ratified immediately, and then at the next session of Parliament, which should be summoned as soon as possible, let them take up the question of the tariff. While I am sorry that this Government has been so prolific in its production of useless commissions-and I am told that the expenditure on them per day is about $8,000 for nothing-at the same

time I think the Government would be justified in creating a commission to take up the whole tariff question, such commission to be composed of equal numbers of Liberals and Conservatives, or, if you like, of high tariff men and low tariff men, men above reproach, men who cannot be bought, because unfortunately, in this country there are on the one side of this question the big interests and on the other side the poor unfortunate ratepayers. If you can get a commission that will give fair play, they can determine, in the meantime, what tariff reductions should be made and how far we can go with free trade without injuring the vested interests of anybody in this country. Somebody is bound to be hit in any change of tariff. You cannot make a change in the tariff without hitting somebody, and you are going to hit even people who will eventually be benefited, because in the readjustment that is bound to take place after the tariff is either lowered or raised, somebody has to suffer who may eventually benefit by the change that is made, either up or down.


(Brandon): Mr. Speaker, in rising to support the motion that is before the House, I find myself in somewhat of a predicament lest, after we have passed from rather dark tragedy to high comedy, there be a shading away into melodrama.

I wish to congratulate the mover and seconder of the motion that is before us, not in any formal or stock phrase, but because of a personal appreciation of the words uttered by those gentlemen as voicing the strong and sound sentiments entertained by them, sentiments which have grown out of experiences which many of us would have gladly shared along with them.

I would not be doing the thing that would express my deepest thought if I did not also pay a tribute of respect for and appreciation of the great leader of the Opposition party whose chair is vacant before us. It was my privilege, just before leaving home for this city, in standing before a group of young people, to speak with honest conviction of the worth and work of Sir Wilfrid Laurier. With all due respect to the consistency of the hon. member for Prince, P.E.I. (Mr. Jos. Read), I do not think the fallen chieftain was really the less a Liberal when he accepted his title.

My impression is that the Government has not in this debate so far suffered severely at the hands of the Opposition. In fact, the pin-pricks have been most mild,

and furthest from the presenting of anything in the way of a constructive contra, there has been hut the time worn attempt to belittle the things that in themselves may< or may not have been of conspicuous importance. I had hoped to pass on immediately to emphasize two or three things that appeal to me as being of outstanding value in the suggested programme as contained in the Address, but I must refer to one or two matters brought up partly this evening and partly on previous occasions by members of the Opposition.

The hon. member for Prince has, in my judgment, gone out of his way this evening to cater to the aliens.

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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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May 23, 1918


I desire to protest also. I am absolutely surprised at the Solicitor General saying that this Bill gives back the rights' of Mr. Congdon, when, as a matter of fact, it only gives back part of his rights. And then he makes the proposition that if we do not like it they will withdraw the Bill. Half a loaf is better than no bread. I would not favour withdrawing the Bill, because I assume the possibility-I do not know anything about it-of Mr. Congdon establishing his right to sit, or, at any rate, unseating his opponent, with the Bill as it is. But I do know this, that the Bill has omitted that which should not have been omitted, that is that part referring to the soldiers' vote. That is the part of the Bill, as is quite apparent f,o every man in this House, including* the Minister of Justice (Mr. Doherty), on which, if it went before the court, there could be only one decision, and that decision would be in favour of Mr. Congdon. I am not speaking in behalf of Mr. Congdon; I am speaking in behalf of fair play. There is no question in my mind or in the 'mind of any unprejudiced member on either side of the House, that if the two candidates had been nominated before the election the result of the overseas vote would have been different. That is very plain, and it is a question of law whether it is or not. There has never been such a thing known in the history of parliamentary government where 'a man was .elected before he was nominated.

Motion agreed to and Bill read the second time, and the House went into commit* tee thereon, Mr. Boivin in the Chair.

On section 1-Extension of date for filing an election petition.

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May 23, 1918


I am not going to speak, Mr. Speaker, I just want to thank the hon. gentleman on the other side of the House for calling on me.

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