Mr. E. A. PECK (West Peterborough):
Mr. Speaker, I rise with some diffidence to address myself to the motion and amendment before the House although I realize that you, Sir, will accord to me the same kindly consideration which you are in the habit of extending to all new members of this House. One may be accustomed to address local audiences, but I realize that now I am a member of and addressing myself ito the supreme assembly of this country, an (assembly composed of members resident for the most part in the ridings which they represent, assembled
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here from all parts of the Dominion to deliberate on matters affecting the welfare of the whole of Canada, and, if necessary, to crystallize their view into the form of legislation. It is only natural to expect that a gathering such as this, representing all the various sections of Canada and gathered here from sea ito sea, as the scroll over the entrance to this building states, will have divergent views. They represent different interests, different occupations, and necessarily there will be divergencies of opinion. It is our duty when we meet here to discuss fully all the questions which may possibly affect Canada, and to do so there must be the fullest freedom of debate.
The debate on the Address has been a feature of our proceedings ever since parliament was established. It answers a hseful purpose. It gives us an opportunity of stating our views and of hearing the views of those who do not, perhaps, agree with us. There should be no limitation of that debate unless limitation becomes really necessary. It has been suggested that by carrying on this discussion we are obstructing, but we are in no way preventing the carrying on of public business. The government has expressly stated that it does not intend to bring down any more business until (March 15; and so if we wish to continue exchanging our views we are in no way preventing the carrying on of the business of the country. In that connection I regret to. See introduced the amendment calling for the previous question to be put. Under the circumstances it answens no useful purpose. If important measures were being held up by reason of this debate there would be some reason for checking discussion. But no such condition exists; and it is unfortunate that, by reason of that amendment, a suggestion should go forth from this assembly that there should be any restriction of the fullest discussion of public matters.
We have an unusual condition in the present interesting parliament-the fact that the government which is endeavouring to carry on is a minority in the House. In the former House the Prime Minister had a following, I believe, of 125. He expressly stated that he had not a sufficient following to enable him to put into effect the policies which he wished to have adopted. Having gone to the country he comes back with a far less number of supporters-to be precise, only 101-and seeks to carry on. His only salvation is to turn to the members of the Progressive party for support. As has been stated in the House, he has had1 several interviews with some of the members of that party, and after some discussion a very loose agreement has been arrived at-in fact it is scarcely to be called an agreement at all.
As I understand that agreement, it contains three parts. It starts off with the statement on the part of the Progressive party that it has no confidence in Mr. King's government, and that any support the Progressives see fit to give to the government is not to be construed as an expression of confidence in it. And then, as I gather, another feature of the agreement is this: It is not intended there
should be a departure in any respect from the principles to which the Progressive party are wedded. In no way is it to mean an abandonment of the views which the Progressive party have expressed in the House; if any party is to give way it must be the Liberal party. In the third place there is this understanding, I believe, with the Progressive party: It will only support the government as long as the measures introduced are satisfactory to it. That is a very loose agreement. It must be very unsatisfactory to the Prime Minister that he can secure no better treatment from the Progressive party than that which I have indicated. Well might the Prime Minister, as time goes on, say in the words of the psalmist:
" I am in jeopardy every hour. Every night I make my bed and water my couch with my tears."
Now, Mr. Speaker, where does this lead us to? It leads us to the conclusion that when the House reassembles on March 15, Progressive measures are to be considered first. The government is to continue to ride in the government car, but the man at the wheel is to be the hon. member for Brandon (Mr. Forke); he is to direct the course which the car will take. Now, I am not going to say that will necessarily be a bad thing. I do not know altogether the views of the Progressive party. Part of my constituency, which was taken out of the former riding of East Peterborough, was represented in the last parliament by a Progressive member, and there are several Progressives now in the present riding, many of whom gave me their support. So far as the Progressive party is concerned I have come to parliament with a fairly open mind. My experience tells me that there are generally two sides to every question; and when I find that the Progressive party was composed in the last parliament of sixty-five members-many of whom had broken away from former political affiliations to assist in forming that group-I cannot but come to the conclusion that there must be something in the Progressive movement. Therefore, speaking personally, I am prepared1 to give fair consideration to any of the measures that
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may be introduced on behalf of the Progressive party, without giving any assurance that I will accept them and' support them.
But there is this to be borne in mind: the Progressive party does not pretend to represent the whole of Canada. With two exceptions the Progressive members in the present House all come from the western provinces and naturally represent western views. But they are only twenty-four in number, a trifle under one-tenth of the representation in this House, and presumably they only represent about that percentage of the people of this country. It may be said by them that they are endeavouring to represent all the people of this country engaged in agricultural pursuits. Admitting that for the sake of argument, it still follows that they only represent about thirty-four per cent of the Canadian people. Now I want to say something, Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the other 66 per cent, composed1 to a very great extent of persons engaged in manual work, persons who are dependent upon industrial employment to enable them to earn the wages necessary to support themselves and their families. I come from a riding which is about two-thirds ufiban, and one-third rural, and I desire to speak for a few minutes on the subject of protection, which has been discussed so much in this chamber since we met last month.
I wonder if I might venture to say a word or two about the conditions in the city of Peterborough at the time of the election and for some time previously. There was considerable depression in the city, and to be truthful I must say there were depressed conditions not only in the' city of Peterborough but in all other urban centres in Canada, I believe, with one or two exceptions. Yet I realize that these conditions can be improved by the adoption of a better protective system than the one now in vogue in this country. There are several factories in the city of Peterborough which require protection. They are exposed at the present time to undue and unfair competition with foreign goods imported into the country and manufactured under conditions which no respectable workman in this country should be subjected to. The depression at any rate exists, and prior to the election some of those factories found it necessary partly to close down and in some cases to work half time. Many men were out of work and times were very hard in Peterborough. Frequently I would meet a man and he would ask me: "For heaven's sake, can you get me a job?" There was no job to be had for him. I am sorry to say.
In connection with and as a result of that condition, many of the people of the city of Peterborough found it desirable to go to the United States and take their families with them. I could give many instances during the few months preceding my election when my attention was particularly directed to that sort of thing. There was one man in whom I was particularly interested, a man I had known for many years, who was born in the county, brought up there, married, with three or four children, a strong, able-bodied middle aged man, able and willing to work. He hunted round for six months but could not get a job. Finally he went to the States, came back to Canada, reported that he had a job for himself and one for his eldest boy. He sold the little house which he had been given time to pay for; he went away, and probably will never return. I met another man the other day and asked him about his boys. "Oh," he said: "My four boys are all gone and I am left alone." I asked him. "How are they getting on?" He said: "They are over in the States and doing pretty well." There are many cases of that kind. The matter became serious, and as the election approached people became aroused and awakened to the condition of things, realizing that the failure to put up a proper customs tariff against the importation of goods which we were capable of manufacturing in Peterborough was causing the trouble in that city. There was no undue or unfair propaganda, as was suggested by the hon. Minister of Public Works OMr. King) in this House the other evening. The facts were plain, and the people realized them. There were men out of employment and there were many cases of people going to the States. It was not necessary to appeal to the people; they appreciated the seriousness of the situation. They appealed to me, I may say, to run in the election and to carry their burdens and present them to this House. What happened? The case was very ably presented for the Liberal side by the then member, a man of great ability and1 force, a man very well known to this House, I dare say, because in the last parliament he was Deputy Speaker. He had been returned for that riding in 1921 with a majority of over 2,000, and he was defeated at the last election by nearly the same figure. He presented all the stock arguments of the Liberal party. He pointed to the fact that the Canadian dollar was worth a whole dollar in New York. He dwelt upon the favourable balance of trade between Canada and foreign countries. He asserted with some force that the government
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had reduced the taxation of the people. But somehow or other all those assertions did not seem to influence the result; the people were against him. It just shows the folly of endeavouring to prove such and such a thing to be true by statistics. The statistics were there, and his case looked all right on paper, but the machine would not work. The statistics alone did not bring employment to the working people.
And it was not merely in Peterborough that the protectionist principle was adopted by the people. The rural portion of the population in West Peterborough is not particularly antagonistic to the protectionist principle. Nearly half the agriculturists in the rural portion of the riding voted for the Conservative candidate. Not merely West Peterborough, but almost every other riding in Ontario seemed to adopt that protectionist principle and returned Conservative candidates by large majorities. You know, Mr. Speaker, that out of 83 members for the province of Ontario 69 are seated on this side of the House. The same thing happened in other provinces. The maritimes were very strong for the protectionist principle; Manitoba came back into line; British Columbia gave us ten out of fourteen, and Quebec is coming back coyly. That province is Conservative at heart and protectionist, and it will be only a matter of time before Ontario and Quebec are ranged side by side fighting for protection.
I think I have made a case for the consideration of this question of protection. I am not going into details, but particular instances in which protection is needed have been detailed by other hon. members. I wish to point out, however, that apparently the attention of the government is beginning to be directed to the necessity for doing something in connection with this protective principle. During the four years that the present government was in power prior to 1925, the speeches from the throne failed to refer in any way to the tariff question. Now, in view of the discussion and the expression of opinion by the people on that subject, the Speech from the Throne undertakes to deal with the matter in some way, and this particular portion of it begins as follows:
My ministers are of the opinion that a general increase in the customs tariff would prove detrimental to the country's continued prosperity and prejudicial to national unity.
If that is supposed to indicate that we on this side of the House are in favour of a general increase in the customs tariff, I for one do not propose to accept it. Speaking
for myself, I do not know that a general increase in the customs tariff is required. There are in this country certain industries the nature of which is such that they do not require to be protected by a customs tariff, but there are others which should be protected, and I wish to urge that upon the House. The Speech continues:
That is, the ministers.
-that in the interest of industrial development every effort should be made to eliminate the element of uncertainty with respect to tariff changes.
This uncertainty with reference to tariff changes is profoundly affecting the country. There is a feeling on the part of people engaged in or proposing to engage in industry that some tariff changes may take place which will be prejudicial to the industries which they are carrying on or propose to carry on. We have all heard the views of the Hon. Mr. Dunning, who, I believe, is about to take his place in this House as Minister of Railways and Canals.
Topic: GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic: ADDRESS IN REPLY