Ira Delbert COTNAM

COTNAM, Ira Delbert, M.D., C.M.

Personal Data

Progressive Conservative
Renfrew North (Ontario)
Birth Date
December 19, 1883
Deceased Date
February 25, 1966

Parliamentary Career

October 29, 1925 - July 2, 1926
  Renfrew North (Ontario)
September 14, 1926 - May 30, 1930
  Renfrew North (Ontario)
July 28, 1930 - August 14, 1935
  Renfrew North (Ontario)
December 11, 1942 - August 14, 1935
  Renfrew North (Ontario)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 76 of 76)

February 23, 1926


I would lower it sufficiently that our market would not be flooded with those goods. I do not believe in a onesided preference. We want an all-round Canadian trade arrangement.

The Address-Mr. Cotnam

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February 23, 1926


As the hon. gentleman

opposite comes from Saskatchewan, perhaps he does not realize the present condition of public affairs in this country, and I am afraid some other hon. gentlemen from the west, while they are honest and estimable in every other way, do not appreciate it. They talk about prosperity; they quote statistics to demonstrate that we have great trade balances and they point to our exports and imports. I prefer to go to the man on the street, the business man, and according to Sir Wilfrid Laurier, if you go to the man on the street, you will not have to quote statistics because he will tell you whether the country is prosperous or not. When I go to the business men of my town, as I did last week, and I ask them if business is reviving, improving, I want to get a candid expression of opinion from them. When they tell me, one after another, that business is in a depressed state, I fail to follow the statistics of hon. gentlemen opposite. In my town at the present time-and it is only an index of other towns in this country-people are living on very low rates of wages. Men are glad to procure a job at any wage and they are asked to go to our lumbering camps at $26 to $36 a month. Out of that they are being asked to pay part of the taxes to keep their children in this country, to pay for rent and fuel and schooling for their children. Yet hon. gentlemen tell us that the people of Canada are exceedingly prosperous. Those are not isolated examples; I can take hon. members to my constituency and show them scores and scores of people who are to-day in that unsatisfactory position. I think it was the hon. member for West Hamilton (Mr. Bell) who told us a few days ago about the condition of affairs he found in that city. Four years ago you could not find a vacant house in Pembroke and to-day I believe there are from one hundred to one hundred and fifty vacant houses in that town. Still hon. gentlemen opposite tell us that the country is prosperous and that there is plenty of employment. In my town we had a textile industry, a woollen mill which, a few years ago, was running at full blast. As late as 1922 it was employing 110 mill hands with a monthly wage of $6,500. It was giving employment to many labouring men in that town who were receiving fair wages and were able to support their families in some comfort. The British preference came

into effect and what was the result? Last year that mill was compelled to close its doors, and the operatives who used to work in that mill are to-day very largely to the south of the line working for our United States neighbours. That is true not only of one textile mill, but of scores of them in this country. In Renfrew, you will find the Renfrew Woollen Mills, owned and operated by Senator M. J. O'Brien. The manager said to us during the election campaign: "We are not making one cent in our industry to-day; we are simply marking time and only succeeding in trading an old dollar for a new one." That is a mill with an immense amount of capital and that is the only thing that is keeping it going. The other day that mill brought in a shipment of Australian wool worth about $72,000, whereas if we were protecting that industry as it should be protected, it might just as well have bought that wool from the farmers of this Dominion. Woollen mill after woollen mill has been compelled to close its doors in this Dominion during the last four and five years under the British preferential tariff.

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February 23, 1926


The British preferential tariff has been the means of closing down our mills, I am not speaking from a party or partisan standpoint at aill; I believe this is a great national question and one of vital interest to our farmers. I believe it would be of advantage not only to 'the farmers but to the woollen industry of this country if we had a duty on wool, and if the British preference were lowered sufficiently to allow our manufacturers of textiles and woollens to compete on a fair and equitable basis so that they would not have to compete with the cheap labour of England and in some cases, I understand, with cheaper goods still that are imported from France and Germany through Great Britain which is simply the clearing house. We are suffering from that condition of affairs at the present time. I believe the tariff could be so regulated that we could have in .this country a splendid industry which would be of vast importance to our agricultural 'classes, our labouring .people and our various industries.

Some hon. gentlemen in this House and during the election campaign have endeavoured to make it appear that the policy of the Conservative party is one of high protection. As I understand it, and Os I believe every hon. member on this side understands

The Address-Mr. Geary

it, ouir policy is one of adequate protection whereby the manufacturer, the labouring man and the farmer of 'this country will be protected against unfair competition from other countries. In other words, it is a policy of Canada for the Canadian people. It is the policy that was inaugurated in this country in 1878 and maintained under the regimes of both the late Sir 'John A. Macdonald and the late revered Liberal chieftain, Sir Wilfrid Laurier. That policy has been departed from by the Mackenzie King administration during the last four years and they have made no effort to remedy the conditions and evils from which the people are suffering at .the present time. We believe under a policy of adequate protection we would weld together the people of this Dominion into one great nation, so that we would not have one section west of the Rockies, another in the prairies, another in central Canada and another in the Mar-itimes.

We are free to admit that there are difficulties in the way; there are great problems to be worked out if we are to consummate that unity which we are looking forward to. We in the central provinces also have our grievances, although, as you will notice, we are not complaining much, but we are willing to concede something to our western friends in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. We are wiling to concede to them anything that is fair and just and right, and we are also willing to make to the Maritime provinces such concessions as are necessary in order to secure to them the rights to which they are entitled. Having all this in mind, we believe that a strong government with an adequate policy which it would not be ashamed to enunciate to the people of Canada; a government ready to make reasonable concessions in order to promote national unity and to realize that vision which the fathers of confederation had of this country; a government prepared to put into force such a policy as is advocated by the Conservative party, as we on this side of the House understand that policy, would in a short time find a solution for ithe various problems with which this country is faced at the present time and which the government of to-day has failed Utterly to find during the past four years.

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February 22, 1926

Mr. I. D. COTNAM (North Renfrew):

With considerable diffidence as a new member, I rise to address the House on this occasion, but before proceeding to a discussion of the subject under consideration I desire, Mr. Speaker, to congratulate you on your elevation to the exalted position you hold in parliament. The members here, I am sure, all appreciate the grace and dignity you bring to your high and exalted position, the fairness of your decisions and your impartiality in disposing of all questions that come before you for review. I desire also to congratulate some of the hon. members on the Liberal side who have taken part in the various debates which we have so far had in this House, particularly during the earlier part of the session.

I refer especially to hon. members from the province of Quebec who have astonished me by the extent of their knowledge of the English language and their proficiency in its use. It has been indeed a great pleasure to listen to those hon. gentlemen speaking in a language other than their mother tongue, and giving expression to their ideas in such well-chosen terms. I listened particularly with a great deal of interest to the address delivered some time ago by an ex-Speaker of this House in the person of the hon. member for Bonaven-ture (Mr. Marcil) who, I thought, was uncommonly fair and open minded and who couched his observations in faultless language.

We have a rather peculiar situation in this House at tire present time. We came into parliament following a general election on October 29. We know that on that occasion the government of the day appealed to the country after propounding certain principles, certain doctrines and certain policies which they thought should be inaugurated in this country if they were to carry on the business of this Dominion successfully. In the Prime Minister's manifesto delivered on September 6 last, he propounded those questions of policy which he thought Should take precedence, and with which he thought this parliament should deal. After the election we find that the remnants of that government came back to this House with a following much depleted. They had been storm-tossed and shipwrecked. The government was decapitated on election day, and although they have since recovered their head, I think the people of this country realize, as do the members of this House as they look across to the other side to-night, that they are indeed a very dilapidated remnant of a government.

Those of us who took part in the election of 1921 will remember that the Liberal party on that occasion appealed to the electors of this country on a very definite platform from that which had been laid down in the convention held in this city of Ottawa in the year 1919. At that convention the Liberal party selected a new leader, the Right Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King, and we all know that he was selected as the leader of the party pledged to support a certain platform, certain policies which were enunciated and laid down upon that occasion. The Liberal party appealed to the country in 1921, but I am here to-night to say that they did not * appeal to the country on the policies enunciated in the platform of 1919. In my own constituency, the Liberal platform as laid down in 1919 was never once mentioned during the campaign of 1921. During that whole

The Address-Mr. Cotnam

campaign the Liberal party carried on under the name of the late revered leader of the party, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, whose name was continually conjured up in order to carry the party through. Mr. Mackenzie King, the leader of the Liberal party, was in1 my own constituency during the 1921 campaign, and wthile there he failed to discuss the platform or enunciate the policies of the Liberal party; in fact, the Liberal candidate, who afterwards became the Liberal member in this House from 1921 to 1925, although he had been an avowed free trader all his life, when the election of 1921 took place declared that he had changed his policies and that he was now an out-and-out protectionist. The leader of the Liberal party, I say, when he was in my constituency did not discuss the Liberal platform of 1919; in fact, I do not think the Liberals in this House or in the country want to see that platform of 1919 carried into effect at all. Mr. Mackenzie King, when he came to my constituency in 1921-he was then leader of the opposition-spoke of other problems, problems which were more or less local, and which perhaps appealed more or less to the people of that constituency. Following Mr. King during the whole progress of his 1921 campaign, I believe that he conducted it entirely as he did the last campaign, on geographical principles, enunciating, not the policies or principles of the Liberal party, if it has any, but rather the policies which he thought would suit the particular constituency in which he happened to be speaking.

When Mr. Mackenzie King spoke in mv constituency in 1921 he took up such problems as these: As hon. members know, he claims

to be a very strong opponent of trusts, mergers and combines, although as a matter of fact he was a member of the Laurier administration during a period when there were more trusts, mergers and combines formed in the Dominion of Canada than, there had ever been before or since. I notice that in his manifesto at Richmond Hill Mr. King again took up the subject of monopolies, declaring that he was unalterably opposed to monopolies, trusts, mergers and combines in any shape or form. That is all very fine as grandstand play, but what actually has taken place during Mr. King's regime, even within the last year? In my constituency in 1921 he declared that if he became Prime Minister of this country there would be no more bank mergers in the Dominion. He was opposed to mergers then because it happened that at that particular time a merger was being negotiated between the Bank of Montreal and the Merchants Bank, yet we find that in 1924, 14011-79

just last year, there were four bank mergers consummated in the Dominion of Canada without a word of protest from Mr. King or any member of his government. There were amalgamated last year the Bank of Commerce and the Bank of Hamilton; La Banque Nationale and La Banque dTIochelaga; the Standard Bank and the Sterling Bank; Molson's Bank and the Bank of Montreal; and yet Mr. King says that he is opposed to trusts, mergers and combines in any shape or form.

During that same campaign of 1921 Mr. King declared that if he became Prime Minister of this country he would have an investigation into the affairs of the Riordon Company of Canada. That was a company in which a great many people in eastern Canada were interested at that time, particularly the people of Ontario and Quebec, who had put their money into that corporation expecting that it was an organization which was being fairly and equitably handled, and one in which the shareholders would have a fair chance. The government that went out of office in 1921 found it necessary to take I.O.U's from the Riordon Company in payment of certain business taxes, because the company, owing to the financial position in which they found themselves, were unable to pay those taxes at the time. When Mr. King spoke in my constituency in 1921 he tried by innuendo to make it appear that the Conservative government was in some way allied with the big interests and with the Riordon Company, that there was some secret underhand dealing between them whereby the Riordon Company was exempted from taxation, yet subsequent events proved that the Riordon Company was in a serious financial position at that time, and that it was impossible for them to pay their business profits taxes. Mr. King became Prime Minister in 1921, and from that day to this no one has ever heard anything further from him about the Riordon Company or of any investigation which would disclose the real cause of the failure of that company.

Mr. King went further than that. He said that the government of Mr. Meighen was a government by order in council, that parliament was not consulted, that practically the whole business of the country was carried on by order in council. Of course, he knew perfectly well as every hon. member knows, that no government can carry on in this country without orders in council. I venture to say to-night that the present government; during the last four years, have passed not five hundred, or a thousand, or fifteen hun-

The Address-Mr. Cotnam

dred, or two thousand orders in council, but probably three thousand such orders. And yet Mr. Mackenzie King said at that time that he was the great protagonist of responsible government in this country, that the people through parliament must be consulted in regard to everything. What do we find to-day? We find that this government-this responsible government of which Right Hon. Mackenzie King is the head-guarantee the bonds of the Canadian National railways for the building of a line of railway costing the people of this country a sum probably in the neighbourhood of three to five million dollars, for which we are directly responsible. They do this by order in council, although Mr. King insisted when in opposition that government by order in council was altogether unfair and should not be permitted under our British constitution.

I wonder if any of the Liberal members of this House have ever read over the platform of the Liberal party as enunciated in 1919 under the caption of "financial conditions and taxation." I should just like to read a little from that platform to-night for their enlightenment, to see if it conjures up any memories of the past when that platform was framed. It reads as follows:

Whereas the national safety demands that the serious financial position of the country should be known and appreciated in order that steps may be taken to cope with the same; and

Whereas on the 31st March last, according to the statement of the Minister of Finance, the net public debt was $1,584,000,000 or roughly, $220 for every man, woman and child in the Dominion, involving an annual interest charge of about $115,000,000 and thus imposing an annual burden for interest on debt alone of $15 per head of the population; and

Whereas the estimated expenditure of the Dominion government for the present fiscal year is over $800,000,000 or roughly $100 per head of the population; and

Whereas the estimated revenue is only $280,000,000, thus creating an estimated deficit of over $500,000,000- a sum equivalent to $62.50 per head of the population- which sum the Finance Minister proposes to obtain by borrowing; and-

Just listen to what they say here:

Whereas national disaster will overtake this country should the present method of financing the country's affairs be continued-

National disaster, they say, is to follow. These were the gentlemen opposite who are telling us to-night that we are the people who are preaching blue ruin in this Dominion; and yet that is what they were saying in 1919-that national disaster will overtake this country. I continue quoting:

Whereas both Great Britain and the United States at present raise more than 80 per cent of their revenue by direct taxation, while Canada raises not more tian 20 per cent;

Be it and it is hereby resolved:

That the serious nature of the country's financial situation calls for the profoundest consideration of all patriotic citizens and the exercise of severest economy by the government;

That increase of revenue must be sought from an equitable and effective imposition and collection of graduated taxes, on business profits and income, applicable to all incomes above reasonable exemptions;

Taxes on luxuries.

That the best interests of Canada demand that substantial reductions of the burdens of customs taxation be made with a view to the accomplishing of two purposes of the highest importance. First: diminishing the. very high cost of living which presses so severely on the masses of the people,-

And by the way, the cost of living is five per cent higher than it was when that platform was framed, yet nothing is said about the high cost of living to-day.

Second: reducing the cost of the instruments of production in the industries based on the natural resources of the Dominion, the vigorous development of which is essential to the progress and prosperity of our country.

That, to these ends, wheat, wheat flour and all products of wheat; the principal articles of food; farm implements and machinery; farm tractors, mining, flour and sawmill machinery and repair parts thereof; rough and partly dressed lumber; gasoline, illuminating, lubricating and fuel oils; net twines and fishermen's equipments; cements and fertilizers, should be free from customs duties, as well as the raw material entering into the same.

That a revision downwards of the tariff should be made whereby substantial reductions should be effected in the duties on wearing apparel and footwear, and on other articles of general consumption (other than luxuries), as well as on the raw material entering into the manufacture of the same.

That the British preference be increased to 50 per cent of the general tariff.

And the Liberal party hereby pledges itself to implement by legislation the provisions of this resolution when returned to power.

I am sure it must be refreshing for hon. gentlemen opposite to listen once more to these words, which they surely must have heard in 1919. That suits hon. members from Saskatchewan all right-So impressive is the statement: " The Liberal party hereby pledges itself to implement these provisions by legislation." You would think the proceedings were as solemn as a funeral. And yet to-day when we draw the attention of these gentlemen to their platform of 1919 and the explicit planks they laid down therein, in which they said that national disaster would overtake the then government if they continued on this course, and that we had a national debt of $1,584,000,000, or $220 per capita; to-day when we draw their attention to the fact that the national debt of this country has risen until it is over $2,500,000,000, or $300 per capita, they say that we are crying blue ruin.

The Address-Mr. Cotnarn

Mr. Speaker, I move the adjournment of the debate.

Motion agreed to and debate adjourned. On motion of Mr. Lapointe the House adjourned at 10.50 p.m.

Tuesday, February 23, 1926

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