Mr. FONTAINE (Translation):
questions, remained helpless before the crisis, etc. In fact, it recalled very much the Tower of Babel.
At times, however, it was rumoured that, thanks to our Prime Minister, the conference had been saved, but that there wrnuld be no further discussion on the subjects which had prompted the conference. It was indeed a strange rescue 1 As all are aware three important questions were to be threshed out: war debts, tariffs and currencies. First, the discussion of these important questions were set aside. Hence, it became quite evident that, a complete stale-mate would result and that is what happened.
This conference, known in certain quarters as the "London omnibus" in which 68 nations had reserved seats for an unknown destination, had opened without the necessary preparation. It ended with entirely divergent opinions, hesitations, sudden changes of views, discontent and even with threats. This is now known to all. The conference did nothing to stabilize international currency and that was certainly the most important problem which it should have taken up. I cannot, therefore, see how our Prime Minister can credit himself with any glory, boast of the so-called advantages and endeavour to make us believe that our country benefited somewhat.
It is unfortunate that this government has practically done nothing worth while to help the farmers of my province. Yet, they suffered for a number of years and are still suffering like all others the consequences of the crisis, when their products sell at ridiculous prices, not even sufficient to meet theiT liabilities. The government within the last years, thought fit to help the western farmers, by granting them a bonus on wheat and setting aside for such a purpose large sums. The eastern farmer, who is also called upon to bear, to a large extent, the imposts and taxes, requested that some help be also extended to him in connection with his products, his dairy products, for instance, and more especially butter. He obtained nothing. Certain privileges were also granted to the western farmer with reference to the distribution of seed grains, yet the eastern farmer, because of the difficult times we are undergoing, would have been very thankful to enjoy similar privileges. I regret that nothing was done, for it is more than time that the government should make a decision as regards helping the eastern farmers, just as it did, in the past, for the western farmers. Faced with these requests the government replied that it regretted to be unable to intervene unless conditions in Quebec, became such that the provincial goviMr. Fontaine.]
ernment found itself unable to cope with the situation. Again do I state that I do notthink that this is a fair distribution of federal
grants. I therefore request that such a policy be changed.
Furthermore, I regret, that as a whole, the government gives no greater consideration to the interests, requests and just claims of the farming classes. It should not so easily forget the pledges and representations made to these classes in order to hoist itself to power in1930. In these days of distress, it should
neither forget that, in fact as well as in principle, agriculture is and remains the most efficacious remedy for unemployment, and that it was rightly said that it is the only industry which feeds and houses its man.
There are also other reasons, in a more general way, which should induce the government to give more consideration and help to the farming class. And I think it is befitting to recall, at present, that it is more important than ever to take the necessary measures to re-establish the disrupted equilibrium between city and rural life. Such fears existed on the eve of confederation, when the rural population represented 80 per cent of the entire population of this country. Strange to say, now that the ratio is down to about 40 per cent no worry seems to exist as regards this abnormal state prevailing in a country like ours. The speech from the throne mentions certain measures which might be enacted in connection with the setting up of farm credit, both as to short and medium terms. Although, regretting that the government had awaited the fifth session of this parliament to give consideration to a measure of such importance, I trust that it will adopt the means by which such a plan may materialize. I further hope that, in keeping with the solemn promises which it made, it will find the markets which the farmers absolutely require for the sale of their products, at fair and profitable prices.
Our opponents still reproach us for not helping them, making suggestions, cooperating with them in solving the difficult problems which they have to face, teaching them how the previous administration, so much taunted by them in 1930, managed to reduce our liabilities, accumulate surpluses, decrease the imposts and taxes, and expand our trade. In their heart they remember the glorious years of the liberal administration and they are fully aware that the people, who equally remember all this, do not lose an opportunity of weighing the facts, and this explains the government's failure in the three by-elections,, last year.
The Address-Mr. Fontaine
First, we might remind them that, in 1930, they were more boastful, they undertook to settle everything, remedy the evil in a few months, relieve unemployment, raise the price of farm products and find work for all. They certainly had no need of the liberals to perform all those deeds. Their leader, the right hon. Prime Minister, could, then, see nothing beyond Canada. He strongly and boastfully asserted that, if unemployment was spreading it was due to the negligence and incompetency of the government, that in a country like ours, unemployment was impossible if the government holding office carried out its duty, that it was an easy matter to promote our trade and, to attain such an end, he proposed, if necessary, to blast the way to the markets of the world. By the way, he naturally did not forget to charitably qualify the members of the King government as "mercenaries," of men thinking of their selfish interests, and he compared the leader of the liberal party to Judas. However, the right hon. Prime Minister has a habit of expressing such kind words towards his opponents. Did he not state, a few days ago, in the house, in his speech that the leader of the opposition did not do honour to the high post he occupies.
What happened following this display, this fine zeal, these ill-considered pledges, unrealizable promises and ridiculous bragging.
Unemployment, which was to be remedied in a few months, rapidly spread in a most alarming way. The number of unemployed was then 117,000; two years later the number had increased to over 1,000,000. The government was therefore not fulfilling its duty. Our trade decreased most alarmingly. The history of our trade, within the last few years, can be told by the following figures:
The government has therefore not done its duty.
Our revenues have not ceased to decrease.
The government has therefore not carried out its pledges.
The national debt has not ceased to grow. The government has not measured up to its task. Ever since this government is in office, we have only heard of deficits. The government has therefore not shown efficiency.
Now, the help, participation and cooperation of the liberal party are sought. What good can come of it, since no account is taken of the suggestions it makes and has never ceased to make? Has not the right hon.
leader of the opposition unceasingly pointed out to the house and to the public that high protection will produce no good, that a greater freedom in our product exchanges is necessary to the economic life of this country.
It is to be noted that in all this the liberal party is perfectly in agreement with the Congress of the International Chamber of Commerce, held in Vienna, at the beginning of last year and in the course of which a resolution was unanimously adopted which stated among other things, that:
The freedom of both national and international trade must be safeguarded.
Censuring, thereby, the folly of high tariff rates, so dear to this government.
The leader of the government will not apply any other policy than his exaggerated protection. The dire lessons of these last years unfortunately have had no effect on him.
As to the Liberal party its policy is well known, I think, and it will find no difficulty in having it endorsed by the people of this country at the next election. It believes and advocates that trade intercourse must be wider and freer; that trade is a series of barters, between free people, and it comprises imports and exports; that in order to promote exchanges, one must wipe out exaggerated tariffs and put an end to unjustified control of prices. Unfortunately, sir, it seems that., at present no economic policy guides the nations of the world, unless it be a system of excessive economic nationalism which, in the end will destroy itself, perhaps, by burying a civilization under its ruins. These are a few eimple and common sense truths that are taught, expounded and advocated by all economists, ever since the beginning of the crisis.
The people are aware that the Liberals in applying their policy brought on prosperity in the past, and they again realize that no good will be derived from putting in force an unsound policy of high protection and barriers to trade. That is why the people anxiously await the day of settling accounts, and that is why also, they wanted, last year, that the result of the by-elections in Yamaska-Restigouche-Madawaska and Mackenzie should be the "mane, thecel, phares'' of this government.
The right hon. Prime Minister has often shown that he likes quotations from the Scriptures. May I remind him that it is written somewhere in the Scriptures that the tree is known by the fruit it bears.
The people who are watching every act of their government are well aware that the putting in force of its policy will not bear sound fruit to our country.
The Address-Mr. Blair
It is the leader of the government himself who signed his death warrant when, in 1930, he made solemn pledges which he never kept. He was the one who laid down the principle that, in a country like ours, if destitution, hardships, distress and unemployment is felt, it is not the fault of individuals but of the government which does not live up to its obligations.
The people heard his appeals, promises, pledges, and after they had placed their trust in them, they were bitterly deceived and they now await the opportunity, in the next dominion election, to give vent to their discontent, by emphasizing the fact to the Conservative party that, if it were able to deceive and fool them in 1930, the same thing will not repeat itself at the next election.
Topic: QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic: GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH